The last couple of weeks have been a watershed for me in terms of my own thinking about AGW.
I entered into the post-climategate world with a willingness to see if the emails turned up evidence of a quality and quantity necessary to undermine the foundations of AGW, which I take to be the dominant scientific paradigm on global warming.
When I left this war a year or so ago, I left it thinking that what passed for discussion on the blogosphere was a choice between “AGW is a BRE-X Style Hoax” vs “Skepticism is Just Another Big Tobacco Disinformation Campaign”.
Neither of those are real choices to people with any sense. So, instead of assuming climate scientists are snake oil salesmen or skeptics Beelzebub incarnate, I decided to give the debates another chance.
What did I find?
More of the same. Small, inconsequential errors, mistakes, out-of-context comments, and normal human foibles were taken and blown out of proportion as part of the denial campaign to halt climate policy and protect vested interests.
This does not mean that all skeptics are in the pocket of EXXONMobil. Far from it. Some of them are just not moved by the evidence due to existing political, ideological or economic interests in the status quo. There are uncertainties in climate science and nothing is 100% certain. But nothing I have seen in the past while has been of the quality to convince me that it is too uncertain to respond to with public policy instruments. I don’t know what those instruments are — that is beyond me at this point. But there has been nothing to convince me that there is any smoking gun or case proven to undermine AGW based on the CRU emails.
What pushed me over the top towards AGW was the way small details were taken out of context and used to push a denialist agenda.
I think it was the way certain denialists distorted Mojib Latif’s comments that drove home the fact that there is a clear attempt to distort the facts on the part of the right-wing and denialist brigade.
What was a fairly simple discussion of normal fluctuations on a year and decadal basis by Mojib Latif was turned into screams from FOX News and the likes of Michael Coren and others in the right-wing press that we were headed into a three decades or longer period of global cooling, that the whole global warming theory was falling apart, and that one of the biggest supporters of global warming was recanting.
Here is the lie outlined by Deep Climate in a post titled “Anatomy of a Lie: How Marc Morano and Lorne Gunter spun Mojib Latif’s remarks out of control”
- Sept. 1: It may well happen that you enter a decade, or maybe even two, when the temperature cools, relative to the present level. - Mojib Latif at World Climate Conference in Geneva
- Sept. 4: One of the world’s top climate modellers said Thursday we could be about to enter one or even two decades during which temperatures cool. – Fred Pearce, New Scientist.
- Sept. 5: UN Fears (More) Global Cooling Commeth! IPCC Scientist Warns UN: We are about to enter ‘one or even 2 decades during which temps cool’ – Marc Morano, Climate Depot (CFACT)
- Sept. 19: Latif conceded … that we are likely entering “one or even two decades during which temperatures cool.” - Lorne Gunter, Calgary Herald.
- Sept. 25: Mojib Latif of Kiel University in Germany told a UN conference earlier this month that he is now predicting global cooling for several decades. - Marc Morano, Climate Depot (CFACT).
- Sept. 28: 1240 hits, and counting, for the Google search “Latif” “ likely entering one or even two decades during which temperatures cool”
There, for all the world to see, is the denial mechanism in process — take a statement out of context, and then expand it in a game of media telephone so that we get denialists claiming that “global warming is over” and that a key climate scientist is admitting that it is — it gets reposted on blog after blog until it becomes virtually unstoppable.
This distortion I have seen in evidence time and again such that my craw is full of it.
That’s what did it for me — that and the usual machinations and aspersions cast over at CA and WUWT.
But what also did it for me was the personalization of the attacks I’ve seen at several blogs — the focus on individuals rather than the science.
I’m still going to monitor the blogs and press, and will entertain skeptic points but I expect them to be backed up with some pretty convincing evidence.