Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Busting the Climate Change "Myth Busters" : Part II

“I’ve made up my mind. Don’t confuse me with the facts.” Steven Milloy says that this is the mantra of "global warming fanatics." I say it's the mantra of fanatic global warming deniers. Let's examine Milloy's "Top 10 Climate Myth-Busters for 2007" and see, shall we? I busted Milloy's first five myth-busters back in December; will the next five hold up better?

  1. The multiplication of straw men. Milloy cites the discovery that "brown clouds" (aerosols) in the atmosphere are a warming factor, instead of a cooling factor as previously supposed, to be somehow a reason for dismissing all concern about global warming. He represents climate scientists as having portrayed CO2 as the one culprit in all global warming, and since it isn't, the scientists don't know what they are talking about, at all at all.

    #1: No, climate scientists do not claim that CO2 is the one & only man-made influence on global climate change.
    #2: Learning you were wrong about something is not evidence that you don't know your science; it is evidence that you are doing real science.

    For all those interested in real science:
  2. Milloy claims that global temperatures are not rising as fast as global CO2 levels, therefore the two are not after all connected. From Wikipedia: "None of the effects of forcing are instantaneous. The thermal inertia of the Earth's oceans and slow responses of other indirect effects mean that the Earth's current climate is not in equilibrium with the forcing imposed." source is a pdf.

  3. Milloy cites research published in "April" (it was published in December 2005) indicating that while planting more forest in the tropics could lessen global warming, planting more forest in Northern latitudes could increase it. From here, he jumps to "so maybe Northern forests are causing all the global warming." Read what the research actually says. Oh, and he missed one in 2001.

  4. 55 million years ago, warming preceded release of CO2. That's probably what's going on now. This was addressed on RealClimate in 2004: What does the lag of CO2 behind temperature in ice cores tell us about global warming?

  5. In #10, Milloy gives up citing science and just cites the EPA directly. And we all know that George Bush's EPA is completely objective on the science of climate change.
Milloy cannot end the year without crowing that a British judge gave the movie An Inconvenient Truth a "spanking." What the judge really ruled was that An Inconvenient Truth is "broadly accurate" and "substantially founded upon scientific research and fact" and that it can be shown in schools as long as students are informed of nine "errors and omissions" -- none of which invalidate the major premises of the movie. Unhappily for Mr. Milloy et. al. Justice Barton declared that "These propositions, [which the government] submits (and I accept), are supported by a vast quantity of research published in peer-reviewed journals worldwide and by the great majority of the world's climate scientists."
  1. global average temperatures have been rising significantly over the past half century and are likely to continue to rise ("climate change");

  2. climate change is mainly attributable to man-made emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide ("greenhouse gases");

  3. climate change will, if unchecked, have significant adverse effects on the world and its populations; and

  4. there are measures which individuals and governments can take which will help to reduce climate change or mitigate its effects.

Even the Judge's list of nine 'errors' is in dispute. Judge Barton claimed there was no evidence of any Pacific atolls being evacuated. Nobody showed him the newspaper. Judge Barton disputed that "coral reefs were bleaching because of global warming and other factors." The Judge's pointed out: "The actual scientific view, as recorded in the IPCC report, is that, if the temperature were to rise by 1-3 degrees Centigrade, there would be increased coral bleaching and widespread coral mortality, unless corals could adopt or acclimatise, but that separating the impacts of climate change-related stresses from other stresses, such as over-fishing and polluting, is difficult." The bottom line is:
  • The Judge does not dispute the IPCC report or the general scientific consensus about global warming.
  • The impacts on the coral cited by the IPCC are man-made.
  • Global climate changes that have a disastrous effect on human lives and societies are happening.

We need to address questions like "how do we provide clean drinking water after the glaciers melt" and "how do we support communities whose land is washing out from under them." Those problems aren't going to go away no matter how much junk science the Denial Brigade piles up to prove It's Not Really Happening.


OW364 said...

Swing and a miss :P