Who Do You Believe?

Let’s see…..Of the 2,258 peer-reviewed papers that have been published by 9,136 authors on the subject of climate change between November 2012 and December 2013, exactly one, written by a single Russian scientist, rejected the idea that climate change is caused by human activity.

But hey–what do those dorky scientists know?

An organization called the Heartland Institute has announced that its grandiose sounding 9th International Conference on Climate Change will take place at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The venue is appropriate–these are the folks who want the world to gamble on the livability of the planet going forward.

The Institute claims that “hundreds of the world’s most prominent ‘skeptics’ will converge” at the event. As one commentator noted, these “prominent” skeptics have evidently been too busy to publish peer-reviewed papers.

If these are the “world’s most prominent” skeptics, denial is amateur night.

There’s a medical officer from a Texas sheriff’s office, an architecture professor, a climate skeptic blogger named Willis Eschenbach (my personal favorite–he has a certificate in massage therapy and a B.A. in psychology).  Among the (many) non-scientists speaking will be Marc Morano, a former staffer for crazy Sen. James Inhofe, and someone named Fred Singer, who has been called the “granddaddy of fake science.”  Both Morano and Singer were profiled in Rolling Stone as “climate killers.”

According to the sustainability blog TriplePundit, previous versions of this conference have been funded by ExxonMobil, the Koch Brothers and the Scaife Foundation to the tune of  $67 million. (Big Oil cares a lot more about its bottom line than about the world my grandchildren or yours will inhabit.)

Yep–those are the “experts.”

As TriplePundit pointed out, the problem is that millions of people don’t understand or trust science. They lack the resources to evaluate the competing claims. That creates a void, which is then filled with a PR-manufactered “controversy” funded by people with corporate or biblical axes to grind, and repeated and amplified by Fox News and its ilk.

I don’t know about you, but I believe the science. And it scares the crap out of me.

18 thoughts on “Who Do You Believe?

  1. It’s sad. Science, especially climate science, is difficult and complicated. Science haters are everywhere and their numbers seem to be growing. The new dark ages lie ahead

  2. On April Fools day more than 21 people demonstrated in front of Todd Rokita’s Lafayette office. 7 presented to the staff member the facts of science and appealed through her that the congressman reverse his stand on climate change. He is one of the deniers targeted by Organizing for Action yesterday. A Lafayette resident and long time activist to protect the Wabash River informed us of a recent attempt at Purdue to have a forum on climate change. It was not possible because no faculty evidently is a denier. Rokita, a Roman Catholic, seemingly pays no attention to the bold statements of recent Popes and the US Council of Catholic Bishops which has issued environmental statements and warnings for decades. Rokita has said “…it is arrogant of humans” to think we can change the climate.

  3. I believe Climate Change has always been with us; clear, concise records have been maintained for many years by scientists world-wide. Humans have caused a massive ESCALATION of Global Warming which has, in turn, seriously effected Climate Change. I have stated before that I believe much of the disbelief regarding Global Warming is due to semantics (and now politics due to Al Gore’s involvement). Everyone seemed to understand the term “we are destroying the environment”; whether they did anything to change their behavior or not, they fully understood the term. I equate the terminology with those who are against Sex Education in schools because they believe these classes will teach students how to have sex. Maybe the terms “Global Warming” and “Sex Education” are too technical for the average person to understand and relate to. Whether they understand the term or the condition or not is irrelevant; it will continue with or without them.

  4. When the Greenland glaciers melt and sea levels rise by 23 feet, maybe then people will wake up. People can’t be persuaded by facts any longer, according to that recent study. Apparently, when people are presented with facts that contradict their belief system, they dig their heels in rather than open their minds to the possibility they were mistaken.

    Yep, we are screwed.

  5. How many of those academics would have had their research funded if the stated reason was finding that dangerous anthropogenic global warming didn’t exist? (Of course the climate is changing…the climate is always changing.) The answer is probably none of them.

    Whenever statistics are used to show that we’re not having more extreme weather, the number of tornadoes, hurricanes and forest fires are down, the response is to rush back to claim a scientific consensus and now alarmists are even attempting to censor those who question the theory.

    If anthropogenic global warming has such an overwhelming consensus behind it, why in a recent survey do 48% of meteorologists (people who study weather patterns for a living) either questioned whether global warming is happening or would not ascribe human activity as the primary cause.


    As the article points out, while mankind might be responsible for some increase in the surface temperatures (atmospheric temperatures have increased much less) maybe a bigger culprit is the highest solar activity that’s taken place in the last 1000 years.

    The fact is no one knows. There is no way of apportioning out “fault” (assuming a warmer climate is a bad thing which is in itself a debatable subject that gets overlooked) to particular causes. Quite possibly man is a bit player.

    The sad thing is that science has become so politicized. The anthropogenic global warming theory should be viewed as just that – a theory, a theory based on feeding select data into computer models to come up with a projection of future temperatures. The notion that this theory is “science” as that term used to be understood is not at all accurate.

    We shouldn’t do science by “consensus.” Science should be about freely challenging hypotheses without fear they will be ostracized for not being politically correct. Scientists shouldn’t have a political agenda…it’s too tempting to put a finger on the scale to affect the results which is in fact what some climate scientists have been found doing.

  6. I know a couple of meteorologists. They retired from the military a few years ago. They believe in climate change because they studied it, reported it and lived it every day for over 20 yrs.

    We’re screwed.

  7. Like the guy said, “Doubt is our product”. If it only takes one weird Russian guy, that is enough. Science is, not done by consensus, by the way. It is done by analyzing data and checking out null hypotheses. But when you have 2258 to one, that is not controversy and it is not even in the realm of consensus. Apparently Brown and Williamson’s impact on death is lasting, even after most stop smoking.

  8. Paul, friend, former softball teammate, science is not done by consensus. Climatologists
    (not meteorologists) not only shouldn’t have a political agenda, they don’t have such. Climatologists are not talking about a ‘warming’. It will be a catastrophic warming. Yes, climate has changed over the eons. But 400ppm of CO2 is beyond what has occurred in eons.

  9. Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, director of Hayden Planetarium, and popularizer of science, fires off short gems of wisdom that are spot-on. Here are just a few and they are beauties:

    “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”

    “…there is no shame in not knowing. The problem arises when irrational thought and attendant behavior fill the vacuum left by ignorance.”

    “One of the biggest problems with the world today is that we have large groups of people who will accept whatever they hear on the grapevine, just because it suits their worldview–not because it is actually true or because they have evidence to support it. The really striking thing is that it would not take much effort to establish validity in most of these cases…but people prefer reassurance to research.”

    “When scientifically investigating the natural world, the only thing worse than a blind believer is a seeing denier.”

    And what is even sadder is that not very many of these folks we’re talking about today are likely to read or understand Tyson, Sagan, Kaku, or even Bill Nye the Science Guy.

  10. …and if that weren’t enough to unsettle your day, SCOTUS has struck down limiting campaign contributions, saying in essence that money is free speech. And we just THOUGHT we had troubles!

  11. I think it goes beyond just lacking the scientific understanding to properly question climate change. Even when people really do have the basic math and science skills to be able to question an issue, they rarely do because of ingrained beliefs and conflation of unrelated issues that are only similar on the surface. People don’t stop to question an issue.

    I think an analogy of the misunderstanding of fashion doll scale is good one for an example, because most people don’t stop to question misleading lies about fashion dolls. However, if we let the simple stuff be misrepresented, what hope do we have of understanding climate change. Barbie doll is a really good example because she is 1/6th the scale of a human female. I think most people grasp that Barbie is 1/6 in height, since she is really short compared to a human, so that is easy. However, Barbie is also 1/6th in width too, and I think most people kind of get that as well. What people seem to struggle with the most is that Barbie also needs to be about 1/6 in depth too. The three dimensions are height, width, and depth. Barbie is a three dimensional model, so the 1/6 scale is in all three dimensions. Many people do seem to struggle with understanding three dimensions.

    There is a reason why I am using fashion doll scale because fashion dolls use fabric intended for humans. The basic idea of fashion dolls is that they wear fashions made out of fabric. Since Barbie is 1/6th scale, this means that fabric that is intended for humans is six times thicker on Barbie compared to humans. Think about what would be 1/6th thinner than the fabric you are wearing now, it would be comparable to a thick coat of paint. So figurines can be modeled pretty close to scale with paint. However, if one wants a doll to wear fabric, the same fabric worn by humans, then something has to give in terms of depth, and the usual way to compensate for fabric, is to make the depth of the doll even thinner than scale, in order to allow for the thickness of the fabric. This means that if one measures the doll including the fabric, it is fairly close to 1/6th scale. This is the practical and real reason why fashion dolls are so skinny.

    Despite the extra skinniness of fashion dolls being due to the very practical solution of allowing for the relative extra thickness of fabric, we as a society have to conflate fashion doll scale with actual unrelated issues, but they seem superficially similar. Yes, real life human fashion models are far too skinny, yes the media industry uses gimmicks to make celebrities look flawless, yes it is true that body images and self-esteem are real issues, but the fact is that they have nothing to do with why fashion dolls cannot defy the laws of physics. Instead of using science and math to explain why doll scale has its limits, many people attack fashion dolls, it so sad. As a fan of dolls, I have no problem if people dislike or even hate dolls, but please don’t make stuff up and attack dolls with lies. That should be for any issue.

    Before I go further, there are also practical reasons for other things that fashion dolls are criticized for like exaggeration of curves. A very thick layer will flatten out whatever is underneath it, so the usual practical solution is to exaggeration the curves underneath, to compensate. The original clothes for Barbie included thick seams in the waist area, so the waist had to be further compensated. I could go on and write a book, but the point is that there really are practical reasons for most criticisms. It would be nice change if current doll manufacturers could be given a little bit of credit for knowing what they are doing instead of being attacked by so-called concerned people.

    Time Magazine should have vetted a recent article that inaccurately complained that fashion dolls should be more reflective of real human proportions. The author, a body image expert, is a sympathetic person that I want to be on the same side with, but he missed basic math and science. The computerized images of “dolls” wearing clothes that would have to be the thinness of paint to stay in scale with the images— where does such magic “paint fabric” exist that has the same drape and flow of real fabric. The images were somewhat alright for human scale, but not 1/6th scale. I give the author the benefit of the doubt that he can understand basic scale, but the misrepresentations of fashion dolls encouraging body issues are so ingrained, that I suspect that the author didn’t stop to question if there were any practical reasons for why fashion dolls are built the way they are built. Still Time Magazine should have rejected the article based simply on math and scientific terms, but they did not, and controversy sells. Then the article was picked up by thousands of other media sources. Almost no one questioned the article. Sigh!

    It is on my bucket list to do a series of fashion doll scale articles, but it takes time to figure out how to persuade against deep-seeded ingrained beliefs. The same is true of climate change.

  12. @Gayl: Tyson covers your first paragraph in just about everything he says…and everywhere he goes to speak. Many have the power to grasp–they choose to do otherwise.

  13. According to Wiki – As of 2010 there were more than one billion motor vehicles in use in the world excluding off-road vehicles and heavy construction equipment. That is One Billion more than in the 19th Century. We now have huge Power Plants and Manufacturing Facilities that we did not have in the 19th Century. We must also consider the past human usage of energy and it’s pollution. Think about the immense use of energy during the 20th and 21st century wars – the energy costs of transporting troops, equipment and supplies. This situation has never happened on earth before. It is hard to imagine anyone thinking humans are not having an effect. I can also mention the clear cutting of forests by humans.

    Volcanoes, small changes in earth’s tilt and the output of energy from the Sun are variables to consider. Nobody may know how much humans actually contribute to changes in climate. However, to think we have little or no effect seems naive, given the changes humans have and continue to make on our global system.

  14. @Betty

    I agree. Plus Neil DeGrasse Tyson makes it look so easy to explain, he does an awesome job. It is a lot of work and effort to try to explain against ingrained beliefs. By the time one tries to refute errors, it makes what should be super obvious seem far more complicated than what it ought to be.

    I also share his point that the media has to stop giving equal time to climate change deniers. My plea to the media, please vet articles on a basic understanding of science and math, regardless of the issue.

    Apparently, my defying the laws of science is that I think I can fit more words into a comment than what is possible or appropriate. I did not quite mean for such a really long comment earlier, I get going on a topic and I think it is not all that long until I see the post later on. I can look at a comment in the moment and it does not seem that bad, like my mind rejects the reality of the length, then later on when I look at it, I am like wow that is really a long comment.

    Misrepresentations are really hard to refute concisely. My admiration is for those that can be accurate and concise when faced with a long list of misrepresentations.

  15. Very interesting debate considering that population explosion and resource depletion will screw us long before climate change. Just sayin’

  16. Las Vegas…that is appropriate….a city that is located in a desert….lit up like a gawdy Christmas tree 24hr a day; 7 days a week…assisting in sucking the Colorado River dry…the symbol in my mind of pure gluttony at all levels.

    My sister often wonders when is God going to a plug on this failed experiment–humans. I told her not worry we are ruining our world all on our own. He is just watching us…f@# it up.

  17. I just read some pretty scary stuff. The writer said that, despite what people seem to think, scientists are always more conservative in their statements because they don’t really want to cause trouble and then have to pay the price which may their reputations. There is a lot of pressure being placed on the scientific community to be less conservative about their statements, and begin to tell it like it really is, namely that we are close to, if not already at, runaway conditions under which the environment could change very quickly. John Davies, writing for the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, said, “The world is probably at the start of a runaway Greenhouse Event which will end most human life on Earth before 2040.” (http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2013/09/a-runaway-greenhouse-event.html)

    Earl, it looks like there is a horse race between climate change, population explosion and resource depletion. I don’t think many of us will be around to see which wins.

Comments are closed.