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1 Feb 2010

A Review of ‘Climate Cover-up’ by James Hoggan

climatecoverupClimate Cover-up: the crusade to deny global warming.  James Hoggan with Richard Littlemore.  Greystone Books. 2009. 250pp.

This very timely book is essential reading for those bewildered by the recent backlash against climate science.  It takes things back to basics, and rather than being an exploration of the climate science itself, it seeks to equip the reader with the tools to be able to distinguish between the sources of climate-related information.  If you want to board an aeroplane, but were told by a large group of aeronautical engineers that the plane was 90% certain to crash upon take-off, would you listen to them, or to a small group, comprising a PR consultant, a botanist and a plumber, who presented as evidence an article from Readers Digest magazine?  The debate as to whether climate change is happening or not, and the need felt by media organisations to always present ‘both sides’, was over several years ago, yet since just before Copenhagen, contrarianism is back, and is back bigtime.  So who are these people?  Are they right?  And how can we tell the difference?

Recently, Peter Taylor, author of “Chill:A Reassessment of Global Warming Theory: Does Climate Change Mean the World is Cooling, and If So What Should We Do About It?”, gave a talk in Totnes to a packed hall.  His talk rubbished the idea of global warming, stating that the world is actually cooling, its largely due to sunspot activity anyway, and the world elites know it is all a scam.  Many who attended left convinced by his argument and the slew of impressive looking graphs thrown at them.  But who is Peter Taylor, and how can we, as punters, distinguish between science and pseudo-science on this vital issue?  Climate change is a complex science, hard for many of us to really understand.  Hoggan offers 3 questions to always bear in mind in such circumstances;

  1. Does this ‘expert’ have relevant credentials?  For example, have they trained in an area of science that is at the very least connected to climatology or atmospheric physics?
  2. If an ‘expert’ is talking about science, are they still practicing science?  Are they still conducting research and publishing in legitimate peer-reviewed journals?  Or are all of their ‘scientific’ pronouncements appearing on newspaper opinion pages, edited by people who think its just great to provoke debate?
  3. Is this ‘expert’ taking money from vested interests or is he or she associated with idealogical think tanks – the people who rely for their employment on promoting the agenda of their major funders?

This is a very useful checklist.  In the case of Taylor, closer investigation reveals that he doesn’t have the relevant credentials and has no training in areas related to climate concerns.  The biography in his book reads;

“In 1984 Peter Taylor worked as an internationally respected biologist specialising in marine radioactive pollution. As an independent scientist he was appointed to the British government’s Holliday Commission and acted as researched adviser to the Department of the Environment’s radioactive waste programme. At the same time he actively represented Greenpeace at International Conventions for the protection of the oceans. He has published widely in science journals, and was regularly interviewed by press and TV. Behind the scenes, as a yogic initiator, he acted as teacher and guide to many people awakening to a contemporary spiritual path”.

So, nothing that relates to climatology, glaciology, any of the other disciplines that underpin climate science (as Hoggan notes, this is a common pattern among contrarians). Closer investigation reveals his autobiography, ‘Shiva’s Rainbow’.  In it, he refers to how he obtained an Open Scholarship at Oxford to study biology, geology, chemistry and physics, “I had lied my way into the system” he writes.  As for his scientific credentials, Taylor writes;

“In truth, in the scientific realms in which I worked, and gained by now, some standing, I was an imposter. I am not a scientist. Apart from my brief survey of tree-hole communities when I successfully correlated insect larvae diversity with circumference and aspect of the hole to the sun, which, in any case, had been done many times before, I have never ‘done’ science. In my work I have relied certainly upon an understanding of scientific theory and a memory for facts and relationships, and upon an instinct for the hidden and not yet known, but fundamentally I have been a linguist and an actor. My scientific degrees were linguistic exercises in critical review. My performances on television, in public inquiries, on tribunals and commissions, those of an extremely well-briefed lawyer, the ultimate actor. Which is not to say there is no dedication to truth.”

The book reads more like a psychedelic acid New Age paranoia novel, a la Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminati trilogy, rather than the biography of a scientist.

In terms of whether he has published any peer-reviewed papers on climate change, there are none, his work more likely to appear in New Age publications like Caduceus magazine than Nature or Science (according to the references at the back of ‘Chill’, he did have one thing published in Nature, called “Nuclear Energy: how the odds are stacked against the opponents”, a two pager which was most likely a letter, and nothing to do with climate change).   He did publish one good book on landscape and wildlife, published by respected publishers Earthscan, and a few papers, mostly on marine pollution and nuclear power, but that’s it, nothing even vaguely climate related, and ‘Chill’ was published by Clairview, which is a publisher that emerged from the Rudolf Steiner movement,  and whose back catalogue is definitely more toward the ‘New Age’ end of the spectrum.  

I want to be completely clear that there’s no evidence at all that Taylor takes funding from oil companies, and I’m not implying that he does.  However Taylor has clear intellectual vested interests, in that he is deeply rooted in the 2012/New Age/conspiracy community, so that after 90 minutes discussing the ‘science’ of climate change, he then switches mode and talks about shamanism, 2012 and consciousness change, and his Totnes talk littered with arguing that ‘they’ don’t want you to hear the ‘truth’ that he is presenting. Based on Hoggan’s questions, on this vital question, Taylor lacks any of the key credentials that we should look for when evaluating information on this vital issue.  He is, unfortunately, not alone.

There is a growing band of contrarian voices, many of whom are very media savvy, and who are increasingly getting an airing. But Hoggan’s book starts by taking a closer look at the phenomenon of ‘Manufactured Doubt’. It started with the tobacco industry, and the tactics it used to prevent legislation to ban smoking.  For many years after the science that proved the link between smoking and cancer, tobacco industry-funded PR companies sowed doubt about the science, questioning its rigour and lobbying Governments.  It worked, for many years.  The same thing was seen with ozone depletion, and now with climate change.

A range of high profile contrarians appear regularly now in the media, sowing doubt about the science, picking up on small errors like the recent IPCC glacier mistake, or the emails leaked from University of East Anglia, and arguing that that means that the entire science of climate change is wrong.  The reality, according to Hoggan, is very different.  Although the media is full of stories questioning climate science, the body of scientific knowledge arguing that human activity is affecting climate is vast.  In 2005, Naomi Oreskes published a paper in Science which searches the database of peer reviewed science on climate change published between 1993 and 2003.  She found 928 articles, none of which challenged the consensus that human activity was changing the climate.  At the same time, another study by Jules and Max Boykoff looked at the coverage in the four main US papers at that time, finding that 53% of stories also quoted a contrarian ‘spokesperson’ in order to maintain ‘balance’.  In other words the media were presenting ‘the other side’, in spite of the unanimous scientific opinion that there was no legitimate ‘other side’.

The book offers a blistering exposee of shadowy think tanks, pretend grassroots organisations, lobbyists and charismatic speakers, who dedicate their time to manufacturing doubt about climate change.  The funding links between these individuals and groups and the fossil fuel or other energy intensive corporations who fund them are laid out clearly.  This includes the Western Fuels Association, whose film ‘The Greening of Planet Earth’, which argued that increases in CO2 are actually good for the earth (“Carbon dioxide.  They call it pollution. We call it life”) has to be seen to be believed, and also Dr. Timothy Ball.

Hoggan describes Ball thus, “there are few ‘skeptical scientists’ with as little actual experience and as much ambition as the Canadian geography professor Dr. Timothy Ball.  Never a climate scientist per se, Dr Ball quit his position as an associate professor at the University of Winnipeg in 1995, apparently ending an academic career that featured a lifetime output of just four peer-reviewed journal articles, none of which addressed atmospheric science”.  Yet after 10 years, Ball was a highly visible contrarian, even testifying before a committee of the Canadian parliament, coming out with gems like “Environment Canada [the Canadian national weather service] can’t even predict the weather!  How can you tell me that they have any idea what it’s going to be like 100 years from now if they can’t tell me what the weather is going to be like in four months, or even next week?”  (an absurd argument I still read every week in the letters column of our local paper).

‘Climate Cover-up’ explores the range of contrarian spokespeople and where they come from ideologically.  They almost all rarely have the background or qualifications to speak authoritatively on the subject, but some come from a deeply libertarian political perspective, usually from the political Right, such as ‘Lord’ Monckton, who told the Glen Beck Program on Fox News that he was seeking to “fight back against this tide of unscientific freedom-destroying nonsense”, some just do it because the funding is very attractive, some, and such as Taylor, take an almost Messianic David Icke-style ‘everything you know is wrong and the Truth will set you free’ type approach.  They all believe the entire science is questionable to the extent that we should scrap it and start again.  On top of this one can also add George Monbiot’s observations that they are mostly men of above a certain age who use climate denial as a tool for avoiding their own mortality (very interesting, worth a read).

The reality though is very different.  Of course there is doubt about climate science, that’s now science works… science is built on, and thrives on doubt.  As Hoggan puts it, in probably the most important paragraph in the book;

“Who says climate science is a scientific certainty?  No one really.  Certainties are rare in science.  Even the reappearance of the sun over the horizon tomorrow morning can be reduced to a question of probability.  On the question of climate change, scientists say they are more than 90% sure that it’s happening and that humans are responsible.  Scientists embrace that kind of skepticism.  It is through doubting the certainties of the world (the flatness of the Earth, the usefulness of bloodletting) that scientists advance human knowledge.  But no serious scientist will stand up and denounce a widely held scientific theory without making a verifiable argument to the contrary.  Scientists – real scientists – bind themselves to a strict discipline, setting out their theories and experiments carefully, subjecting them to review by other credible scholars who are knowledgeable in their field, and publishing them in reputable journals, such as Science and Nature.  The people who approach the science of climate change with that kind of integrity have agreed on its underlying components for years”.

Of course, there is doubt about the science.  A recent article in Nature , The Real Holes in Climate Science, set out the areas where the science is weaker, where more studies are needed, but they are very different to where the contrarians argue they are.  The fact that one detail about the Himalayan glaciers made it into the last IPCC report unchecked, part of a hugely complex document, is not great, but to err is, after all human, and the reality, according to most of the science published since the latest IPCC report, is that it is too conservative, rather than too radical, and there are calls for the IPCC to go back to the data not because it is wrong, but precisely because it doesn’t take more more alarming recent developments into account. Those like Taylor who argue that there is a proven and established link between global warming and sunspot activity are left with little ground to stand on, due to the fact that 2009 was, globally, the hottest year on record, but with the lowest sunspot activity for many years.   Alongside this, the major ice sheets continue to disintegrate, and we continue the slide towards runaway climate change.

This is such a vital issue.  I am not a climate scientist, and like many of us, I did not leave school with the scientific understanding to be able to distinguish between an article in Caduceus by Peter Taylor and a peer-reviewed article in Science.  The reason so many people were impressed with Taylor’s talk was because, on some level, his message was what they wanted to hear (which was presumably why they went in the first place).  The same is true across society, which is why so few people actually check the credentials of those putting themselves forward as ‘experts’.  Hoggan though is insistent that we need to learn to be more discerning.  “This is not a time for easy answers.  This is a time for right answers, which you will find only if you insist on the best sources, the respected journals and national science academies that have no agenda other than advancing the scope of human knowledge”.

‘Climate Cover-up’ was published, sadly, before the fufore that surrounded the release of the hacked emails from UEA, and would have benefitted greatly from their analysis, although that can be found over at the author’s blog.  The last section of the book, about the tar sands, and about Canadian politics, falls a bit flat for me in comparison to the rest of the book, but that is just a small criticism.  In a world where climate change is accused of being a conspiracy, ‘Climate Cover-up’ reveals the true nature of the real conspiracy, a conspiracy to denegrate science, to elevate belief to the same standing as peer-reviewed science, to enable vast amounts of fossil fuel industry money to attack a well-proven scientific case, to manufacture doubt where little exists.  In exposing the modus operandii and the dubious credentials of those fronting it, ‘Climate Cover-up’ does us a great service, and in offering us a finely tuned bullshit detector, a set of critical thinking tools, it many turn out to be one of the most important books you have ever read.  Finally, here is a wonderful cartoon someone sent me recently which rather sums all of this up.

betterworld

I am indebted to Alistair McIntosh’s review of ‘Shiva’s Rainbow’ for some of the quotes above.

Categories: Climate Change, General

Comments are now closed on this site, please visit Rob Hopkins' blog at Transition Network to read new posts and take part in discussions.

32 Comments

Matthew
1 Feb 8:44am

Australia
WAIT TILL 2020 PLEASE
TO SEE IF GLOBAL WARMING DOES REALLY EXIST
I would like RUDD our EMPLOYEE to stop spending our money on global warming as we are still developing our great nation and would be left in the dust
1)We wouldn’t even see a significant difference to the climate even after spending $billions of TAX PAYERS DOLLARS
2)The manufacturing and transport of mandated products like insulation and solar etc. produce huge short term pollution and wasn’t even added in to the IPCC calculator
3)The ETS Would make the average Australia’s cost of just living $1100 a year more which we don,t have
4) Copenhagen was a complete waste of time and cost $1.8 MILLION just to send the party over there
5)As our manufacturing costs go up due to the ETS more Australian jobs will go overseas and the co2 levels would still be produced but in someone else’s back yard like China.
etc. etc. etc.
SIMPLY GIVE OUR ECONOMY A BREAK AND WAIT AND SEE IF GLOBAL WARMING DOES REALLY EXIST

toni
1 Feb 11:27am

You’re having us on aren’t you Matthew? You know we don’t need to wait until 2020 to find out whether global warming really exists, we can see it now on the tele every night of the week. Come on Matthew, you know won’t need a job or money when you are dying of thirst over there in Aussie. I must admit you put it well when you said that you’ll be left in the dust. mmmm… I’ll make you a deal; you get down the library, read a few books, have a chat to your local scientists and join up the dots and I’ll save you a bottle of water from the local glacier. Can’t say fairer than that! :=)

Gary Alexander
1 Feb 11:57am

Great cartoon! I often think it is that vision of a better life that is driving Transition and related movements. That the fear of future environmental catastrophe is as much a way of getting people on board and shaking them out of their complacency as a personal motivation for me and others who seem to think similarly.

But I fear the power of the climate skeptics as I think it will keep the complacency in place. A well-off friend that I hadn’t seen in some years told me about his boat, moored in Turkey that he goes to regularly, and about his climate skepticism. They would go together, wouldn’t they?

Gary

Katy Duke
1 Feb 12:01pm

I did some work for OneWorld UK last year, helping with their OneClimate project. I found myself often answering the sceptics on the question section of their (rather wonderful) website http://www.oneclimate.net and wrote this;

Each time a challenge comes from a sceptic I find myself scouting around for the real science and the critical thinking on the subject. This often sends me into a spiral of fascinating research as nuggets come to light. Here is a response to the “We are being systematically lied to in order to provide a basis for more taxation. If you have any doubts visit http://www.petitionproject.org” challenge…….

The argument goes something like this – if global warming is supposed to be a ‘settled’ science then how come 31,486 American scientists disagree? ref; http:www.petitionproject.org

I checked out the statistics & discovered that just 39 studied climatology & most had a degree in ‘general engineering’ – you can see the data & info here – http://www.oneclimate.net/2010/01/08/note-for-sceptics-the-petition/

Some other useful sites to research & answer sceptics claims are;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scientists_opposing_global_warming_consensus

For best quality science see http://www.realclimate.org/

Understand the science http://geoflop.uchicago.edu/forecast/docs/lectures.html

Don’t let the climate doubters fool you – washingtonpost.com http://bit.ly/6zWka7

For a useful analysis of ‘the’ emails see http://climateprogress.org/2009/11/20/hacked-hadley-emails-hottest-decade-on-record-and-the-oceans-planet-keep-warming/

http://www.oneclimate.net/

Shaun Chamberlin
1 Feb 4:04pm

You mention Naomi Oreskes. She also produced a brilliant and accessible Powerpoint addressing the valid question “How do we know we’re not wrong?”, and looking at the strengths and weaknesses of scientific investigation. It is available here.

John Mason
1 Feb 4:07pm

Good to see this book covered, Rob! Fully agree with all points.

it’s essential reading in order to understand what is going on right now in the more-turbulent-than-ever world of climate politics. If you have not read the book yet, then buy, beg or borrow a copy now! It’ll make the news make a lot more sense and it’ll help you to sort out what’s going on e.g. in the comments section of every Monbiot article on climate!

Cheers – John

John Mason
1 Feb 4:10pm

Might as well pop this in here, penned this morning:

[satire]

NEW IPCC SHOCKER

The UN climate change body the IPCC is again reeling after a shock discovery was made public late yesterday. Examination of notes obtained from a skip at the back of the kebab shop three doors down from its prestigious, taxpayer-funded headquarters have revealed that the climate prediction models created by the Labour-leaning green organisation are FOR THE WRONG PLANET.

That’s right. The IPCC is using climate models for Venus to invent ways of taxing us here on Earth. How the mix-up occurred will be the subject of an investigation immediately ordered by furious government officials, but the news has already caused a stir among climate change sceptics. “This is the final final nail in the coffin for global warming”, one thundered. Another added, “all them professors want locking up 4 eva they r scum”.

We studied the papers in detail and found that the IPCC created climate models for Earth, Mars and Venus, its nearest similar-sized planets in the Solar System, in order to compare the different atmospheres. The models predicted the following:

Earth: between 3 and 6C warming in the next 100 years. Widespread collapse of agriculture and major famine with large-scale die-off, especially at low latitudes as climate belts move rapidly. Sea-level rise engulfs major coastal cities rendering millions homeless. Snow on high ground in Scotland and down to low levels every few years causing widespread shock.

Mars: mild by day at low latitudes. Bitterly cold by night everywhere with icy stretches between craters.

Venus: temperatures into the hundreds of degrees celsius. Choking atmosphere of greenhouse gases and acidic steam. Oceans have boiled dry. Nothing alive whatsoever.

So how DID the mix-up occur? Green activist Mr T. Hugger commented: “this is a serious slip-up. I know they were in a hurry to get this finished, but to incorporate the contents of the wrong folder into such an important report and not to have it proof-read afterwards is an appalling mistake. Things must be reviewed and, where necessary, tightened up”. Others, however, have been quicker to point the finger. “It’s obvious”, said Julius De Nile, of the BCOWSTK (Burn Coal Or We Shoot These Kittens) Foundation, a Virginia-based think-tank set up to promote Freedom. “They knew there was no global warming on Earth, so they ran models for other planets and picked the hottest one and ran with that. It’s typical alarmist hype. There is no global warming, there is warming but it’s nothing to do with carbon dioxide and the carbon dioxide causing the warming has all come from volcanoes”.

We contacted the IPCC and a spokesman wearily responded: “The IPCC does not create climate models, it has not studied other planets, it is a UN body and has nothing to do with the UK Labour Party and… oh, why am I even bothering? To hell with it. I’m off down the pub”, after which he was driven by a chauffered limousine to his private jet in order to do a journey of just 300 yards. With the air conditioning on.

On other pages:

Scientists: why hanging’s too good for them by A. Hack – 23
How I will completely fix the climate by David Cameron – 27
Climate Predictions you can trust by Mystic Meg – 44

[/satire]

Joanne Poyourow
1 Feb 5:21pm

Great comic!

One thing about global warming science I realized as I was reading my son’s middle school science book. It’s a language problem, a stark difference between the scientific community’s language and non-scientific people’s language.

In scientific/technical circles, when an idea is being tested, it is called a “hypothesis.” Once it is supported by numerous studies, tests, and results, it is then called called a “theory.” To a scientist, the phrase “proven theory” is redundant.

In non-scientific/non-technical circles, a “theory” is someone’s idea, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s supported by anything. Acceptable synonyms include: guess, hunch, belief. Antonyms: certainty, fact, proof, reality … from Random House dictionary.

Thus when we say “the theory of global warming,” to a scientist that phrase means it has been supported by lots and lots of studies and testing. Scientists always leave themselves an out, so they won’t ever say something is “for sure”, but “theory” comes as close as any scientist will ever say to “for sure.”

But that same phrase, “the theory of global warming,” to a non-scientific person often means it’s someone’s idea and there isn’t support for it. A radically different interpretation, which leaves the door flapping wide open for deniers to gain the ear of the public.

Max Oakes
1 Feb 8:23pm

Peak oil/coal/gas/uranium cuts through the doubt. Energy consumtion growth can’t continue.

£1.20 litre petrol is driving change you can believe in. There will be fewer cars soon. Airlines are going through an oil price dieoff.

Many oil experts would have told you that peak oil is nonsense in 2005. Oil companies paid their wages. $150/barrel oil in 2008 has cut the number markedly, waiting for consequences isn’t a great strategy though.

Chris Snow
1 Feb 10:50pm

This has troubled me for some time. I’m unsure what it is about climate change that makes so many people with absolutely no expertise in the subject doubt the prevailing scientific consensus. I can’t think of any other area of science where this happens.

As an example of this, just before Christmas, I came across a discarded copy of the Daily Express on a train which contained an article called “It’s not the end of the world” in which Johnny Ball, the former children’s TV presenter, described “why he disagrees with the climate doom-mongers”. It seems the Express regards him as an expert on the subject because he used to present programmes on popular science, which is a bit like asking Rolf Harris to perform an operation on your pet dog because he used to present Animal Hospital. It’s an extraordinary article – I have saved it for my children to show them the type of thing that we were up against.

The main question for sceptics is of course, where’s your science? Because they haven’t got any (well not much anyway). There’s a few papers that tend to get quoted endlessly, even after they’ve been debunked. The IPCC report is based on thousands of papers, covering not only climatology, but oceanography, glacialogy and other related earth sciences. Chapter 2 of the Working Group 1 report, which covers the physical science, cites over 700 papers alone. The basic science goes back over 30 years as well, so it had proved remarkable robust as well.

Borach Corneliusen
2 Feb 9:51am

The authors Mr. Hoggan and Mr. Littlemore live in Vancouver, British Columbia where our provincial politics are quite polarized. We have the right, our BC Liberals who are in their 3rd term and we have the left, the BC NDP. This past election on May 12th we had a race that split our Enviro groups in this province into two general camps. The large Enviros who receive most of their funding from US sources and the Grassroots groups who receive most of their funding locally. Those large groups took a stand in attacking the BCNDP’s position on a Carbon Tax that had recently been “implemented” by the BC Liberals. The Carbon Tax was unadulterated greenwashing and it worked, and we now have the most environmentally destructive provincial gov’t this province has ever seen in their 3rd term.

The BC Liberals played their cards perfectly and the formerly environment friendly BCNDP went from being heads and tails ahead of the BC Liberals, to being on par where it concerned the environment and voters. One of the significant players in this PR masterstroke for the BC Liberals was and is James Hoggan. He started http://www.desmogblog.com/ in 2006 “Clearing the PR Pollution that Clouds Climate Science”. He is a financial contributor to the BC Liberals and has done work for them in their capacity as Gov’t. DeSmogBLog , during this past election, attacked the BCNDP numerous times and not the BC Liberals once.

In my humble opinion, Mr. Hoggan has placed himself and his various entities as a champion of climate change without having done anything for the environment. He has very effectively greenwashed himself and all that he associates with. Here in BC, our right wing think tank, http://www.fraserinstitute.org/ are climate change deniers. However, the BC Liberals worship the ground they walk on.

We won’t be having another election for 3.5 years, but I feel it is important to call a spade a spade. I sense that Mr. Hoggan has very successfully portrayed himself in a light that has hidden his true politics and I hope this letter will have had some effect in forewarning people as to what those politics are. Certainly, there is more to this story than meets the eye and I am not a journalist who knows how to find more incriminating evidence.

Rob
2 Feb 10:12am

Fantastic comment Chris, thanks. I note, to pick up on your comments, that both Taylor and Johnny Ball are now speaking at a conspiracy theorists conference, along with renowned climate scientist David Bellamy. Presumably Ball has rapidly become such an expert on the subject that he will be able to hold his own among such esteemed scientific company. http://www.avfour.co.uk/ (a fun day out for all the family). Here is the blurb from their website with regards to where Johnny Ball comes from on all of this…

“Politicised Science – Brainwashing our Young

“Climate change” propaganda is turning many kids into militant save-the-earth pests at home. The global warming movement has taken a decidedly sinister turn.

Not content with scaring moms and dads with tales of a coming global warming apocalypse, the true believers in human-caused climate change have taken their controversial doomsday message into the classroom and onto the Internet, polluting impressionable kids with green propaganda and creating youth legions of enviro-fanatics.

Fresh from their daily “greenwashing” sessions at school, these save-the-earth converts arrive home as little inspector generals, haranguing parents for exhibiting environmentally insensitive behaviour and contributing to the planet’s looming CO2 overdose.

The young Greenites, already pre-conditioned by classroom propaganda, are subjected to the same man-is-destroying-the-earth homilies on the Internet. The eco-epistles consist of the usual heart-tugging climate scare stories (e.g. polar bears are dying and ice caps are melting), which conveniently fail to mention that the earth has warmed – and cooled – naturally for billions of years and that CO2 is a life-giving atmospheric gas.

In the dark and depressing world of quasi-religious eco-fanatics, there is no room for the light of truth in their save-the-earth evangelism … and kids are easy targets”.

Dear oh dear. And to think that as a child, I learnt science from the man on the TV…

Robin Datta
2 Feb 10:26am

What is sadly lacking is the AGW advocates’ ability to explain and refute the allegations that their data has been “cooked”. Such items as the 390:1 weighting of any dataset suggesting a “hockey stick”, the attempt to hide the medieval warming, and many other items leads one to reconsider.

Peter
2 Feb 12:36pm

But it is too late. The contrarians, dismissers and right-wingers have won.

Although Copenhagen was based on scientific consensus and peer-reviewed evidence, scientist’s minimal recommendations for carbon reduction have not been met. Nowhere near.

The ‘timely’ theft and publication of emails and circulation of selective quotes a week before the conference undermined the science to such a degree in the US that Obama could not risk his health-care reform by signing an equally unpopular document.

Another reason why Copenhagen failed were the exaggerations that have been made about the effects of climate change by some activists, politicians, the media and culturally in films such as ‘The Day After Tomorrow’.

The truth is far slower and more pernicious. It will be our children and grandchildren who will die from food shortages and extreme weather events.

And it is too late to do anything to prevent it. Are acceptation and adaptation the only things we can do now? Please excuse me – I’ve just got to nip off to teach my daughter how to undo the safety-catch on a crossbow. :o(

Peter
2 Feb 1:12pm

Be careful how you use emoticons on this site. I expected this one :(
And got this one :o(

yashada
2 Feb 4:27pm

Hmm, I too had an ‘encounter with the skeptical kind’ about a year ago; but thankfully I came out unscathed.
I spoke about the whole episode on my blog:
http://myscienceweblog.wordpress.com/2009/01/15/a-secret-uncovered/

Graham
2 Feb 9:43pm

Chris Snow:
“I’m unsure what it is about climate change that makes so many people with absolutely no expertise in the subject doubt the prevailing scientific consensus. I can’t think of any other area of science where this happens.”

Really? How about alternative therapies, presumed nutritional benefits of organic food, the anti-nuclear lobby, Biodynamics and Steinerism, “Vaccine Denial” and many other new Age beliefs which are promoted by many supporters of Transition, and the Environmental movement in general. (Rob is highly selective in the New Age beliefs he derides and the ones he follows).

In fact come to think of it, along with peak Oil, Climate Science is practically the ONLY area where the science is actually reported accurately amongst Transition.

No wonder the public is so confused- the techniques and strategies of denial outlined in Rob’s review are routinely used in almost identical fashion by the alternative health industry etc, often promoted by the very same people who complain about climate change denial.

What a weird world we live in!

Dan Pangburn
3 Feb 3:03am

Scientific data and analyses show that there is no significant human-caused global warming.

During the late Ordovician the planet plunged into the Andean/Saharan ice age when the CO2 level was several times the present.

During the last and previous glaciations, atmospheric CO2 increase often lagged temperature increase by hundreds of years

Proxy data from ice cores show temperature trend direction changes. Temperature trend direction changes are not possible if NET feedback from average global temperature is positive.

Average global temperatures for over a century have trended down then up then down then up then down while average annual atmospheric CO2 levels have always risen since 1800. Lack of correlation proves lack of causation.

A simple model accurately predicts average global temperatures since 1895 (i.e. over 114 years…and counting) without any need to consider the effects of change to CO2 level or any other ghg. The model, with an eye-opening graph, is presented in the October 16 pdf at http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true. (Replace all references to PDO with ESST which is short for Effective Sea Surface Temperature).

It is woefully naive to think that all that needs to be done to get global weather models (calling them climate models does not make them climate models) to predict climate is to run them longer.

Katy Duke
3 Feb 10:37am

Thanks Dan.
As Milan said here -http://www.sindark.com/2009/07/28/hfcs-and-climate-change/ “Your self-published article has as much credibility as a blog post. By contrast, the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC has been subjected to a massive amount of scientific scrutiny – including consideration of whether observed changes in temperature can be attributed to sunspots.

Steve Netwriter
3 Feb 11:34am

quote:
By contrast, the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC has been subjected to a massive amount of scientific scrutiny – including consideration of whether observed changes in temperature can be attributed to sunspots
endquote

What a joke that is.

And since when was being sceptical a bad thing.
Sheesh. Talk about getting things backwards.

Steve Netwriter
3 Feb 11:47am

quote:
A range of high profile contrarians appear regularly now in the media, sowing doubt about the science, picking up on small errors like the recent IPCC glacier mistake, or the emails leaked from University of East Anglia, and arguing that that means that the entire science of climate change is wrong.
endquote

Small errors ?!

Good grief what planet is the writer living on.
Certainly not planet truth. Or planet unbiased.

There is a catalogue of lies being reported now.
When are you alarmists going to get over it and accept the truth.
You’ve been lied to, or are liars yourselves.

The IPCC report has as much credibility as the recent bodice ripper.

quote:
Just when you think things can’t get any more bizarre with the IPCC, having just learned that the IPPC 2007 report used magazine articles for references, head of the IPCC, Dr. Rajenda Pachauri, provides comedy gold. According to the UK Telegraph, he’s just released what they describe as a “smutty” romance novel, Return to Almora laced with steamy sex, lots of sex. Oh, and Shirley MacLaine.

(…)

As the UN’s climate change chief, Dr Rajendra Pachauri has spent his career writing only the driest of academic articles. But the latest offering from the chairman of the UN’s climate change panel is an altogether racier tome.

Some might even suggest Dr Pachauri’s first novel is frankly smutty.
unquote

ROFL

Good luck coming to terms with your grief.

John Mason
3 Feb 12:25pm

1)During the late Ordovician the planet plunged into the Andean/Saharan ice age when the CO2 level was several times the present.

So what? The tectonic arrangement of continents (most were close to the South Pole), ocean currents, solar output etc etc etc were vastly different from anything in the past 65 million years.

2) During the last and previous glaciations, atmospheric CO2 increase often lagged temperature increase by hundreds of years

Glacials/interglacials are triggered by orbital variations known as Milankovitch cycles. Warming cycles that cause deglaciation release lots of CO2 as a positive feedback process. The CO2 then contributes to the warming.

3) Proxy data from ice cores show temperature trend direction changes. Temperature trend direction changes are not possible if NET feedback from average global temperature is positive.

Nonsense. There are plenty of other cycles capable of bringing about trend changes on all sorts of timescales. 1998-2002 has a negative trend because 1998 was one of the strongest El Nino years in decades.

4)Average global temperatures for over a century have trended down then up then down then up then down while average annual atmospheric CO2 levels have always risen since 1800. Lack of correlation proves lack of causation.

More nonsense – see above. Whoever predicted a linear year-on-year increased temperature trend? Nobody I know.

5) A simple model accurately predicts average global temperatures since 1895 (i.e. over 114 years…and counting) without any need to consider the effects of change to CO2 level or any other ghg. The model, with an eye-opening graph, is presented in the October 16 pdf at http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true. (Replace all references to PDO with ESST which is short for Effective Sea Surface Temperature).

Cracking graph – love the way it wobbles about up to 2010 then goes down, down, down in a dead-straight line! Such confidence….

6) It is woefully naive to think that all that needs to be done to get global weather models (calling them climate models does not make them climate models) to predict climate is to run them longer.

The GFS goes out to T+384 and is a weather model, trying to interpret a chaotic system. Beyond T+180 is known to all weather enthusiasts as “Fantasy Island” and beyond T+120 must be viewed with caution. That is weather, driven by often very short-term interactions of influences.

Climate is driven by completely different longterm factors: tectonic distribution of landmasses, amounts of aerosols, greenhouse gases, solar output, orbital variations, ocean currents etc etc etc. Weather and climate (and the models designed to reproduce/forecast them) are COMPLETELY different things.

Hope that helps :)

Cheers – John

Peter
3 Feb 3:36pm

John

I’ve tried arguing on a point-by-point basis with these folks in the past and all you get is more references to dodgy web-sites.

Like I said before, what does it really matter – they have won.

John Mason
3 Feb 3:59pm

Peter

They may think they are winning when it comes to public opinion, but that is utterly irrelevant when it is contradicted by the evidence, already present and becoming more and more obvious as the signal starts to emerge more progressively from the noise. There will come a point when the signal is obvious to all but the weapons-grade delusional. Unfortunately we will be down to adaptation and triage by that point. But I sometimes wonder if there will be a backlash, and what form it might take?

Cheers – John

Chris Snow
3 Feb 5:55pm

John, Peter,

I agree. All you get when you try to correct the sceptics’ wild claims are a further set of wild claims.

I’ve wondered what it will take for the more general public to wake up to the fact that the sceptics have been wrong all these years. I think that the total summer melt of the arctic ice cap might do it, particularly if some drowned polar bears start getting washed up on a beach somewhere. But even then, I wonder if it will only happen when it starts to affect people directly. Food shortages will do it, but that’s probably a long way off yet.

On a lighter note, I came across this summary of the sceptics’ argument in “The Rough Guide to Climate Change” by Robert Henson of NCAR. I think he was only half joking.

“The atmosphere isn’t warming; and if it is, then it’s due to natural variation; and even if it’s not due to natural variation, then the warming is insignificant; and if it becomes significant, then the benefits will outweigh the problems; and even if they don’t, technology will come to the rescue; and even if it doesn’t, we shouldn’t wreck the economy to fix the problem when many parts of the science are uncertain.”

Peter
3 Feb 5:57pm

Cheers John,

Please excuse my Eeyore-like disposition.

Peter
3 Feb 6:01pm

Chris Snow

Thank you. I smiled.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by kevin grandia, Randy Richmond, Randy Richmond, GreenFeed, Tal Bowen and others. Tal Bowen said: Climate Cover-up: the crusade to deny global warming http://bit.ly/cV4t7p [...]

Ed Straker
6 Feb 8:25pm

Firstly, the environmental data being presented is steadily shifting towards the fatalism expressed by James Lovelock. If doom can’t be avoided, does it really matter if people believe it or not? We’ll get to decide between doom, Doom, or DOOOOM, based on how severely we proactively powerdown. I think a great many people, even if they do become AGW-aware, would chose to shrug their shoulders and eat-drink-and-be-merry rather than powerdown for the sake of doom vs. DOOM.

Secondly, even if you do think something productive can be done, how does this blog posting on transitionculture.org reflect the mantra of Transition easing the public into doing the right thing rather than rocking the boat?

To satirize, scold, or otherwise berate denialism is to attack or at least condescend to denialists in our communities.

If denialists have declared war on AGW believers, then how can transition activists counter that without lowering themselves to the same level of tit-for-tat rhetorical warfare? People will react to that as they always do, by getting defensive, digging in their heels, and lobbing insults at eachother instead of engaging in intelligent debate.

I would argue that the denial machine has been more effective than Transition because they go right to the reptilian part of the human brain, the part that has already become so swolen by BAU.

How hard is it to understand that people believe the truths that reinforce their preexisting vision of the world? People living in the BAU bubble are more likely to believe that threats to BAU are imaginary because it _comforts_ them to do so.

[...] Climate Change Deniers just now, you could do worse than take a look at Rob Hopkin’s blog at: http://transitionculture.org/2010/02/01/a-review-of-climate-cover-up-by-james-hoggan/ This entry was posted in News and tagged Climate Change. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any [...]

Maurizio Morabito
26 May 6:09pm

Peter Taylor is not the scientist he pretends to be:

http://www.alastairmcintosh.com/articles/2010-Peter-Taylor-Climate-Reviews.htm

We don’t need books written by homeopathic tree huggers that believe that the masons are after them. He makes crazy Lord Monckton seem like a sane person.

[...] Climate Change Deniers just now, you could do worse than take a look at Rob Hopkin’s blog at: http://transitionculture.org/2010/02/01/a-review-of-climate-cover-up-by-james-hoggan/ Tags: Climate Change Posted under: News Comment (RSS) [...]