I have been speaking with a number of the other presenters here in private. One of the speakers here claimed that there is no such thing as Global Warming.

Now, I want to repeat what he said:  Not that the global weather is a complex, variable system, or that we cannot tell with a great deal of certainty the precise impact mankind has had, or we are unsure of what future results might be if do this or that. Rather, the claim that temperatures around the globe have simply not gone up.

I don’t even bother responding to these comments anymore. It is simply not worth my time to debate data. But it makes it impossible for me to take the rest of this person’s portfolio — Biotech! — seriously. How can I remotely think of putting money into a flawed logical system that ignores simple data?  (And for those of you who insist that temps have not risen over the past century, I suggest you treat my portfolio the exact same way; better yet, do the opposite of what I do).

Regardless, there have been many quite interesting conversations both on and off the stage. That is what makes going to these conferences so worthwhile.


I wonder: How much is the inability to debate ideas hindered by a disagreement over simple factual data ? I don’t mean interpretation and opinion, I mean simple facts.

Have other societies run into this? What was their fates?


Global Warming? What Evidence Do You Have? (November 17th, 2008)

Alaska is Melting . . . (December 28th, 2005)

Category: Energy, UnScience

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

66 Responses to “Global Warming Denial, Part 96”

  1. Patrick Neid says:

    Factual data? Hmmm. That seems to be what the real debate is about.

  2. VennData says:

    Haven’t you seen Andrew Breitbart’s video on how all the glaciers are reforming?

    Or the one where Obama is setting all the thermometers up a few degrees when no one’s looking?

    How about the one where All Gore is eating a restaurant and claims that his GW scam is how he’s buying everyone lunch?

  3. Trevor says:

    Hmmmm. I just had a local candidate come looking for my vote. I asked pretty much the same question as yours, after he admitted to believing in a god. How can I expect him to make facts-based decisions in City Hall, if he can’t use facts for that decision? The problem for all politicians wrt to this, ultimately, trick question, is that we have a society and political environment that rewards such willfully blinkered thinking. And that’s certainly not just for the issue of deities.

    The older I get and the more knowledge I accumulate, the scarier it becomes to me.

  4. patient renter says:

    “How much is the inability to debate ideas hindered by a disagreement over simple factual data ? I don’t mean interpretation and opinion, I mean simple facts.”

    I won’t go off topic, but obviously religion contributes to this problem as well… One man’s fact is another man’s nonsense.

  5. KidDynamite says:

    here’s a question: that chart certainly presents a good visual picture that temperatures have risen, right? but look at the scale. I mean, isn’t it possible that sometime in the last 100 years our ability to accurately measure temperature to 1/2 degree was enhanced? In other words, is it really so absurd to think that an increase from the mean of only several fractions of a degree could be due to measurement error/sampling error???

    note: i have absolutely no stake in the global warming debate, and no desire at all to debate it – i’m just talking about the technology of actually MEASURING the temperature.

  6. the bohemian says:

    So what’s the grand plan BR? Going to to trade your boat and car in on a canoe and bicycle? Or possibly shop somehwere where they promise to donate 1% of your purchase to help global warming. Talk about a win/win.

  7. bootstrap says:

    Question the data. Always question the data.

    Don’t just take the data, be it from Government, Business or University sources, without questioning it’s veracity.

    Look for cross confirming data from independent sources.

    Question the analysis. Always question the analysis of the data.

    Don’t just take the analysis of the data from one set of like minded analysts. Look for independent thinkers that have different points of view on the data.

    I’m interested in the opinions of anyone who follows these axioms. I value your opinion because you seem to do so.

  8. YouthInAsia says:

    I know in some of the forums I have the misfortune of being in, some folks use the term “global warming” when what they were thinking was anthropogenic global warming. I could see how someone that isn’t really informed of the debate (like a biotech guy) would get them wrong. Still, the point stands, he doesn’t seem to be very informed one way or the other and has formed an absolute opinion on the matter.

  9. Bruman says:

    I find climate denial so difficult to digest. Sure, we can debate about what to do, whether we can do anything that will have a significant impact on a process that’s already quite likely under way, how to divvy up the costs fairly, whether taxes or permits or technological mandates are better. But to simply say “no, it’s not happening at all” is just ridiculous.

    I wrote something about this around the time of the Copenhagen conference, it’s at:


    Basically, the point is that climate denial is an unusual position for most investment professionals. Most investors are very keen to be up on the latest scientific evidence and methods of analysis. However, when they point to something they find unpalatable for regulatory reasons… well… it’s head-in-the-sand time.

  10. ashpelham2 says:

    There is a meteorologist here in Birmingham, highly respected, that will argue with anyone, and back it up with data, that global warming does not exist, and could not be a human-caused phenomenon. I am a fan of this meteorologist, but there are many people who disagree with his theory. His blog is http://www.alabamawx.com. James Spann of ABC33/40 in Birmingham. See his thoughts on global warming by searching that same topic on the blog, if you care to.

  11. cheapstocks says:

    Why is the baseline those years? Wouldn’t change that much, but just wondering what the factual basis is for that selection. I didn’t see the original times article, so it may have been explained. But they basically used the cooling trend in the middle of the century as the baseline. Instead of using a 29 year baseline with the coolest part of the century, why not use a 50 year baseline that also includes some warmer decades (when there was less CO2 in the atmosphere)?

    It’s kind of like the NASA site. Right now they are trumpeting a measurement for this year as being so warm, but didn’t really say much last year about it being so cool. Or how they quit displaying the temperature graph for the 10 year period (only maintained the 5 year and 20 year graphs) once it began to show a cooling period. The games that people play with graphs and data sets and the presentations to enhance undermines the case, like it or not.

    As near as I can tell, the facts are that the earth has gotten warmer since 1980, after slightly cooling for the 30 years before that. From the late 1990′s to last year, it got cooler or about stayed the same, and may be warming again–but I might at least wait and see what the end of the year holds before endorsing that.

    I will agree with all of this however.

    “….that the global weather is a complex, variable system, or that we cannot tell with a great deal of certainty the precise impact mankind has had, or we are unsure of what future results might be if do this or that. “

  12. callistenes says:

    Japan taking on the industrial might of America in WWII, and all through the war they insisted they could not be defeated despite clear evidence to the contrary. Before the war Yamamoto knew better and told them so but they still wouldn’t listen.

  13. hammerandtong2001 says:

    Thank you, kid dynamite.

    The glaringly obvious truth that mankind can today measure things far more accurately than years ago must come as a surprise to some. Didn’t neanderthals have thermometers? No? How could they tell if they had a fever, or not?

    Whenever the global warming fever swamps are being explored, I think of George Carlin. He was not everyone’s cup of tea, to be sure. But in remarking on mankind’s ability to overestimate his importance and impact on all things global and cosmological, he once said: “…that ol’ Mother Earth could shake us all off like a bad case of fleas…”



  14. Thanks KD and hammerandtong2001.

    Here’s the thing–why are scientists that are skeptical of the theory considered to be unwashed illiterates that think the earth is flat? Skepticism drives science, or should. The criticism of the skeptics by the believers prove to me, more than anything else, that this is not science, but is religion.

  15. KidDynamite says:

    well i think i understand barry’s complete lack of tolerance for “scientists” who ignore data, i’m just not sure the data here is as strong as he thinks it is. It’s not like the chart shows 5-10 degrees of change – it’s FRACTIONS of a degree. It seems obvious to me that we can take better temperature measurements now than we could in 1890.

    and again – i have ZERO interest in arguing about global warming – i’m just talking about the veracity of the data.

  16. willid3 says:

    while i suspect that we have impacted the planet,i doubt we will do any thing , partly because its to late, and partly because to many don’t want to have to change now (even if it is cheaper now. it is a pay me now, or pay me later, but there is no getting of paying for it). and some say well we aren’t destroying the planet, and thats true, in fact even if we were trying to really (like blowing up nukes every where) we really couldn’t do much in the way of damage. and it exists on a different time scale than we do. it has billions of years to recover, we don’t. but that has little to to do with whether humans would still be around, cause we only really survive in a pretty limited ecosystem. make it to hot (say average temp in 100s) , or to cold (average temp in the -50s) and we die out. mainly cause we can’t grow much. to survive. and we need lots of food to feed 6 billion people.
    but it doesn’t take a lot of impact to make it really tough on us to survive. just change the average temperature a few degrees, and some new places are ocean side. change the precipitation pattern a little and you can end up with a desert. or an ocean or lake. and we have had some impact before on these things. consider the great dust storms of the 30s. caused by bad farm management.

  17. the bohemian says:

    willid, BR and others-

    Here is my question: How do we know it’s “man made” global warming? The solid sheet of ice that covered North America disappeared rather quicky. What were the dynamics then?

    Are we taking it on faith that man causes the warming and not the earth itself? If tempertures have risen since the industrial revolution does that equate to causation?

  18. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    First of all, Trevor hit the nail on the head.

    This is what you’re up against:


    Secondly, arguing over “facts” can quickly lead to the intellectual fuckery of semantics, faux credibility/equivalency of opinion over the core science being presented (a PhD in pharmacology’s opinion being equal to that of an equally degreed climatologist, on the issue of GW, for example), and as a final bastion against reason, the idea that all science is mumbo jumbo because our very existence is unprovable (or some such horse shit).

    As for BR’s question, “Have other societies run into this? What was their fates?”

    I’ll put forth Sparta and Athens. Two entirely different ideologies — one based on knowledge and comparatively liberal thought (albeit with a superior air), the other militaristic and ultra-conservative), loosely bound by politics. Look who won that little disagreement (Sparta), look at who the world remembers (Athens), and look where they’ve been since (in the toilet).

  19. generals1 says:

    also, who says 1950-1980 was the optimal temperature range for Earth?

    Couldn’t we be making a mistake in believing that the globe’s temperature belongs at a steady state (it never has been) and that the temperature in 1980 is the optimal one for that steady state?


    BR: It is merely a frame of reference.

    If you want standard charts, see this:

  20. wally says:

    “… isn’t it possible that sometime in the last 100 years our ability to accurately measure temperature to 1/2 degree was enhanced?”

    At some point the debate will cease to be an exercise. A rising sea level is not caused by thermometer accuracy. If (or when, say it however you want) that becomes evident it will also be both undeniable and unstoppable. A wise person would at least keep an open mind.

  21. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    the bohemian Says:

    How do we know it’s “man made” global warming?

    This is where the fact-challenged always pull out the “correlation is not causation” canard. Over a long enough timeline, correlation can imply causation to the point where denying the dependent relationship between the two or more measurements being compared becomes a lesson in intellectual denial of fact.

    We’re talking 50 years. a drop in the bucket in geologic/environmental terms. The research into past levels of greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere is what all of these scientists drilling core samples in the polar regions has been about, and it is from this data that the sudden rise over the past century have been determined.

    BR’s post has a chart. Look at the chart and compare it to this one:


    If you think this phenomena is not man-made, these charts will do little to alter your belief.

    Note on my previous comment, above:

    It’s best to counter bad science with ground rules. The best ground rule is to accept data collected and analyzed using the Scientific Method, and only after rigorous peer review.

  22. Sayitisntso says:

    BR: I understand your frustration at people who ignore “simple facts.” However, consider how much the truly good and honest scientist’s envy people who are able to see simple facts. In science, the more you really understand things, the more difficult it is to find anything simple.

  23. Easyenough says:

    Errors in temperature measurement today or 200 years ago would be expected to follow a normal distribution around an accurate value. The breadth of the distribution would be expected to be greater with less accurate instruments and tighter around more accurate instruments, but with enough observations across thousands of independent observations, using different devices, the mean would be expected to (and has been shown in at least two good studies) to be reliable.

    You are back to loony conspiracy theory when you posit that there is an error bias downward that across a range of locations by different institutions, individuals, and mechanisms, have, over 130 years, shifted, in a concerted manner toward an error bias upward. Especially when no one has found that bias in current temperature measurements.

    The effects of global warming, anthropogenic (man-made) or not (it’s basically irrelevant since humans cannot resolve global-scale tragedies of the commons), will favor those with resources for adaptation. Not only are the impacts of of global warming on climate totally unpredictable, the anthropogenic consequences are even more so.

    The only certainty is that as a premium is placed on adaptation, the residents of less developed countries (and those they share borders with) will suffer more than those in developed countries. The rich will keep being better off than the poor, and the sun will keep rising.

    If you care about the subject, which so many people who comment seem to, it’s incumbent on you to examine the basic methods and raw data and maybe have a basic understanding of research statistics before sharing your feelings, which seem to me completely non-germane to the conversation.

  24. yon’ Wheatstraw allows for a simple check on, potential, nefarious doings..

    this: “…It’s best to counter bad science with ground rules. The best ground rule is to accept data collected and analyzed using the Scientific Method, and only after rigorous peer review…”

    is a good reminder that We shouldn’t be so hubristic as to deny ourselves the, simple, ability, to begin at the beginning..


    Dear Knowledge Seeker,

    Scientific Method Activities
    This website contains today’s most up-to-date, complete, clear, concise, and reliable information about the scientific method and scientific method activities that has ever been offered.

    It covers history of the scientific method, development of the scientific method, definition of scientific method, and scientific method activities. It explains about the steps of the scientific method and gives an assortment of formulas containing from 4 to 10 steps for the scientific method. But best of all, well researched detailed descriptions of the eleven steps or stages of the scientific method are included.

    This model formula is suitable for lesson plans on the scientific method, and study and teaching of the scientific method. Scientific method worksheets are included and greatly aid using the scientific method of inquiry.

    In addition to the 48-page booklet on The Scientific Method Today, there are research reports on vital topics concerning the scientific method…

    begins to unfurl..


    Hopefully, in all pursuits, We can be so bold as to let “The *Truth speak for itself.”

  25. Kid D

    Look at the link I posted at the end of this commentary.

    Previously:Global Warming? What Evidence Do You Have? (November 17th, 2008)

    All of those charts are really tough to argue with. If they were a stock, you would be buying the breakout!

  26. Casual Onlooker says:

    We live in a highly anti-intellectualism charged climate. This is a world where people want to point fingers at experts and authorities of any kind. It always seems our society needs a boggy man of some kind, a scapegoat. It is much easier to find conspiracies around every corner than to deal with an increasingly complicated world.

    I’ve referenced this site before in regards to the difference between sceptics and deniers, but I think it bears a look as it does do a good job of describing the current social climate. http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2010/02/distinguishing-climate-deniers-from.html

    One thing interesting from the post is how it it is concluded..

    The author states…

    ” Alas, I really have wasted my time, here. Because, while the species of sincere, conservative-but-rational HGCC skeptics does exist – (I know several, and kind-of qualify as one, myself) – they turn out to be rare.

    For the most part, those calling themselves “skeptics” are nothing of the kind. More often than not, they are fully-imbibed, koolaid-drinking Deniers, who wallow in isolated anecdotes and faux-partyline talking points, egotistically assuming that their fact-poor, pre-spun, group-think opinion entitles them to howl “”corrupt fools!” at 100% of the brilliant men and women who have actually studied and are confronting an important topic…”

  27. Thor says:

    Pete – well said.

    Everyone knows accountants and real estate professionals know as much about the climate as climate scientists! :P

  28. Event_horizon says:

    wally said:
    “A rising sea level is not caused by thermometer accuracy. If (or when, say it however you want) that becomes evident it will also be both undeniable and unstoppable.”

    I have no dog in this fight, but would simply like the rising-sea-level alarmists to explain then why one can find fossilized sharks teeth well-inland from the ocean in almost all coastal states (I myself found these as a child growing up in N.C.). Explain why the very large San Joaquin Valley in California was once underwater. Why was the Cretaceous period considered to be a time of high atmospheric carbon dioxide… so warm that there was no ice even at the poles.


    BR: You are comparing geological changes in Mountain, ocean and tectonic plates that took place over the course of 100s of millions of years.

    How does that correlate to 150 years of temperature increases ?

  29. tranchefoot says:


    err… continental drift?

  30. Tao Jonesing says:

    @hammerandtong2001 and KidDynamite,

    You’re misleading yourselves by focusing on how the data are presented. You need to focus on what the data are and how they were gathered. I think if you dig into that, you’ll find that the argument that the temperature change are within the margin of error for the thermometer and tell us nothing (as if this were a Gallup poll!) is sophistry.

    First, the data reflect changes in 12-month average temperture worldwide. They must be normalized somehow. Second, the data does not rely solely upon dudes with accurate thermometers accurately recording what the thermometers say. I believe that much of the false “Climategate” scandal surrounded scientists’ interpretations of essentially forensic measurements of things like ice cores and other things that exist today but provide a record of how things were decades ago. Third, there’s no reason to believe that modern thermometers are any more accurate than those of 130 years ago. In fact, a good ole analog thermometer is probably more reliable and accurate than many digital thermometers.

  31. TJ is right

    Melting Ice caps? Decreased glacier thickness? Exposure of South Pole? Seriously, the GWD who use thermometer accuracy as an excuse give the word IDIOT a bad name . . . Come up with something less moronic than thermometer accuracy.

    You thermometer excuse folks –you MUST let me know what your portfolios are — I want to take the other side if EVERY TRADE of anyone who posits this sort of absurd argument.

    You are MONEY.

  32. Petey Wheatstraw says:


    Thanks for the link.



    BTW, y’all — P. Wheatstraw used to be Marcus Aurelius. I can’t comment under that name anymore (although I can log in). BR’s folks say it’s not on their end, and I wouldn’t begin knowing how to find out if it’s on mine. So, I reregistered under this name.

    What happened to MA? PW killed him.

  33. RW says:

    @Event_horizon, what tranchfoot said: Most of what you are describing is a matter of plate tectonics; even the most probable explanation for high levels of carbon dioxide during the Cretaceous includes increased vulcanism; e.g., The Environment of the Cretaceous.

  34. constantnormal says:

    @BR … when you approach global warming from the measurement perspective, you run afoul of the technical difficulty of measuring a globe that is hotter in some places than others, and the difficulty of devising a way to compute an “average” temperature that can be utilized to demonstrate “global warming”.

    The problem is that the deniers can focus on the difficulty of computing an acceptable “average” and use that to backstop their unwillingness to consider any ideas that are different from their deep-seated beliefs.

    I prefer to look at the undeniable (at least undeniable in the sense that there is no reliable and trusted data to the contrary) macro-scale effects — the melting of glaciers, the melting of Greenland, the melting of the polar icecaps. There is ample orbital imagery that demonstrates this beyond any reasonable doubt.

    As to timetables of when things become irreversible — that’s a race between our technology and the global rise in temperature, and the outcome of that race is impossible to predict. While there are some ways we can buy time, those are not without consequences … but one excellent way would be to reduce the excess human population by say 3 or 4 billion. And if we do not, Nature’s Darwinian scythe will do it for us, via wars as we scramble for diminishing croplands and living space.

    And yes, there will always be those who claim that it’s not a problem, even as their local climate is altered substantially, to the point of forcing them to relocate. This is one of the strongest indicators that intelligent life has not yet evolved upon this world.

  35. mrsolar says:

    @Kid Dynamite, fair enough question about the accuracy, but I learned in my science classes that the mercury thermometer was invented some time ago (early 1700s). It’s precise enough that it can still be used today to measure tiny fractions of degrees (certainly within 0.01 degrees Celsius), and it can be calibrated very easily using known physical processes such as water turning to ice or steam (that’s basically how both Fahrenheit and Celsius temperature scales are defined), making it very accurate and reproducible anywhere on the earth that’s at sea level. Furthermore, the global temperature estimate is compiled from a vast database of temperatures from various sites, which means that random measurement errors will tend to cancel out over a large number of samples, according to the Central Limit Theorem. Thus, it’s much more accurate and precise (and therefore, informative) than just tracking temperatures in Boston for the same amount of time.

    BTW, modern science has improved on mercury thermometers; some of my colleagues are working on going down to picokelvin-scale temperatures (e.g., 0.00000000008 degrees kelvin above absolute zero).

  36. constantnormal says:

    @ Event_horizon — whatcher point?

    I don’t think there is anyone in the global warming camp that denies that we have not had serious bouts of global warming in the geological past. One might even say that the existence of life on this world is what ultimately drives these great, long geological cycles, with the activities of Man being just another instance of life dorking around with the CO2 balance.

    It is however, noteworthy that those things you cited (fossilized sharks teeth well-inland from the ocean, the very large San Joaquin Valley in California was once underwater, etc) are now present only in the fossilized record. Each of these far-distant past episodes of global warming has ended with an ecological catastrophe (a.k.a. “Great Extinctions”) that has wiped over 90% of the species from the planet, with life pretty much starting over from the basics.

    I suppose if you think that the global warming crowd is saying that the only way that we get out of whack in the CO2 area is via burning fossil fuels, then this might be worthy of note. But the responsible climatologists that I am aware of tend to look at this with a broader view, and our goosing the levels of CO2 is merely the method that is accelerating things at this point in time. There are also other factors in play, such as replacing forests (which tend to lock up carbon for a very long time, removing it directly from the atmosphere) with lawns and crops, which release their accumulated carbon on a much shorter cycle.

    In any event, I would like to avoid a return to the conditions which you cited, of vast inland seas and no polar ice, as I would like to have the Great Plains available for growing wheat and corn and lots of other stuff that winds up feeding me.

  37. constantnormal says:

    “Have other societies run into this? What was their fates?”

    On a much smaller scale, the inhabitants of Rapa Nui (a.k.a. Easter Island) once had a thriving civilization, until their growth exceeded the ability of their island ecosystem to support their way of life. They consumed their forests faster than they were able to regrow them, and eventually suffered an ecological collapse of their civilization, which descended into cannibalism as the numbers of inhabitants far exceeded the food sources available. They never recovered from their collapse into barbarism.

    While it’s not “global climate change”, it is an example of a closed ecology self-destructing. If we were to cast that in the framework of a global ecological crisis, that too would likely end with global wars for food, water, and living space, but those wars would be fought with WMD instead of spears and arrows. If bioweapons get deployed, it is possible that the “human problem” might be dealt with once and for all.

    In a more tragicomedic version of possible future events, we could see civil wars breaking out over, of all things, national responses (or lack thereof) to global climate change, with the denier ideologies battling it out with the rationalists. (And yes, I use those terms in an inflammatory manner)

    Or perhaps on a larger scale, imagine Russia enjoying warmer winters and summers, and benefitting immensely from being able to farm their no-longer-permafrost. Suppose that Europe decides to take actions to alter the global temperature — like shooting large amounts of sulfide dust into the upper atmosphere, blocking a few percent of the incoming sunlight. I doubt that the Russians would stand for being plunged back into the icebox after having seem warmth. So there is some potential for actual thermonuclear arguing here as well.

    Of course, none of these things will happen inside of several decades from now, and most of us will be gone by then. But it strikes me as the kind of conflict that might come from unilateral efforts to change the global climate.

    And I count “change the global climate” as including change by burning fossil fuels (China and India and Brazil, as well as the USofA and Europe) to change the climate for the warmer, as well as extraordinary methods to reduce the global temperature.

    Once you get too many people inhabiting the same crowded ball of rock, they tend to get twitchy, and it will probably not end well. Cannibalism will be the least of my great-grandchildren’s worries.

  38. KentWillard says:

    Has anybody ever convinced anyone on this? Sure the satellite, land, and sea temperatures are generally going up. But one can always find some measurement error in data. And responses are rarely completely monotonic.

    It isn’t about data. It isn’t about truth. It is about blaming someone else. It is about self righteousness. It is about conservative vs liberal. It is silly. And it isn’t changing, no matter what data is presented.

    That said, fight the good fight. Show the trend of satellite, sea, and land temperatures. Graph the termperature records of our oldest and most remote national parks thta aren’t subject to the heat of urbanization. Maybe someone will change their mind.

    The sad part is, it would make a lot of sense to invest in converting oil to natural gas and wind power. It would employ millions, improve our efficiency, reduce military spending, and reduce our trade deficit (therefore total deficit too). Since it would also reduce CO2, it must be a bad idea.

  39. Thor says:

    Constant – you’re a scientist as well right? :-)

    Petey – I was wondering what the hell happened to MA!!

  40. wally says:

    “I have no dog in this fight, but would simply like the rising-sea-level alarmists”

    No alarm-ism here. I simply point out that while many people seem to think this is some sort of philosophical debate that can be ‘won’ or ‘lost’, it is not. It may be an argument over what people think they see, but what is, is… and there are certain events that, if they occur, will be the final word.

  41. mathman says:

    Let’s just keep ignoring the dead zones in the ocean that our factory farming has caused (via runoff of nitrogen based feritilizers) , the on-going oil “spills” (“oopsie, my bad”) all over the globe, the effects of our consumption of everything (to make money from) in a finite resource world, the dumping of toxic waste from multiple sources (from paper production to nuclear energy) into the oceans, the lakes and groundwater, tearing down the rain forests to make room for cattle, mountaintop removal mining practices, overfishing the seas and the air pollution (from coal burning power plants, transportation, etc.) as having no effect on the planet – since that would be “hubris.”

    Take a look at China (as just one example) and see what it’s like living where there are no rules regarding pollution (we can’t get in the way of BIG BUSINESS now can we?).

    Yep. Let’s just keep doing what we’re doing since it has no effect.

    The earth most definitely will rid itself of us – but it will be by our own hand, since it’s just reacting to all the unbalanced chemistry of the way we “live.” We have become a toxic cancer by failing to be good stewards of our spaceship earth. A hard lesson is slowly unfolding but will continue to build until it’s undeniable. Don’t worry about it though, because no matter what we do right now, the earth will take quite a while to adjust to all the crap we’ve dumped into our environment over the course of our little adventure in “easy living and fast money” over the past few centuries. It’ll take at least that long for the planet to “recover,” so it’ll continue to get hotter stormier and more difficult in the coming years. Sure, they’ll be a break once in a while, but the trend will continue to make it very hard on not only us, but many other species of animals, plants, trees, fish, and other “unimportant” aspects of our ecology – like bees (who needs ‘em?).

  42. impermanence says:

    Literally ANYTHING that occurs that has a profit potential will be embraced by the those who live to profit off of EVERYTHING. Science, although helpful, on occasion, and interesting, often, is simply today’s explanation for yesterday’s experience, a hypothesis with a half-life of no more than 60 minutes, at best.

  43. Gene S says:

    How facts backfire

    Researchers discover a surprising threat to democracy: our brains By Joe Keohane | July 11, 2010

    It’s one of the great assumptions underlying modern democracy that an informed citizenry is preferable to an uninformed one. “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1789. This notion, carried down through the years, underlies everything from humble political pamphlets to presidential debates to the very notion of a free press. Mankind may be crooked timber, as Kant put it, uniquely susceptible to ignorance and misinformation, but it’s an article of faith that knowledge is the best remedy. If people are furnished with the facts, they will be clearer thinkers and better citizens. If they are ignorant, facts will enlighten them. If they are mistaken, facts will set them straight.

    In the end, truth will out. Won’t it?

  44. James Hoggan says:

    Read my book:

    Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming

    Canadian environmental activists Hoggan and Littlemore pull no punches in this spirited indictment of global warming deniers. Their well-sourced research spotlights premeditated prevarications about the threat of greenhouse gas emissions by the oil and coal industry, in league with junk scientists, compliant conservative politicians and unsavory public relations practitioners. Persistent obfuscation of science by these anti-environment players is further abetted, say the authors, by a manipulated media that, in a misguided effort toward journalistic balance, pairs scientific certainty about an encroaching climate crisis with quotations from people who make a living denying it. Readers predisposed to believe the worst about the oil, coal and electric industries will find their fears buttressed by the book’s detailed overview of an orchestrated climate coverup by Astroturf (fake grassroots) organizations, right-wing think tank echo chambers, the tens of millions of industry dollars poured into primarily Republican campaign coffers and the PR profession’s Orwellian use of language. But global warming skeptics might also be swayed by the detailed dissection of an ongoing campaign to convince the public that climate change is still unproven. (

  45. Petey Wheatstraw says:


    I had thought of Easter Island after I posted Sparta/Athens.

    It’s an even better analogy.

    Glad you posted your comment.

    Great minds . . .

  46. curbyourrisk says:

    Oh Barry…..
    “But it makes it impossible for me to take the rest of this person’s portfolio — Biotech! — seriously. How can I remotely think of putting money into a flawed logical system that ignores simple data? ”

    Seriously….. ignores simple data?? When date is massaged and randomly chosen to represent a data set….is it really data? or is it someone’s idea of data. Please….it is time for you to get off that high horse you are on and come to reality.

    By the way…if your portfolio is based on represented data provided by our government…… How can someone remotely think of putting money into a flawed system that ignores FALSE data???

    I enjoy your blog, but stick to what you know best….the economy. Not global warming……

  47. cyaker says:

    Barry my answer to your question “I wonder: How much is the inability to debate ideas hindered by a disagreement over simple factual data ? I don’t mean interpretation and opinion, I mean simple facts.
    Have other societies run into this? What was their fates?” is a question.

    Who cut down the last tree on Easter Island and what was on their mind at the time?

    I am glad several other responders mentioned Easter Island but none directed you to the answer to your question which is provided by Jared Diamond http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jared_Diamond in his most recent book
    Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005)

  48. CPJ13 says:

    Typical liberal. Picking and choosing your data set to corroborate a predetermined opinion of the truth. Have you read the NIPCC report? or ANY differing opinions since you set your mind? Any one of the dozens, nay hundreds of dissenting opinions from those exponentially more qualified than you to opine on the facts? Doubtful.

    Lies. Damn Lies. Statistics. Anyone – you especially – can make Statistics tell any story he wants. Your bias is showing Barry. I’ve gone from 2-3x a day, to 1x a week on your blog, because of how political you’ve made this thing. It’s your blog, you can do whatever you want. But it’s a shame – it was a damn good unbiased resource for many years… These days when I click over, there’s a 50/50 chance of seeing something interesting about the markets, vs. some one sided political diatribe. I’ll keep coming for that coin flip chance, but it’s been a let down lately.

  49. investorinpa says:

    I only question what part of it is manmade versus mother nature just going thru a cycle….

  50. Thor says:

    CPJ13 – One sided? Or just not your side?

  51. wgj says:

    I’ll take the other side of your GW bets every time- just tell me when.
    BWT since you are so sure of the “facts” can you describe the number of temp monitoring stations that used to be surrounded by fields. grass etc that now are in Wal Mart parking lots with black top?- My own personal experience is a 7 degree rise in the weather station temps in what is now a strip mall compared to my own native vegetation surrounded weather station. GIGO is maybe not a term familar to you but applies just the same.

  52. Dan Pangburn says:

    That graph has been accurately calculated (R^2 = .88) using referenced credible data. The equation that did it is available in a pdf at http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true . It predicts the on-going down trend in average global temperature.

  53. TerryH says:

    Soooo much smoke and noise, so little light here. There are probably not one in one hundred thousand readers of this blog who are qualified climatologists, or who can actually impartially read and understand the peer-reviewed literature on global warming. So we use intermediaries to read and interpret the literature (and data) for us. How do you choose your intermediaries? Do you value current up-to-date expertise in the field? If not, why do you value the intermediaries that you read? I’d guess most people just choose to read intermediaries whose opinions match their own opinions. I’m mostly that way myself. But I highly value the expertise of currently up-to-date climatologists, I think climate-scientist conspiracy theories are ludicrous, and I want to know what the scientists who are dedicated to the field are finding and thinking. I invite the “denialists” and “skeptics” who have posted here to visit:


    and look at the “Skeptic Argument” column for positions you have read or heard, and perhaps adopted as truth, and compare those with the “What the Science Says” column. Look into the many linked papers in the literature. I think that if your mind is even half-open, you’ll see things differently after reading these.

    If your mind is not even half-open, then I will guess that you will stretch and stretch to imagine and find some issue with each and every argument from the literature; some of your doubts will be tenable, but look at the totality of the evidence, not just the technicalities. If you maintain your unyielding disbelief in all of the science positions, I think it will be primarily so you can continue believing what you do.

    It is incredibly sad that the future of the human race depends, in a large way, on your mind getting more than half-open.

  54. Chad says:

    Unfortunately, these arguments are NEVER about facts. Going to war with Iraq had no factual basis, torturing people has not factual basis, efficient market theory has no factual basis, etc. These arguments are about beliefs and ideologies. None of which matter in the real world, but that’s how we decide everything.

    Only 10-15% of the population is wired correctly for rational thought. Thus, facts don’t matter.

  55. CardinalRam says:

    Late on this one, but read Jared Diamond’s 2005 book “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed”. He examines several different societies that ignored or adapted to the ecological facts about their environment. Some of the societies included:

    Easter Island (already mentioned by constantnormal)

    Viking Greenland vs. Inuit Greenland

    Haiti vs. The Dominican Republic (on the other half of the island)

    If Diamond’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning book “Guns, Germs, and Steel”. Here is part of the cite Wikipedia has on his book “Collapse”:

    “As in Guns, Germs, and Steel, he argues against traditional culture-historical explanations for the failure of past societies, and instead focuses on ecological factors. Among the societies he considers are the Norse and Inuit of Greenland, the Maya, the Anasazi, the indigenous people of Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Japan, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and modern Montana.”

  56. Fred says:

    Hey Barry

    I think you should compare how the global increase in temperature is calculated to how the CPI or the unemployment rate is calculated –you will find similar problems. Back when I taught introductory physics, the first lab was on error bars. I cannot calculate the global average annual temperature of my house to within 1 degree C, much less the planet.

  57. V says:

    Part of the problem is making facts appear simpler than they are. Obtaining an average surface temperature for the globe is extraordinarily complex.
    http://www.surfacestations.org/ provides one study of USA monitoring sites.

    If you find a picture of the global map for surface monitoring, there are areas where there are lots of instrumentation and others where there might be 1 instrument for 1000 km2.

  58. troutbum says:

    October 21, 2009

    Here is the letter to members of Congress from 18 top U.S. scientific organizations:
    Dear Senator:
    As you consider climate change legislation, we, as leaders of scientific organizations, write to state the consensus scientific view.
    Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.

    These conclusions are based on multiple independent lines of evidence, and contrary assertions are inconsistent with an objective assessment of the vast body of peer-reviewed science. Moreover, there is strong evidence that ongoing climate change will have broad impacts on society, including the global economy and on the environment. For the United States, climate change impacts include sea level rise for coastal states, greater threats of extreme weather events, and increased risk of regional water scarcity, urban heat waves, western wildfires, and the disturbance of biological systems throughout the country. The severity of climate change impacts is expected to increase substantially in the coming decades. [See Footnote #1 below]

    If we are to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, emissions of greenhouse gases must be dramatically reduced. In addition, adaptation will be necessary to address those impacts that are already unavoidable. Adaptation efforts include improved infrastructure design, more sustainable management of water and other natural resources, modified agricultural practices, and improved emergency responses to storms, floods, fires and heat waves.
    We in the scientific community offer our assistance to inform your deliberations as you seek to address the impacts of climate change.

    The footnote reads:
    The conclusions in this paragraph reflect the scientific consensus represented by, for example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and U.S. Global Change Research Program. Many scientific societies have endorsed these findings in their own statements, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Chemical Society, American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society, and American Statistical Association.
    Here are all the organizations that signed on:
    • American Association for the Advancement of Science
    • American Chemical Society
    • American Geophysical Union
    • American Institute of Biological Sciences
    • American Meteorological Society
    • American Society of Agronomy
    • American Society of Plant Biologists
    • American Statistical Association
    • Association of Ecosystem Research Centers
    • Botanical Society of America
    • Crop Science Society of America
    • Ecological Society of America
    • Natural Science Collections
    • Alliance Organization of Biological Field Stations
    • Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
    • Society of Systematic Biologists
    • Soil Science Society of America
    • University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

  59. 95% of the climatologists that do peer reviewed research think global warming is a fact.

    Peer review is how science is done, technology advances, legitimate debates get pushed towards resolution. Late in the game, the deniers released a flurry of after the fact peer reviewed papers, trying to justify what they had been claiming the prior 10 years.

    That is NOT science. You prove things experimentally, then put them out into peer review journals. As opposed to making muddy claims for a decade, than doing the research afterwards to justify your beliefs. After a 10 year PR campaign of FUD, its hard to take these weak papers serisouly.

    GW is not a legitimate debate. The only credible question is how much Humans are impacting it. Could be a lot could be less than a lot. But the data and science are incontrovertible. You will note that the vast majority of people who do not believe in global warming 1) Do not do peer reviewed research; 2) Are funded by groups with a vested interest in the status quo (political think tanks, energy companies, miners).

    Again, this ain’t my issue — I drive a car that gets 9 MPG when I stomp on it (18 when my wife drives). I don’t have kids — the entire planet can go to hell after I am gone as far as I am concerned. But you do have kids — what sort of a world are you going to leave them?

    Short answer: Somewhat warmer.

  60. Fred says:


    I worked for a major research university in the 1990s. Most research is funded by the federal government (90% +), and they do have an agenda. I knew many scientists who did not believe in global warming at that time. An Undersecretary at the Department of Energy who did not believe in Global Warming was forced into early retirement and one of our research professors who did not believe in man-made global warming had his grant money cut off. Yes, many of the think tanks do have an agenda — so does Washington, DC.

  61. DG_Allen says:

    For me this whole thing boils down to common sense…

    We humans are taking carbon that was stored in the ground over millions of years extracting it, burning it and putting it back into the atmosphere at a rate that is orders of magnitude faster.

    I think that might have an impact on the closed system that is our earth.

    How can that be denied absolutely?

  62. troutbum says:

    DG is correct!

    The reason that energy is cheap today is because we are stealing it from our kids, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

  63. Sayitisntso says:

    Fred is right. Peer reviewed journals are not immune from the effects of politics, power, money, and the like. In fact, they in many ways are more susceptible.

    Scary thought: I’ve seen instances where even the TV news is more accurate and unbiased than the peer reviewed journals.

    I am more interested in BR’s take on this subject than I am on all the kings scientists, he is more likely to be unbiased. What he needs, however, is more “inside information” in how science works today. Consider the extent to which Bailout Nation applies to modern science…

  64. FrancoisT says:

    “I think you should compare how the global increase in temperature is calculated to how the CPI or the unemployment rate is calculated –you will find similar problems. Back when I taught introductory physics, the first lab was on error bars. I cannot calculate the global average annual temperature of my house to within 1 degree C, much less the planet.”

    Oh! So, you, that taught introductory physics pretend to know more than the thousands of people who spent their whole professional careers thinking, studying and experimenting about this topic?

    You clearly redefine the word hubris.

  65. FrancoisT says:

    Hey Barry,

    The comments you read here and elsewhere should tell you what was the fate of civilizations who demonstrate inability to debate ideas. Beliefs displace curiosity, facts are considered the bastard cousin of opinions, dogmatism blows healthy doubt, hyperpolarization destroys consensus, (the Daily Me as “news” syndrome is a symptom of that) and social, economic and political paralysis is sure to be prominently displayed.

    All this ends up destroying basic trust and decency in each other. No civilization can survive for long in such a climate, (pun intended) since civilization is, by its very definition, a collective effort that requires trust and decency.

    Yup! We’re well on our way to become a 2nd or 3rd class country. It’ll take time, but considerable efforts are put into it, judging by the peremptory and trenchant passion on display here.

    It won’t be pretty to witness the slide into mediocrity and bitterness about past glory. Alas, that is what happen when egos matter more than reality.

  66. Jan Perlwitz says:


    I think you should compare how the global increase in temperature is calculated to how the CPI or the unemployment rate is calculated –you will find similar problems. Back when I taught introductory physics, the first lab was on error bars. I cannot calculate the global average annual temperature of my house to within 1 degree C, much less the planet.

    Perhaps you can enlighten the readers here by pointing out the specific flaws in the specific published research papers, in which this issue of the uncertainties in the global temperature analyses has been addressed, if you say these temperature analyses are nonsense because of those uncertainties?