PolitiFact or Politi-fiction?

Guest essay by Andy May

This is a critique of the coverage of the man-made climate change debate by Politifact.com. It’s an update of a post I wrote last year. Journalism has not improved in the last 19 months and may actually be worse. Because Politifact is often characterized as an unbiased and credible source by the rest of the media it must be held to a very high standard. This is why finding two well documented cases of the organization deliberately mischaracterizing the facts and misquoting sources on the climate change debate is so shocking. As a result of these “fact checks” it is annoying that the press cites Politifact as if it were objective and honest, it is neither.

In their fact check of Senator Rick Santorum they misquoted Professor Richard Tol on several points. Tol pointed out the errors and Politifact refused to correct them. This is all well documented here. They also erroneously labeled Santorum’s statement false, Santorum did confuse his numbers a bit, but got the basics right. As Professor Tol put it in an email to Politifact:

“I think you were unfair on Santorum. He mixes up his numbers here: “The most recent survey of climate scientists said about 57 percent don’t agree with the idea that 95 percent of the change in the climate is caused by CO2.”

In fact, the statement is that 57% disagree that there is 95% confidence that 50% was caused by greenhouse gases. In other words, Santorum had the spirit right but the letter wrong.”

Politifact, like many in the news media, conflate “anthropogenic global warming” (man has some unknown amount of influence on climate) with “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming” (man is driving climate change with his emissions and causing a climate catastrophe). The debate is not whether man affects climate, I think everyone agrees with that. But by how much and whether or not it’s a problem. In Professor Tol’s words:

“There is vigorous debate about how much humans have contributed to climate change, but no one argues the effect is zero. By emitting greenhouse gases, changing the landscape, rerouting rivers, and huddling together in cities, we change the climate – perhaps by a little, perhaps by a lot – but not one expert doubts we do.”

As Professor Tol, Professor Bjorn Lomborg, Dr. Randall Donohue, Professor William Happer and others have pointed out there are many benefits to global warming and increased levels of carbon dioxide. Computing whether global warming is net positive or net negative is very complex and Professor Tol is an expert in the subject. In fact, Professor Tol has concluded in his working paper 75-2015 that

“The impact of climate change on the economy and human welfare is likely to be limited at least in the 21st century.”

Where Politifact has gone off the rails here is their implicit assumption (from ignorance, presumably) that warming is all bad and without any benefits. This is clearly wrong as can be seen here and in Tol’s Figure 1 from his 2009 paper, “The Economic Effects of Climate Change,” below. The consensus of climate economists, according to Matt Ridley’s article, is that global warming impacts are positive for mankind’s welfare until 2080 at least, then they may turn negative.

corrected_Fig1

Figure 1 Updated – The figure shown is the corrected figure from Tol’s 2014 correction. 

Linda Qiu and Politifact claim Professor Tol parted ways with the IPCC, which is not true. He did refuse to allow his name to be associated with a summary of the IPCC AR5 Working Group 2 chapters due to a disagreement on the negative tone of the summary. He believes that there are many benefits to global warming that the summary ignored. But, he has not left the IPCC. The IPCC still call him an author here and here.  Politifact claim he is affiliated with the Global Warming Foundation and this is true, but only in the way he is affiliated with the EPA or other organizations that he has advised. They try and show he supports the 97% (or at least 91%) consensus when he clearly does not. In particular Qiu writes:

“Tol takes issue with Cook’s methodology. By his analysis of Cook’s data, the real figure is around 91 percent. (Cook replied critiquing Tol’s methodology and standing by his survey’s original finding of 97 percent.)”

This is Ms. Qiu misreading what Professor Tol has written. Below I’ve quoted from an email from Professor Tol to her (2 September 2015):

“Cook’s analysis is a load of old bollocks.  Cook did not study 1,300 papers, but close to 12,000; not that Cook has been [able] to give the exact number. (http://richardtol.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/ppps-cooks-missing-papers.html)

Cook’s 97% is the consensus rate, rather than the percentage. The percentage is 0.6%.  I never claimed that the consensus rate is 91%.

I see that you have yet to correct yesterday’s post on the same topic.  Please correct these errors post haste.”

Additional criticism of Cook, et al. from Tol can be seen here.

They also twisted other comments. The emails that Professor Tol wrote were very clear. Seeing the email exchange on climatedepot.com we can only surmise that Ms. Linda Qiu deliberately misquoted Professor Tol. Politifact presented only one side of the debate, thus acting as a political advocate.

This debate is serious because currently 87% of the energy we use comes from fossil fuels. In order to reduce our carbon emissions, we need to curtail fossil fuel use, raise the cost of energy and slow the development of poorer countries. This will increase poverty in the western world and prevent many of the existing poor in the rest of the world from rising out of poverty. As Professors Tol and Lomborg have said, we need to make sure that the net effect of any actions we take is positive for mankind. Many people claim that all fossil fuel use is bad and will harm mankind, but Professor Richard Tol has demonstrated that even if carbon dioxide emissions cause a two degree increase in average temperature the net effect on man may be positive. Even if the entire Paris climate change agreement is ratified and the proposed carbon dioxide emission cuts are accomplished, it will only reduce temperatures by 0.05°C by 2100. How is this worth the cost?

Ms. Kliegman’s Politifact article claiming that Marco Rubio’s statement that human activity is not “causing these dramatic changes to our climate” is false is incorrect and not very honest.  Rubio’s full statement from the article is carefully worded and very reasonable:

“I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it,” he said. “And I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it. Except it will destroy our economy.”

Rubio is correct. The Kliegman article chooses not to address what Rubio actually said, but illogically (perhaps due to ignorance to be sure) changes his statement to:

“Rubio said human activity isn’t causing changes to the environment…”

This statement is false, but very different from what he said. This is a high school level straw man logical fallacy.

Rubio has been criticized a lot for saying climate change will destroy our economy, but he is in line with climate economists Richard Tol and Bjorn Lomborg on this point, both are very concerned about the negative impact of fightingclimate change on the world economy. Professor Bjorn Lomborg has written:

“The World Health Organization estimates that the effects of climate change are currently responsible for 141,000 deaths annually. If we look far ahead, to 2050, the death toll is expected to climb to 250,000. By contrast, some 4.3 million people will die this year from indoor air pollution. That is the direct result of poverty, of almost three billion people using dung and wood to heat and cook.”

He also states in the same article:

“… the elimination of fossil-fuel subsidies. This would free up resources for education and health while at the same time cutting air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions. The benefits would be worth more than $15 for every dollar spent in direct support for the very poor who are unable to afford higher fuel prices. By contrast, trying to drastically increase the production of renewable energy would return less than a dollar for every dollar spent, despite the carbon dioxide reduction, because renewable forms of energy remain expensive and are available only intermittently.”

These are not simple issues and the first rule in fighting climate change, like in medicine, should be to do no harm. Rubio’s assertion that fighting climate change “will destroy our economy” may well be true, if we do it stupidly. It may very well lose more lives than it saves.

The notorious and widely discredited Cook, et al. 2013 “97% consensus” paper is also cited in Kliegman’s Politifact article. As Richard Tol notes in an email to Linda Qiu:

“Cook found 64 papers (out of some 12,000) that support the consensus. It is a long story why Cook thinks that 64 is 97% of 12,000.”

A similar flawed study by Doran also claims a 97% consensus that is based on 75 papers out of 77. Even the authors of many of the papers “classified” by Cook, et al. (Cook and his co-authors are not climate scientists) say their papers were misclassified. Criticism by an actual climate scientist, Professor Judith Curry, can be seen here. There are other studies claiming to have demonstrated a scientific consensus on dangerous man-made climate change like Anderegg, et al.,Oreskes, et al. But, all are flawed studies and a wide array of articles are heavily critical of them. Other looks at the “97% consensus” can be found here and here. Professor Tol’s criticism of the “97% consensus” is particularly well documented in his US House of Representatives testimony and here.

Climate does change and some of the climate change is probably caused by man, but the magnitude of man’s impact is unknown. There is certainly no proof that man-made climate change is dangerous. Can climate change in a catastrophic way? Certainly, it has happened many times in the past, but the catastrophes were not caused by man, they were natural. And, of course man being man, he always blames other men or women for these natural disasters as shown by Professor Wolfgang Behringer in his excellent book “A Cultural History of Climate.” With all of the scientific and technical advances of the past 2,000 years, we still seem to need to blame all natural catastrophes on the “sins” of men and women. Below is Wolfgang Behringer’s portrayal of anthropogenic climate change in 1486 AD. It is a woodcut of a sorceress conjuring up a hailstorm with the jawbone of an ass. The climate change alarmism of today has as much evidence behind it as this woodcut in 1486.

Figure 2, titled “Anthropogenic Climate Change”

Further on this topic, the Archbishop Agobard of Lyons (769-840AD) said the following in his sermon “On Hail and Thunder:”

“In these parts nearly everyone – nobles and common folk, town and country, young and old – believe that human beings can bring about hail and thunder…We have seen and heard how most people are gripped by such nonsense, indeed possessed by such stupidity…”

Today we are in the same place. Hopefully, the silly idea that man can control the weather and climate with his carbon dioxide emissions will not lead to the execution of over 50,000 so-called witches as it did in 1600. The arrogance of non-scientists, like the journalists at Politifact, Senator Whitehouse, Al Gore, John Cook (cartoonist, blogger and sometime psychology graduate student), Naomi Oreskes (Historian) have in claiming actual climate scientists such as Professor Judith Curry, Dr. Tim Ball, Professor Richard Tol, Professor William Happer, Professor Richard Lindzen, Professor Patrick Michaels, Nobel Prize winner Ivar Giaever, and over a thousand other qualified scientists are wrong is spectacular. And, just because of a group of unsubstantiated surveys by other non-scientists? This doesn’t count the31,487 American scientists who signed the Global Warming Petition Project.

As Albert Einstein once said when ask about the book A Hundred Authors against Einstein

“Why one hundred? If I were wrong one would be enough.”

Being quantitative and skeptical are the life blood of science. “Consensus” has no place in science, “consensus” only plays a role in politics and mobs.

Given the obvious mischaracterization of the statements made by Professor Tol, Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Rick Santorum discussed above, one wonders why would a journalist do this? You change what someone says so the statement goes from true to false and then attack the changed statement? Is this journalism today? Is it no wonder that only 28% of people believe journalists contribute a lot to society? Another poll shows that fewer than 25% of Americans think journalists are honest. A whopping 78% of people have an unfavorable view of the press. Certainly the Politifact articles discussed in this post don’t help the profession and they certainly do not inform the public about the climate change debate.

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94 thoughts on “PolitiFact or Politi-fiction?

  1. I was a journalism student up into early college – and I had very idealistic teachers at a big Journalism school, so my opinion might be a little jaded – but the primary thing they stressed, to the point of obsession, was objectivity and not becoming part of the story (think Holly Hunter in ‘Broadcast News’). Today that seems to have literally been flipped on its ear – the bias, which was evident even when I was a student back in the late eighties – is now the driving force. The news has become a medium to drive and, even worse, create opinion. Objectivity was last year’s pretense – they don’t even bother anymore.

    • Objectivity may be the rule in journalism for most students and professional practitioners. For the more ambitious, however, it is not enough. To get on the front page they need compelling stories, told with emotion. Truth is secondary if not altogether meaningless. In such a competitive industry as journalism, where most of today’s stars will be unemployed in a few years, who can afford truth. (Kind of like politicians?)

  2. Politifact has a reputation of enforcing liberal othodoxy in what it considers “fact”, rating conservatives much lower than liberals as far as truthfulness.

  3. Since accuracy is important here, I should point out that you have mischaracterized the Doran paper. They claim 75 out of 77 scientists agree with the consensus, not 75 out of 77 papers.
    There is plenty wrong with the study (which was really a student project) and even more with how it has been characterized. An e-mail survey was sent out to over 10,000 people, of whom a self-selected 3,000 or so replied. The authors then whittled this down to 77 “valid” responses.
    Of these, 75 answered “risen” to the first question and “yes” to the second question:
    1. When compared with pre- 1800s levels, do you think that mean global tem-peratures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?
    2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?
    Note that “significant” is not defined in the second question, and that the question does use any term like “majority”. In my technical professional work, when I am asked to analyze “significant” contributing factors to some effect, I usually go down to about 5%.
    Nevertheless, this has been used to claim that 97% of climate scientists claim that climate change is “real, man-made, and dangerous”, when it does nothing of the sort.

    • “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?”
      rewording to define what we are actually discussing…
      “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing of the CALCULATED value of the mean global temperatures?”
      Most definitely human activity is a very significant factor in GISS and HadCrut (and other related series)
      A great big thumb on the scales.

    • Regarding Doran & Kendall-Zimmerman… I would have answered “risen” to #1 and might have answered “yes” #2. “Significant contributing factor” is a very subjective phrase. Fortunately, I wasn’t polled because Doran excluded all geoscientists who didn’t work for government agencies or academic institutions.
      Regarding Cook’s cooked consensus, their definition of “endorsed the consensus” would apply to several of my WUWT posts, which explicitly ripped the notion that human activities are the primary drivers of Late Holocene climate change.
      While I think the so-called “fact checkers” mean well, they are total fracking morons, who simply match quotes. Here is the perfect example:
      Paul Babeu, the Republican Sheriff of Pinal County AZ was rated as “Mostley False,” when he said,

      “The president has said the national security threat facing America, the top one, is global warming. It’s not an unsecured border, it’s not the terrorists we should be fighting and defeating.”

      Babeu wasn’t quoting Maobama. He was characterizing what Maobama has said on the subject of Gorebal Warming and national security.
      Dear Leader Chairman Maobama’s actual quotes:

      “No challenge — no challenge — poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.”
      “Isis is not an existential threat to the United States. Climate change is a potential existential threat to the entire world if we don’t do something about it.”
      “Today, there’s no greater threat to our planet than climate change,”
      “The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security.”
      “So I’m here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security. And make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country.”

      There is no inconsistency between Babeu’s assertion and Maobama’s actual quotes. It would take an incredible leap of logic to not characterize Maobama’s statements as Babeu did. It is a blatant lie to rate Babeu’s statement as “mostly false.” PolitiFact’s argument consists of a “distinction without a difference” fallacy.

  4. Politifact = Tampa Bay Times = far left
    …who in this world thought it wasn’t in the first place??

  5. Good article…a point of curiosity to me is how have all the major networks arrived at the notion of reporting the weather breathlessly everyday as though something “unprecedented” is happening all the time and “millions of residents” are experiencing the usual disruptions of….summer storms.

    • The major news networks are conspiring to promote the CAGW theory. They got their marching orders from the Democrats, and are out there selling the product.
      Local weather forecasters have *not* been caught up in this dishonesty. They don’t even mention “Climate Change”. And we are very happy about that. Just the weather, please.

  6. This is why finding two well documented cases of the organization deliberately mischaracterizing the facts and misquoting sources on the climate change debate is so shocking

    And Inspector Renault was shocked, shocked to find gambling going on in Rick’s Cafe.

  7. I would never believe anything in a news publication with “fact” or “truth” (Pravda) in its title.

    • i second that – this article was extremely well done.
      an article on fake journalism done with the best journalistic standards just rings my chimes…lol

  8. Hopefully, the silly idea that man can control the weather and climate with his carbon dioxide emissions will not lead to the execution of over 50,000 so-called witches as it did in 1600

    Well, I do not think it is silly at all (at least metaphorically). After all, a big bunch of US Attorneys General recently went on just such a witch hunt. They did not find any, because they were looking in the wrong place.
    To find witches, wizards, warlocks, necromancers, etc., one should look where the Black Arts are practiced. Look to where people are adept and have access to secret knowledge unavailable to the uninitiated. Forbidden knowledge like TCS, ECS, Forcings and Feedbacks, and Catastrophe. There you will find your witches and wizards.
    Places with arcane names, in far flung locations, sometimes everywhere, yet nowhere.
    Places like NASA, GISS, NOAA, NCDC, OSTP. Identify the people, seek them out, know who they are.
    What to do with them after you get them is left as an exercise for the alert reader.

  9. “I am very cautious of people who are absolutely right, especially when they are vehemently so.”
    Michael Palin

  10. Pravda back in Stalin’s day was a more honest and trustworthy source of information than Politi”fact” today is.

  11. I wonder if Politifact rated that claim John Kerry made about Air Condtioning — “Kerry: Air conditioners as big a threat as ISIS”
    I would love to see them justify that answer.

  12. In addition to the deaths attributed to indoor air pollution, the World Food Programme says 3.1 million children die per year from malnutrition…and, they’re asking me to worry about a hypothetical 140,000 dying from climate change? What does that even mean? Is it from flooding, or all those imaginary hurricanes?

    • “hey’re asking me to worry about a hypothetical 140,000 dying from climate change?”
      “Hypothetical” is the correct description. They pulled this number out of their…air. They couldn’t prove this statement if their lives depended on it.

  13. People lie at first if they hope for some benefit. If there’s no consequence, they will keep lying forever.
    Unfortunately, most people don’t have the time and energy to disassemble lies, so they just believe anyone they think is “like them,” even if they are just being fed hysterical lies.
    Chaos is the result, as most people have a worldview that doesn’t match the world, so life constantly surprises and disappoints them (and then they are told the “bad guys” “cheated” and that’s why the world didn’t do what they expected.

    • “Chaos is the result, as most people have a worldview that doesn’t match the world,”
      I don’t know about “most”, but there are a lot who don’t . Maybe enough to do this poor old world some serious damage.

  14. The 97% consensus is like a hydra. Slay one head, another pops up. If you talk about a paper, the reply will be information from another. If you say it is fake, they will use a paper to prove it. If you say it says nothing about being dangerous they simply ignore you.
    It is the gift that keeps giving.
    The real 97% consensus includes skeptics because all it says is that man is causing warming. As soon as you introduce another characteristic, say attribution, the 97% begins to fall apart.
    Cook’s famous 97% paper introduce attribution into the equation. Why does it fall apart? Read the paper…. but all you really need to know is how they classified the papers. Very few papers talk about attribution directly so if the paper was not clear, it was classified as assuming >50% attribution and therefore was part of the consensus. They could have assumed > 75%, or > 40% or < 27% or 50% of the warming…… which is not true.
    The real problem is that it takes time to debate and clarify what “the consensus” means and nobody wants to do they, they only want to say how deniers are not in the consensus because they disagree with the alarmists.

    • “The 97% consensus is like a hydra. Slay one head, another pops up. If you talk about a paper, the reply will be information from another. If you say it is fake, they will use a paper to prove it. If you say it says nothing about being dangerous they simply ignore you.
      It is the gift that keeps giving.”
      This is what happens when the Left owns 90 percent of mass media. The Left has a tremedous propaganda organ at their disposal. Politifact is just another cog in their wheel.

  15. Hmmm, the formatting didn’t work. (The + and – used below is greater than and less than symbols)
    The 97% consensus is like a hydra. Slay one head, another pops up. If you talk about a paper, the reply will be information from another. If you say it is fake, they will use a paper to prove it. If you say it says nothing about being dangerous they simply ignore you.
    It is the gift that keeps giving.
    The real 97% consensus includes skeptics because all it says is that man is causing warming. As soon as you introduce another characteristic, say attribution, the 97% begins to fall apart.
    Cook’s famous 97% paper introduce attribution into the equation. Why does it fall apart? Read the paper…. but all you really need to know is how they classified the papers. Very few papers talk about attribution directly so if the paper was not clear, it was classified as assuming +50% attribution and therefore was part of the consensus. They could have assumed + 75%, or + 40% or – 27% or – 65.4%. They assumed what the authors would agree with. How bloody scientific is that?
    http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024024
    Here are the classifications that prove it: (Table 2 Class 2 Explicit endorsement without quantification & 3, Implicit Endorsement )
    “Explicitly states humans are causing global warming or refers to anthropogenic global warming/climate change as a known fact”
    “Implies humans are causing global warming. E.g., research assumes greenhouse gas emissions cause warming without explicitly stating humans are the cause”
    In the end, what this means is that the vast majority of papers included in 97% consensus were assumed to take that position, even papers written in the 90’s
    To be fair if there was no mention of “global warming” it was not classified.
    All skeptics accept humans are causing climate change and thus end up classified as explicit or implicit endorsement of the consensus. Therefore according to Cook, all skeptics agree that humans are causing > 50% of the warming…… which is not true.
    The real problem is that it takes time to debate and clarify what “the consensus” means and nobody wants to do they, they only want to say how deniers are not in the consensus because they disagree with the alarmists.
    [Greater than and less than symbols (by themselves) become half of what the server interprets as html coding start (or stop).

    • Small clarification: Cook’s criteria stated the that results either included the phrase – ‘global climate change’ or ‘global warming’.
      Better wording would be that “many skeptics recognize a non-alarming human component to climate change.”
      I agree though that the 97% talking point requires extensive debate to clarify and if most people knew the truth they would not be alarmed.

      • Thanks for the wording recommendation. I am not a intellectual, just an undergrad science degree, but I have always been amazed at how flimsy Cooks paper was and if I could see the obvious flaws so can others that care to look.

  16. Fact checkers in service to the liberal orthodoxy. Predictably selective.
    The traditional standard for separating the wheat from the chaff is multiple, independent sources.

  17. “… and huddling together in cities …”
    Yes, it’s true. We can no longer afford to huddle together in cities. All cities must be destroyed.

  18. “The World Health Organization estimates that the effects of climate change are currently responsible for 141,000 deaths annually. If we look far ahead, to 2050, the death toll is expected to climb to 250,000. By contrast, some 4.3 million people will die this year from indoor air pollution. That is the direct result of poverty, of almost three billion people using dung and wood to heat and cook.”
    I call BS on the indoor air pollution deaths.
    This is a very SERIOUS misquote of the source document and is typical of the sort of manipulation of a public not in a position to know the truth.
    The claimed effect of indoor air pollution caused by smoke from cooking fires is 4.3 million ‘premature deaths’ not ‘deaths’. A ‘premature death means that there is statistically significant evidence that 4.3 million people who will die this year would have live at least a little longer had they not been exposed to any indoor air pollution. That is a helluva difference from noting a cause of death as ‘disease caused by air pollution’, as in ‘killed by indoor air pollution’.
    Those making the claim are promoting LPG and electricity as universal saviours.
    The claim arises from Berkeley and is specific to cooking fire smoke. It is based on population statistics that underlie the Global Burden of Disease and other modeling of exposure, modeled disease response to modeled exposure, and modeled mortality based on the modeled disease response. In total there are six layers of models.
    No one has claimed that indoor air pollution from smoky fires kills 4.3 m people per year. Be very clear about that. They said it shortens lives and calculated a number of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALY) based on the modeled exposure to PM2.5 (not measurements) and an assumption of the equitoxicity of all airborne particles (which is a stretch in itself).
    Now…stand by to see how many of those claiming there are 4.3 m premature deaths take time and make efforts to correct those who misrepresent their claim as ‘4.3m deaths’! Crickets. The misrepresentation feeds the alarm.
    People with an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) score of over 60% die on average 19 years sooner than those with a very low score. IAP doesn’t come close to that sort of life-shortening impact.
    All that said, I don’t believe any claim for ‘deaths from climate change’ over the past 20 years until there is a) a heck of a lot more climate change and b) some credit applied for lives saved because of climate change. The world’s population is far better fed because of increasing CO2 saving hundreds of millions of lives over the past 50 years. Climate change is net beneficial to human well-being including from the point of view of deaths or premature deaths.

    • Not really following the logic here. Yes, your point is true in the strict sense, but that would apply to deaths from, say, smoking tobacco, equally well. How instantaneous would a death have to be to rank as attributable? But agreed that the numbers are pretty flaky – clearly we don’t get them from trawling through death certificates

      • Mothcatcher
        The logic is the difference between ‘smoking a cigarette takes 15 minutes off your life’ (remember that slogan?) and ‘look both ways before crossing the street’.
        Being hit by a car ‘shortens your life’ instantly. Cause of death and all that. Smoking one cigarette does not kill anyone. The ‘fifteen minutes’ is an average, and is hard to prove. It’s effects are cumulative and compounded by many factors including gender, age, nutrition, genetics, additional air pollution, and a host of other things.
        Working with asbestos kills you, slowly. Mesothelioma. If you were to start cooking indoors with dung at the age of 80 and you died at 82, were you killed by the dung smoke, or did it shorten your life (at all)? Probably not. If it shortened your life by 15 minutes, yours constitutes a ‘premature death’. Get it?
        These things can be worked out for whole populations using statistical tools that look at ‘cohorts of the population’ of nations and the risk of various consequences from various contributors to disease. They are not particular to individuals, they are population attributes. No one can point to 4.3m dead individuals and say ‘they died early because of cooking smoke’. Everyone on the planet is exposed to PM2.5 particles. Forest fires, fog, cooking with oil, farming – there is no escape. So how can one calculate the impact of an additional source? Statistically being sick for a while (partly disabled for a year) can be attributed to certain causes.
        That is a far cry from saying ‘4.3m people die per year from working with asbestos’ which is a particular danger with particular consequences for particular people. You see the difference? One group has statistically shortened lives (amount not stated) and the other dies in direct consequence. To skip from one to the other is cheating, or rather, lying. Misrepresenting. Fibbing.
        Those misrepresenting shortened lives as deaths caused directly, when it boils down, are fund-raising by claiming the situation is so dire they need money to address it. It is also used to justify subsidies for otherwise economically unviable solutions – very much like windmills and solar PV panels to solve an ‘energy crisis’.
        Subsidizing LPG to the poor is fantastically expensive. Ask Indonesia. It completely, almost, removes cooking fire smoke from kitchens. What if the cooking was always done outdoors? What if the children die of malaria in a ‘clean kitchen’ before the age of five? What if the family had instead been inoculated against common diseases? Where should funds be applied? Which element of the global burden of disease should be addressed first? Twisting 4.3m premature deaths into 4.3m deaths p.a. is one way to raise the profile of a particular risk. These terms are codewords and the public needs to learn when they are being hoodwinked.

      • “To skip from one to the other is cheating, or rather, lying. Misrepresenting. Fibbing.”
        We like to call it Clintonizing the information.

  19. CAGW is already a disconfirmed hypothesis because CAGW’s global warming projections already exceed reality by over 2 standard deviations for 20 years, which is sufficient disparity and duration to toss this CAGW scam in the trash.
    Because both the PDO & AMO will be in their 30-yr cool cycles from 2020, global temp trends will actually start to FALL from 2020 as they ALWAYS do when this phenomenon occurs. Moreover, the collapse of solar cycles will add to global cooling, with the next solar cycle starting in 2022 expected to be the weakest since the start of the Dalton Minimum in 1790…
    By 2022, the disparity between CAGW’s bogus projections vs. reality will exceed 3 standard deviations for 25 years, which is when scientists outside the CAGW cult will shut down the CAGW scam for the sake of scientific integrity..
    CAGW is already dead. The preponderance of physics and empirical evidence has already killed it, with ECS likely being a beneficial 0.5C~1.0C, LESS the cooling effects of collapsing solar cycles and a likely GRAND Solar Minimum event starting from 2035 and lasting 50~100 years.
    I actually want the Left to continue flogging this dead CAGW horse, because the more money the Left flushes down the toilet on this scam, the bigger the taxpayer blowback will be against the Left when this scam crashes and burns…

    • But it’s my money. You didn’t think that the Loony left used their own money, did you? No, they shovel taxpayer money out the door into all these imbecilic schemes.

  20. You could look long and hard and not find a bigger “liberal rag sheet” than the Tampa Bay Times. ( former St. Pete Times)
    Unfortunately They have absorbed the Tampa Tribune.

    • I’m sorry about using an old and erroneous graph. It was due to ignorance and relying on Matt Ridley’s article. Thanks for the great link, the post and the discussion afterwards is excellent. Good resource on climate economics. While the graph I used has been superseded with another, I think the point is the same. There are benefits as well as potential dangers from global warming, how these compare is not known very well. In my opinion, the benefits are proven (increased plant growth, greening of the world, less cold weather), but the dangers are not quantified or proven. But, there is no serious danger prior to 2100 in any case. We do have time to figure this out before doing anything drastic. That was what I got out of the blog post and the comments.

      • No, Andy, the point is not the same. The point is the opposite! You posted the first graph for the explicit purpose of claiming that there is strong quantitative evidence that warming is not a problem. Quantification is literally the only reason that graph was created by Tol. If that first graph is reliable for quantitative judgment, then in the universe that the rest of us inhabit the second, corrected, graph also must be reliable for quantitative judgment. The second graph’s conclusion is the opposite of the first graph’s, yet you claim it supports your original point. Transparent bias–by you, not PolitiFact.

      • Tol, your *unpublished* update has the same data and so shows the same fact that the only study showing benefits is one by you. And even your new (unpublished) piecewise linear fit shows benefit only up to 1 degree, which we’ve already reached. Literally it’s all downhill from here, and we already are committed to 2 degrees. After 2 degrees the costs dive dramatically steeply worse.

      • Tom Dayton
        Your claim about ‘two degrees’ is unfounded on anything other than speculation. Your claim that warming is somehow a negative above one more degree is also unfounded and contradicted by historical evidence.
        If the world becomes as warm as it was in 8000 BC (about 2-3 degrees C warmer) the rains would restart in the whole Sahara and Gobi Deserts, meaning they would disappear. That would open up millions of ha of farming and grazing land to help feed the world.
        The re-melting of part of the global ice poses no greater danger than it did last time it melted. We can easily adapt to a warmer world. The bottom line threat is the energy supply and we are inventive enough not to have to rely on anything other than elemental transmutations of one sort or another. Once the energy supply is resolved a huge number of modern whinges and worries fall away. We should work on that, not the silly suggestions that dominate the ‘renewable’ sector now. They simply do not have the energy densities we require. Cute toys, basically. The whole point of intelligence is to apply it, not suppress it.
        Mankind is not limited to the technologies, competitive rivalries and war-mentalities that currently dominate our current society. A global society is a certainty now. When? Who will lead and share in its creation? Hard to call, but we are not going back to the stone age just to please opportunists.
        We are not animals just because we behave like them. We are not children just because politicians act like them. The future of mankind is very great. Our individual roles are to carry forward an ever-advancing civilisation by addressing the core problems of the age in which we live. The corruption of science is one of our core problems at the moment.

    • I most certainly did not present the graph as quantitative, only as one of many references that warming and increased CO2 have benefits as well as dangers. Besides the IPCC AR5 WG2 and WG3 data make it clear that there are no dangers prior to 2080 anyway. As for “quantitative” climate economics, there is no such thing. There is speculation in the IPCC report, by Tol and others, but according to the “andtheresphysics” post you directed me to, its just speculative nonsense. To quote Dr. Pekka Pirila (Helsinki energy economist):
      “A society that produces 80% less CO2 is likely to [be] quite different from another that has not reduced the releases from the present. Similarly the changes in climate may have led to quite different societies over 50-100 years.
      I don’t believe that direct economic comparisons are possible at all. Arguing about the sign of the effect of first 2 degrees is totally irrelevant. Up to that point the effects are likely to be small, and that’s all that matters, but going further we enter the issues I describe above.”
      So, 2K is nothing, no immediate danger. Maybe beyond that we get into trouble if current speculative projections are correct?? How correct have recent temperature projections been? Not very. What was the world like 100 years ago versus today? Basically, we know nothing and need to figure out what is going on before we jump off of an economic cliff.

      • There is a further update: https://ideas.repec.org/p/sus/susewp/7515.html This clearly shows the benefits of mild warming.
        The editors of the initial correction and update allowed correction of the erroneous data and new data points, but did not allow for an update of the model specification. The new paper shows that, with the additional data, the preferred specification changes from quadratic to piecewise linear. The piecewise linear model shows benefits and is a good fit to the data; the quadratic model does not show benefits and is a poor fit to the data.

      • Richard, what does the piecewise linear model look like if you take out the outlier, i.e. the only datapoint showing *any* substantial benefit of warming, which appears to be your own previous work Tol (2002)?
        Prof. Tol writes:
        “This clearly shows the benefits of mild warming.”
        paper says
        “Figure 1 contains many messages. First of all, there are only 27 estimates, a thin basis for any conclusion”
        Yet he draws one anyway ;o)

      • Tom Dayton and dikranmarsupial, It seems to me that you must read Politifact religiously. You certainly argue using the “strawman fallacy” very well. Lots of practice no doubt. If you wish me to participate in your game you must address something in the post. I suggest we start with 1) Are there benefits to global warming and increasing levels of carbon dioxide? or 2) is 2K of warming a problem? You are both creating statements not in the post that you wish to debate, pure Politifact. Besides arguing the economics of society 50 to 100 years in the future is silly, no one knows.

      • Andy May if Prof. Tol puts forward his paper as an improvement to the one mentioned in the article, then it is perfectly reasonable for me to point out the flaws in it. There is no straw man there.
        You will note that Prof. Tol has not answered the technical criticism of his work. If you actually go and read the thread at ATTP’s you will find that Prof. Tol did not explain the penalty term that was used in fitting the piecewise linear model, nor did he deal with the point about Tol (2002) being a potential outlier on which his conclusion was predecated.
        ” If you wish me to participate in your game you must address something in the post”
        Who said I wanted you to participate in the *discussion* of Prof. Tol’s new paper? It is up to you to use the evidence as you see fit, if you are not interested, then that is fine (but note the point about Tol 2002 being an outlier applies equally well to the quadratic model shown in your figure 1).

      • dikranmarsupial and “and then there’s physics” As you request, I will stay out of the debate on Figure 1, Figure 1 corrected, etc. I do appreciate the links, they are interesting. But, so far I have seen at least four economists in these links say something like “nothing to worry about until 2080.” Or “nothing to worry about this century.” For most of us that don’t understand economics, that is a huge statement to make, particularly from economists who have studied the issue so carefully. Let’s not miss the forest for the trees. And, let’s give Professor Tol due credit for pointing out that the potential benefits of global warming need to be discussed. Whether or not his parabolic curve and/or piecewise line are correct, the underlying point is important and he shed light on it. Especially in science we need iconoclasts and skeptics. As I’ve pointed out before in this discussion, I doubt anyone can predict the economy 100 years from now, although I applaud you guys for trying. All the best.

      • Andy May “As you request, I will stay out of the debate on Figure 1I will stay out of the debate on Figure 1”
        I didn’t request you to stay out of the discussion. My original comment was directed at Richard, not you, but of course you can join the discussion if you want to.
        Above your figure 1 you write “The consensus of climate economists, according to Matt Ridley’s article, is that global warming impacts are positive for mankind’s welfare until 2080 at least, then they may turn negative.”
        Note that figure 1 directly constradicts this as only one of the fourteen datapoints suggests there will be any benefit from warming (i.e. Prof. Tol’s own work), the consensus shown in Figure 1 is clearly neutral or negative.

  21. “Given the obvious mischaracterization of the statements made by Professor Tol, Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Rick Santorum discussed above, one wonders why would a journalist do this? You change what someone says so the statement goes from true to false and then attack the changed statement? Is this journalism today?”
    This is Leftwing journalism today (and since the Vietnam war). Face it, the MSM has a political agenda and it’s not conservatism, it’s socialism.

  22. You have an excellent article, but it starts with a false premise. And that is that Politifact is unbiased. The AGW debate is merely one area that Politifact has been shown to be very biased. It is like any other left leaning website in that it tries to distort the facts to present an agenda. The only difference is that it has “fact” in its name, but then the MSM is rife with oxymorons.
    This article however is another great debunking of the myth of Politifact’s bias. Thank you.

  23. Being over 70, I would think anything that began with “Politi…” would be political, meaning partisan. AND I would not use the site, or search tool.

  24. Ha Ha Ha
    You old fogies are arguing about old news !
    The CONSENSUS moved up to 99% in 2016.
    And I have seen the preliminary numbers for 2017.
    Why should I tell you what they are?
    Okay, I can’t keep it quiet: The 2017 CONSENSUS will be 105%
    How can a CONSENSUS be over 100%, you ask?
    5% of the scientists were so SURE of a coming climate catastrophe, they voted twice.
    And that’s how you get to 105%.
    This is basic statistics.
    You could look it up.

  25. The “rest of the media” is hardly qualified to recognize “an unbiased and credible source”.

  26. At least Ice Road Truckers – Season 10 is blaming the lousy ice road conditions of winter just past on El Niño… so far anyway (episode 1).

  27. It is disappointing this post continues this site’s trend of promoting Richard Tol’s dishonest work on the economic effects of global warming> It has been long established the only way he has been able to “show” global warming will have net benefits is to cherry-pick the models he uses and their parameters in order to select only the ones which show the results he wants.
    On top of this, it’s been long established Tol changes every aspect of his methodology, and even the data itself, as it suits him. This is what has allowed him to keep claiming global warming will be beneficial despite having to correct a multitude of errors that drastically alter his conclusions.
    Moreover, it’s been clearly established Tol secretly alters the text of things to better suit his purposes. Not only did he insert a new section into the latest IPCC report that wasn’t subject to any external review (as well as rewriting another section to make it more favorabole to his work), but he goes so far as to secretly edit papers after publishing them to cover up errors people point out. Interestingly, this paper he secretly edited is the one he links readers to in a comment above. (This one is less well-known, so here’s a link for some background information.)
    There is much more which could be said about Richard Tol, his work and this post, but the sad reality is I doubt it could possibly matter. Anyone on the other “side” who does the things Tol does would be crucified on this site. Yet with Tol, this site treats him as a hero. It is very disappointing.

    • This is a great opportunity for you to go write another immature “Go die in a fire” post, with Tol as your preferred death due to difference in opinion instead of me.

    • Yay, Brandon’s back too, worrying about changes that we’re so secret he uncovered them within 24 hours.
      For those new to this: In IPCC WG2 AR5, a section was moved, after the third review, from Ch 19 to Ch 10, completely rewritten in response to that review, reviewed and revised twice, and submitted for government approval. All this was done openly, in accordance with the rules, with the prior approval of the chair, and the ex post facto approval of the plenary.

      • This is not even close to an accurate description of what happened, but given I had to wait some 24 hours for my last comment to clear moderation, it is pointless for me to try to comment here. The timestamps will never show that I had no way to know my comment was published, much less that someone responded to me, absent checking back on this page every few hours.
        If and when people actually want to get at the truth, rather than engage in the petty sniping that has been the sum of the responses here, I would be happy to discuss things in a location it is actually possible to have a discussion. In the meantime, please understand I have no idea if or when this comment may go through. If I do not respond to something people say, please understand it is not because I am ignoring or avoiding anything. I simply have no intention of checking back at this page every few hours.
        Side note, when Anthony Watts writes:

        This is a great opportunity for you to go write another immature “Go die in a fire” post, with Tol as your preferred death due to difference in opinion instead of me.

        Please understand the “difference in opinion” he refers to covers things like outright fraud, even criminal fraud. I think that is bad. I don’t know what he thinks. I do, however, know he won’t speak out about it even when he knows what I say is true. The post he refers to provides evidence that makes that abundantly clear.

      • Brandon, your obsession with an acknowledged error that has long been corrected as some secret conspiracy by Dr. Tol is deranged, I suggest medication.

  28. The question raised by this article is how many scientists believe in SIGNIFICANT man-made climate change and whether asking the question to scientists in this way changes the results much.
    I also doubt that there are not a significant number of people who claim that man has little to no effect on climate change.
    [Very difficult to read your conclusion through its many negatives: Better to Rephrase it as a direct statement:
    Are there, or are there not, a significant number of knowledgeable people who claim man has a made a small effect on the earth’s climate?
    Are there, or are there not, a significant number of knowledgeable people who claim man has a made a large effect on the earth’s climate?
    .mod]

  29. It is disappointing this post continues this site’s trend of promoting Richard Tol’s dishonest work on the economic effects of global warming> It has been long established the only way he has been able to “show” global warming will have net benefits is to cherry-pick the models he uses and their parameters in order to select only the ones which show the results he wants.
    On top of this, it’s been long established Tol changes every aspect of his methodology, and even the data itself, as it suits him. This is what has allowed him to keep claiming global warming will be beneficial despite having to correct a multitude of errors that drastically alter his conclusions.
    Moreover, it’s been clearly established Tol secretly alters the text of things to better suit his purposes. Not only did he insert a new section into the latest IPCC report that wasn’t subject to any external review (as well as rewriting another section to make it more favorabole to his work), but he goes so far as to secretly edit papers after publishing them to cover up errors people point out. Interestingly, this paper he secretly edited is the one he links readers to in a comment above. (This one is less well-known, so here’s a link for some background information.)
    There is much more which could be said about Richard Tol, his work and this post, but the sad reality is I doubt it could possibly matter. Anyone on the other “side” who does the things Tol does would be crucified on this site. Yet with Tol, this site treats him as a hero. It is very disappointing.

    • Interesting though that when you actually speak to Dr. Tol about your accusations you get a much different story, one that is both rational and succinct – not to mention he refutes all of your nonsensical claims.
      Your deranged vendetta against him is like a child seeking attention from their father.

  30. Climate is an economy.
    Sun and earth are the physical base of this economy.
    Fauna and flora are partaking agents in this economy.
    Mankind belongs to fauna, so mankind is a partaking agent in climate.

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