What Fresh Hell Is This?

August 26, 2013

Disassembling The Trib's Climate Science Denial

Let's start with what Scaife's braintrust published this morning at the Tribune-Review and then unweave point by point:
Al Gore, who profited handsomely paving the way for Al Jazeera's U.S. entree, likens climate change skeptics to racists, homophobes and those who enable an alcoholic's denial. Oh, this just in — the United States recorded 2,899 record cold temperatures versus 667 record warm temperatures between July 24 and Aug. 19.[Bolding in original.]
There are two points I want to look at here; what Al Gore said and the data being used to "debunk" the climate science.

First, what did Gore actually say?  Did he really "liken climate change skeptics to racists..." and so on?

No, not really.  In a piece in a Washington Post piece about how and why he's "optimistic" about the future regarding climate science, this is what Gore actually said:
Well, I think the most important part of it is winning the conversation. I remember as a boy when the conversation on civil rights was won in the South. I remember a time when one of my friends made a racist joke and another said, hey man, we don’t go for that anymore. The same thing happened on apartheid. The same thing happened on the nuclear arms race with the freeze movement. The same thing happened in an earlier era with abolition. A few months ago, I saw an article about two gay men standing in line for pizza and some homophobe made an ugly comment about them holding hands and everyone else in line told them to shut up. We’re winning that conversation.

The conversation on global warming has been stalled because a shrinking group of denialists fly into a rage when it’s mentioned. It’s like a family with an alcoholic father who flies into a rage every time a subject is mentioned and so everybody avoids the elephant in the room to keep the peace. But the political climate is changing. Something like Chris Hayes’s excellent documentary on climate change wouldn’t have made it on TV a few years ago. And as I said, many Republicans who’re still timid on the issue are now openly embarrassed about the extreme deniers. The deniers are being hit politically. They’re being subjected to ridicule, which stings. The polling is going back up in favor of doing something on this issue. The ability of the raging deniers to stop progress is waning every single day.
So it's not really about "likening" deniers to racists, homophobes and so on.  It's really about how the conversation is changing.  In the past (before "civil rights was won in the South") a racist joke was far more acceptable in day to day discourse.  Same thing regarding members of the various LGBTQ communities across the country.  Not that everything's fixed, mind you, but the conversation's changed enough that two gay men can hold hands in a fast food restaurant and the homophobes who try to ridicule them are themselves subject to public shaming.

Imagine that 20 years ago.  Or 10.

The conversation is changing, he said.  The deniers are the ones subject to ridicule (like this from just last week) because their position is simply embarrassing.

Now let's take a look at the data the braintrust is trying to use to undermine the science.  I haven't been able to track down it's exact source, but let's (for the minute) assume it's true - that United States recorded 2,899 record cold temperatures versus 667 record warm temperatures between July 24 and Aug. 19. 

Even if that's true, so what?

The United States only makes up about 6.6% of the total land mass of the planet (or only about 2% of its total surface area).  Assuming a world wide pattern from such a small selection of the data is misleading (at best).   But even if it does point out a large scale trend (that there were fewer "record-setting hot days in that month") again, so what?

What's the larger global trend?  The selected data the braintrust uses doesn't go anywhere near the global trend.

Which is still getting warmer.

The braintrust is running out of ways to mislead on climate science.

1 comment:

The Bleat said...

I don't even know why anti-climate change people are so focused on Al Gore in the first place. I learned about climate change in grade school before I even heard of Al Gore. Al Gore was a politician, not a scientist, and we all know that. Whatever he said in his documentary (and his books that no one even mentions from the '90's) are so small compared to what the actual scientific community says.