The Economist on "climate cranks"

I watched some of this yesterday, noting that Mr. Hertsgaard seems to simply be making a ruckus to promote his new book. There doesn’t appear to be any depth beyond that. The Economist seems to agree. – Anthony

Who are you calling a climate crank, nut job?


HOW do you describe a phenomenon that is global in its impacts, yet must be addressed locally? A phenomenon that is difficult, if not impossible, to detect clearly at a single place in time? That’s the linguistic challenge that has confronted climate activists for decades. Forget the science and geopolitics of the issue. What name can communicators use to communicate the scope and severity of the challenge at hand?

The public is now aware of the issue. But the record global temperatures set last year make clear that naming a problem is quite different from solving it. The remaining challenge for “climate hawks”, as some environmentalists have taken to calling themselves, is to convince or confront politicians and businessmen, who still question whether the world has a climate problem. In that pursuit, the Guardian’s Leo Hickman worries that environmental activists have again gotten side-tracked in linguistic debates.

Just what the climate debate doesn’t need: a new moniker for those who do not accept the mainstream scientific view of anthropogenic climate change. According to environmental activists planning a day of protests across the US [on February 15th], “climate crank” is set to be the latest name added to the growing list – self-appointed, or otherwise – which already includes sceptic, denier, contrarian, realist, dissenter, flat-earther, misinformer, and confusionist….I’m left wondering whether this new exercise in name-calling will only serve to distract from the important task at hand.

Environmentalists efforts to fight spin with spin seem to have spun out of control. The Twitter hashtag created to publicize Tuesday’s event, #climatecranks, was used in nearly equal measure by both Mark Hertsgaard, the environmental correspondent for the Nation who coined the phrase and led the action, and an opponent of greenhouse-gas regulations, who co-opted it to heckle him. And America’s “fair and balanced” network was also quick to belittle the activists’ efforts. “Global Warming Nuts Try to Ambush Sen. Inhofe…Fail”, jeered the Fox News headline.

Climate activists have the science on their side, but American conservatives are winning the war of words. And as the rhetoric heats up, so too does the planet.


read the whole article here


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Crispin in Waterloo

I take it C.W.H. has not actually looked at the global temperatures for the past 10 or 20 years.


If you don’t like that label I’m sure their “quiver of useful arguments” only has more names to choose from.

Don B

“Climate activists have the science on their side.” Actually, The Economist, like the BBC, NYT, NPR, etc. do not recognize anything other than the alarmist interpretation of AGW.

Terry Jackson

I read The Economist every week. There is virtually no topic that it does not link to Global Warming in a most disastrous way. None. There are at least 6 references per issue, many in the most unlikely articles. Clearly the references are added by an editor after the subject article was drafted in some instances. I do not think The Economist realizes how ludicrous this has become. The editors are besmirching an excellent publication with their irrational fear of warming, particularly given the scant evidence of any serious trend of the same in spite of their apparent ability to detect it everywhere.


I got dizzy reading this.

Gary Pearse

One can see that jumping the gun a few months in declaring the hotest year works if the Ec now states it as a fact. Why are reporters so ready to accept this kind of shoddy information.

Chad Woodburn

One of the first and most common signs that someone is not presenting a scholarly or logically solid position is that the individual resorts to name calling. When your argument is so clear and convincing, you don’t need name calling.


Forget the science and geopolitics of the issue. What name can communicators use to communicate the scope and severity of the challenge at hand?

I have a hint for them: It rhymes with “Fullship”.


That “ambush” of Inhofe was sad. They could only resort to “consensus exists, you and your ilk are not on-message,” and, “Wont you please think of the children?”
That’s activism for you. In steps, here is how you become an activist:
1) Suspend critical thinking.
2) Accept same perspective as consensus, conform!
3) When in doubt, see #1.


funny how this has gotten so much publicity when it’s really just one guy calling people names in an attempt to sell a book.
And yet THIS is the best the warmistas can come up with?
prediction – 2 day flash in the pan.


I am nonplussed by the statement that the warmists have the science on their side. Quite the contrary. They have a set of computer programs that cannot back-predict our current climate and has failed in every attempt to forward predict climate variability. Vide the MET Office and snowstorms. If Al Gore and Jim Hansen had been correct in their predictions, we would be roasting today.
Rather than a new name for those who do not swallow the CAGW story line, how about a new name for the true believers: climaPopes.

Grant from Calgary

Pretty funny, but it is sad that it has gottone to this point.

John Phillips

Well, The Economist magazine has swallowed CAGW hook, line, and sinker. As far as the editors are concerned, the science is 100% settled.


The Inofe video is pretty good. It’s amazing how patient he was with the activists. The other amazing thing is that a group of people apparently can sneak up on Senators and get within feet of them with no security in evidence.
Would of been interesting if he’d asked the girls if they:
Liked to be warm
Like to eat foods from outside the local area
Had to travel to see him
Like to have nice clothing
Liked to use electronic items that have to be shipped into the country

An Inquirer

Actually, I like the term “climate hawk.” It is easier to say than what I have been using for a couple of years (AGW pessimist), and I think more people will understand the meaning and implications of “climate hawk.”

James H

Yes, because just like that PPACA health-care bill, it encouters resistance because of the messaging and communication – not the substance. As angst about PPACA has kept its voter-approval below 50% for some time, all we hear about is that if the president could just communicate it better to the people the approval could significantly increase. It’s just those uneducated, non-critical thinking people that are hard to reach without the exact right message that don’t like it.


The Spectator covers the O’Donnell/Steig affair on front cover. Post at B/H.

thanks, they sent me a preprint, I’m working up a post – Anthony

Ron Clutz

The media are going full out today on studies claiming to link precipitation and flooding with increased co2. As an example,
Flooding linked to global warming: studies
Studies weaken argument that climate change is a ‘victimless crime’: researche
Read more:
The same stories are appearing on Reuters, etc., and the origin seems to be articles in Nature magazine.
These results are produced by computer models which include the theory that increased warming will increase precipitation. In the real world, there are many factors in play, and from year to year precipitation varies by only a percent or two. Many studies of real world weather confirm this. For example, see:

Steve from Rockwood

Winning the war of words? Not so fast.
“Warming linked to extreme weather” reads the Toronto Star.
Extreme rainstorms and snowfalls have grown substantially stronger…with scientists for the first time finding the telltale fingerprints of man-made global warming.
Two studies in Wednesday’s issue of Nature link heavy rains to increases in greenhouse gases…
Global warming more than doubled the likelihood of flooding in England and Wales in 2000.
Studies are now underway to examine whether last years’s deadly Russian heat wave and Pakistan floods can be scientifically attributed to global warming.
So don’t leave the gates unguarded for too long. The regrouping has begun.

Snake Oil Baron

“read the whole article here”
Thank you, but no. I can still remember a time when I thought that The Economist was a somewhat decent publication. Then it embraced Marxist theory and anti-Americanism as fully as a college kid in a coffee shop. Sad. At least they can still recognize name-calling as counter productive, if not morally wrong and intellectually bankrupt.


The Economist is owned by the Rothschilds, who have been trying for a global carbon tax for 15 years.

R. de Haan

“Climate activists have the science on their side, but American conservatives are winning the war of words. And as the rhetoric heats up, so too does the planet.”
Yet another example bearing evidence of the decay of journalistic performance.

John F. Hultquist

. . . “a day of protests across the US [on February 15th], . . .”
Really? Who knew?
“. . . The Twitter hashtag, . . .”
I don’t know anyone over the age of 14 that would know what this means. Can these people vote, do arithmetic, write a coherent paragraph . . .?

Keith Battye

I have subscribed to the Economist since the early 70’s. It has always been a newspaper that has held sensible positions on whatever it feels competent to comment on and to me has seem centrist and sensible. Many people regard it as right wing because of it’s pro market pro business stance which has resonated more with Conservatives than Labour.
For most of my time with it the Economist has reported on science in a totally neutral fashion even though there have been a number of science writers over the decades. It was always about “just the facts ma’am” even when the facts may have been anathema in an ideological sense. This last two years or so have been different. It has been warmist in leaning presenting AGW as a fact and leading from there. Phrases like “because of global warming . . . ” or ” if global warming continues at it’s current rate . . . ” would appear in the science pages and elsewhere in the newspaper which was very discouraging for me and many others I think.
It seemed very much as if this group of rigorous thinkers had been fooled by pseudo-science in this one area. That lead , naturally, to questioning their views on economics, trade, aid, the city, the market and most of all free trade. Fortunately for me I felt that their core values had not been weakened and they still were good at identifying and describing soggy thinking when it appeared on the left or the right. They had opinions that they were proud of and they largely right , in both senses of the word.
I always felt that with regards to climate science they would, collectively, see the total humbug at the centre of the AGW intent. No science just emotion, and a talent for promoting and marketing it’s ideas. The Warmista’s collectively are good at social science , they employ good visuals including many personalities from the entertainment industry and remember we will live in a very visual age and brand recognition is important. Their “meat and potatoes” is lacking though. They dodge confrontation with informed skeptics , their projections are further away than most attention spans and the changes they speak of are imperceptible by the human body relying on very expensive equipment and especially software run on giant computers.
This article in the Economist is evidence that those very bright folk have seen through the nonsense. Expect them to behave like rock solid skeptics from here on out. They will demand proof and they will slash away any undergrowth that prevents clarity and understanding. This will not change according to the current science editor whoever that may be at the time , they as a group “get it”.


“Climate activists have the science on their side.”
Now we are getting somewhere. They are activists, practicing advocacy, and funded by the same politicians they are advising.
“Climate hawks” could work with some adjustments, as it is a foul science on eggshells with the public at the moment. Perhaps Climate Quacks vs. Climate Cranks is going to be this year’s round.

Michael H Anderson

@Pat: same reason I cancelled my subscription to the National Geographic magazine – ending a membership begun in 1971.
Whern I feel like reading the prattlings of a shill for green NGOs, I can find a lot of free online sources. BTW, they still destroy a lot of trees sending me unwanted adverts and catalogs etc.


Nothing beats “Screeching Mercury Monkeys”, as far as I’m concerned.


The nation debt causing “Global Warming” and UFOs are much more plausible.

Charles Higley

I love it! I missed the moniker of “realist” used on skeptics. Oh, the horror! If being labeled a “realist” is what it takes, sign me up.
Since when is being realistic bad? What are we supposed to be? Delusionists like them?

Charles Higley

JimBrock says:
I am nonplussed by the statement that the warmists have the science on their side. Quite the contrary. They have a set of computer programs that cannot back-predict our current climate . . .”
Their other pieces of SOLID science is the temperature-cherry-picked tree-ring hockeystick graph and their ice core-Mauna Loa CO2 hockeystick (which pretends that CO2 was historically low until 1950, ignoring all direct chemical CO2 data that shows otherwise).
With this arsenal of non-science computer programs and fraud science graphs, who wouldn’t say that science is on their side?


They forgot my favourite label; “Refutnik”.

If Hertsgaard copied my “carbon cranks” comment from a year or two ago, it’s nice to know he reads WUWT.


Many months ago I got fed up with the Economist and its blithe disregard for anything rational when talking about this issue. Yes, it pops up in the oddest places in their articles and you get a cringing feeling that you know it is coming in that last paragraph. To be fair though their political reporting has gone down hill a long way recently as well and I really can’t be bothered with their actual economics any more since they will excuse almost any craziness if it suits some political line. I have not the faintest idea why they even have a science section, most of the articles are aged and warmed up pseudo-social-science crap (maybe a PhD in physics biases me, but what they hey) with no real value and so heavily distorted if you know the backstories that they are not worth reading. So, the subscription is going to lapse and when they bug me for a renewal they’ll find out why.

Paul in Sweden

Daily Kos, Puffington Host, Mother Jones, Grist, Nature & The Economist, what is the difference?

John Peter

I used to buy and read the Economist as a source of objective and well researched/thought out articles and commentaries. Not any longer. Would’nt spend a dime on the magasine. Tragic to see how they have lost their sense of insight and objectivity.


I have cancelled my subscriptions to Scientific American, The Economist, and National Geographic over the last few years because of their biased and uncritical acceptance of AGW’ism. I wonder if others have done the same and whether their subsciber base has been affected.


They forgot “doubt merchant.”

Doctor Gee

When it comes to Twitter posts, is it really possible to present a global changing argument to the masses when you are limited to 140 charac


New (model) study in Nature from Oxford university shows the UK floods were most likely caused by climate change driven by enhanced levels of CO2.
It appears that the Australian floods were just weather, seems CO2 driven climate change only effects the UK.


There’s quite a good article in RealPolitics today about Hertsgaard and his use of Galileo:
Galileo and the Scientific Pose of the Left
By Robert Tracinski
“…Hertsgaard acknowledges that “skepticism is invaluable to the scientific method”-but then calls for the skeptics to be “called to account” for their “sabotage.” Cardinal Bellarmine, call your office.
Hertsgaard’s article is partly a cautionary tale about one of the occupational vices of the political polemicist: using historical examples and symbols to score rhetorical points, without really understanding them. Perhaps Godwin’s Law should be extended to cover Galileo and the Inquisition.
But it is also an example of the way the left uses science, not as a vital thinking method, but as a political pose. They drag out science as a prop, without understanding the basic method and attitude of science.
Part of the reason why Galileo is remembered as one of the fathers of modern science is his thoroughgoing rejection of this subordination to authority. His achievement is reflected in the motto of Britain’s Royal Society: nullius in verba, “on no one’s word.” The idea is that even if a Galileo or a Newton were to present a new theory, his prestige should count for nothing. He still has to show his data and prove it.
The same goes for climate scientists, environmentalist activists, and hack political writers.
*Correction: the original text misidentified Michael Mann as author of the email.
Robert Tracinski writes daily commentary at He is the editor of The Intellectual Activist and….”


Keith Battye says:
February 17, 2011 at 9:18 am
“I have subscribed to the Economist since the early 70′s. It has always been a newspaper that has held sensible positions on whatever it feels competent to comment on and to me has seem centrist and sensible. Many people regard it as right wing because of it’s pro market pro business stance which has resonated more with Conservatives than Labour. ”
Keith, maybe in Europe it is viewed as “centrist” and ‘pro market pro business”, but I too have read the magazine for over 30 years and have witnessed a drift toward socialism/marxism for over 2 decades now. “Pro market and Pro business’, not in my lifetime. Interesting take from a European on what is “right wing”!


“Andrew says:
February 17, 2011 at 9:04 am
The Economist is owned by the Rothschilds, who have been trying for a global carbon tax for 15 years.”
It appears that the Rothchilds, George Soros, and Maurice Strong are part of the international cabal that seeks to control energy production and consumption globally. The UN and other NGOs are willing participants or have been corrupted to front for the cabal.
It amazes me that so few have been able to thwart the massive efforts and overcome the wealth of the cabal to date. We might be winning.

Hu McCulloch

An Inquirer says:
February 17, 2011 at 8:50 am
Actually, I like the term “climate hawk.” It is easier to say than what I have been using for a couple of years (AGW pessimist), and I think more people will understand the meaning and implications of “climate hawk.”

So this would make skeptics “climate doves”?

Chad Woodburn

I have another name they can call us: climate racists. I’m not really sure how they would connect our hesitance about accepting CAGW with racism. But why not? After all, it certainly has a more pejorative ring to it.


I used to subscribe to the Economist as it was often up front on issue and well researched. It is sad that its writers have joined the AWG fan club who believe it is their moral duty to push that agenda, such as subsiding wind generation that does not make economic sense.
As noted in the Economist’s article the general circulation climate models (GCM) have different climate sensitivities and oddly they all can accurately model the recent past. When a model is sufficiently complicate it is possible to adjust assumed and free parameters to curve fit. What answer do you want?
The Economist article did not discuss changes to planetary cloud cover which resist warming, negative feedback rather than positive. The Economist article did not discuss modulation of planetary cloud cover by GCR and by solar wind bursts. (Electrosavenging) which correlates with the period of warming in the 20th century. (There was a reduction in planetary cloud cover as measured by satellites.)
If one looks at the discrepancy between the US GISS global temperature and the satellite global temperature it is obvious the GISS data and algorithms have been adjusted to increase (make it appear there is an increase which is significantly greater than true observed) the global temperature. The root of the problem is James Hanson and those who he has hired. The fact the Real Climate is run by a James Hanson employee using company time is an indication of the depth of the problem.
The planet is not going to warm significantly. Trillions of dollars are not going to be spend to reduce CO2. Plants eat CO2. The biosphere benefits from increased CO2 and a slightly warmer average temperature. The name calling of skeptics who note the science does not support the extreme global warming paradigm will eventually end.

Dave Wendt

You have to realize that these folks are like Freddy Kreuger, Michael Myers and JasonVoorhees all wrapped in one. You might think you’re defeating them, but as long as there is money to made, there will always be another sequel. At this point the “science” is mostly irrelevant, if it ever really was relevant.
The big problem is that the financial incentives pushing this mess have become so deeply imbedded and the financial beneficiaries have become so numerous that extricating the world from the grip of this scheme will be a massively daunting task. The notion that reducing our CO2 emissions is an unquestionable good has thoroughly permeated most of the world. Even within the skeptical community, those that may disagree with the science or the proposed solutions, often exhibit a tacit acceptance of the goal. As I’ve pointed out a number of times, the people pushing this are in it for the long haul. For well over a century, they and their cohorts have had a plan and they have pursued it relentlessly. They see the climate crisis as the key to finally achieving their utopian fantasy. It’s the big running back that has gotten them to a first and goal inside the ten and they’re going to keep pounding him up the middle until they make the end zone. They know they have the refs on their side to penalize the defense whenever they need a fresh set of downs. Their only problem is the fans in the stands are beginning to smell a rat, even many of those who at the start of the game were rooting for the CAGW side.
Unfortunately, while everyone has been focussed on the game on the field, the GAGW team owners have had their fleet of tow trucks busy out in the parking lot hauling away everybody’s ride. If they do manage to finally push the ball over the goal line, the folks in the cheap seats will be startled to find that they all have to walk home.

[so the solution is to just accept AGW ?]

Peter Plail

BBC radio 4’s Material World program today covered the two Nature articles:
Scientists have discovered that green house gases have significantly increased the risk of extreme rainfall. One research group used real-world data and computer models to prove the link between greenhouse emissions and the increase in extreme rains in the Northern Hemisphere. Another research group showed that greenhouse warming made the UK floods of 2000 more likely. Dr Richard Allan and Professor Mark Maslin join Quentin to explain more. ( has a listen again link).
One of the final comments was that this shows global warming is affecting climate now so there is no point burying your head in the sand and waiting before taking action.
When I hear scientists parroting “the verwhelming scientific evidence” I find myself wondering just how closely or critically they have looked at the evidence, or are they simply accepting the “scientific consensus”.


“Climate activists have the science on their side, but American conservatives are winning the war of words. And as the rhetoric heats up, so too does the planet.”
Well they have “science” on thier side until someone comes along with “science” and disproves thier claims. Once that occurs, the “activists” launch disinformation campaigns, take part in ad hominem attacks, and act like spoiled children.
And speaking of the last sentence, the author appears confused. According to the Alarmists, the earth is not warming; but its climate is being disrupted.