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The Front Pages of Christopher P. Winter
Dr. James Hansen at meeting
Dr. James Hansen at a Capitol Hill press conference in 2008
Source: Fox News, 27 Jan 2009
Credit: Associated Press

Debunking Arguments About Scientific Procedures

How do you attack a scientific theory you dislike when the facts aren't on your side? One way is to try and throw the research that's producing those facts into disrepute. Denialists frequently accuse mainstream researchers of departing from the scientific method. One commonly heard claim is that "there is no scientific consensus" on global warming. In other words, although most of the world's scientists have decided that the world has warmed in recent decades, and that human activities are the most likely cause, the fact that a small number of scientists disagree means this mainstream view should not be accepted. I discuss this charge in more detail below, but here I want to look into its implications.

Those implications go to the heart of the scientific method, and here the Denialists have one thing going for them: history. You'll instantly recognize the case they most often cite — Galileo v. the Catholic Church. They're correct to say that this shows how a powerful institution (then, the Church; today, the government) can quash scientific truth. But they miss one thing: Galileo was right. All the proof needed was a look through his telescope.

Proof that the dissenting view of climate change is right will not be as dramatic. But then, it need not be; it only has to be scientifically valid. This is where the Denialists fall short. The scientific method isn't working for them; the evidence they present doesn't support their hypotheses. Their response to this failure is to attack the scientific establishment. It must, they say, be fudging facts to promote the theory it likes and suppressing any scientist who tries to speak the truth.

So let's look at some of the work done by the Denialists. If their charge has any credibility, their work should show that they, moreso than mainstream scientists, are diligent in research and astute in analysis. Granted, providing incontrovertible proof that none of their work meets this standard would require me to examine hundreds of scientific papers. I'm not going to take on that task. But I will examine a few scientific papers, and some other documents, with the intent of showing a pattern of poor scholarship. Those case studies are on the page linked here.

Now that you've seen some examples of Denialism in action, let's examine the arguments.

The Arguments

  1. The science is not settled.
  2. There is no scientific consensus about global warming.
  3. The only reason scientists continue to push "warmism" is to keep the grant money flowing.
  4. It's all about governments trying to grab more power through intimidation.
  5. The scientific establishment stifles dissenting views about global warming.
  6. The work and conclusions of the IPCC are scientifically unsound.
  7. During the 1970s, there was a scientific consensus that an ice age was imminent.
  8. Michael Mann's reconstruction of Earth's temperature record has been discredited.
  9. Al Gore's presentations are full of errors, and anyway he's no scientist.
  10. James Hansen should not be politicizing the debate about global warming.
  11. NASA and NOAA continue to mismanage the surface stations data.
  12. Leaked e-mails prove misconduct at Britain's Climatic Research Unit.

Click the large number in each table below to jump to references on its topic.

1. What they say The science is not settled. There is no scientific consensus on global warming.
What it means

This argument is closely related to the following one. However, they have different aspects that I've chosen to deal with separately.

Saying "the science is not settled" means that some details of climate behavior are poorly understood — and also that some scientists dispute the entire hypothesis that mankind is causing the climate to warm.

Why it's wrong

There are three aspects to this argument. The first is that some scientists disagree with the mainstream interpretation of certain details of AGW theory. There is nothing wrong with such disagreement; it's the way science is supposed to work. However, to gain acceptance, those raising the disagreement must show that their version fits the observed behavior better than the mainstream version. So far as I am aware, this has not been achieved. Ongoing research makes the mainstream view ever more solid. Objections turn out to be based on faulty data, or even deliberate distortion of the mainstream view.

The second aspect of this argument has to do with numbers. Asked about a complex system like Earth's climate, a good scientist will never try to describe its behavior precisely, because he knows he cannot. Ranges of projected values are therefore the legitimate way to describe climate behavior. It is not legitimate to claim that this lack of numeric precision indicates "unsettled science."

Another version of this argument holds that since climate can never be predicted, warnings about future climate are nothing more than fear-mongering. The problem with this is that, if accepted, it bites both ways: it renders the Denialists just as powerless to make predictions about climate. This would be fine, if they never tried to make such predictions; but they do. Any claim that global warming will not become a crisis is just such a prediction. So is the claim that a warmer world will open up Siberia to agriculture.

To sum up: It is perfectly true that climate science is not completely settled in every detail. But the main parts of the picture are well settled, so the Denialist claim that we don't know enough to act is simply wrong.

2. What they say There is no scientific consensus on global warming. The science is not settled.
What it means This statement means that there are scientists who disagree with the majority view that global warming is happening and that it's mostly caused by human activities. It also implies that those dissenting scientists are reputable: that is, they know something about climate science and present their knowledge honestly.
Why it's wrong

The statement is wrong chiefly because it misunderstands (intentionally, I believe) the nature of scientific consensus. In political terms, achieving consensus requires that everyone agree on a given position. They may not be entirely satisfied with the agreement, but they don't voice any dissent.

A scientific consensus, by contrast, does not require unanimous agreement. Strictly speaking, it does not require agreement at all. The scientific community arrives at consensus when a substantial majority of its members, working independently, concludes that the theory under dispute is well-supported by the available evidence.

This may seem a subtle difference, but in fact the two sorts of consensus are light-years apart. Political consensus depends on everyone agreeing to the outcome, a course of action; the facts of the matter are secondary. It's just the opposite with a scientific consensus: Facts are the vital consideration; they either support the theory (the outcome) or they don't. If they don't, there will be no consensus, no matter how appealing some scientists might find the theory.

3. What they say The only reason scientists continue to push "warmism" is to keep the grant money flowing.
What it means

There's a kernel of truth in this claim. But it's a very small kernel. I might even call it "barely discernible." Certainly all scientists want to get grant money for the research that interests them.

But what the Denialists mean, in making this claim, is that only research that supports AGW is getting funded, while dissenting scientists are starved for grants.

Why it's wrong

Details of research funding are hard to find on the Net. But I do know that the total budget most often quoted for climate science research in America ($1.7 to $2 billion), when spread among all the organizations it supports, is not going to make anyone rich.

In fact, the basics of AGW are now so well established that grants for further research in those areas are well nigh impossible to get. Only novel theories are likely to attract funding.

It's also germane to look at funding flowing to the Denialist camp. Here again, it's hard to dig up detailed information. Clues can be found. Greenpeace and the Environmental Defense Fund have some data on the Web. For example, Greenpeace says that "ExxonMobil funding to all denial organizations from 1996 to 2006 now totals nearly $23 million."

True, none of this is proof that no mainstream scientists are "on the take." It's not even a clear demonstration that funding levels are comparable on both sides. But recent history tells us that when money corrupts science, it does so to the benefit of the status quo. Therefore, if greed is driving mainstream researchers to support AGW, let the Denialists find and present the proof.

4. What they say AGW is all about governments trying to take away our liberty, and grab more power for themselves through intimidation.
What it means

This is pure ideology in action. Libertarians (or, more precisely, Rothbardians) don't want government controlling the private sector in any way. Hence, like anti-pollution laws in general, measures imposed on businesses by government to deal with climate change are anathema to them.

Why it's wrong

The ideology is not wrong so much as impractical. However, to argue that because governments are funding research into global warming, and certain of their agencies advocate mandatory mitigation measures, governments worldwide seek to curtail individual liberty, is laughably wrong. If despotism were the aim of most of the world's nations, they could find faster ways to get it.

And as far as America is concerned, the Denialists apparently forget the eight years just ended, when the Bush administration showed unabashed favoritism for big business and ideological opposition to any government action on AGW.

5. What they say The scientific establishment stifles dissenting views about global warming.
What it means

Some of this is rationalization of poor scientific performance by the dissenters. Some of it is politics.

Why it's wrong

It's impossible to prove that no reputable journal, anywhere, has ever unfairly rejected a competent paper that challenges the mainstream view on climate science. But this claim is still invalid because the scientific establishment is not out to suppress dissident science — only defective science. If there were some genuine breakthrough, it would be welcomed — the more so if it showed that global warming may not be as big a problem as it seems.

If you pay attention to the AGW debate, you won't stop hearing Denialists protesting about how they aren't able to protest. Again, it's well established that AGW believers were censored by George W. Bush's administration. But from what the Denialists say, suppression of American AGW skepticism didn't even slow down during those years.

6. What they say The work and conclusions of the IPCC are scientifically unsound.
What it means

It means only that the IPCC and other scientific organizations reach conclusions the Denialists don't like.

Why it's wrong

Seldom has a body of scientific knowledge been as thoroughly scrutinized as that done under the aegis of the IPCC. Sure, governments influence the scientists involved. How could they not, when what those scientists discover may well determine if the governments survive past fifty years from now. But check the record. You'll find the scientists have generally been too cautious for the politicians, too un-alarmist, if you will. No politician wants it said that he didn't do enough to ward off a calamity.

Denialists may not admit it, but the IPCC's review process is open and the comments are available to the public. Numerous allegations of bias have been made. None have gone to trial, even in GW Bush's America. Anyone who thinks America ignores research fraud should consider this case.

7. What they say During the 1970s, there was a scientific consensus that an ice age was imminent.
What it means

It's meant to suggest how untrustworthy climate scientists are. They will come up with one wacky but worrisome idea after another to keep the grant money flowing.

Why it's wrong

There was no scientific consensus during the 1970s that a global cooling trend was under way, much less that an ice age was imminent. A review of the climate science literature from 1965 through 1979 proved it. This 2008 article (13-page PDF) in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society reports that only 7 papers supported cooling, while 44 supported warming. These conjectures were investigated by scientists at the time, but both were far from consensus status.

8. What they say Michael Mann's reconstruction of Earth's temperature record has been discredited.
What it means

It means only that the Denialists dislike Mann's result, and his team's work just happened to be an easy target.

Why it's wrong

It's wrong because it's an out-and-out lie. Mann's method was examined by independent groups and, at the behest of Congress, by the National Research Council. Some errors were found, but these did not significantly alter the result. Mann's conclusion that recent decades were hotter than any time in the past 400 years was upheld. His wider conclusion that they were warmer than the past 1,000 years was not confirmed, but neither was it denied; it was merely judged plausible.

A bit of background: It was claimed that Mann's method would produce the same "hockey stick" graph with any random data, and he was criticized because he would not release the source code he used. Unsatisfied by previous probes, U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) started an inquiry that looked into the Mann team's funding sources and professional associations as well as its scientific work. Again, while problems were found, this inquiry did not fault Mann's conclusions. All of this does not prevent Denialists dredging up the stale calumny.

Update November 2017: Since this keeps coming up, I note that Mann and his team have since done two more expansive reconstructions, extending further back in time, which produced similar results. More than two dozen independent investigations also support the general finding that the twentieth century was warmer worldwide than any other time in the last two millennia. Meanwhile the investigation ordered up by Rep. Barton, known as the Wegman Report, has problems of its own which you can easily search out.

9. What they say Al Gore is a fearmonger, vastly overstating the danger from global warming. A British court found his presentation is full of errors, and anyway he's no scientist.
What it means

The cautionary tone of Al Gore's global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth makes him another easy target for the Denialists, and the fact that he personally uses a lot of fossil fuels makes him an attractive one. Also, underlying this accusation is the logical fallacy of the Appeal to Consequences, here expressed as "since a bad thing hasn't happened, it cannot happen."

Why it's wrong

In his documentary, and before that in his book Earth in the Balance, Gore exhorts everyone to cut down on their carbon emissions. His more recent work paints a grim picture of the coming impacts of warming on a world that continues its present course. It's credible to doubt things will be so bad. It's not credible to claim, as Denialists often do, that since such dire things haven't happened yet, they never can happen.

I don't fault anyone who dismisses Gore's call for conservation because of his lifestyle. But using his lifestyle as a reason to reject the mainstream view of global warming is simply irrational. It's true Gore's not a scientist, but he does not claim to be one. The documentary won him (and the IPCC) the Nobel Peace Prize, and its scientific content has been repeatedly vetted. Errors have been found, but he quickly corrects them when told of their existence.

In 2007, Mr. Justice Burton of the British high court ruled that Gore's film contained nine errors but was "broadly accurate." The suit was brought by Stewart Dimmock, a school governor in Kent, who opposes showing the film in secondary schools. Justice Burton ruled that it can be shown if a printed disclaimer is provided. There are grounds for doubting that the nine errors really are errors (see references), but in any case the ruling is a qualified endorsement.

10. What they say James Hansen's outspoken statements about global warming effects wrongly inject politics into a scientific debate and, since he is a civil servant, he violates the Hatch Act.
What it means

It's just an attempt to keep James Hansen, arguably the foremost U.S. authority on climate change, from adding his insights to the debate. (Or, in Denialist parlance, to stifle him.)

Why it's wrong

It's ironic (not to say hypocritical) for Denialists, who so keenly feel their views are being ignored, to protest when James Hansen expresses his well-founded views on a scientific subject he has devoted his life to studying. In fact he has as much right to speak as they do, and over the course of his career has exercised it less.

As for the Hatch Act, concern about it is misplaced. Dr. Hansen has not violated it, and is within his rights to speak out as he has. It could even be argued that he has a duty to do so. Certainly he could speak in terms less likely to irritate coal company executives. I judge his recent use of harsher language a strategic escalation intended to break the current political deadlock.

11. What they say Despite much independent documentation of methodological errors, NASA GISS and NOAA continue to rely on discredited data and methods of analysis to derive the surface temperature trend from NOAA's network of measurement stations.
What it means

The Surface Stations Project, overseen by Anthony Watts, has completed 82% of its survey of stations in the US Historical Climate Network (USHCN), and Watts maintains that the urban locations of many of these stations contribute to an upward bias in the temperature record. Also, he and others allege that NASA GISS and NOAA improperly analyze the temperature data.

Why it's wrong

NOAA established the USHCN to provide data for local weather reports. Operated by the National Climate Data Center, its 1221 stations covering the U.S. are less than one-fifth of the worldwide total. NCDC also operates the newer Climate Reference Network, whose stations are free of the defects of the HCN. It is unlikely that all these disparate U.S. and foreign networks would similarly skew the temperature trend.

The Surface Stations Project relies on volunteers to survey the stations near them. Thus it has taken some time to make progress, and has looked at only 82 percent of stations so far. It is true that many HCN stations are not ideally sited for climate-change measurements. But the Surface Stations Project identified 70 stations in the "good" or "best" category. NOAA recently plotted new temperature-anomaly curves using just the data from these 70 stations, and found them nearly identical to the original curve based on allegedly biased data.

In addition, GISS uses algorithms to correct for possible bias in urban stations.

These measures are not convincing to Anthony Watts and his team. (They have not yet published their analysis.) But the fact that temperature rise is greatest near the poles, well away from population centers, is enough to disprove any "heat island bias" effect on global temperature trends.

12. What they say The leaked e-mails from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) prove that AGW is a complete fabrication.
What it means

From a large collection of private e-mails exchanged by scientists at the CRU and elsewhere, a few suspicious-sounding items were blown out of proportion. Then the investigations that cleared those scientists of wrongdoing were called a whitewash.

Why it's wrong

Much has been written about the teapot tempest the Denialists call "ClimateGate." Here, I'll be brief.

First, the focus on phrases like "Mike's Nature trick" and "hide the decline" purports to disclose widespread fraud: faking data that supports AGW and hiding or deleting data that doesn't. That's misinterpretation. To see why, consult the sources below.

Second, proposals to delete e-mails and prevent the publication of certain papers were never carried out, just as the alleged deletion of original data never took place. (Most of the data was not CRU's to begin with.)

Third, the one irate comment from a scientist about wanting to beat someone up is only that: an irate comment. If it's given weight, so must similar statements from Denialists. In the wake of the disclosure, some of the scientists received death threats.

The fourth aspect is the most damaging. Some scientists apparently resisted requests for documents made under Britain's freedom of information laws. AFAIK this is still being probed. There's also evidence of an attempt to swamp the scientists with requests.

Fifth, even if the far-fetched allegations had been found to be true, the CRU is not the whole of climate science. Discrediting its work would not abolish AGW theory.

Sixth, let's not forget that parties unknown hacked into a server at the University of East Anglia and stole these private e-mails, and that others ransacked them to pick the bits that appeared most damaging. That's why the better name for the episode is SwiftHack.

In sum, this was a desperate ploy to trump up outrage over supposed malfeasance among climate scientists in advance of the December 2009 COP15 climate summit at Copenhagen.

The Bottom Line on Alleged Abuses of Scientific Process

I am no scientist, but I understand science. Moreover, I can recognize lapses of logic when I encounter them. I remember facts well and I can synthesize them into patterns that let me evaluate the larger picture. I will never assert that Denialists cannot possibly be correct. Nor do I believe that every aspect of the mainstream AGW theory is necessarily valid. But the typical pattern I see in the Denialist work I examine has the following features:

  • Unsupported claims that mainstream scientific work is flawed.
  • Unsupported claims that their own scientific work is valid.
  • A common, and mostly unsupported, claim that mainstream scientists are "alarmists."
  • A common, and mostly unsupported, claim that their own warnings are well-founded and realistic.
  • Unsupported claims that any action to control global warming would bring economic disaster.
  • Dubious assurances that global warming, whatever its cause, will never be a major concern.
  • A common, and mostly unsupported, claim that scientists who differ with the mainstream view are being suppressed.
  • Unsupported claims that mainstream climate scientists in America have not been suppressed, even during the G. W. Bush administration.
  • A common, and mostly unsupported, claim that funding does not influence their work.
  • A common, and mostly unsupported, claim that mainstream scientists only care about getting more grants.

In addition there is the oft-repeated but never supported claim that national governments, along with most scientists worldwide, have agreed to support AGW despite the lack of evidence for it — a claim that shares the defects of other modern conspiracy theories.

Put this all together and it tells us that the Denialists haven't made their case. If there is any reason — any air-tight, rock-solid reason — why the world should not begin to act against the effects of global warming, let them find it and bring it forward. If they can find such a reason, they will be hailed as heroes. But all they've been doing so far is preventing prudent preparations for future climate conditions that, while they may not be catastrophic, will almost certainly be major problems for our descendants.

References on Specific Topics

1. The allegedly unsettled science

  1. Science Still Not So Settled (The Foundry, 20 Nov 2008)
    Comment 4 on this Heritage Foundation blog is a real gem: "If carbon dioxide traps heat, then how is cold beer possible?" But that one line is not why I cite this item; I do it because comment #4, along with most of the others as well as the original article, show that same reasoning by wishful thinking.
  2. Scientist to CEI: You Used My Research To "Confuse and Mislead" (, 26 May 2006)
    If there were a real case to be made against mainstream science, misrepresenting it wouldn't be necessary.

2. The alleged lack of consensus

  1. Myth 1: There is no scientific consensus (Sierra Club of Canada)
  2. There is no consensus (Coby Beck, A Few Things Ill-Considered, 25 Feb 2006)
  3. Position statements hide debate (Coby Beck, A Few Things Ill-Considered, 25 Apr 2006)
  4. The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change (Naomi Oreskes, 3 Dec 2004)
  5. Statistical analysis of consensus (RealClimate, 16 Dec 2004)
  6. Just what is this Consensus anyway? (RealClimate, 16 Dec 2004)
  7. Myth: There is no consensus (John Cook, Skeptical Science, 2009)
  8. Scientific opinion on climate change (Wikipedia)
  9. The Wall Street Journal vs. The Scientific Consensus (RealClimate, 22 Jun 2005)
  10. Climate Myths: Many leading scientists question climate change (Michael Le Page, New Scientist, 16 May 2007)
  11. The Consensus on Global Warming: From Science to Industry & Religion (Logical Science, 2007)
    A long list of statements from the national academies, government agencies, organizations, journals, and individual scientists who support global warming.
  12. The cold truth about climate change (By Joseph Romm, Salon, 27 Feb 2008)
    "What matters is scientific findings — data, not opinions. The IPCC relies on the peer-reviewed scientific literature for its conclusions, which must meet the rigorous requirements of the scientific method and which are inevitably scrutinized by others seeking to disprove that work. That is why I cite and link to as much research as is possible, hundreds of studies in the case of this article. Opinions are irrelevant."
  13. The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change: How Do We Know We're Not Wrong? (PDF, 109 pages)
    (Naomi Orestes, UCSD, 2004)
  14. What about Peiser? (Coby Beck, A Few Things Ill-Considered, 25 Mar 2006)
  15. Myth: Less than half of published scientists endorse global warming (John Cook, Skeptical Science, Sep. 2007)
    Discusses a paper by Dr. Klaus-Martin Schulte, who examined all papers published from 2004 to February 2007 in a Peiser-like attempt to disprove Oreskes.
  16. Is there agreement amongst climate scientists on the IPCC AR4 WG1? (PDF, 9 pages)
    (Fergus W.M. Brown, Roger A. Pielke Sr., James D. Annan)
    "ABSTRACT. An online poll of scientists' opinions shows that, while there is strong agreement on the important role of anthropogenically-caused radiative forcing of CO2 in climate change and with the largest group supporting the IPCC report, there is not a universal agreement among climate scientists about climate science as represented in the IPCC's WG1. The claim that the human input of CO2 is not an important climate forcing is found to be false in our survey. However, there remains substantial disagreement about the magnitude of its impacts. The IPCC WG1 perspective is the mean response, though there are interesting differences between mean responses in the USA and in the EU. There are, also, a significant number of climate scientists who disagree with the IPCC WG1 perspective."
  17. Climate Myths: Many leading scientists question climate change (Michael Le Page, New Scientist, 16 May 2007)
  18. The Oregon Petition (Wikipedia)
    "The Oregon Petition was the fourth, and by far the largest, of five prominent efforts to show that a scientific consensus does not exist on the subject of anthropogenic global warming, following the 1992 Statement by Atmospheric Scientists on Greenhouse Warming, the Heidelberg Declaration and the Leipzig Declaration. The petition site currently lists more than 31,000 signatories. The petition was circulated again in October 2007."
  19. Flawed Oregon Petition Rises Again (Richard Littlemore, DeSmogBlog, 21 May 2008)
  20. One More Petition, Still a Consensus (Chris Colose, 22 May 2008)
    Does a detailed analysis of the credentials of the Oregon Petition signers.
  21. Oregon Institute of Science and Malarkey (RealClimate, 10 Oct 2007)
  22. Misleading by Petition (Gary J. Whittenberger, Ph.D., eSKEPTIC, 12 Nov 2008)
  23. What if you held a conference, and no (real) scientists came? (RealClimate, 30 Jan 2008)

  3. For the grant money

  1. Federal Reports on Climate Change Funding Should Be Clearer and More Complete (GAO, Aug. 2005, (52-page PDF)
  2. Climate research funding slashed
    "In this week's issue of Nature, we look into an ongoing debate about research priorities within the National Center for Atmospheric Research, one of the United States' main climate research facilities in Boulder, Colorado."
  3. Climate-Change Program to Aid Poor Nations Is Shut
    (By Andrew C. Revkin, The New York Times, 6 Aug 2008)
    "The National Center for Atmospheric Research, an important hub for work on the causes and consequences of climate change, has shut down a program focused on strengthening poor countries' ability to forecast and withstand droughts, floods and other climate-related hazards." (Revkin says this saved $500k out of the Center's $88M science budget.)

    "The Center for Capacity Building [now online at this URL] was created in 2004. It built on decades of work by its director, Michael Glantz, a political scientist who has focused on the societal effects of natural climate extremes and any shifts related to accumulating greenhouse gases."
  4. US Climate Program Flawed, Threatened by Budget Cuts (J. R. Pegg, Environment News Service, 14 Sep 2007)
    "The independent panel warned that the progress of the program is threatened by a lack of strong leadership and budgetary authority and by the administration's plan to reduce the number of satellites and other instruments used to monitor the climate.

    "The panel also criticized the Climate Change Science Program, CCSP, for failing to adequately communicate its research with stakeholders and for completing only two of 21 planned assessments of climate science."

    * * *

    "From the outset, critics said the president's vision for CCSP lacked focus and reflected his skepticism of the scientific consensus that human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels, are having a major impact on the climate."
  5. ExxonMobil's Continued Funding of Global Warming Denial Industry (Greenpeace, May 2007)
    "We have found that, despite the rhetoric, ExxonMobil continues to fund the majority of the organizations which have been central to the global warming denial campaign the company has run for the past decade or more."
  6. The denial industry (Part 1 of 3) (George Monbiot, The Guardian, 19 Sep 2006)
  7. Explaining the Heartland Institute's Lack of Funder Transparency (Sascha Meinrath, 2004)
    Detailed information on who funded the Heartland Institute for the years 2002-2004. I single out HI because it holds the March climate conferences.
  8. Poll underscores global warming science consensus (CarbonPositive, 23 Jan 2009)
    "Climate change sceptics counter consensus evidence with accusations that scientific enquiry is being biased towards pro-climate change outcomes because of the amount of funding governments and other organisations are directing towards this field. Yet, if this were the case, it is not explained why US and Australian climate studies over the past decade don't show a contrasting bias towards rejection of human-induced climate change. The climate policies of the two governments in those countries (Bush Administration 2001-09 and Howard Government 1996-2007) placed these two countries firmly in the sceptic camp."
  9. The Climate Change Lobby Explosion (Marianne Lavelle, Center for Public Integrity, 29 Feb 2009)
    An in-depth report on the number of climate-change lobbyists, up 300% since 2003. AGW hits the big time?
  10. Conservative think tanks and environmental scepticism (Posted by ScruffyDan on June 28, 2008)
    "While this really shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone who has had even a passing interest in environmental issues, a new study in the journal Environmental Politics has concluded that over 90% of books downplaying the seriousness of environmental problems (also known as denial) had direct links to conservative think tanks (CTT)."

  4. Government power grabs

  1. Global warming is a hoax (Coby Beck, A Few Things Ill-Considered, 25 Feb 2006)
  2. Consensus or collusion? (Coby Beck, A Few Things Ill-Considered, 25 May 2006)
  3. Towards a genealogy of climate conspiracy theories (F. Bi. 2008. Towards a genealogy of climate conspiracy theories. Intl. J. Inact., 1:37-42.)
  4. Climate Change: It's a Conspiracy!!! (Richard Littlemore, DeSmogBlog, 15 July 08
  5. The propaganda machine and climate change (Mano Singham's Web Journal, 18 Jul 2008)
    It's hard to find sites that debunk this idea of a vast government power grab conspiracy — for good reason: Winning an argument with a conspiracy-theory adherent is nigh on impossible. No matter what evidence you present, he'll just claim it's fabricated by someone who's part of the plot. The ones above were the only ones I found that even come close.
    Sites that proclaim the alarming "truth", however, are a myriad. Just Google "global warming hoax" to see for yourself. I decided to quote a paragraph from one of the more sensible ones:
  6. Albert F. Jacobs, M.Sc., P.Geol. (PDF, 3 pages) Past Director, Friends of Science Society (Published by the National Citizens Coalition, July 2007)
    "Money and Power — not sound science — are propelling this wasteful and unnecessary enterprise. Thankfully, the voices of the dissenters have not been silenced. Many scholars from around the world continue to disseminate the sound scientific data that dispels the myth of manmade climate change and encourages initiatives that will really improve air and water quality. As the next round of climate change debate begins, let us hold our collective breath in the hope that science will ultimately prevail."

  5. Stifling dissent

  1. Consensus or collusion? (Coby Beck, A Few Things Ill-Considered, 25 May 2006)
    Says Coby, "Looking at the increasing agreement among the climate models and the climate scientists and seeing collusion instead of consensus is quite a dramatic take on what is really just the normal course of scientific investigation. I suppose that fewer and fewer scientists disagreeing with the status quo is indeed consistent with some kind of widespread and insidious suppression of ideas, but you know, it is also consistent with having the right answer."
  2. There is climate change censorship — and it's the deniers who dish it out
    (George Monbiot, The Guardian, 10 Apr 2007)
  3. How the world was bullied into silence (Tim Ball, Canada Free Press, 19 Jan 2009)
    In his second paragraph, Mr. Ball asks, "Why would a scientist in an organization directly involved in climate science not feel free to speak out?"

    Why indeed?
  4. Nurturing doubt about climate change is big business (Charles Montgomery, Globe and Mail, 12 Aug 2006)
    "Prof. Ball claims that the Mann team 'cooked the books,' and that its blunders were confirmed just a few days previously, in a report to the Congress by the U.S. Academies of Science. 'He threw out all the data that didn't fit his hypothesis,' Prof. Ball says, without offering evidence to back the charge. His outrage is now as searing as the baking-hot sun outside. 'I personally think [Mann] should be in jail!'

    Andrew Weaver is the Canada Research Chair in Climate Modelling and Analysis at the University of Victoria, and a lead author of a chapter in the upcoming IPCC report. He gives a frustrated sigh at the mention of Tim Ball's cross-country tour.
    * * *
    "He says stuff that is just plain wrong. But when you are talking to crowds, when you are talking on TV, there is no challenge, there is no peer review," Prof. Weaver says.

  6. Unsound IPCC science

  1. The IPCC: As good as it gets (By Professor Martin Parry, Co-chair, IPCC Working Group II, 13 Nov 2007)
    Provides an insider's view of the IPCC process. Links to an opposing view from John Christy.
  2. A unique insight into the IPCC process (Andrew Dessler, Grist, 07 Apr 2007)
    This article has gone missing since Grist began reorganizing its Web site in April 2009. I trust it will surface again, somewhere.
  3. Climate science: Sceptical about bias (By Richard Black, Environment correspondent, BBC News website, 14 Nov 2007)
    Mr. Black invited proof of such bias. The article describes what he found. I think these two paragraphs sum up his wry assessment:
    "Whether this exercise has conclusively disproved a bias is not for me to say — I am sure others will find plenty to say, doubtless in the courteous and gracious language that typifies climate discourse nowadays.
    "But I will say this; if someone persistently claims to be a great football player, and yet fails to find the net when you put him in front of an open goal, you cannot do other than doubt his claim."
  4. Connecting Policy and Science: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (by Richard C. J. Somerville, The Planetary Report, July/August 2008 issue)
    "The strong reputation of the IPCC derives mainly from the processes involved in drafting its reports, processes that were exceptionally open and transparent. Anyone who wished to review the report in draft form had ample opportunity to do so. According to established IPCC procedure, the 2007 report, which took three years to write, underwent several formal and fully documented expert and government review processes, in which tens of thousands of comments were addressed. All the author responses to each comment are publicly available."
  5. "Sound Science" and Climate Change (Tim Lambert, Deltoid, 6 Mar 2004)
    Discusses an article by Richard Lindzen (done for the Coal Association of Canada) in which Lindzen makes it seem as if the NAS does not endorse the work of the IPCC. It's illuminating, even if the source material cannot be found.

  7. 1970s global cooling consensus

  1. The global cooling myth (William Connolley, RealClimate, 14 Jan 2005)
  2. Killing the myth of the 1970s global cooling scientific consensus (Joseph Romm, Climate Progress, 2006)
  3. Global cooling (Wikipedia)
  4. The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus
    (Peterson, Connolley, & Fleck, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Volume 89, Issue 9 (September 2008) pp. 1325-1337
  5. Was an imminent Ice Age predicted in the '70's? No. (William Connolley)
  6. Remember Global Cooling? (By Jerry Adler, Newsweek Web Exclusive, 23 Oct 2006 )
    "The point to remember, says Connolley, [a climate scientist at the British Antarctic Survey who has made a hobby of studying Ice Age predictions,] is that predictions of global cooling never approached the kind of widespread scientific consensus that supports the greenhouse effect today."
  7. Study debunks 'global cooling' concern of '70s (By Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, 22 Feb 2008)
  8. Climate myths: They predicted global cooling in the 1970s (Michael Le Page , New Scientist, 16 May 2007)
  9. Global-warming skeptics: Is it only the news media who need to chill? (By Tony Azios, The Christian Science Monitor, 11 Oct 2007)
  10. They predicted cooling in the 1970s (Posted by Coby Beck, A Few Things Ill-Considered, 27 Feb 2006)
    " the 1970s, there was a book in the popular press, a few articles in popular magazines, and a small amount of scientific speculation based on the recently discovered glacial cycles and the recent slight cooling trend from air pollution blocking the sunlight. There were no daily headlines. There was no avalanche of scientific articles. There were no United Nations treaties or commissions. No G8 summits on the dangers and possible solutions. No institutional pronouncements."

  8. The Hockey Stick

  1. The hockey stick is broken (Posted by Coby Beck, A Few Things Ill-Considered, 25 Mar 2006)
  2. "The Hockey Stick is broken. Michael Mann refuses to release his code & data." Logical Science
  3. The "Hockey Stick" is Fine (Joseph, Residual Analysis, 24 July 2008)
  4. NRC Exonerates "Hockey Stick" Graph, Ending "Mann-Hunt" by Two Canadian Skeptics (Ross Gelbspan, DeSmogBlog, 23 Jun 2006)
  5. Scientists respond to Barton (Gavin Schmidt and Stefan Rahmstorf, RealClimate, 18 Jul 2005)
  6. Dummies guide to the latest "Hockey Stick" controversy (Gavin Schmidt and Caspar Amman, RealClimate, 18 Feb 2005)
  7. The missing piece at the Wegman hearing (RealClimate, 19 Jul 2006)
  8. Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last Millennium (1-hour MP4)
    This is a lecture by Gerald North of TAMU. It covers proxy data from tree rings and ice cores, and spends some time on the NRC investigation of the Hockey Stick for Senator Boehlert in response to Congressman Barton. It's an audio track with slides, not a video. It lasts 1 hour 5 minutes and is worth a listen.

  9. Al Gore

  1. Gore's climate film has scientific errors – judge (David Adam, The Guardian, 11 Oct 2007)
  2. An Inconvenient Verdict for Al Gore (By Marcus Baram, ABC News, 12 Oct 2007)
    "British Court Ruling on Errors in 'An Inconvenient Truth' Resurrects Global Warming Debate"
  3. Myth: Al Gore got it wrong (Skeptical Science, 2007)
  4. Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth: unscientific? (Catherine Brahic, New Scientist, 12 Oct 2007)
  5. Convenient Untruths (Gavin Schmidt and Michael Mann, RealClimate, 15 Oct 2007)
  6. An 'error' is not the same thing as an error (by Tim Lambert, Deltoid, 11 Oct 2007)
    "A UK High Court judge has rejected a lawsuit by political activist Stuart Dimmock to stop the distribution of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth to British schools. * * * There were nine points where Burton decided that AIT differed from the IPCC and that this should be addressed in the Guidance Notes for teachers to be sent out with the movie."
  7. An Inconvenient Truth: Team Gore Responds (Kalee Kreider, The Washington Post, 18 Oct 2007)
  8. Pinocchio Time for Al Gore (Michael Dobbs, The Washington Post, 18 October 2007)
  9. List of acknowledged errors in Gore's book and film (biologist Kåre Fog, Denmark, The Lomberg-Errors Web Site, January 2008)
  10. Dimmock v Secretary of State for Education and Skills — Costs and funding (Wikipedia, 8 September 2010)

  10. James Hansen

  1. Swift Boating, Stealth Budgeting, Unitary Executives (PDF, 7 pages)
    (James Hansen, World Watch, Nov./Dec. 2006)
  2. James Hansen on why scientists should speak out (30-minute podcast)
    (An EarthSky extended Podcast, 30 Dec 2008)
  3. Lacking Rational Rebuttal, National Mining Association Gets Morally Offended (by David Sassoon, SolveClimate, 21 Nov 2007)
  4. Science Group Erred Giving Hansen Top Honor (By Andrew Freedman | January 29, 2009)
    "Personally, I am torn by Hansen's situation. He is an eminent scientist who has spent decades studying the global climate system, only to grow more and more alarmed by what he has been observing. Yet at the same time, many politicians have failed to heed his and other researchers' warnings that greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced. In the face of this situation, it's understandable that he has turned to more activist-oriented activities in order to avoid the potentially disastrous fate that his scientific research predicts. But the AMS, which is a scientific society comprised of about 12,000 atmospheric scientists who mainly specialize in weather and have disparate views of climate science, erred in honoring such a lightning rod of controversy, despite the tremendous value his research has been to the scientific community."

  11. USHCN surface stations data

  1. United States Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) Version 1
  2. The USHCN Version 2 Serial Monthly Dataset
  3. Talking Points Related to Concerns About Whether the U.S. Temperature Record is Reliable (NOAA NCDC, 6 Jul 2009)
  4. Talking Points Related to Is the U.S. Temperature Record Reliable? (NOAA NCDC, 9 Jun 2009)
    Note that Anthony Watts refers to this as Version 2, but it is actually Version 1. Since Version 2 was produced in response to his complaints about Version 1, this seems disingenuous.
  5. The Elusive Absolute Surface Air Temperature (SAT) (NASA GISS, 12 Jul 2005)
  6. The Global Historical Climatology Network: Long-Term Monthly Temperature, Precipitation, Sea Level Pressure, and Station Pressure Data (1992)
  7. GHCN Monthly -- Version 2
  8. So that's why hasn't published. (Tim Lambert, Deltoid, 25 January 2010
Category: Global Warming Posted on: January 25, 2010 12:21 PM, by Tim Lambert

  12. SwiftHack: The disclosure of CRU e-mails

  1. Climate Wars: The story of the hacked e-mails
    by Fred Pearce, February 2010
    A 12-part Guardian special report on the CRU e-mail controversy
  2. Climatic Research Unit email controversy (Wikipedia)
  3. "Climategate' exposed: Conservative media distort stolen emails in latest attack on global warming consensus
    (Media Matters for America, December 01, 2009)
  4. Debunking Misinformation About Stolen Climate Emails in the "Climategate" Manufactured Controversy
    (Union of Concerned Scientists, December 2009)
    Links to its own analyses of related issues and to selected outside sites.
  5. Climategate, global warming, and the tree rings divergence problem
    (By Moises Velasquez-Manoff, Bright Green blog, December 14, 2009,
    Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor)
  6. Climate change Deniers hoax themselves — again. November 21, 2009 by greenfyre
  7. Always Bet On Stupid (Tim F, Balloon Juice, 1 Dec. 2009)
  8. ClimateGate (By Kevin Drum, Mother Jones, 30 Nov 2009)
  9. The Manufactured Doubt industry and the hacked email controversy (Dr. Jeff Masters, Wunder Blog, November 25, 2009)
    Also covers the history of the controversy, based on the books Doubt is Their Product and Climate Cover-up.
  10. Climate scientists still beseiged (Brian Angliss, Scholars & Rogues, 8 June 2010)
    S&R interviews two American scientists, Martin Vermeer and Gavin Schmidt, who say the context of the CRU e-mails indicates a community of scientists under a politically motivated siege.
  11. The Emails from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit
    (The Pew Center for Climate Change, December 2009 (15-page PDF))
  12. The CRU Hack (RealClimate, 20 November 2009)
  13. "Climategate" (, 22 December 2009)
    "Hacked e-mails show climate scientists in a bad light but don't change scientific consensus on global warming."
News Items
2010-03-31 ENS British Parliamentary Inquiry Clears 'Climategate' Scientists (Environment News Service, 31 March 2010)
2010-06-25 Newsweek Newspapers Retract 'Climategate' Claims, but Damage Still Done (Sharon Begley, Newsweek, 25 June 2010)
2009-12-07 CNN Q&A: 'Climategate' explained (By Paul Armstrong, CNN, December 7, 2009)
2010-11-20 New York Times Hacked E-Mail Is New Fodder for Climate Dispute (By ANDREW C. REVKIN, Published: November 20, 2009)

General References

  1. Climate Change Controversies — a Simple Guide (Britain's Royal Society)
  2. Myths and falsehoods about global warming (Media Matters, 23 Mar 2007
  3. Common Arguments from Global Warming Skeptics (Logical Science)
  4. How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic (Coby Beck, A Few Things Ill-Considered, 6 Jul 2008)
  5. Responses to common contrarian arguments (RealClimate)
  6. RealClimate Wiki
  7. Examining the Science of Global Warming Skepticism (Skeptical Science)
  8. Slamming the Climate Skeptic Scam (Jim Hoggan — DeSmog Blog)
  9. Debunking (Mike Kaulbars, Dec. 2008)
  10. Climate in Peril — A popular guide to the latest IPCC reports
  11. Myths and Misinterpretations about Climate Change Due to Human Activities

    This Daily Kos diary examines our attitude toward uncertainty and risk in general:
  12. Not So Sure About Global Warming? Some Thoughts On Scientific Uncertainty
    (by ClimateLurker, 26 Jul 2007)

Books and Reports

  1. The Discovery of Global Warming (A Hypertext History by Spencer Weart)
  2. Myths and facts of global warming (PDF, 30 pages)
    (Environmental Defense Fund)
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