I Can't Deal With This Today

I try to follow people with a range of views on Twitter so I can be exposed to ideas I might not otherwise consider. I've had a bit of trouble with that as a number of the people I'd follow for this reason have blocked me. I'd love to get some recommendations. I'd just like if not all of those recommendations post stupid stuff like this:

I don't follow that user, but a person I do follow retweeted that. Its claim was eye-catching so I took a look at the link. I wish I hadn't. I can't deal with this sort of nonsense today.

I know some of you might say I should have known better than to click on a link to Breitbart News. I didn't see that part though. The part I saw was "DELINGPOLE." James Delingpole is an influential global warming "skeptic," or as I put it, Skeptic.* He's respected by a number of people in the Skeptic community. That made me think he might have some credibility.

I won't make that mistake again. Here is how his piece at Breitbart begins:

“Global warming” is a myth — so say 80 graphs from 58 peer-reviewed scientific papers published in 2017.

In other words, the so-called “Consensus” on global warming is a massive lie. And Donald Trump was quite right to quit the Paris agreement which pretended that the massive lie was true.

Global warming is not a myth. It is real, and it is happening. Delingpole doesn't seem to deny that. He says global warming is a myth, yet he then states:

By “global warming” these papers don’t, of course, mean the mild warming of around 0.8 degrees Celsius that the planet has experienced since the middle of the 19th century as the world crawled out of the Little Ice Age. Pretty much everyone, alarmists and skeptics alike, is agreed on that.

So according to Delingpole, global warming is real and is happening, but it is a myth because:

Rather, they mean “global warming” in the sense that is most commonly used today by grant-troughing scientists, and huxter politicians, and scaremongering green activists, and brainwashed mainstream media (MSM) environmental correspondents. “Global warming” as in the scary, historically unprecedented, primarily man-made phenomenon which we must address urgently before the icecaps melt and the Pacific islands disappear beneath the waves and all the baby polar bears drown.

That's not how most people use the phrase "global warming." I don't know if Delingpole thinks that is how most people use the phrase, but I suspect he knows better. I suspect he wants to redefine what "global warming" means for this piece so he can say global warming is a myth without having to actually discuss global warming.

Maybe I'm wrong. I don't know. What I do know is anyone who thinks it reasonable to say global warming is a myth, or that the consensus on global warming "is a massive lie" is not a skeptic. Most of them don't even seem to try to be skeptical. Consider the first paper cited as proof the supposed consensus is a massive lie. It's an interesting paper for people who care about paleoclimatology, but I won't bore you with the details. Just look at the charts taken from it. Here is the first:

An astute viewer might realize there is something off about the text, "Western Mediterranean." A less astute viewer might not notice anything is off until they saw the next image:

The Pyrenees are a mountain range which form a border between Spain and France. A careful viewer might wonder why there would be a reconstruction labeled as being of the "Western Mediterranean" and another of a single mountain range in the same paper. I am not that astute. I only noticed something was off when I looked at the paper and saw:

And:

It turns out the person who wrote the article used as the original source of this Breitbart piece altered charts without informing anyone. That's not okay. I know some people will say it doesn't matter since he only did it to clarify what the carts were, but that's not what he did. Look at this third image claimed to be taken from the paper:

Practically all the text you see in that chart was added. Here is the original:

The lines are left unchanged, but take note of how the added text contradicts itself. Near the top, it says "Average of 15 Reconstructions." In the bottom left corner, it says:

20-year low-pass filtered June-August temperature reconstruction (°C wrt 1961-1990) based on a network of 15 MXD chronologies from across the Northern Hemisphere extra-tropics (Schneider et al., 2015)

A single reconstruction created by using 15 chronologies as proxies is not an "Average of 15 Reconstructions." There is only one reconstruction, and it is not created by taking the average of series. The added text is simply wrong. On top of this, the article says:

Just within the last 5 months, 58 more papers and 80 new graphs have been published that continue to undermine the popularized conception of a slowly cooling Earth temperature history followed by a dramatic hockey-stick-shaped uptick...

But this chart is not "new." This particular rendition of the chart is new, but this paper says:

In contrast to the rather weak proxy-model agreement, there is a remarkable synchrony between the Pyrenees data and a new MXD-based Northern Hemisphere summer temperature reconstruction (Schneider et al. 2015) (Fig. 7c)

All that chart is is a display of data from a 2015 paper. The authors of the newer paper have smoothed the data and re-plotted it, but that doesn't mean it is "new." Just plotting data over and over again doesn't mean each resulting chart should be called "new" just because each chart has some small formatting differences from the rest.

Anyway, that's all I'm going to say for today. I'm definitely not going to try to look through the other 57 papers and 77 charts to see how bad they have been misrepresented. I'm not going to ponder why people like Delingpole are popular no matter how much nonsense they publish. I just can't deal with this today.

*I use the capitalized Skeptic to indicate I am referring to "skeptics." I find it easier than using scare quotes every time. It's like how Creationists are different from creationists.

4 comments

  1. It's polemics meant to trigger emotional response, not rational thought. Generated by all sides (though not all people) to varying degrees. Like conversation in a crowded room, it just gets louder to overcome the rising tide of noise. Save yourself from some agita by avoiding this stuff, especially when it comes via Twitter.

  2. Gary, I agree. I wouldn't have read much of this article much less commented on it except I've long been interested in paleoclimatology. Understanding how the field is misused is useful for me. Plus, I wanted something to talk about while I worked on a few things. I have a few posts in the pipeline that require technical work. They take a lot more time than easy posts like this.

    Here's an example. Did you know a paleoclimatology reconstruction spliced modern temperatures onto the reconstructed temperatures as a single series which it plotted with no visual distinction? Readers might remember that was done in the cover image of a WMO report, but it was done more recently in a paper published in a scientific journal. That's easy to demonstrate. What isn't easy is to verify any of the results for the reconstruction because the series used to construct it weren't identified. Digging through archives and sending e-mails takes time, and even if you do get the data, verifying people's results is often a non-trivial task. That means even if I know there is a problem with a particular set of results, proving it can be quite difficult.

    Which of those two topics do you think I'm more likely to get a post out about?

  3. For a moment I thought you were going to complain about the vertical stretch. I think a bigger problem is they are mostly summer temperatures. Most of the global warming is expected in winter isn't it?

  4. The vertical stretch confused me, but I decided not to talk about it as there are too many things I could have spent time on. I might discuss something similar in my next post though. I saw a link to a survey on Twitter yesterday, and it had some strange things in it in regard to small stuff like that. It's kind of interesting. There's also one statement in the survey that is completely bonkers, so even people who don't care about nitpicking might find it interesting.

    On the winter temperature issue, you should check out my comment on the other thread.

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