October 11, 2006
A Collective Research Project
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change
In an earlier thread this week, I made a plea for people to recognize the symbolic weight carried by the phrase "climate change denial." The conversation has been quite interesting.
As an exercise in research on symbolic politics, I'd like to use this thread to see if we can collectively track the exact origins of the phrases "climate change denial" and "climate change deniers". (Thanks to those of you who got this started on the nearlier thread!) Please use the comment section here for this research challenge. Please use the earlier thread for continued discussions of the broader issue. Let's see what we can learn together.Posted on October 11, 2006 08:36 AM
Sent in by a reader:
From Pimm & Harvey's review of Bjorn Lomborg's book in Nature, 8 November 2001:
Name those who have died!; demands a hypothetical critic, who then scorns the discrepancy between those few we know by name and the unnamed millions we infer.
Steve Schneider has the full review in PDF at
Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr. at October 11, 2006 01:34 PM
A quick check on lexis/nexis
An unpleasant whiff of the dragon's breath Toronto Star September 7, 2002 Saturday
INDUSTRY'S GREEN LIGHT FOR CHANGE Evening News (Edinburgh) November 10, 2000, Friday
First in the US press
First in press with a connection to the holocaust
Posted by: Joseph O'Sullivan at October 11, 2006 02:09 PM
Sept 22, 2001
"The Psychology of Denial"
"we can expect widespread denial when the enormity and nature of the problem are so unprecedented that people have no cultural mechanisms for accepting them. In Beyond Judgment, Primo Levi, seeking to explain the refusal of many European Jews to recognize their impending extermination, quotes an old German adage: ‘Things whose existence is not morally possible cannot exist.’
In the case of climate change, then, we can intellectually accept the evidence of climate change, but we find it extremely hard to accept our responsibility for a crime of such enormity. Indeed, the most powerful evidence of our denial is the failure to even recognize that there is a moral dimension with identifiable perpetrators and victims. The language of ‘climate change’, ‘global warming’, ‘human impacts’, and ‘adaptation’ are themselves a form of denial familiar from other forms of human rights abuse; they are scientific euphemisms that suggest that climate change originates in immutable natural forces rather than in a direct causal relationship with moral implications for the perpetrator."
Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr. at October 11, 2006 02:27 PM
Here is a list of "deniers":
The WWW is linked to the George Marshall who wrote the article linked in the previous comment:
"HALL OF SHAME
Keeping track of the journalists and academics who promote their careers by denying climate change.
One would think that no one could continue to seriously deny our addiction to fossil fuels is damaging the world's climate systems. Who could be arrogant enough to ignore the consensus of 2,000 climate scientists and all the world's scientific institutions; blind enough to miss the melting permafrost, the shrinking glaciers, the regular freak weather?
Yet, as always, there is a small group of people happy to distort the truth to promote themselves and build their careers. Some are directly funded by the fossil fuel industries. Some are self promoting egotists seeking attention. Some just want to be controversial and fill a newspaper column.
Their arguments also differ. A declining number claim that there is no climate change at all. Some accept climate change but say that it will be beneficial. Most say that there may be some small change, but that it has been exagerated for political reasons. The claim that the causes are still unknown and that it is probably a natural cycle.
All of the deniers- we refuse to grace them with their chosen name, "skeptics"- are dangerous for they create a false debate around the existence of climate change and divert attention from the real debate: "What are we going to do about climate change?".
On this page Rising Tide keeps a regularly undated record of these deniers. We believe they must be made accountable for the damage they cause."
Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr. at October 11, 2006 02:40 PM
"I made a plea for people to recognize the symbolic weight carried by the phrase "climate change denial.""
That seems a rather self-aggrandising way to say "I jumped on a right-wing bandwagon that's been spun up by the usual suspects over the last few days"
You'll no doubt be disappointed to see that you are down to 4 or so in Google's ranking, but that is out of 45 hits now.
I carelessly wrote that the origin of this particular phrase was "a few weeks ago": it was actually close to a year (it can be found buried on the 3rd page of the google search), during which time it seems to have been completely ignored until some people decided to get excited about it just a few days ago.
I refer you again to the wikipedia page on "denial" which makes no reference whatsoever to the holocaust:
Posted by: James Annan at October 11, 2006 03:58 PM
Please have a look at the sources cited above from as early as 2001 which make very clear that the phrase "climate change denial" was invoked explcitly in reference to the Holocaust.
You might also read Tokyo Tom's thoughtful observations of October 11, 2006 06:13 AM.
Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr. at October 11, 2006 04:13 PM
The "denial" terminology dates back at least to 1991, and was used by Clinton at least as far back as 2000 (not the precise form of words, but the same meaning). Under-Secretary of state for global affairs Tim Wirth said much the same in 1997. Clinton also used it in 1998 with reference to the Y2K problem.
I don't deny that some of the users also referred to the Holocaust as another example of denial, but I'm intrigued as to why you choose this week - just after Brendan O'Neill's article, which dredged up a year-old comment - to get so worked up by it. It would at the least be polite to cite your sources, no?
I'm also puzzled why, if the use of the term denial is considered to be so intimately and inevitably linked to the Holocaust, this is nowhere mentioned on the relevant wikipedia page (which doesn't even bother to link to its own page on "holocaust denial"!), or any common dictionary definition.
Posted by: James Annan at October 11, 2006 07:48 PM
The phrase with a symbolic allusion to the Holocaust is "climate change denial" not simply the word "denial." Phrases have meaning that goes beyond the simple dictionary definitions of words. The words "separate" and "equal" have precise dictionary definitions, but here in the United States the phrase "separate but equal" has immense symbolic meaning well beyond the dictionary definitions.
What sources would you like me to cite? I don't think I follow ...
Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr. at October 11, 2006 08:14 PM
It was "climate change deniER" the first time. I did ask you how specific you were meaning to be about the precise form of words, but you didn't respond.
I'm relieved to hear that such constructions as "in denial about climate change" are considered acceptable, although as I said right at the start, it's not always the most constructive or appropriate way to debate. Some people aren't interested in debate, though.
As for sources, the obvious one would be wherever you picked up this recent whiff of faux outrage from. Probably Benny Peiser's comment, but that is obviously going to be left for us to guess...
Posted by: James Annan at October 11, 2006 08:29 PM
James- I think I mentioned this in my original post -- I saw the phrase in a peer reviewed "science" paper, this week again at Real Climate, and I'm pretty sure it was invoked in Al Gore's movie which I saw about a week ago. In my view it is an improper way to debate climate politics. You may disagree and I respect that, but please have the courtesy to return the favor. Thanks.
Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr. at October 11, 2006 10:01 PM
The following links are worth a quick look:
Nuremberg-Style Trials Proposed for Global Warming Skeptics
Posted by: David Cherney at October 11, 2006 10:21 PM
Posted by: William Connolley at October 12, 2006 02:20 AM
William, I had thought that "septic" was also derived from SEPP.
Roger, how about a thread on all of the invective thrown by the climate change skeptics? My impression is that it has always been worse, and more deliberate, although the weight seems to be shifting.
Posted by: TokyoTom at October 12, 2006 06:12 AM
And, to add to your list of recent instances, Hansen uses the term in his upcoming WorldWatch article ( http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/worldwatch_nov2006.pdf ). To me, in the scientific realm of things, there are very few deniers of anthropogenic global warming, but a whole lot of people who deny that as a result the world is going to heck in a handbag...To me, the issue has become extremely polarized over the past year or two (even more so than it had been), such that the alarmists allow for no middle ground. You are either with them, or you are against them. Evidence the increased use of characterizations like "climate change denier" or "tobacco industry scientists" or "old fossil" or "global warming contrarian" etc.
Posted by: Chip Knappenberger at October 12, 2006 07:55 AM
James Hansen writes in his WorldWatch opinion piece:
"Perhaps the NASA playbook was left open late one day, and by chance the line 'to understand and protect our home planet' was erased by the slimy belly of a slug crawling in the night."
Posted by: Mark Bahner at October 12, 2006 10:17 AM
A quick follow up to my search on "climate denial"
I found about 40 articles that used the phrase "climate denial" in the popular press, but only two made any reference to the holocaust. One was the Monbiot editorial the other was from a letter to the editor.
Posted by: Joseph O'Sullivan at October 12, 2006 10:19 AM
Re the "Rising Tide Hall of Shame" above I find it amusing that it states "Tom Wigley, one of the leading IPCC scientists, describes (Pat) Michaels (sic) work as "a catalog of misrepresentation and misinterpretation"." when he himself continues to muddy the water, most recently by proclaiming the solar influence angle dead because the solar amplitude variation is just too small. This totally misses the point, and must be intentional, as I don't think he's that ignorant of the solar influence discussion, which is of damping cosmic rays, shown most recently here:
Posted by: Steve Hemphill at October 12, 2006 11:18 AM
"I refer you again to the wikipedia page on "denial" which makes no reference whatsoever to the holocaust"
Good grief, James Annan, when did "Wikipedia," an anonymous source that anyone can anonymously modify at will, become canonical?
Posted by: Pete Petrakis at October 12, 2006 04:40 PM
Chip, thanks for the link to Hansen's Worldwatch piece. While Hansen makes two references to climate denial, surely you must have noted that, at least when he is referring to scientists he was trying to use the term "contrarian"?
Mark, yeah, Hansen's rhetoric there and in other places is a bit thick, isn't it? Besides being a piece of advocacy, do you suppose it might be because Hansen might fairly perceive that he is under direct attack from this Administration for refusing to be silent about climate change? Don't you find the change in the NASA mission statement and budget cuts targetted to his department, which is yielding important data, rather troubling? He is clearly being attacked by Michaels as well - are his counterarguments unfair?
And aren't you cherry-picking as well? Do you disagree with the whole piece? Did you not appreciate Hansen's statement that he "was being gently critical of a tendency of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change climate simulations to emphasize only cases with very large increases of climate forcings"?
Roger, I'm curious of what you think of the distinction Hansen tries to draw between "contrarians" and "skeptics" - skepticism being good:Contrarians address global warming as if they were lawyers, not scientists. A lawyer’s job often is to defend a client, not seek the truth. Instead of following Richard Feynman’s dictum on scientific objectivity (“The only way to have real success in science…is to describe the evidence very carefully without regard to the way you feel it should be”), contrarians present only evidence that supports their desired conclusion. Skepticism, an inherent aspect of scientific inquiry, should be carefully distinguished from contrarianism. Skepticism, and the objective weighing of evidence, are essential for scientific success. Skepticism about the existence of global warming and the principal role of human-made greenhouse gases has diminished as empirical evidence and our understanding have advanced. However, many aspects of global warming need to be understood better, including the best ways to minimize climate change and its consequences. Legitimate skepticism will always have an important role to play.The Hansen tries to stress the importance of skepticism is obviously good; how well he himself is able to remain a skeptic rather than to act as lawyer seeking to defend a fixed world view is another matter.
Posted by: TokyoTom at October 12, 2006 08:23 PM
Oops, forgot that no htlm is processed, so my blockquote of Hansen failed. For clarity, this part is Hansen's:
"Contrarians address global warming as if they were lawyers, not scientists. A lawyer’s job often is to defend a client, not seek the truth. Instead of following Richard Feynman’s dictum on scientific objectivity (“The only way to have real success in science…is to describe the evidence very carefully without regard to the way you feel it should be”), contrarians present only evidence that supports their desired conclusion. Skepticism, an inherent aspect of scientific inquiry, should be carefully distinguished from contrarianism. Skepticism, and the objective weighing of evidence, are essential for scientific success. Skepticism about the existence of global warming and the principal role of human-made greenhouse gases has diminished as empirical evidence and our understanding have advanced. However, many aspects of global warming need to be understood better, including the best ways to minimize climate change and its consequences. Legitimate skepticism will always have an important role to play."
Posted by: TokyoTom at October 12, 2006 08:39 PM
We could devise quite an interesting taxonomy of deniers, contrarians, skeptics, and on and on. But what would be the point? Would members of some of these groups be "defined" as beyond the scientific pale?
The fact that (good) lawyers focus on defending their clients needs to be seen within the context of the adversarial method of approaching truth. It's not so different from Popper's vision of how science progresses. We'd object (I hope) if an attorney was ejected from the courtroom for being too vigorous about defending a client -- though we'd still (I hope) recognize the difference between defending one's client and defaming one's lawyerly adversary.
Posted by: bob koepp at October 13, 2006 08:01 AM
TT and others,
Am I (or Pat and I) alone in thinking that the excerpted quote that Hansen takes offense to in his WorldWatch piece (page 29) does not unfairly represent the nature of his entire paragraph (that he reproduces)? Clearly (to me at least), Hansen implies that exaggerating the potential consequences was OK to get people's attention at one time, but now that he has garnered the attention, it is time for straight talk and more accurate assessment of the problem. So why believe him now? Maybe he is still trying to get attention? Does anyone else think that a 25+/-10 meter sea-level rise with a 2-3C of warming is realistic, with a significant portion of it coming in the next century? (see paragraph 57 of his recent California testimony available here: http://www.climatecrisiscoalition.org/hansen/vermont_14aug20061_textwfigs.pdf ) The IPCC TAR projects a median sea-level rise of about 19 inches this century.
Hansen asks (in his WorldWatch piece, p.29):
I am honestly interested in the answer to that question from "intellegent readers." Hansen seems to ask it as rhetorical, I am interested in the real responses.
Thanks in advance for anyone's (everyone's) comments.
Posted by: Chip Knappenberger at October 13, 2006 09:03 AM
After thinking about this for the past several days, I realized that I do not know of one single 'climate change denialist'! Can any of you name a single scientist that denies that climate changes?
I don't think you can!
That is why this phrase is an ad hominem attack, regardless of a link to the holocaust, either real or imagined. The whole purpose of putting those three words together is to make someone who disagrees with you appear stupid!
Also, if you reverse Hansen's argument, it is just as true. Both sides are skeptical of each others points of view and choose to highlight the data that supports their claims. Those commonly referred to as 'skeptics' tend to highlight data that shows significant natural climate variability and strong solar forcing, while downplaying theory and the results of computer models. The consensus view tends to do just the opposite.
If we accept Hansen's premise, then we must conclude that there are no scientists involved in the climate change debate at all, only lawyers! Therefore, I do not accept his premise!
Posted by: Jim Clarke at October 13, 2006 05:41 PM
You write, "Mark, yeah, Hansen's rhetoric there and in other places is a bit thick, isn't it?"
Yes, it's appalling. A scientist simply shouldn't be using language like that.
"Besides being a piece of advocacy, do you suppose it might be because Hansen might fairly perceive that he is under direct attack from this Administration for refusing to be silent about climate change?"
Well, besides it being appalling, it even seems pretty dumb to me. Let's look at two possibilities: a) James Hansen's budget is going down because someone doesn't like him personally, or b) James Hansen's budget is going down simply because people are honestly having to make tough calls, and emphasize the "new priority" of manned space missions to the moon and Mars.
*Either way,* James Hansen has basically called the people who have made the funding decisions slimy slugs, crawling in the night. Does he really think that's likely to boost his funding?
"Don't you find the change in the NASA mission statement and budget cuts targetted to his department, which is yielding important data, rather troubling?"
As I've mentioned, I am--or was--a Libertarian. It wouldn't trouble me too terribly much if all funding to NASA was eliminated. (See postscript for a personal anecdote.) I particularly wouldn't mind, since the Constitution includes nothing that authorizes the type of work NASA does. Also, I've also said that if NASA does spend any money, I'd wish they'd spend it on developing fusion rockets (and possibly space elevators).
That said, James Hansen does interesting research (to me, anyway), from what I know of it. So there are plenty of things the government does that I think are a much bigger waste of money.
"He is clearly being attacked by Michaels as well - are his counterarguments unfair?"
His counterarguments to Michaels? No, I don't think so:
1) Regarding the three projections, cut down to one: Assuming James Hansen is accurately depicting situation correctly, and that Patrick Michaels deliberately chose to present only one of three projections, and then attacked just that projection (without even mentioning the others), I think that was really, really (really!) wrong! Patrick Michaels shouldn't ever have done that. And if he did, he should have acknowledged the (serious) misrepresentation.
2) Regarding the quote:
"Emphasis on extreme scenarios may have been appropriate at one time, when the public and decision-makers were relatively unaware of the global warming issue, and energy sources such as “synfuels,” shale oil, and tar sands were
...I think both sides (Michaels and Hansen) have a legitimate point. (I'll address that in a comment to Chip.) But more importantly, they both essentially ignore the far more important fact about which they BOTH agree...that the IPCC TAR scenarios are not realistic.
"And aren't you cherry-picking as well? Do you disagree with the whole piece?"
Well, the thread is about name-calling, so I thought the slimy slug was the most relevant bit. (Although that isn't about the Holocaust, so I guess even that wasn't directly relevant. ;-))
P.S. A little piece of personal history: I got my Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1981, and had several job offers: one was with Babcock and Wilcox's Advanced Energy Systems group in Barberton, OH. Another was with the Westinghouse Steam Turbine Division outside Philly. (They were actually mentioned in the film "Invincible.") (And they told me they were moving to Orlando one year after they asked me to join.)
I joined B&W, mainly because I thought their work was more interesting. The work that I did with them was on MHD...magnetohydrodynamics. It was being funded by the Department of Energy to the tune of $81 million per year when I joined B&W. Two months after I joined, the MHD budget was ZEROED OUT (this was in the days of David Stockman, Ronald Reagan's director of OMB). I ended up being laid off two months later. And if I saw David Stockman today, I'd tell him the story, and tell him I think he's a good man. MHD was never going to be commercial. (Plus, there's nothing in the Constitution that authorizes Congress to spend money on energy systems.)
Posted by: Mark Bahner at October 13, 2006 07:48 PM
I am honestly interested in the answer to that question from "intellegent readers."
I will nominate myself as a candidate for intelligent reader and answer you that I do not take that as advocating exageration nor do I think it can fairly be read that way. Exagerating what may happen is *not* equivalent to emphasizing an extreme possibility, even if it is improbable. The future is unknown and given a range of possible outcomes from *very* bad to mild or even harmless, emphasizing an extreme is not equivalent to exagerating and is a perfectly reasonable approach to making people wake up to a danger.
If my teenager is considering driving home from a party drunk and I tell him "don't do it, you could get killed" am I exagerating? No, I am emphasizing an extreme possible outcome in the hopes of getting his attention focused on rational risk assessment.
On top of this, the context of this statement from Hansen is a mild *criticism* of the approach taken by the IPCC, so one can not even be sure if he ever really endorsed this approach. He says it "may have been appropriate at one time", hardly a ringing advocation of anything, let alone scare mongering.
Posted by: coby at October 13, 2006 09:56 PM
Chip, thanks for the question. Hansen says he was "gently criticizing" the IPCC, a position that is defendable, particularly as he is pointing out how the IPCC scenarios were wrong - even if his statement may not seem convincing.
I think that the most that can be said is that his choice of words does not indicate strong disapproval of the use of extreme scenarios in the past, and perhaps even shows some sympathy for others who may have seen a "need" for such use, but I think he skated carefully enough that it is not justifiable to read that to say that he supported the use of extreme scenarios (perhaps he actually did, but some other evidence is needed).
I certainly do not think that these strong conclusions drawn by Pat Michaels in his American Spectator piece are in the least justifiable on the basis of Hansen`s statment:
"Hansen has himself advocated the use of exaggeration and propaganda as political tools in the debate over global warming."
"Hansen thought the public should be subjected to nightmare scenarios regardless of the scientific likelihood of catastrophe, simply in order to gain people's attention."
"[Hansen] admits to having misrepresented the facts in the past".
Chip, do you think that Michael`s accusations are justified by Hansen`s statement? My own view is that these accusations are libelous, and that Hansen would prevail if he chose to press a claim, unless there is some other support out there (other than Hansen`s statement in Sciam) that Michaels isn`t sharing with us.
Posted by: TokyoTom at October 14, 2006 10:25 AM
Time will tell whether http://risingtide.org.uk/pages/voices/hall_shame.htm is rightly blaming a few of denying the ‘truth’ in climate change matters, or whether those who focus on few decades warming, with no interest in explaining the global cooling from 1940 to 1980 in the first place, should be not taken too seriously. An excerpt from a book published by IUniverse this month indicates that a wider view must be taken to identify culprits, for example, Adolf Hitler’s deputy, as the following text explains:
“War at sea determined two major climate changes: one in 1918, at the end of World War I, and the other in 1939, at the beginning of World War II. If the oceans, as driving force of the climate, had influenced scientific research since the early days of meteorology, 150 years ago, then it would have been possible to stress that the advent of the two World Wars and the extensive fighting at sea were a real threat for the normal course of the climate…….
One cold wave after the other took hold of Northern Europe in what was called an arctic climate, since mid-December 1939. Nothing similar has happened in more than 100 years. Only three months earlier, more than 1000 naval vessels went out on sea and turned the waters of the North- and Baltic Sea upside-down. Day and night, week after week, many thousands of ships criss-crossed these seas, millions of “sea fountains” sprang up, being caused by shells, bombs, depth charges, sea mines, torpedoes. Ships and airplanes sank to the sea bottom with hundreds. ……
How could the course of international conflicts have been managed if the world’s leading statesmen of the 20th century had been concerned with the climatic changes due to the impact that a war at sea could have had on the ocean and on the climate? Could World War II have been prevented if global climate change had been as much a concern as it is today? Or would the leaders have tried to persuade the navies at war to leave oceans and seas out of the conflict? Would Hitler have reconsidered his war aims if the United States had warned him of their immediate implication in the war in case his decision had been to launch 1000 naval ships out on sea in an attack that risked generating a substantial climatic shift?…..
It is an irony that the deputy and chief of German Armed Forces, Herman Goering , in a speech designed to boost the morale of the German population striving to overcome the unbelievable difficulties of a cold and snowy winter, could get away with the statement he made on the 15th of February 1940: “”Nature is still more powerful than man. I can fight man but I cannot fight nature when I lack the means to carry out such a battle. We did not ask for ice, snow and cold – A higher power sent it to us.””
Posted by: Arnd B at October 15, 2006 02:12 AM
Jim, I think your post, to a lesser degree than those of Benny Peiser, reflects the difficulties we have with our perceptions. You say:
"I realized that I do not know of one single 'climate change denialist'! Can any of you name a single scientist that denies that climate changes?"
"If we accept Hansen's premise, then we must conclude that there are no scientists involved in the climate change debate at all, only lawyers! Therefore, I do not accept his premise!"
"That is why this phrase is an ad hominem attack, regardless of a link to the holocaust, either real or imagined. The whole purpose of putting those three words together is to make someone who disagrees with you appear stupid!"
You`ve mixed two different strands of discourse: (1) Hansen`s, which contrasts "contrarians" who acts as if they were lawyers with true scientists who are always skeptical and open to testing their views, and (2) Robert`s and Gelbspan`s attack on the commercial "climate change denial lobby".
Roberts and Gelbspam put those three words together since they are directly attacking the bona fides of the "denial lobby", and not to make such debaters seem stupid. Since they are partly attacking non-scientists who are paid for their speech, perhaps it is not surprising that you do not consider any scientists to be "climate change denialists". But your defense is simply non-apropos of the accusation (and those who nake it). You call their attack "ad hominem", but is it really? Is there no climate denial lobby such as Gelbspan describes? But in any case, please note that they are not addressing scientists qua scientists, but a lobby group.
On the other hand, Hansen focusses on "contrarians" and skeptics; his implication is that most scientists are skeptics, but some are rather contrary and there may be some (perhaps Michaels) who are "hard-core global warming contrarians" with "an agenda other than scientific truth. Their target is the public.
Is Michaels an active climate scientist, working hard on research and with an open mind, or someone acting like a lawyer to win a PR battle, in which he has all the truths he needs to know? What are your thoughts? Hansen doesn`t draw a conclusion, but simply indicates a direction. But somehow I think he has a case that there may be a few scientists who act more as contrarians than as true, skeptical scientists.
Do you still think that Hansen is making a personal attack on all scientists who disagree with him, and trying to make them look stupid or worse, lawyers?
Posted by: TokyoTom at October 15, 2006 02:57 AM
Mark, thanks for the rather even-handed response. I agree that there should be no sacred cows in our federal budget, and should be doing a much better job of prioritizing. I appreciate your concession that Hansen is correct to perceive he`s under attack; I agree as well that his response may not be the most judicious one even while it may be emotionally satisfying to him.
But when you say "A scientist simply shouldn't be using language like that", I would simply note that this is an open piece of advocacy, not science, and he is defending himself against attacks that he probabbly fairly perceives as personal.
In addition, I would note that language such as that is rather limited in his piece, whereas Michael`s work seems much more venomous. Do you think that Michaels is even more guilty that Hansen, or do you have a different, more lenient standard for him, since he seems to be much more of an advocate and much less of a scientist?
Posted by: TokyoTom at October 15, 2006 03:08 AM
In addition to my earlier contribution it is a great pity to observe that the eminent climatologist Prof. James Hansen: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/worldwatch_nov2006.pdf, seems to miss decisive points ever since he stated on June 23, 1988, before a US Senate Committee, that a greenhouse effect was beginning to develop and that he was 99% certain of this.
(Hansen, page 26) However, many aspects of global warming need to be understood better, including the best ways to minimize climate change and its consequences. Legitimate skepticism will always have an important role to play.
(Hansen: Page 29) Graph: Annual Mean Global Temperature Change.
(Hansen, page 31) We need to make clear to them (business leaders) the legal and moral liabilities that accrue with continued denial of global warming. It is time for business leaders to chuck contraries and focus on the business challenges and opportunities.
Posted by: Arnd B at October 15, 2006 02:20 PM
Another link of interest to the topic:
Posted by: Steve Gaalema at October 15, 2006 08:22 PM
Thanks for your response. Upon reading Dr. Michaels' American Spectator piece, his language is hot, but not entirely unsupported by Hansen's quote. It doesn't seem to me that Hansen scolded the IPCC by stating the emphasis on extreme scenarios was inappropriate and that the public and decision-makers should have always been given the most accurate guidance. Instead, he says that "it may have been appropriate at one time" basically to get everyone's attention. I can't read Michaels' extracted sentence, or Hansen's entire paragraph and come to any different conclusion. I will say that it doesn't appear that Hansen claimed in his SciAm article that he, personally, had ever fed extreme scenarios to the public in order to get their attention. I guess it is a matter of debate whether he has used that tactic (recall his 25m +/- 10m sea level rise projection, et al.), but, Michaels was probably a bit strong in implying that he (Hansen) admitted he did so in his SciAm article. But, I guess that is a matter of opinion. Had Hansen come out and was firmly against emphasis of extreme scenarios, rather than, as you say, skate around the issue, then perhaps(!) some of this could have been avoided.
Posted by: Chip Knappenberger at October 16, 2006 02:10 PM
You and your websites posit that human activities, particularly military, in stirring the North and Black Seas played the major role in the period of global cooling that followed. That is an intersting thesis that I would like to hear more of.
However, may I suggest that what you propose is not inconsistent with other anthropogenic forcings, led by GHGs and changes in albedo? Cannot man force the climate in more than one direction? Thus, I see no necessary conflict between your thesis and that of AGW.
You imply that "those who focus on few decades warming, with no interest in explaining the global cooling from 1940 to 1980 in the first place, should be not taken too seriously" - yet I fail to see your support for this among climate scientists, whom I understand to be quite interested in understanding the period of cooling that you mention (with Northern Hemisphere air pollution and particulates thrown into the atmosphere by nuclear testing being offered as suggestions).
You offer another possible explanation for an anthropogenically-forced mid-century cooling, but what climate scientists seem to be saying is that with these past cooling effects behind us, the warming forced by GHGs and albedo changes are starting to prevail. Do you believe that there are no forcings underway in the direction of heating?
Posted by: TokyoTom at October 16, 2006 09:45 PM
Chip, this discussion reflects the point that one's view affects one's perceptions. That is why I think it is important to try to intnetionally keep one's mind open, lest one's "map of reality" remain internally consistent but increasingly unmoored from reality.
My person view re: Hansen/Michaels is that while Hansen did not strongly condemn the use of extreme scenarios and seems sympathetic to the past use of such scenarios, his statement is certainly not a ringing enorsement of them nor an admission that he himself deliberately used extreme scenarios, "simply in order to gain people's attention." Thus, I find these two statements by Michaels are completely unjustified by Hansen's remarks:
"Hansen has himself advocated the use of exaggeration and propaganda as political tools in the debate over global warming."
"[Hansen] admits to having misrepresented the facts in the past".
I'm happy that you seem willing to agree to this. I can say that while Hansen's position about the past use of extrem scenarios can be seen as ambivalent, Hansen is certainly not responsible for Michaels' unsupported allegations. For that, Michaels has only his own hot partisanship to blame.
I also think that it is quite ironic that when Hansen is specifically calling for "demonstrably objective climate forcing scenarios consistent with what is realistic under current conditions ... [and] that accurately fit recent and nearfuture observations", this position does not call forth universal agreement, but instead partisan condemnation from Michaels about what he thinks Hansen is saying about the past. It is an attempt to distract the current debate and to discount Hansen's current statements. Michaels seems to have no interest in finding any common ground or points of agreement, but to tear down Hansen by whatever means he can.
I ask again, does Michaels seem like a scientist trying to identify the current knowledge about climate science, or someone engaged in a tooth and nail defense of political turf?
Posted by: TokyoTom at October 16, 2006 10:14 PM
What is a "nearfuture observation" of which Hansen speaks? Is that like GCM output "data"?
Posted by: Steve Hemphill at October 17, 2006 04:03 PM
Since Hansen refers to "Scenarios that accurately fit recent and near-future observations" I presume he is talking about short-term (5-20 years?) GCM output on the scenarios that seem to best fit recent observations (and presuambly use assumptions that are most relevant/defendable).
Posted by: TokyoTom at October 17, 2006 08:47 PM
Since my days as seafarer and ship master I always regarded the oceans as the driving force of global weather and climate, defining the term ‘climate’ as the continuation of the oceans by other means (see: Nature, 1992 , and other articles on www.oceanclimate.de). The thesis on ‘naval war changes climate’ is to support the definition, as only if the oceans are widely acknowledged as driving force, superseding any CO2 impact by far, we would quickly realise that our knowledge on climate change matters is very limited, as ‘ocean observation’ is very limited (www.1ocean-1system.de).
To make the climate definition understood, the naval-war-effect thesis is of invaluable help. Man has never made a comparable large-scale ‘field experiment’ in the North Sea and Baltic Sea as during the three war winter 1939/40, 1940/41 and 1941/42. The circumstantial evidence presented in detailed workouts
My research furthermore came to the conclusion that the only two major climatic shifts during the last century, a strong warming period from winter 1918/19 until 1939/40 (see my earlier comment on Oct.15), and the four decade cooling from 1939/40 to ca. 1980, can to a very high degree of certainty be linked to the two World Wars. What else has caused these shifts? After 85 respectively 65 years have passed, those how speak on climate, as a matter of expertise, should be able give reasonable explanations. There seems to be little in this respect. When eminent climatologists claim to know the cause of current global warming, they should be able to explain the four-decade global cooling, and why Northern Europe was thrown back into the Little Ice Age during war winters 193940 to 1941/42 although nothing disturbed the normal course of nature at that time except a very serious war.
And the matter has presumably much wider implications, which should not be ignored any longer. If the naval war effect can be indeed established, it is time that science makes the assessment it should have done since long. For explanation it follows an excerpt from a booklet that is soon published:
c) But there are not only merchantmen out in the sea. If all ships are to be counted (including fishing vessels, coast guard ships, tugs and millions of leisure boats during the summer season), we can easily double or triple the churning effect in the coastal waters and seas. And sailing is not the only contributor: let’s not forget the dragging, seabed drilling, off shore wind energy farms, etc. which may also contribute to the turning upside down of the seas. Actually, every contribution, as little as it may be, makes a difference in the statistics, possibly resulting in the change of the climate data.
Thanks TokyoTom for your comment, ab
Posted by: Arnd B at October 18, 2006 11:54 AM