Naomi Oreskes on the political need for truth-telling in climate change


The too-often odious Huffington Post features an interview with Naomi Oreskes, one of the authors of Merchants of Doubt.

You should read the interview (and the book, if you haven’t yet):

[Kerry Trueman]:The real mystery, then, is how to persuade American skeptics that we face profound disruptions in our own lifetime and that of our children. Can you describe, in a lay-person friendly way, some of the scenarios we might anticipate?

[Naomi Oreskes]: Well, the best example is the “monster storm” that just hit Alaska, described by one media outlet as a storm of “epic proportions.” Climate change is underway, it is affecting American citizens, and it is going to become increasingly costly and disruptive.

We are no longer talking about the future, about people far away in time and space. We are talking about us, now. I think this is what Americans do not yet understand. But if current trends continue, they will soon. Climate change is all around us, and most of it is not good.

More, there.

More at the Bathtub:

40 Responses to Naomi Oreskes on the political need for truth-telling in climate change

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Lars,

    I am grateful whenever a rational person comments. Mark has offered some sources I had not seen. Thanks for dropping by.

    Like

  2. Lars says:

    Great displays of contra-science on the parts of some of your correspondents, Ed – haven’t really seen the like since the middle of the last decade, at least without going to the denialist boutique sites like Watts’s and McIntyre’s. It’s good of you to give these guys a place to strut their stuff, and I have to admire your equanimity as you try to engage with them.

    Like

  3. mark says:

    For the benefit of those who wonder whether or not there is a consensus among climate scientists on anthropogenic climate change, here are a few more links to surveys of scientists and literature, and statements made by scientific organizations.

    Skeptical Science discusses this issue and has links to scientific organizations’ statements.

    A summary of consensus reports and statements can be found here.

    Another, independent survey is available at PNAS here.

    It is important to keep in mind that the conclusions that are the subjects of these consensuses are the results of scientific research that has been published in the peer-reviewed literature–subject to additional analyses and replication. That is the way science works.

    Like

  4. Black Flag® says:

    Ed,

    So in your rant, you agree that the entire Climate “Science” is bizarre, corrupted and worthless.

    I agree with you.

    Like

  5. Alan Scott says:

    Ed Darrell,

    The consensus of the establishment back in the 16th and 17th centuries was the earth as the center of the universe . The establishment today is man made climate change . Either way, if you bring evidence against the established doctrine you will be destroyed. Physically imprisoned back in the day, today professionally you will be destroyed .

    Consensus today is not the triumph of truth, it is the triumph of a political point of view . You guys bury any evidence contradicting climate change. You destroy anyone who points out flaws in your theory . You blindly believe in the economics of green energy, no matter how many failures. That last part is the most important . If green energy actually worked, your little pet Global Warming theory would be a harmless curiosity.

    I said this before on another topic. If Man Made Global Warming was really what you say it is, there would be a global push for nuclear energy. Your green allies would stop killing nukes with their law suits . Since that will never ever happen, we both know climate change is a blatant lie .

    Like

  6. Ed Darrell says:

    The pro man made Global Warming establishment of today has nearly the same power to destroy a modern day Copernicus as the old Catholic Church did way back when .

    Complete crock there, Alan. Lord Monckton still breathes, free. Anthony Watts has a badge for being “#1 science blog” despite his stand against reality and even his own research, claiming global warming isn’t happening, can’t happen, can’t be the pushed by humans, and all the scientists are religiously wrong.

    You think you know the story of Galileo, but you apply it exactly backwards. It’s the high priests of denialism who persecute the modern Galileos. The Far-Right Rev. Cuccinnelli (sp?) persecutes Michael Mann and all his defenders. The Further-Right Rev. Inhofe orders incantations be printed in place of Galilean calculations and he insists on an inquisition against the supporters of Mann.

    Where is there any retribution, or even deserved disciplining, of the denialist wrong doers?

    You’re looking through the telescope backwards.

    Like

  7. Alan Scott says:

    Mark,

    Your consensus is equivalent to the consensus of the Catholic Church in the 16th and 17th centuries that the Sun revolved around the Earth. Copernicus and Galileo were as popular as an anti man made Global Warming scientist is today .

    The pro man made Global Warming establishment of today has nearly the same power to destroy a modern day Copernicus as the old Catholic Church did way back when .

    Like

  8. Black Flag® says:

    Jim,

    So Ed being wrong – to you – means he is “essentially” correct.

    The depth of irrationality is infinite.

    Like

  9. Black Flag® says:

    Jim,

    Do not assume they do not have another plan..

    Like

  10. Jim says:

    For the record,

    War Plan Red was concerned with an invasion through Canada. Also for the record, it was scrapped in ’41 if not sooner. Ed was essentially correct.

    Like

  11. Black Flag® says:

    Mark

    Alan–Two papers published in Nature in 2009 (Allen &al. and Meinshausen &al.) calculated the odds of warming greater than 2 degrees C.

    Please entertain me on how they made such a calculation – which, as you admit, are merely “odds” – which as you seem to have done as the authors, made bald faced irrational conclusions

    which describes how 928 papers, published between 1993 and 2003, in a bibliographic database that contained the keyword “climate change.” Of these, 75% accepted the consensus, 25% took no position, and none disagreed. You can also check the position statements of the IPCC or the Joint National Academies.

    Ah, but as already presented here before, she admits she made a “serious error” in merely filtering “climate change”.

    Had she actually extended the review – she would have found almost opposite – that a minority accepted any “consensus” (as if that has any meaning regardless).

    We also need to recognize the other consequences of CO2 emissions–such things as acidification of the world’s oceans (we know this is happening because we have measured it).

    Completely rubbish.

    The same irrational junk regarding “acid” rain – a bunch of hypothesis made out to be “fact” and all of it fell on its face.

    Like

  12. mark says:

    Alan–Two papers published in Nature in 2009 (Allen &al. and Meinshausen &al.) calculated the odds of warming greater than 2 degrees C. Both concluded that emissions of CO2 need to be reduced considerably–about 80% by 2050–to keep warming within 2 degrees. They also note that the important factor is cumulative emission of CO2, rather than some atmospheric concentration. The importance of taking action now is because of this cumulative effect; the warming that will occur will last for about 1,000 years after emissions cease; furthermore, climate recovery will be very slow, taking more than 10,000 years for a little recovery.

    You can read more about it here and here.

    For those who would like to learn more about the scientific consensus regarding global warming, see the item by Naomi Oreskes in Science 306(5702):1686, which describes how 928 papers, published between 1993 and 2003, in a bibliographic database that contained the keyword “climate change.” Of these, 75% accepted the consensus, 25% took no position, and none disagreed. You can also check the position statements of the IPCC or the Joint National Academies.

    We also need to recognize the other consequences of CO2 emissions–such things as acidification of the world’s oceans (we know this is happening because we have measured it).

    Like

  13. Black Flag® says:

    Alan,

    I will have to remember that Invisible Martian – it explains very well the problems associated with the reversing of the null hypothesis.

    Like

  14. Alan Scott says:

    Mark ,

    ” Alan–Any attempt to mitigate the effects of greenhouse gases on climate will be, essentially, keeping things from getting worse than they otherwise could get.”

    That is the type of BS answer I would expect . There is no way to measure or determine whether you are wrong or right . If we go ahead and wreck our economy and the weather gets worse anyway, you can say, ” well the damage was already done and think how much worse it would have been if not for our brilliance ” . On the other hand if we wreck the economy and the weather gets better, you can say, ” well look we have saved the planet . ” If we do not wreck the economy with carbon reduction and the weather has a few hiccups, you can say, ” well see this or that was global freaking warming caused “. If on the fourth hand we do nothing and nothing happens , you can say ” just wait , it is coming 20 to 200 years from now and boy will you be sorry then . ”

    You just put forth what I call the invisible Martian argument . I can tell you that an invisible Martian is standing right behind you. If you do not do what I tell you, he will blast you with his ray gun . You may not feel the effects right away, but sometime maybe years from now you will have pain somewhere on your body from that blast . Years from now you have pain even though you did what I told you to do and I say, yes but the pain would have been worse if you had not listened .

    How can you prove me wrong ? You can’t see him because he is invisible . I have a genetic mutation of my right eye, which corresponds to extreme intelligence, that allows me to see invisible Martians . :)

    ” Waiting to observe impacts before choosing a stabilization target would therefore imply a lock-in to about twice as much eventual crop loss, rainfall changes, and other impacts that increase with warming. ”

    Pure speculation . No matter what happens, you give absolutely no criteria for being proven wrong . No matter what happens you can say well if we had not done this it would have been twice as worse.

    Like

  15. Black Flag® says:

    Mark

    Black Flag–You’re so silly! Of course I’m not using the military or the insurance industry as “proof” of anthropogenic global warming; Mark

    So you provide meaningless examples for your argument.

    That probably means your argument is meaningless.
    Mark

    they’re just organizations that are concerned about the consequences of global warming on things that are important to them.

    That is completely untrue.

    Both of their jobs is to prepare for the unexpected, because for both of them, the cost -to them- is too high to be surprised.

    The Army is NOT changing a darn thing on how the Army operates so to do “something” about climate change. They are merely making plans on the bizarre, outside chance -contrary to known science – something happens.

    Same as insurance. They are NOT changing on actuary table for “climate change”.

    These guys are not scientists, nor study climate, nor study anything except what is in their expertise – and that is risk.

    To see these guys prepare for the improbable is not a sign you are right, but a sign these guys are doing their job.

    We just heard from another group (BEST) that determined that the global warming trend is not due to urban “heat islands,” as some “skeptics” have claimed. The data are available to anyone, and the different sources of data all show the same thing–a global warming trend.

    You are way behind the news!

    Nope, it shows that there is NOT a global warming trend – which is why there big hoha around BEST.

    One of the lead authors went out and said what you said, but none of the data demonstrates this, and now the whole thing is in utter turmoil.

    You do not keep up with the news.

    Here, catch up:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2055191/Scientists-said-climate-change-sceptics-proved-wrong-accused-hiding-truth-colleague.html

    Like

  16. mark says:

    Ed–I highly recommend “Deceit and Denial.” The authors thoroughly documented their work, and you can clearly see that the same old stuff has been repeating in issues besides the three used as case histories. The tobacco case is probably the most important, but we see the same tactics over and over again. The issue with lead in gasoline and paint is also fairly well known, but its history goes back a bit further than most folks know about. The story of the PVC ingredient, vinyl chloride monomer, is less well known but it is a good illustration of how scientific inquiry uncovered a carcinogen let loose in the environment (something that political candidates calling for killing off regulations ought to be reminded of).

    Alan–Any attempt to mitigate the effects of greenhouse gases on climate will be, essentially, keeping things from getting worse than they otherwise could get. From a press release announcing a National Academies report on CO2 emissions and warming:
    Because the amount of human-caused CO2 emissions already far exceeds the amount that can be removed through natural carbon “sinks” such as oceans, keeping emissions rates the same will not stabilize the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. Even if emissions held steady, the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere would increase, much like the water level in a bathtub when water is coming in faster than it is draining. Emissions reductions larger than about 80 percent, relative to whatever peak global emissions rate may be reached, would be required to approximately stabilize carbon dioxide concentrations for a century or so at any chosen target level.

    Further, stabilizing atmospheric concentrations does not mean that temperatures will stabilize immediately. Warming that occurs in response to a given increase in the CO2 concentration is only about half the total warming that will ultimately occur. For example, if the CO2 concentration stabilizes at 550 ppmv, the Earth would warm about 1.6 C on the way to that level; but even after the CO2 level stabilizes, the warming would continue to grow in the following decades and centuries, reaching a best-estimate global “equilibrium” warming of about 3 C (5.4 F). Waiting to observe impacts before choosing a stabilization target would therefore imply a lock-in to about twice as much eventual crop loss, rainfall changes, and other impacts that increase with warming.

    Black Flag–You’re so silly! Of course I’m not using the military or the insurance industry as “proof” of anthropogenic global warming; they’re just organizations that are concerned about the consequences of global warming on things that are important to them. We just heard from another group (BEST) that determined that the global warming trend is not due to urban “heat islands,” as some “skeptics” have claimed. The data are available to anyone, and the different sources of data all show the same thing–a global warming trend.

    Like

  17. Black Flag® says:

    Ed,

    You are among the most ignorant educated men I know.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Plan_Red

    Like

  18. Jim says:

    Ed,

    Flag might be thinking of “War Plan Red” which was in place as late as the 1930’s. It was rendered moot in 1941 and declassified under Nixon.

    But yes — Canada has not been of any concern to the American military for decades, aside from varying degrees of cooperation.

    Jim

    Like

  19. Ed Darrell says:

    The US Military is concerned about an invasion from Canada . . .

    No topic on Earth that guy won’t lie about.

    Like

  20. Ed Darrell says:

    Mark,

    Have you read the Markovitz and Rosner book? Worth getting now?

    Like

  21. Alan Scott says:

    Mark,

    Can you demonstrate that regulating Greenhouse gases will even mitigate climate change ?

    Like

  22. Black Flag® says:

    Mark

    The US Military is concerned about an invasion from Canada – this does not make such an invasion likely or even possible.

    The Military is not science. They make up all sorts of fantasy and prepare for it, because they have little means to determine “what can happen?” – so they plan for everything they can, from the likely to the utterly ridiculous.

    Using them as a measure does not help your case.

    The time for arguing whether or not global warming is occurring is long past.

    Who says? You and your insane ilk?

    Global warming is a fact – if you’d note, you are not living under a couple of kilometers of ice.

    Your ilk wishes to equate such a circumstance to be human caused – but, that would be ridiculous.

    Like

  23. mark says:

    The U.S. military is concerned about the impacts of global warming on coastal infrastructure, with regard to aspects of national defense. They take global warming and rising sea level seriously. So does the insurance industry, noting the increase in the number of declared natural disasters in the past 30 years in the United States (also see here).

    The time for arguing whether or not global warming is occurring is long past. Researchers are now directing their attention to observed impacts and are trying to assess future impacts.

    “Merchants of Doubt,” published in 2010, shows how little has changed since the publication of “Deceit and Denial” by Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner in 2002. The latter book used three case histories (lead, vinyl chloride monomer (an ingredient in the manufacture of polyvinylchloride), and tobacco to illustrate how industry-driven denial of science delayed regulation and mitigation, severely impacting numerous people. Some of the actors in the different denialism were the same, and it could be concluded that their ideologies blined them to the science. Some of the same territory was covered in Chris Mooney’s “The Republican War on Science.” Similar tactics were shown to be used by insurance corporations in “Deadly Spin,” by Wendell Potter, and can be seen going on in the present political season, led by corporate powers such as the Koch brothers.

    Conservative media’s ongoing battle against climate science is discussed here, where John Timmer wonders whether the root of denial lies with Fox for misrepresenting the issue, or with the Fox audience for blithely accepting the misrepresentations.

    Like

  24. Black Flag® says:

    Ed,

    You could comprehend by thinking.

    I do not hold my breath waiting for you to think.

    Like

  25. Black Flag® says:

    Ed:

    PS, this is a blog not a book or a thesis. I guess that is why you are confused often.

    I have provided documentation, but you do not read it – so why should I waste my time providing more stuff that you will not read?

    You are disturbed that your greenie zealotry has no basis in science – however, I truly doubt it will be nearly enough to change you irrational behavior, for your conclusion was long ago cemented – “Man=Bad”

    Like

  26. Black Flag® says:

    Ed,

    You are a strange animal.

    You say “As usual, BF, you get most ardently bizarre whenever you are challenged to provide an iota of evidence for your claims.”

    …yet, I quote you exactly. But I guess your own statements are not enough for you.

    You then say “I’ll take her word over [BF]”.

    ….yet, I quote her exactly. But I guess if you can’t contradict yourself on a regular basis, Ed could not exist!

    Like

  27. Ed Darrell says:

    As usual, Ed, you are intellectually dishonest whenever your religious believes are at risk.

    As usual, BF, you get most ardently bizarre whenever you are challenged to provide an iota of evidence for your claims.

    I’ll take Dr. Oreskes’ word over yours, any day. She provides footnotes in her books and lectures. When challenged, she provides backup, explanations, and new material.

    You could learn a lot, just by observing.

    Like

  28. Black Flag® says:

    Ed,

    Nor did Oreskes claim it is.

    That is so lame, Ed.

    OF course she did – she made mention of a weather event and referenced a comment about climate in the same breath.

    They occupy the same dimensions of time and space here on Earth.

    So does rocks.

    . Weather is notoriously difficult to predict; climate much less so.

    Absolutely ass-backwards.

    There are massively more influences and variables upon climate then upon weather.

    Where did you get the crazy idea that Oreskes had confused weather and climate?

    By her very words – which, obviously, you have trouble understanding.

    Your own quote:
    Well, the best example is the “monster storm” that just hit Alaska, described by one media outlet as a storm of “epic proportions.” Climate change is underway…

    As usual, Ed, you are intellectually dishonest whenever your religious believes are at risk.

    Like

  29. Ed Darrell says:

    Weather is not climate.

    Nor did Oreskes claim it is. Weather does provide the data that generate climate, however. They are not different topics in different rooms of the library. They occupy the same dimensions of time and space here on Earth. There IS a connection between climate and weather. Climate predictions apply to weather. Weather is notoriously difficult to predict; climate much less so.

    Where did you get the crazy idea that Oreskes had confused weather and climate? You’re confused about the entire issue, and, I think, unable to judge — but in any case, you’ve offered no evidence that Oreskes made such a confusion, and I’ll wager you can’t.

    Since weather is not climate, claiming weather is climate is irrational.

    Since Oreskes made no claim that weather is climate, your claim is irrational and dishonest. You’re even deluding yourself.

    <blockquote<I know the difference between weather and climate.

    Can’t tell that here. That might even be an accurate statement — but it’s not responsive to the issue you raised. You said Oreskes was wrong on the science. I asked where. You haven’t pointed to anything but a general whine about a claim she did not make.

    Where are those old AOL “ignore” buttons when you need them?

    Like

  30. Black Flag® says:

    Ed,

    Why do you claim it is an irrational hypothesis?

    Weather is not climate.

    What part of her reasoning or evidence do you disagree with?

    Since weather is not climate, claiming weather is climate is irrational.

    And what makes your disagreement more authoritative?

    I know the difference between weather and climate.

    Don’t you?

    Like

  31. Ed Darrell says:

    Why do you claim it is an irrational hypothesis? What part of her reasoning or evidence do you disagree with? And what makes your disagreement more authoritative?

    If you see a fairy tale in there, tell us where.

    Like

  32. Black Flag® says:

    Ed,

    That’s the point – she has made an irrational hypothesis linking the storm to climate change – infused it will irrational hyperbole, and you think it is enough science to demand things of me to provide you “null” hypothesis.

    That is the danger, Ed – people like you who cannot tell the difference between a fairy tale and science.

    Like

  33. Ellie says:

    Jim, it really is a good book. I don’t remember who recommended it to me the first time, but I believe it was a mutual friend. I got it from the public library, but it’s definitely on my list of books to buy because I think even after some things in it become outdated, it will still be an excellent reference book.

    Like

  34. Jim says:

    Thanks, Ed. This was excellent. I need to get the book!

    Like

  35. Ed Darrell says:

    Anything else you need?

    Yeah. I asked that you be specific. What claim of Oreskes do you claim to be junk science? You specify none, I presume because you can find none. Your saying “all of ’em” is shorthand for “I haven’t read the book and don’t know what I’m talking about.”

    You fail to name any claim that is junk science, and then you have the unmitigated gall to claim others must prove stuff? You must be loads of fun on the playground.

    Like

  36. Ellie says:

    Haven’t read the review as I rarely venture into The Land of Woo that is HuffPo, but I will since you recommend it. I have read the book and it is on my “wish list” of books to purchase. I certainly recommend it.

    Like

  37. Black Flag® says:

    **eek, spell check failure**

    Ed,

    Do you have a complaint about Oreskes? Be specific — she’s right, and you’re carping without reason.

    Yes, it is utter garbage and demagoguery.

    It is meaningless, without context, and merely another example of misplaced subjectivity masquerading as objective evaluation and utterly devoid of facts.

    Your continuing and stupid demand of contrary citations is again the same old idiocy of reversal of null-hypothesis.

    YOU HAVE TO PROVIDE PROOF OF YOUR IRRATIONAL JUNK SCIENCE

    Anything else you need?

    Like

  38. Black Flag® says:

    Ed,

    Do you have a complaint about Oreskes? Be specific — she’s right, and you’re carping without reason.

    Yes, it is utter garbage and demogragurhy.

    It is meaningless, without context, and merely another example of misplaced subjectivity masqueradingas objective evaluation and utterly devoid of facts.

    Your continuing and stupid demand of contrary citations is again the same old idiocy of reversal of null-hypothesis.

    YOU HAVE TO PROVIDE PROOF OF YOUR IRRATIONAL JUNK SCIENCE

    Anything else you need?

    Like

  39. Ed Darrell says:

    Do you have a complaint about Oreskes? Be specific — she’s right, and you’re carping without reason.

    If you have a legitimate carp, give us the facts, and the citations — but the whine of the climate change denialist is the real idiocy here, and dangerous, too.

    Like

  40. Black Flag® says:

    Oh, the idiocy.

    When weather is “wrong”, it must be climate.

    When weather is “normal”, it must be … not climate.

    Wrong and normal is wholly subjective of irrational greenie definitions.

    Like

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