The most recent twist on the “global warming has stopped” meme is the citation of highly respected researchers in support of that incorrect, yet somehow persistent proposition. Once again, the charge is being led by leading climate contrarian Patrick Michaels, ably assisted by Paul “Chip” Knappenberger.
Earlier this year, Michaels’ World Climate Report cited two papers (Easterling and Wehner, 2009 and Solomon et al 2010) as demonstration of mainstream acknowledgment that there has been “no warming whatsoever over the past decade”.
But a closer examination shows that Solomon et al were actually citing the earlier Easterling and Wehner, a paper itself deeply critical of skeptic “cherrypicking” of short-term trend start points. Even worse, discussion of these two papers at World Climate Report contains some of the most egregious examples of quote mining and distortions of others’ work I have ever seen.
To be sure, Solomon et al do acknowledge that warming in the 2000s has been less than projected by the IPCC model ensemble and shows flattening relative to the previous decade (hardly controversial propositions). But their analysis of smoothed observations and decadal model projections implicitly rejects the contrarian obsession with short-term trends, and points the way towards a more compelling characterization and comparative analysis of model projections and observations.
The latest climate contrarian meme appears to be (baseless) accusations of scientific “gatekeeping” and “censorship”. Ross McKitrick provides an example of this unmistakable trend, with a blow-by-blow account of difficulties encountered in publication of his upcoming paper on the supposed contamination of the surface temperature record. The new paper purports to debunk a single statement in the 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, one denigrating the conclusions of a previous paper by McKitrick and Patrick Michaels.
McKitrick criticizes the IPCC assertion that “locations of greatest socioeconomic development are also those that have been most warmed by atmospheric circulation“. He claims that other sections cited to support that statement do no such thing. But it turns out that McKitrick himself has it completely wrong, as he cites a passage concerning regional warming over the 21st century, instead of the actual relevant passage concerning the period 1975-2005.
Moreover a review of the relevant scientific literature reveals substantial flaws in the previous analyses of McKitrick and Michaels. That, rather than any close-mindedness or “censorship”, is the real reason why McKitrick’s analyses have become increasingly marginalized in the scientific literature, if not in the right-wing press. Continue reading
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.]