‘Skeptical Science’ Says Concerns About Dangerous Global Warming are Unimportant

Guest essay by Brandon Shollenberger

We can pack up our bags and go home.  The global warming debate is, except maybe as an academic curiosity.  I know this to be true because Skeptical Science says so.  And if they say so, it must be true.

Don’t believe me?  I understand.  It’s hard to believe.  But it’s true.  You may remember a post I wrote a couple days ago.  In it, I called Skeptical Science dishonest for repeatedly promoting a tweet from (not quite) Barack Obama that said:

Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous. Read more: http://OFA.BO/gJsdFp

As Cook et al’s study said absolutely nothing about whether or not climate change is dangerous.  Barry Woods followed up on this point at Skeptical Science in a few comments.  That’s when the Skeptical Science crowd said concerns about dangerous global warming are unimportant.

“Sphaerica”, who I believe is a moderator, said:

So your particular nit is that the paper’s authors didn’t correct the President of the United States (or, rather, those who manage his twitter feed) for the exact wording of a tweet?

An official moderator’s response from PW, whose initials I don’t recognize, says:

[PW] Cease the back-n-forth on this silly nitpick of a single tweet. Return to the topic and further nonsense about a single tweet will be deleted.

“Dikran Marsupial”, a major player at SkS, says:

Life is too short for pedantry and nit-picking, especially if it is only a means to avoid acceptance of what the TCP does actually show, i.e. that there is a broad consensus amongst scientists working on climate-related science that the majority of climate change is anthropogenic.

Let’s not focus on the fact Dikran Marsupial misrepresents Cook et al’s results.  Let’s not focus on the fact nobody corrects him about him.  Let’s not focus on the fact that is almost exactly the behavior described in my previous post.

Let’s just focus on the fact Skeptical Science tells us it doesn’t matter whether or not Cook et al’s work proves there is a consensus that global warming is dangerous.  They say that issue is a just a nit – an unimportant detail.  They say there is no relevant difference between a paper saying, “Global warming is mad-made” and saying, “Global warming is man-made and dangerous.”

That settles it.  They don’t care.  Why should we?

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52 thoughts on “‘Skeptical Science’ Says Concerns About Dangerous Global Warming are Unimportant

  1. I assume you intended to say “the global warming debate is over”?

    As for the rest? Nothing surprises me over there. It’s an advocacy group of monkeys with their hands obscuring varying parts of their sensory capabilities.

  2. [PW] Cease the back-n-forth on this silly nitpick of a [Presidential Proclamation]. Return to the topic and further nonsense about [truth and evidence] will be deleted.

    F.I.F.Y.

  3. Looks to me as though SkS were just dancing around the details. Hardly a retraction on their stance, which is a pity. A bit like the alarmist crowd will say, “Look, global warming is causing weird weather,” but in the next breath say, “Look, over there! It’s deep in the ocean!” and therefore cannot be causing weird weather.

    The alarmists often say things that contradict other things they’ve said – in Australia (just yesterday), we’re still hearing that “if it continues like this, we’ll have the warmest decade in history” – yet that heat is supposed to be hiding in the ocean and even the IPCC acknowledges no warming for 16 years.

    I think what many alarmists suffer from is Runaway Mouth and say things they don’t actually mean.

  4. Oops! A word is missing in the second sentence. Thanks for catching that guys.

    Could someone with this site fix that for me?

  5. Skeptical Science is anything but, they have their agenda and do a good job of pushing it. Quite a few people quote from it as if it’s gospel, and I guess to many the religion is.

  6. “Let’s just focus on the fact Skeptical Science tells us it doesn’t matter whether or not Cook et al’s work proves there is a consensus that global warming is dangerous. They say that issue is a just a nit – an unimportant detail. They say there is no relevant difference between a paper saying, “Global warming is mad-made” and saying, “Global warming is man-made and dangerous.”

    So your particular nit is that the paper’s authors didn’t correct the President of the United States (or, rather, those who manage his twitter feed) for the exact wording of a tweet?

    1. The issue they said was a NIT was the fact that they didnt correct Obama

    seriously.

  7. I had just thought that on an article entitled:

    Skeptical Science: An accurately informed public is necessary for climate policy

    Which was about the Mike Hulme’s comment about Skeptical Science’s – John Cook’s 97% consensus paper at the Making Science Public project (Nottingham University)

    http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2013/07/23/whats-behind-the-battle-of-received-wisdoms/#comment-182401

    Prof Mike Hulme: The “97% consensus” article is poorly conceived, poorly designed and poorly executed. It obscures the complexities of the climate issue and it is a sign of the desperately poor level of public and policy debate in this country that the energy minister should cite it. It offers a similar depiction of the world into categories of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ to that adopted in Anderegg et al.’s 2010 equally poor study in PNAS: dividing publishing climate scientists into ‘believers’ and ‘non-believers’. It seems to me that these people are still living (or wishing to live) in the pre-2009 world of climate change discourse. Haven’t they noticed that public understanding of the climate issue has moved on?” – Prof Mike Hulme (UEA, founding director Tyndall)

    I thought it might be a good idea to correct Presidents Obama’s misrepresentation of John Cook’s work to the public, where Obama tweeted this paper said there was a 97% consensus man made change was dangerous. I pointed out that Prof Richard Betts (Head of Climate Impacts, Met Office, IPCC lead author) had taken a small attempt to correct the president, and that it might be a good idea for John Cook to do the same..

    Anyway my Skeptical science comment in full below:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/making-science-work-ben-pile-rebuttal.html#96775

    ——————————————————–
    I would like to thank Nottingham University’s Making science Public project for running some very interesting articles, the comments there are I think worth a read. But perhaps this is the best place to raise this question?

    Lets look at the media coverage that Skeptical Science is so proud of: http://www.skepticalscience.com/republishers.php?a=tcpmedia

    especially this one:

    Barack Obama

    @BarackObama Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous. Read more: http://OFA.BO/gJsdFp

    Now whatever the paper did, it made zero reference to impact, or any consensus on impacts and there is no justification at all – based on this paper – for a 97% consensus of ‘dangerous’ to be declared a finding of it, did the authors seek to correct this in anyway, no they celebrated it by listing it on their blog, with a link to President Barack Obama.

    Professor Richard Betts (Head of Climate Impacts, Met Office and IPCC lead author AR4 & AR5) sought to correct it, by tweeting back:

    Richardabetts

    @BarackObama Actually that paper didn’t say ‘dangerous’. NB I *do* think #climate change poses risks – I just care about accurate reporting!

    Maybe John Cook was not aware of President Barack Obama misrepresenting and overstating this paper, when he said (or his official account did) 97% of scientists agree climate change is real man made and dangerous?

    Sadly no. It appear that John Cook was surprised at all the attention and made no effort (nor the other authors) to correct this Barack Obama tweet (to 30 million people, or how it was widely reported else where in the media

    Sydney Morning Herald: Obama gives Aussie researcher 31,541,507 reasons to celebrate

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/obama-gives-aussie-researcher-31541507-reasons-to-celebrate-20130517-2jqrh.html#ixzz2aRpr8JPX

    “Australian researcher John Cook, an expert in climate change communication, was inundated with requests for interviews by US media outlets after Obama took to Twitter to endorse his project’s final report.

    “It was pretty cool news,” said Mr Cook, a fellow at the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute and founder of the website skepticalscience.com. “It was out of our expectations.”

    A survey of scientific papers by a team led by Mr Cook and published by Fairfax Media this week found more than 97 per cent of researchers endorsed the view that humans are to blame for global warming. The peer-reviewed outcome flies in the face of public perception in countries such as the US or Australia that scientists are divided on the issue.

    “One of the highest predictors of how important people think climate change is, is cues from political leaders,” Mr Cook said. “So if the leaders don’t seem to care, people don’t care either.

    “A cue from Obama is a big step,” he said. “The fact it goes to more than 31 million followers, it just raises the awareness of consensus.”

    ———————-

    Awareness, a false awareness (courtsey of Obama) of a 97% consensus on ‘dangerous’, misinformation that is now in the public domain about this paper by the President of the United States of America , not corrected by the authors of the paper. An irony is that Prof Lewandowsky and John Cook have a paper published on how hard it is to correct misinformation.. !!! http://psi.sagepub.com/content/13/3/106.full?ijkey=FNCpLYuivUOHE&keytype=ref&siteid=sppsi

    President Obama is now going after Deniers in Congress…. (thus this ishighly political, v dangerous for the public perception of scientists if ‘misinformation’ is uncorrected by scientists)

    www. BarackObama.com

    “Call out a climate denier

    Check out our list of known climate deniers in Congress-elected officials who refuse to even acknowledge the science behind climate change—and call them out on Twitter.” http://www.barackobama.com/climate-deniers

    So Dana, will you or any of your co-authors, tell the President, that your paper says nothing about a consensus on ‘dangerous’?

  8. Actually Mosher I would think that is a pretty big NIT to be concerned about. POTUS saying that something is “dangerous” carries quite a bit of weight, don’t you think? Or at least it used to….

  9. They also don’t correct things others say in public or in newspapers and even say misleading things themselves. So, it’s not just about not correcting a Twitter from the prez.

  10. Steven Mosher, that’d make sense except the most important quote I offered, that of an official response, explicitly said “nitpick of a single tweet.” That explicitly referred to the tweet and not the shameless promotion of the tweet. The worst you can claim is the quotes I offered don’t all refer to the same thing.

    Which is a pretty lame criticism. If a person offers three quotes to demonstrate something and only one of them actually does so, they’ve still demonstrated it. They’ve just offered some fluff in the process.

    You should stick to criticizing my skills as poet. You might actually be right about those.

  11. For both public policy and for the interface(s) of climate science with public awareness, the issue of what is “dangerous” or not is everything!

    If there were nothing “dangerous” (never mind “catastrophic”) impending then the alarm artists would have no claim at all upon the attentions, institutions, and resources of millions and billions of people.

    Fail to make the “dangerous” case and you can all vanish back into well deserved obscurity, dear CAGW Alarmists.

    Can any honest person say it does not matter whether the POTUSA is operating upon misinformation??? What about all the governments, media, companies, and academics in the world?

  12. Eric
    Depends. When POTUS says Iran is ‘dangerous’ for its work on nuclear tech, that ignores decades in which they have had that tech without ‘building the bomb’. Nor do I believe his assurances on ‘dealing seriously with climate change.’ I don’t see any indication that is within the realm of possibility, let alone inclination. Then there is the matter of ‘terrorism’…when Al Qaeda is in fact in the front lines in Syria ( as it was in Libya ) doing NATO’s behest in overturning the government.
    Are we sure GW Bush didn’t just get a makeover ?

  13. Steven Mosher:

    So your particular nit is that the paper’s authors didn’t correct the President of the United States (or, rather, those who manage his twitter feed) for the exact wording of a tweet?

    Nobody has an obligation to discuss any particular news article on any topic. The fact that Dana is an author of the paper and one of the principles at SkS does make the inaccuracy of the tweet relevant to that blog, especially given that Dana promoted an inaccurate tweet himself.

    If you are the author of a paper you have a responsibility to ensure that your paper is being accurately portrayed in the media. It is grossly irresponsible to actively participate in the propagation of misleading information about your paper.

  14. So if you are aware that someone is using your research to back a claim that you know it doesn’t your advice is, shut up and enjoy the ill gotten notoriety? Seriously?

  15. Could this be selective policing of hyperbole? Obama’s rhetorical hyperbole — OK. Mark Steyn’s editorial hyperbole at National Review Online — sue the bastards!

  16. To these people (extremely small minority of humanity haters) it really doesn’t matter if it’s CAGW (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming), or IAGW (Inconvenient Anthropogenic Global Warming), or even BAGW (Beneficial Anthropogenic Global Warming). Anthropogenic = BAD.

    To the sane world (most people) it matters a great deal whether it’s “C”, “I”, or “B” with regard to how much we’re willing to put into researching and/or solving the so-called problem.

    Kyoto wasn’t built on the fear of inconvenience or benefits. K2 DOA.

  17. Bill:

    They also don’t correct things others say in public or in newspapers and even say misleading things themselves. So, it’s not just about not correcting a Twitter from the prez.

    Indeed. In an early draft of my last post, I included several quotes from articles they link to on their site that misrepresent their work. One of them was even quoted in a post about the media response to their work.

    I decided it’d bog down the post too much. I think sticking with just (not quite) Obama’s tweet worked better.

  18. Canman:

    Could this be selective policing of hyperbole? Obama’s rhetorical hyperbole — OK. Mark Steyn’s editorial hyperbole at National Review Online — sue the bastards!

    No. Hyperbole is a rhetorical device whereby one uses exaggeration for effect. There is nothing in (not quite) Obama’s tweet that indicates such. It was a simple, straightforward sentence. On top of that, his reference to “dangerous” was said in the same way as his reference to “real” and “man-made.” There’s nothing to distinguish one from the others.

    What gave you the idea this might be hypocrisy?

  19. Brandon:

    I think sticking with just (not quite) Obama’s tweet worked better.

    Technically the tweet was from his office not President Obama himself:

    From their twitter account:

    “This account is run by Organizing for Action staff. Tweets from the President are signed -bo.”

    This tweet was not signed “-bo.”

  20. For an excellent example of how much “skepticism” the folks at SkS apply to things they like to hear vs. things they dislike to hear, have a read of this recent thread: http://www.skepticalscience.com/BCCarbonTax2.html#commenthead

    The original post addresses the effects of the BC carbon tax, a subject that Willis Eschenbach has analysed quite thoroughly in a series of posts earlier this month here at WUWT.

    In the comments, I expressed some reasons to be a bit skeptical of the claimed success of this carbon tax. Hilarity ensued as the SkS crew angrily replied to my “unsubstantiated bullshit”, and quoted non-peer-reviewed “data” that, as it turns out, they had interpreted completely backwards.

  21. Re: Obama’s “Organizing for Action” staff: whether or not a tweet is done with the personal “Bo” initials, it is all provided on behalf of, in the name of, the President of the USA.

    In fact, it is quite extraordinary that. US President has outsourced public communications in this way to an activist organization.

    This week in Chicago the Organizing for Action cadres were directly involved with Algore’s climate propaganda festival:

    http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/al-gore–the-climate-reality-project-welcome-1500-new-climate-leaders-217769101.html

  22. It used to bother me whenever I heard someone say, “The Science is settled”. But I had a think about it and recently changed my position. If the science is truly “settled”, why do we need to continue to spend billions of dollars per year on it? The theory of Plate Tectonics is also pretty much settled, but you don’t see governments pouring billions of dollars into it.

    If your argument is that the science is settled, you would also have to agree that it was waste of money to spend even a penny more on any research involving CO2 and climate — better to spend that money on “unsettled” science like cancer research. It makes perfect sense — defund climate research and use the money where it is actually needed and will provide a benefit to society.

    And there is no longer a need for the media to publish articles on CO2 and climate, just as there is no need for articles updating us on the Crimean War, both events are settled and are now non-stories.

    I think all of us (all being 97% that is) can agree that the need for CO2 Climate Research has come and gone. Let move on to bigger and better things.

    I propose a new slogan:

    End Settled Science Funding Now!

  23. Who cares what Mosher and Dikran Marsupial say. They still pretend to believe that GCM’s work. Which they must otherwise their beautiful scare is gone. Wallowing in pretend concern. Mainly concerned with how to sell the scare. Like K-Pop.

  24. In retrospect it appears to me that Real Climate has been a little skeptical in its prime (years ago) compared to the existing situation at the Skeptical[-less] Science site.

    The ‘settled science’ promoters are lessened of late.

    John

  25. Carrick:

    Technically the tweet was from his office not President Obama himself

    I know. That’s why I put the (not quite) there. I’ve been trying to think of a concise way to phrase it, and that’s the best I’ve come up with so far.

  26. So is it just as valid to say that climate change is real, man-made, but not dangerous at all? Apparently it is to them.

  27. You can tell a lot about a president by what they do in their second term, and what their priorities are (or have been all along, just obscured). In the first term they can’t do anything too outrageous or they’ll never get reelected. In the second term they can pretty much get away with anything. The most that can happen is they might lose the House and Senate, which neuters them.

    As clinton demonstrated, you can pretty much do whatever you want, and even if you’re caught and impeached, there is nothing your opponents can do to you. Nope, second term you’re golden. You’re covered. Time to just work on your legacy and make grand proclamations and great historical sound bites.

    A neutered president (lame duck) can’t do as much harm to the country as a leader in some other countries can do if they’re neutered, for example in Canada a Prime Minister still has far too much power because Canada does not have an actual Senate, and the Prime Ministership is dependent on them having a House. Thus some decades back Trudeau managed to do incredible harm to the country in spite of not having much support from the electorate. His actions directly harmed Canada’s oil industry and vast swaths of the country that depend upon that industry were economically devastated for many years.

    So for the big zero to start making unfounded and incorrect declarations about “climate change”, and continue to block Keystone XL for no reason other than to politic, in fact, pretty much everything the administration has done since reelection and will do until they’re gone, demonstrates that your lame duck is armed.

    Also, be careful about zero’s control of the big red button. If an enemy of the state is genuinely dangerous there is one man that can authorize a nuclear strike against that enemy. I’m certain that if his advisers found a single point that could be blown up in order to “solve climate change” he’d rush ahead, secure in his community organizer way that it’s the “right thing to do”. We’re kinda hoping they don’t think the Oilsands become a target.

  28. You appear to have a small typo. In the next to last paragraph, you say “Global warming is mad-made”. I believe you mean “Global warming is madness-made”.

  29. CodeTech says:
    July 31, 2013 at 2:23 pm
    “rush ahead, secure in his community organizer way that it’s the “right thing to do”. We’re kinda hoping they don’t think the Oilsands become a target.”

    Don’t worry. Liberal billionaire crony Warren Buffet makes money hand over fist carting the oil via rail; which is more dangerous and twice as expensive as a pipeline’s transport cost. The oil is moved one way or the other. Obama doesn’t believe in CAGW. He believes in golfing, choom and community organizing.

  30. Like some other environmental scares, CAGW is based on taking advantage of how the target audience in the general public thinks simplistically black / white, as if the whole debate was just a matter of if a greenhouse effect existed. Numbers aren’t really examined closely by that target audience.

    What proponents most often formally defend is a small amount of warming occurring, as they know they can’t defend more than that in argument against a capable critic. However, their message, which they go back to delivering whenever they can get away with it, is to imply huge warming and catastrophe.

    Thus, for example, a propagandist will imply meters of sea level rise rapidly; then in a formal debate switch to defending millimeters, quickly moving goalposts; and then go back to claiming meters again as soon as away from sophisticated questioning.

    Unfortunately I don’t know of a good phrase to name that common tactic. It is like a form of “bait and switch,” but that doesn’t quite encapsulate it.

  31. Reg Nelson says:
    July 31, 2013 at 1:50 pm
    et al….
    ———————
    Science has always been settled…until it wasn’t.
    At the turn of the 20h century the physical sciences were “settled” and then naught; particularly physics.

    Now all science is once again “settled”… perhaps you are right and funding should be cut across the board so that the coming surprises could be more poignant to this casual observer.

    …neither an alarmist nor calmist be
    for the middle path is the better stance.

  32. CodeTech says:
    July 31, 2013 at 2:23 pm
    ———————————
    Fear not, the pipeline continues to be built and the land annexed; the puppet show belies the momentum behind the curtain…both curtains. It is already a done deal, but enjoy the psych-ops, i know i do.
    To watch “them” fret upon the stage, captivating the audience and never showing the writer’s hand….marvelous!

  33. Brandon Shollenberger says:
    July 31, 2013 at 12:59 pm
    Oops! A word is missing in the second sentence. Thanks for catching that guys.
    Could someone with this site fix that for me?

    You should state what word goes where. Or should we suggest possibilities and vote which is funniest?

  34. AnonyMoose, I said that in response to a couple people pointing out what word was missing, and where. I think it’s pretty obvious what I meant.

    But I’m all for your idea. I’d be curious what suggestions people would come up with.

  35. This comment by the alarmists, i.e., don’t worry about global warming, strikes me as further indicative of how their agenda really has nothing to do with climate, but is entirely motivated by totalitarian impulses and the wealth redistribution meme.

    I would emphasize again that ALL wealth redistribution schemes, however they are posited and promoted, ALWAYS result in wealth being redistributed from poorer people to richer people. Monies taken by government for this supposed purpose enrich government functionaries, and monies sent to poor countries only further enrich the tiny kleptocratic elites in those countries.

  36. Brandon Shollenberger says:
    July 31, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Carrick:

    Technically the tweet was from his office not President Obama himself
    ————————————————————————————————–
    The tweet should be assumed to be implicitly endorsed by Obama. I would find it difficult to believe that Obama did not receive a heads-up on this comment being made in his name. Imagine if a sceptic planted inside their organization was able to post a tweet saying something like, ‘climate change really isn’t as dangerous as initially thought’ and attributed the quote to Obama. There would be retractions and clarifications ad nauseum for the following week. So Obama fully owns that tweet.

    The word ‘over’ automatically popped into place to fill in the missing word. That was just a test to see who was paying attention. Right?

  37. Hey, Gold Minor! So glad to see you post. I’ve been concerned about you; you were posting regularly, then ______________________. Hope all is well.

  38. Unfortunately I don’t know of a good phrase to name that common tactic. It is like a form of “bait and switch,” but that doesn’t quite encapsulate it.

    “Equivocation” comes close.

  39. Perhaps Koolaid Science, aka SkS would be so kind as to notify the EPA. They still seem to be under the illusion that “carbon” is some sort of poison.

  40. Our supposed “leader-of-the-free-world” wouldn’t even pass WUWT’s liberal standards of decency for posting replies. I’d think one of his handlers/useful idiots prb’ly posted it, but the chump-in-chief is still responsible for it.

    Now, isn’t that special?

  41. Cook’s Skeptical[-less] Science site makes one thing absolutely certain. The sites main players act like they actually believe in their irrational judgements that all individuals are mentally ill and/ or immoral who have fundamental criticisms of their uncritical acceptance of the IPCC’s biased/manipulated research assessments.

    N’est ce pas?

    Therefore, Cook’s Skeptical[-less] Science site cannot avoid being a fertile breeding ground for conspiracy theories about people who oppose its biases.

    John

  42. If the tweet had said, “97% of scientists agree that climate change is real, manmade and beneficial”, you know as well as I do that it would have been corrected.

  43. Steven Mosher says:
    July 31, 2013 at 1:03 pm
    “Let’s just focus on the fact Skeptical Science tells us it doesn’t matter whether or not Cook et al’s work proves there is a consensus that global warming is dangerous. They say that issue is a just a nit – an unimportant detail. They say there is no relevant difference between a paper saying, “Global warming is mad-made” and saying, “Global warming is man-made and dangerous.”

    So your particular nit is that the paper’s authors didn’t correct the President of the United States (or, rather, those who manage his twitter feed) for the exact wording of a tweet?

    1. The issue they said was a NIT was the fact that they didnt correct Obama

    seriously.
    ——————————————
    Steve, I’m pretty sure Obama knows.
    And his people know the consensus argument is presented as a lie.
    cn

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