Be it known: A couple of commenters -- let's call 'em Pat and Mike -- recently rapped me on the knuckles for my use of the term "denialist." As far as I can tell, Pat feels that it's a logically incoherent attempt to conflate honest skepticism with a movement -- Holocaust denial -- whose goals and tactics it doesn't share; as such, it's an all too typical example of partisan idiocy from Communists like myself, who've cast aside science, common sense, and morality in order to join the Warming Cult.
Mike seems to find the term impolite, prejudicial, and insufficiently thoughtful, and to worry that my use of it may undercut the already-negligible effectiveness of my pointless pseudo-engagement with the "vermin" who write for politically inconsequential rags like National Review.
As you can see, it sux 2 B me. In light of this good-natured critique, I've decided that whereas I previously used the term out of arrogance, I'll now use it out of shame, so that all who read it may know just how impolite and biased I am.
On the bright side, this criticism did get me thinking about Pat's claim that sincere believers in AGW have a quasi-religious faith in the IPCC only because they don't understand Teh Science. I happen to agree with William of Ockham that "it is absurd to claim that I have scientific knowledge with respect to this or that conclusion by reason of the fact that you know principles which I accept on faith because you tell them to me," so I see Pat's point.
But of course, this is equally true of a non-expert's knowledge with respect to dissenting science. Since I'm not a climatologist, my belief will be somewhat faith-based no matter which side I choose to believe...except inasmuch as I don't have to be a climatologist to recognize that a denialist claim like CO2 is Life is completely irrelevant to the theory of AGW, and that any attempt to imply otherwise involves a certain amount of contempt both for science, and for the intelligence of one's audience.
This is where the issue of credibility comes into play, natch, which is why we hear so much about "Algore's Global Warming Theory," and not so much about the official stance of, say, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Or the American Meterological Society. Or Chevron.
With that out of the way, let's see what those goddamn denialist assholes have been saying lately. First up, we have Bjorn Lomborg, who's not a denialist so much as an inactivist. His claim, as usual, is that reducing emissions "would slow American economic growth by trillions of dollars over the next half-century." How do we know this? Projections and modeling, of course. (Sometimes they're actually reliable!)
Some of Lomborg's assumptions are impolitely described as "myths" by the McKinsey Global Institute, which claims that "the measures needed to stabilize emissions at 450 pppm have a net cost near zero." Obviously, Lomborg and MGI can't both be right...which means the only sensible thing to do is accept whichever theory is more optimistic. (You wouldn't want to be an "alarmist," would you?)
Greg Pollowitz notes that arctic ice is melting, and that volcanoes erupted under the Arctic in 1999. While he didn't get nearly as jubilant over this story as the rest of the Wingnuttosphere, he does imply that heat + ice = water, bwahaha! (Apropos of which, Coeruleus has some kind of chart that purports to show something or other. Who even knows what that's all about?)
Pollowitz's more general conclusion is that science sometimes gets things wrong, as is demonstrated by the former scientific belief that "this kind of so-called pyroclastic eruption could not happen at such depths due to the crushing pressure of the water." Let this be a lesson to all those who say that certain things are unlikely to happen!
Denialists were thrilled, recently, to learn that the American Physical Society has reversed its position on climate change.
The American Physical Society, an organization representing nearly 50,000 physicists, has reversed its stance on climate change and is now proclaiming that many of its members disbelieve in human-induced global warming.Denialists were annoyed, even more recently, to learn that the American Physical Union has done no such thing, and resents any implication that it has.
The American Physical Society reaffirms the following position on climate change, adopted by its governing body, the APS Council, on November 18, 2007:The bolded section would be the part that the author at Daily Tech left out of his "retraction." This may not do much good in the long run, though, since the APS has added the following disclaimer, in bright red letters, to the original article:
"Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate."
An article at odds with this statement recently appeared in an online newsletter of the APS Forum on Physics and Society, one of 39 units of APS. The header of this newsletter carries the statement that "Opinions expressed are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the APS or of the Forum." This newsletter is not a journal of the APS and it is not peer reviewed.
The following article has not undergone any scientific peer review. Its conclusions are in disagreement with the overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community. The Council of the American Physical Society disagrees with this article's conclusions.The author complains that this warning was added without his knowledge or consent, and demands satisfaction on the field of honor. It's not at all clear to me why the APS would need his consent to distance itself from "findings" that it doesn't accept, especially since there's been an effort to make people believe it does accept them. Something further may follow of this masquerade.
David Evans says that there's no evidence whatsoever that CO2 is to blame for global warming. There's plenty to take issue with in his op-ed, but let's stick to the something nice and simple:
Satellite data is the only temperature data we can trust, but it only goes back to 1979. NASA reports only land-based data....If only there were some way of finding out whether or not this is true.
Michael Gerson reasonably concedes that even a small possibility of a major climate disaster "should concentrate the mind," and attacks that vanishingly small group of conservatives whose "attitude seems to be: 'If Al Gore is upset about carbon, we must need more of it.'"
Having done so, he goes on to claim that the real threat to the environment comes from the failure of environmentalists to form effective coalitions with people who a) hate them; b) believe that there's absolutely no possibility of a major climate disaster; and c) would cheerfully eat a plate of dogshit if Al Gore told them not to. He also worries that environmentalists sometimes display a certain "hostility to the extractive industries." They're partisan, in other words, and must straighten up and fly right in order to avoid "causing suffering for many, including the ice bears."
Unfortunately, the part of the article where he explains how to save polar bears and avoid climate disasters without irritating the extractive industries and their hypercapitalist bedfellows seems to have been left out due to space considerations. But I'm sure it was at least as incisive and informative as what I've quoted here.
UPDATE: Regarding Monckton's "peer-reviewed" APS newsletter article, Duae Quartunciae makes a sobering point:
The initial decision by the APS editor was extraordinarily naïve. I don't know what they expected to achieve with this; but whatever happens now it's a big win for Monckton and his fans. He's got a pulpit, and any response will be dismissed as scientific close-mindedness. Treating it as a serious debate is all that the denialists really want to achieve. Firing the editor (as some have suggested) is surely an over-reaction that would only make everything even worse.(Link via Deltoid.)