Desperation shows in the anti-warming camp


Willis Eschenbach, whose credentials I do not know, is back for another guest post at Watt’s Up With That.

Eschenbach contests conclusions drawn by the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, about the effects of warming in New England.

In a probably-unintentionally humorous way, Eschenbach shows just how desperate grow the anti-warming camp.  The purloined e-mails show no wrong-doing, and worse for denialists, no significant errors in the case that global warming occurs and is problematic.  Legislation to fight climate change has a chance of passing this Congress.  EPA promulgated rules on measuring CO2 and other greenhouse gases, and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s resolution to stop EPA failed in the Senate.  There was the hoax about the fourth-grade science project claimed to refute Nobel-quality research, and then there was the bungled story that mistakenly claimed a solar-energy company sent a non-working bomb to an economics professor in Spain in revenge for his paper against government support of green energy.  One can see how such a string of losses might set back the hopes of even the most delusional denialist.

Either ignorant of Godwin’s Law, or so desperate he thinks it worth the gamble, Eschenbach quoted somebody (did he ever name who?) going on about the Big Lie technique attributed to the Nazis in establishing policy in Germany before and during World War II.

Mike Godwin, discoverer of Godwin's Law - Wikimedia image

Mike Godwin, discoverer of Godwin's Law - Wikimedia image

Is there a more plaintive or pitiful way to say one is over one’s head and has run out of argumentative gasoline?

Eschenbach’s case is not particularly strong — he pulled temperature data (he said) from the U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) to make charts showing, Eschenbach claimed, there is no 4°F rise in average New England winter temperatures since 1970.

After a couple of skirmishes to see whether Watts’ watchdogs still prevent my posting, I offered a small rebuttal that, of course, slipped quickly into the abyss of Watts Moderation.  It may eventually escape that particular eddy, but in case it doesn’t, here’s the post:

Tim Neilson asks:

PS Ed Darrell – do you have any evidence refuting the post?

Most claims of someone practicing “big lie” tactics are self-refuting, the opposite of a self-proving document under the law. Is this any exception? Mr. Eschenbach offers no evidence to suggest that a committee of Congress publishes material it knows to be wrong for propaganda effect. (The quotes relating to Hitler comprise a grand rhetorical tactic known as “red herring.” The mere presence of that material, were we to apply Godwin’s law, refutes Mr. Eschenbach’s case.)

There is no evidence to refute.

Mr. Eschenbach offers a few jabs at data that show the effects of warming in New England, but he does not appear to bother to look at the data the committee used. This is a bait-and-switch tactic of argumentation that most rhetoricians would label a spurious. Does Eschenbach rebut or refute the committee’s data? How could anyone tell?

The site of the committee, the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, offers several arguments to suggest changes in New England from warming might pose problems. So far as I see, Mr. Eschenbach addresses only one of those arguments, and that one incompletely.

1. The committee claims that average winter temperatures in New England have risen by 4 degrees F since 1970. Eschenbach offers a chart that, so far as I can tell, confirms the committee’s claim — but Eschenbach uses a chart that covers a much longer period of time, and offers it in a way that makes it difficult to determine what temperatures are, let alone what the trend is (IMHO, the trend is up, and easily by 4 degrees in Eschenbach’s chart). Oddly, he illustrates the chart by showing a surfer in a wet suit, surfing in winter in New England. Surfing is generally a warm-weather enterprise, and though the man has a wetsuit, and though the Gulf Current would warm those waters, the picture tends to deny Eschenbach’s claim, doesn’t it? If it’s warm enough to surf in winter, it’s warmer than the Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

And look at the actual numbers — Eschenbach confesses a rise of 2.7 degrees, roughly 9/13 of the rise he intends to deny. Heck, that nearly-three degree rise is enough to cause concern, or should be.

2. The committee notes warmer temperatures would put more precipitation as rain, and not snow. Eschenbach offers no comment on this. Ski seasons in New England have suffered recently because it’s been too warm to keep natural snow, and too warm to make artificial snow (68 degrees F on January 6, 2007). (This is a national concern, by the way.) If the committee errs in this claim, Eschenbach offers no data.

And especially, he offers no data to back his “big lie” claim, that the committee knows differently from what it says.

3. The committee notes that warmer temperatures produce later autumns — a huge impact on tourist revenue in New England, where an enormous travel industry has built up around watching the changing colors of the trees. Such a change would be consistent with other long-term observations, such as those by the Department of Agriculture and Arbor Day Foundation, that the plant zones across America show warming (and some cooling).

Eschenbach doesn’t contest this in any way. Should we presume this is Eschenbach’s agreement that this claim is not a “big lie” claim?

3. The committee refers to warming oceans, and the potential effects on certain parts of the fishing industry, especially cod and lobster. This is caused by ocean warming, not atmospheric warming — so Eschenbach is again silent on this claim. The committee’s claim tends to undercut Eschenbach’s claim of a “big lie” here, and Eschenbach offers no support for his own argument.

4. The committee refers to greater storm damage due partly to rising sea levels. Eschenbach offers no rebuttal of any sort.

Eschenbach fails to make a prima facie case for his big lie claim, and his rebuttal is restricted solely to one measure of temperature that Eschenbach fuzzes up with an unclear chart.

May I ask, since you style yourself a skeptic, what evidence you found in the post that makes a case at all?

Will it ever see light of day at WUWT?

Update: Yes, it sees the light of day at WUWT.  Maybe all my kvetching had an effect.

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4 Responses to Desperation shows in the anti-warming camp

  1. [...] noise broad; no deep effects on American opinions A commenter with the handle Klem complained about my outlook on global warming issues, in a recent post about the desperation I see in the [...]

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  2. Ed Darrell says:

    Gee, Gerald, I was hoping someone else would.

    Klem, reread my post. Here’s the facts:

    1. Despite a lot of press — a lot of press — the purloined e-mails revealed no wrongdoing by any scientist who participated in those exchanges. Criminal investigations proceed to find who stole them, but in England, the House of Commons investigated and found that the e-mails show no scientific wrongdoing, and Commons reaffirmed that warming is a serious problem; in the U.S., Penn State confirmed that Michael Mann did nothing wrong. Hundreds of scientists in all fields signed a major letter in Science telling the e-mail thieves and their fans to back off. Across America, very smart and even average people figured out it was the scientists who were the victims. The letter flap may have contributed to the failure of Copenhagen, but maybe not. In any case, most Americans agree we need to act against warming, and soon.

    And then, the most honorable news organization to have published stories accusing the scientists of wrongdoing, retracted the story, based on a later, cooler analysis of the facts (probably with the libel lawyers looking over the editors’ shoulders).

    2. Even those clowns who are trying to blame Obama for the BP oil leak in the Gulf recognize that this event shows part of the problem, and adds to the urgency to find alternative energy sources which will, even if only as a by-product, reduce carbon emissions. As the financial and economic disasters add up quickly, it becomes more and more difficult for warming deniers to pretend the oceans are not important, to claim that it’s okay if we sacrifice a major fishery here or there, or argue that the environment is robust and can handle any insult we throw its way. All of the rationalizations of the warming deniers are rebutted and refuted by the facts of the Gulf oil spill.

    3. Challenged to produce science to back their claims, deniers have had to suffer instead the continued decline of ice in glaciers around the world, the decline of the North Polar ice cap, several of the warmest months in history and measurements that show 2009 was one of the warmest years on record (not coldest, as they had been claiming) and that the decade of 2000-2009 was the warmest in history — bad news for those who claim warming is no problem and has ended.

    4. Desperate to find science, many deniers seized on the story of a fourth-grade science project that purported to refute global warming, merely by measuring temperatures at one source in Beeville, Texas. Throwing all skepticism aside, they got suckered into a hoax designed to make a fourth-grade girl feel good about her science project. In the wake two facts stand out: So-called skeptics are not skeptical at all, but dangerously and malignantly gullible; and any movement that can’t produce something better than a hoax, fourth-grade science project, lacks science upon which to base its claims.

    5. Desperate to shore up the falsified narrative that scientists are all evil, and would do anything to frustrate the denialists, many denialist sites (including Watts Up) seized on a report that a denialist in Spain had received a bomb in the mail. Quickly telegraphing the news and demanding arrest, trial, and lynch mobs against scientists, the denialists were caught short when the purported victim himself announced it was all a misunderstanding — he’d been delivered a fuel filter in a mix up at the courier company, instead of the book he was supposed to get. This revealed that denialists are even more gullible than anyone had feared, that they will quickly turn nasty even when completely unjustified, and that some of their best experts look a lot more like the liar Monckton than former Boy Scout and Nobel Prize winner Al Gore. Al Gore is appreciated as having human foibles, forgiven in return for his great foresight on environmental and technological issues — and everyone can see the denialists don’t measure up to Al Gore level, in expertise or moral fiber.

    Sadly, no denialist site that promoted the false bomb-in-the-mail story has retracted it. (That’s one way by which we can tell the denialist sites from a genuinely skeptic’s site.)

    6. Along comes Willis Eschenbach, whose previous high-water science contribution to the discussion was a series of cartoons misdescribing the science and hyperventilating over nonsense claims of denialists, with a post at WUWT that is the walking, talking, picture-in-the-dictionary model of Godwin’s Law in action — accusing a committee of the U.S. Congress of engaging in Nazi-esque “Big Lie” tactics, based wholly on Eschenbach’s inability to understand the science that shows warming in New England, and otherwise amazingly bereft of facts and data.

    They know they are desperate, even if you haven’t been following the debate.

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  3. Gerald says:

    I’ll let Mr. Darrell handle most of your post klem, since it is his blog. But the so called “Amazongate” has been shown to be bogus, it was created by journalist Jonathon Leake. The newspaper which originally published the story has issued a retraction.

    Creating stories sounds desperate to me.

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  4. klem says:

    “The purloined e-mails show no wrong-doing, and worse for denialists, no significant errors in the case that global warming occurs and is problematic.”

    Where have you been? Those purloined emails did not have to show any wrong-doing; all they had to do was imply it, and they did that beautifully. The media picked it up, called it a scandal, and now everyone is now aware of it though almost no one has read the emails. There is no need; the media already told the public that shenanigans have been going on at the CRU and the IPCC was automatically implicated. The emails and deminished IPCC credibility were the primary reason why Copenhagen failed. The failure of Copenhagen then allowed scientists to safely question the word of the UN IPCC in January and look what they found; Glaciergate, Amazongate and more, plus they uncovered Pachauri’s conflict of interest and dirty novel writing career. Lol! Those purloined emails have ultimately destroyed the IPCC, it has no credibility with the public anymore. You seem like a smart guy but I can’t believe after this amount of time you still don’t understand this. And you say it’s the anti-warming camp which is desperate? Oops I think you’re in denial.

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