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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 09/13/2010

Midterm candidates embrace climate denialism

By Andrew Freedman

* Sweet September week: Full Forecast *

Despite overwhelming scientific evidence that human activities are warming Earth's climate and causing a range of harmful effects, climate science denialism is enjoying a dramatic resurgence in American political life. More candidates who simply do not believe Earth's climate is warming, or who hold the view that humans are not the primary cause of recent warming, may be elected this year than in any other election in recent memory.

The large number of viable candidates in the upcoming midterm elections who disagree with the conclusions of the vast majority of climate scientists deserves some discussion here, since denying the reality of manmade climate change is also a scientific issue, not just a political matter. The bottom line is that denying that manmade climate change is taking place won't make the problem go away. In all likelihood it will only make it worse, as greenhouse gas concentrations increase even further, locking in additional warming for decades to come.

From a political standpoint, portraying yourself as an ardent skeptic of the scientific establishment may be a wise move in a year in which voters seem to have a deep distrust of elites in general. But a comparison of some of the candidates' statements with the scientific literature demonstrates that there is virtually no scientific support to back up many of their claims.

Take for example Wisconsin Republican Senate nominee Ron Johnson. He is running even in polls against Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold, and has blamed climate change on sunspots, despite studies that have refuted such claims.

"I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change," Johnson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in August. "It's not proven by any stretch of the imagination."

He also described those who think climate change is mostly caused by human activities, such as burning fossil fuels for energy, as "crazy." "It's far more likely that it's just sunspot activity or just something in the geologic eons of time," he said. Climate scientists, of course, have proven otherwise. Studies show that it is extremely unlikely that known natural factors can account for warming observed since the latter half of the 20th century. Instead, such trends are best explained by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, which trap outgoing infrared radiation and warm the climate.

Johnson's views put him at odds with the National Academy of Sciences - the nation's premier scientific research and advisory body - which released a series of climate science reports this summer that concluded in part:

"Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for - and in many cases is already affecting - a broad range of human and natural systems."

This was essentially a re-affirmation of the core conclusion of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), whose 2007 report found that there is a greater than 90 percent likelihood that human activities are the main cause of recent global warming.

Climate scientists have concluded again and again that solar "forcing" of the climate system is most likely not responsible for the warming climate, despite the tempting logic of that hypothesis. One study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society in 2007 found that "over the past 20 years, all the trends in the Sun that could have had an influence on the Earth's climate have been in the opposite direction to that required to explain the observed rise in global mean temperatures."

Another failure of the solar-forcing theory is the fact that the stratosphere - the layer of air above the troposphere where most weather takes place - has been cooling since about 1950. This is a predicted result of increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases along with declines in the amount of ozone in the stratosphere (remember the ozone layer problem?). If increases in solar luminosity were the main cause of the warming climate, then the troposphere and stratosphere should warm together.

Blatant contradiction of scientific evidence is not just a problem for Mr. Johnson. Writing in the environmental publication Grist, RL Miller found numerous other candidates around the country who are running in part on a platform of flouting the scientific establishment on climate change and other issues. The liberal blog Thinkprogress noted that all four Republican candidates for the Senate seat being vacated by Judd Gregg in New Hampshire do not believe human activities are the main cause of climate change.

Nor am I alone to express alarm at the virulent strain of climate science skepticism that is helping to fuel some campaigns.

On Sept. 3, the Economist discussed this issue in reference to the heated Senate race in California between Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and Republican Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard. "It is troubling that the contemporary state of American political discourse obliges people who know better to stifle themselves on this issue," the Economist stated, noting that prior to this campaign, Fiorina had supported domestic policies that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but now questions them and attacked Boxer for her work on the issue, most famously in a TV ad.

Even scientific journals have stepped up to express concern about many candidates' skepticism toward climate science and other scientific disciplines. The highly respected British journal Nature, in an unusual editorial last week, criticized the "anti-science strain pervading the right wing in the United States."

"Denialism over global warming has become a scientific cause célèbre within the [Tea Party] movement," the editorial stated. "As educators, scientists should redouble their efforts to promote rationalism, scholarship and critical thought among the young, and engage with both the media and politicians to help illuminate the pressing science-based issues of our time."

Assuming that many of these candidates are successful on election day, climate scientists will have their work cut out for them when they try to communicate their scientific findings to the next Congress. After all, it's rather difficult to explain how serious a problem is when the person you are speaking to does not believe the problem exists in the first place.

The views expressed here are the author's alone and do not represent any position of the Washington Post, its news staff or the Capital Weather Gang.

By Andrew Freedman  | September 13, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Climate Change, Freedman  
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Typical right-wing climate denialism...the right wing supports traditional fossil-fuel influenced economic policy. The problem: Except for biofuels, fossil fuel reserves are finite and will become more expensive with continued extraction. Admittedly the alternative [probably some hydrogen-based technology, either fusion or magnetohydrodynamics] may take a few decades to scale up to economically productive sustainabilty.

As for climate, sunspots DO exert an influence. I posted this yesterday. The solar output graph behaves like the trigonometric sine or cosine functions, rising and falling over the 11.5 year sunspot cycle. However the long-term trend for solar output remains constant over time. On the contrary the graph of average global temperature trends is showing a steady increase over time. Something is causing global temperatures to rise, most likely the emission of greenhouse gases due to human activity.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | September 13, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

If you continue to use the loaded phrase "climate denialism", you will not be taken seriously by anyone other than those who are already on your side. You know very well the implications of the word denialism, yet you continue to use it. Shame on you.

Posted by: gsharper4 | September 13, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

It should come as no surprise that a number of right wing candidates deny human caused climate change, as many of these same candidates and their supporters fervently believe the earth was created roughly 5000 years ago over a period of six days.
These folks are pretty good at ignoring science in favor of bible stories.

Posted by: xcurmudgeon | September 13, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

gsharper4: Actually, I have not used the word "denialism" or "denialist" in my work until now, so your charge that I "continue to use it" is unfounded. I highly doubt you'll find many instances in my past work where I used that term. Instead, I've used either climate "skeptic" or "contrarian."

However, these candidates are going beyond skepticism. Skepticism is healthy in scientific discourse and essential to the scientific process in general. Blatant disregard for scientific evidence is not healthy, and should not be confused with scientific skepticism.

Posted by: afreedma | September 13, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Ok. Interesting write up. But I was wondering when the op-ed page migrated to the weather page. You know, not everything in our little world has to be political all the time despite the fact we live in the most political city in the world!

Posted by: AlbertoHurtado | September 13, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Discussing climate change on this forum is okay, but I would not mention specific candidates for political office. Very few politicians will be elected or denied election based on their position on climate change -- that ranks way down the list of issues of significance to the average American voter.

Posted by: rodneysmall | September 13, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

it was more like 6000 years ago, or so they say.... it's pretty darned easy to write those folks off as being experts at denying scientific evidence. but while climate change "skeptics" typically include YECs (young earth creationists), it also includes "regular" people who seem to "trust" scientists in most other areas.

i chalk it up more to wishful thinking. we don't want to give up our high-co2-emission lifestyles....that's all. global warming really is inconvenient.

it's a bit like why we as a nation are so obese: we like eating food, but don't want to be fat.

it's like why we have a national (and personal!) debt: we like social programs, but don't want to pay for them.

(apologies to those with metabolic problems and eating disorders and those who would embrace higher taxes along with less benefits...)

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | September 13, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I became a fan of the Capital Weather Gang because the posts have, until now, adhered to discussion of the weather. I regret that Mr. Freedman felt that it was appropriate to post his personal / political discussion here.

Posted by: hrking6 | September 13, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: HockeySchtick | September 13, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

4 Those who disagree with Andrew & don't like reading his commentary, I have a simple solution, ingore his articles. He is 1 of the contributors 2 this site & thus has a right 2 write whatever he wants 2. If u don't like his writing just by pass his articles. Also, feel free 2 start your own web site & write about whatever floats your boat.

Posted by: VaTechBob | September 13, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse


Thanks for the feedback. Our blog does cover some climate chance science issues occasionally (as climate/weather are related) and Andrew Freedman has been covering the issue for us for several years -- providing both news analysis and opinion. See his articles at:

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | September 13, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

You are aware that the term denialist equates climate skeptics with holocaust deniers. It is fine if you want to belittle the intelligence of those who disagree with you on this topic. The word denialist however, goes a step beyond criticism and seeks to categorize climate skeptics as not only uninformed but immoral. It is a thinly disguised ad hominem attack that should be beneath anyone who aims towards reasonable argument.

Posted by: gsharper4 | September 13, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Reading comments.... Hmmm, has Andrew's point been proven? At very least, this is a hot button topic for discussion/campaigning, etc. Let's keep it friendly, folks, we all gotta live here together......

Posted by: cwgfan76 | September 13, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Reading comments, I wonder if Andrew's point has been somewhat proven? Either way, this is obviously a hot button topic for campaigning and discussion. Keep it friendly, folks, we all gotta live on this rock together.....

Posted by: cwgfan76 | September 13, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Tell a Republican/Tea Bagger that the way to fix global warming is smaller government and lower taxes and watch how fast the tides turn in favor of the scientific consensus.

They don't give a damn about anything but those two things. They'll bend any belief they have to in order to support that outcome. Period. Have a care, however, about the government programs you cut as you deliver on the smaller government they SAY they want. They only want smaller government where it the cuts don't impact THEM.

They're the most selfish and ignorant cohort in human history and they'll be the death of us all. Don't believe me? Just look at the spectacle unfolding over burning the Koran.

Posted by: sdavis3398 | September 13, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Hi Walter, I thought we wouldn't hear from you until December 5th! As far as I can tell, Andrew seems to be trying to interpret the statements of politicians as some sort of scientific statement such as "... do not believe human activities are the main cause of climate change." Well over the long run that is certainly true, CO2 warming in any noticeable quantity only started around WWII. But parsing words of politicians is double-edged.

On the other side of the aisle we have statements from politicians like "Climate Change Bigger Threat Than Terrorism" (or nuclear weapons, etc). All kinds of statements are made about acceleration. Basically temperature accelerated into 1998, then the rate of increase slowed. Temperature is rising but not accelerating.

The real problem is neither side knows the first thing about the real issues like sensitivity. They simply choose whatever fits their needs. Walter, for motives on the carbon control side, there is control motive. It is no secret that some politicians would like more power and control over the economy.

Science is not measured by the ability to support alarmist conclusions nor conclusions suitable to the "denialist" politicians. Rather science is balanced, fully presents all evidence and all conclusions, good or bad. An example of good science would point out that part of the current stratospheric cooling is the due to the low solar UV activity. Stating only the trend since 1950 ignores the evidence that most of the variation in stratospheric temperatures is natural.

Posted by: eric654 | September 13, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

eric, you said,
"I thought we wouldn't hear from you until December 5th!"

well, here's hoping there's a white reason for me to check in around then!

now that we're moving out of the time of year for extreme heat, and i've pretty much given up on the reaching the 90 degree day record, i'm not checking in nearly as much. seems like i like the extremes. not much to talk about when the weather is a beautiful 70 degrees...

re climate change: thanks for your thoughts. i wish we (society) could move past the denial and onto the extent and effects of warming and then what, if anything, to do about them. as long as we're still trying to get people on board with the idea that climate change is a real phenomenon. i consider you a bit of an anomaly. most people on "your side" won't go so far as to admit that co2 emissions are warming the planet.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | September 13, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

The the quality of life my grandchildren will have is dependent on aggressive action to mitigate the effects of climate change... I therefore feel that people who contradict scientists on this issue to be both immoral and either intentional purveyors of disinformation or willfully ignorant.

Posted by: BeamMeUpScotty1 | September 13, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

I personally will not vote for any candidate who denies that climate change is real, that it is caused by humans. These men are idiots and should not be allowed to represent the United States. I would like readers in other nations to know that the vast majority of Americans are not this stupid, that we do recognize our contribution to warming planet and that we are trying to act to mitigate the damage that is being done. These morons do not represent me or my family, they do not represent my friends, they do not represent the people in my community.

Posted by: BadWolf | September 13, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

If one wishes to read an original point of view that doesn't toss out the science, I suggest the blog of Roger Pielke Jr. He is often irritating but I have considerable trouble dismissing his point of view.

Posted by: Dadmeister | September 13, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Walter, I think there are a bunch of so-called lukewarmers and others no labeled such. Pielke Jr, mentioned above, is one. Lucia another. A diverse bunch of scientists and others fall into that category, Ferdinand Englebeen, Jack Barrett, Lief and some others at WUWT, etc.

What has changed in my view of the world is a hardening of opinion, mainly on the right and a bit on the left-libertarian against the activist part of the scientific establishment (the people behind many of the climategate emails). Those emails are not the exclusive reason, but they did lower people's opinion of the science. Another explanation is the polarization of politics.

Posted by: eric654 | September 13, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Interesting to a point. It should be noted that no-one's opinion will be swayed by the arguments posted to date, including Mr. Freedman's. It all comes across as too political. Wrong forum for this discussion.

Posted by: chernobill1 | September 13, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Which human activity has really caused damage to the planet: having cars or having cut down 80% of the world's forests?

Cars emit CO2, forests absorb CO2 and water from the atmosphere. There are two sides in the carbon cycle: emission and absorption.

Controlling emission is going against a basic need of humanity to progress.

Restoring the forests, therefore, is the better option!

If governments set targets in terms of hectares of land to be added to their existing or remaining forests; or by seeing to it that the rate of forests restoration should be greater than the rate of deforestation, we will be certain to achieve the following: a) reduce CO2 from the atmosphere, b) slow down the hydrologic cycle that is putting up more moisture in the atmosphere, and c) we will restore not only the flora but the fauna as well.

It should be considered that the real culprit in the warming of the Earth is the increase in the amount of moisture in the atmosphere and not CO2. Evidence? Just notice the amount of precipitation that are accompanying typhoons, hurricanes and other weather events like thick snowfall. Water vapor take in more heat than CO2, and there is more of moisture (50,000 ppm) than CO2 (350 ppm) in the atmosphere.

When the ice from the poles melt and go to the oceans, these fresh water will temporarily occupy the top layer of the seas, but these fresh waters will not stay in the oceans; these waters will evaporate and stay in the atmosphere to absorb more heat from the sun. Fresh water vapor molecule is lighter than than salt water and even CO2, so light that as it gets to go up easy into the atmosphere as soon as it gets radiated by the sun. Water does not need CO2 to evaporate.

So again, the real solution to slow down the rate of warming of the planet is to bring back the forests; if possible to that extent as these were a hundred years ago. Governments can set a goal like 10% increase of forest area per annum. Private land owners can set aside 10% of their landholdings for the growing of trees.

For every tree we plant we are certain that some CO2 and moisture have been taken away from the atmosphere.

Posted by: pinoythinker | September 13, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Not a bad idea. Although forests add moisture to the air, the amount they add is completely trivial compared to the amount that evaporates from the oceans. That amount (and the total evaporation worldwide) is heavily dependent on ENSO (El Nino and La Nina).

But the forest idea is excellent for CO2 uptake and biodiversity reasons. The biosphere currently absorbs about 1/2 of the CO2 that man produces every year, but seasonally it absorbs more than man produces (right now) and much less than man produces in NH winter. Additional forest particularly in the SH will help with that NH winter deficit.

Posted by: eric654 | September 13, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

If CO2 is the culprit and the oceans release (lots of) CO2 with increases in global temperature what's to stop the world from spiraling into a non-stoppable CO2-induced global cooking? The Vostok data shows what many of us scientists understand, global temperatures rise, the oceans release CO2, CO2 ppm rises; global temperatures fall, oceans absorb CO2, CO2 ppm falls - it's the oceans. If it wasn't we would have cooked a long time ago.

However, I don't deny climate change - the Vostok data proves it has occurred, many times, most before man burned fossil fuels.

Posted by: mdnaturalist | September 13, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

It has been my experience that scientific conclusions are generally accepted. The exceptions being when core beliefs are challenged or when it is politically convenient to distort and deny. Hence, continuing challenges to evolutionary theory in spite of overwhelming scientific consensus and little evidence to the contrary. Poking holes in a theory does not support a theory in and of itself.

This phenomena is not restricted to the right. For example, those shouting about the perceived dangers of nanotechnology and nanomaterials, otherwise known as molecules. Persistent claims of a link between autism and vaccines. Incidence of autism continues to rise despite the elimination of thymerisol from vaccines.

There is a scientific consensus on a correlation between CO2 content in the atmosphere and global temperatures. Those who would claim otherwise require some gigantic conspiracy to surpress contrary evidence. Hint: a paper in Science or Nature carries weight. Fulminations in a blog post don't.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | September 13, 2010 11:54 PM | Report abuse
Hans von Storch
Sept 13, 2010
Richard Tol:
Ottmar Edenhofer claimed in „ZDF umwelt“ on September 5, 2010 “Die Aussage, der IPCC hätte bewusst Dinge herausgehalten, die ihm unbequem waren, die nicht gewissermassen in eine Gesamtstory gepasst hätten, kann ich beim besten Willen nicht sehen”. (I cannot understand, even if I try hard, the assertion that the IPCC would deliberately have omitted things, which would have been inconvenient, which would not have been consistent with the overall story.)

This assertion of the co-chair of Working Group III of the IPCC is at best peculiar if not outright false. In the following, I will back this statement in some detail, by demonstrating how specific conclusions from white publications, known to the IPCC lead authors, have been filtered out in support of a (false) claim of consensus in the Summary for Policymakers. At the time of his interview, Dr. Edenhofer was aware of these inconsistencies.
Chapter 11 cites two papers (Nordhaus, 2002; Smulders, 2005) that show the opposite. The authors were told at two meetings that their hypothesis does not stand. Review comments on both drafts pointed out that Chapter 11 misrepresents the literature.

Posted by: PaulRevere4 | September 13, 2010 11:58 PM | Report abuse

One has to ask themselves WHY there are so many so-called "deniers" or "skeptics". Simple. They don't just exist in a vacuum....thye are there for a good reason. It is because science has NOT proved Global Warming......or at least the concept of the "Greenhouse Effect" and what "human activities" are "causing". To be "in denial" is to simply deny with is the truth, or what has already been proven. But, with climate warming, the so-called Greenhouse Effect, and human activities, one cannot live in "denial" because it simply has not been proven. It is the burden of science to actually PROVE it. That, obviously, has not been done, despite the strong claims of a number of people.

So, once science DOES proves it, then and only THEN can they accuse others of "denial" Until that happens......good luck.

Posted by: MMCarhelp | September 14, 2010 1:41 AM | Report abuse

MMCarhelp, you said,
"It is because science has NOT proved Global Warming......or at least the concept of the "Greenhouse Effect" and what "human activities" are "causing"."

oh brother...what planet do you live on? humans are able to live in the earth because of the greenhouse effect. it's what keeps earth warmer -18C. the physics/chemistry of the greenhouse effect are well-understood - that's not even cutting-edge science. furthermore we know FOR SURE that we are emitting lots of co2, which we know FOR SURE is a greenhouse gas...

it's one thing to say (like eric) that the earth is warming due to human emissions of co2, but that the effects may not be so bad. (he's in the "bargaining" phase of grief over the loss of indestructible earth. (it goes denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.) just a bit of friendly ribbing there, eric.)

but it's another to say it's not happening - that's denial...

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | September 14, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

The science clearly shows the climate has warmed significantly in the past few decades.

The best explanation we have is anthropogenic. Our best quantitative descriptions of the Earth's climate--climate models--clearly suggest that greenhouse gases are the major cause of the warming and that the warming will get considerably larger.

There are uncertainties, not least how to deal with the problem.

Unfortunately the problem has been politicized and people have been attacked and slandered--on both sides, but from my perspective much more by some of the people opposed to the idea of global warming.

Posted by: Dadmeister | September 14, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Actually Walter I go in reverse order, so I'll get mad really soon. The GH nature of CO2 is not entirely uncontroversial. I've read arguments by Hans Jelbring, Eduardo Ferreyra and others but pretty much they lose on one or two details like conduction (GH warming by N2 and O2) being a lot weaker and slower than radiation.

My other quibble with what you said Walter is that most effects are good. In our area and in the US as a whole we spend more on heating (not optional at all) than cooling (somewhat optional). Growing seasons are longer, etc, etc.

As far as bad things like more storms, they were going to happen anyway, just less frequently. In either case we need to be prepared. Heat waves (blocking patterns) are not caused by global warming although they are some fraction of a degree C warmer. More storms only proves that sensitivity is overestimated. More storms = cooler planet.

Posted by: eric654 | September 14, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

sdavis3398 wrote, "They're the most selfish and ignorant cohort in human history and ..."

Your "Republican/Tea Bagger" rant has two factual errors.

One - You can't classify every TEA, Taxed Enough Already, party/movement participant as a Republican. There are members of all political stripes in the TEA party.

Two - Every study that I am aware of, in my lifetime at least, has consistently shown that conservatives/Republicans are the most charitable with both their money and their time. Even the latest Google funded study concluded the same. It isn't even close. The range varies from giving 30% more to 100% more, depending on the study.

Even the New York Times admits this simple fact.

--begin quote--
This holiday season is a time to examine who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, but I’m unhappy with my findings. The problem is this: We liberals are personally stingy.

Liberals show tremendous compassion in pushing for generous government spending to help the neediest people at home and abroad. Yet when it comes to individual contributions to charitable causes, liberals are cheapskates.

Arthur Brooks, the author of a book on donors to charity, “Who Really Cares,” cites data that households headed by conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than households headed by liberals. A study by Google found an even greater disproportion: average annual contributions reported by conservatives were almost double those of liberals.

Other research has reached similar conclusions. The “generosity index” from the Catalogue for Philanthropy typically finds that red states are the most likely to give to nonprofits, while Northeastern states are least likely to do so.

The upshot is that Democrats, who speak passionately about the hungry and homeless, personally fork over less money to charity than Republicans — the ones who try to cut health insurance for children.

“When I started doing research on charity,” Mr. Brooks wrote, “I expected to find that political liberals — who, I believed, genuinely cared more about others than conservatives did — would turn out to be the most privately charitable people. So when my early findings led me to the opposite conclusion, I assumed I had made some sort of technical error. I re-ran analyses. I got new data. Nothing worked. In the end, I had no option but to change my views.”
--end quote--

Source of the above quote.

Continued in my next comment

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 14, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

-Continued from my previous comment-

If this all seems too much to wrap your head around, allow me to explain.

Liberals are generous and caring when spending other people's money. They are not generous and caring when it is their own money.

Conservatives are generous and caring with both their own money and their own time. They give freely of both. They simply feel they have the right to donate their money and their time to the charities of their choice. Not the charity that the government chooses on their behalf.

Most conservatives feel that it is immoral to put a gun to someone's head (i.e. use the full power and force of government) to extort money for a charity. Regardless of how worthy the charity is. They consider that to be theft. And theft is immoral.

I personally think the act of reaching into your own pocket, pulling out your wallet or checkbook, and giving to a charity, is praise worthy and laudable. But reaching into someone else's pocket, pulling out their wallet, and giving to your favorite charity is immoral, despicable, and worthy of contempt.

Truth be told, liberals don't even do that. They don't reach into other people's pocket and pull out that their wallet(s). They hire (vote for) someone else to do it on their behalf. Both cowardly and immoral.

How liberals convince themselves that they are the "good people" and "the compassionate ones" has always been a source of amusement to me.

Even if you can convince yourself that it is not immoral to steal other people's money for your favorite charity, how do you convince yourself that the government will provide a better return on the investment than existing charities??? The overhead on anything the government touches is phenomenal. It would make much more sense to allow an existing charity to make use of the money, than to give it to the government to spend on the same cause.

So it is not only immoral, but foolish to boot.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 14, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

@gsharper4: Wait, "denialist" and "denier" are somehow conjoined to the Holocaust simply because there are despicable folks we label "Holocaust deniers?" That's a real stretch of reasoning. What would you have those who deny climate change be called, I might ask? Their actions go far beyond "skepticism," so labeling them "skeptics" is not correct and borders on Newspeak in its degree to which it's disingenuous.

@eric654: "Most effects [of global warming] are good" is a shockingly simplistic grasp of the impact of climate change. Growing seasons may be longer, but the changes in climate make for significant impacts to both pollinator and pest species. What good is a longer growing season if now crop-destroying pests can extend their range northward, for example? I really don't have the room to get into a lengthy, point-by-point discussion in a blog comment; however, I suggest that a rosy picture of the benefits of global warming simply does not fit the facts.

Posted by: exerda | September 14, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

i've heard (read...actually) you talk about your (?) idea that storms will tend to moderate temperatures.

pardon but in lay term so i understand: when you say "more storms = cooler planet", are you saying that a storm results in cooling the planet?

plain old rain storm? or big tropical depression-type and bigger storms?

is the mechanism maybe by moving warm surface air to the upper atmosphere? - where the heat radiates outward? or does it have to do w/condensation thermodynamics?

have mainstream scientists totally overlooked this? is this "proven"? based on data? mere models...?

and here,
"...they lose on one or two details like conduction (GH warming by N2 and O2) being a lot weaker and slower than radiation."

sorry, i don't understand... i know that most of our atmosphere is N2 and O2, but what do N2 and O2 have to do with co2?

are you saying the theory that co2 in the atmosphere has a warming effect is (should be) in dispute? or that co2's percent is so small it can't possibly make a difference?

is warming good? hhhmmm...that's an interesting question. and i suppose it depends on who you ask. you know, actually, i suppose if you asked mother earth, she'd probably say warmer (within reason) is better. on the huge geologic time scale species diversity/number seems to increase with warmer climate - when there are no ice caps... when i first heard of global warming i facetiously though, "this is great news for canada and russia..." canada becomes the bread basket! i suppose in that simplistic concept the basket would have to pass through the dakotas and so forth, so, not to worry, we're ok for a while...

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | September 14, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Andrew, I think labeling those that disagree with you as "deniers" is an absolutely, brilliant strategy. I can't possibly backfire. Please keep it up. ;)

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 14, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

"I can't possibly backfire" in the previous comment was meant to be "It can't possibly backfire". My apologies for sloppy typing and even sloppier proof reading.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 14, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Walter, it is "mere" models. But there's a key difference between what is done here and what we typically see in real world predictions. In the some of the theses above, they are inputting some change in the weather, then running that change in the model, so the model doesn't have to predict real world climate, just tell us what the global effect of their one change was. That is a lot more reliable and interesting to me than using a hodge podge of assumptions.

As for what types of storms cool, it is the global average of storm intensity that will count the most. It doesn't matter if we have Igor if the rest of the globe is quiet. In that case we will have global warming. If we have lots of Igors, then global cooling. It's been years since I've gone through the list, but 9975794 points out that convective model parameters dictate the sensitivity outcome. 3088067 says that concentrated convection dries the upper troposphere (= global cooling). Essentially the more uneven water vapor, especially in the upper troposphere, the more the earth cools. Stronger storms can cause unevenness along with high amplitude jet streams, etc.

For the N2/O2 question, it was argued in a thread at skeptical science: You can decide who won.

Posted by: eric654 | September 14, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

As a climate scientist I am glad that the article on climate dfenalism by Andrew Freedman does not represent any position of the Washington Post. Mr Freedman says that "as greenhouse gases concentrations increase even further, locking in additional warming for decades to come" Perhaps Mr Freedman can then explain how it is that in past ice ages carbon dioxide levels have been 20 times what they are today. Dr Roy Spencer one of NASA`s leading climate scientists in his studies of clouds has come to the conclusion that our climate system does not need any forcing either from the sun or from greenhouse gases! See his excellent book "The Great Global Warming Blunder: How Mother Nature fooled the worlds top climate scientists". Mr Freedman mentions the National Academy of Sciences and the IPCC. The late Professor Frederick Seith the former President of the National Academy of Sciences had this to say about the last IPCC report he said he had never seen " a more disturbing corruption of the scientific process----and that it was best that the IPCc should be abandoned"! Mr Freedman takes about the majority of scientists agreeing with man made climate change. I can give him the names of over 31 000 American graduate scientists who do not accept the man made unproven climate change theory( together with literally hundreds of other scientists around the world. no-one is denying climate change. what we do deny is that it is humans who are driving climate change. The evidence proves they are not.

Posted by: physicsservices | September 14, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

hahahaha, are you referring to fred "second-hand-smoke" seitz?

his credibility is seriously called into question by his prostitution to the tobacco industry.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | September 14, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

The greenhouse effect is well-established physics (by Fourier (1824), Tyndall (1859), and Arrhenius (1896), among others). Carbon dioxide undeniably warms the atmosphere. Also, a warmer atmosphere causes more carbon dioxide to evaporate from the ocean into the atmosphere. Thus there is a positive feedback mechanism between carbon dioxide and temperature.

So why doesn't temperature run away when we emit new carbon dioxide into the atmosphere? Because there are other processes involved. A warmer atmosphere undergoes more cooling to space, and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases its acidification of the ocean, both negative feedbacks. The upshot is the planet will warm eventually to a new equilibrium.

That is what likely happened to Venus. Long ago it was out of balance for whatever reason, and the resulting enhanced greenhouse effect continued to warm the planet until the ocean boiled off and Venus finally approached its new very hot equilibrium.

Posted by: imback | September 14, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

How can a journalist be so sure of his science?

Science is not a political game. Climate is neither Conservative Republican nor is it Liberal Democratic. Do people watch FOX news for science? The answer bifurcates into - because FOX provides a squishy non-science alternative to the squishy non-science of the main stream fear media, and, moreover, an idle mind is drawn to the house on fire. Authentic science is too conservative for the media. Al Gore, not FOX News, created the political popular science game.

Let it be known once and for all that Climategate was evidence of non-science and ‘closed shop’ funding process of the ‘publish or perish’ cohort. The competition for government money by pandering to politically correct themes has outgrown the strongbox of science. The PC cohort is staffed by 1,000s of scientists erring into politics and politicians erring into science, but this is not the evidence based science that has led humankind out of the caves after the ice melted.

If scientists do not understand that evidence and experiment are required, not computer models, they never should have been awarded their degrees. Real scientists know that the minute you begin to believe your own hypothesis, you are a dead duck as a scientist. Sadly, the number of careful scientists and their graduate students appears to be reaching de minimis in the modern university. Maybe inter collegiate sports is the only authentic path left.

Science moves slowly most of the time and leaps ahead with peril. Steven J. Gould used the term punctuated equilibrium to describe animal evolution. Science itself mimics that analogy. Long spans of whirlpools and eddies, fruitless experiments or blind alley dead ends are interrupted by leverage discoveries like pasteurisation or penicillin. Imagine the contrast between big laboratories doing big science of HIV Aids or cancer, and compare that to the tiny space needed to think of the theory of relativity. The world is full of genius. Einstein’s brain was really statistically no bigger than anyone else’s.

What is driving this political polarisation of the media? Could it be that journalists simply are not skilled enough to sift wheat from chaff? Could it be the polarisation of the educational process that separates us into artists and engineers? Artists go into service and engineers go to work. Or, could it be that the minute subdivision, the fractionation of specialisation has resulted in the old gag coming true – we know more and more about less and less.

Posted by: artesian1 | September 14, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

The second hand smoke hypothesis is based upon the regurgation of one study with 18 subjects. It has been retreaded time and time again by a cohort of true believers. The final outcome had an impossible probability of one in 500 of being right OR WRONG.

Posted by: artesian1 | September 14, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

so, you're not convinced second-hand smoke is dangerous?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | September 14, 2010 11:09 PM | Report abuse

--begin quote--
Australian Temperatures in cities adjusted up by 70%!?

Ken Stewart has been hard at work again, this time analyzing the Australian urban records. While he expected that the cities and towns would show a larger rise than records in the country due to the Urban Heat Island Effect, what he found was that the raw records showed only a 0.4 degree rise, less than the rural records which went from a raw 0.6 to an adjusted 0.85 (a rise of 40%). What shocked him about the urban records were the adjustments… making the trend a full 70% warmer.

The largest adjustments to the raw records are cooling ones in the middle of last century. So 50 years after the measurements were recorded, officials realized they were artificially too high? Hopefully someone who knows can explain why so many thermometers were overestimating temperatures in the first half of the 1900’s.
--end quote--

Source of the above quote.

Also carried at

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 15, 2010 12:06 AM | Report abuse

Walter in..

I am convinced that correlation is not causation. Cancer from cigarettes is very erratic and probably it has many causes chemically connected to abuse and related to intense exposure.

I use the multiple working hypothesis formerly the domain of science when open and shut cases were not the province of the judgemental media. What if the primary cause were erratic exposure to a tobacco plant that grew on a granite boulder, picked up ionizing radiation from the boulder, and captured it in the leaf?...The user takes the radioactive ion up in a big drag on a radioactive cigarette. Not many cigarettes are radioactive, but not many smokers get cancer. The statistical connection is weak because the cause and effect are not tracked.

Second hand smoke - no proof, only an anecdote, only an hypothesis, like CO2 related global warming above 18 degrees C.

Posted by: artesian1 | September 15, 2010 5:24 AM | Report abuse

wow...correlation/causation...for got all about that! you're really careful not to read too much into evidence, aren't you?

re cancer:
"What if the primary cause were erratic exposure to a tobacco plant that grew on a granite boulder, picked up ionizing radiation from the boulder, and captured it in the leaf?..."

right. maybe it's not the smoke! then i could keep on smoking.

what if it's not all the fatty foods that make me fat? then i could keep eating whatever i want. and what if it's sand or swimming pools...(or towels) that cause sunburn... stay away from those towels! he hates those towels!

remember in "the jerk" when steve martin was being shot at by a sniper? the sniper kept missing steve and hitting some oil cans nearby. steve surmised that the sniper hated those cans...

well, maybe the sniper was just shooting at steve.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | September 15, 2010 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Like most toxins, it is likely that second hand smoke has a beneficial homeopathic effect in small quantities which would depend somewhat on the overall health of the individual. In larger quantities there are probably harmful effects, but I would not use the word "danger".

The climate has a similar complexity to the human body and should not be oversimplified. For example, the assumption that global average humidity increases proportional to global average temperature. Reality is probably a lot less due to weather changes.

Posted by: eric654 | September 15, 2010 8:11 AM | Report abuse

omg, eric... you too! you don't think second hand smoke is "dangerous"....? really? and homeopathy?! ugh...

just to make sure i understand. when you say "small quantities" are you talking "homeopathically small" - like so small as to be barely if at all detectable, or small quantities like you might get from sitting in a house next to a smoker?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | September 15, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Ha, I knew that would get a reaction from you! Sitting next to a smoker would work (very definitely detectable), the only question is how often. I would say once or twice a week should do it. Go home and wash your clothes. Seems like that should be the right dose (just a WAG).

I think if the quantities were "barely detectable" but constant, like being upstairs from a smoker that ought to work too although not as well as the intermittent doses. Sitting next to a smoker blowing in your face 24x7 is too much (and annoying).

Basically the dosage has to be large enough to get the immune system energized but small enough to avoid immediate or cumulative damage.

Posted by: eric654 | September 15, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Actually the more I think about it, the more that CO2 seems like a nice mild homeopathic remedy for the earth. For example as the ice melts and the polar bears swim farther and the weaker ones don't make it. When the ice comes back the next year (as it will next summer), the stronger ones remain and breed.

People who build in flood plains or fire zones without taking precautions: gone. Stronger, smarter people left behind.

Posted by: eric654 | September 15, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

" is likely that second hand smoke has a beneficial homeopathic effect..."

wow...still can't believe you said that! is that really you? or did someone steal your handle? wow... second-hand smoke...beneficial...

"The second hand smoke hypothesis is based upon the regurgation of one study with 18 subjects."


don't know why i believed you the first time, but i decided to look it up... here's a list of about 600 peer-reviewed studies of second hand smoke. many many studies on this list found second-hand smoke to be "dangerous".

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | September 15, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Walter, the site you linked to is completely one-sided. One of the slams against cigarettes is carbon monoxide. But in medical studies, low dose carbon monoxide has a variety of curative powers in controlled double-blind studies on mice and other mammals.

The other side of the "research" is statistical studies that correlate environmentally measured CO against a likelihood (percentage of diagnoses) of some "bad thing" in the population like heart disease and voila, there is a statistical correlation. Those studies are of course ripe for hidden variables.

Posted by: eric654 | September 15, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

my point is there are WAY MORE THAN ONE STUDY with 18 participants, as artesian claimed. i can't believe you're making the smoking might be good for you argument...

CO is just one of the many bad things in cigarette smoke.

some of those papers admit they were not able to find any correlation, but i didn't see any that supposed any kind of "curative" effect or characterized second-hand smoke as a "remedy" for anything (other than health...).

is there any evidence to support your view that moderate occasional exposure to second-hand smoke is good for you? i don't even think tobacco companies back in the day were making that claim.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | September 15, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

To do a controlled study (rather than fool around with statistical correlations) would be difficult considering the tobacco product is released in smoking by the primary smoker. You would need volunteers or smoking machines to simulate them.

But ingredient by ingredient, there are medical studies showing benefits. I mentioned CO above. Arsenic had some benefits (seen as tradeoff against toxicity in the study). Nicotine in low doses had brain benefits. Those were three I looked at. There are at least 50 "toxic" chemicals identified in cigarette smoke, and I doubt all of them would show up as beneficial in a study. OTOH, if some of them are, that could outweigh the nonbeneficial ones.

All this depends on dosage as I said at the beginning.

Posted by: eric654 | September 15, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I recommend three articles concerning climate policy:

Bjorn Lomborg has a column in today's Wall Street Journal, Roger Pielke Jr. in his blog has a piece today concerning food and climate policy, and John M Wallace this May has an article in the Seattle Times on the need to consider environmental problems other than global warming. All recognize that climate change is an important man-made problem that needs to be dealt with. One can find other articles on the web by John M Wallace on how he has come over the years to view global warming as a more serious problem than he did originally.

Lomborg and Pielke are interesting to me because they discuss the best way to deal with global warming and depart from the consensus view. All three point out that global warming is not the only problem we face.

Posted by: Dadmeister | September 15, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

They just keep ignoring facts and spinning lie after lie.

The UEA "inadvertently" omitted an open and existing FOI request (which was received prior to the big email delete/purge at UEA) on the list of FOI requests provided in response to the Muir Russel inquiry. Then they "welcome" the inquiries findings that there were no open FOI requests at the time that the UEA scientists requested that their contacts delete all emails pertaining to Briffa.

Un. Frickin. Believable.

UEA “Welcomes” Untrue Muir Russell Finding


Blatant Misrepresentation by Muir Russell Panel

Keep pretending it doesn't exist, Andrew. Maybe it will all just go away. ;)

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 15, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Dadmeister, Lomborg is not reliable:

Link to Wallace's March opinion article:

Link to Wallace's evolving view of global warming:

Full disclosure:
I took two courses from John M "Mike" Wallace. He is a great teacher.

Posted by: imback | September 16, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

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