2012-01-28 17:02:56Examining the Latest Climate Denialist Plea for Inaction
Dana Nuccitelli

Response to the climate denialist letter in the Wall Street Journal.

Examining the Latest Climate Denialist Plea for Inaction

2012-01-28 17:49:17
Brian Purdue


You've been busy again Dana - all we've got to do now is get the Wall Street Journal to publish it for media balance!

2012-01-28 18:33:05
Rob Painting

Dana, the 'missing heat' discrepancy highlighted by Hansen and Trenberth was actually modeled, not constrained by obervational data. It was a mismatch between the model and energy we could account for. But Loeb (2012) show the 15 CMIP3 models match the current estimates - but they vary widely do the models. 

Man, that projections gif had me in hysterics!. I know I've seen it before, but it's still funny and a powerful communication tool. You think Lindzen is a dufus, and then McLean trumps him!

Typo - "grenhouse" - 2nd paragraph under "CO2 is a pollutant."

"nuber" - 3rd paragraph same heading.

Also might pay to mention global warming's evil twin here -ocean acidification, it's already killing oyster larvae in Washington and Oregon. (Yeah, haven't got around to writing that one up yet, but I will)

Excellent work as ever bro!

2012-01-28 23:03:23
Mark Richardson

Part of it reads too snidely IMO. E.g.


The signatories of this newest letter are also worth noting for their lack of noteworthiness.  Although the climate denialist blogs have labeled them "luminaries" and "prominent scientists", the list is actually quite underwhelming.  In fact, it only includes two scientists who have actually published climate research in peer-reviewed journals.  Nearly half of the list (7 of 16) have received fossil fuel industry funding, and the list also includes an economist, a physician, a chemist, an aerospace engineer, and an astronaut/politician.  These are apparently the best and brightest the climate denialists can come up with these days?"



I'd re-write as something like:

"The signatories to this newsletter consist of 2 people that have ever published a peer reviewed piece of climate science, and 14 who haven't. However, 7 of them have received fossil fuel industry money and various bloggers have called this group, including an economist, physician and astronaut/politician 'lumanaries' or 'prominent scientists'"

This is shorter and sounds less snide. I think that would be better (although you're better off choosing your own words I think)

Obviously, I completely sympathise with how you want to react. They are liars and liars make my blood boil too.

2012-01-29 02:56:48
John Hartz
John Hartz


How about changing the title to:

"Climate Change: Examining the Latest Plea for Inaction"

2012-01-29 03:01:46
John Hartz
John Hartz

Perhaps the letter described below should be posted as a separate article? [Source: WSJ's partisan approach to climate change vs. science, Boing Boing]

In response, a much larger group of actual climate scientists signed onto a letter rebutting the first letter. The WSJ rejected it. Instead, the pre-eminent science journal Science, which is know for its rigor in treatments of science, published it, as "Climate change and the Integrity of Science" on January 27th, 2012.

(i) The planet is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. A snowy winter in Washington does not alter this fact.

(ii) Most of the increase in the concentration of these gases over the last century is due to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

(iii) Natural causes always play a role in changing Earth's climate, but are now being overwhelmed by human-induced changes.

(iv) Warming the planet will cause many other climatic patterns to change at speeds unprecedented in modern times, including increasing rates of sea-level rise and alterations in the hydrologic cycle. Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are making the oceans more acidic.

(v) The combination of these complex climate changes threatens coastal communities and cities, our food and water supplies, marine and freshwater ecosystems, forests, high mountain environments, and far more.


2012-01-29 04:11:03
Dana Nuccitelli

Rob P - wasn't it a mismatch between satellite TOA observations and surface-based measurements?  Maybe I'll have to read Trenberth's paper again.  It's been a while, so I could be mis-remembering.

I kind of prefer the snide tone, but am open to changing to Mark's suggestion, if others prefer it.  When you've got astronauts and physicians publishing letters in the MSM trying to misinform the public on the most important issue the world is facing, I think a little snideness is in order.

I'm open to other title suggestions too.  Maybe "The Latest Denialist Plea for Climate Change Inaction"?

2012-01-29 04:56:33
John Hartz
John Hartz


Now that you've written the "snide" version and gotten the vinegar and piss out of your system, you can eidt out the "snideness". Straight-forward factual pieces drive the deniers batty and do not turn-off the average person.

Whatever you decide for the title is fine by me -- as long as it includes the phrase, "climate change." [The Google Alerts thing.]

2012-01-29 04:59:39
Rob Painting

Dana, No. Hansen 2005 states:

"Our climate model, driven mainly by increasing human-made greenhouse gases and aerosols, among other forcings, calculates that Earth is now absorbing 0.85 T 0.15 watts per square meter more energy from the Sun than it is emitting to space."

Trenberth 2010 states:

"The difference between the incoming and outgoing energy—the planetary energy imbalance—at the top of the atmosphere is too small to be measured directly from satellites"

The earlier planetary energy imbalance estimates were modeled, and were too large.

I don't have a problem with the tone YMMV.

Title could be catchier, I'll have a think and offer some suggestions. 

2012-01-29 05:10:29
Rob Painting

With further consideration - you should come down real hard on the 'CO2 is good' bullshit. The first thing you should discuss is ocean acidification - this absolutely chops them off at the legs. OA is perhaps the equal or may even surpass the threat from global warming alone. New research is coming every week linking OA with extinction events. It's even looking like the Cretaceous asteroid impact, and the die-off in the ocean was a result of OA. Current change is over an order of magnitude larger - 5-27 times faster than the PETM and 15-30 times faster than the Permian Extinction (The Great Dying).    

2012-01-29 05:13:27
Rob Painting

Hmm...........not your area of reading I guess Dana. Maybe I should write up a post too?

2012-01-29 05:28:48
Dana Nuccitelli

Hmm okay, I'll tweak the Trenberth section.

Their 'CO2 is good' BS focused mainly on plants, so I kept my response focused on plants too.  You could certainly do a whole post on the many reasons why more CO2 isn't beneficial, but I think it's too much info for a Gish Gallop response.  This is more like whack-a-mole.  You give each mole a whack and move on to the next one, you don't grab the mole when it pops up and use it as a punching bag ;-)

But absolutely, if you want to do a comprehensive post on why more CO2 isn't good, that would be very useful.

2012-01-29 05:31:44
Julian Brimelow

Hi Dana,

Had a quick look, looks good to me.  I think that you also address the "CO2 is good/plant food" myth, even if it is just a couple of links.  I would allso note that they are conspiracy theorists.  Their mangling of the Climate Research fiasco (de Freitas) is especially egregious and has been addressed by DC and others.

2012-01-29 06:19:33


Shouldn't "at last 43%" be "at least 43%"?

2012-01-29 07:08:12
Rob Painting

"Their 'CO2 is good' BS focused mainly on plants, so I kept my response focused on plants too"

That's not the right way to approach it, no need to adopt tunnel vision just because that's the way the fake-skeptics view the world. It's better to point out a gaping flaw in their logic - ocean acidification is fricking dire, and it comes from too much CO2!!!!

This is what they write too:

"And it is likely that more CO2 and the modest warming that may come with it will be an overall benefit to the planet."

Epic fail.

Anyway, I'll start on something dealing just with the CO2 & warming aspect. And no, greenhouse periods of Earth's past (stable states) were times of diminished global biodiversity. I'll cover that too. But it would be nice if you at least mentioned how serious ocean acidification is. Why miss an opportunity to keep highlighting it?

Man I'm gonna be busy over the next few days. Wish I had cyborg abilities.

2012-01-29 07:22:08
John Hartz
John Hartz


Before you post your article, take a gander at:


2012-01-29 16:00:32


Let's do nothing at all for 50 years:


These 'luminaries' say:

"A recent study of a wide variety of policy options by Yale economist William Nordhaus showed that nearly the highest benefit-to-cost ratio is achieved for a policy that allows 50 more years of economic growth unimpeded by greenhouse gas controls."

William Nordhaus, Stirling Professor of Economics at Yale University, says:

"The most efficient strategy for slowing or preventing climate change is to impose a universal and internationally harmonized carbon tax levied on the carbon content of fossil fuels."

He also says:

"Those who burn fossil fuels are enjoying an economic subsidy—in effect, grazing on the global commons and not paying for the costs of their activities. A carbon tax would improve rather than reduce economic efficiency because it would correct for the implicit subsidy on the use of carbon fuels."




I think that something on the above lines is worth including, but whether or not it is included, here is my thumb.

2012-01-29 16:57:42
Julian Brimelow


IIRC, Alley cites Norhaus quite a it in his book (Operator's manual).  Most repsected and reputable economists say that the costs of delay are likely to be high, much higher than taking action.  I thinkk it would be a good addition to the post.

2012-01-29 17:03:45
Peter Miesler

PS  Roger Cohen is a joke.

But, I credit his blatantly dishonest lectures at a Fort Lewis College and letters to local papers with spuring my modest sporatic attempts at activism.  ;-)


What a trip down memory lane.  ps these are my windy replies, not his crazy-making:

I have at least chased his preaching out of our town.


It's wonderful work you folks are doing.  Dana great job jumping on this!

2012-01-29 17:36:30
Dana Nuccitelli

Thanks citizen.

Nordhaus is generally very conservative in his estimates of the costs of climate change, and yet he still supports taking action to reduce CO2 emissions.  I might add something Nordhaus-specific to the post, as suggested.  I'll have a look tomorrow.

2012-01-30 05:16:43
michael sweet


The WSJ is read by millions of people every day.  Is there any way to get this or a similar rebuttal into the mainstream to directly counter the misinformers?

I think this is an excellent post.  Is there a way to review the 83 skeptics who didn't sign on this time and see how many have changed their tune?

2012-01-30 06:15:09
Dana Nuccitelli

I don't think the other 84 changed their tune - they probably didn't do the full denialist rounds to get as many signatures as possible.  My point is just that if they're going to argue the number of 'skeptics' is growing, only getting 16 signatories certainly doesn't support that claim.

Breaking into the MSM is always tough, unfortunately.

2012-01-31 05:33:17


I left a comment there you might want to update the post with.  It is from an email exchange between Revkin and Nordhaus