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News media influences public trust in science Ken Perrott Aug 12

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WEPT200a

No one will be surprised at the headline on ‘s Guardian blog - Fox News found to be a major driving force behind global warming denial. Still, the article references a new research paper by Hmielkowski et al. in the Public Understanding of Science (see An attack on science? Media use, trust in scientists, and perceptions of global warming). The conclusions from this research affirms we are right not to be surprised, but also shows links between climate change denial and trust in science and scientists. They also conclude that the news media people read can influence both their attitude towards climate change issues and their trust in science and scientists.

Trust in science related to your news sources

These researcher found that:

“the more Americans use conservative media, the less certain they are that global warming is happening. Conversely, the more Americans use non-conservative media, the more certain they are that global warming is happening.”

This confirms previous findings. But they went further and found their results:

” . . demonstrate that the negative effect of conservative media use on global warming belief certainty is due, at least in part, to the negative effect of conservative media use on trust in scientists. The positive effect of non-conservative media use on belief certainty is likewise explained by the positive effect of non-conservative media use on trust. Furthermore, the use of within-subject panel data and longitudinal analysis shows that media affects people’s level of trust in scientists.”

I find this last point disturbing. It’s one thing for a group of people to disagree with current scientific findings, but far more serious if they are motivated to disagree by lack of trust in scientists. That does create a defense mechanism for the protection of beliefs against the evidence of reality.

Conservative media promote distrust in science

Further disturbing is the implication that such distrust is actively promoted by some conservative media.

It is probably not surprising that trust, or lack of trust, are cognitive mechanisms enabling people to draw conclusions without the need for intensive analysis of the evidence. consequently people are effectively programmed, by the nature of their normal news media reading, to draw politically motivated conclusions, whatever the evidence.

There are two implications from this work. Firstly, changes in public perceptions on climate change have probably had more to do with media either promoting or undermining trust in scientists than in evidence:

” . . it appears that climate change contrarians have successfully raised questions about scientists in the public mind. Polling data from 2008 showed that 83 percent of the US population at least somewhat trusted scientists as a source of information about global warming; however, trust declined in 2010 to 74 percent. By contrast, these results demonstrate that use of non-conservative media outlets increases trust in scientists, suggesting that mainstream and liberal-leaning media coverage plays an important role in limiting (and countering) the effects of the climate skeptic movement. Therefore, continued use of mainstream news media outlets by the public should help sustain the credibility of scientists as a source of information about global warming. Thus, mainstream news media should be cognizant of this role and continue to highlight scientists as a trustworthy source of information on climate change.”

The public role of scientists

Secondly scientists should attempt to make sure their public role on issues like climate science promotes trust, rather than the opposite. They need to defend their credibility when attacked by conservative media in this way:

“Scientists could remain on the sidelines and exclusively produce research for peer-reviewed journals and reports. Although this strategy may help keep scientists above the fray, this does not mean that they will remain neutral actors in the eyes of the public. Indeed, climate contrarians and conservative media outlets are already attacking the credibility of climate science and individual scientists. Remaining uninvolved gives climate contrarians and conservative media free rein to redefine how the public thinks about climate scientists and their research. Alternatively, scientists could use their trusted position in society to engage the public by providing them with understandable analysis and information about the causes, risks and potential solutions to climate change. However, this proactive stance may lead some members of the public to view scientists as increasingly politicized. In both scenarios, some members of the public may lose trust in scientists, which may be difficult to regain . Importantly, however, the sidelines strategy will likely lead to a greater total loss of public trust than the public engagement strategy – especially among the Cautious, Disengaged, and Doubtful audiences identified in prior research, if climate contrarians are allowed to shape public discourse uncontested. Regardless, scientists will play an important role in how different publics perceive the issue of global warming. The question is whether it is on their terms or the terms of climate contrarians and their allies.” My emphasis.

It’s an important issue for scientists – particularly in the US where the news media is so polarised and political factions concentrate around specific examples. The authors finish by stressing how important the role of the media there has become:

“This political polarization is contributing to national climate change policy paralysis in the USA, and it is becoming clear that the news media itself plays an important role in this process.”

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Entertaining – and the science is good Ken Perrott Feb 22

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I am spending some time dealing with family business so am reposting some of my past book reviews over the next few day.

I reviewed this book recently, but its worth repeating. It’s fictional, but it’s about an important issue – climate change.

It’s also written by a local science blogger Gareth Renownden


Book Review: The Aviator (The Burning World) by Gareth Renowden

Price US$4.99 (Kindle); NZ$6.00 (Epub).
File Size: 641 KB
Print Length: 341 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Limestone Hills Ltd (August 14, 2012)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B008Y0MFTM
Text-to-Speech: Enabled.

This science fiction novel is set in a post-catastrophe world – in the not too distant future. Hardly an unusual scenario but I found its approach to the question of post-catastrophe social organisation intriguing. How would society reorganise after social collapse brought on by a world-engulfing crisis? In this case one of the possible outcomes of climate change? The usual scenario is some sort of tribalism, and usually a warring tribalism. But would it be that simple? After all, humanity would still have reservoirs of knowledge. Surely that would make simple tribalism unlikely?

Gareth Renowden’s solution is simple. Consciously or not he has simply extrapolated the ideological or issue-advocacy obvious in today’s internet blogs and forums into the post-catastrophe society. Today’s digital “silos” become tomorrows tribal groups. And, yes, they are just a inward-looking, suspicious and hostile to others as today’s silo communities are. Except they have real weapons. These tribal groups, or ideological ghettos, give scope for some nice irony and humour in the book.

Renowden’s post-catastrophe societies include the inevitable fundamentalist religious communities. But also communities based on artificial intelligence, technophobia, libertarianism, cynical “green” politics and so on. And, yes, there is even a climate change denial community – actively denying the world-wide catastrophe had anything to do with human-caused climate change. In fact still warning about an imminent ice-age (naturally caused of course)!

So you can imagine the scope for irony and humour there. Especially as Gareth Renowden is an author the climate change denial community love to hate. And they don’t hold back on expressing that hate.

Author’s credentials

This is Renowden’s first venture into fiction. His earlier books include Video -The Inside Story (1982), The Olive Book (1999), The Truffle Book (2005) and
Hot Topic – Global Warming and the Future of New Zealand (2007). The last book was short-listed for the Royal Society of NZ’s inaugural science book prize. He also writes regularly about climate change issues for the influential Hot Topic blog.

I must at this stage declare a common interest in the defence of science against science deniers, and to being a fellow SciBlogger of Gareth’s. But I know a good read when I see one and believe Gareth has adjusted to a fictional style very well. (I can already see a number of jibes about this coming from the local climate change denial ghetto – if their denigration of truffle farmers is anything to go by).

An entertaining story

The story involves the hero (Lemmy) and his romantic partner (Kate) travelling the world in a high-technology blimp (hence The Aviator). Home for them is New Zealand – specifically D’Urville Island at the top end of the South Island. They encounter the ideological ghettos during their travels, mainly in the USA – or what remains of it. Many of these encounters end in conflict, and a few shoot-outs – but they form a working relationship to one rich high technology group. A group based on concepts of interaction between human and artificial intelligence and belief in the ‘singularity‘ –” a point where the exponential acceleration of technological progress, especially computing power, would bring a merging of human and machine intelligence.”

Room for some interesting concepts and adventures there. Jenny, the blimp’s autopilot – herself an artificial intelligence which may even have some scope for emotions or something similar – contributes. There are some interesting interactions between Jenny and Kate when Kate receives artificial intelligence implants during treatment after an accident. This is enhanced by Jenny’s ability to interact with Kate’s thoughts and feelings – that puts a real damper on Kate’s love life!

So there is plenty of scope there for an entertaining story. With adventure, romance and humour. All this appealed to me as I prefer hard science fiction which is reality-based. With technology and machines not too unexpected or “magic.” Not set so impossibly far into the future that its hard to relate. I really don’t like the common fantasy genre of much of today’s science fiction.

So here comes my only complaint. Part of the story-line involves a certain amount of genetic engineering (hence the goat on the cover). Not too far-fetched as New Zealand has plenty of current research in these fields. Just that I found the effects on humans by the product produced by the genetically engineered goats are bit “magic.” OK I guess if you enjoy a little fantasy, but not quite realistic science. I’ll leave that to readers and I am nit-picking as it didn’t really destroy the credibility of the story for me.

Catastrophic but not alarmist

As you might expect, Renowden has a serious message behind the adventure, humour and entertainment of his story. After all, he writes often on the issue of climate change and he starts the book with a quote from Ray Bradbury about writing Fahrenheit 451:

“I WASN’T TRYING to predict the future. I was trying to prevent it.”

He makes his message clear in a brief appendix:

“The Burning World is our planet, but not as we know it. It is one future, a place that might be born of the things we do today. As long as we carry on increasing the carbon content of the atmosphere by using it as a cheap sewer for the waste from the burning of coal and oil, and continue felling forests, then the earth will continue to warm, and some of the things that Lemmy experiences in his short life will come to pass. Not as I have written them, perhaps, but in some form and to some extent these impacts — the rising seas, the extreme weather, the melting ice, the changes in rainfall patterns — will shape the lives of everyone on this planet over the next hundred years and for millennia beyond.

The Burning World is not a prediction. It is intended as a warning, an illustration of the potential consequences of our actions. In its imagining I have tried to stay within the bounds of realistic possibility — stretched a little in the interests of the story in one or two places (or throughout, some might argue) — but most of the main climate change impacts to be found in The Aviator are grounded in things we can see today, brought forward in time. When Lemmy and Thunderbird fly over the Greenland ice sheet and note that even the highest levels are melting, at the time of writing (in 2011) I thought that might be a reasonable projection of the state of the ice twenty to thirty years hence. And then, shortly before publication I learned that it’s already happening. We can only hope the same is not true for some of the other impacts I have dreamed up.”

An important clarification – but it won’t stop Renowden’s harshest critics from calling him “alarmist.” They will do so even without reading the book.

The fact that home base for the blimp was New Zealand, and realistically so, appealed to me. I have watched New Zealand develop a respectable batch of fictional writers during my lifetime, but we are still short of science fiction writers. Hopefully this book will contribute to a growth in this genre too. The cover describes it as “The Burning World Book One” – so that looks promising.

I highly recommend this first book to science fiction fans and am certainly looking forward to the next book in the series.

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The political alarmism behind climate change denial Ken Perrott Jan 27

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They are quick to accuse scientists of alarmism but I have always maintained that those who are most actively denying climate change are the real alarmists. It’s just that their motivations are political -  and their political beliefs alarmist (see Alarmist con).

This short video illustrates this for the case of Christopher Monckton -  an idol of the militant climate change denial movement.

The Terrifying World From Monckton’s Mind – YouTube.

Thanks to New AnthropoceneThe Terrifying World From Monckton’s Mind

Meanwhile, the remaining militant climate change denialists in New Zealand are eagerly awaiting the next local visit from Christopher Monckton. It starts (appropriately) on April 1st.

I understand some of the local media people are also vying for the opportunity to interview the guy. Last time his visit produced some rather entertaining videos. As you can see from the video above, he is good for a laugh.

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Who are these “credible experts”? Ken Perrott Oct 29

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There is a nice article over at A Few Things Ill Considered about climate change denial. And I thank Grant, from the Code for Life blog, for bringing it to my attention.

The image I have of local climate change denial activists

Climate Trolls – An Illustrated Bestiary produces an illustrated list of the different types of personality among climate change denial activists, and the websites or blogs they tend to congregate around.

There is ,The Galileo Gambiter, The Auditor, The Sanctity of Science concern troll, The Faux Skeptic, The Uncertainty Monster monster, The Avenger, The Gish Galloper, Hockey Goon, The Conspiracy Theorist, The Right Wing Ideologue and Breakthrough Boys. Each with photos illustrating how they see themselves, and how the public see them.

It’s quite an entertaining read.

This one - The Not the IPCCer – struck close to home. It seems to describe the group that gathers around the NZ denier blog sites Climate Conversation Group. And the picture of “How the world sees them” coincides with my image of people who find it impossible to get a life and instead spend all their time attached top their computer passing on links to anything they can interpret to fit their world view.

Here’s how coby at A Few Things Ill Considered describes this subspecies:

The Not the IPCCer – whatever was said on whatever topic by any of the IPCC reports, the opposite must be true.  Indeed there has never been a single correct statement made or paper published by any member of mainstream climate science. This conviction extends to even the most non-controversial and well supported contentions found in the literature and is accompanied by complete ignorance of what is found in the literature.

How they see themselves

How the world sees them

Favorite blog:     Watts Up With That
Special attack:    Peer review really means “Pal review” and Michael Mann and Phil Jones control all the major journals and all the world’s science institutions.
Favorite Topic:   Whatever the latest typo found in the latest IPCC report is.
Best counter:      Light.  The copious self-contradictions permeating their minds thrives only in darkness.

These local activists have been very vocal (at their own watering hole, anyway) since their defeat in the recent high court action they took against NIWA scientists. They have resorted to everything to justify their stance, avoid paying the NIWA  costs awarded by the courts and claim the real climate expertise rests with them, rather than New Zealand’s climate scientists.

Currently one of the most central figures in this little band is Manfred Otto Dedekind (See Shy climate denier in “science team” reveals himself for details). Manfred (who goes by the alias Bob D) on the internet was the “anonymous science team” behind the infamous attack on NZ scientists “Are we getting warmer yet?” The document which claimed that the evidence showed that no adjustments of NZ temperature data was necessary to accommodate site changes and that NIWA used such adjustments to invent an increase in temperatures.

He then did an about turn (without acknowledging that huge error) by agreeing that adjustments are necessary, doing his own manipulations of the data and telling NIWA his adjustments were the only correct ones. That NIWA had purposely got it all wrong. He and his mates used his “analysis” as their evidence in the High Court case (see High Court ruled on integrity – not science). Quite rightly, the court refused to accept that he was the climate expert he claimed to be (he has no publications at all in the area, 4 [very old] scientific publications in total – only two of which he is the senior author. I can see why his group initially wished to keep him anonymous).

But this hasn’t stopped these characters from getting behind Manfred and promoting him as an Über climate expert. One of their sister denier blogs Tallbloke’s Talkshop describes Manfred as an “expert” and a “statistician!”  (see How NIWA added lots of warming in New Zealand – and got away with it – so far). And Watts Up With That, a prominent denial blog, is describing him as a credible expert!

These guys live in a world of their own. No wonder they find trouble in getting a life.

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Climate change denier’s false “deep distress” fools no-one Ken Perrott Sep 12

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Recently I commented on the High Court rejection of the climate change deniers/contrarians/sceptics arguments against NIWA’s New Zealand temperature record. I said that those attacking NIWA were “getting all falsely indignant because others have pointed out that in effect they were charging that NIWA had acted fraudulently and this had been rejected (see “Leading climate scientists” make false allegation).”

I argued that, in fact, these groups have for several years have accused NIWA scientists of fraud, even if the specific F word had not been used. It is disingenuous of these people to now claim “We never said it was fraud” and limit themselves to the literal words used in the High Court submissions.

The writer of that blog post, the well-known local climate change denier Richard Treadgold, indignantly claimed:

“the Trust did not claim fraud in its Statement of Claim to the High Court, which nowhere uses any derivative of the word fraud. The Coalition never accused NIWA of fraud.”

Come on Richard – enough of the porkies. You are just relying on reader’s ignorance of the statement. (While at the same time avoiding the long history of aggressive accusations of scientific fraud your organisations have made against NIWA scientists).

Someone from NIWA who participated in the High Court case, and therefore is familiar with the statements, sent me these comments:

“here are some accusations in the NZCSET’s statements of claim:

Paragraph 20 in NZCSET’s First Statement of Claim (July 2010), repeated in First Amended Statement of Claim (July 2011):

20.  In making the 1999 decision NIWA was influenced by the expectation that significant NZTR warming would encourage funding for additional climate change research.

If this isn’t accusing us of fraud, I don’t know what is.

Also, from NZCSET’s First Amended Statement of Claim (July 2011):

45. Given the differences in data and calculations utilised by NIWA in producing the 7SS and the NZT7 there is no known scientific basis upon which it could have arrived at the coincidence between the results of the two series. The defendant must therefore have been affected by bias or actuated by some ulterior and/or irrelevant purpose, including:

(a) The advantages of finding a warming trend broadly consistent with the advice on climate matters that NIWA has been offering to judicial, administrative and

legislative bodies during the past decade;

(b) The avoidance of political embarrassment, or reduction in public confidence in NIWA’s scientific advice on climate matters, which might arise if the NZT7 failed to align with the warming trend shown in the 7SS.

Again, this is surely accusing us of fraud, by any other name. The explicit use of the ‘F’ word is not necessary.

Treadgold pretends “deep distress” at Dr Renwick’s comment referring to “the claim by the New Zealand Climate Science Education Trust (CSET, a small group of climate change “sceptics”) that NIWA had acted fraudulently in putting together its ‘7-station’ temperature series.” Treadgold goes as far as to pretend “to those devoted to the even-handed, practical pursuit of truth this accusation is deeply distressing.” (sic). And he calls for Dr Renwick to “man up and admit their mistake, apologise and withdraw the press statement.”

What hypocrisy!

Given the long history of the unfounded attacks by Treadgold and his mates on NIWA’s scientists, that again and again their claims have been exposed as unfounded and NIWA’s position vindicated, and now finally the rejection of these denier claims by the High Court, let me repeat my suggest from 2 years ago in Painted into a corner?

Isn’t it long past the time that Treadgold and his mates “man up”, apologise and withdraw their claims?

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The story behind the High Court action Ken Perrott Jul 22

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Some readers may be unaware that New Zealand SciBlogs produces a weekly podcast (usually available Friday afternoon). It’s worth listening to as it provides a Kiwi angle on current science news.

The latest podcast (Episode 37 – Science on trial) will interest everyone concerned about climate change, and particularly the recent High court case taken by a climate change denial group against NIWA. There is a long interview with Gareth Renowden, a SciBlogger who writes for Hot Topic. Gareth has published a book on climate change (Hot Topic) and is a mine of information on the science and politics of the issue. He provides an in-depth analysis of the High Court case and the people behind it. Well worth catching up with.

Also on this last podcast is an interview with James Renwick, a climate scientist working at School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University. He comments on the current scientific and political situation regarding climate change.

via The Sciblogs Podcast.


And if you have the time why not go back and listen to previous SciBlogs podcasts. For instance Episode 34: Digital Earth 2.0 includes an interview with yours truly discussing my blog post on the changing face of Australia’s religious affiliations.

Scepticism, denial and the high court Ken Perrott Jul 18

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Currently the NZ High Court is hearing a case brought against NIWA by a local climate change denial group.* You can catch up with the background and progress at When asses go to court, When asses go to law, Exclusive: Flat Earth Society appeal to NZ climate sceptics – join us! and Niwa breaching its duties with figures – sceptics group

The most interesting aspect of this trial will be the judge’s verdict and reasons. But at this stage I just want to justify my description of the complainants as climate change deniers rather than sceptics (a term I know they prefer – although one of them is objecting even to that (see Four go a-court, with a hey, nonny-no). To me it all boils down to questions of  “good faith.”

We have plenty of debates in science – and sometimes these can become heated. But they are important to the whole enterprise. Ideas and theories must be tested against reality, and that testing should be done collectively – individuals are too prone to bias. So argument, debate and testing against reality is what keeps us honest.

But of course that debate must be carried out in “good faith.” With the intention of exposing errors and coming to a resolution which provides a better picture of reality. From my perspective scepticism is part of the process and there is plenty of room for sceptics in science – including climate science. Honest, good faith, scepticism can only be good.

So what about “deniers.” Well, the difference here is that their “scepticism” is not aimed at improving our knowledge, or of furthering truth, but in discrediting that knowledge. By now we have all become used to the climate change denial activity, its sneering attitude towards science and the facts, and the support it gets from the fossil fuel industry and extreme right-wing and conservative politicians.

But here’s a little guide I came across which helps illustration the difference between scepticism and denial. It’s from Get Energy Smart! NOW! and the post is titled “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire …” Differentiating Skeptic from Denier. (I sort of think the childishness of the title is appropriate in this case).

The post contrasts Legitimate scientific scepticism with denialism. Here’s an extract:

Legitimate scientific skepticism:

“I found a flaw in one of your statistical methods. Here’s a better way to do it, and here are my results using the new method.”

Denialism:

“I found a flaw in one of your statistical methods. Therefore, you’re a liar liar pants on fire.”

Legitimate scientific skepticism:

“I think one of your data sets is questionable. Here’s an analysis of how that data set impacts your overall result.”

Denialism:

“I think one of your data sets is questionable. Therefore, you’re a liar liar pants on fire.”

Legitimate scientific skepticism:

“I think your model fails to account for a factor that I believe is significant. Here’s a modified model that accounts for the factor you left out, and here are my results with the new model.”

Denialism:

“I think your model fails to account for a factor that I believe is significant. Therefore, you’re a liar liar pants on fire.”

Get it yet?

Actually, for anyone who has delved into the blogs, comments sections and forums of the climate change denial echo chamber the spite and sneering is not far from “liar, liar, pants on fire!”

I look forward to the High Court verdict.


*This denier group is rather weird. It calls itself the “New Zealand Climate Science Education Trust,” and is known as a branch of the NZ Climate Science Coalition – a local denier group with links to the US Heartland Institute and other right-wing think tanks. It originally attempted to register as a charity and was actually listed for a short time in the NZ Charities register. Now it has been removed!

Perhaps their registration was rejected, possibly because of its political nature or its unwillingness to provide financial reports. Or perhaps they decided that there was little mileage (and little support) from going down the charity road and it has fallen back on deeper financial pockets.

It might need them.

Image credit: Dirty Bandits

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Give them enough rope . . . Ken Perrott May 22

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The last few years the climate change denier organisations have fooled themselves into thinking they are on a roll. (I am talking about deniers – not contrarians or sceptics). What with the “climategate affair,” the resulting investigations (which didn’t go their way) and the legal attacks on prominent climate scientists like Michael Mann (These have also failed). But really what they have been doing is feeding out the rope which will eventually hang them.

This is obviously the case with the US “think tank” The Heartland Institute. This rabid free market organisation had been trying hard to present themselves as purveyors of the “true” science on the climate. In particular, they have being sponsoring, together with a number of other dogmatic free market organisations, a conference they claim as “scientific.” But, they are not interested in finding facts, rather fighting facts. And that is the true purpose of their conference.

The Heartland Institute feeds out the rope with this billboard advertising there conference.

The most recent conference kicked off the other day (see Heartland Institute’s Seventh International Conference on Climate Change – ICCC-7). But its come at a bad time for them. Back in February there was the scandal of their leaked emails and documents. These revealed some details of their financial backers – as well as plans to subvert the educations system with climate denial propaganda  (see Heartland Institute gets mail and Heartland’s climategate — and Mann’s book). Then earlier this month  they really dished out the rope with a electronic billboard advertising this conference (see Heartland ignorant of public relations — let alone science).*

$825,000 gone – $1,430,000 to go!

This caused such a negative reaction that they pulled it within hours. But instead of effectively “fighting the facts” of climate science they were sawing off the branch they were sitting on. Within days they faced withdrawal of speakers from the conference, departure of staff,  and, more importantly, withdrawal of finance from some of their sponsors. See Guardian report Heartland Institute facing uncertain future as staff depart and cash dries up).

Have a look at Forecast the Facts – a webs site charting the decline in Heartland’s financial support. As of today $US825,000 of their projected 2012 Corporate support of US$2,225,00 has been pulled.

Presenting the facts and not fighting them.

And the climate reality project has responded with a public donor financed billboard giving some of the facts. This will be displayed throughout their conference. (You can make donations at Climate Reality | Donate).

All this has forced The Heartland Institute to fall back on other sponsors, both for their conference and for their own finances. Sponsors more directly and publicly connected to the fossil fuel industry (see Heartland Institute Hemorrhages Donors And Cash For Extremist Agenda, As Coal And Oil Step In).

“a coal lobby group has stepped in as one of its ‘gold’ sponsors. The Illinois coal chief praises Heartland for its work and ‘so we thought we would finally make a contribution to the organisation.’ He added, ‘In general, the message of the Heartland Institute is something the Illinois Coal Association supports.

In addition to the Illinois Coal Association, ExxonMobil, other oil companies, as well as Heritage Foundation have joined to sponsor the conference.”

Some of the Australian organisations cosponsoring Heartland’s conference

Mind you, have a look at their co-sponsors for this conference. A whole host of political, extreme right-wing, organisations. You will recognise some of the names. The George C. Marshall Institute (who denied tobacco was harmful), Institute for Private Enterprise, Australian Taxpayers Alliance (“fighting tax, regulation and waste”), Heritage Foundation, Ayn Rand Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute, and so on.

By your friends we shall know you

Oh, by the way – the only New Zealand sponsor I could see was the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.

Footnote:

*Even the climate change denial internet echo chamber was largely critical of the Heartland billboard. (Although local denier blog Climate Conversations couldn’t quite make up its mind. Richard Treadgold, poor guy, thought it was “a stupid, brave, heart-warming experiment.” Couldn’t quite bring himself to be critical, although most of his commenters were – see … is sauce for the gander). And the Heartland Institute is such a sensitive topic at Watts Up With That you need a special password to join in any discussion of the conference – see Protected: At the conference.

Update: Seems Watts Up With That was so excited about attending the conference they cocked up that post. So it’s no longer “protected.”

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Science denial is a diversion from the real problems Ken Perrott Apr 26

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Here’s a short but informative discussion between Naomi Oreskes and Australian politician Nick Minchin. He is known for his denial of human inputs to climate change and for attacking the science. Oreskes suggests to him that his reasons for denial are not scientific. That he should accept the science and get on a deal with the political and financial issues which really motivate him.

This is an extract from the documentary “I Can Change Your Mind About..Climate.” You an watch the film on line.

This reminds me of the comment made by a well-known US climate change denier, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK). When debating his position, and his attacks on science, with a TV interviewer he made this remarkable admission:

I was actually on your side of this issue when I was chairing that committee and I first heard about this. I thought it must be true until I found out what it cost.’

In short, learning about the (supposed) high cost of the solution is what turned him from a believer in climate science to a denier.

This is something which I seem to have to learn again and again in my debates with those attacking the science of climate change and climate scientists. Although they attack the science their real motivating beliefs are political and financial.

It’s an interesting psychological phenomenon, and an unpleasant political one seeing they are needlessly  badmouthing innocent and honest scientists.

Naomi Oreskes has often lectured and written on  science denial. Her book Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming is well worth reading.

I also recommend a recent interview with her on Point Of Inquiry: Naomi Oreskes – Neoliberalism and the Denial of Global Warming

Thanks to: Deniers in Denial about Why they Deny.

See also: Q&A Climate Debate the ABC programme screened after the above documentary.

Who is committing fraud here? Ken Perrott Apr 16

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Richard Treadgold, whose blog Climate Conversations appears to be the sole active NZ blog devoted entirely to climate change denial, is rehashing an old argument (See Well, where’s your evidence, Renowden?). He claims:

’Global warming has not happened for about 15 years, unless you take a micrometer to the thermometer. And if you have to do that just to detect warming, then it’s hardly dangerous, is it?’

Of course this has been explained to him and his mates many times. Either his brain is just not capable of comprehending the simple story – or he continues to raise it despite the fact it has been well refuted. After all, if your real purpose is political, to manufacture doubt, honesty is your last concern. That’s why he claims climate scientists are committing “fraud” on this question (and others).

I dealt with the issue in my post ’What, me worry?’ — distorting climate change data. It is simply the issue of how to detect a relatively small trend in temperature against a background of relatively large natural variations which don’t contribute to the underlying trend. A common problem is sciences of all sorts.

It’s a question of observation period. We know, for example, that organic carbon builds up in soils under pasture. But try measuring the carbon levels over one season or one year and you just won’t see it. It’s buried in the inevitable noise of the variation in carbon levels over short times. But collect the data over 10 or more years and you will start to see the trend.

Its the same with global temperatures. The overall trend is not obvious, can’t be extracted from the data, over relatively short terms, because of the relatively large natural variations. When someone bases their claims on such a short perod you have to wonder about their honesty because its simple enough to produce any result you desire by chossing your time period. This is clear from The Escalator produced by Skeptical science.

Its a classic example of the activity that goes on in the climate change denier echo chamber (of which Treadgold is a part).

Here’s another give away. Why is Treadgold talking about 15 years – these guys used to use 10 years? Well the reason is their desire to preserve 1998 data. Global temperatures that year were exceptionally high so that data point has an over-riding effect on determining trends over a short term. If Treadgold has stuck to 10 or 12 years he was in danger of actually finding a statistically significant trend. That is the last thing he wants.

Statistical confidence in the observed increase in global temperatures comes from data collected over a long period. Selectively cherry-picking the data in the way Treadgold and his mates does is a no -no in science.

But of course science is the last thing they are interested in. Their purposes are political – and the manufacture of doubt.

Its obvious who is committing the fraud here.

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