Thursday, September 20, 2012

"Climate Crimes"

Those who have read this blog for a while know that I periodically make the observation that the pro-catastrophic global warming (CGW) types do not behave like people who are confident they have the scientific arguments on their side.

When those of us who believe humans, on balance, warm the planet in a modest way that will cause mild (net) problems point out issues with the CGW case, they too often, fly into a frenzy. Now, it is "climate crimes." This from a science "journalist:"

Donald Brown, the philosopher at Penn State who has been writing about the ethics of climate change for well over a decade -- I interviewed him in the early 2000s -- thinks they are perhaps guilty of crimes against humanity. 

Are they? Are Anthony Watts and Marc Morano and Tom Nelson and Steve Goddard smart enough to be guilty of climate crimes?

I think so. You can't simply claim that CO2 isn't a greenhouse gas. 

I think they're crimes will be obvious in about a decade.

When I profiled Michael Mann for Scientific American, he said he thought it would eventually be illegal to deny climate change. I had doubts about that, but maybe.

That a "science journalist" would call free speech a "crime" is especially ironic. So much for the First Amendment. So much for basic grammar (it is "their" crimes, not "they're" crimes). For this to engender so much ire to accuse someone of a crime, the person must have said something absurd about rock-solid science, right?

Ahhhh, no.

Our journalist explains:

CharlesH wrote, on 9/10:
>> Sea levels have risen at a ~3mm/yr rate during the last and previous centuries (about 1ft/century) <<

In any case, this supposed fact is not true. Sea level has not been 3 mm/yr over the last several centuries. Read the papers (Ted/CharlesH provides no supporting evidence, because he's not the type to care about facts), or.... last week at WHOI, a graduate student talked to us about -- showed us -- some stumps from an ancient forest near Falmouth, MA, on the beach, that was uncovered two years ago in a Nor'easter [and, oh, how I miss those]. 

He drilled into the stumps and has been using the results to reconstruct massive hurricanes that come onshore in Cape Cod over the last millenium. And his answer -- and I asked him this, as did other people there -- was that sea level was rising about 0.5 mm/yr for most of the previous millenium.

So I'd like proof of "CharlesH's" claim that sea level rise was 3 mm/yr for several centuries.  

This "crime" is expressing uncertainty about the rate of sea level rise over centuries??!!

We have one graduate student, one clump of trees, one location, and one graduate student with a hypothesis. Great, that student may be onto something. But for now, it is just a hypothesis.

Doubting a hypothesis about sea level rise is a "crime"??!!

Especially, when the rate of 3 mm a year sea level rise is more or less the oceanographic consensus and that the rate of rise has been slowing in the recent geologic record (see here).

Sadly, there seem to be a lot of science journalists these days who believe their role is advocate rather than journalist. Below is an example of well-done science journalism with a "skeptic" who believes about what I do when it comes to global warming.

Addition 9:13am. Jeff K (comments below) thinks I'm being unfair by posting the info above as if it is somehow unrepresentative of the pro-GW side. Well, here is what another pro-CGW type said about the video posted above.

It may seem needlessly cruel to dissect the hodgepodge of sociopathically distorted rationalizations and dodges in his recent excruciatingly wrong-headed interview on PBS,

I think I'm being kind with these people.


  1. This is awfully low-hanging fruit, Mike. This guy calls himself an "independent science journalist & writer," has 140 Twitter followers that are probably 50 percent bots, and his profile picture is him with his cat—and the cat is the only one that looks like it's been cleaned in the last week. He's a random nobody.

    Between this and your manufactured NBC controversy last week, I'm really starting to have some concerns about your objectivity.

    You've mentioned in the past that you have financial ties to the automobile industry, correct? Is that still the case? If so, in the interest of full disclosure, you should probably amend all these climate posts with that information.

  2. Jeff,

    I have disclosed my politics and my economics. If you are too lazy to look them up (they are right on this blog) that is your issue. That level of disclosure is FAR more than the average journalist provides.

    The subject of the posting has had articles printed in "Scientific American" and other major publications. If you don't like me pointing out nonsense from the pro-global warming side then I suggest you talk to the authors of the nonsense.

  3. I'm sorry if I touched a nerve, Mike.

    I'm assuming from your response that you are indeed still receiving money from the automobile industry in some capacity. There's no reason that a new reader would know that. It's not laziness if they haven't read through every single post you've ever written to check for possible conflicts of interest.

    You write about this frequently enough that it could be called the site's secondary focus. Yet you also receive money from the industry that has the most to lose if the people you're railing against are correct. At the very least, we've got the appearance of impropriety—and that's when disclosure becomes crucial.

    If you can't or won't stop receiving funds from the auto industry, you should at least make an effort to be up front about it. If your principles and passion for the subject are that strong, however, I can't imagine why you wouldn't cut your ties and eliminate any doubt about your motives.

  4. Jeff,

    Yes, it is lazy. Ever hear of a Google search? I just did it and the info came up in about two seconds.

    I think it is ironic that someone who is demanding full disclosure doesn't even post under his full name.

    Since Google search is too much work: Yes, I am Sr. Vice President of AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions and the automobile companies are among our clients -- which has been stated literally dozens of times on this blog. I receive nothing personally from the automotive companies.

    I do not care how we power our transportation: Whatever is economic and reliable is fine with me ( , among other postings).

    I'm going to say it again: If you don't like me accurately posting the work of environmental 'journalists' your problem is with them, not me.

    When you find something factually inaccurate on this blog PLEASE point it out, I appreciate that.

    If you wish to read one-sided postings about climate, may I direct you to:


  5. Maybe you can contact Carl Safina and straighten him out.

  6. So in the sprit of openness and integrity, are you willing to amend your climate-change-focused posts with a note disclosing your potential conflict of interest?

  7. Jeff,

    No need. Previously disclosed.


  8. @Poetslife: There many sincere climate researchers that I greatly respect that have differing assessments of the climate situation than mine.

    As I have previously stated, I believe we'll know in about 2016 whether global warming is a major problem and whether the sun's unusual behavior the last decade or so might offset some or all of the greenhouse warming. From where I sit, the situation is not so urgent we cannot wait until then.


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