Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Deniers at WUWT are up in arms about the US National Climate Assessment

Sou | 8:18 PM Go to the first of 9 comments. Add a comment

Going by the number of protest articles at WUWT, it's unclear whether climate science deniers want to promote or suppress the newly released National Climate Assessment. This assessment was produced by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). Jeff Masters has a very good summary. Here is an excerpt from the overview, which gives you an idea of what the report covers and the general slant:
This National Climate Assessment collects, integrates, and assesses observations and research from around the country, helping us to see what is actually happening and understand what it means for our lives, our livelihoods, and our future. The report includes analyses of impacts on seven sectors – human health, water, energy, transportation, agriculture, forests, and ecosystems – and the interactions among sectors at the national level. The report also assesses key impacts on all U.S. regions: Northeast, Southeast and Caribbean, Midwest, Great Plains, Southwest, Northwest, Alaska, Hawai'i and Pacific Islands, as well as the country’s coastal areas, oceans, and marine resources.
Over recent decades, climate science has advanced significantly. Increased scrutiny has led to increased certainty that we are now seeing impacts associated with human-induced climate change. With each passing year, the accumulating evidence further expands our understanding and extends the record of observed trends in temperature, precipitation, sea level, ice mass, and many other variables recorded by a variety of measuring systems and analyzed by independent research groups from around the world. It is notable that as these data records have grown longer and climate models have become more comprehensive, earlier predictions have largely been confirmed. The only real surprises have been that some changes, such as sea level rise and Arctic sea ice decline, have outpaced earlier projections.
What is new over the last decade is that we know with increasing certainty that climate change is happening now. While scientists continue to refine projections of the future, observations unequivocally show that climate is changing and that the warming of the past 50 years is primarily due to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases. These emissions come mainly from burning coal, oil, and gas, with additional contributions from forest clearing and some agricultural practices.
Global climate is projected to continue to change over this century and beyond, but there is still time to act to limit the amount of change and the extent of damaging impacts.

This U.S. Global Change Research Program isn't new. It was established under President George Herbert Walker Bush by Presidential Initiative in 1989. It was mandated by Congress in the Global Change Research Act (GCRA) of 1990 to “assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change.”

The USGCRP website lists all the agencies participating in the USGCRP. They are:
  • Agency for International Development
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Health & Human Services
  • Department of State
  • Department of the Interior
  • Department of Transportation
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • National Aeronautics & Space Administration
  • National Science Foundation
  • Smithsonian Institution

The USGCRP has a legal mandate to conduct a National Climate Assessment (NCA) every four years. This latest assessment is only the third National Climate Assessment, so I don't know when it was given the mandate, but the organisation itself has been in existence longer than 16 years.  Some of its reports are a bit slow in coming!

Anthony Watts has so far posted five articles protesting the report (in almost as many hours), with the following headlines:

  1. National Climate Assessment report: Alarmists offer untrue, unrelenting doom and gloom (archived here), which is an article by "dirty energy industries' best friend" Marlo Lewis, who is some chap from the US-based right wing lobby group the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
  2. I’ve been waiting for this statement, and the National Climate Assessment has helpfully provided it (archived here), in which Anthony quotes "Steve Goddard" of all people, then goes on to push Evan Jones' as yet unpublished work with as yet no substance to underpin it (discussed here and here)
  3. Quotes of the Week: Some early comments on the National Climate Assesment report (archived here); in which Anthony has some more quotes from science contrarians and disinformers like Pat'nChip
  4. Some advance copy on the National Climate Assessment Report (archived here); in which Anthony appeals to the scaredy cat deniers "they are trying to make people afraid of the more mundane weather" and goes on to give a bit of the content of the report.
  5. What the National Climate Assessment Doesn’t Tell You (archived here); a protest article by Pat'nChip from the right wing science disinforming lobby group, the CATO Institute.

There are only a few themes to the protests.

The "they're trying to scare you" theme. First of all, you can tell that deniers often deny because they don't want to be scared. For example, Marlo Lewis writes: As with previous editions, the new report is an alarmist document designed to scare people and build political support for unpopular policies such as carbon taxes, cap-and-trade, and EPA regulatory mandates.

The "we'll adapt" theme (or die). Pat'nChip argue that people will adapt to ever-hotter heat waves, so there's no need to worry. I expect they are relying on manufacturers being able to design air conditioners that don't stop working when the temperature gets too hot.  If you shop around you can find air conditioners that will work up to 46° Celsius (115°F), but read the specs because some will only work up to what is even now in some parts becoming a "mild" 43° Celsius (109°F).  And take precautions, because when you want your air conditioner to work, so does everyone else, which can result in rationing of electricity. Fires don't help either. In some parts of the world, it's not just the heat that affects electricity supply, water rationing is introduced as well. (The Arizona Department of Health Services is not nearly as complacent as Pat'nChip.)

The "it's all a hoax" theme. Anthony claims that some unknown persons are making wrong adjustments to the record and that it hasn't really been as hot as everyone knows and has felt it to be. People (and animals and plants) are just imagining the earlier snow melt and the extreme heat and the evaporating water. He's put up a silly chart and some pretty pictures to "prove" it. Thing is, he had to call on not just his unpublished and unsubstantiated paper but "steve goddard".

The "it's political" theme. Where he quotes science denier John Coleman trying to argue that Republicans don't accept science because of their politics, or some such nonsense. John doesn't like it when people point out he's a science denier, even while he denies the science he wrote, while not pointing to a single scientific study to support his wild claim:
There are thousands and thousands of scientists who know without a doubt that the entire matter is based on bad science. We fight with everything we have to inform the public of the truth, but the dominate liberal media shuns us and the global warming team calls us names and insults us.
Is it an insult to say that people like the crowd at WUWT deny science? The fact is they do.


  1. I did drop a single short comment on that thread, too; it reads:

    If you folks would like to reverse this trend, another tack would be to find some qualified experts to build a truly persuasive, scientifically defensible case that AGW theory is wrong, and then get it published in a high-quality peer-reviewed journal. I am afraid you will have a difficult time doing this, not because the journals are rigged — they’re not — but because no such argument is known.
    [quote -- how do you do blockquotes on this platform?]

    It doesn't seem to have drawn a lot of angry birds, even though I'm sure it's viewed a trolling of a high order among that crowd. I did have some back-and-forth on the Tim Ball thread, which is by now pretty much moribund. I'm trying to be polite but firm, and hopefully introduce a crack or two in someone's hermetically-sealed world view.

    1. Good for you, palindrom. I've been enjoying your WUWT contributions.

      You'll be making a difference to some of the WUWT lurkers. The regulars are immune to reason, but not all WUWT readers would be immune.

      Blogger doesn't allow blockquotes, which is annoying. It makes up for the few deficiencies in other ways.

    2. "[quote -- how do you do blockquotes on this platform?]"

      I use quatation marks and italics tags.

    3. (Quatation marks are a special sort of quotation marks...)

  2. Things are getting a bit nasty on the Tim Ball thread now. Incidentally I did some number crunching on the OP 'scientists' a while back & found that only 2% were in the 'atmosphere' science category & a mere 39 (7% of the 2%) had climatology degrees - http://oneworld.org/imagelib/posts/20100108/petition_data.jpg

  3. "Is it an insult to say that people like the crowd at WUWT deny science?"

    Negative, as in, not in the least.

    You got waaaaaaay more tolerance for wading through aggressive idiocy than the average person Sou. Way more.

  4. There is a fresh field of comments ripe for the picking at WUWT under "Claim: As CO2 levels rise, some crop nutrients will fall"

    Watts points out a new Nature paper (20 authors, 13 institutions, 4 countries) finding that certain staple crops grown under higher CO2 conditions showed reduced concentrations of protein and trace nutrients iron and zinc.

    And then the usual mix of paranoia, ignorance, idiocy and nuttery begins. My personal favorite is this one (in full), by ladylifegrows:

    "Rubisco is the name of the main plant protein that turns CO2 + H2O into sugar and oxygen. With higher CO2, the plant will need less of this protein and minerals associated with it. That will give the plant freedom to produce other nutrients in increased concentration and variety. Logically, this should mean a much more health-promoting food, but it would take sophisticated research for find out for sure or to quantify it. That pretty much cannot be done in a highly biased atmosphere. And good luck finding anything else."

  5. then goes on to push Evan Jones' as yet unpublished work with as yet no substance to underpin it (discussed here and here)

    Correction. It is Anthony's work. I am just a footsoldier in all this.


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