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scientists request that media should not call people who deny the basic science of global warming skeptics, but instead call them

global warming deniers.


Scientists feel that skepticism is

essential to the scientific method and they object to skeptic being used to describe people whose minds are so made up that they are not susceptible to evidence.



someone who accepts the basic GW science, but thinks it is not a serious threat.


The CEI commercial claims

glaciers are growing. the paper only refers to the interior of greenland though.


global warming alarmists claim that glaciers are melting because of

carbon dioxide from the fuels we use. untrue.


most glaciers in the world are receding due to

increased temp. (which has been attributed to burning fossil fuels).


there is more snow accumulation on greenland, except

it is strongly outweighed by increased melt


GINI index

a ratio of the areas in the following plot: Gini = A/(A+B) Equality G=0, inequality=1.0.

if area A is big, that means wealth is concentrated in the hands of the richest


typical liberal arguments

- make the impacts of global warming seem more dire than they might actually be. but to be fair, how dire they will be is uncertain.
- pick some charismatic animal that might suffer or become extinct: polar bears are classic since the connection to climate is apparent.
- both liberals and conservatives point to unusual events as caused by global warming (liberals - a big storm, flood, or drought) or an obvious proof that global warming is not happening (conservatives - e.g. a cold winter). neither connection is scientifically supportable most of the time.


typical global warming denier themes

- pick out some observation and contort it into "evidence" against the role of CO2 or humans in climate change
- basic theory of climate change says that warming in the 10km up in the tropics should be greater than warming at the surface.
- some observations of temp. trends in the troposphere (balloons and, at first, satellites) did not show as much warming as surface. the observations were wrong in the case of satellites and probably also the balloon temp. data.
- in ice cores, the CO2 seems to shift after the temp. starts to change. this is consistent with the idea that CO2 is a feedback on climate change driven by orbital parameters on 10,000-100,000 year time scales.
- certainly it is warm when CO2 is high and cold when CO2 is low. CO2 is a critical driver in most all big climate changes we know about.


CO2 and temp from ice cores

- seems to be a small time lag of CO2 behind temp. by a few hundred years.
- scientists would argue that CO2 and temp. are both responding to climate change, whose timing is driven by orbital parameters.
- interpret CO2 as a positive feedback on these changes.


other common global warming denier themes

- it's the sun
- but there's no credible science to indicate that variations in the sun have had a key role in climate change over the past 100 years.
- the atmosphere isn't warming or the data aren't good enough to say that it is.
- the warming is real, but natural variability.
- the theory is flawed: there is no link between human activity and CO2 increase in the atmosphere/warming.
- the models are uncertain
- the projected changes are so small that it doesn't matter.


talking up uncertainty

- make people believe that there is no consensus on global warming.
- worked successfully for many years (cigarette smoking, ozone depletion, strategic defense initiative, and acid rain.
- many famous global warming skeptics are the same people who argued about smoking, ozone, etc. in the past.


Frederick Seitz

distinguished physicist PhD Princeton '34 and president of National Academy, Rockefeller University.
- cofounded the George C. Marshall Institute, originally to defend Reagan's Strategic Defense Inititative, but later join on the dark side of issues as: health effects of cigarette smoking and second hand smoke, existence of acid rain, role of CFCs in ozone hole, and on the skeptical side of global warming and the efficacy of renewable energy.
- general role is to create doubt in the legal and political arena enough to delay any action.


disinformation examples

- the Leipzig Declaration on Global Climate Change (1995).
- The Oregon Petition
- each are letters "signed" by lists of "scientists" opposing US participation in the Kyoto Protocol and the UN Framework Convention on climate.
- the majority of signers were either know skeptics like S. Fred Singer, who organized the campaigns, Fred Seitz, Patrick Michaels, who are funded by petroleum and cola companies, or people who are not experts.


role of the media

GW denier organizations demanded equal time for contrary opinions.
- each scientific study about global warming was accompanied by quotes from a denier contradicting in some way.
- equal time was given to someone from the denier side, despite their small numbers.
- often the particular deniers wouldn't agree with each other if they debated (some would say Earth isn't warming, others would say warming is due to the Sun, etc.).


too expensive to solve

- the future warming will happen and the projected changes will have large impacts but it will be cheaper to clean it up in the future than to do something now.
- other problems (malnutrition, lack of clean water, malaria, HIV/AIDS) are more important/immediate than global warming.
- too expensive: putting a price on carbon would increase the cost of energy and cripple the global economy.


climate scientists say this to make money

not true:
- salary for college professors is set by the university, or by the government in the case of public universities.
- government scientists e.g. NOAA or NASA are government employees and can't take private money.
- many denier scientists are directly funded by oil/coal companies, they either work for private enterprises are as consultants. or indirectly via organizations such as CEI.


positive role of skeptics

- good when constructive (i.e. proposing new mechanisms), always beneficial.
- examples of positive contributions: Anthony Watts identified improperly positioned temp. stations and Dick Lindzen proposed testable hypotheses about clouds and global warming - wrong, but did stimulate some research to confirm scientific consensus.



come on both sides of the issue.
- often potential losers with singular priorities (e.g. direct financial interests, localized/immediate interests). ex: coal companies fear their industry will become less profitable.
- people with priorities not directly related to human welfare, socially or economically. ex: polar bear advocates.
- people with political or ethical bents that are at odds with mitigation. ex: libertarian organizations and their followers.
- almost always motivated by issues not related to science.


Richard S. Lindzen

professor at Harvard and MIT, did work on atmospheric tides and other stuff unrelated to climate change. most scientifically qualified skeptic. loves to take contrarian views and argue. debated the evidence that smoking is harmful.


James E. Hansen

spent most of his career at a NASA lab on Broadway, NYC, the Goddard Institute of Space Studies. big contributions to radiative transfer and planetary atmospheres, then to climate modeling for past 30 years. most distinguished "alarmist" on global warming.