Guest post by David Middleton
Whether dismissing global warming as a hoax, questioning humanity’s role in it, exaggerating the unknowns, playing down the urgency of action, or playing up the costs, President Donald Trump and his team have served up every flavor of climate denial.
Although the arguments varied—as if they were different shades or stages of denial—they all served the same purpose: to create an exaggerated sense of dispute in order to bolster a case against decisive climate action. The latest gambit is to avoid the subject entirely.
In his announcement last week that he would pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, Trump didn’t bother addressing… [blah, blah, blah]…
In Trump’s retelling, the negotiators of the Paris deal were not grappling with a planetary crisis… [they weren’t]…
To help understand the arguments, we have developed a guide to what the science says about the five types of climate denial we’ve heard from Trump, his team, and their supporters, and how each served as a stepping stone on the path of a retreat from Paris.
‘It’s Not Real’
The deepest shade of denial—outright rejection of global warming—is embodied by Trump’s infamous 2012 tweet that called global warming a Chinese plot to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.
To the hard-core unbelievers, climate scientists are conspirators in it for the grant money. They are not to be trusted, deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland suggested last month by giving Trump a print-out of a purported 1970s TIME magazine cover predicting a coming ice age. (The cover is an internet fake that has been circulating for years. It was cited last year by White House strategist Stephen Bannon in a radio interview he did while running the conservative media outlet Breitbart.)
[Bracketed, bold, red = my comments]
Debunking Shade #1
Technically, as a “luke warmer,” I won’t address the totality of Shade #1. I will just debunk Ms. Lavelle’s smarmy psuedo-intellectual handling of the 1970’s global cooling scare.
Well, I suppose that Ms. Lavelle is correct that a 1970’s TIME magazine cover did not predict “another ice age.” The prediction (sort of a prediction) was from a 1974 TIME magazine article…
The full text of the article can be accessed through Steve Goddard’s Real Science.
TIME, like most of the mainstream-ish media, has acted like a climate weathervane over the years…
Dan Gainor compiled a great timeline of media alarmism (both warming and cooling) in his Fire and Ice essay.
Then there was Newsweek…
And who could ever forget Leonard Nimoy’s 1977 narration of In Search of The Coming Ice Age?
While the 1977 TIME cover was a fake, this 1975 magazine cover and article were very real:
Energy and Climate: Studies in Geophysics was a 1977 National Academies publication. It featured what appears to be the same temperature graph, clearly demonstrating a mid-20th century cooling trend…
The mid-20th Century cooling trend is clearly present in the instrumental record, at least in the northern hemisphere…
Why are people like Ms. Lavelle so obsessed with denying this? Is the mid-20th century cooling period so “inconvenient” that it has to be erased from history like the Medieval Warm Period?
So, in accusing K. T. McFarland of Shade #1 of Climate Denial, Ms. Lavelle engaged in climate denial… Irony is so ironic!
The Other Shades of Climate Denial
Debunking Shade #2 “It’s Not Our Fault”
It’s not all our fault. The mythical 97% consensus only asserts that it’s at least half our fault. We certainly could be responsible for some of the warming that has occurred over the past 150 years. The point is that the warming observed in the instrumental temperature record doesn’t significantly deviate from the pre-existing Holocene pattern of climate change…
Over the past 2,000 years, the average temperature of the northern hemisphere has exceeded natural variability (+/-2 std dev) 3 times: The Medieval Warm Period, the Little Ice Age and the modern warming. Humans didn’t cause at least two of the three and the current one only exceeds natural variability by about 0.2 C. And this is a maximum, because the instrumental data have much higher resolution than the proxy data.
Debunking Shade #3 “It’s Too Uncertain”
Uhmmmm… It *is* too uncertain.
Debunking Shade #4 “It’s Not Urgent”
Melting icebergs are NOT beheading Christians in the Middle East. For that matter, all icebergs eventually melt… While no Christians ever get beheaded without someone else doing the beheading, except in very rare and bizarre accidents.
Not only is it not urgent. It is steadily becoming less urgent:
“It’s About Jobs”
It’s not just about jobs. This is what Vice President Pence actually said in context:
The White House
Office of the Vice President
For Immediate Release June 01, 2017
Remarks by the Vice President Introducing President Trump’s Statement on the Paris Accord
The Rose Garden
3:29 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. Secretary Mnuchin, Secretary Ross, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, members of Congress, distinguished guests, on behalf of the First Family, welcome to the White House. (Applause.)
It’s the greatest privilege of my life to serve as Vice President to a President who is fighting every day to make America great again.
Since the first day of this administration, President Donald Trump has been working tirelessly to keep the promises that he made to the American people. President Trump has been reforming healthcare, enforcing our laws, ending illegal immigration, rebuilding our military. And this President has been rolling back excessive regulations and unfair trade practices that were stifling American jobs.
Thanks to President Trump’s leadership, American businesses are growing again; investing in America again; and they’re creating jobs in this country instead of shipping jobs overseas. Thanks to President Donald Trump, America is back. (Applause.)
And just last week we all witnessed the bold leadership of an American President on the world stage, putting America first. From the Middle East, to Europe, as leader of the free world, President Trump reaffirmed historic alliances, forged new relationships, and called on the wider world to confront the threat of terrorism in new and renewed ways.
And by the action, the President will announce today, the American people and the wider world will see once again our President is choosing to put American jobs and American consumers first. Our President is choosing to put American energy and American industry first. And by his action today, President Donald Trump is choosing to put the forgotten men and women of America first.
So with gratitude for his leadership — (applause) — and admiration for his unwavering commitment to the American people, it is now my high honor and distinct privilege to introduce to all of you, the President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
3:31 P.M. EDT
President Donald Trump is the President of these United States of America. He took the following oath of office:
“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Since the Paris climate agreement was effectively a treaty and the prior occupant of the Office of President of the United States failed to submit it to the Senate for ratification, the only way President Trump could uphold his oath of office was to either withdraw from the agreement or submit it to the Senate where is would not be ratified.
That said, President Trump campaigned on the promise to put America, including American industry and energy, first.