There are many things in the world about which intelligent, reasonable people may disagree. There are many things about which intelligent, reasonable people are mistaken. We all are from time to time and in all good faith, wrong about something.
But today I would like to talk about the Climate Deniers instead.
In early to mid-August the Denialosphere suddenly lit up with stories about how the Arctic ice coverage was exceptionally high, stories like “Troublesome Arctic sea ice defies alarmists, increases from ’07” and “Arctic ice fails to follow warmist doctrine”
I could not help wondering why the sudden surge of stories about ice coverage with the end of the melt season only weeks away. Why not wait until the end of the melt season and then make a big deal about it? naturally trying to spin it as “proof” that climate change was a hoax. It just seemed very odd.
The answer was right there on Aug 11th “Sea ice decline accelerates, Amundsen’s Northwest Passage opens” “Temperatures Hit 80 Degrees in the Arctic: 2008 May See a Record Sea-Ice Melt After All” . With a sudden warming that began Aug 1st the ice extent was not going to be high, in fact there was a very real possibility it would set a new record low. The Denialosphere had to pump the “record high” ice story fast before it melted away from them.
Leading the pack was Anthony Watts with “…this year, there was an exceptional amount of ice –” 8 August 2008. For his story he used selective quotes from this German report of ice research (hard for most readers to check your sources that way). Watts omits mentioning that the research has found steady annual increases in average temperature with 2008 being within the range of normal variability, as well as significant changes in Arctic water flow patterns.
Note also the language use by many, “sea ice increase”; as if the Arctic were freezing up rather than simply not melting as fast. One of the other sleight of hands in all of the stories was to report the ice extent, ie area, not amount. This is because every year we are losing more and more of the thicker, older ice, so even when the area is the same, the amount is not.
Put bluntly, they were pushing the story of record lack of melt as a direct response to the news that the melt was accelerating. This is not a case of being mistaken or having a different perspective, this was a deliberate attempt to mislead.
Unfortunately most of us expect there to be some measure of good faith when people report on an issue. We take it as given that a particular source may not give the whole story, but most people do not expect outright attempts at fraud.
This accounts for the Deniers enjoying some success in maintaining the fiction that there is any dispute about climate science. They engage in willful and deliberate distortion, and to a certain extent it works. It’s unethical, immoral, and dishonest, but it works.
Now the melt season has probably ended and the result is … “Arctic sea ice settles at second-lowest, underscores accelerating decline”, “Arctic sea ice melting slows down, for now” and so on. And how have the Deniers reported it?
“Arctic Sees Massive Gain in Ice Coverage” Asher even jumps the gun and tries to call the season over at the beginning of Sept, and Tim Lambert at Deltoid vivisects him quite nicely “You can’t make this stuff up”.
Meanwhile over at Newsbusters “Oops! Nets Wrong On Warming; Arctic Ice Still There” Again they try and spin near record loss as a gain. For further spin they emphasize the media frenzy about a couple of predictions that the Arctic ice might disappear entirely this summer, ignoring the fact that the bulk of the scientific community had a more measured opinion (eg North Pole Notes and “Sea Ice Hyperbole“)
They make a big deal that the ice is still there and want to pretend that this somehow causes problems for climate change science. They sure as hell aren’t going to point out that if climate change were not happening then the ice should be at least about average, or given that natural cycles like solar, PDO and ENSO are in cool phases, the ice extent should actually be larger than average.
You can take any of the myths in the Denier Canon, “The Hockey Stick”, “Sunspots”, “Mars is Warming Too”, follow it through the Denialosphere and you will see the same pattern, deliberate, willful distortion and fraud. Make no mistake, this is not about differing opinions or debate about scientific uncertainty; the Deniers are waging a viscious political battle by any means necessary.
Not all of the Deniers are necessarily dishonest frauds. The ones who echo the stories may be acting in good faith; in essence they may be simple rubes conned by the Denier sharps and have no particular malice or lack of integrity.
Not so the authors of these frauds. They know exactly what they are doing – and that lets you know exactly what they are.