Saturday, February 14, 2009

Growing AGW skepticism is not denied by ad hominem attacks

Given that this is Valentine’s Day, and that there have been no new posts at Real Climate, and only one (other than showing how good Steve is at squash) over at Climate Audit, I am going to combine the comment post and the blog review (Saturday Pick Points) into a single post today. In part this is because of an item in the Guardian this past week, that Anthony Watts picked up at Watt’s Up With That . The title of the article is “ ‘Apocalyptic Climate predictions’ mislead public, say experts,” and it leads back to an article on the Guardian Website by Dr Vicky Pope, who is the head of climate change advice at the Met Office Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom (Hadley), where one of the leading advocates of AGM has just about had enough with some of the rest of the brigade.

Part of the problem has been that, in order to get media space, any projected change in climate is often exaggerated to make a dramatic headline. And while neither Guardian piece is that explicit, in the WUWT post there are the following examples:
During the past few weeks, there have been several warnings of apocalypse from noted scientists. Dr. Hansen warned in The Guardian that President Obama has “four years to save the planet.” James McCarthy, head of the American Association for The Advancement of Science (AAAS) made a similar statement. Nobel Prize winning scientist Al Gore is going to take it a step further at next week’s AAAS meeting. Steven Chu, President Obama’s Secretary of Energy, warned that California will no longer be able to support agriculture or cities due to drought caused by global warming.
All of these use highly dramatic statements in trying to get the public’s attention. The particular articles that seem to have grabbed Hadley’s attention deal more with the Arctic Ice Cap and Greenland, and the first is directly aimed back at Dr. Hansen, though it doesn’t actually name him. Specifically
Recent headlines have proclaimed that Arctic summer sea ice has decreased so much in the past few years that it has reached a tipping point (this was Hansen) and will disappear very quickly. The truth is that there is little evidence to support this. Indeed, the record-breaking losses in the past couple of years could easily be due to natural fluctuations in the weather, with summer sea ice increasing again over the next few years.
And then in regard to Greenland:
The most recent example of this sequence of claim and counter-claim focused on the Greenland ice sheet. The melting of ice around south-east Greenland accelerated in the early part of this decade, leading to reports that scientists had underestimated the speed of warming in this region. Recent measurements, reported in Science magazine last week, show that the speed-up has stopped across the region. This has been picked up on the climate sceptics' websites. Again, natural variability has been ignored in order to support a particular point of view, with climate change advocates leaping on the acceleration to further their cause and the climate change sceptics now using the slowing down to their own benefit.

And today the Guardian has a story by Patrick Michaels about the Eric Steig paper on the Antarctic that I have been commenting about for the last two Saturdays. His piece, rather than focusing on the errors that WUWT and CA have found, looks at the data and notes that it really doesn’t show anything remarkable, despite the hype that it received from Nature (being used as the lead article, with a front cover).

The response from Guardian readers to the latter post has been the usual spate of ad hominem attacks, that make scientific discussion of these stories more difficult. But one thing of note is this spate of less than adulatory stories of AGW proponents. This was foreseen in an article in Politico last November. The story began
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.
This, at the time, engendered an excoriating comment from the Washington Monthly, which was again, sadly focused more on ad Hominem attack
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.
and in comments
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.
And if you wonder where they get an example from that leads them down this route, consider the letter from Dr. Mann about Larry Solomon’s comments on the Antarctic story
How ironic that Mr Lawrence uses the word "shame" in his disinformation piece. For he is perhaps the most shameful and dishonest actors in the climate change disinformation machine. Some people indeed have no shame. Nonetheless, in Mr Solomon's case, the judgment of history will be his condemnation.
Not exactly encouraging the furthering of scientific debate are they. (Lawrence had a video comment on this and how the press has been taken in) However that particular controversy continues with comments both by Gerald North and by Lawrence Solomon.

WUMT has another example of the ad hominem nature of the AGW approach this week. Out in Columbus, Ohio, the NBC4 chief meteorologist Jym Ganahl had given a local talk on the myths of global warming. Daily Kos was not amused, and again there was no thought given to a look at the scientific evidence that was in the talk, but rather just a whole series of snide remarks about meteorologists in the comments section.

You can see that it can be quite easy to get lost in the facts, as the insults trot around the internet. But rather than leave the post with that, I did put a couple of things together about the end of the Medieval Warming Period this week. When I first started commenting on Jean Grove’s book on the Little Ice Age I commented on the movement of the fish shoals away from Greenland as the glaciers advanced to the coast. Well now the situation is reversed, as the warmer seas change the pattern of migration.
“The Cod are coming back to Greenland strong,” he says. I find it ironic that global warming and the melting of the Greenland ice cap that threatens the world ecology has also meant that cod have started to move north into Greenland’s warmer waters and their numbers are growing.
They left at the start of the Little Ice Age, and now they are coming back. Which might be a comment on how warm it was back in 1300, but then that would be data and not opinion. (grin)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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