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By Sherry Listgarten

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About this blog: Climate change, despite its outsized impact on the planet, is still an abstract concept to many of us. That needs to change. My hope is that readers of this blog will develop a better understanding of how our climate is evolving a...  (More)

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Skeptics, Dupes, and Paranoids

Uploaded: Sep 1, 2019
I am a natural-born skeptic. I like to question things and play devil’s advocate, so much so that for a while some friends called me “Sherry Contrary”. Making sense of opposing points of view helps me to understand things better, plus it’s more interesting than blindly going with the party line...

So it’s hard for me to see skeptics painted so negatively in much of the discussion around climate. “Climate denier” and “climate skeptic” are used almost interchangeably, suggesting that it’s a bad idea to question things. That can’t be true, right? So I wanted to dig into this a bit. When is skepticism okay, and when is it not, and how can you tell the difference? At the end of this blog post I have a real-life example from just a few days ago, and you can ask yourself: Are the questions raised in the article legit?

First, a shout-out: There is a great book (and movie) on this topic called Merchants of Doubt, by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway. I highly recommend it. It explores the motivations and techniques of the people who seem to be attacking science. (1) If you don’t have time to read the book (about 250 pages) or watch the movie (90 minutes), consider just the first 15 minutes of the movie, and/or the 10-minute segment starting at 59:30 featuring Marc Morano, who is sometimes referred to as “the godfather of climate skepticism” or a “climate realist”, depending on perspective. It is eye opening. (“Scientists are BORING.”)

There is a difference between healthy skepticism, in which the skeptics are open-minded, informed, and constantly re-assessing the evidence, and manufactured skepticism, in which people with an agenda are cultivating doubt in others in order to serve their own ends.

As far back as the 1950’s and 1960’s, cigarette companies knew that smoking caused lung cancer and heart disease, and they knew that nicotine was addictive. But they denied this for decades, even under oath, and it wasn’t until 2006 that they were finally found guilty of deceiving the public. Why did it take so long? Because the tobacco companies engaged in a prolonged, heavily financed campaign to seed doubt about the science in order to protect their business interests. Millions of deaths might have been prevented with faster action.

When science gets in the way of an industry, whether it’s the tobacco industry (cigarettes cause cancer), the drug industry (opioids are addictive), the refrigeration industry (refrigerants destroy the ozone layer), polluting industries (pollutants cause acid rain), the pesticide industry (pesticides have various bad side-effects), or the fossil fuel industry (causing global warming), the industries target science. They do that using a host of techniques, some of which I will summarize here. (2)

Specious questioning. Industries targeting science raise questions about the results that appeal to the public’s common sense. They will do this even when the answers are already known and favorable for the science. It works because many people don’t know or don’t understand the answers, and they may also be biased away from uncomfortable facts. Early on in the tobacco wars, the cigarette industry published a report with many such questions, for example “Why is lung cancer rising faster in men though the rate of smoking is rising fastest in women?” The answer was well understood among scientists -- women had only recently started smoking, so they hadn’t had time to develop cancer. (Unfortunately they would later.) But just posing this question and others like it seeded doubt in people (many of them smokers) that smoking caused cancer. With climate change, a similar question might be “How can two degrees possibly do all that damage?” Again, the answer is well understood, but it is complicated enough that people do not understand it. Since the common-sense question resonates with so many people, doubt about “climate alarmists” takes root.

Simulating science. People fighting science create their own scientific-seeming organizations and institutes that mimic the look and feel of the real thing, yet do not follow standard scientific procedures such as peer review, and lack breadth and depth of expertise in the area. I like the name of this one: the Cooler Heads Coalition. You can read about it at The Institute for Energy Research is a more substantial such organization. What might appear to be a “scientific debate” will not in fact have a critical mass of credible scientists on both sides, and will take place in an industry-sponsored conference or even the public media, bypassing mainstream science.

Playing the media. When science deniers take their debates direct to the public via the media, they will insist that the media “tell both sides” or “give us our fair share”. The media have fallen for this as they work to avoid the appearance of bias.

Cultivating friendly scientists. There are bona fide scientists who will align with the attacking industries. Merchants of Doubt explores their motivations. They may be natural contrarians, or staunch libertarians, or disgruntled somehow with the establishment, or simply indebted to industries that have funded them and/or their labs with millions of dollars over the years. Even though some of these experts have little expertise in the relevant science, their voice will be heard because of their skills elsewhere.

To maintain a semblance of independence, the scientists’ associations with the attacking industries are often masked through think tanks or policy institutes, charitable institutions, or legal teams. Their statements can be excruciating. Merchants of Doubt describes a well-respected (and well-funded) scientist under oath: “When asked if a three-pack-a-day habit might be a contributory factor to the lung cancer of someone who’d smoked for twenty years, Cline again answered no, you ‘could not say that with certainty … I can envision many scenarios where smoking had nothing to do with it.’” He neglects to mention that other causes are exceedingly rare. Zero doubt is not the standard.

For a more current example, you can read up on Dr. Roy Spencer, a meteorologist and trained climate scientist at the University of Alabama. These people have real credentials, operate well outside mainstream science, and are very well funded for their views.

Attacking other scientists. The best defense is a good offense. In anticipation of attacks on their own claims, industries under pressure will attack the credibility of scientists, accusing them of bias, of seeking publicity, of issuing “political statements” rather than scientific work, of being in the pockets of politicians, or simply of being rigid and close-minded. Industry lawyers may also tie up the scientists’ time and resources with litigation, even going so far as to place gag orders. This has the effect not only of silencing and/or discrediting the involved scientists, but potentially discouraging others from following in their footsteps.

Emphasizing lack of proof. People fighting science will routinely insist that “the science is not settled” or “there is no proof” or make statements like “anything can be harmful”. The general public may fail to understand that science typically works on the preponderance of evidence, it rewards theories that explain many observations, it moves forward based on peer review and continuous research. Over and over we have seen that this approach works and that it makes sense to take action when there is good scientific consensus. But there will always be gaps or alternatives, however tangential or implausible, that opponents can use to raise doubt and slow things down.

Slowing things down. Since it is often the goal of industry to maintain the status quo, their tactics are to slow change and generally create gridlock. They will emphasize the need to “slow down”, avoid a “rush to judgment”, evaluate things “more carefully”, wait for science to answer yet more open questions, and generally encourage paralysis by analysis. They will denigrate those who wish to move faster as “alarmists” or “hysterics” and portray themselves as the thoughtful, rational, unemotional participants. Unfortunately, they may be aided in this by overly simplistic and alarmist statements made on the other side. That is one reason why scientists speak so carefully at times as to be almost unintelligible. And that (you guessed it) slows things down.

Emphasizing the risk to freedom. If it is too difficult to fight the science, the next step is to fight the consequences, such as regulation. “If we ban second-hand smoke, what will come next?” was a common refrain. You have heard this argument in spades when it comes to climate change.

This is an effective playbook, and I don’t want to imply that it is restricted to polluting industries. For example, hundreds of years ago the Church used these techniques to oppose Galileo's theory that the Earth revolves around the sun. And we see extremists using these techniques to fight more conservative science. This blog post focuses on established industry because they generally have much more money and more at stake in the fight against science, and have taken these approaches to a new and very disruptive level.

It’s a mess. Given all the money and time being thrown at this, how are we, the general public, supposed to distinguish the genuine open questions from the manufactured skepticism that is designed to slow change? It’s not easy. But here are some tips. (3)

- Look at the source. Is it a well-respected, independent organization or publication?
- Look at the experts. Are they commenting on their area of expertise, currently working in that field, publishing in reputable journals?
- Look at the detractors. Are there detractors to the ideas and if so, who are they and what do they say?
- Look at the funding. Where do the experts or institutions involved get their funding?
- Look at agendas. Do the experts or institutions involved have an agenda, whether it is financial or political or something else that could affect their scientific judgment.
- Look at the generality. If the experts are making a new scientific claim, does it explain as much or more than the science they are attacking? Or are they poking holes rather than constructing a new theory?

Here is a mini exercise to put this into practice. Every month Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy sends out a newsletter about their work. The August issue, sent a few days ago, had about 15 items in it, one of which grabbed my attention: “E&E News with Michael Wara: Can solar increase emissions? A debate erupts”. What? Solar can increase emissions?

Here is the article that Stanford’s email linked to. The original article that inspired the writeup is here. What is happening here? What is the debate? Is it a scientific debate? Who are the experts and what are they saying? Who is on which side? What role are journalists and the media playing? You can find my take here.

And have you figured out what you are -- a skeptic, a dupe, or a paranoid?

Notes and References

1. The content of Merchants of Doubt seems pretty non-partisan. The video ends with a really nice feature of Bob Inglis, a long-serving Republican representative from South Carolina. He exemplifies the “A Brighter Future” personality from the previous post.

2. This list is largely derived from the content in Merchants of Doubt, but the Union of Concerned Scientists also has a short but similar “disinformation playbook” with many examples.

3. These tips are derived from professional skeptic Michael Shermer, who is also incidentally a relatively recent convert to global warming believer.

4. I have heard this haze of doubt around a science or technology referred to in this area as “FUD” or “Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt”. Have any of you encountered this term at work, and in what context?

Current Climate Data (July 2019)

Global impacts, US impacts, CO2 metric, Climate dashboard (updated annually)

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Posted by Denny, a resident of another community,
on Sep 1, 2019 at 2:52 pm

"For a more current example, you can read up on Dr. Roy Spencer, a meteorologist and trained climate scientist at the University of Alabama. These people have real credentials, operate well outside mainstream science, and are very well funded for their views."

How appalling that you malign Dr Spencer in this way, a fine scientist, who is responsible with Dr John Christy for one of the satellite records. You have indeed read Oreskes and Conway, masters of ad hominem. He is a true scientist and is paid by his university. To imply that he is paid to peddle false science is quite outrageous and can only come from the dreadful Oreskes.

Posted by hiding data in a cedar closet, a resident of Ventura,
on Sep 2, 2019 at 9:35 am

> To imply that he is paid to peddle false science is quite outrageous

Except... he does. He takes money form Heartland, who gets funded by Big Oil.

He takes money from a number of fer right 'think tanks' (Marshall, Heritage, CEI, TPPF, etc..) and when you follow the money.... oooops! There are the Kochs, Exxon, mining, etc..

It's always the same guys who take the money to sell out science and the public. And they always take it from the same sources - extraction.

Even the money he takes from IPA (Australia, which doesn't have very open disclosure laws, so we depend on the press) appears to come from mining, etc..

Sydney Herald: "The IPA's operating budget is small but its influence in nurturing climate scepticism in the wider community is large. About a quarter of its $2 million in annual funding comes from corporations with a direct stake in the climate change debate, not including contributions from its 1000 individual members, some of whom also have a personal interest in climate change.

The money is used to pay for sceptic research and extend patronage to prominent sceptics ..."

It's guys like this that are the very definitions of "Biostitute".

Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Sep 2, 2019 at 3:30 pm

There is an angle to skepticism that I would add to the discussion, and that relates to the scientific domain in question. There is a range from thermodynamics on one end to psychology-health-medicine-diet on the other. It is the case that the "soft sciences", e.g. psychology, developed some very bad statistical habits back in the post-WWII era, when statistically weak results were often treated as being very solid. In recent years, this problem has improved greatly, although the popular press still loves weak psychological results. But, medicine has never caught up, and, I hope, never quite will. Legally and medical-ethics-wise, you aren't allowed to experiment on people the way chemists experiment with solutions. So, doctors and nutritionists and so on have to rely on correlations, on recall (what did you eat yesterday), on very long-term and expensive studies, and so on.

The public has trouble grasping the difference. Nutritionists are -still- arguing after 60 years whether or not eggs are, overall, "good for you" or "bad for you". (The evidence is leaning towards "bad for you", but, the reason is not quite as simple as it was back when all you had to do was utter the word "cholesterol" to make people feel guilty.) . Might as well be a little -skeptical- about dietary advice, right? After all, we all know that "correlation is not causality", right? xkcd: Web Link I hope, as I implied above, that it will never be that easy to experiment on people to answer these medical/nutritional questions quickly and definitively.

Climate science is quite different. Christy and Spencer Web Link developed a satellite-remote-sensing dataset that didn't appear to be what was expected from simplistic models. Remote sensing of high-altitude temperatures is actually kind of difficult to do -accurately- and -precisely-. A lot of corrections had to be applied, it turned out. But, there were also discrepancies in expectations. Some computer simulations predicted average upper-troposphere temperatures higher than what the dataset showed. This is the kind of thing that you would expect only specialists to care about, but, for some reason, it became very politicized. It shouldn't have been-- there is no intuitive way to derive "expected" results for something like this. Scientists rely on computer simulations of climate because the physical system is just very, very complicated. On the ground, we can see glaciers disappearing before our very eyes, but, to understand all the moving parts, you have to rely on computer simulations.

My point regarding "skepticism" is that I wish the press could be educated to understand that in health and medicine, there will always be a lot more skepticism due, because of the human subjects question. Skepticism regarding climate change is different. We can see the glaciers melting. We can feel the warming nearer the poles. We can see the lack of coral on reefs that were teeming with life 20 years ago. We might want to understand, from a skeptical point of view, how solid the computer simulations are, what the possible range of temperatures might be, what might cause those numbers to change. People should always be a little skeptical of simulations. But, that doesn't mean that we can afford to wait until the oceans have risen 3 meters.

Posted by a lute, a flute, a tute, a resident of Community Center,
on Sep 2, 2019 at 6:55 pm

Drives me crazy that deniers claim a university based researcher, or a government employee, is chasing grant money like it makes them richer.

And they ignore biostitutes like the guy above, raking in the oil money.


Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Sep 3, 2019 at 12:43 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

Happy Labor Day, everyone, and thanks for the comments!

Interesting to see the first two, with very different takes. I won’t add much, except to say that the process by which scientists are coopted is more subtle than being paid to peddle false science. It’s really insidious.

@Anon -- That is an interesting point that I hadn’t considered, that skepticism is more warranted in a sense, or at least should have a different flavor, in different domains. Skepticism about models is frustrating, because of course they over-simplify and get things wrong -- that is the nature of a model. But they are essential for analyzing complex systems, and we wouldn't use them so much if they didn't prove to be useful and predictive.

BTW, I love that xkcd comic. Thanks for sharing it! It illustrates something that I think many people don’t readily intuit about stats. I just found this writeup on statistical misconceptions by a prof at CMU who wrote a book called “Statistics Done Wrong”. Looks like a good read, and another potential blog post!

But, wait -- has anyone read the article mentioned at the end of the post? I’m curious what you think about the nature of the debate the article describes, the roles of the different parties involved, etc.

Posted by Stanford Ph.D/Business, a resident of Stanford,
on Sep 3, 2019 at 1:14 pm

^^^^ It depends on who's funding the grant/project...the bias will favor the party/company paying for the study.

This is a GIVEN & some post-docs have been tossed out of programs for refusing to accept grant projects from university donors who they consider to be unethical, immoral or distasteful.

Imagine having accepted a grant/study from ENRON 20 years ago or from DOW Chemical during the Viet Nam War or MONSANTO today. *ugh*

Posted by round it up, agt OJ!, a resident of Green Acres,
on Sep 3, 2019 at 3:47 pm

> Imagine having accepted a grant/study from ENRON 20 years ago or from DOW Chemical during the Viet Nam War or MONSANTO

Dang it! My study of Roundup/AgentOrange on the power grid in CA is almost ready!!

Seriously though...

Posted by theAlex, a resident of Midtown,
on Sep 4, 2019 at 10:01 am

theAlex is a registered user.

Hey Denny,

Roy Spencer also believes in intelligent design: "I finally became convinced that the theory of creation actually had a much better scientific basis than the theory of evolution..."

[portion redacted -- If you want to contact the editor, there are better ways than a comment on a blog post]

Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Sep 4, 2019 at 1:14 pm

>> But, wait -- has anyone read the article mentioned at the end of the post? I'm curious what you think about the nature of the debate the article describes, the roles of the different parties involved, etc.

I gave it a once-over, although I didn't explore every rabbit-hole, and, the argument has a few. My comment is, Sure, there are some cases where some solar configurations might not "make things better". As, for example, near a location on the grid where there is a lot of gas-turbine generation used.

In fact, more than "sure", I would say, "Of course-- but, so what?" Please allow me to explain.

In some discussions on this website, we've seen the same argument with respect to purely electric cars like Teslas. The argument goes that in Michigan, where a lot of power is coal-generated by outdated coal plants (probably supplied by Koch coal?), Teslas have a larger CO2 footprint than an efficient gasoline car like a Prius. Again-- so what? We need to shut down all the coal-fired generation stations, and, when Michigan's power profile looks more like Palo Alto's, the Tesla will be a big win. When North Carolina's power grid looks more like Palo Alto's, solar arrays will be closer to optimal. I might suggest to a friend in Michigan that a Prius makes more sense -right now- than a Tesla, but, I also wouldn't fault my friend for helping move the electric car market forward.

And, let's face it-- most of the folks criticizing a Tesla in Michigan or a solar array in North Carolina don't actually want a fossil-fuel-free future. It is an argument trying to take momentum away from the clean energy future we will have to embrace in order to survive.

Posted by our village is renewable, a resident of another community,
on Sep 4, 2019 at 8:37 pm

I like anons post.

"Sure, there are some cases where some solar configurations might not "make things better".

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

More renewables is like banking cash, as technologies expand delivery and storage.

Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Sep 4, 2019 at 8:51 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

Thanks for the comments! Seems like we have two "yes, buts" so far. (Yes, they agree that solar may not always be lower-emission, but it's still a step in the right direction.) So the take so far is that the debate about solar emissions in this case seems legitimate, though the case may be unusual.

Anyone else?

Thanks again to @Anon and @our for wading in!

Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View,
on Sep 6, 2019 at 1:50 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Ah, a question in my area of schoolwork and training.
We have had hybrids since we traded steam locomotives to diesel-electric locomotives.
EVERY " teakettle " powerplant ( boiling a liquid to spin turbines and create energy ) is only 40% efficient. My Alternative Energy Class at Foothill College taught me this.

I worked in this field at Bolder Technologies, where I suspect the Tesla vehicles can create " ludicrous speed ".. Yes, Bill Dube showed his " Killawatt " electric motorbike in our lobby.

The only real way to have a high efficient system is in Hydroelectric power. EU farmers use Microelectric power to create energy because the cost for other fuels are so high. Large ponds red by a stream ( water for livestock ) is a perfect example. The higher the head, the more energy you create.
Our only problem is the EPA that says they own such ponds.
Normal PV arrays are ~22% efficient but I saw for a short time a white paper about a DARPA project for a wearable PV array to power the next generation of weapons. At Bolder Technologies, we were making the energy cells for this svstem. The Geneva Convention outlawed laser weapons because that would be too inhuman

Posted by Marie, a resident of Midtown,
on Sep 6, 2019 at 3:39 pm

Marie is a registered user.

I just read the Duke energy report on how their gas plants are very inefficient when cycled on and off frequently, leading to more NOX being released. The data on CO2, another greenhouse gas was less clear .

However, they then talk about "solar-linked pollution" implying that increases in solar power is associated with more NOX and possibly more CO2 pollution.

BUT - solar produce no NOX or CO2 pollution. The issue is that natural gas plants are optimized for working constantly and the current plants emit more gases if they are cycled on/off frequently. This is a problem with the design of the natural gas plants, not solar. The answer is not to limit solar but to redesign the natural gas plants (and coal presumably) to manage cyclical demand for electricity. This has always been a problem as demand for electricity is always cyclical - it just used to be more during the day and less at night. When you add solar to the grid, then the opposite happens.

One solution is to put excess energy into batteries and release it when demand increases. This is a huge area for research and while we have advanced, there is far more work to be done. I recently read about a proposed system that using solar and batteries would allow micro grids which could completely revolutionize how energy is produced and consumed. It sounded great - but as usual many details regarding cost and efficient batteries were missing.

However, I believe these engineering problems can be solved. Duke Energy would be better off trying to improve their plants to more efficiently respond to changes in energy demand, rather than blame solar for changes in demand which has always been a problem. How much energy goes through the grid unused in systems that do not include solar, especially at night, if their plants are always on? Given that demand in areas with hot summers is highest during the day when A/C is used, solar has to be helpful in managing those peak loads.

So the problem is not adding solar to the mix. The problem is how to reduce emissions when cyclical demand requires varying amounts of electricity daily and seasonally. I think this is a problem for hydroelectric plants as well.

Posted by round it up, agt OJ!, a resident of Green Acres,
on Sep 6, 2019 at 3:57 pm

"The problem is how to reduce emissions when cyclical demand requires varying amounts of electricity daily and seasonally. I think this is a problem for hydroelectric plants as well."

No. At least not as implied (hydro plant emissions.)

Also - storage (battery and other) along with several key technologies are in the 'hockey-stick' phase of growth/cost reductions, similar to what we saw with panel pricing, etc..

Duke. Maybe they should explain all that coal-ash pond pollution before they attempt to besmirch solar.

Web Link
"Duke: North Carolina coal ash pond excavation order to cost up to $5B"

Five billion. A third of a nuclear plant, just to clean up a fraction of coal's devastation.


Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Sep 7, 2019 at 11:54 am

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

Great comments! @Marie, you sound like you know what you are talking about!

FWIW, my take on the articles is that this is a manufactured debate, generated and successfully promoted by pro-fossil-fuel spokespeople.

Here is an analogy. Suppose there is an organization that wants local newspapers to fail. (I don’t know why, just go with it…) Let’s call it LocalPaperHater. At some point, a blogger for Palo Alto Online says something inaccurate, and a reader complains about it. Bloggers are not journalists, and there is no fact-checking done, but it still could reflect on the paper. LocalPaperHater picks up on this, and gets an article written with headline “Credibility of Palo Alto Online in doubt”. A larger paper, let’s call it LargerPaper picks up on this, but also gets the other side from a few people, including Audrey Cooper, SF Chronicle editor, who explains the difference between bloggers and journalists, and notes that either way the blogger corrected the error. LargerPaper writes an updated article with the headline “Is Palo Alto Online credible? Debate erupts”. Finally, CNPA (the California News Publishers Association) then sends out an item in its monthly newsletter: “LargerPaper with Audrey Cooper: Is Palo Alto Online credible? Debate erupts”.

Is that at all representative of what actually transpired? I think that is what is going on here. A small thing has been made to look much bigger, and ends up being promulgated by a credible voice.

To begin with, there is a grain of truth at the bottom of all of this. It is generally true that gas-powered plants that need to go on and off often are less efficient, and it is often better (cost-wise and emissions-wise) to run them at a constant low volume instead. This is what Duke was asking to do, and it makes sense. It is better to not run them at all, but since solar is not always available, we need some flexible power.

But even though these short-lived or marginal emissions may be higher (emissions beyond the baseline power) that in no way suggests that overall emissions are higher. Remember, solar has essentially no emissions compared with whatever gas or coal-plant was previously supplying all of the baseline power. As the (second) Duke spokesperson puts it: "To take that and say, 'Renewable energy causes more pollution,' that's faulty. That's like saying an (electric vehicle) is bad because your electric costs go up, not noting that you saved money on gas."

There is no real debate about overall emissions. The people making it look like a debate are generally on the climate-denying side of things (cf Heartland Institute, Institute for Energy Research), and they are policy people, not scientists. Two of them backtrack in the E&E article. The Heartland guy (Goreham) backs off and says it’s really about cost (not emissions). And the (second) Duke spokesperson rolls back much of what their first spokesperson said.

I could not understand the statements of Michael Wara from Stanford in this context, but he replied to my inquiry right away and noted that he was talking about marginal emissions when he spoke with the author of the story, rather than overall system emissions, but that was not clarified in the writeup.

The other thing that is confusing about the article is there are references to two types of emissions, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and greenhouse gases (CO2 is the most common, though NOx are also in this category). NOx emissions may in fact go up (overall) in a solar-powered system because they are more prevalent in flexible gas plants than in inflexible ones. These are bad, polluting emissions, though as Michael Wara says in the article, these emissions can be decreased with proper incentives that discourage dirty plants from coming online.

Unfortunately, both articles often confuse the two types of emissions, making a smaller problem (NOx emissions) look like a much larger problem (overall greenhouse-gas emissions). As one “expert” misdirects: “CO2 may be headed in the wrong direction””

So the roles of the players in this story as I see it:

Global warming skeptics: Create doubt. Escalate a small thing into a much larger thing, pose specious questions, and raise the alarm to friendly journalists.

Friendly journalists: Echo the denier’s message without hearing from the other side. In fact, the North State Journal makes it sound like a conspiracy: “It’s unclear how long the state Department of Environmental Quality has known about the solar-linked pollution, why it’s been allowed to persist, and why lawmakers and the public have not been informed solar energy increases NOx emissions."

Independent journalists: Get both sides, but struggle with clarity. As Michael Wara observed to me: “I don't particularly like the bits and pieces of a long conversation about a complicated issue that made it into the article. … I think what really gets lost in the story is whether or not we are talking about emissions on the margin or overall system emissions. Also what emissions are we talking about (NOx or GHGs).” Stanford’s Precourt Institute further contributes to the escalation by forwarding an item with what I would consider to be a misleading headline intact (“Can solar increase emissions? Debate erupts”).

At the end of the day, the climate deniers succeed here simply by posing a question, emphasizing doubt, making it look like there is a debate when there is none, and amplifying their message through friendly and then popular and reputable media. This is right along the lines of the playbook that is outlined in this blog post.

Posted by round it up, agt OJ!, a resident of Green Acres,
on Sep 7, 2019 at 1:26 pm

So the roles of the players in this story as I see it:

Climate deniers: ...
Friendly journalists: ...
Seasoned journalists: ...
Anonymous denier posters: lie like a rug

Sherry: I'd love a thread on why deniers (who aren't getting paid by extraction, ie.. heartland, etc..) so vociferously defend big oil and big coal when the science is so clear. Is it truly just an emotional thing? (I get to: 'own the libs'!)

Posted by Old Enough to Know Better, a resident of Rex Manor,
on Sep 7, 2019 at 2:53 pm

@ Sherry Listgarten who wrote:

You missed a critical point about healthy and vital skepticism:

The best predictor of the future is a good memory for the past.

You also missed the far more dangerous and effective agendas of:
"The Merchants of Doom" (Fear sells way better than doubt.)

Most people have either not lived long enough or have not paid enough attention to past events to remember how the past predictions of "experts" never ever came true. Such failed Doomsday predictions go back as far as written language.

My entire life I have seen a never-ending stream of Doomsday predictions from all the "well-respected sources" and all the "experts in their fields" all supported by the politicians and the ever willing main-stream news media.

What is their motivation? Politicians crave POWER like an addict craves drugs, the news media sells advertising and reporters crave attention. Both politicians and reporters feed their addictions by selling DOOM.

All of these predicted disasters have faded away from popular memory and then got swept under the rug by the very "experts" who used to scream them from all the TV screens. These predictions have always been used to draw greater and greater POWER to the politicians, more profits to the media and more fame to the reporters.

"Given all the money and time being thrown at this, how are we, the general public, supposed to distinguish the genuine open questions from the manufactured skepticism that is designed to slow change?"

First, that is an unfair generaliazation about the motives of everyone who finds the popular beliefs to be less convincing or even outright fraudulent. Most people never in their lives bother to check on anything they are fed in the media, they just accept the popular assumptions.

The pace of change should be irrelevant to skepticism. The important questions are:
First, is the net benefit of a change worth the current/near-term costs of disrupting the existing systems?
Second, will the change lead us to an honestly better place or are we being mislead down a dead-end road to even higher costs and worse results?

"It's not easy. But here are some tips. (3)

You forgot a MAJOR measurement of credibility! Past CORRECT predictions!
The Merchants of Doom are batting ZERO, so WHY would anyone believe them?

"- Look at the source.
- Look at the experts."

You are arguing the "fallacy of authority", look it up.

"- Look at the detractors.
- Look at the funding.
- Look at agendas.
- Look at the generality."

The skeptics of popular beliefs are of little danger to our society and are needed. Even the dishonest actors who lie for a living serve a purpose.
(and I use that term "actor" both figuratively and literally, since actors are among the worst offenders in propping up popular beliefs and suppressing healthy skepticism)

Those "experts" and "authority figures" who espouse the popular beliefs of "Doom" MUST be driven to PROVE their predictions by the skeptics, even the dishonest skeptics who know they are lying.

The "experts", the "Merchants of Doom" have the worst track record of any type of "scientists". I would even take the word of a psychiatrist for something long before I would believe a Doomsday predictor. (regardless of how many doctorates they hanging on their walls and no matter how many papers they have gotten published.)

How many wrong Doomsday predictions do you have to hear in your life before you figure out what's actually going on?

Posted by Old Enough to Know Better, a resident of Rex Manor,
on Sep 7, 2019 at 3:23 pm

Sorry mis-edit there: "@ Sherry Listgarten who wrote:"
Should just be:"@ Sherry Listgarten"


I also forgot to mention another critical point about why people are so easily convinced that all the "bad" things of this world are the fault of human activity. EGO and comfort.

It's called "The causal fallacy", look it up.

In fact, look up the "15 logical fallacies" and see how many apply perfectly to the whole "human-caused global-warming" narrative. Also notice how the global-warmies changed the name to "climate change", which is pretty a much meaningless term.
Look up the book 1984 and the term "newspeak".

Humans have a deep-seated desire to always believe that anything they feel is "bad" was somehow the fault of human activity. This is because people want to believe that if something "bad" was caused by humans, it can be fixed by humans.
All we have to do is trick or threaten humans into changing their choices.
That is the true agenda, not saving the planet, but controlling people.

In the past (and in much of the world even today), people believed that bad things happened because humans "displeased the gods", so even a volcano erupting was caused by human choices. The people in authority decide what choices other people should make and then blame any "bad" thing on those humans not making the choices the leaders want.

We have evolved in our thinking a little, but the method still works the same way.

And EGO. Humans want to believe we are master of the universe, that we are special, that we can do anything we put our minds to, that all problems can be solved by humans, etc. We want to feel we are more than we are.

We are, in fact, the result of time and chemistry.
We have physical limitations, but our imaginations and EGO have no limits.

Now, that is not to say our expansive imagination is a bad thing, or our ambitions are bad either. They drive us to reach towards our potential and to push our potential higher, which is a good thing.

Look up the "special theory of relativity", yes, it does apply.

Making global policies that have severe impacts on people now and in the future should not be based on our human EGO.

Posted by round it up, agt OJ!, a resident of Green Acres,
on Sep 7, 2019 at 3:44 pm

> How many wrong Doomsday predictions do you have to hear in your life before you figure out what's actually going on?

How many "Doomsday predictions" were primarily media driven? (most, but go ahead and list them)

How many had the consensus of the scientific community? (go ahead, list them - you won't need much room)

How many "Doomsday predictions" were described by an august and broad group, such as those participating in the 4th national climate assessment ( Web Link ):

[Ed: removing long list of credible government and academic institutions]
[Ed: removing ad hominem]

Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Sep 7, 2019 at 3:50 pm

@ Old Enough to Know Better, a resident of Rex Manor,

I'm not quite clear what you are trying to say, but, do me a favor and read this Wikipedia article to give you some history on "Berkeley Earth" Web Link and then look at the Berkeley Earth web pages: e.g. "Summary of Findings": Web Link

For those of you who haven't heard about this, "Berkeley Earth was founded in early 2010 (originally called the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project) with the goal of addressing the major concerns from outside the scientific community regarding global warming and the instrumental temperature record. The project's stated aim was a "transparent approach, based on data analysis."

They specifically wanted to make transparent to non-climate-scientists, the global temperature record. Some people had convinced themselves that "global warming" would turn out to be a statistical mirage. Read the website to find out what they learned.

Posted by Old Enough to Know Better, a resident of Rex Manor,
on Sep 7, 2019 at 4:28 pm

@round it up, agt OJ!,

I just love how people use the word "big" any time they mean to say "evil" but want to be sneaky about it. Just watch any TV news program, they do it in almost every broadcast.

Also, you should look up how a greenhouse actually works, that might help.

"So the roles of the players in this story as I see it:"

Again, I suggest you look up the book "1984" and the term "newspeak".

The "global-warmies" are a perfect example of people applying newspeak.

"Climate deniers: ..."

People are NOT "denying climate", they are not denying that climate is a real thing, nor are they denying the global climate changes over time.

Most people who don't buy-in to the "human-caused global-warming disaster around the corner" narrative are mainly disputing the claims that the long-term climate of the ENTIRE PLANET can be significantly manipulated by human activity. (Leaving out the whole question of nuclear-winter, which would be human caused planetary change.)

Another valid skepticism is about the issue of just how long-term the trends really are in global climate. Global climate changes all the time and the trends switch direction for a variety of planetary-sized causes. Like the changes in the output of our sun and that volcanoes give out more CO2 than all of human activity does and we always have some volcanoes spewing out CO2 every second of every day and the flip in the magnetic poles of the Earth, etc..
Yes, flipping Earth's magnetic poles is real, go look it up.

Global-warmies always cherry-pick the data that supports their narrative and suppress (or outright fraudulently "correct", meaning "alter to fit") any data that does not fit their narrative.

Yet another valid point is about the fact that the effects of CO2 are NOT linear. Meaning, that if we assume X amount of CO2 in the atmosphere equates to X degrees of global warming, it is NOT then true that 2X amount of CO2 equates to 2X degrees of warming. In fact, CO2 effects fit the "law of diminishing returns" in that as you go up in total CO2, the effect on global climate reduces rapidly.

They call CO2 a "greenhouse gas" because, as the story goes, CO2 in the atmosphere allows higher-energy light waves to pass through to then warm the planet, but when the planet gives off the heat as lower-energy infrared waves, the CO2 blocks these waves from escaping.

So, think about a physical greenhouse. How many greenhouses have you ever seen with multiple layers of glass or plastic sheeting? Basically, NONE.

The reason is that the FIRST LAYER of glass or plastic does all the greenhouse work of trapping heat in the greenhouse, adding more layers, or making the glass thicker or switching from plastic sheeting to glass will NOT have the effect of making the greenhouse ever hotter.

The simple fact is that CO2 levels matter less and less to global climate as the total amount increases.

"Sherry: I'd love a thread on why deniers (...) so vociferously defend big oil and big coal"

Translation of newspeak term "big" = evil

" when the science is so clear."

Actual "science" is clear (if you can get it unaltered), the people using science to push the political agenda of controlling people, they are the intentionally unclear big-ones. (see what I did there? "big")

To recognize that oil companies or coal companies, are just companies, like any other company, with the same agenda as any other company, is by no means "defending evil-oil or evil-coal". Any company can do both good and bad things and it's usually a subjective opinion depending on whom is looking and from what perspective.

Those hydro-carbon harvesting companies didn't create the planet, nor how chemistry works on our planet, nor the fact that people want and need energy, nor the fact that our planet is an oil, natural gas and coal making machine, nor the fact that humans have always chosen to increase the population, etc..

They do what we need them to do as we try to come up with viable technologies to make hydro-carbons obsolete.

FYI, we may stop using crude oil some day, but it wont be because we ran out of vast supplies of crude oil.

Posted by round it up, agt OJ!, a resident of Green Acres,
on Sep 7, 2019 at 4:41 pm

[portion removed]

The 3 questions you refuse to answer?

Yes, I've read a lot of Orwell (though I prefer his earlier work - Down and Out..., etc..)

[portion removed, repetitive]

Posted by Old Enough to Know Better, a resident of Rex Manor,
on Sep 7, 2019 at 5:06 pm

round it up, agt OJ!,

"How many "Doomsday predictions" were primarily media driven?

None of the ones I am talking about, welllll, maybe one.

You might categorize the "Silent Spring" DDT Doomsday prediction as "media-driven", since there was nothing but one fraudulent book behind it all, but it was couched as science and the scientific community got on the band-wagon instantly and it took decades before any serious scientists bothered to challenge the DDT dogma the book created.

This practice of making and exploiting Doomsday predictions has been a part of human culture at least as far back as the invention of the written word, probably even before that.

Scientists come up with this stuff and politicians pick ones that they think they can exploit to control the choices people make and the news media gives the Merchants of Doom a platform because they need to sell us stuff.

global cooling (all the rage in the 1970's), Ozone Hole, running out of crude oil by the late 1990's, etc...

OH, and it's now the 30-year anniversary of the UN report claiming that we only had 10 years left to save Bangladesh and other coastal nations that would be "wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels" if we didn't "reverse the global warming trend by the year 2000.".

I think we are a little past that Doomsday deadline.

"How many had the consensus of the scientific community?"

The only effective Doomsday predictions are the ones scientific communities agree are real. That's how the politicians can trick the public into giving the politicians more power. The scientific community often reacts in knee-jerk agreement when they feel the fate of the planet is at stake. Much less scientific rigor is applied before the next scientist jumps on the band-wagon. Eventually, there are so many on-board that nobody dares question it.

The real problem is that Doomsday predictions never get officially acknowledged by anyone in authority that they were false predictions because those in authority and the scientists need people to forget old wrong predictions and pay attention only to the newest Doomsday predictions.

If scientists came out and reminded the people that: Oh, by the way, you remember when we told you how all the crude oil would run out by the end of the 1990s? Well, we were clearly wrong on that one.... OH, remember we told you DDT was killing off all the birds? etc..

Then people would start demanding more proof of the next Doomsday predictions and that would make it much tougher for politicians to exploit Doomsday predictions to control people.

"How many "Doomsday predictions" were described by an august and broad group..."

Pretty much all of them, at least all of the ones that were useful to politicians to control the lives of people. The politicians choose which Doomsday prediction they can exploit to control people, they got the media on-board and away we go.

They exploit each Doomsday prediction until it runs out of gas and then they go looking for the next one.

Nothing new in any of that since the beginning of human society.

Posted by round it up, agt OJ!, a resident of Green Acres,
on Sep 7, 2019 at 5:34 pm

> global cooling (all the rage in the 1970's)

No. It wasn't. A cover of Newsweek, and the media took off with it. The science community did not.

> Ozone Hole

Are you denying the damage to the ozone layer by CFC's? Are you really that far gone?

> running out of crude oil by the late 1990's, etc...

Again, no. Media predictions are not the same as scientific consensus.

> now the 30-year anniversary of the UN report

Link to the actual UN report? The AP article stated the report said: "The most conservative scientific estimate that the Earth's temperature will rise 1 to 7 degrees in the next 30 years, said Brown."

Global temps are up 1.1 degrees, so that's obviously within the range specified by the media report.

Now - the 3 questions you failed to answer:

> "How many "Doomsday predictions" were primarily media driven?
> None of the ones I am talking about, welllll, maybe one.

Yet you refer to media-only frenzies.

> "How many had the consensus of the scientific community?"
> The only effective Doomsday predictions are the ones scientific communities agree are real.

Yet you can't list any.

> "How many "Doomsday predictions" were described by an august and broad group..."
> Pretty much all of them, at least all of the ones that were useful to politicians to control the lives of people.

Yet you can't list any.

[portion removed, repetitive]

Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Sep 8, 2019 at 11:09 am

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

Whew. I guess I asked for that -- my comment was kind of long...

@OJ -- I like your question about the motivations of the deniers/skeptics. The book goes into that in some detail, and I mention it in this post. I'll reply with more later.

@OldEnough -- I appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts. You make an excellent point about trust. It is fundamental, and all too often lacking for one reason or another. We can't work together that way. I also like your point about pushing back against "merchants of doom". Some other points I need to take time to reply to. I think it's important that people understand where you are coming from, so again I really appreciate your weighing in.

Posted by Old Enough to Know Better, a resident of Rex Manor,
on Sep 8, 2019 at 3:42 pm

@Sherry Listgarten,

"Whew. I guess I asked for that --"

You did, which I deeply commend since so few global-warming advocates are willing to ask these questions AND be willing to listen to the answers they may find uncomfortable.

"@OldEnough... You make an excellent point about trust."

Indeed, and anyone with a memory long enough and detailed enough can see there is very little reason to trust these "experts" trying to sell us yet another Doomsday prediction.

"I think it's important that people understand where you are coming from,"

OK, Then allow me to do that:
First, I am a SCIENTIST and technology expert as my father was before me.
I am also an Atheist, in spite of being "raised in the church", I never found any acceptable reason to "believe".

I do NOT work, nor have I ever worked, for any energy company. All my jobs have been in electronics engineering. I don't own ANY stock in energy companies. Although, I don't know about the mutual fund in my little 401K. OH and my wife also does not work for or own energy stock.

I've had education in chemistry, physics, metallurgy, geology, math through calculus, electronics, and other scientific categories.

I am a Liberal Democrat (not a recently renamed progressive) in the proper long-term meanings. From a family of Liberal Democrats. I voted for Carter both times and Mondale and Bill Clinton both times.

I'm terrible at remembering names and faces, but good at remembering events and facts.
I'm somewhere between Sheldon Cooper and Leonard Hofstadter in most respects.

I always (meaning even back in the 1970s) supported fully equal rights for gays (and all others). My wife and I attended our first (purely ceremonial, not legal) gay marriage in the 1980s.

I always supported abortion-on-demand for adult women without being required to jump through legal hoops or delays. I admit I am uncomfortable with some of the late-term abortion methods, but don't have any suggestions about those.

I even support some sort of due-process method for teenage girls to get an abortion WITHOUT the requirement of parental knowledge or approval.
I am and always have been a registered DEMOCRAT VOTER from a family of Democrat voters. I voted for Carter both times, Mondale and Bill Clinton both times.

I support programs like "Free/Reduced price lunch" in schools.
Even the Food Stamps program, I just wish it was structured better to avoid abuses.
Public housing assistance, again, properly managed to avoid abuses.

I fully support the US Constitution (the First AND Second, 9th, tenth and 14th Amendments are among my favorites) and I know that the Constitution MUST be interpreted as it was intended to be understood at the time it was written.

If the USA has changed so radically that enough people want the US Constitution changed, there is a proper legal process to do that. The US Constitution has been used for 27 amendments so the process does work. You don't make changes by simply applying "newspeak" (ala book 1984) to alter the original meaning of words.

Surrendering the governance of the USA to some global authority in the name of "safety" from a predicted "human-caused global-warming Doomsday right around the corner" would require massive modifications of the US Constitutions, or a 1984 style manipulation of the public so they don't know what is true anymore about anything.

I hope this helps you understand where I'm coming from.

Posted by Denier lies, a resident of Downtown North,
on Sep 8, 2019 at 6:00 pm


Old enoughs memories are fabrications. When called on it, he is completely unable to substantiate his falsehoods.

Details? No - they're lies.

Ozone? Scientific consensus on peak oil?

Hogwash. Prove it.

Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Sep 8, 2019 at 7:51 pm

Old enough:

>> Surrendering the governance of the USA to some global authority in the name of

Can you cite what you are referring to? I have no idea what you are talking about.

>> "safety" from a predicted "human-caused global-warming Doomsday right around the corner"

Please read the following website. It was created by people who were skeptical, just like you, but, changed their minds after they did a careful review of the data:

Web Link

Posted by round it up, agt OJ!, a resident of Green Acres,
on Sep 8, 2019 at 9:35 pm

Anon: he didn't read it the first time you posted it and he won't read it this time. He won't read the 4th National Climate Assessment, either.

Sherry: why do you allow him to filibuster off topic?

[Ed note: I should have insisted on references, but didn't have time.]

And why did you remove reference to the agencies that produced the 4th National Climate Assessment? That list alone ends any reasonable response from an unreasonable denier (I know, 'unreasonable denier' is redundant.) Note how far afield he went to avoid it.

[Ed note: It is repetitive and verbose.]

Deniers believe they are smarter than:

[Ed note: Once again removing long list of reputable institutions]

Posted by Old Enough to Know Better, a resident of Rex Manor,
on Sep 8, 2019 at 11:23 pm

@Sherry Listgarten,

I think you'll find the data below of interest. It all comes from NOAA and the IPCC reports. If you look carefully, you will see the data contradicts the IPCC narrative in several key ways.

The IPCC has produced several "summary" reports "for policy makers" over the years. All of which were carefully crafted to fit the same "human-caused global-warming disaster right around the corner" narrative. The IPCC gets their raw climate change data from NOAA.

One interesting detail is that the IPCC has been LOWERING the mid-point of their projections of future global-warming in each new report. The actual MEASURED climate data has consistently been far lower than even the lowest IPCC projections.

In recent years various independent scientists have taken the same data from NOAA and produced various charts and graphs in an effort to see for themselves what the data is actually telling those people who want to listen to the data rather than the contrived PC narrative.

Since these scientists are not any sort of "Collective" they have each looked at the data and chosen different ways to display and analyze the data. Each has made their own decisions on things like what year to use as a dividing-line between time-periods.

Since some people might claim this is "cherry-picking", I have included the results from each of these independent efforts so we can see what the data is saying for ourselves.

According to official NOAA/NCDC Global data:
Chart 1 => much more CO2 increase, but less global warming
1920-1944 climate change +0.48C, with CO2 change +8ppm
1990-2014 climate change +0.42C, with CO2 change +45PPM

Chart 2 => much more CO2 increase, but less global warming
1914-1963 climate change +0.49C, with CO2 change +18ppm
1964-2013 climate change +0.47C, with CO2 change +76ppm

Chart 3 => much more CO2 increase, but less global warming
1910-1945 climate change +0.5C, with CO2 change +10ppm
1946-1974 climate change -0.15C, with CO2 change +20ppm Global Cooling
1975-2005 climate change +0.6C, with CO2 change +50ppm

Chart 4
1880-1916 climate change min-max variation 0.50C, with CO2 change +3%
1917-1945 climate change +0.50C, with CO2 change 0% No CO2 increase, but warmer anyway
1946-1974 climate change -0.15C, with CO2 change +6% More CO2 increase, but colder anyway
1975-1998 climate change +0.50C, with CO2 change +3%
1999-2014 climate change 0.00C, with CO2 change +2% CO2 increase, no warmer

Chart 5
CO2 levels in 1950 were about equal to 1882 levels.
From 1950-1990 climate change +0.45C with CO2 change +8.5%
Less variation in climate than the entire period between 1880-1916

Chart 6
According to IPCC official projections data in global warming reports:
1988 Hansen projection +0.50C/decade
1990 IPCC projection +0.30C/decade
2007 IPCC projection +0.38C/decade
2013 IPCC second draft projection +0.23C/decade
2013 IPCC final projection +0.17C/decade
Actual observations in NOAA data:
last 63 years actual HadCRUT4 observations +0.11C/decade
last 17 years actual Satellite observations 0.00C/decade

The IPCC says the "range" of IPCC projections has been wide enough to claim they "matched" the actual observations.

OK, but that "range" is not the point, the fact that the IPCC keeps REDUCING the mid-point of their projection range means the IPCC has always been projecting on the high-side of observed reality and they are now being forced to comply with measured reality. Which is the whole point.

All you hear about in the main-stream media are the politically crafted "summaries" and the actual raw data is never presented in a manner understandable by anyone.

Posted by Old Enough to Know Better, a resident of Rex Manor,
on Sep 8, 2019 at 11:39 pm

"Old enough:
>> Surrendering the governance of the USA to some global authority in the name of<<

"Can you cite what you are referring to? I have no idea what you are talking about."

Sure, here is a first taste for you, but go read up on the IPCC "summary for policy makers" it's full of requirements that must be imposed by a global authority.

2018 IPCC report:
"Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, the IPCC said in a new assessment. With clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said on Monday."

Now, exactly HOW do you suppose humanity is supposed to do any of that without a global authority with the power to impose these "REQUIRED":
"...rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society,..."

And exactly how should we interpret this little statement?
"...could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society..."

How exactly do you reconcile saving the planet from runaway global warming with ensuring a more ... equitable society?

Why would the IPCC tie fighting global warming to making society more equitable?

It's NOT about pollution, nor saving the planet, it's always about CONTROL of people.

The "solutions" the IPCC offers are only about controlling the lives of people, not about actually slowing or reversing global warming.

Posted by Old Enough to Know Better, a resident of Rex Manor,
on Sep 9, 2019 at 12:00 am

@Sherry Listgarten,

Here is an excerpt from another skeptic that I found interesting:

"Famous, extreme, widely accepted and wrong predictions about climate change.

Here are just two examples: NASA Scientists Predicted a New Ice Age in 1971. Kenneth Watt warned about a pending Ice Age in a speech. “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years," he declared. “If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age."

The Inconvenient Truth narrated by Al Gore predicted that Manhattan would be underwater by now. Clearly, it's not. Even worse, was that he tried to revise this prediction to say that he was talking about extreme events like storm surges. I just re-watched the movie and he was talking about general sea level rise.

When well known climate change advocates are wrong and then lie about that fact, it does not make me any less skeptical. Things that would mitigate skepticism (IT WOULD BE REALLY COOL IF NEWATLAS DID AN ARTICLE ANSWERING SOME OF THESE QUESTIONS): Basic facts Usually, when discussing a theory or scientific fact basic facts are used as part of the explanation. "

Now, that skeptic wrote a neat and long explanation of why people are skeptical about the IPCC "human-caused global-warming disaster right around the corner" narrative.

Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Sep 9, 2019 at 9:41 am

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

I’m going to keep this brief, but I would like to remind you that claims should be accompanied with links. I know that is hard, but I try to do it in my posts, and I would ask that you do as well. If you distrust some sources, then which do you trust? Share a link. It is especially important when these are claims that are not familiar. Otherwise we just have a shouting match of unsubstantiated opinions, which isn’t interesting or productive.

@Older, there is a role for skepticism, but at some point it makes no sense to rely on our own limited knowledge and capabilities over that of experts. There is broad scientific consensus that global warming is occurring as a result of human activities, and at a rate that presents significant problems for our future. Others have suggested some good links for you, so I will leave it there. So many of the points you raise I’ve seen before (and are debunked by scientists), though I have to admit the “glass greenhouses can't get warmer” one was new to me.

I disagree that skeptics are of little danger. Skepticism and the intentional spread of distrust can be grievously harmful, especially when amplified. Millions of people were killed by rampant disinformation delaying tobacco regulations. Our fight against global warming has been badly hurt by decades of delay.

In that vein, I should be insisting on a more substantiated discussion, or I am abetting that amplification. Look for more aggressive editing of unsubstantiated assertions in the future, assuming I can find the time.

A few minor points:
- I’m not impressed when people point out that science is not perfect. Of course it’s not.
- I don’t understand a view that blames media and politicians for disinformation but not companies. Companies have a very strong economic incentive to spread disinformation, and have done it repeatedly. Media and politicians are often targets of their campaigns.
- I don’t understand how so-called skeptics feel comfortable poking holes in established theories but then provide their own theories with little or no substantiation. That is skepticism at its most hypocritical.

I am regretfully disabling further comments on this post because I do not have time to moderate enough to ensure a substantive and productive discussion.

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