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Neither skeptical nor science

15 May 2024 | OP ED Watch

There’s a site out there called “Skeptical Science” that is devoted to squashing any and all skepticism about “the science”, aka the climate alarmist orthodoxy. And of course they’ve gone after Martin Durkin’s recent film Climate the Movie which, to protect the elevated tone of debate, they call “this 80 minute long festival of misinformation… a veritable Gish-gallop of climate myths”. And they offer a “Quick rebuttal” for those whose minds cannot or will not go beyond banal talking points that is, ironically, itself a mishmash of error and gibberish and would have been better called Glib Naysaying.

For instance they purport to refute “Temp record is unreliable” with “The warming trend is the same in rural and urban areas, measured by thermometers and satellites” which is wrong. They rebut “CO2 was higher in the past” with “Climate has changed along with CO2 levels through geological time” which, um, concedes the point while disguising it with ambiguity. Both have “changed”, of course. But what does “changed along with” mean? It implies some sort of synchronization, but as experts have shown, on the rare occasions when they do move together temperature leads CO2 not vice versa. And they usually behave quite independently, even during the Holocene, much of which featured rising CO2 and falling temperatures, and they certainly do not correlate for most of the half-billion years since the Cambrian Explosion. Likewise the 20th century saw a cooling trend at mid-century while CO2 was rising. Oh, and in case you want to be rude and stupid, they offer the snappy comeback to “Polar bear numbers are increasing” as being “Polar bears are in danger of extinction as well as many other species.” Which manages to be at once irrelevant and false.

In our own series on Climate the Movie we have gone in actual detail into some of its surprising claims, at least surprising to those fed a steady diet of shallow alarmism. And we have found, among other things, that there is a very real and revealing gap between urban and rural temperatures. But it might be wasting sound science on unresisting imbecility to go into details when “Skeptical Science” retorts to “CO2 is plant food” with “The effects of enhanced CO2 on terrestrial plants are variable and complex and dependent on numerous factors”. Sneering alarmists have grown mentally lazy if they really think that bafflegab disposes of the fact that greenhouse owners pump in CO2 so plants grow better.

Or their reply to “Models are unreliable” that “Models successfully reproduce temperatures since 1900 globally, by land, in the air and the ocean.” In a way we admire the chutzpah. The models are helpless in the face of known past conditions and every current prediction turns out to be overwrought. So they just say the opposite and move along to brushing off “Climate’s changed before” with “Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time; humans are now the dominant forcing.”

So the laws of physics changed? CO2 didn’t use to matter but does now, contrary to what you said before? Or is it just “Shut up” in various thin disguises?

In many cases the statements are as wrong as they are dogmatic. For instance to “Ice age predicted in the 70s” they recommend sneering “The vast majority of climate papers in the 1970s predicted warming.” But not only was there a popular cooling scare in the 1970s, it was based on the claims of many scientists and, as we pointed out in our video “The ‘70s Cooling Scare Was Real” (which they have yet to pillory, leaving us feeling excluded), a proper review of the scientific literature rather than one that tendentiously excluded most papers predicting cooling found that “for the 1965-1979 reference period… the number of cooling papers significantly outnumbers the number of warming papers.” Now it also found that in the last three years a small majority of papers predicted cooling, so “Skeptical Science” could concede that there was a strong belief in cooling and then, as happens with real science, it was revised. But no. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

Then there are the ones that are impressively sciency but without actual meaning. For instance you quash “We’re coming out of the Little Ice-age” with “Scientists have determined that the factors which caused the Little Ice Age cooling are not currently causing global warming.” Oh really? Which scientists? Which factors? How? Of course their snappy comeback is a link to a page on the Little Ice Age that oddly appears to confirm the role of the sun in temperatures that is elsewhere also dismissed. But it too contains a series of wandering assertions that do not link to the scientists who determine.

In addition to all their other sloppiness “Skeptical Science” mangles the name of the film they purport to debunk, calling it “Climate – the Movie”, and proceed to mix up single and double quotation marks while substituting character assassination for analysis, starting by waving a list of deniers McCarthy-style, and then scoffing:

“Climate change denial is like a kind of flying circus. This same old carnival troupe is wheeled out time and again to spread doubt about climate science. Why? Because that’s what they are good at doing, with decades of combined experience under their belts.”

Whatever “Skeptical Science” is good at doing, it’s not science. For instance as a semi-parting sneer they say:

“There are a few claims that are not in our database. Did you know that at the height of the last glaciation, there was a ‘CO2 famine’ that, had it gotten any worse, would have made life on Earth go extinct? No, neither did we.”

Well, everybody else does. All he had to do was Google and he’d have found abundant discussion, even by fellow current warming alarmists, of the fact that atmospheric CO2 got as low as 180 ppm shortly before the warming that led into the Holocene, and at 150 ppm all C3 photosynthesis plants die, including most crops and virtually all trees. Whether all life on Earth would have gone extinct is unclear, and if that claim is made in the movie he doesn’t say where. But the devastation of ecosystems would have rivaled that of the Chicxulub asteroid impact, not least because all those plants are cranking out oxygen that is quite important to us, and if this person does not know it, it speaks ill of their grasp of climate science.

If you are a troll, you might nevertheless want to keep their list handy so you can post this nonsense over and over in the hope of stifling genuine conversation with pseudo-science. For instance you supposedly quash “Clouds provide negative feedback” with “Evidence is building that net cloud feedback is likely positive and unlikely to be strongly negative.” Evidence, no less. But actual evidence is that cloud feedback is incredibly complex, depends on the kind and location of cloud, and cannot be modeled with any hope of completeness or accuracy.

For those who do not have scaly green skin, three flat toes and the ambition to make intelligent discussion impossible, beware: This list is actually a guide to getting even more ignorant than you were to begin with if you came in knowing nothing, because now your head will be stuffed with phrases that are misleading when not meaningless, useful for beating people over the head and nothing else.

5 comments on “Neither skeptical nor science”

  1. You managed to be angry and funny at the same time. When I get mad, I can't do that. I'm glad you keep arguing with the AGW pinheads, but I'm not sure I've managed to change the mind of any I encounter. Despite years of trying, in some cases.

  2. Harvey, the reason you can't argue with AGW pinheads is that they get a vicarious thrill from imagining that Western civilization is destroying the world. "Yes, yes, we're all guilty, we must all drive EVs and ride bicycles." Tell them that anthropogenic climate change is insignificant and you threaten their whole raison d'etre.

  3. That group has no business calling itself Skeptical Science.To me anyone who calls themselves a skeptic would reject AGW theory out of hand.
    Based on evidence.Most people that I know are at least skeptical of AGW.

  4. Skeptical Science claimed 25 myths in the movie.
    I agree with about half of them
    This website has repeatedly embarrassed itself by defending the science fiction movie.
    This article is fille with disinformation.
    (1) CO2 does everything as a climate forcing is a leftist myth
    (2) CO2 does nothing as a climate forcing is the main message of the movie and this article.
    (1) and (2) are Dumb and Dumber, wrong extreme positions.
    I have spent over 26 years trying to refute leftist predictions of CAGW doom.
    It is impossible to refute leftist climate myths with conservative climate myths.
    My review of the movie, from my blog with over 775,000 lifetime page views:


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