Earlier this week Judith Curry claimed that the "climate movement" is in twilight. Her headline was the deniosaur's plaintive hope "Twilight of the Climate Change Movement". I don't know what was going through Judith's mind when she wrote that. Was it that global warming will go away soon? Was it that the science of the past two centuries is nothing more than a "movement"? Whatever it was, it is evidence that Judith wants to continue to cement her place in the science denial movement.
Judith's evidence of twilight or movement or something was a copy and paste from an article by a science denier from the USA called Mario Loyola (who gets some minor mentions at DeSmog Blog). Judith emphasised some of the passages she liked, which were straight from the climate conspiracy handbook. She wrote:
I excerpted about a third of Loyola’s essay, highlighting the parts that I find most insightful.(I'm not sure Judith's excerpting without any substantive critique or analysis would pass the fair use test.) I read Mario Loyola's article at The American Interest (you only get one shot before you have to pay). It was your run-of-the-mill gish gallop complaining about efforts to mitigate global warming, with the sciency bits mostly about "ice age" and "CO2 is plant food". Mario wants us to adapt to multi-meter sea level rise rather than reduce the impact of climate change.
Judith said she highlighted the bits that she found insightful. Here's my take:
- a complaint that scientists will no longer entertain the notion that the earth is flat and that heresies are to be persecuted (sic) (link)
- "they" are stopping millions of poor people from enjoying an early death from COPD and lung cancer, and not paying small island nations to put stilts under their islands to stop flooding (link)
- applying the precautionary principle to a major risk will destroy the economy (never mind that when the risk eventuates, all that will be moot) (here and here)
- President Obama is a fool for promoting mainstream science (link)
- Pretending not to know that human activity accounts for all the warming since around 1950 is a good trick (link)
- Saying the word "uncertainty" over and over again will make enough people think that there's some doubt about the fact of ongoing global warming (link)
- Scientists and science are engaged in fraud (link - okay, Judith didn't highlight that claim, but she didn't dispute it either)
- Using big scary words like apocalyptic vision will reassure deniers that climate science is a hoax (link)
There's more, including the usual complaints that deniers don't like being called deniers and that stopping CO2 emissions won't cool the planet in the immediate term. No mention of the fact that if we don't reduce emissions, the global warming will be so much worse.
Judith really loved his article, saying Mario had "a remarkable grasp of the public debate" - which says as much about Judith's "grasp" as Mario's. According to Judith she particularly liked it because just like Judith, Mario Loyola couldn't figure out if 50% is the same as half or that: "The best estimate of the human induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period." (IPCC AR5) That is, we've caused all the warming since the middle of last century.
|Global mean surface temperature rise since 1880, showing the period where the rise is all from human activity. Data source: GISS NASA|
The other bit that Judith liked contained the word, you guessed it, "uncertainty". It was a strawman logical fallacy:
Uncertainty about risks is not necessarily fatal to a policy of precaution, and but false claims to certainty usually are, sooner or later.Judith doesn't say who is supposedly making false claims about what certainty or uncertainty. That's not her role. Judith's job is to repeat the word "uncertainty" as often as she possibly can (though she doesn't understand what it means), in the hope that she'll convince some very important person that maybe climate change isn't worth tackling.
References and further reading
The 5 telltale techniques of climate change denial - article by John Cook at CNN
From the HotWhopper archives
- What never occurred to Judith Curry (and does 50% equal half?) - HotWhopper, January 2015
- Some history that led to Judith Curry hunkering down in the NOAA conspiracy theorists' bunker - November 2015
- Marginalised, alienated and put upon: climate science deniers are not innocent - August 2015