Global-warming denialism, flat-earthism, and Republicanism

26% of American adults believe that global warming isn’t happening: not that it might not be anthropogenic, not that it isn’t important, not that we shouldn’t try to prevent it, but simply that the globe hasn’t gotten warmer over the past century.

Among the world’s wacky conspiracy theories – the Elders of Zion, the Illuminati, trutherism, birtherism, perpetual-motion machines suppressed by Big Oil, the fossil record as an evolutionist hoax – global-warming denialism stands out for the sheer vastness of the conspiracy it imagines, involving thousands or tens of thousands of scientists.

The people who say that global warming is not a big deal are wrong, or at least they don’t understand the nature of uncertainty, increasing marginal costs, and positive feedback. But their position isn’t transparently crazy.

The same is true, with some qualifications, of those who deny that a substantial share of the warming is anthropogenic. There have been, after all, major climate swings for largely-unknown reasons, and it’s at least not crazy to ask the question how much of the recent temperature change might come from something other than GHG emissions.

And of course it could be rational to oppose any given proposal to control global warming, though not, in my view, to oppose doing anything about it at all.

But denying, or even doubting, that global mean temperature has been increasing puts you in flat-earth territory.

But you’d be in that territory along with 26% of your fellow citizens, a number that has doubled over the past three years.

Curiously, that’s about the same as the proportion that identify as Republicans.

Well done, wingnuts!

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

21 thoughts on “Global-warming denialism, flat-earthism, and Republicanism”

  1. The most conspicuous form of "denialism" at the moment is "Global warming whistle blower" denialism, consisting of the usual characters going on as though a several hundred megabyte data dump hadn't just happened. Go out and recollect the data in a transparent fashion, analyze it with programs whose source code is in the public domain, and get the same results, and THEN you might be in a position to complain about "denialism".

  2. So Brett, when do we get the corresponding data dump from the ExxonMobil flaks and pr folks?

    ps, don't try scaring us with 'several hundred megabytes' of email. attachments can be big, and the >>>>> reply stuff gets big too.

  3. Brett, the data and code for NASA's GISS temperature record is all public. So, by your own admission MK is in a position to complain about denialism. Do you concede that the global mean temperature has been increasing?

  4. If God sends an asteroid, then either He will deflect it or our demise will have been His will. Amen.

    Of course, if KBR or Exxon (it hardly matters which) could get a no-bid contract to thwart God's will, they'd not only take on the job, but they would launch a massive ad campaign against "denialists" who look at the orbital data and conclude the asteroid will miss us by a million miles.


  5. "When the asteroid is incoming, will we not try to do anything about it because it’s not anthropogenic?"

    That's ridiculous – of course we'll do something about it. If the Republicans are in power, for example, they will cut taxes.

  6. Lambert, I'm not counting "adjusted" data as data anymore. It's the very nature of the 'adjustments' the recent data dump throws into doubt.

  7. All data that is calibrated is adjusted, but we're not talking about dunking a thermometer in ice water and boiling water to see what it reads. We're talking about taking an accurate reading of one temperature, and changing it to a different number, in order to compensate for things like the urban heat island effect. And the very question at issue is whether this sort of thing has been done competently, or even honestly.

  8. It is frightening how many butt boys and pimps there are for the loony left Socialist prostitutes. The Dems, ALGORE and the scientists that have perpetrated the Global Warming fraud will get what is coming to them.

    As temperatures around the globe continue to drop, so does the public's concern with the issue. A recent Pew Research Center poll found that only 57 percent of Americans believe there is solid evidence the world is getting warmer, and only 36 percent believe this warming is being caused by man-made activities, down from 77 percent and 47 percent, respectively, in 2007.

    In July 2008, a prominent Australian scientist resigned, concluding that even after six years of focused research and $50 billion, he found no evidence that carbon dioxide was causing global warming. Later that year, over 31,000 U.S. scientists signed a petition publicly rejecting the global warming theory.

    This January, 700 scientists around the globe delivered a 255-page report to the Senate challenging the existence of man-made global warming. Some NASA reports have even suggested that a cycle of global cooling is beginning.

    Despite the evidence piling up against the theory of man-made global warming, climate alarmists seem more intent than ever on forcing enormous pieces of climate legislation like the Waxman-Markey bill. This bill is estimated to cause gross domestic product losses of $9.4 trillion, raise an average family's energy bill $1,241 and eliminate 1,145,000 jobs by 2035.

    While the absurdity of forcing a costly bill through Congress on false pretenses speaks for itself, what is most disturbing about the scare over global warming and Washington's reaction to it is that all of this paranoia has yet to be supported by any scientific evidence.

    The wheels are falling off your bandwagon and the gig is almost up. We should send all of you Aholes to Gitmo to be water boarded daily.

  9. Which data are in error? Perhaps you could clarify how this "data dump" (I assume you mean the hack of CRU's webmail server) invalidates any work done by even a single climate scientist.

    If the denialists (which they are, they've no right to appropriate the label of "skeptic") were even remotely serious they would produce their own work rigorously detailing how thousands of climate scientists, chemists, physicists, biologists, etc. have been so staggeringly wrong and submit it to a respectable academic journal to be published. But they know better than to expose themselves to well deserved ridicule.

  10. "and submit it to a respectable academic journal to be published."

    And the emails talk about efforts to make sure that they couldn't do exactly that. But how do you do a paper on how somebody "adjusted" the data wrong, when they won't let you SEE the pre-adjustment data, and respond to an FOIA request by deleting it?

  11. Download NOAA's GHCN records, or NASA's GISTEMP data (the adjustments enumerated in Hansen et al.s "A closer look at United States and global surface temperature change" in GRL in 2001, which should be stored on the same site, anyway) and have at them. You could even go to the Goddard Institute's web page and download their models. Not difficult.

    Do you have some notion that all the warming disappears if the data are unadjusted? It doesn't.

    Email is a non-prosodic form of communication. I don't know how you could determine without knowing Phil Jones, or Michael Mann, etc. personally what was said in jest, and what was a frank admission of wrong doing. What was deleted? Do you know?

    The email that you're referring to humorously discusses keeping bad science out of respectable journals. Doesn't always happen, but isn't particularly controversial. Overturning a century of scientific knowledge is no small feat and beyond the scope of a former television weatherman and a mining company executive.

    Thankfully, with the denialists, we have such paragons of ethics poring over more than a thousand stolen personal emails in a noble effort to keep climate science honest and right. Maybe you couldn't tell, but that last sentence was said in jest. See? Not so easy to tell.

  12. I'm under the impression that, since most of the adjustments should be to compensate for expansions in the urban heat island effect, they should be downward, rather than upward. So you'd expect the unadjusted data to show warming even if there weren't any, and the adjusted data to show less warming.

    Strangely, it works the opposite way. I've seen some explanations for this, and they don't look good.

  13. What's most amazing to me is how some people in these surveys can't even keep their own opinions straight from question to question. Just look at the second question:

    "How serious of a problem do you think global warming is right now: very serious, somewhat serious, not so serious or not serious at all?"

    17% answered not so serious or not serious at all; less than the 26% who think global warming isn't happening. So 9% of the population believes that global warming isn't happening and this non-event is at least somewhat serious of a problem. And no, I don't think this is a flaw with the polling, some people are just that stupid.

  14. Maybe some people think global warming isn't happening, and 'global warming' is a serious problem?

  15. Mark -"anthroprogenic" attributes human causation or aggravation and assumes those same humans "might" be able to minimize or reverse their contribution thus neutralizing some of the negative impacts of the heating.

    bobiscold – "The following are arguments commonly used or cited by global warming skeptics, followed by respective scientific rebuttals.

    A recent report from the Union of Concerned Scientists found that ExxonMobil has funneled nearly $16 million between 1998 and 2005 to a network of 43 manmade global warming skeptic groups to confuse the public on global warming science.[1]" .. .

    "So what does it take to be included among the 31,000 "experts" on the petition? Well, according to the OISM criteria, any undergraduate science degree will do just fine. Bet you never thought that BS you earned 20 years ago made you a qualified climatologist. Congratulations!OISM also wants to let you know that 9,021 of the signers hold PhDs. They don't specify what the doctorates are in, but they repeat that figure quite a bit, as if it means something. Since the group was nice enough to list all 31,000 signers, including the dead people, let's take a look at the qualifications of three randomly-selected "climate experts."

    * W. Kline Bolton, M.D. is a professor of medicine and Nephrology Division Chief at the University of Virginia. Nephrology deals with the study of the function and diseases of the kidney.

    * Zhonggang Zeng is one of the 9,000 with a PhD. He is a professor of mathematics at Northeastern Illinois University. His most recent publication is entitled "Computing multiple roots of inexact polynomials."

    * Hub Hougland is a dentist in Muncie, Indiana. He was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame last year.",

    Thanks for the Pew Poll, but the ice caps melting due to global warming is serious enough that I don't really care what a bunch of non-scientist, easily duped, average citizen poll respondents have to say.

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