The blogosphere has been atwitter over the latest supposed defection of a climate scientist to the dark side. Once again, the contrarians have been egged on by a well-timed fabrication from Marc Morano of Climate Depot, the anti-science propaganda arm of CFACT (Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow). And once again, Canadian columnist Lorne Gunter has led the charge of the lightweight brigade, with yet another error-ridden and cretinous diatribe against climate science.
[Update, Oct. 6: Read the post and then see the video. Lorne Gunter stars in Climate Denial Crock of the Week: Birth of a Crock. Peter Sinclair delivers another boffo smash.]
Even well-meaning and thoughtful commentators and reporters have misinterpreted the recent comments and work of Mojib Latif, the Kiel University climate scientist whose remarks at a session on prediction at the World Climate Conference in Geneva set off the latest furor. Somehow those writers have managed to overlook the fact that Latif, despite projecting less near-term warming than most climate modellers, is still looking for warming close to 0.2 deg. C in the coming decade.
But those gaffes are nothing compared to the horrendous distortions of the initial confused accounts now circulating throughout the contrarian echo chamber, where literally hundreds of websites and blogs have echoed Morano’s and Gunter’s gross misrepresentations.
It’s high time to correct the record, which I will endeavour to do with the kind assistance of Mojib Latif himself, who has been most generous in answering my queries (our complete exchange can be found here).
Yesterday, I discussed the latest essay on climate science and politics from New York Times environmental reporter Andrew Revkin (along wirth Joe Romm’s critique). There I had a suggestion for Revkin and the New York Times:
Or come to that, how about looking at the farce playing out in Washington – one in which Patrick Michaels happened to have played a large, if unwitting, role – namely the so-called suppression of the EPA’s Alan Carlin.
Presto! Look at the gift Google Alert delivered scant hours later: a thorough re-examination of the Carlin saga by the NYT’s John Broder. According to Broder, internal EPA documents and other material “paint a more complicated picture” and cast doubt on Republican claims that, as Broder puts it, Carlin was “muzzled because he did not toe the liberal line”.
For the first time, a mainstream reporter has referred to the numerous problems in Carlin’s report, including dubious sources and the lifting of material verbatim. And, for the first time, Carlin has had to answer questions about these problems.
In some ways it’s been the “same old, same old” this week in the blogosphere. First, there was another confused piece on climate change from New York Times environmental reporter Andrew Revkin, this time postulating that “stable temperatures” and “a recent spate of relatively cool years” might blunt momentum for an international agreement on curbing greenhouse gas emissions. That was followed in short order by a scathing critique from Joe Romm at Climate Progress, excoriating Revkin’s “litany of misinformation and confusion” as something that might be expected from disinformation specialist Marc Morano of Climate Depot.
But this time it was different. For a closer examination shows that Revkin has corrected two of the most egregious errors in his article, presumably after reading Romm’s convincing and detailed deconstruction. So perhaps there is still hope for Revkin, at least someday. Unfortunately, major misinterpretations of climate science still remain in Revkin’s piece, and even worse, he gives credence to the views one of the most reprehensible fossil fuel industry apologists around, Patrick Michaels. All of that virtually ensures that Revkin’s latest essay will be a staple of contrarian disinformation for months to come.
[Update, Sept. 26: It’s still not clear whether Revkin’s corrections made it into the print edition of the Times. The article apparently ran on September 23 on page A6, a day or so after it appeared online.]
A few days ago, I received a response from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation concerning a complaint I had submitted concerning climate contrarian Ian Plimer’s outrageous “Unleashed” online column. The email, from Kirsten McLeod of ABC’s Audience & Consumer Affairs, claims that the Plimer piece was “in keeping with the ABC’s editorial requirements for opinion content” and even calls Plimer’s opinion “a legitimate voice for the debate” on climate change.
However, it appears that ABC has not followed its own requirement that “reasonable steps” be taken “to ensure factual content is accurate”. Moreover, ABC policy on opinion pieces contains a major loophole: there is no requirement to disclose past and current affiliations to lobby groups or other political organizations, even when those links are clearly relevant to the subject matter at hand. In Plimer’s case, of course, such organizations include the Australian Climate Science Coalition and its progenitors, the Australian Environment Foundation and the right-wing Institute of Public Affairs.
[Update, September 8: As detailed below, ABC is now claiming that the requirement “to ensure factual content is accurate” does not apply to opinion content, even though that specific section of ABC’s Code of Practice does explicitly apply to opinion content (as opposed to news or topical programming).]
The “global cooling since 1998” myth is an ever-present talking point emanating from virtually all contrarians. Australian geologist and “Heaven and Earth” author Ian Plimer is no exception, as I pointed out in my discussion of his ludicrous error-filled piece for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) online “Unleashed” series.
Of course, the claim does not stand up to any serious analysis, as I discussed in great detail in my dissection of a National Post column by Canada’s own Lorne Gunter.
Now it turns out that Plimer and Gunter have something else in common: they both thought that 1934 was the warmest year on record (and for all I know Gunter still does). Even worse, an examination of the ABC interview that discussed these very claims shows that ABC management knew very well that Plimer had no credibility on climate issues, and yet still offered him a platform for his propaganda.
The blogosphere, or at least the climate contrarian part of it, has been up in arms over supposed misconduct and plagiarism on the part of climate scientists. First, there was a minor kerfuffle earlier this summer over NOAA’s citation of the surfacestation.org website instead of an online publication by Anthony Watts. That turned out to be just the latest in a series of accusations of misconduct from ClimateAudit.org.
But that was nothing compared to the furor over the Corrigendum to the Steig et al. paper, “Warming of the Antarctic ice-sheet surface since the 1957 International Geophysical Year” (just published in Nature). Steig et al. were accused of failing to acknowledge the role of Hu McCulloch in identifying an error in the calculation of trend significance. The corrigendum thus was held to constitute an act of plagiarism.
Meanwhile, some of the same bloggers who have risen up in righteous indignation and made groundless accusations against Steig et al, have been strangely silent regarding a real act of plagiarism, namely EPA economist Alan Carlin’s wholesale appropriation without attribution of large swathes of Patrick Michaels’ World Climate Report.
And, of course, an examination of the accusations against Steig et al shows them to be completely baseless. In fact, Hu McCulloch has apparently already withdrawn his accusations, although at present we have yet to see any apologies or retractions from Steig et al’s accusers.
I have submitted an online complaint to the Autralian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), concerning Ian Plimer’s outrageous and misleading opinion piece, entitled “Legislative Time Bomb”.
Here is the full text of the complaint:
Ian Plimer’s opinion piece, entitled “Legislative time bomb” contains several egregious factual errors. Plimer has the right to express his opinions, no matter how cretinous or ill-informed they may be, but his propagation of obvious falsehoods is unacceptable. ABC has a duty to correct any clear errors of fact, even in an opinion piece.
There are at least two passages that require such immediate correction.