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This is worse than simple climate change denial

Cable news lit up this week with conservative commentators either stupidly or disingenuously arguing that all the snow in Washington shows that global warming isn't real. These claims are the equivalent of denying evolution because your friend's baby wasn't born with gills.

It's one thing to have a healthy -- or, as the case may be, unhealthy -- skepticism of the science or policy. It's another to debate in bad faith. As when the Sean Hannitys and Rush Limbaughs of the world refuse to engage with the actual arguments of climate-change believers.

By believers, I don’t mean the irresponsible activists who blame individual natural disasters on global warming. I'm talking about those of us who understand that, while extreme weather events are in line with global warming, we can't use one-time events as evidence of long-term and large-scale climactic trends. Those of us who, while admitting that the Earth's systems are confoundingly complex, are troubled by the long-term risk associated with pumping heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere.

Nothing the talking heads have said about Washington's snow rebuts those arguments. But they’ve managed to further demean an already nasty debate.

By Stephen Stromberg  | February 11, 2010; 1:37 PM ET
Categories:  Stromberg  | Tags:  Stephen Stromberg  
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Good points all; hard to be philosophical about a situation where ignorance is rampant, and sometimes, a badge of honor. Our failure to educate in the basic sciences--what drives the weather patterns, for example--even in elementary school leaves us open for this kind of non-thinking. Or, to put it another way, all that water to make snow got in the sky somehow...and that somehow was a warm atmosphere in the southern regions. This and every other rain shower and snow fall is attributable to atmospheric it now more or less than it was? You decide.

Posted by: Socrates2 | February 11, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Bombasts like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh will continue to deny global warming regardless of the scientific evidence because they actually care little about being "correct". They are essentially showmen who get paid to represent a certain viewpoint. What they care about are ratings. Thus, they have suggested that global warming is not only a "fraud" - but a giant conspiracy concocted by the scientific community for the purpose of generating grant money. Thus, they are not be taken seriously.

More troubling is that George Will - who on most issues renders nominally logical opinions - is among those who continue to conflate "weather" with "climate". It is by virtue of Will's (and others who should know better) relative credibility, global warming remains more of an "issue of debate" than of "scientific fact."

Posted by: Sleeper | February 11, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Just because demagogues on the Right say something doesn't automatically mean it's incorrect. Here are the facts about AGW: (1) the planet is warming, (2) CO2 emissions are up about 30%. That's it! That's where the facts end and speculation begins. There is NO scientific consensus that Man is the primary driver behind the CO2 increases or that the CO2 increases are the primary driver behind the planetary warming. IMO the most likely scenario is normal cyclical climatic change. And here's an idea: let's not transfer extraordinary power to the govt, in addition to %650B in new taxes, in order to fight a problem that most likely doesn't exist. Face facts: AGW is not about the's about political ideology and govt power. Period!

Posted by: JohnR22 | February 11, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I agree (partially)- the demagogues are not incorrect just because they are demogogues. In this case, they are wrong because they misrepresent the facts. The fact is that there IS scientific "consensus" that man's activities are impacting global warming, and that the warming that is being observed is NOT merely the normal cyclical change. I challenge anyone to produce a "consensus statement" from climatologists to the contrary.

Posted by: Sleeper | February 11, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Proponents of the AGW-religion would do well to back off before they further destroy the credibility of future environmental initiatives.

While emissions have been radically increasing, atmospheric CO2 has not. This places the temperature adjustments and radically outlandish claims of impending doom by Al Gore and the IPCC in a very, very, very, very, very bad light.

Admitting the dastardly deceptions, and the monetary drivers behind the UN's darling science program is the first step toward regaining the public's faith which will be hard won, and not coming easily for many, many, many years.

In the meantime we are left with the challenge of what will happen when the carbon sinks DO fill up and we begin to see an actual increase in atmospheric CO2. Too late, all governments and government-funded scientific agencies have had their credibility shot to bits.

Because of the fraud and politicization of this movement, no majorities will be moved to address these issues until they are experiencing dire consenquences, and maybe not even then.

Posted by: FreeTibetNow | February 11, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Media was recently using warm weather to show examples of Global Warming.

Now skeptics are using Cold weather to show examples that Global Warming isn't happening.

Don't be surprised when opponents use your methodology against you.

Was the Media wrong then? Or are the skeptics right now?

You can't have it both ways.

Posted by: karlfisher | February 11, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse


I'll give you Lefties one thing, you have nerve. Imagine YOU arguing that WE are arguing in bad faith.

It boggles the mind.

Posted by: misterpeasea | February 11, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

I agree that the blizzard does mean "Global Warming" does not exist. But what of the temperatures this winter? The high temperatures for the DC metro area should be in the upper forties right now; the high temperatures have routinely been ten degrees lower than average this entire winter.

Additionally, I have a hard time believing that a statistically insignificant gas, CO2 (which has increased in the industrial age from ~0.03% to ~0.04% of the atmosphere) could be the lone culprit in the warming (or cooling) of the planet. CO2 is a naturally occurring gas (volcano emissions and dissolved in oceans and lakes) necessary for photosynthesis. The most abundunt greenhouse gas is water vapor, which comprises anywhere from 1% to 4% of the surface atmosphere. That's 20 to 80 times more water vapor than CO2 as a percentage of the atmosphere. So why is there not a cap-and-trade bill to regulate water vapor emissions?

Posted by: gmfletcher12 | February 11, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, let me clarify - A blizzard does NOT mean that the earth cooling.

Posted by: gmfletcher12 | February 11, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Actually, these blizzards are evidence against Global Warming.

Snow occurs where the warm tropical air meets the cold arctic air. These snowstorms are occurring further south than usual, because the climate this winter season is colder.

The latest liberal mantra to prop up their collapsing AGW theory is that weather is not the same as climate. This seems to be the thrust of Stephen's fact-free rant.

While it is true that weather is a daily phenomenon, climate is *not* measured in decades and centuries. It is measured in seasons and years. Both the Farmer’s Almanac and solar sunspot theory accurately predicted this abnormally cold winter (and the abnormally cold summer we just had, and the abnormally cold winter we had last year).

So while a single blizzard does not indicate anything about climate, an entire winter of blizzards absolutely does. Stephen has no concept of science.

Posted by: legalize | February 11, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Socrates2 points out that the current heavy snowfall in the mid-atlantic is because of an increase in water vapor being carried from the south due to unseasonably warm weather. I guess this implies that anthropogenic global-warming is in some way responsible for the current extreme winter weather. That seems plausible but we have to remember that heavy snowfalls and extreme winters also occurred in the 50s, 60s and 70s (not to mention the little ice-age) and not so much in the 80s and 90s (which were warmer decades). The fact is that the climate changes for a multitude of reasons and weather reflects those changes. Greenhouse gases may not be the most important factor and further open and objective peer-reviewed science is needed to truly understand climate changes.

Posted by: williamsanto | February 11, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and Mr. Stromberg? You know your fellow travelers over at TIME are arguing that the blizzards prove global warming.

Too hot? Global warming.
Too cold? Global warming.

And WE'RE arguing in bad faith? You're a joke.

Posted by: misterpeasea | February 11, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Belief is about faith and religion, not science.
If you beleive that extreme weather events are in line with in line with Global Warming, then you are an irresponsible activist. Almost all of the Global Climate Models correlate more moderate weather with warming. The current series of blizzards is a symptom of warming in Canada consistent with natural cycles rather than AGW.

Skeptics have been noting for years that weather is not climate. Nor are individual weather events symptoms of climate change. If conservative talking heads are trumpeting stormagedon as somehow refuting climate change they are wrong - just as myriads of pundits have been when claiming that Katrina proved climate change. But if a once in a lifetime snow event is more effective than real science, or revelations of outright fraud on the part of "beleivers" at dislodging AGW dogma from Washington DC so be it.

Posted by: dhlii | February 11, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Ad hominem attacks on Rush Limbaugh (or anyone else, even the sainted Al Gore) do not an argument make.

To call them stupid is a good sign that the facts are not on your side.

Global warmists, er, climate change believers (change we can believe in?) seem to deal in faith, not facts. The phrase the author used, "climate-change believers," is telling.

Let the science, proven, not speculative, drive policy. There's are too many questions raised by, pick one or more, bad data, bad analysis, the hiding of inconvenient facts by global warmists.

Does this colder-than-average winter say there's no global warming? No. It also doesn't say much about there being global warming, either.

Nor does Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, or most other natural phenomena that have all been attributed to global warming.

Bottom line is we should not commit billions of our tax dollars, money we don't have, to combating something that may not exist just because someone has faith.

Posted by: Jack43 | February 11, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse


This Brand New Video Blows a Huge Gaping Hole in Obama's Cap and Tax Scheme and his Claims of Global Warming:

Posted by: CommieBlaster | February 11, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Hide the decline!

Posted by: jfshiey | February 11, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Would you PLEASE stop using the word "denier" when you mean "skeptic."

It is deeply insulting to tie those who disagree with you to Holocaust Denial, as though they are the same thing.

Not to mention rude and thoughtless in regards those who did survive the Holocaust as though denying both is the same kind of crime. I expect more from the Post.

Posted by: mkelly3 | February 11, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

And by the way, no one disagrees with climate change. It's been happening for three billion years. Many disagree with man made global warming. Different thing altogether.

Posted by: mkelly3 | February 11, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Climate change is real, and has been for some time. What is false is the claim that humans cause it and that by reverting ourselves to the stone age and handing all of our wealth to government, we can stop climate change. Climate change is a natural occurence and nothing man does or does not do will change it.

Posted by: jonweiss1 | February 11, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

We've heard the sneering Global Left politicizing the weather for years in their attempt to take over the world's energy markets. It's about time the tables are turned on you dangerous, sanctimonious pricks.

Posted by: EnvironMental | February 11, 2010 10:12 PM | Report abuse

The Church of Global Warming says the earth is dangerously heating up, but I know that it is not, for I have seen the snow and ice and have felt their bitter cold, and I have more faith in snow and ice than in the Church of Global Warming, and it’s frenzied money hungry, heretic burning High Priests.

Posted by: FeralCat1 | February 12, 2010 12:31 AM | Report abuse

Although we in the US have experienced cold temps and snow, the actual satellite Global record shows January to be the third warmest month in all of their records, with February continuing the same warm pattern. Even when considering the warm anomaly in January, when the dataset is plotted on a graph, it shows a COOLING trend for the last 12 years.

Since the NASA/NOAA/CRU THERMOMETER data has been found to be fraudulent, this means that all papers based on their data is invalid. Garbage In, Garbage out. Soo.. if you can see through the "clutter", you will realize that AGW is faudulent science.

The main stream media, TV/Print is keeping you in the dark.

Please, Please, Google Climategate, GlacierGate, AustraliaGate, SeaLevelGate, AfricaGate, to learn what the media is hiding from you.

Posted by: Dougetit | February 12, 2010 2:27 AM | Report abuse

Yes. I'm SO STUPID. Why, I actually think that it's NOT getting warmer, BECAUSE, it's getting COLDER. And, don't listen to me. I only WORK OUTSIDE, and have, for 30 YEARS.
I'm SO STUPID, because I think that the Sissy Boys at East Anglia, might have DESTROYED 50 YEARS OF DATA, rather than COMPLY with a FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST, because their 'NUMBERS' were JUNK. What's wrong with me?
So what, if the U.N. Idiot ADMITS that he LIED, when he said that HE HAD PROOF that the Himalayas would be GONE in a coupla years.
And who cares that 'HOCKEY STICK' Boy, based his ENTIRE BELIEF SYSTEM, on the tree rings of ONE TREE?
And I've gotta get my head examined, cause I still think that the SUN has something to do with TEMPERATURE. And MAYBE that's why MARS and PLUTO are WARMER?
And, maybe it's ME, but AL GORE seems to be REAL QUIT these days.
I don't know who this STROMBERG IDIOT is, but I know a LIAR when I hear one. Why did EAST ANGLIA DESTROY THEIR 'DATA'? Hmmmmmm?
Get a JOB Stromberg. Idiot.

Posted by: GoomyGommy | February 12, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

The author doesn't get it. Precisely because leftist alarmists have used every bad storm as a harbinger of global warming, conservatives have thrown it back in their face with this frigid winter and heavy snowfall. But being realistic, it is quite hard to convince someone that there is global warming going on when a) the facts have been brought into question by the researchers themselves and b) we're having a very cold winter, coldest in several years, in much of the country.

Like many other issues, this one has become hyper-political. Somewhere along the way someone should realize that not polluting the air is a good thing, but that making up a crisis on a very limited and falsified data set will set back that cause.

Posted by: ted22 | February 12, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Another thing, a poster above made this comment: "the actual satellite Global record shows January to be the third warmest month in all of their records". Since this form of measurement has only been available for a small number of years of the last several thousand, how do you draw a trend from this data?

Posted by: ted22 | February 12, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I found this to be one of the most poorly written articles I have ever come across in the Washington Post. It is, on a scientific basis, nothing short of absurd. Grammatically, it sinks to even lower levels.

Do the right thing. If the Post paid you anything for this, have the decency to give them a refund.

Posted by: mikeforster01 | February 12, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Stromberg so completely misses the point. I recall a few years ago Al Gore visting Texas during a particulary hot, dry spell blaming the weather on global warming. Countless AGW faithful pointed to past active hurricane seasons as more evidence. What Rush and others are doing is showing you Mr. Stromberg, and other faithful followers of AGW theory, that weather and climate ARE NOT THE SAME THING...

Posted by: rsimonds1 | February 12, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Stromberg so completely misses the point. I recall a few years ago Al Gore visting Texas during a particulary hot, dry spell blaming the weather on global warming. Countless AGW faithful pointed to past active hurricane seasons as more evidence. What Rush and others are doing is showing you Mr. Stromberg, and other faithful followers of AGW theory, that weather and climate ARE NOT THE SAME THING...

Posted by: rsimonds1 | February 12, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Steven: Get with it. This is being discussed everywhere. SOME conservatives are "confusing" weather with climate. About as many as those on the left who have previously cited everything from one hot week to Katrina as constituting proof of global warming. Check out the brilliant Eve Ensler just yesterday.
The vast majority of "deniers" understand perfectly that a bad snowstorm proves nothing. They're just pulling your (and Al Gore's) chain.

Posted by: melk1 | February 12, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I love it when some smug journalist lectures the rest of us on both his brilliance and his grasp of complex scientific analysis. I am sure that he took some real hard english lit classes in college and all but.... The truth of global warming is that we dont know very much. We have sketchy earth and sea temp data from 1888 till about 1960 and we have pretty good temps from there forward. We have pretty decent atmospheric temps from 1970 forward but nothing before that. Ice core samples and tree ring samples give some useful data on historic co2 levels and allow for rough temp estimates. The reality then is that we have the smallest blip of info about historic global temps..from that blip scientists, mostly computer scientists, have been trying to make models that will predict future events. They have not yet been able to create a single model, without forcing data, that correctly show past climate changes. CO2 is responsible for less than 2% of the greenhouse affect, man-made CO2 is a small percent of the total CO2 in the atmosphere. There is good reasons, based on the science, and lack thereof, to be skeptical of the conclusions being reached. This is especially true when one considers that these scientists live or die on grant dollars. One thing we have proven for sure. That scientists, like all people, will not put themselves out of work.

Posted by: PSOG | February 12, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

A few centuries ago, scientists observing the sun concluded that the sun orbited the earth. Why, because they could think of no other way the sun could rise in the east and set in the west. Fast forward to the eighties. Scientists observing both atmospheric temperatures and atmospheric CO2 concentrations concluded that CO2 must have been causing the earth’s atmosphere to warm. Why, because they could not think of any other way that the temperature could rise as it did from 1980 to 1998.

They concluded that the rate of change was abnormal and therefore it had to be due to man’s activities. The problem is, they ignored similar periods of time in the past where there were abrupt changes in temperature, both up and down. They say it either did not happen or could not happen naturally.

And now for 30 years we have been subjected to a constant bombardment of doomsday prophecies and proclamations of the highest temperature ever recorded, the fastest rate of melting ever recorded and on and on. They deny or ignore the magnitude of the impact of the sun, oceans and clouds on climate. They dismiss water vapor as a ‘greenhouse’ gas and try to tell us that CO2 is the predominate ‘greenhouse’ gas.

What they cannot deny is that climate change is natural. That we have, at best, just a few decades, of actual world wide temperature measurements, that temperatures in the past, at times, were far warmer (and colder) than today and that CO2 concentrations have been far higher in the past than today, sometimes coinciding with warm periods and other times with cold periods. Finally, they refuse to admit that overall, both plants and animals, including man, fare far better with a warmer climate with higher CO2 levels than a colder one.

I agree: climate change should create a priority. That priority should be to vote out of office every climate change activist, repeal every law, reverse every regulation and cancel every subsidy for wind, solar and biomass energy. People are free to believe what they want and business is free to invest in any technology they want but the market, not the government should be the one supporting these industries.

Posted by: jlorimo | February 12, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Stromberg accuses gw skeptics of debating in bad faith seemingly by using the record breaking cold and snow fall this winter to discredit global warming. What he neglects to mention is that Al Gore and the "press" declared the debate on global warming to be over about five years ago. It is hard to debate in bad faith when the debate is over even if it ended before it started.

Posted by: dubiousbrother2 | February 12, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Stromberg, if you and your AGW climate changers can tell us "deniers" what the "science" really is that forms an irrefutable consensus, perhaps many of us skeptics will come around. There is no consensus, sir; there is no science for this issue, only conjecture, dubious correlations and man-made models that have been proven wrong in predicting anything related to climate differences from "expected" or "modeled" results.
Tell us this, Mr. Stromberg; what AGW caused the 7-9 separate ice age glaciers to form and retreat that caused the Great Lakes and Finger Lakes of NY state? Was it carbon dioxide induced change? or was it "natural" changes induced by solar or astronomical quirks? like earth orbit wobble? Sun radiation outputs?
Until you and your AGW fanatic sect can demonstrate the reliability of your man-made, dubious IPCC models going backwards, please relieve us all of your AGW faith and religious dribble.

Posted by: Flashgordon1 | February 12, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

How laughable!

There must be dozens of articles from the Washington Post going back a decade that make the precise claim you decry here... "Katrina Evidence of Global Warming," "Midwest Heat Wave Evidence of Global Warming," and on and on.

When I was a science editor in the 70s, the model, based on prediction from historic patterns, was that we were just ending a 60-year period of the most moderate weather in the entire Holocene, and would be entering a MORE NORMAL pattern of weather extremes--summers both hotter and cooler, winters both colder and warmer. (You can observe this in climate charts.)

Guess what. That describes precisely what we are experiencing. The Global Warming model, as I sit her with 11 inches of snow all around me in Texas, has not improved on the scientific reasoning from 35 years ago.

Posted by: Chazzle | February 12, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Who are your trying to kid? If we were experiencing record high temperatures you would accept that as obvious proof of global warming. You call it "climate change" now so any change in the weather supports your views. You can't have it both ways. Strike that--liberals always get to have it both ways.

Posted by: eparker1 | February 12, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

If you haven't seen this yet, hilarious!!

Posted by: melk1 | February 12, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Yes, there are lots of talking heads making fun of the warmists over the record breaking snow fall this year. So what?

AGW is based on a fundamentally flawed understanding of CO2's role in atmospheric physics and computer models that are not only flawed but clearly developed with a single outcome in mind.

So no matter what hannity or rush says or does not say it is clear AGW is at best a badly constructed hypothesis supported by little or no empirical evidence or at worst a fraud and a hoax perpetraded by crimminals in search of money and power.

Take your pick.

Posted by: grsjaxaolcom | February 12, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Whew, just because a scientist says something we must just accept? What scientific method is that? Science is a debate. Meanwhile the climate changes. Yup, all while we are debating it. There is enough evidence out there that indicates the debate will go on because we just don't really know enough about the forces of nature. CO2 is a minor gas that is getting an extrordinary press. In my humble opinion the climate change debate is driven by the press. Makes you wonder doesn't it?

Posted by: Victory3 | February 12, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Half of Americans polled say they believe in some form of supernatural creation. This is 150 years after Darwin demonstrated the scientific logic of evolution. People (like Sen. Inhofe) who show that they'll except old fables on blind faith have automatically disqualified themselves from scientific credibility.

When something pleases them (like belief in an afterlife) blind faith is all they require, but when something displeases them (like giving up a V-8 ego machine), they're suddenly nitpicking the evidence to no end. Suddenly they know more than all the dedicated scientists. The hypocrisy is enormous.

Want to guess how many global-warming deniers are Creationists? It's self-evident. Rush Limbaugh directly admitted it on his 2/2/10 show. These people are OK with science until it challenges their people-centered worldview where nature "owes" Man a living.

Cigarette smokers exhibit similar denial; committing slow suicide for the sake of pleasure. This is despite 50 years of official evidence that cancer sticks are bad news. Teens still take up the habit daily, having been lectured on the ill effects since birth.

The point is that people are clearly capable of denying evidence when it questions their pleasures. The tendency is to cherry-pick, dumb-down and/or spin any scientific data that conflicts with a lifestyle or belief system.

The oil industry is no danger of collapse due to CO2 regulation and there is no logical basis for denial in that context; it's mostly a reactionary anti-environmentalist mindset. Oil will always be needed for farming and countless manufactured goods, and we should save it for that instead of wasting it on conspicuous consumption.

Posted by: Jim916 | February 16, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

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