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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What is it with science denying organisations wheeling out ageing astronauts to make fools of themselves in public?

Sou | 6:34 AM Go to the first of 4 comments. Add a comment

Poor old Walt Cunningham, an astronaut who studied physics, was wheeled out by CFACT to give a talk to a stunned audience - umm, I mean a DuKE** of deniers -  at a pseudo-science conference in Warsaw.  Anthony Watts put up a video of his talks at WUWT (archived here).  Not everyone was impressed enough to pay attention.

Audience of DuKEs at CFACT, Warsaw
Source: WUWT

Walt and the history of human evolution

One of Walt's first claims was how humans have adapted to "continuous climate change".
Now our whole planet may appear kind of fragile from space but it is really plain, ah, how well humans have adapted to the continuous climate change over the last million years.
Homo erectus (Wikipedia)

Ha ha.  Not just continuous climate change but humans over the last million years?  Lets see now.

A million years ago there was Homo erectus and Homo heidelbergensis.  I don't see too many of them prowling around today.  Do you?

There aren't too many Homo sapiens neanderthalensis who survived to tell the tale either.  And they weren't even around a million years ago.

If Walt is referring to modern humans, then he is about 800,000 years out of sync.

On the other hand, if he is referring to recent thinking that climate change spawned modern humans, maybe he is thinking outside the square and predicting that with this new climate, a new species of Homo is just around the evolutionary corner.

Not here to argue the scientific case against human-caused global warming?

Early on Walt reckons he's not going to argue the science.
I'm not here to argue the scientific case against human-caused global warming, or anthropogenic warming, or AGW, or climate change or climate disruption or whatever is the current phrase that are being used by the alarmists to claim human-caused global warming. 

And immediately launched into his reasons for rejecting science - it's all about the money:
Now these are all code words for governmental control of energy consumption and consequently our standard of living. ...
...While scientists are best qualified to deal with the scientific and academic aspects of this question, we all of us here have to deal with the financial consequences of any actions taken based on bad science. And today's war on global warming is a fight to avoid the economic destruction of our society and the lowering of our standard of living.

Walt doesn't like being labeled a science denier or a fake expert saying:
Those of us who are sceptical of the alarmist claims are characterised as climate deniers or fake experts or against climate change. When everyone I know believes in climate change. Climate has been changing.

But in almost every sentence he utters he labels climate scientists as "alarmists".

Then, after saying he wasn't going to discuss the science, Walt starts putting up all the silly WUWT charts that people like denier Don Easterbrook uses and starts chanting the denialist mantras like "climate has been changing for 4.5 billion years" and "correlation does not mean causation".  I don't think he even once mentioned the words "greenhouse gas" or "greenhouse effect" though I admit I didn't watch it all the way through.  Maybe he hasn't heard of the terms.

Boring, boring...

Just another climate denier.

Here are Walt's conclusions - as if you couldn't guess.  Denial plus:

His final words were "Now it's up to you to come up with your own answers".  I don't agree.  If it were just up to us to come up with whatever answers that suited us we'd never learn anything.  Answers have to be grounded in evidence and fit with physics, chemistry and biology.  Just because you are anxious about your hip pocket is no reason to reject 200 years of science.

It's all a bit sad really.  Walt Cunningham reduced to being wheeled out sputtering science denial nonsense for a "destroy the environment" lobby group like CFACT.

Mother Jones had an article about Walt Cunningham a few months back:- Climate Denier at CPAC: Trust Me, I'm an Astronaut.  From reading that article it looks as if it was exactly the same speech as he gave at CFACT's talk in Warsaw.

From the WUWT comments

The comments are a mix of adoration of the astronaut and moaning that less than 3% of of the thousands of scientists who study the earth system share his opinions.  (I wonder why that could be - not!) (Archived here.)

Resourceguy wonders where all the science denying physicists have got to and says:
November 25, 2013 at 8:57 am
We need a lot more efforts like this. Where are the physicists? Surely Feynman would have stepped up to counter the junk science in proportion to the need for defense of the scientific method. Is everyone else hiding in fear with their grants?

lurker, passing through laughing says his voice is worth listening to (pity about the sounds he makes):
November 25, 2013 at 8:57 am
He is a truly interesting man, and has accomplished what the vast majority can only dream of. His credible and reasoned voice is one worth listening to.

omnologos thinks Walt is heroic for rejecting science for ideological reasons and says:
November 25, 2013 at 9:13 am
It’s got to have something to do with Cunningham’s lack of fear of alienating the NASA bosses during Apollo 7, something that costed him the Moon.

philjourdan points out that even though he rejects two centuries of climate science, at least he doesn't think NASA faked the moon landing and says:
November 25, 2013 at 9:23 am
And he denies the moon landings? I guess in Lewandowsky’s mind he does.

Ed_B is astonished to find that ice cores prove climate science.  Oops, I'm wrong there - deluded Ed_B thinks they prove the opposite and says (excerpt):
November 25, 2013 at 9:47 am
I am in agreement with his presentation. I would add that I was persuaded back in the 1980s by the early “science”, where the rise in CO2 was asserted to be causing a rise in temperature(A Scientific American article). I never checked the data myself until nearly 20 years later after someone challenged me.(I trusted “scientists” to keep me informed) I was astonished to find that I had never heard that the more accurate ice core analysis had disproved that early assertion. Why not? Ditto the missing hot spot, and ditto on the nearly identical temperature swings back over the last 100 years.

Leonard Weinstein notes that there are a few retired astronauts who can't accept climate science and says:
November 25, 2013 at 9:59 am
It is not just Cunningham, Harrison Schmitt and Buzz Aldrin, among many others, are also skeptics.

Like I said.  It's sad more than anything.  And someone at WUWT agrees. Simon says:
November 25, 2013 at 11:09 am
J. Swift says…”Courage, rationality and intelligence are rare commodities. Walter Cunningham has an abundance of all three plus a clear eye and a sharp mind. He’s the kind of man politicians fear and loathe and avoid debating at all cost.”
Sorry but I see a very different man here. I clearly don’t have the same sense of patriotism as do the US readers. I just see a sad old man fumbling around reciting hackneyed old sayings.

Shultz, Susanne, and Mark Maslin. "Early Human Speciation, Brain Expansion and Dispersal Influenced by African Climate Pulses." PloS one 8.10 (2013): e76750.

**DuKE - a collective noun eg A DuKE of deniers TM Lotharsson.


  1. do not miss

  2. I must have missed the 4 hiroshimas propaganda thing?

  3. "human-caused global warming, or anthropogenic warming, or AGW, or climate change or climate disruption or whatever is the current phrase"

    this is the part i find most depressing. it's just such a skin-searingly imbecilic argument, something that should be obvious to any moderately-educated person after a few moments reflection (different words can be used to express the same concept! surprise!) or research ("global waming", "climate change", and variants of each have all been in common use for decades).


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