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Archive for January, 2011

BPSDB A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on…

possibly Mark Twain

The past few years have seen the internet change fairly significantly with respect to the issue of climate change.  As a tool for public education the internet is invaluable. Unfortunately as a tool for disinformation it seems that it is even more effective.

To what extent disinformation on the net drives climate change Denial as opposed to the reverse is a chicken and egg discussion. Undoubtedly they feed on each other in a classic positive feedback loop. The question is, what is to be done about it.

Not that any one thing is going to turn it around. There are a host of things the climate science community needs to do. However, I do have one specific proposal that I believe would be helpful and I would like some feedback on it.

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BPSDB In my last post about machinima I said:

Now, a fun piece of culture jamming would be to identify the game engines in question and do clones of these videos [2 climate change Denier screeds], but have the “libural” stating the facts (with sources) just as we do in real discussions. Then give these clones the same titles as the originals and start spreading them around the net.

Well guess what?

Hat tip to PE who sent me a 3rd video of machinima and I realized that the prominent site name that appeared on it might be a site that allowed you to make machinima (well Duh?). I checked, it was.

In fact it was the same site that had been used to make both of the Denier videos I referred to in the other post. Well having said “someone should … ” I thought ‘what the hell …’ and a few hours later, voila.

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Machinima is?

BPSDB

a) a technique for video production that progressives barely use;

b) a German cyber-goth band;

c) a name for pit-bull/doberman hybrids;

d) videos produced using computer game engines.

Recently climate blogger (and scientist) Michael Tobis posted Dogs and Deniers, a post illustrating the similarity between a particular Far Side cartoon and real life with the climate change Deniers (with their typical inability to detect irony, a Denier immediately posted comments illustrating the truth of the post). To illustrate his point Tobis had actually used a rather crude Denier produced example of machinima.

Machinima is of course both a) and d), that is it is a technique for film making using computer game engines that progressives barely use.

Machinima apparently began in the 1990s with game players simply screen capturing their play and then distributing it. From there someone had the notion to tell a little story within the game story and have the game characters act it out.

Then someone had the realization that you could control game characters to do more than simply hack and slash and kill everyone within the games’ storyline. If you had them strike a pose and say “To be or not to be, that is the question … ” and then hack and slash and kill everyone, you had Hamlet.

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Shoot out at the “I’m OK” Corral

BPSDB Tom Yulsman at CEJ is not upset. Apparently people are criticising media coverage of climate issues, leading him to ask “Environmental journalists: Are we really that awful?

At first he was upset with Anthony Watts, Brad Johnson and Joseph Romm, but now the list includes  Michael Tobis, Scott Mandia, Gavin Schmidt, Michael Mann, and Kevin Trenberth.

This began as a very different post, but then I read the materials more closely and it changed everything. Actually reading the material I intend to discuss is a nasty habit which ruins all of my best ideas; I really should stop doing that.

A day in Tombstone

At the Progress Saloon

1) Joseph Romm posted “And the 2010 Citizen Kane award for non-excellence in climate journalism goes to …“, an overview of quite a lot of really ghastly penny dreadfuls masquerading as irresponsible tabloids reporting on climate in 2010.

2) Brad Johnson of Think Progress comments on the piece, being critical of media generally, environmental journalists and climate scientists in particular. A bit over the top in some respects, but he makes some good points.

Down by the stables

3) Time Magazines’ Bryan Walsh did a piece Holiday Blizzard: More Signs of Global Warming discussing how snow storms were consistent with the science of climate change and in no way supported the Denier position.

4) Watts Earp(withthat) took exception to the Walsh (3) piece. He strongly objected to the “Preemptive straw man arguments” in Walsh’s “annual piece on global warming causing blizzards.”  Presumably what upset Watts most was that Walsh’s “preemptive straw man” anticipated Watts’ idiotic annual piece on blizzards proving there is no global warming.

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BPSDB When I went to Google News this morning  the “Top Stories” are about some skiers and the beginning of the Federal election campaign.

Only much lower down do I find anything about floods in Australia and Sri Lanka, or mudslides in Brazil.

Apparently there is nothing new about climate change here in the Industrialized West. In the Anthropocene (era of human dominated biosphere) disasters of epic proportions are not “news.”

The cost of cutting back emissions is more than we estimated, but that is because the consequences of climate change are already here.”              Nicholas Stern

Just over one year ago Australian blogger MothIncarnate posted his first piece “Business as Usual; The Dead Horse and Juggernaut of Climate Change.”  An area of Queensland the size of France and Germany combined is flooded; the Juggernaut has arrived.

As people die or lose everything they have, the climate change Deniers want to quibble semantics. The flooding is exactly what was predicted and is completely consistent with climate science, but can we categorically say that it has been caused by climate change?

http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/

It’s not the right question to ask if this storm or that storm is due to global warming, or is it natural variability. Nowadays, there’s always an element of both.”  Trenberth

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BPSDB Huge thanks to Brian D for reminding me about Marcus Brigstocke. I went to fetch the video that he refers to in his comment and was delighted to find a new one … it’s awesome

The Return Of Marcus Brigstocke

In a six minute piece a comedian debunks more Denier memes and gets more science and politics right than most major media manage in a year, and more than some have ever managed. (Never mind the self-styled climate science “authorities” that make up the Denialosphere)

In it he refers to yet another one that I missed, viz:

Dr Seuss at Copenhagen

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BPSDB Yes, Christmas is over, so it’s that time again.

Time for the Denialosphere to once more be shocked and amazed that it snows in winter. So like 3 year olds they are; naturally they have  seen snow and cold before, but they just don’t remember.

Both Potholer54 and Greenman3610 have new videos to explain how science said all along that we would still get snow and cold in winter, and why it can be even colder than in the past in some places.

BP oil spills and an end to snow

Potholer54′s video also takes on the ‘scientists claim oil spill disrupts Gulf stream’  claim, and the ‘they changed it from global warming to climate change’ nonsense (see also here).

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BPSDB After babbling on with a number of factoids about global population, the land surface area of Texas and so on, the ‘Tennessee Conservative Watch (TCW)” asks “Considering that the earth’s atmosphere extends 50 miles up from the surface, how can anyone with half a brain think that humans can do anything to change the atmosphere much less the earth’s climate?”

What the TCW has done is parrot one variation of the popular “common sense” arguments that climate change Deniers like to use. They all include some form of “common sense tells you” coupled with some completely irrelevant, misleading factoids. They are based on an appeal to ‘use your brain’, so let’s try that and see what happens.

Mankind occupies less than 4 tenths of 1 percent of the surface of the earth.TCW

Common sense tells you that:

Here, try this logic with any housemates you may have: ‘I occupy less than 4 tenths of 1 percent of the surface of this house/apartment, how can anyone with half a brain think that I can do anything to change the amount of dirt and mess?’ Think that might work? I doubt it, even if your housemates have only half a brain.

It isn’t just the physical space you physically occupy that matters, it’s how much of the space that you use. Our actual use of the Earths’ land surface is 83%, and we have brought the oceans to the point of collapse even without climate change.

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The Real BP Gulf Tragedy

BPSDB Grist reports that “Gulf oil spill panel urges overhaul of oil industry and safety practices.” Apparently a presidential panel in its final report stated that:

“The central lesson to be drawn from the catastrophe is that no less than an overhauling of both current industry practices and government oversight is now required,” the seven-member panel said in the report released after a six-month probe into the environmental and human disaster in the Gulf.”

That sounds positive, but then Kate Sheppard asks “Did we learn anything from the BP oil spill?” and walks us through some of the political realities of what the recommendations actually boil down to, and the political realities of getting them implemented. She summarizes with:

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Climate Progress has the story: BPSDB

  • According to the Global Historical Climatology Network, 2010 was the wettest year on record, in terms of global average precipitation….
  • These records are especially impressive because we’ve been in “the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century.”
  • All 12 of the hottest years on record have occurred since 1997.
  • NASA recently reported the “meteorological year” — December to November — was also the hottest on record.
  • the hottest year was accompanied by record-smashing weather extremes
  • “The year 2010 now has the most national extreme heat records for a single year–nineteen.

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BPSDB

A couple of useful resources from QualiaSoup to share with Deniers who cannot seem to grasp what science and critical thinking actually are.

Skewed views of science

Granted most Deniers will never look at them, but at least we can try. They are obviously created for the anti-science vs Evolution crowd, but since they are virtually identical in tactics and ignorance of science to the climate change Deniers these videos are still bang on.

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BPSDB

Argumentum ex bardus

Omnologos cannot logically exist

The lottery fallacy

Standing on their heads

Dark Minds

Potentia ex verum


Getting to the point of this post requires walking through some rather tedious Denier thinking and I apologise for that. I ask you to bear with me because I believe the walk through is rather revelatory and I think of some value. Even so, I will try to keep it short and to the point.

Argumentum Ex Bardus

Through October and November Omnologos created a list of events and circumstances related to climate change and climate science that he considered improbably coincidental, and as such offered it as clear evidence as to Why AGW Is Logically Impossible.

Discarding all of the points that are obviously false, pure conjecture, value laden subjective opinion, completely irrelevant and/or just silly (ie most of them) one is left with a small collection of arguably objective facts about our current moment in history. (I should note that whether you chuck any out or not changes nothing … as will be shown it’s all a load of idiotic rubbish regardless.)

His argument is that since these coincidences are extremely improbable, their existence is proof that anthropogenic climate change is not real. Here are three of his examples:

  1. Relatively widespread availability of computer power is just enough strong to simulate the right climate projections on a multi-decadal scale
  2. Climate science is developed just beyond the minimal level needed to understand how to simulate the right climate projections on a decadal scale
  3. Novel statistical approaches devised just in time, and correct from the get-go, for Mann’s Hockey Stick to emerge from the jumble of dendro- and other proxy data

Omnologos cannot logically exist

The flawed nonthinking of this argument is easily shown by applying the same lack of logic to a perfectly mundane subject, eg the existence of Omnologos.

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The Top Ten BPSDB

Ben of Wott’s Up With That? commented on “Guide for dealing with the “Denier” labelthatthe “skeptic” fig-leaf is what annoys me most about climate change deniers” which led me to respond that “And there is so much to choose from too. I wonder if I could pick which are the “Ten most infuriating climate change Denier scams.”

Which comes with the following caveats of course.

1) Is identifying the scams that most infuriate simply an invitation to even more of the same?

2) Is acknowledging (again) the obvious reality that:

      1. There are Deniers;
      2. They use scams & deceit etc rather than rational debate;
      3. It is infuriating.

simply polarizing?

3) Is this just an invitation to simply list (again) the:

Regardless, both feet into the fire … simply post your nomination as a comment. Should clear winners not emerge we will use the Poll function to hold a runoff to determine the top ten.

Nominations should include a tinyurl link to an example of scam in question (or a hand drawn facsimile thereof) [Offer void where prohibited by law].

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BPSDB If someone refers to you as a “Denier”:

To convince them that you are a “Skeptic”, NOT a “Denier”:

  • Ignore the label and keep the discussion focused on the issue(s) of substance;
  • Point to and discuss the relevant facts and evidence;
  • Use reliable sources, either peer reviewed science or sources that track back to real science;
  • Be sure that your position accepts and accounts for all of the generally known facts that you are not explicitly disputing;
  • Ensure that your position is based on a logical argument;
  • Be flexible, ready to modify your position if it is shown that you erred or misunderstood;
  • Be consistent and rational; stay focused on facts and insist that your opponent do so as well.
  • Follow ‘The Skeptical Manifesto” as best you can.

To convince them that you probably ARE a Denier:

Do:

  • Quibble about the term, complain that it is offensive and an attempt link you with the Holocaust or some other such irrelevant nonsense;
  • Keep insisting that the perfectly correct English word ‘Denier’ not be permitted, do not allow any discussion of whether it was used correctly or not;
  • Insist that you are a “Skeptic” even though you don’t really know what that means;
  • Call them names and accuse them of ad hominem attacks. Don’t worry if you don’t really know what ‘ad hominem’ actually means.;
  • Go off on tangents, talk about anything except the actual issue;

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Mimsy BPSDB

This one has to come with an audience advisory … DO NOT attempt to watch the first 30 seconds of this video if:

  • your stomach is at all unsettled, and/or
  • you are holding/drinking hot liquids, and/or
  • you are standing, and/or
  • there are any heavy objects at hand that you may reflexively fling in a desperate, instinctual attempt to protect yourself from terminal ignorance.

You have been warned!

Climate Change Denial Crock of the WeekA Natural By-Product of Nature

Added to the Climate Denial Crock of the Week collection.

Flimsy

Speaking of CO2, this from a new, peer reviewed paper “Warming Power of CO2 and H2O: Correlations with Temperature Changes” being trumpeted at WhatsWrongWithWatts:

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PSDB On the advice of many Derrick Jensen’s “Endgame” has been on the ‘should read’ list for years, but somehow I have never gotten around to it. More recently a youtube clip of him reading an excerpt was brought to my attention, so I watched that, and then checked out sections of the books that are available online.

The clip in question is a reading of the apparently infamous “The enviromentalist version of Star Wars” analogy (text from book here). Many apparently feel that this is a wonderful encapsulation of all that is wrong with “mainstream environmentalism.” Actually it’s a pretty good encapsulation of all that is wrong with Derrick Jensen’s arguments.

The short version (if you want to save 9 min of your life) is that Jensen uses a Star Wars analogy to mock nonviolent activists. eg:

In a surprise move that will rivet viewers to the edges of their seats, other groups of rebels file lawsuits against the Empire, attempting to show that the Environmental Impact Statement Darth Vader was required to file failed to adequately support its …

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Dear Michael Lemonick BPSDB

In general I have appreciated your work, that of Climate Central, and of Scientific American.

As such I have been hugely disappointed, indeed flabbergasted by the piece you did on Judith Curry. Not by the subject, but by the fact that it promotes a narrative that is largely fiction.

Of the article Climate Heretic: Judith Curry Turns on Her Colleagues“in Scientific American Stoat saidthat article has completely missed the point of the criticism of her.” Actually I’d say it’s far worse than that. It is not simply misguided, it is flat out nonsense.

In your article the scientific community is falsely portrayed as a bunch of small minded bigots who gossip about trivialities and the irrelevant. Their real and legitimate concerns, not to mention substantive critiques of Curry, are ignored. Bad enough to ignore the real story, but to create a fiction as a substitute?

Richard Littlemore comes closer than Stoat with his critique, and FAIR makes a couple of good points, but I think there is value to be being more specific about exactly what are the failings.

In the Scientific American  article and the subsequent “Why I Wrote About Judith Curry” at Climate Central you said:

… something that annoys, even infuriates, many of her scientific colleagues. Curry has been engaging actively with the climate change skeptic community, largely by participating on outsider blogs …

Scientific American

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