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USA Temperature: can I sucker you? (tamino.wordpress.com)
256 points by xg15 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 229 comments

Honest question: Why such vitriol against "climate deniers?" The term "climate denier" is loading with negative connotation just on it's face, and it's rarely used in isolation in an otherwise respectful way.

There will always be people that disagree with you about something. Some are honest, some are not. Why be an asshole and treat people poorly and disrespectfully? That makes you as bad or worse than them IMHO. Even when they are being assholes (which many are), it is an act of immaturity to lower yourself to that level.

How do you expect to win over hearts and minds when you approach people like that? The worst thing you can do when trying to convince someone of your opinion is offend them by stereotyping, generalizing, and straw-manning their position. How do you feel when people do this to you? Do you find yourself intellectually engaging with them, thinking that they might have some good points?

Same reason for the vitriol against anti-vax. These are people who are claiming to know better than the vast majority of the scientific community (seriously, it's something like 99%+), despite having little to no expertise in the field.

Multiple independent governments, thousands of peer reviewed studies across multiple disciplines, data collected from satellites, billions of dollars across decades of research... but still not enough.

It's stupid and dangerous. To be capable of thinking that it's a hoax requires a severe lack of understanding of the simple scale of humanity.

I find it more believable to think that you've been personally abducted by aliens than any segment of humanity having the ability to pull off a trick of such magnitude.

All this may be true, but appeal to authority is still a logical fallacy. You can't just shame people into believing something they don't understand because "smarter" people believe it. It's a shameful failure of communication more than anything else. And I don't understand why people like you don't understand that.

The authority here is insurmountably large and the data is readably accessible. It's like a blind person claiming the sky isn't blue despite the determination of every sighted person.

There isn't even a single point of authority here. The determination is made by climate scientists, biologists, ecologists, etc... across multiple independent governments, allies and enemies alike.

Argument from authority is meant to avoid groupthink, but there are many many disparate groups coming to the same conclusion here while relying on entirely different sets of evidence.

If you can use argument from authority to dispute this, then you can use it to dispute any consensus ever made.

But for other consensuses, for example evolution, any individual person can readily explain how it works to a anyone else. Then it is up to the person hearing the model to accept it as fact, and maybe they make some logical error rejecting it. But until you explain to them the model, I don't think you should have any expectation that they should believe you.

It sounds like no one responding to me actually understands how climate models work. How do they work? What are their assumptions, their dynamical models, their uncertainties? I don't think you or anyone else in this thread can tell me that. You can tell me "the data is there", or vague assertions like "there are papers everywhere" - that's it, no specifics. If you were writing a scientific paper with such vague assertions it would be thrown in the trash.

Only specialists are qualified to even enter the debate. That is the essence of the fallacious appeals to authority that undermine all climate arguments. And the specialists are terrible communicators.

I disagree that evolution can be "understood" by one person readily explaining it to someone else.

Yes you can get a brief summary of what it is about. But you are not at all in a position to evaluate how sound it is without spending months or years.

Short explanations between laypeople is essentially propaganda, no matter which side of the issue they are on. What I mean is: How believable the explanation is is only correlated to the rhetorical skill of the presenter. It is not related to how true the proposition is.

I think this is a general problem. Climate isn't an exception in any way, it just happens to be the one area that really matters for our future (consequences of people not believing evolution is far far less).

> I disagree that evolution can be "understood" by one person readily explaining it to someone else.

Darwin did just fine in the Origin of Species ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Origin_of_Species ).

> Short explanations between laypeople is essentially propaganda, no matter which side of the issue they are on.

While this is correct, would you like to point out a long explanation that will overcome this? A book, perhaps?

One that doesn't rely on computer models, all of which, in every field, are absolute trash because they can be twisted to say whatever you want them to say as demonstrated in the very article we're discussing.

How is it that Darwin didn't need computer models to make his point, but climate science is empty without them?

Origin of Species exists, yet somehow there's the Intelligent Design community arguing that evolution is BS. How do you properly evaluate? Would you say that Origin of Species constitutes a priori proof of the concept? No, you need a lot of context to evaluate that what is says is true. It is only a "proof" to those who are already convinced (including me BTW).

The basic thesis of climate change is even simpler than evolution (greenhouse gases causes warming in lab + nature compensates within a window, ocean acidification etc => there is a tolerance level where nature can no longer compensate and you get the effect on earth that you observe in lab).

Yet in the same way as with evolution there are opponents/deniers.

It sounds like you insist that something must be "simple" in order to be "true". That because climate isn't "simple", climate science is wrong. But: You have lots of stuff like General Relativity which is complex yet (normally considered) true. Nature doesn't have to be simple just because you say so.

The article we are discussing is illustrating statistical incompetence and says nothing about computer models at all.

If you want to insist that computer modelling is garbage, say goodbye to most of the science you have previously accepted. My PhD is in astrophysics and we certainly did a lot of computer modelling and equation solving (since the 70s...take computers away and there is nothing left of cosmology as a field, the same holds for many other fields). If you don't trust computer modelling say goodbye to anything you think you know about the age of the universe, etc. etc.

There is good science and bad science with the aid of computers just as there is good and bad science without the aid of computers.

I don't have any book recommendation for you. I just know how to do science (from an astrophysics perspective) and from what I know, the climate "sceptics" seems to be making a lot of rookie mistakes when they crop out, and the climate scientists seem to make sound claims. But that is definitely just looking at the surface and applying my preconceptions. I don't have time to spend a year or two to go in depth; so I see no choice but to trust the climate scientists the way I would trust an oncologist if I got cancer and so on. Reading some "propaganda" about the subject (as defined in my previous post, i.e. popular science) from either camp won't make me much wiser anyway.

You can Google it for about 5 minutes and find enough evidence to occupy your time with months of reading. There's a huge variety of available data across various complexities. You can go as deep as you want. Hell, there's a webcomic visualization (https://xkcd.com/1732/) that cites multiple sources. There are multiple documentaries outlining it. How much more accessible are you requiring this information to be?

You're going to lengths to make a weak argument here.

You've shown no evidence whatsoever that you personally understand climate models. You are still making the "the data is out there" argument, without getting into specifics. You are doing, precisely, what I've been saying is bad for the past few replies. It's like you are just responding to the oldest post in the thread without reading through it. Did you read it? Did you process any of it? Clearly not. Don't say my argument is weak if clearly none of it registered in your conscious mind.

Why would I waste my time explaining it to you for the sake of argument when I can literally just copy and paste a much better explanation after a 30 second google (I've read this article before, so assume I understand climate models at least this much). https://www.carbonbrief.org/qa-how-do-climate-models-work

You're just dicking around for seemingly no reason. It seems as though you're trying to win a debate that no one else is interested in by being exhaustingly pedantic. You didn't even really use the appeal to authority correctly, but I gave you the benefit of the doubt there. Good luck.

And if you don't want to/can't do that - then you can trust the climate science professionals who spend their life doing just that. And they are all screaming at the rest of us.

I'm guessing that these deniers don't question other complex things like how their hardware and software works, how gravity works or how papers is made.

> But for other consensuses, for example evolution, any individual person can readily explain how it works to a anyone else.

The greenhouse gas hypothesis is readily explainable to elementary school children. Explaining the actual mechanisms is, obviously, far more complicated.

But the same is true for evolution. Origin of the Species pre-dated the discovery of DNA by nearly 100 years. Even a not particularly bright Biology undergraduate has a better understanding of evolution than a hypothetical re-animated Darwin.

A thorough explanation of our best knowledge about evolution requires a graduate-level course in genetics (and a few other things). A thorough explanation of our best knowledge about climate science requires a graduate-level course in mathematical modeling (and a few other things).

> It sounds like no one responding to me actually understands how climate models work. How do they work?

I've actually implemented toy versions of some of these models so that I could have a better understanding of the relationship between computer models and raw data. I have a graduate-level understanding of ODEs, PDEs, and numerical analysis, but was still in pretty far over my head.

My take-away form that experience: unless you have the time to devote to getting (the equivalent of) a PhD in climate science, you likely don't understand these models well enough to comment on them.

So I actually do think it's just objectively true that:

> Only specialists are qualified to even enter the debate.

Which, as you note, is a serious problem. But the way I see it, each citizen has three options:

1. Get a Ph.D. in climate science.

2. Superficially engage with climate science.

3a. Trust that people who spend a lot of time studying these probably have well-informed opinions (an appeal to an appropriate authority).

3b. Trust some other authority (e.g., the PR experts working for conservative senators and fossil fuel companies, who are admittedly better communicators).

Obviously, option 1 is ideal.

Option 2 isn't necessarily better than Option 3a. How do you know what you don't know? How do you know when you come to a terrible conclusion based upon a misinterpretation of data?

Let's take me as an example. When experimenting with these models, I'd often find surprising results. But then I'd ask a climate science friend only to find that I had made some subtle but in fact ridiculous mistake. And they'd be able to explain to me what that mistake was, because I have lots of experience with ODEs/PDEs and enough experience reading scientific literature that I could read the papers/datasets that used to justify their assertion that I had chosen an unrealistic value for some parameter or another. And enough experience with statistical modeling that I could apply some common "validation" tricks and notice that I could reproduce some of the critiques of my mistakes.

How do you do that if you don't have a Ph.D.-level understanding of dynamical systems, plenty of programming experience, AND a climate science Ph.D. friend? Not to mention no family and plenty of free time...

That leaves Options 3 -- both appeals to authority. However, not all appeals to authority are equally fallacious. Listening to a quack pot cult leader and listening to a trained nurse are both appeals to authority; however, only a fool would believe these are equally inadvisable.

If you don't have the time to seriously engage with modern science, is trusting your own judgment really more advisable than listening to experts? I don't think the answer is quite as clear cut as you make it out to be. When I see arguments like yours, that Emerson quote always comes to mind: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines."

I.e., just because you avoided a "logical fallacy" doesn't mean that your mode of reasoning is more likely to result in Truth. See also: the millions of "proofs" that Sqrt[2] is rational. On this question, the person who listens to the blind authority of the mathematician has a strictly better route to truth than the person who believes their own mistaken reasoning despite (or, more typically, to spite) expert testimony.

I submit the same is even more likely to be true for more complicated issues, such as climate science or evolution.

The sky isn't blue. Not always anyway. And not from everywhere.

Great point on how significant perspective is.

And on how willful misinterpretation of an analogy isn't actually a point against the analogy

There's no misinterpretation here.

It's a strawman

It's not an appeal to authority. That would literally be, "I'm a climate scientist, trust me". What's actually happening is: "I'm a climate scientist, trust me, but if you don't, look at this ludicrous amount of data and research gathered/conducted over generations".

AFAIK appeal to authority is only a fallacy when the authority is an expert in an unrelated field. It is not an appeal to authority to reference the opinion of a well-established astrophysicist when discussing astrophysics.

No, it is always logical falacy in a literal sense. The existence or the appeal of any authority is not a logical argument. If you think the authority is justified by factual, logical arguments you're meant to cut out the middle man and simply present those facts and their logical argument.

It's worth saying that no one really expects you to live life or strictly act like this. Avoiding fallacies is really just about putting forth a concrete logical agument.

Retoric (and life) can be plenty productive without logical rigor and appeals to authority have meaning and value outside of 'logic'. Ethos, logos, pathos anyone?

> appeal to authority is still a logical fallacy

The data are publicly available and the papers relatively accessible. The dismissal isn’t because climate deniers reject the mainstream. It’s because they reject the mainstream without trying to understand it.

So, how many research papers did your parents read when bringing you up? Can they cite the list of publications that convinced them to give or not give you the vaccinations?

This is not how it works the real world. Saying "research is out there" is absolutely meaningless in convincing people, especially if you don't even post actual links/citations (which most people never do).

> how many research papers did your parents read when bringing you up?

They listened to their doctors. Modern life is too complex for everyone to understand everything fully. So we delegate decisions to reliable authorities.

If one wishes to disagree with said authorities, i.e. with the status quo, the burden of proof is on the person bringing the disagreement. The problem with anti-vaxers and climate deniers is their rejection of the status quo without any proper evidence. (Also making decisions that negatively impact other people.)

>They listened to their doctors. Modern life is too complex for everyone to understand everything fully.

Exactly. This directly contradicts the notion that "the research out there" is by itself sufficient to convince anyone of anything.

People rely on authorities, and different groups of people have different entities they consider authoritative.

>So we delegate decisions to reliable authorities.

Sure. Like, uh, elected politicians? Who benefit from politicization of science, no matter which side of each issues they end up on?

It it remarkable how oblivious most people are to the social dynamics of these issues.

I completely agree with your points, and wish you weren't being downvoted for them. I'm completely on the "climate change is real" side (sad that I feel I have to declare my loyalty), but I think most people simply aren't engaging with how people actually form opinions, which is why so much of politics becomes simply impossible. And I mean understanding this from both sides - recognizing how other people form invalid opinions, but also understanding that how you form (hopefully valid) opinions is usually also a "pick which experts I listen to" kind of thing. Hopefully, you're picking the right experts because you understand reasoning and the scientific process - but to pretend you're only going by the science, or rather, that "your side" is only going by the science, is to ignore the fact that 99% of people can't tell you any argument or counterargument for any belief they hold.

I find that taking a historical perspective on scientific topics is quite useful, but particularly on this topic. How did we discover all of this? Why are people so sure that this is real? This is the best history I've found:

  The Discovery of Global Warming
It's very well-referenced, and should provide a useful perspective on the history of climate research.

So you're ignoring the variety of ways the data has been presented by news outlets, artists, and filmmakers. There are few mediums where this information hasn't been expressed in some form.

There's little reason to believe many high-profile climate deniers are acting in good faith, especially those employed by think tanks and other PR organisations.

As the questions are political, you need rhetoric. As unfortunately as it may be, it should be obvious by now to everyone following politics that being "polite" is not a winning recipe in the game.

> There's little reason to believe many high-profile climate deniers are acting in good faith

These people act as authorities as well. If the alternative is to appeal to another authority, then it seems like choosing not to change opinions is a reasonable course of action for somebody who is already convinced on the basis of authority. The public case for concern about climate change has been marred with incessant exaggeration (for example, lady liberty was supposed to be semi-submerged by now, and the north pole was supposed to be completely free of ice by 2013). The source of many Americans' (and Canadians') skepticism of climate predictions is a continuous outpouring of exaggeration and fabrication, especially on the part of Al Gore (whose film was shown to a significant proportion of Canadian school children [and I imagine, American school children as well] in the oughts).

>lady liberty was supposed to be semi-submerged by now, and the north pole was supposed to be completely free of ice by 2013

Citation needed

Al Gore continued to repeat this claim until at least 2009, my source is snopes and their sources.


I trust Snopes here since they are desperately attempting to cast Gore's statements in a positive light. They choose to address whether Gore "predicted" this event, rather than whether he disseminated the prediction. If the question is whether he confidently disseminated this prediction, the answer is a resounding yes.

The IPCC publish estimates generally between 2035 (on the very low end) and 2100+ (generally "possibly before the end of the 21st century", i.e. possibly later) for the arctic ice cap to melt almost completely.

> for example, lady liberty was supposed to be semi-submerged by now, and the north pole was supposed to be completely free of ice by 2013

Where is they citation of Al Gore claiming the arctic will be ice free? Everything in that source is prefaced with terms like "could Be" and "as soon as", which you seem to be interpreting as a complete certainty. If I said I had cancer and could die as early 2018 then I wouldn't be wrong on New Years day 2019.

Where's the citation of the Statue of Liberty being underwater? Even with an ice free arctic this wouldn't happen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsioIw4bvzI This is a more recent (2009) version of his spiel, I remember him equivocating less about this in an earlier speech which I have trouble finding. Here he equivocates that "some of the models suggest to Mr. Maslowski that there is a 75% chance that north polar ice cap, during some of the summer months, could be completely ice-free within the next five to seven years".

> Where's the citation of the Statue of Liberty being underwater?

The Statue of Liberty thing I actually don't remember the source of. I remember it as a clip in a climate documentary where the statue of liberty is visualized as being about a quarter submerged (note I said "semi-submerged", not "underwater", funny how the broken telephone works even when you can presumably see everything on screen at once).

Wait wait... appeal to the scentific community is a logical fallacy?

You can say this same thing about almost any scientific finding.

A less controversial example:

General Relativity is extremely odd and widely accepted.

If someone refuses to believe General Relativity, would you really say the problem is "failure of communication"?

Any kind of meaningful communication on the subject would take years, and also (if you insist in not trusting others) require a lot of expensive experiments to be carried out.

Any "communication" short of that is in a sense propaganda; in that how believable you make it seem to the layperson is not correlated with how true it is.

No, rather than a problem with communication, the problem is arrogance in believing that General Relativity (or Climate..) is something you can have an opinion about without years of physics training.

(There are physics professors that may dispute GR. That is fine; it did not seem that your topic was communication with sceptical academics in the climate sciences)

It's a logical fallacy, but it can be a pragmatic decision to delegate reasoning, especially where the claim is expensive to evaluate (e.g. science because of time for prerequisite knowledge and training) or the consequence of being wrong is low.

Specialization is an unavoidable fact of life. Not everyone can be an expert in everything. If my car mechanic (or 99 out of 100 car mechanics) says I need new brake pads, and I don’t know anything about car maintenance, why would I reject their diagnosis? I would not only be endangering myself, but other drivers.

If I am going to reject my mechanic’s diagnosis I need to have strong evidence and reasoning to support my position. Climate deniers don’t have that, and their pigheadedness puts everyone at danger.

Efforts to summarize the scientific evidence for global warming for laymen are myriad. The arguments and evidence for global warming are extremely accessible.

I don’t see how the blame isn’t on the climate deniers.

Ehh, I understand your point in general, but I think it's significantly more nuanced than that.

Take the car mechanic. His incentives don't completely align with yours. Taking a benign example, his goals are to keep your car in good condition and to make money. Your goals are to keep your car in good condition and to save money. Thus, the car mechanic might err on the side of caution and suggest you replace your car brakes every 30 thousand miles, while you (assuming you knew all the relevant information) would only replace the brakes every 50 thousand miles.

In the absence of "strong evidence and reasoning", you may still reasonably decide that you don't trust the mechanic.

Sure, a given mechanic or a given surgeon might err. So go get a second opinion. But if you get 99 second opinions, and all but one agrees with the original mechanic, rejection of that diagnosis is an extraordinary claim. And an extraordinary claim requires strong evidence and reasoning if your decision is going to put the lives of others at risk.

Are you saying that all science is appeal to authority? Do you understand how science works? These climate change deniers can run their own experiments and verify the findings that almost all scientists agree with, but they don't or they choose to misinterpret the data like the last graph in the article. Science isn't appeal to authority and trying to reduce it to that is what is shameful. Truth does exist and if it hurts some people's feelings so be it. Their feelings are not even a consideration when the alternative is having an unlivable world. These people should be ridiculed and their opinions put when because they are stupid, wrong, and they are hurting billions others. We put people in jail and even kill them if they take one life, but if they endanger literally billions of lives, we should be understanding? It's a shame we can't put these people in jail and it's a shame to defend these people that are running our world with their stupidity.

So is an argument from personal ignorance.

You might recall that the primary claim of anti-vaccination folks started with a blind appeal to authority.

First, most of the credentialed ones are funded by fossil fuels industries. Either directly or via shells to obscure sources. And so their objectivity is at least questionable.

Second, there's support from public relations firms, also clearly funded by fossil fuels industries. It grew out of the "smokers rights" campaign in the early 80s, which was funded by the tobacco industry. And indeed, the "climate-change denial" campaign is basically a clone of that. Involving the same firms, but with much broader funding.

So basically, virtually none of the climate-change deniers have a clue about the underlying science. So "intellectually engaging" with them is pointless. You could maybe help them see how they've been manipulated. But that too is probably pointless, because they're up to their noses in a smothering meme swamp.

> And indeed, the "climate-change denial" campaign is basically a clone of that.

It is interesting to note that not only is the campaign a clone, but it is in part headed by the same people [1] who were involved in the tobacco business.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merchants_of_Doubt

Thanks. That's a great book. And I ought to have cited it.

And FWIW, Burson-Marsteller has been the lead ad agency.

“Ridicule is man's most potent weapon."

"Keep the pressure on."

"The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself."

"The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition."

"If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counterside"

"Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it."

From Saul Alisky’s Rules for Radicals.

These are precisely the tactics being used against climate skeptics. Rather than actually caring about debating the science, the alarmist side instead uses phrases like “virtually none of the climate-change deniers have a clue about the underlying science.”

The whole debate stopped being about science years ago and it has instead become a battle of economic ideology. It’s impossible to have a rational debate when the leadership of the debate engages in ad hominem attacks as a matter of tactics.

We talk about “science,” yet hold up an Inconvenient Truth as some sort of inflatable prophesy, as if Al Gore were Moses holding the Ten Commandments. Despite all sorts of debunked aspects of that film, to call it into question means we are somehow intellectually inept. One would be intellectually inept to not call it into question! As far as realizing how we have been manipulated — that manipulation cuts both ways: many people actually think the debate is still about the climate. It’s not. It’s about economic systems and the means of production.

I’ve stopped caring about the debate and just quietly vote for candidates with whom I agree. There is an expression about wrestling pigs that comes to mind when I think about the climate debate..

> The whole debate stopped being about science years ago ...

I agree. The scientific consensus is strong, and the models are robust. So the only "debate" left involves dueling PR campaigns. And the side that's funded by the fossil fuels industry has consolidated its political control. They still have no hope of winning the scientific debate, but now they can impose their agenda regardless.

Anyway, I could be upset about our situation. Maybe I would be, if I were a few decades younger, or had children and grandchildren. But I don't. So mainly I'm cynically amused. And I'm becoming more and more confident that I'll get to see some lulzy shit before I die.

The theory of CO2-induced climate change is older and better-established than Relativity. It was also considered completely disproved for fifty years, by multiple independent lines of evidence. Clearly something happened to change everyone's mind, and it would probably do you some good to know about that, but the point is, it's not like there's some contradictory line of evidence that has gone unexamined. We've been trying to disprove this theory for twelve decades, and the actual scientific controversy ended at latest in the early 90s. At this point, the list of observations which would invalidate AGW is both very short and very nonsensical.

I am not sure why you are discussing a film. I would caution you against assuming that most people, particularly in this forum, are deriving their knowledge from a single film, as opposed to peer-reviewed articles, textbooks, or the IPCC reports. Personally, I consider this topic to be fairly important, especially given that I grew up in Alaska: climate change is an undeniable feature of the landscape there. I would agree that a lack of high-quality information on this subject is a problem. This is a resource that I would recommend:

  The Discovery of Global Warming

> “Ridicule is man's most potent weapon."

Yet the linked post doesn't employ it.

> "Keep the pressure on."

This is the same as be vigilant, be persistent. Fight for what you believe in. This has nothing to do with skeptics, it's about engaging those who similarly do so. Thus it's an active discussion. The pressure is obvious because of the high stakes nature of the topic.

> "The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself."

The threat of a fucked up Earth for our children seems a lot more terrifying for us than for them. They are born into it, we see the change.

> "The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition."

This simply applies to people who are either science communicators by occupation or paid shills for fossil companies.

> "If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counterside"

That's why climate change denialists continue to deny full force, clinging onto the slightest thing. Fighting straw men.

> "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it."

That's again why denialists muddy up old things, like the Al Gore movie. Which has nothing to do with the science.

> the alarmist side instead uses phrases like “virtually none of the climate-change deniers have a clue about the underlying science.”

And? It seems to be true. It's not a smear phrase, it's the truth laid bare. Denialists are not sophisticated scientists proposing alternate models that explain the data better. Their level of argumentation is very simple, and very much not in good faith.

> It’s impossible to have a rational debate when the leadership of the debate engages in ad hominem attacks as a matter of tactics.

I don't know who you identify as the "leadership", but there are millions of people who think there's man made global warming and they regularly try to convince other people of this without following any sort of leadership.

It's not an exaggeration to say that "virtually none of the climate-change deniers have a clue about the underlying science". I mean, next time you have a conversation with one, ask them to discuss, in broad terms, the Earth's heat budget. Ask them to describe the roles played by CO2 and H20, and to explain how they're different. In my experience, mostly people are just spewing bullshit that they've heard. They're driven by ideology and religion, not data and sound models.

> We talk about “science,” yet hold up an Inconvenient Truth as some sort of inflatable prophesy, as if Al Gore were Moses holding the Ten Commandments.

Oh please. Inconvenient Truth was released 12 years ago. Of course the science is outdated, and in this year 2018, the only people who bring up Inconvenient Truth are those people who have no interest in what scientists have been doing in the past 12 years and instead try to refute an imagined straw man.

So much for respecting the other side of debate.

Political brainwashing, that's why. This is exactly how it works. You take an issue (social, cultural, scientific, religious - does not matter), use it as a division line between "us" and "them", pick a side, them bombard "us" with messages that dehumanize "them" to the point where there is no possibility of rational conversation between the two sides.

Bam. Now you have political control over a group of people, and that control can be exercised outside of the context of the original problem.

It is very unfortunate that ecology was chosen as one of the issues to politicize, because it already was one of the most complex fields of research there is, not to mention that issues in that field have potential to affect most of the people on the planet.

My advice? De-escalate the rhetoric wherever you can. That's the only way forward in the long run, for everybody.

Or going the another way, why such faith in the climate fitters?

Global warming skepticism has got almost nothing to do with “climate denial PR campaigns” and everything to do with people having functioning BS detectors. To wit:

* lofty claims of certainty based on computer models that can’t be effectively tested with out-of-sample data

* argument relying on “consensus” of the scientific “community”

* unseemly behaviour of said community revealed in “climategate” emails

* second rate academic talent jumping on a career long gravy train

* stipulations by leftist politicians for concentration of vast powers to control the economy to fix the problem

* creeping attribution of all sorts of other problems as second order effects of warming

* rebranding if the language from “global warming” to “climate change”

* the ridiculous idea that “trusting science” is the same thing as trusting scientists. Nobody actually trusts scientists, they trust feedback loops and well-aligned incentives. Take those things away and the trust rightfully evaporates.

> Global warming skepticism has [...] everything to do with people having functioning BS detectors. To wit: [...]

LOL. Notice that none of your points address any specific studies. I've never met a self-identified climate change skeptic who reads the journals of the American Geophysical Union[1], like I have since the 1990s. But you people have "functioning BS detectors", "common sense", etc. -- just like all the creationists I've met.

[1] https://publications.agu.org/journals/

>LOL. Notice that none of your points address any specific studies.

It doesn't matter. The post above gives a fairly good explanation of why there are so many people skeptical either about the climate change, or about its exact rate, or about the causes, or about the policies that should be enacted in its regard.

It is not very scientific in most cases, but from average person's perspective it makes sense. So the notion that every "climate denier" out there is some kind of raving mad lunatic is itself patently absurd. Their position is completely understandable, even if it's scientifically incorrect.

This is especially true when you get to the "policy" side of things.

As a side not, let's not pretend that climate change "believers" (denier, believer - both are horrible labels) are always rational. Most of them are only vaguely inspired by research and driven by more mundane and "social" motives.

For comparison, how much zeal have you seen around colony collapse disorder? It's a serious issues with potentially grave consequences for ecology and agriculture. Almost no one cares. There is no social signalling, no in-group/out-group dynamics, no vitriol. Because it hasn't been politicized. Yet.

> lofty claims of certainty based on computer models that can’t be effectively tested with out-of-sample data

Models can be tested against history.

> argument relying on “consensus” of the scientific “community”

I doesn't rely on consensus, this is just a tool to show the extent of the certainty. Not sure why you feel the need to put consensus or community in quotes.

> unseemly behaviour of said community revealed in “climategate” emails

This is the ultimate exercise in cherry picking, there was one slightly nefarious sounding phrase in thousands of emails and you act like this negates a entire field of science.

> rebranding if the language from “global warming” to “climate change”

When exactly do you think this "rebranding" happened?

These are the same people who think Trump is always right. So maybe their BS detector is biased or something ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Hoodwinked by Russian bots no doubt. Certainly nothing to do with the low credibility of the political establishment.

Because their stupidity is going to kill us all. I'm very vitriolic against people that are trying to kill me and my family, I can't help it.

Do you not see how your reply to the OP's sincere question amounts to the same lackluster, overgeneralized, and lazy intellectual stance that the people you're criticizing take on climate science?

You couldn't have more aptly proved the OP's point.

Honestly, I do not see it that way.

To me it seems as if sizable chunk of people believe in nonsense, and the nonsensical beliefs and actions based on such beliefs are detrimental not only to the people holding such beliefs, but every single living entity on this planet, future generations included.

How is that acceptable? With what right do the people holding these beliefs keep acting the way they do?

It is the reaponsibility of the rest of us to stop this madness as soon as possible. It is the responsibility we as species hold to our ancestors and future generations.

If it is all in vain for you. Fine. But please do consider other living organisms as as important as you, for you are one of us. We are in this together.

There was nothing sincere about OP's question just as there's nothing lackluster about my answer. You can play your two-sideism game with people that buy that bullshit, I don't.

> Do you not see how your reply to the OP's sincere question amounts to the same lackluster, overgeneralized, and lazy intellectual stance that the people you're criticizing take on climate science?

Do not give equal weight to nonsense beliefs and beliefs supported by decades of science. That's the real toxicity - when you try to attempt to give them equivalency despite different efforts having gone into forming them.

I'm sorry that isn't clear to some people, but that doesn't make nonsense any less excusable or valid or show a need to 'win their hearts'.

Are you actually at risk for being killed? A bit hyperbolic wouldn’t you say?

I live in California, not that hard for me to be killed by global warming. Our water is becoming scarcer, fires more violent. Combination of heat waves and blackouts are notorious for killing the elderly and children (and I have both parents AND a small kid).

The real question is why aren't you more worried? I wonder where your money comes from and where you live.

I've been really thinking about this, and I have a follow up question. Attempted murder is a felony in the US. If denying climate change is really "going to kill us all," and climate deniers "are trying to kill [you] and [your] family," should they be jailed and prosecuted for attempted murder? If not, why? Are they not guilty of that crime?

You do a great job at pretending to be dumb, I almost bought it.




We just discovered the climate change is happening much faster than our models suggested meaning all those predictions are OPTIMISTIC. I live in a US state that's currently covered in smoke because it's all burning, and a bunch of people die every year in increasingly harder to control fires.

You know what's the most enraging part of this? People like you that go around using logical fallacies to argue a completely discredited side of a very black and white matter simply because you believe it doesn't affect you.

That's implausible. Even a civil claim would be a stretch.

But still, I doubt that the major players will have such great reputations. Consider the Truth Tobacco Industry Documents collection, for example.[0]

0) https://www.industrydocumentslibrary.ucsf.edu/tobacco/

From my perspective, an authority with power to regulate the gas that all animals exhale seems like a more serious threat to myself and to those I care about. I can understand how you might disagree though.

How can you read a post about denier's deliberate bad faith manipulation and then complain that they're the ones being treated unfairly. Almost makes me think you are not arguing in good faith.

> How can you read a post about denier's deliberate bad faith manipulation and then complain that they're the ones being treated unfairly. Almost makes me think you are not arguing in good faith.

I don't see anywhere that I complained that they are the ones being treated unfairly (which implies that I think they are being treated unfairly but the "climate accepters" (not sure of a good term here) are not. Nor do I think that.

I think both sides have people that treat each other that way. It's counterproductive regardless of which side is doing it.

I don't find it relevant so was going to omit this, but since you questioned my personal "good faith," I will say that I generally accept the climate science. I wouldn't consider myself a purist, but I find the evidence compelling. So I'm "on the team." Is that what you needed to know to evaluate my position?

Since you do not like the term "climate deniers", what's your proposal for an appropriate and respectful term or definition to aggregate the people that believe that climate change is not happening?

> to aggregate the people that believe that climate change is not happening?

First of all, you shouldn't "aggregate" them. Very few if those who are usually called "climate deniers" actually believe that climate change is not happening. Did you know that?

In general, apart from total deniers, there's people who think climate change might not be as bad, or extreme, or as manmade, or that catastrophic predictions need some check. Labelling them all as "deniers" is just a very handy (and toxic) way to close the conversation.

Climate sceptic is the established term.

It is not as clear cut as that at all. Wikipedia has a page on Denial..

What is "established" is part of the debate too and obviously it is in some deniers interest to instead label themself sceptic. Apparently there has been a debate about this:



Very great answer in those links, particularly the NCSE one. I'm not certain I agree with their conclusion, but the explanation makes sense and really answers a lot of my questions. Thank you!

They’re not skeptical though, that word already means something. They’re in denial, hence denier. “Climate skeptic” is right up there with “pro life” for cynical lack of sincerity. Frankly “climate denier” is already the respectful term, with the more common appellations being some combination of an adjective and “idiot”. Given that a minority of ideologues, religious zealots, and moneyed interests are going to be the death of us all, I’m finding it hard to care about feelings in this debate. If anything, less PC and more hatred might actually lead to a solution, if a messy one.

There was a time when denial of this issue was really skepticism, and a time for debate, but it was decades ago. At this point it’s like debating with tobacco companies who wanted to claim that smoking was good for you. It’s not a real debate, it’s dealing with people who are arguing in bad faith for selfish reasons at the cost of human lives. Why should ignorant, dangerous people (at best) and disingenuous people (at worst) be afforded any respect or time? Just because those people pretend (sometimes) to be scientific, skeptical, rational, or sincere doesn’t mean anyone else should be compelled to meet them on their own corrupt terms.

It’s like “debating” Creationists, and it’s a waste of time and it demeans the concept of debate. Don’t let cynical bastards drag you down because they learned how to just barely pretend to be skeptics or scientists.

Perhaps the adjective your looking for there is “useful” https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Useful_idiot

At least that combination grants them the opportunity to be victims rather that villains

That's a decent point. I do find it unfortunate that the term has become polarized because it is a convenient and descriptive categorical term.

I don't have any better solutions, other than maybe something more specific that tries to understand the position of the person rather than sticking them in a large group identity with which they likely don't conform to entirely.

I generally like to ask people how they identify themselves, and then call them that. If they identify as climate deniers, then the term is completely fine.

We find it terribly rude to label somebody with pronouns like "he" or "she" when they prefer something else. I don't see this as much different.

You could say the same thing about the term "conspiracy theorist". It's just more convenient to label opposing voices with a single, derogatory connotated, term. Especially when the aforementioned group is comprised of many genuinely stupid/malicious individuals.

Now the problem with those groups is that their borders are made intentionally blurred. In the case of climate change: industrial/government lobbyists and shills try to mingle with genuinely skeptical citizens. Grouping all these people in a single group is one of the only ways to fight against that, especially when the raw information dissemination power of the opposing party is so much stronger.

Nobody on the mainstream sides of the climate debate are claiming the climate isn’t changing. We are claiming that human causes have an effect less significant than the alarmist side claims.

Basically, if we all stop running our air conditioner, it isn’t going to have any significant effect on long term global temperatures. Basically we object to the idea that lowering standards of living is a meaningful cure for rising temperatures. Humans absolutely cause pollution, nobody “denies” that and most of us care deeply about actual pollution. But once CO2 started being considered some kind of pollutant, the environmental movement essentially jumped the shark in my view. CO2 is just as much a pollutant as oxygen but it is being treated by politicians as if it were benzene.

Actually “CO2” in the context of climate change discussions shouldnt be seen as the specific gas with the same name. Usually it’s a short hand for CO2e https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide_equivalent

CO2 is a pollutant just like O2 is a pollutant. The earth has a certain balance and the physical phenomena as well as the biosphere collectively support and rely on this balance. If you add too much O2 you'll get a mass extinction. This was the causes of one the earliest mass extinctions on the earth. [1] CO2 is an essential gas for life to be sustained, arguably as important as O2, but that doesn't mean you can arbitrarily add CO2 to the system and expect similar outcome. At some point you'll break the system. This is true for other "good" gases too such as O2, N2, H2 etc...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Oxygenation_Event

If not CO2, what do you consider pollution which influences climate change?

How do you consider oxygen to be causing climate change?

What would you suggest Humans do to reduce their negative impact on climate change if not "turning off the AC"?


I believe there's sufficient evidence to justify action on climate change.

However, it's a complex topic with complex solutions.

I've found even basic questioning results in a kneejerk "climate denier!" reaction from most.

Sadly, it's actually counterproductive for making progress on a very important issue.

1. Because its gaining traction, its not something that is becoming less of an issue over time, and people in power are promoting it for their own vile ends.

2. No, treating people poorly who continually spread misinformation and lies does not make you bad or worse than them, this is a silly misrepresentation that would almost arise to this question fitting classic sealioning.

3. There is no expectation to win over hearts and minds, and this isnt a debate - its simply evidence being denied out of hand because it doesn't fit the person's narrative. It should be dealt with just as much scorn as a flat earther.

There's no good points when someone isn't willing to bring table stakes of "willing to acknowledge evidence"

> treating people poorly who continually spread misinformation and lies does not make you bad or worse than them

So, from their perspective, they should be able to treat you poorly. See how behaving badly towards people you disagree with goes both ways?

To generalize, "why such vitriol again science-deniers?".

It's one thing to talk to Bible thumpers, but science-deniers are not Bible thumpers. They use pseudo science to discredit science. They gave an agenda against science. And in the USA, they tend to align well with alt-right.

They deserve all the vitriol they get, and some more.

You're asking why we're not polite to the people destroying the world around us with their stupidity. Because politeness is secondary to having a world that's livable in. People get angry when others mess with their life and livelihood. We want to live, not to die and if others get in the way, politeness and kindness are inappropriate responses. It's not much different than responding with politeness when a country is invaded by others. Destruction is the end result in both cases so people get angry and rightfully so. It's either that or allowing your own destruction to happen. Not to mention that people do not listen to logic or reason. Trying to convince others who are fanatical about their beliefs with reason and logic is a waste of time.

> Why such vitriol against "climate deniers?"

Climate deniers are either dishonest people spreading lies aimed at sacrificing the future of humanity for short-term personal gain or people following them in the destruction of humanity out of tribal allegiance.

There is literally no conceivable level of verbal vitriol that isn't far better than they deserve; the only reason for any restraint in that dimension is tactical, and even there excessive restraint i can be counterproductive; rational debate few of emotional charge may be a Vulcan ideal, but it is not, empirically, ideal in most broad human contexts. It's m it is important to be able to engage rationally in seeking the truth, but as long as that's not what everyone else does, it's going to remain less than ideal for spreadin the truth and mobilizing action based on it.

Climate deniers are either dishonest people spreading lies aimed at sacrificing the future of humanity for short-term personal gain or people following them in the destruction of humanity out of tribal allegiance.

This seems a little extreme. Do you really think everyone labelled a denier is dishonest, in that they actually know the "truth" and instead are choosing for personal gain to spread "lies"? Is there really no room for "misguided", or even simply "wrong"?

Here's the autobiographical note for the originator of the graph that's being skewered: https://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/who-is-steven-goddard/. He describes himself as a bicycle-riding lifelong-environmentalist who worked to get the clean air act passed. He says he never uses heat or air conditioning, and guesses that he has "the smallest electricity bill in Columbia, Maryland because I am very careful not to waste".

This isn't the self-narrative I'd expect for someone "aimed at sacrificing the future of humanity for short-term personal gain". Instead, he sounds like someone who genuinely believes there are flaws in the current version of climate science, and that a better approach is necessary to save (not sacrifice) humanity. What makes you so convinced he's dishonest, rather than a true believer with different beliefs?

> Do you really think everyone labelled a denier is dishonest

No, which is why the bit of my post you quote says “either dishonest ... or ...”

> This isn't the self-narrative I'd expect for someone "aimed at sacrificing the future of humanity for short-term personal gain".

It's very much a public self-narrative I'd expect from someone trying to sell a dishonest position on the issue; concern trolling is a concept with a name because it works, and propagandists know and leverage the fact that it works.

Ooh, I see. So he created a deliberately misleading graph by cherry-picking data and ignoring scientific best practices because he wants to help climate science. Now it makes sense.

I think this is a good point in general. I often find myself sympathizing with those who are otherwise wrong simply because of the tone of the criticism.

Does “* denier” really count as vitriol?

I don’t personally use this language, but for what I think is a different reason: if removing a noun-forming suffix yields a verb which defines the extent of a category, I just think this results in an extraneous lack of specificity (you could instead just describe the subject as performing the action). I also think it’s collectively beneficial to not go out of our way to categorize each other, but I wouldn’t be so quick to apply that to personal situations.

So, I can’t understand taking “climate denier” to be personally offensive or vulgar. If you don’t like your own view, you’re entirely free to just change your mind.

> Does “* denier” really count as vitriol?

Great question. I agree with your logic, and that on its face it isn't vitriolic, or even really offensive (or shouldn't be at least). However I've only ever really seen the term used by people that are using it as a pejorative. For that reason I take more of a structuralist view on the meaning, which is subjective.

I've never heard somebody (excluding trolls) describe themselves as a "climate denier" either.

> I've never heard somebody (excluding trolls) describe themselves as a "climate denier" either.

How do they describe themselves?


We have pictures and first person accounts of the Holocaust. With human-causes global warming, we have hyperbole and predictions that fail to happen again and again. “Climate Denial” isn’t the same as Holocaust denial, it’s more akin to blasphemy. Replace “global warming” with “God” and the debate would be identical: each side tries to prove there case, but not a single person who has already picked a side will be convinced otherwise. However normally, it’s ok for people to have disagreements, but when one side attempts to impose Sharia then the debate hits a fever pitch because it affects the core of our very way of life.

I think part of that is a sign of our time, everything is either black or white, the good guys against the villains, "whoever disagrees with me is a bastard, no discussion, no debate, let's aim at the throat".

At the moment the right is taking the blunt of these insults. Whoever disagree with the current feminist campaign is a misogynist bigot, a traditional patriarchy advocate. Whoever disagrees with the black lives matter movement is a racist. Whoever voted for Trump is an ignorant fascist. Whoever posts a comment agreeing with something Trump does is an alt-right, russian troll. Whoever voted for Brexit is an old uneducated racist.

This is why I kind of agree with hn's policy of banning political debate. It very quickly ends up with name calling and we all have better things to do of our time.

Problem is that most of your examples are things where disagreement is actually a valid thing. They’re are all political in nature and different opinions are just that, opinions.

Climate change isn’t. It’s a scientific fact. On the same footing as the second law of thermodynamics at this point. There just is no disagreement to be had that isn’t as ludicrous as debating political sides of the flat earth “theory”

The only thing we should be disagreeing on is what to do now that we know these facts. Not on wether they are facts.

The change in temperature observed is a fact. The explanation is a mathematical model of a very complex mechanism that we barely understand. For instance there was an article on hn recently about how the ocean could capture a lot more co2 than anticipated [1]. And none of these models had the benefit of being tested for their capacity to predict the future. Anyone who has toyed with any predictive model knows how easy it is to overfit a back-testing. I am not saying that there is no global warming, neither than human co2 emission plays no role (and there are many other good reasons to reduce pollution anyway). But I wonder what makes everyone else so confident that they know that for a fact that it is entirely caused by human activity. And the problem is that name calling, or mixing what should be scientific considerations with all sort of political considerations (about the sins of capitalism, the relations of man with nature, etc) is only going to aggravate those who doubt, not convince them.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17704479

I don’t claim to know. I’m not a climatologist, would even know how to begin forming a model.

The reason I don’t need to is this https://skepticalscience.com/97-percent-consensus-cook-et-al...

That's a misrepresentation of the evidence. I'm a layman, so anyone reading should offer any necessary correction.

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. So is water. There is enough water around that we probably misnamed the planet, and in general we can say that the atmosphere is saturated with it: you may even have noticed some precipitation.

Between CO2 and H2O and a few other things, our planet is kept temperate instead of being a ball of ice. For the most part, water completely swamps the effect of CO2, and for the most part, the atmosphere is completely opaque to outgoing radiation at far lower levels of CO2 than are present naturally. So we can ignore CO2, right? Almost. There is a small window of radiation that water vapor does not block, but more importantly, there is not a lot of water above the troposphere.

IR photos look blurry. The mean free path of an IR photon (which is how most heat leaves Earth, because Planck) at sea level is quite short, in the tens-of-meters, with the distance rising as the photon makes its way out of the atmosphere. The radiative top-of-atmosphere is where the mean free path becomes infinite. The effect of an increased partial pressure of CO2 is to push the CO2-dense layer further out into space. Outgoing radiation must take a longer path to reach space, and therefore we say that this traps heat near the surface. The effect is not large: the commonly accepted figure is 3.7 W/m^2 per doubling of CO2, which is usually held to be equivalent to about 1 degree of global temperature.

If there were no other considerations, we would probably be justified in ignoring CO2-induced warming indefinitely. However, as any resident of the American South will attest, there is a pretty wicked relationship between temperature and humidity. Warmer air can hold exponentially more water vapor, and it's not a gentle exponent. A naive calculation would suggest that the CO2-H2O feedback loop would result in arbitrarily high temperatures. Fortunately this is not observed, but the lower bound for warming is pretty hard, due to thermodynamics, and at least part of the H2O feedback is strongly positive. We are in for some warming, any way you dice it.

But hey, that could be anyone's CO2, right? Well, no, not really. We know how much oil we're burning, and petrocarbon has a very different C13 ratio than what we find in the rest of the carbon cycle, and we're completely dwarfing the volcanic CO2 output. There's a T. Gerlach of USGS who has given humanity's output of CO2 as about one Pinatubo per day, or one or more Yellowstone-sized supervolcano eruptions per year. By volume, this is not the worst outgassing the planet has seen. The Deccan Traps released something like 1000 times the amount of carbon that humanity has managed to liberate. However, that took a few million years, and we are on track to equal that outgassing in about 1000 years at the current rates.

"But," you say, "how do we know there isn't some alternate explanation?" We cannot rule out new physics. However, new physics has to reproduce the results from the old physics. We know that CO2 and H2O are greenhouse gases, and we know we need a very large effect to counteract them, because at least part of the feedback loop is strongly positive. Despite the efforts of Dr. Lindzen, it seems we can rule out clouds as a moderating influence. A large unnoticed way to transfer energy to space is pretty implausible at this point, and it still would leave us with a CO2 problem in the long run; there are limits even to special pleading.

The explanation of global warming is complex, but not as complex as trying to model the future effects. There is a great deal of effort devoted to conflating these two things for political purposes.

> We can completely ignore the fact that over the years the average location of all the contributing stations has moved slightly northward to colder territory[.]

Woah, that's not something I'd considered. Are weather stations that contribute to NOAA operated by the volunteer public, kind of like Weather Underground? Either way, that's pretty interesting that there's a distinct northward migration in at least one "demographic."

>Are weather stations that contribute to NOAA operated by the volunteer public, kind of like Weather Underground?

This would provide extremely poor data. A lot of people on Wunderground are running ~$100 Chinese weather stations that don't have proper radiation shielding, dubious barometers, and poor anemometers. While they're perfectly fine for hobbyists and accurate to some degree, a volunteer network for climate data would give non-scientific results.

The population has been migrating south. Why are the stations migrating north?


Note: this is only my guess, but it seems quite plausible that inhabited areas have been well-sampled for a long time, but some combination of

1) automated stations and satellite communication making it much easier/cheaper to sample remote locations

2) use of whole-globe numerical weather models which require complete initial conditions, even for regions where nobody much cares about the output

3) increased interest in climate research

would lead to a greatly increased number of Alaskan stations operated by NOAA (and of course corresponding moves by other national agencies)

That graph is...questionable. The entire Y axis only covers 55 kilometers. I’m sure the NOAA has more principled ways of accounting for station movement.

55km is not insignificant though. Some very rough estimates - 55km is 0.5% of the distance from the equator to the pole. If the temperature range between those two extremes is 50C then the shift corresponds to a net cooling of 0.25C, which seems like it would have a noticable impact on those graphs.

Obviously there is more to it than that, but I don't think it makes it a non-issue.

So the answer appear to be that, yes, he can sucker an awful lot of people.

But everything is area-weighted, so if we move a southern station northward, that means the southern stations previous neighbours will need to carry more weight. The station moved northward will steal some of the weight from its new northerly neighbours.

So, it should only impact the accuracy of the results, not necessarily shift things colder.

You are correct, but the point of the article is that the people manipulating the data deliberately avoid these types of corrections. They see a cooling effect in the raw data and say the scientists who apply corrections are the ones who are actually fudging the data.

Tbh that location graph is meaningless.

Toxic chemicals in our water and air. Plastic in the ocean. Etc. Etc. These are all things that are killing us and are proven to be bad.

We have to do something irregardless if climate change is mann made or not. The debate is irrelevant (at least until we get everything else cleaned up)

Even climate change deniers want clean water.

Clean water is fairly distinct from climate change. Greenhouse gasses are mostly harmless aside from their warming effect, and the stuff that makes air and water unhealthy doesn’t warm the planet.

Sometimes these two things go together, such as when replacing coal power plants with renewables. But sometimes they’re in opposition. For example, the Volkswagen emissions scandal was that they increased particulate pollution in order to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. In diesel engines, there’s a tradeoff between CO2 emissions and other emissions.

Erm, VW, decreased particulate emissions during testing in order to pass the testing and have the vehicles be higher powered (and more polluting) under normal use. They did it to sell cars and make profit; they weren't doing it to save the planet.

They did it to meet fuel economy numbers. CO2 emitted scales pretty much with fuel burned.

I may be misremembering, but AFAIR They artificially reduced diesel consumption figures by having the vehicles run different power curves during testing. Meaning they used more fuel, and made more particulate emissions than they claimed to. So they made it look like the cars would use less fuel than they actually did.

Some searching around reveals a lot of discussion about increased fuel consumption in fixed VWs. For example: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/jul/12/drivers-loss-o...

VW disputes this but I don’t know if they can be believed.

Ocean acidification is no small thing

>For example, the Volkswagen emissions scandal was that they increased particulate pollution in order to decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

? The scandal was that they did it in testing only, so it passed the standards and they could turn it up in normal use.

During pollution testing, the cars sacrificed fuel economy for better emissions. During normal driving, they polluted more but burned less fuel. Drivers notice fuel consumption but not pollution, so this made everyone happy until it was discovered.

Climate change deniers want THEIR water to be clean. They don't give a flying fart if yours is, or even if their neighbors' is. That's why it's so easy for them to deny climate change.

It's despicable, isn't it? Like, there are climate change deniers that are overly-skeptical or gullible and buy into the mountains of misinformation. And then there are those like Steve Goddard who sit down every day and work their asses off creating said misinformation (check his twitter). Actively manipulating and cherrypicking data to deceive for personal gain (whether it be paychecks, political favor, whatever).

And they're winning, considering only half of Republicans believe climate change is even happening, let alone that it's manmade. This was probably the stupidest possible problem for the American political machine to make a wedge issue.

> This was probably the stupidest possible problem for the American political machine to make a wedge issue

Read it as an issue that unites middle American industrialists and rural anti-elitists and the politics make sense.


> nobody has experienced temperature change from 1990 to 2018!

I mean, Lisbon has just had two record breaking temperatures in two years. The average temperature across Portugal (which has a lot of temperature variance across the country) has increased by two degrees since 1900's, with the most pronounced jump between 1990 and today. Not to mention the ridiculous Summers London has been experiencing.

I'd begin to question myself when you realize the US government is preparing for climate change even as you decry 'gender deniers' as somehow being a thing. Sort yourself out. Spend less time on the internet, consuming information sources that want to keep you distracted, funded by people who have a vested interest in spewing pollutants and keeping the current status-quo.

Why spend time and energy making up fake data to convince people reality isn't real when you can make up some rubbish about gender inclusion and convince people that because they don't like that, they can't trust their views on climate change.

Again. Seriousness and stupidity are two different dimensions. Non-serious mistake can still be very stupid.

I think you replied to this comment by accident, because what you said means nothing in reply to what I said.

If I was replying in good faith, I would start by answering:

> Why is the US government preparing for climate change if it is not happening

> Why are worldwide temperatures increasing, with seemingly more and more 'once in a decade' weather phenomenons happening way more frequently?

> Why do you believe 'gender denialists' are anything even on slightly the same scale as climate denialists. What leads you to this absolutely and patently absurd conclusion? Could it be the news you consume? Who funds this news? Do they have a vested interest?

Because climate change is the most serious problem facing humanity. It doesn't really matter what gender people are, if there is not a livable planet for us.

Seriousness and stupidity are two different dimensions. Non-serious mistake can be more stupid than serious mistake.

>nobody has experienced temperature change from 1990 to 2018!

What? Was this post created by a human?

Typo, should be 1900. Fixed.

> How about the left-wing's deny of gender difference?

Because of the impact of getting this wrong.

Impact of getting it wrong and stupidity are two different dimensions. Non-serious mistake can be more stupid than serious mistake.

This is a political issue now. Debates around gravity would be less polarizing. We even have a term for those who do not agree (climate change deniers) which has roots in the holocaust deniers label which is very negative. Somewhere along the way science stopped, funding increased to fund ever more scary climate models. The solutions given were more of a wealth spreading scheme where poorer countries like china responsible for more green houses gases than the eu were allowed to continue without penalty. Richer countries could buy credits somehow the money would reduce greenhouse gases somewhere poorer.

If we stuck to science most would be on board. When Al Gore delivered the message the message changed.

The medium is the message.

A fair question: has the climate alarmist side not cherry picked or even used fraudulent data to suit their cause as well? https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/feb/01/leaked-e...

Our skepticism isn’t about the climate changing, (remember when it was called global warming?) it’s a skepticism about the causes and the degree to which human influence plays a significant role. Any time there is any skepticism at all, we get labeled “deniers” or otherwise ostracized. That’s pretty unique in science, usually skepticism is considered a healthy part of the scientific process — unless it’s concerning a topic that has substantial political implications.

Given that a large segment of the climate change advocacy also “coincidentally” support far left economic policies as a “remedy,” how can it be a surprise that people like me have a deep skepticism of the whole human-caused global warming debate. Another time we had “settled science” with so much politicization was when Eugenics was being advocated.


I’ll predict the inevitable downvotes, which really only proves the point: debating human causes of climate change is akin to debating the existence of Jesus Christ.

This whole thing makes me sad. There shouldn’t be any political overtones at all. The science behind climate change is relatively straightforward (greenhouse effect is real, humans dump mountains of CO2 into the atmosphere constantly) and the whole thing just makes sense to reasonable, intelligent people once they have the knowledge to consider it thoughtfully.

That being said, there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it at this point. Unless we find a way to stop crisscrossing the oceans in quarter-mile-long, bunker-sludge-burning cargo ships and flying jets all over the place.

> I’ll predict the inevitable downvotes, which really only proves the point

The point that taking facts, turning them into opinions and claiming yours is as correct as everybody else's is not welcome on this forum?

Imagine that.

PS: You know what doesn't affect me, my family, my country, or really most people on this planet? The existence of Jesus Christ. Debate away. Get the hell off climate change, leave that topic to those who want to have their kids grow up.

> Given that a large segment of the climate change advocacy also “coincidentally” support far left economic policies as a “remedy,”

Yeah, what if we make a better, cleaner and more sustainable society by accident? How terrible would that be.

"(remember when it was called global warming?)"

I keep seeing this phrase lately. What does it mean? [To clarify, I'm asking about why people keep saying "remember when it was called…" as though it proves some point about it. Global warming is still an accurate description of the predicted and confirmed phenomenon.]

It's a common argument deniers make to try and spread FUD.

> They used to call it global warming, then they rebranded it to (the more accurate) climate change because their narrative was coming apart/everything is fine/elitist climate scientists trying to get money. If they can't even get their story straight why should we believe them??

> This message was brought to you by the 'Sensible Patriotic Americans Against Climate Change Nonsense' (funded by Exxon).

The irony is that the phrase "climate change" was actually pushed initially by a Republican advisor (Frank Luntz) as it was considered less frightening to the public than "global warming".

The other irony is that this phrase was used a lot of few years back when many were claiming there was no warming going on by cherry picking the 1998 El Nino spike as a starting point for temperature graphs. Then the argument was - there is no warming, so the alarmists have stopped using the term "global warming". Of course with recent warming this particular cherry picked argument has fallen apart, but for some reason the meme persists.

I don't think the people who use the phrase even think about what they are saying. It is just part of the Gish Gallop that gets thrown out where number of words makes up for lack of solid argument (initial post that used this phrase up above being a perfect example of this)

The irony is that the phrase "climate change" was actually pushed initially by a Republican advisor (Frank Luntz) as it was considered less frightening to the public than "global warming".

Academic publications were using the phrase "climate change" to discuss the warming effects well before Frank Luntz. He may have been important to putting that phrase in front of the general public, but "climate change" isn't a euphemism invented by PR hacks. The foremost summary assessments are assembled by the IPCC -- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose first report came out in 1990.

Here are publications from 1980 and 1970 also using the phrase to discuss warming phenomena.

"On the Distribution of Climate Change Resulting From an Increase in CO2 Content of the Atmosphere", Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, January 1980


"Carbon Dioxide and its Role in Climate Change", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, October 1970


I don't think we are disagreeing. I'm just pointing out that the phrase was deliberately pushed out into the wider public discourse for specific political motivations, and it is ironic that this phrase is now being used by those same political forces to cast aspersions on scientists.

It appears that I was trying to correct a misconception you do not actually hold. I've seen apparently well meaning people claim that "global warming" was rebranded "climate change" by Frank Luntz to make it sound less scary, while both terms have been in widespread use among scientists since before the issue became widely known among the public.

Yes, but more to the point, they are not synonymous except in very recent history. Theories of climate change were needed to explain evidence of the Ice Age long before anyone thought that warming was a concern, back in the early 19th Century. The evidence that climate could change was also generally distinct from the evidence which established that CO2 could change the climate. Global warming is a subset or result of climate change.

Thank you, that's exactly what I was trying to get at. Maybe it's just the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon but I feel like I'm seeing the exact phrase "remember when it was called global warming?" a lot lately and I'm having trouble accepting that we're all being subjected to this stupid ploy again. Obviously I shouldn't have such trouble at this point, but there you go.

Most likely it is meant to imply that scientists have retreated from saying "global warming" exists. This is of course false, and that's why it's a dogwhistle and not said directly.

> I’ll predict the inevitable downvotes, which really only proves the point: debating human causes of climate change is akin to debating the existence of Jesus Christ.

Which is somewhat ironic, considering that in both cases there is near unanimous agreement among the experts (climate scientists and biblical scholars respectively) that both exist.

> Given that a large segment of the climate change advocacy also “coincidentally” support far left economic policies as a “remedy,” how can it be a surprise that people like me have a deep skepticism of the whole human-caused global warming debate.

The problem is that the right in the US is mostly denying the problem even exists, so of course all the economic proposals come from the left in this country. This is entirely self inflicted, and is not the case in other countries, where right of center parties mostly accept the reality of AGW and to some extent put in place market-based policies to address it.

I think the only way this works out is for the right to propose their own 'market based' solutions to the problem and contrast them with the 'socialist' solutions that the other tribe pitches (yes it is a strawman argument but that's the only way things seem to get done. The main thing is not to be Right but to be seen to be different from the other side). The problem is they have gone so far down the denial rabbit hole that it is going to take a long time to recover, and will probably take a generation to shift attitudes.

> Given that a large segment of the climate change advocacy also “coincidentally” support far left economic policies as a “remedy,” ...

I've seen people arguing that climate change is a Western conspiracy (full with Jewish Bankers and the usual cast) to stunt the economy of the East, by robbing them of cheap fossil fuel they need and deserve. Maybe you guys should talk to each other.

God it's hard being a socialist liberal working for the World Bank...

I was a believer and then watched this and lost some of my faith


I believe if you want a solution you're going to have to work on things people want like Elon Musk’s batteries and solar roofs. Find a way to make the market work for you or youre unlikely to get support

Want convince 99% of America that Climate Change needs immediate action? Address the following points (without vitriol, deception or animosity):

I'm not saying all these are ironclad facts, but this is what you're up against:

Alarmists have been wrong many times in the past. Cooling. Warming. 10 foot sea rise by 1980. No, 1990. No, 2000. No 2030, for sure this time. Alarmists have been caught manipulating data, for the express purpose of convincing people through deception, and the community was less than eager to own up to it. Alarmists cannot quantify how much of an impact man is having; attempts at measuring it lead to climate models, and climate models have only a slightly better track record than a bunch of stopped clocks at keeping time. Everyone knows that the earth has warmed and cooled since it existed. So everyone agrees that the world temperature changes constantly. But the alarmists can't quantify our impact with any accuracy, can't predict where it will go next with any certainty, but want everyone to drop everything to try to solve it. You see a problem that must be solved at all costs, they see a cult peddling politics and money in place of science, using clean water and air as a hook to reach the masses who all want those things too, but without wanting to join the cult.

The other issue is because of these theories there is push for new regulations and (carbon) taxes. This is going to cause people to be skeptical of the information.

Sorry that I modded you down, but where is the cite for the claim 10 foot sea rise by XXXX year?

"Everyone knows that the earth has warmed and cooled since it existed"

This is where things get wrong. Previously warming and cooling has happened over thousands of years. What we see now is something different. A couple hundred years is "instant" in this context.


We really need to do something now! The summer has been un-fucking-believably hot. Climate change is not something that will happen in the "future" -- we have to avoid a global ecosystem collapse in the next 10-15 years. :(

I know the Pascal's wager argument for action on Climate change (which is that if there is even 1% chance of climate change being real then why not act on it since the downside of acting is nothing <to one political ideology>), but the question is, what if climate change is NOT man-made?

If there is even 1% chance that climate change is a naturally occurring phenomenon then all our efforts to 'stop' greenhouse gas emissions is not going to give the results we want. Maybe building levies and moving cities inland be a better action plan? Maybe faster economic growth is a better solution than subsidized solar and wind.

I am trying to figure our arguments against the above argument.

Climate change is man-made. We know how much oil we're burning, and we can measure the atmospheric CO2 carbon ratios, and also measure volcanic emissions. The picture is very consistent. There's also no real hope for an alternate mechanism. The actual effect of an increased partial pressure of CO2 is to push the CO2-rich region further out into space. Physics dictates that this must warm the Earth, by ~3.7 W/m^2 per doubling[0].

The history of the theory is perhaps relevant here. CO2-induced climate change was proposed in 1896[1], and shortly thereafter it was stunningly refuted, by multiple independent lines of evidence. Over the next fifty years, the soundness of that evidence was called into question, and eventually the weight of evidence was sufficient to shift the consensus. We have been trying to disprove AGW for more than twelve decades. At this point, we need a very large effect, because the H2O-CO2 feedback loop is pretty ugly, and the effect also needs to be small enough to not notice. There's not really any candidate theories beyond absurdities like, "everything we know about thermodynamics is wrong," or "CO2 molecules have free will and like to play practical jokes on scientists". Failing that, I'm deeply sorry to say that AGW is real.

[0] https://www.skepticalscience.com/christy-crock-6-climate-sen... [1] http://www.rsc.org/images/Arrhenius1896_tcm18-173546.pdf

I guess you don't know "Pascal's Wager" argument for climate change.

Because this is equivalent of hearing "But Bible is real, God himself wrote that in the bible, how dare you suggest that there might be 1% chance of God not being real?" in an actual 'Pascal's wager' argument.

Do you know what empiricism is?

Do you know what a thought experiment is?

Are thought experiments empirical?


So then, thought experiments can be valuable aids to scientific understanding, but they can't establish the truth or falsehood of any empirical claim. The two statements, "I have faith that God exists," and "carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas" are not only not equivalent, they are not comparable.

But, even setting aside issues of validity, your premise is that there is a not-inconsiderable chance that global warming is not caused by humans, and this premise may be rejected. Error is inherent to measurement, but that does not mean that all statements are equally likely. You don't get to just say, "Assume that the error bars are convenient for my argument"; that's not how empiricism works. AGW is predicated on optics and thermodynamics, and saying that AGW is not true is equivalent to saying that there is a problem with our understanding of those topics. That's the sort of claim where you should really be very specific and have strong evidence, but really, if you're arguing with thermodynamics, you're going to have a bad time.

If you really want to offer a skeptical argument, it must be an empirical argument. In order to make a plausible empirical argument, you need to take into account all observations relating to that phenomenon. This can't be done without learning the science. There are empirical avenues which could lead to the invalidation of AGW (it was considered disproved for decades, after all), but thought experiments are not empirical.

If there's 1% chance that we're all mistaken how climate works, why would building levies would be a solution to anything? It means we literally have no idea what will happen, and there's no way to know if the levies will be high enough or if it will be needed at all. You will be wasting a trillion dollars in the off chance that (1) we don't understand climate and yet (2) the climate happens to do exactly the thing you prepared yourself for.

Meanwhile, cutting back on fossil fuel gives us real, measurable benefit in the 99% of cases, and won't even hurt us that much in the remaining 1%. Unless you think "The Earth's wind just stopped." is a possibility.

(The number is probably more like 99.9999 vs 0.0001%.)

Thanks for at least responding to my actual argument.

> It means we literally have no idea what will happen, and there's no way to know if the levies will be high enough or if it will be needed at all.

I got some big problems with the climate change mitigation methods which presume anthropogenic nature.

The biggest one being, we can reduce our Carbon emissions and stuff, but this solution requires EVERYONE to do it. One defection (like China or India) and it might result in everyone defecting or our solution becoming futile.

On the other hand 'building levies' (which is just a way to label the actions which try to fight climate change by negating its effect, require each individual country to act in their own interest and it can be effectively pulled off.

Argument against is simple: Mitigating effects climate change as you suggest will be extremely expensive. (Protecting cities from rising sea levels is really the least of problems...)

If we can do something much cheaper (prevent climate change) and there is a 99% chance of it working then of course you should; probibalistically...

Yet despite what the math says, the path the world is on is obviously to do nothing. The efforts done now to stop man-made global warming is a rounding error.... The Paris agreement is short of what is needed, and no country is close to fullfilling the Paris agreement.

So our children have to pay for the enormously more expensive mitigation instead.

> Mitigating effects climate change as you suggest will be extremely expensive.

But as I said, if there is 1% chance that climate change is not anthropogenic, then our actions would be futile.

Moreover, the literal argument you're making is what Climate Change skeptics make against curbing climate change measures.

Even IF it were occurring naturally the downside of curbing our contribution is that everything we do is significantly cleaner and we aren't precipitating the problem.

That's one of my biggest annoyance with deniers — worst case scenario is that we're doing something good for no reason.

It's about risk management. What you suggest would work in the 1% case (using your suggested 1% chance without debating it), but we would still need to do something about the 99% case.

This is called the precautionary principle.

The following article might be of help: https://friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/Arrhenius%2019... It was published in 1906... I.e the knowledge that CO2 causes warming which causes water vapor that in turn causes more warning is more than 100 years old!

Thanks, but how does it relate to my argument?

The first thing that jumps out at me, actually, is the use of a shorter time period than is likely available. From 1900 or 1920 to now is a pretty short time period.

We have (some) records dating back to the mid-1700s: https://www.archives.gov/research/guide-fed-records/groups/0...

"If you torture the data long enough, it will confess" - Ronald Coase

Meta question: am I being suckered by his presentation of an unsuckered baseline? What about 1850? 1800? 1200?

The article says his available data starts at 1895.

However, the point of the article is to reverse engineer a biased chart, and to show it's biased intentions. The article does not try to determine whether climate change is real or not (even though the author's opinion is obvious).

So it doesn't matter if the author's data is limited... it matters that the author of the biased chart has been cherry picked.

What part do climate change deniers deny? Is it that the mean global temperature is going up, or the idea that it is going up because of human activities? I thought it was the latter.

All of the above. I have seen denial that temperatures are rising at all, acceptance that it’s rising but denial that humans are causing it, acceptance of human cause but denial that the result is bad, and acceptance that it’s bad but denial that it’s worth doing anything about. And often from the same people!

It was the former and then the was overwhelming evidence. Then it was the latter... And now there's overwhelming evidence. So it's morphing into "it's too late there's nothing we can do!" Or it's not possible to organize etc. Still not helpful.

There's also "Yeah but it might be a good thing long-term" which was recently superseded by "But it's good for the economy and the market will fix it if it's really that bad.".

Or that things will be fine and the consequences are overhyped. And yeah some of them can be overhyped like sea level rise but overall it's still gonna be pretty dire if we do nothing.

Whatever is convenient in the moment so that they can continue doing nothing and selling oil or sticking it to those educated elites who don't know nothing about the real world.

They'll just keep moving the goalposts until it's too late to do anything about it (which was like twenty years ago anyway)

I suppose that for the people actively denying climate change it doesn't matter, actually: it's probably more effective to deny whatever is easiest to deny at any given time.

They must only practise the denial because making changes to reduce even a potential climate change does cost money, takes away privileges and benefits gained earlier, and threatens to change their way of living. And they don't want that.

If scientists were saying that there's a slight chance for an irreversible climate change to take place in the next 30-100 years, and it would be wise to do X, Y, and Z now in order to prevent or at least lessen the change, and X, Y, and Z can be done at a minimal cost (or paid by "someone else"), and X, Y, and Z will not change their lives except to ensure they won't be affected much by the potential climate change, then I could imagine no sane person would object to X, Y, and Z nor try to deny the possibility of the climate change itself.

Those who are anti-change are just willing to bet on the possibility that nothing drastic will eventually happen in order to spare themselves from changing their lives now, against a deadlier option that would spare the lives of future generations sometimes later. To do that, they must challenge the basic premises of the climate change itself. The most effective way to do that is to pick the lowest hanging fruit in the tree of facts and concoct reasons why the facts aren't actually true. Surely, proving one thing undeniably and absolutely correct would just cause them to pick another fact.

They're not interested in why climate change is not happening in particular as long as they can keep arguing so that they can execute their agenda of not having to change anything in their lives.

There's both kinds. Those who refuse to believe the mean average temperature is going up have been declining in numbers as the evidence becomes more and more irrefutable. So they have been jumping to the "OK but we can't know for sure that it is human activity causing it!" camp.

There's also a third camp, which says "OK I get it, human activity is causing temperatures to rise, but we can't really do anything meaningful to slow it down, much less reverse it!"

That last one is not denialism (maybe defeatism) and from my vantage point isn't too far from reality. I have yet to see any realistic proposed solution(s) to climate change.

> I have yet to see any realistic proposed solution(s) to climate change.

Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air [1] is a free book that has a good start on this

[1] https://www.withouthotair.com/

There is a lot of scientific evidence for that last point. (Which, ironically, puts environmentalists on the back foot, causing them to deny science because a big chunk of environmentalism is based on political ideology and not the science or economics of the environment.)

There's a large portion of them, including Trump, that have no interest in the science at all, to them it's just another of many baseless conspiracy theories they believe.

> What part do climate change deniers deny?

It's two fold issue. People question the level to which human activity contributes to climate and they question the remedy to it.

Obviously climate change has always happened. It happened before human existence, climate change occurred throughout human history and climate change will happen after humans aren't around. Nobody is denying climate change. Climate change denier is actually a propaganda term invented by one group to attack another. Similar to christ-denier and other "denier" attacks. I prefer the neutral terms "climate change proponent and opponent".

One of the major pushback against the human created climate change is that we were in an little ice age until the 19th century.



Climate change opponents say the warming is a result of the natural end to the ice age cycle as has happened for hundreds of thousands of years.


As you see, temperatures have declined and risen for hundreds of thousands of years ( with negligent human input ). So climate change opponents claim that the current climate change is just part of the climate's natural cycle.

Climate change proponents claim that the current warming is a result of human activity ( particularly fossil fuel based industrialization ). After all, we started using oil in the mid 1800s and temperatures started to rise since then. To climate change proponents, that's too much of a coincidence and they believe humans triggered the warming with fossil fuel use.

The second part is the remedy to climate change. Climate change proponents believe it is a "tragedy of commons" problem and we need a global system to manage the problem. Their solution is a global carbon tax system which manages and controls fossil fuel use and the global economy. Climate change opponents are against the globalist policies of climate change since it infringes on national sovereignty and gives too much power to a small group of globalists who can profit by trading on carbon credits/taxes/etc ( essentially another product for traders to gamble on ).

I'm sure I'll be attacked by both sides but this is essentially the core issues of the climate change debate. Is it a natural cycle vs human created? Is the remedy worse than the disease?

The rate of increase far exceeds what could be accounted for by the natural cycle, so there's no legitimate question for anyone both informed and intellectually honest about the subject about whether climate change is anthropogenic.

> Is the remedy worse than the disease?

Depends on where you live. In some places the entire way of life will be destroyed through drought or rising sea levels. In some places your gas may be a bit more expensive.

The problem is that the kind of people that would be convinced by proper graphs and analysis like this are not the kind of people that need convincing on this issue. They are not the type of people who value science, logic, or reason. No matter the evidence, they will place beliefs and unsubstantiated opinions ahead of evidence and in places like the US, where people are often taught that beliefs are equally or more important than evidence and facts, you get a culture of anti-intellectualism that supports policies that hurt the entirety of humanity. We should remind people that beliefs are just opinions and as the old adage goes, opinions are like assholes: everyone's got one and they're not particularly interesting or compelling. They certainly should not be the basis of policy.

This p-hacking without looking at the p-value, just graphs. Love it.

There’s a graph going around the internet from Steve Goddard a.k.a. Tony Heller, claiming to show that temperature in the U.S. has been declining, using only high temperatures, using only summertime temperatures, using only data since 1918, based on a simple average without taking into account new stations coming online or old stations retiring or area-weighting or any of that “expert” stuff

I like that this piece makes clear how conscious choices of which data to present (and which not to present) can make an argument more convincing without actually lying. I don't like that it makes accusations about a particular person doing so without the courtesy of linking to the person being accused. If your argument is strong, it's usually better to let the reader judge for themselves whether your accusation is accurate. Failing to do so can undermine an otherwise strong argument.

I'm not familiar with Goddard/Heller. Searching for Tony Heller, I find https://realclimatescience.com. It includes a lot of graphs very similar to the ones Tamino dissects. The ones I saw were going day by day, looking at average temperatures for that day over the last 100 years. It's good to know that the start date might have been cherry picked to make the graph look better, and that this is based on raw unadjusted data, but it doesn't seem inherently unfair to use a particular day rather than the average for the entire year.

Is there a better "smoking gun" where he makes the more grandiose claims that Tamino accuses him of doing? Maybe, but without a direct link I wasn't able to find it. And in the absence of better evidence, as long as the graph is clearly labelled "Summer Average Maximum Temperature", I have to say that it seems unlikely that he's actually guilty of "claiming to show that temperature in the U.S. has been declining", and more likely that he is making the more direct claim that summer highs have not been increasing. Which given recent newspaper headlines, I do find to be an interesting counterpoint.

Searching for Steven Goddard, I find this: https://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/who-is-steven-goddard/. I like that he clearly links his pen name to his real identity, and makes clear his scientific and environmental background, and admits that he is not actually a climate scientist. Does "Tamino" have a similar page? Who is he, and what is his background? It felt odd for one pseudonymous author to be calling attention to the fact that someone else was using a pseudonym. At this point, based on a tiny amount of research, I feel a little more comfortable with Heller/Goddard than with Tamino.

I imagine the blog post already assumes some familiarity with the people concerned, as this particular circus with arguing about global warming has been going on for a long time by now.

This site has malicious ads on it.


You're getting downvoted, probably because you're bringing politics into a political issue, and generalizing when clearly there are many educated republicans who believe in climate change, maybe more than there are climate change deniers. But you also raise a fair point, how many democrat climate change deniers are there? A very rare species indeed. Bottom line, identity politics suck!

Politics aside, I'm aware of precisely one prominent organization in the world that promotes climate change denial.

Or Americans, as it seems rejection of science around climate is disproportionally high in the USA.

People causing climate change, otherwise known as Everybody.

I’m a conservative, and vegan. I relate to most Democrats on issues of conservation, yet most of them won’t go vegan or ride public transit, etc. Democrats don’t have a moral high ground simply because they believe in climate change. I want them to make it the biggest priority of our generation through their actions.

That's the problem with anti-government ideology. We are not going to fix this via personal responsibility and individual action. The only solution is through collective action and that probably means the government because "the market" doesn't care about negative externalities like pollution.

I appreciate that you care about stabilizing the climate and have personally taken actions that contribute to that goal. I also appreciate that you're politically conservative but consider climate an important issue. I lament that the partisan polarization around this issue means we're missing ideas for solutions from half the country's population. Not every good idea about slowing/countering climate change is going to align with pre-existing strains of thought among left-leaning voters and politicians. I wish that there were more conservative politicians and voters pushing ideas for solutions that align with their backgrounds.

That said, I don't think that it's necessary or sufficient to deal with climate change by making individual lifestyle changes, without prompting from legislation. The problem of emissions is a collective action problem. Trying to fix it one person at a time is like trying to fix 20th century air quality in the Los Angeles Basin without legislation. If residents of LA supported mandatory catalytic converters on new cars, but didn't individually retrofit their own cars (or stop driving), that's not because they were un-serious about the problem. It's because they recognized that one-person-at-a-time solutions weren't going to work.

Yes but the more that people make personal changes and influence those around them so it’s on the front of our minds, the more likely we are to normalize it and get legislation passed.

I'd start improving my personal moral high ground by stopping supporting the largest and most powerful group of climate deniers on the planet, funded by the companies and interests that have an interest in keeping their voters ignorant of the real issues. It's no coincidence that 69% of conservatives think climate change is not real, whereas only 5% of democrats do.

But hey, that's just me.

You proved my point. Democrats think they are doing something by voting, and the politicians make the voters feel good by tossing them a bone once in a while (banning straws lol) but nothing is changing. Btw I’m not a republican and don’t vote republican. I’m a cherry picking voter.

> but nothing is changing

Since 1995 Republicans have controlled both the house and senate almost exclusively[1]. Could this have something to do with it?

Also I'm not saying be a democrat, but exercise your vote for the party that doesn't encourage climate denial at all levels. And I think some of the democrat policies on climate change went above and beyond 'banning straws lol'.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_power_in_the_United_...

And they are trying to convince me using charts with a truncated y axis? How about doing it with charts that are not misleading?

What would you propose for a zero value on the Y axis? The only number that actually makes sense is zero Kelvin (since 0C and 0F are just arbitrary numbers). At that scale you will not see anything. But that doesn't mean nothing is happening.

The charts are fine.

>At that scale you will not see anything. But that doesn't mean nothing is happening.

But then you can't say such things like "red line is rising scary fast", which is another example of manipulative language. With enough Y-axis magnification you can make anything rising or dropping "scary fast".

At a 0-100 Celsius scale, or whatever is the equivalent in Fahrenheit, there will be an almost impossible to see increase over the time span of 100 years.

I'm not saying nothing is happening, but those charts are completely deceiving.

How would you chart your body temperature? Starting with 0 kelvin? Then you could conclude that all is well because you can't spot a 2 degree increase, right?

What worries me more than climate change is the radioactive waste being pumped into the ocean daily for 6 years and no one is talking about it.

Look at the temperature chart for the last 10,000 years, the greenland core ice temperature, GISP2 for example, and you'll see a completely different picture.

Everything looks extreme when looked at a very small scale...


Here’s the GISP2 data, plus samples from the past two centuries.

Still seems pretty extreme to me.

I think this one shows it even better: http://hot-topic.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/GRIPtempBo...

And yes, there's a fast climb, but it's not the only instance in history, look at 800AD, 200AD, and a lot more in the past, it seems to be the way the temp fluctuates, very sharply.

If we get back to the 10,000 years chart, do the last 150 years seems off the chart? If anything, it shows that we're cooler than the last 10,000 years.

A graph that starts at 1840 doesn't show the past 10 000 years at all -- in the long view, that's all just a bunch of noise. What happened to the 'completely different picture' that the 10 000 year view held?

Here's the 10 000 same graph with some colours https://i.imgur.com/GWhaGCU.png Blue periods were colder than 2009. Yellow periods were warmer. The past 10 000 years were mostly colder than 2009, and we've only gotten warmer since then.

And... precedent isn't the main issue here. Those large bumps have causes. This time, the cause is us. It's up to us [collectively] whether we want this.

Maybe the Roman Period's ~-29.75C represents a better climate for humanity than the 1855 levels. That's right around that '2 degree limit' people talk about. If that's a target, it's about time to transition out of making 'as much CO2 possible as fast as possible'.


Doggerland was submerged 5,000 BC because of water rising due to the ice cap melting...

Great. More 'ammo' for climate change deniers to take out of context and spread around.

Most folks would not bother with trying to understand the points this article is making when presented with the 'no change here' graph. HN readers are not 'most folks' so this type of data manipulation is obvious and wrong to many here.

Well, the ammo was already out there (last graph). The nice thing about this is that it's ammo for the rest of us (it explains that last graph and where it came from). This is one of the problems in debating people with counterfactual beliefs.

They'll start with false assumptions, but often everything after those assumptions are reasonably sound applications of logic and math. They may not even know what those assumptions are (as in the case of the flawed, final graph). They see a trend line that confirms their belief. The flawed assumption is that the data used to produce the trend line is itself sound and reasonable. Knowing where the data came from, why it's problematic, you can present counter evidence to their false beliefs.

I wouldn't say that - he's basically reverse engineered the graph that a climate change denier is already using for evidence and shown how it's basically cherry-picked BS.

Clearly the denialists are already well-versed with this particular approach.

I don't even believe that people that produce such graphs are real deniers. I think there is a lot of money to be made by for people like this and they are in the "climate denier industry". Someone going out of their way to produce a graph like that must know what they are doing and have ulterior motives.

Isn't this doing the opposite by showing how one can play tricks with various time windows and such. The exact kind of stuff deniers would do to "prove" their point.

Right, my point being that most folks would not bother with trying to understand the points this article is making, and instead take the graph showing 'nothing to see here' and run with it.

Ah, I see the point. In that respect it would have been better if they had illustrated the trick with a hypothetical widgets produced by a factory scenario than jump straight into climate change.

This is a very nice blog post. Quite instructive. Recently, several times I’ve run into people tell me that temps in the U.S. are rising and I’ve wondered why they make such a claim. The blog sources the claim and overall the point I take from the blog post is that it’s easy to deceive people since people seek, by and large, confirmation of preconceived ideas rather than the truth.

I don’t think you actually understood it. Its point is that the temperature really is rising, and you have to resort to tricks to show that it’s not.

I think my comment has been badly misinterpreted given the down voting. I’ve reread my post and I’m not sure why it has been so misinterpreted. Clearly I failed to convey my intent. Obviously the blog post is about how one can construct a misleading graph by cherry picking data.

The blog shows how one can cleverly display data to reinforce a prior belief. In this case the prior belief is that temperature is not rising. Recently I’ve encountered a number of people making the claim that temps have been declining. I’ve wondered why this claim is being made and now I know the source. As shown in the blog post the source is a purposefully misleading graph. As stated by the author this misleading graph has recently been making the rounds on the internet.

I think you must have forgotten a “not” or otherwise made a typo that reversed the meaning of your comment.

“Recently, several times I’ve run into people tell me that temps in the U.S. are rising and I’ve wondered why they make such a claim.”

As written, your comment sounds like you don’t understand why someone would say temperatures are rising, and ascribe it to confirmation bias rather than climate change.

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