Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The two categories of global warming deniers

Tim Lambert of Deltoid reviewed Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming and found himself dividing the deniers into two categories: those who don't know they're lying and those who do.

In the first category we have Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, who has delusions of grandeur. He really is a Viscount, but he also claims to be a member of the House of Lords (he isn’t) and to have won a share in the Nobel Peace Prize (he didn’t). Monckton has a degree in classics and no training or experience in science or mathematics but he churns out papers full of equations (which he misinterprets) and graphs (which are wrong) that purport to show that global warming isn’t happening. Monckton recently gave a speech with 2 million viewings on youtube where he declared that that Copenhagen treaty will institute a COMMUNIST WORLD GOVERNMENT. In short, Monckton is a crank.

Now, if Monckton’s pet theory was, say, that the moon was made of cheese or the sun was made of iron nobody would pay any attention to him. But because his theory involves global warming denial, he is now chief policy advisor at a think tank called the Science and Public Policy Institute and touted as an expert on climate science. Hoggan describes a whole gaggle of such think tanks, all with fancy titles and funded by the fossil fuel industry. None of them produce science to be published in peer-reviewed journals but rather opinions than can be published in opeds or quotes for journalists to balance their stories and match a quote from a scientist at a research institute about their data shows global warming is a problem with a quote from a “policy analyst” from a think tank saying that no it isn’t.
In the other category, Lambert gives as an example Steve Milloy, who claimed to be attacking so-called junk science, but was in reality an effort to obfuscate the danger of cigarette smoking which was funded by the tobacco industry.

Lambert notes that

The same techniques used by tobacco companies to obscure the science that shows that cigarette smoke is bad for you is now being used to cover up the fact that human activities are warming the planet. In fact the same people and think tanks that argued against a link between cigarettes and disease are now arguing that against a link between carbon dioxide and global warming.

1 comment:

C2H50H said...

Ah, but what Tim leaves unsaid is why they're lying, or, to be charitable, simply being careless.

Put yourself in their place: you are a third-rate intellect, or a superannuated relic whose days of being respected have passed. You miss being a mover and a shaker, someone whose pronouncements are noted. Let's see, now. You could, if you had integrity, try to contribute some understanding and insight into the phenomenon known as AGW, but that would require a willingness to work hard, not to mention actual ability, neither of which, especially in Monckton's case, in possession. Or you could simply remain quiet -- but there's no profit or fame in that.

No, it's easy and a guaranteed short-term path to being noticed to be a contrarian, to quote-mine other people's papers, to find nits -- in any complex system there will always be plenty of noise which can be exploited -- and to trumpet those.

And you may make money doing it.