/ media

Rebuttal

A friend of mine recently asked me to post a clarification to a comment on one of her Facebook posts. My friend had posted this piece about how climate change skeptics/denialists are so underrepresented in the scientific literature, and someone hit back with many of the standard denialist talking points, including such hits as:

  • There is very much a debate
  • The science is still not settled
  • The government is not financing skeptical science
  • ...when the "piers"(i.e. pier(sic) reviewers) are all alarmist we get--to use a climate science term--a feedback loop
  • there is not one model that has been able to accurately backcast and forecast the climate
  • I'm not a denialist; I'm a skeptic
  • I (now) believe the planet's climate is changing, but I don't think it's caused by human activity

The speed and veracity with which this person replied to my friend's post was fairly unsurprising, even if the whole post was littered with lies. I sat down to attempt to address this gentleman's so-called arguments, and decided it was a perfect time to dust off my rumblestrip.org blog and post my feelings here. So, let's look at this shopping list of denial-sold-as-skepticism in a little more detail. I'll change the commenter's name to protect the guilty, since I'm a nice guy. As a shout-out to one of the biggest shitheads in the national climate discussion, let's call him Senator James Inhofe (R,OK), or shithead for short.

Shithead claims that the reason there is so much more published research supporting the notion of anthropogenic (human caused) global warming (AGW) versus papers rejecting it, is because "government" overwhelmingly funds so-called alarmist (pro-AGW) research. I think shithead's "follow the money" argument is very interesting, because the funding from agencies like the US Department of Energy, and, ever more increasingly the US Department of Defense, do make up the lion's share of US governmental funding for climate change research and development. The reason for this is that these agencies care about reducing energy use, because they understand the risks of increased release of greenhouse gasses from the burning on non-renewable fossil fuel energy resources (and, in the case of the DOD, the human cost of moving fossil fuels to where they are needed in combat zones). How do they know this? Because existing research pointed this out to them. Research, science, is the act of attempting to prove or deny a hypothesis by way of experimentation and observation. Results and findings are written up and presented to scientific journals for peer review -- and publication, if the work passes muster. Data sources and assumptions are cited, results are plotted and discussed. So in a sense, shithead has a point; you could say there is a feedback loop at work here, but instead of the one that's currently causing most climate scientists to fret that all of our "worst-case" predictions are overly-optimistic in light of the permafrost melt, and the concern (some might call it disgust) that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is not including the methane released from the melting permafrost in their reports, it's more a case of established science, building on its own findings. So, yeah, theDOE and DOD overwhelmingly fund AGW research; it's known in betting circles as backing the right horse (oh shit, did I just say the guvmint is "in the business of 'picking winners and losers'"? No, I did not. Read the paragraph again, please). So who's funding the contrarian "research" view? Oil companies, and the politicians and lobbyists they purchase like so many hookers (oh yeah baby, climate change is a hoax! (spank)). Hey shithead, check out these budgets and get back to me. Yes, this is not only so-called research money and is overwhelmingly money going to line political johns' pockets and for so-called advertisements attempting to sell doubt, but the point is all of it has dubious intent.

Speaking of funding, this is beautiful, but I digress.

The snarky encapsulation of the term climate change in quotations -- as if to point out that the term only made its way into the vernacular recently, and is suspect because we have abnormal heating AND cooling on the planet -- is laughable. This is how we have politicians and other shitheads pointing to blizzards as evidence that AGW is a fallacy. The simple answer to this one is that while the planet is overall heating up, that trend causes radical climatic changes across the planet,towards both ends of the thermometer. Do I really need to defend this further?

Now, the notion that this "issue" is "not settled", that it's "just a theory", or that a formidable debate about this issue is still afoot, is once again, laughable, in the extreme. Yeah.

Shithead also claims that the planet has not warmed at all in relatively recent history, and that the NOAA data to the contrary is "flawed". Wrong again, boyo, and that's 100% more citations than you provided to support your inane assertion, and I'll stop there because it's getting late (but let me know if you'd like one thousand more citations).

The recent trend of climate denialists to self-apply the label of "skeptic" versus "denialist", and questioning AGW versus GW -- which is essentially a fallback position (admitting that the planet is indeed warming, but that humans are not the cause) -- is another laughable and indefensible position, and almost hilariously makes this particular species a contradictory one to boot (refer to the preceding paragraph).

I'm tired. We all are, of having to rebut this nonsense from the oil company on a daily basis. Read this, and then I'll be happy to provide you with more bacon than the pan can handle. (Including, as a teaser, the James Hansen witch hunt that's costing him time and money to respond to weekly spurious FOIA requests, in response to (shithead's) assertion that climate skeptics' reputations and opinions are attacked at every opportunity.)

P.S. I am far from a hippie, or a "radical environmentalist". I'm a guy who was interested in light and pursued an interest in lighting simulation. That led me to a "sustainable engineering" firm in 2005, and eventually to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The last eight years have provided me with a great deal of scientific, anecdotal and experiential evidence (and motivation) to defend the climate change perspective, and my work now centers around providing design and engineering tools to practitioners, to help them make buildings more energy efficient. That's my dog's role in this hunt; not looking to make money, just looking to keep the planet livable for humans and thousands of other species for a little while longer. Sue me.