Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Denialist Meltdown

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has alerted the media that its collection of “experts” is ready and willing to respond to the upcoming IPCC report. As DeSmogBlog notes, there are four of them: Myron Ebell, Iain Murray, Mario Lewis, and Chris Horner. Needless to say, these men have absolutely no background in climate science.

As I’ve mentioned before, Murray may well be the dimmest of the professional denialists. His latest CEI post is par for the course:

So the IPCC report that’s going to be released on Friday isn’t gloomy enough, eh? It will find less projected temperature rise and less predicted sea level rise than it did in 2001.
The story to which Murray links explains why this is:
The melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are a fairly recent development that has taken scientists by surprise. They don‘t know how to predict its effects in their computer models.
Yep, that certainly is a crushing blow to the climate alarmists!

Over at the Corner, Murray explains his theory in a bit more detail:
Our best information has it that the IPCC calculates that 0.8 degrees centigrade has already occured.

Subtracting that 0.8 from the projected temperature rises in the Fourth Assessment Report gives us a projected temperature rise this century of just 1.2 to 3.7 degrees centigrade. It also lowers the "best guess" for temperature rise to 2.2 degrees centigrade. This compares to the Third Assessment Report range of 1.4 to 5.8 degrees for 1990 to 2100.
There are several problems with this, but let’s focus on the obvious one, which is that Murray cites a single temperature (in centigrade, no less!) as the “best guess,” while the IPCC gives a range:
The panel predicted temperature rises of 2 - 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100. That was a wider range than in the 2001 report.

However, the panel also said its best estimate was for temperature rises of 3.2 - 7.1 degrees Fahrenheit. In 2001, all the panel gave was a range of 2.5 - 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
These charts from a BBC article, which compare IPCC-predicted changes to observed changes, should help interested readers to understand what a ludicrous fucking buffoon Murray really is:

Meanwhile, the AEI is offering payments of $10,000 to scientists and economists who’ll attack the IPCC report (purely in the interests of sound science, you understand):
Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today.
I’m guessing they’ll have more luck with the economists than the scientists. Either way, though, Ben Greenberg of Greenpeace sums up the AEI nicely:
They lost on the science; they lost on the moral case for action. All they've got left is a suitcase full of cash.
Debra J. Saunders leans down from her dingy furnished room in Palookaville long enough to stick up for fellow dunce Frosty Hardison. She claims that there’s a conspiracy to pretend that dissenting scientists don’t exist, instead of clear evidence that the vast majority of them are either cranks or shills:
Global warming believers heap scorn on religious zealots for not valuing science and knowledge. Yet the thrust of their argument to prove apocalyptic global warming relies on denying the existence of views and scientists who clearly exist.
Predictably, Saunders trots out petrodollar whores Fred Singer and Richard Lindzen. For variety’s sake, she also invokes the “60 Canadian scientists” who signed a letter stating that there’s a consensus on climate change. Unfortunately, as David Roberts points out:
The letter was a vapid collection of myths; among those 60 scientists were long-time skeptics, known liars, and at least one guy who was tricked into signing. A few weeks later, 90 scientists -- who unlike the original 60 were Canadian and active in climate research -- wrote a letter of their own, denouncing the first.
In other news, Naomi Oreskes has written a fascinating article about the long consensus on climate change, which I can’t recommend highly enough.

UPDATE: A commenter was deeply distressed by my use of the term "petrodollar whore" in reference to Richard Lindzen, on the grounds that it's been ten years or so since Lindzen had gotten any payouts from the oil industry. No proof of this was offered, mind you, but I'm happy to assume the claim is accurate regardless. Why wouldn't it be?

I toyed with the idea of rewriting the line to read "former petrodollar whores," but worried that this might not be accurate in re Fred Singer. Accordingly, I decided to strike out the offending phrase. This allows readers to reject or accept the term (and its relevance) as they see fit, which was of course impossible previously.


Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with you about Murray. I think that he's a very clever man - only apparently disingenuous. There was a piece that he had in TCA a few years ago, on the politicization of science - an abiding sin of the Left, of course - and the feigned puzzlement at who would want to do such a thing, the air of disinterested disgust, of mildly outraged probity - it was a masterpiece of dissimulation from one who has done absolutely nothing but contribute to the right-wing politicization to any scientific issue he's dealt with. He's writing for an audience of eager-to-be-convinced free-market imbeciles and he knows them well, trims his prose to cater to their prejudices, and this makes him appear dim to the informed reader. But he isn't interested in the informed reader. He's onloy interested in blowing smoke out of his trouser cuffs.

Regards - Lars

Phila said...


I'm not going to go too far out of my way to disagree with you, obviously. There's no doubt at all that he's a dishonest, manipulative man. But all the same, I feel like other denialists do a more elegant job of misleading people. Murray invariably strikes me as sloppy above and beyond the call of duty.

That said, you make a good case. Given his audience's appetite for lies, the minimal effort he expends is probably more than good enough.


goatchurch said...

Alternatively, I'd say that the stupidity of Murray is irrelevant. It's the intelligence of his audience that is in question.

This is a man who goes around the world making presentations about the awesome success of the 1996 privatization of the UK rail system, which was only brought to an end due to government meddling. Of course it had nothing to do with ten years of asset stripping, lack of investment, and management by accountants who created great financial results, until we were having to tolerate a major crash every year and 30mph speed limits were applied over the whole network because the rails were no longer safe. But who's going to know, then, eh?

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