Climate Skepticism the new Creationism?

Those who thought that the war was won and the forces of junk science—who prop up the climate change alarmists—were sent packing need to think again. With the new year, a new assault on climate skepticism is being waged on multiple fronts. Editorials in Nature and Science herald the resurgence of the climate catastrophists and their attempt to bamboozle the public, mislead government officials and brainwash our children. Wake up and smell the steer manure, the battle against the bogus boffins of climate hysteria is far from over.

With the the Arab Spring, recession and national default looming in Europe, and America being distracted by its quadrennial presidential circus there has been precious little mention of that old bugaboo global warming in recent days. So little news that the casual observer might think that the mater is settled and rationality has put paid to the alarmist rabble. Not so! To start off 2012, the editorial section of the British journal Nature has sounded a clarion call for a climate change resurgence.

In an editorial titled “Reach out about climate,” scientists of the world are urged to put 2011 behind them and rejoin the fight in 2012:

With US politics in gridlock, Europe in financial turmoil and minimal progress at the climate conference in South Africa in December, 2011 was a bad year for political progress in tackling climate change. In addition, surveys of public opinion show a declining belief that climate change is an urgent problem. Clearly, the need to make the public aware of the threat has never been greater. In the face of climate-change contrarians and denialists, some of them with political clout and voices amplified by the media, climate scientists must be even more energetic in taking their message to citizens.

By their own admission, 2011 was a very bad year for the purveyors of alarmist tripe. On most fronts they have been stymied and governments have turned a deaf ear to their ever shriller protestations. Worst of all, the public has grown tired of the climate Cassandras and their constant droning on about doom and destruction. But the true believers are using the distractions of the current news cycle as cover while they lick their wounds, marshal their forces and plan a new offensive. Again quoting from the Nature editorial:

Two challenges face those who communicate the science of climate change to the public. The first is to make the messages from models and observations as vivid as possible while maintaining scientific probity — avoiding the blurring of dispassionate discussions of the science and the equally important individual right of advocacy. The second is to find the right ways of conveying uncertainties without losing grip on the central, generally agreed, conclusions.

Bemoaning government difficulties in achieving “clarity of national action on climate change,” they nonetheless urge the climate faithful forward. “[S]cientists and their organizations need to do more to help citizens engage with the issues and not be misled by travesties of the evidence.” Travesties of evidence? As in there is no convincing evidence backing the climate cabal's claims? This ongoing guerrilla war on rationality is the only travesty here.

The view from Europe is echoed by the even shriller climate activists at American journal Science. In a January 17the online article, under the title “Education Advocates Enter the Climate Tempest,” the question is posed: “Is climate change education the new evolution, threatened in U.S. school districts and state education standards by well-organized interest groups?”

This is not the first attempt to place climate skeptics on the same disreputable level as creationist. The inference is that doubting climate change dogma is the same as denying Evolution—the province of religious fanatics and fringe science loonies. Sorry, science doesn't work that way. Disbelief in a poorly formed theory supported by scanty evidence in no way implies belief or disbelief in any other unconnected theory. Real scientists would know better.

Yet the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) in Oakland, California, which fights the teaching of creationism, announced that it's going to take on climate change denial as well. In the article from Science, NCSE environmental education expert Mark McCaffrey states “There's a climate of confusion in this country around climate science.” Amazing! Wasn't this supposed to be settled science? How can something so supposedly well accepted by science meet with such resistance? Surely the climate change alarmists have incontrovertible proof of their assertions. Oops.

NCSE expects opposing climate skepticism to be much harder than fighting creationism. “The forces arrayed against climate science are more numerous and much better funded,” says NCSE Director Eugenie Scott. Armed with contradicting facts and rational arguments those cheeky skeptics are better able to get their message across in the mainstream media. I've got news for you, Eugenie, it's not the funding. The fight against climate skepticism is so hard because the warmists' evidence is so unconvincing.


Victor Frankenstein was a better scientist than the climate alarmists.

This is supposed to be a scientific debate, yet the warmists are putting their efforts into propaganda, particularly propaganda aimed at the young. Better to teach our children the scientific method, at the heart of which is the principle of hypothesis rejection by contrary empirical evidence. As one poster on Slashdot recently said, “neither the IPCC, nor NOAA, nor the Royal Meteorological society have made any clearly falsifiable hypothesis statement about Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming.” In short, global warming doesn't even qualify as a scientific theory.

So gird your intellectual loins and man the ramparts, the forces of crap science are mounting a counter attack. Their evidence has not improved, their models have not miraculously become a stand-in for the real world, the validity of their weak, ad hoc theory has, if anything, diminished. But yet they yammer on, after all there are buckets of grant money at stake. We skeptics must remain strong and objective, for the cost of freedom from crackpot science is eternal vigilance.

Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical.

The climate cabal attacks

As Doug asserts, the climate alarmist cabal may be currently licking their wounds, but several fractions of their group have now resorted to shrill attacks on skeptical scientists who apparently had the nerve to accept a total of $60,000 from corporate groups for the purpose of travel to meetings and conferences as gleaned from 2007 IRS files.
http://hot-topic.co.nz/puppets-on-a-string-us-think-tank-funds-nz-sceptics/
IRS files show that millions of dollars have been transferred by US foundations to fund alarmist groups in Canada alone and stage protests. At a protest today in Alberta, an aboriginal admitted that he had been paid by the alarmists to make the trip even though he had no particular interest in the subject. The scientists and engineers I work with have used our own funds and free time along with the help of excellent sites such as yours to hone our technical arguments questioning the hypotheses of the alarmists. Perhaps this is just a stalling tactic while they come up with a horseshoe graph from their models to replace the disgraced hockey stick.

Don Farley, Gatineau, Quebec

2011 Wasn't such a "bad" year in US political action

I wish that 2011 was in fact as bad for AGW political action as the Nature article implied. With the US EPA going after carbon with every possible (but not clearly legal) tool, the US power industry took a huge slam the last week in December. The new rules to limit mercury were really aimed at shuttering as many coal powered generation plants as possible, regardless of the cost or the impact on the reliability of the power grid. Then the killing of the Keystone Pipeline in January was a tribute to the donors that think getting oil from Canadian sands is a dirty way to do it, so they would rather have Canada ship their dirty oil to China. We badly need a stronger loby for a rational way forward. I've been really glad to see so many adds in the media for the Natural gas industry. Without the advances in natural gas production we'd be looking at a very bleak economic future, but if we don't stay ahead of the AGW lobying groups, the EPA will end up shuttering that industry also.

2011

The “bad” year for AGW was in terms of publicity and dropping public support not, as you point out, in terms of back room maneuvering by the warmist flunkies at the US EPA and other government agencies. As for Obama's rejection of the Keystone Pipeline project, he is handing his opponents a powerful argument against his re-election. I expect the pipeline to eventually be approved—either by Obama or his successor.

Science Friday 1/20/2012

It looks like National Public Radio, that most politically correct of liberal media outlets, is going to touch on the "new creationism" theme during Science Friday this afternoon. Check your local station.

SciFri propaganda piece

As you expected the lead story on NPR's Science Friday was nothing more than a propaganda piece supporting AGW and the NCSE. The leader on their site is as follows:

    The National Center for Science Education has long defended educators’ right to teach evolution in public schools. Now climate science too is under attack. NCSE executive director Eugenie Scott talks about how teachers and parents can fight the push to get climate change denial into the classroom.

The fatuous Ira Flatow started out by reporting 2011 as the 9th warmest year on record and claiming that it is warmer now than ever before in human history. "No amount of data is enough to convince some climate change deniers about global warming," he whined before introducing Scott. She claimed that bills are being introduced everywhere that bundle anti-evolution and anti-global warming teaching requirements. You are exactly right, Dr. Hoffman, they are trying to tar climate skeptics with the same brush as anti-evolution activists.

NPR Interview

To listen to the NPR interview with Eugenie Scott go to the following web page: http://www.sciencefriday.com/program/archives/201201201

deny Evolution: the province of religious fanatics and loonies?

I am disillusioned to discover that Doug L. Hoffman (I have been a big fan of this website for about two years) has such strong views about persons like myself. I wonder how Mr. Hoffman would square my creationism with the fact that I am, and have been, in 100% agreement with every article (and that is dozens and dozens) I have read on this website. If I have a screw loose, what that does that say about about this website in light of my concurrence with the content and reasoning presented on it?

Moreover, I do not find Mr. Hoffman's approach to science to be so stupendous - he merely follows the evidence where it leads, sans an agenda. It is the absence of an agenda for anything but truth that allows Mr. Hoffman to be right so much of the time. What makes Mr. Hoffman exceptional, is that very few scientists these days lack an agenda.

However, it appears when it comes to the notion of admitting the possibility that God created the Universe in six days, and that no biological evolution has occurred, Mr. Hoffman has an agenda that distorts his reasoning powers. For if Mr. Hoffman where clear headed about the theory of evolution, the absence of a single transitional form, would lead him to the truth as quickly as temperature data lead him to the truth about "global warming". How can evolution be true if not one scientist over the last 100 plus years has been able to put forth one single living or fossilized specimen of an unquestioned transitional form? It takes a loony or fanatic to be blind to something THAT obvious.

Bundling Beliefs

Your post is a perfect example of the danger of linking climate change and Evolution: It is difficult at best to hold a rational discussion about either. I was actually asked about my beliefs regarding Evolution during a party not long after The Resilient Earth was published. The wife of a friend, after hearing my position on anthropogenic global warming, said “so, I guess you don't believe in Evolution either.” I calmly explained to her that I found Evolution to be a supportable theory and that it was dangerous to assume that a rational person's stand on various subjects came in prepackaged bundles.

Of course, this is precisely what is assumed in politics. If you are a conservative it is assumed that you are against abortion, for prayer in school, pro-military, against gay marriage, etc. If you are liberal it is assumed that you are for social programs, against prayer in school, for legal abortion, support gay marriage, etc. I find this dividing of people and beliefs into two monolithic sets foolish, ignorant and intellectually lazy. I am an educated, experienced, rational human being and I decide my stand on various issues based on logic and evidence. So you should not be shocked or disillusioned when I tell you that I am skeptical of anthropogenic global warming and accept the validity of the theory of Evolution.

This will come as no surprise to anyone who has read The Resilient Earth, since it is a recounting of the history of this planet and the life that inhabits it according to science. In my youth I was unsure about the validity of Evolution, but over my lifetime I found more and more evidence that Evolution provides the current best explanation for the development of life on Earth. My final “conversion” came when I was working on my PhD dissertation, which involved comparing the three dimensional shapes of protein molecules. Dealing with proteins that performed similar functions in dissimilar organisms—in come cases bacteria, plants and animals large and small—the plausibility of evolving life became obvious to me.

You, of course, are entitled to your own beliefs, but much of what is taught in creationist dogma is inaccurate. There are many examples of “intermediate forms” including archeopteryx of the Late Jurassic and the Simiosaurs of the Late Triassic. There have been may examples of evolution during man's time on Earth. Well known examples of rapid evolution include such morphological changes as beak length in Florida soapberry bugs, wing length in Galapagos finches, female lifespan in Trinidadian guppies and most recently the threespine stickleback and brown rats.

I believe (yes, this is belief and not science) that God wants us to understand the way the Universe works. The way to do that is through science. The creation of the Universe from nothing—an expanding bubble of space, time, energy and matter—is nothing short of miraculous. That matter should condense from energy, take on myriad forms (the elements) and that those forms should combine to create life in such diversity is a much more impressive story than the biblical six days of creation, at least to my mind. This may make me a heretic in your eyes, but I am not an atheist—I simple don't believe the same way you do. Remember that reasonable men can find themselves in disagreement—if they did not disagree there would be nothing for them to argue about.

re: bundling beliefs

Doug, for you, and for benefit of readers, I will target some of the specifics of your reply and then transition to broad strokes -

First, I am manifestly not guilty of conflating beliefs in my original comment. I have long understood you are not a creationist based on your abundant writings that assume long earth ages (ice ages, etc.). Though a creationist myself, your long-age assumptions have not been a turn off to me since you are spot-on when it comes to climate change science.

Now, does it alarm you that your friend's wife (and others who respect you covet) will find grounds for her suspicions about you since a creationist like me frequents your site? Perhaps your public, contemptuous description of creationists was intentional to establish your bona fides among evolutionists - that you are a REAL scientist and not a quack.

You counsel me that I should "not be shocked or disillusioned when I (Doug) tell you that I am skeptical of anthropogenic global warming and accept the validity of the theory of Evolution." I was not - I was disillusioned (your star dimmed with me) that you are so hostile to young-earth, creationist understanding of cosmogony.

If climate alarmists are wont to conflate you with persons whom they characterize as fanatics and lunatics, then who is that an indictment of, the alarmists or the "lunatics"?

I am engaged in an act of patience when I attempted before, and as I will now, to persuade you that finding yourself a bedfellow with creationists is not as horrific as you might presume.

I reiterate, do you not find it worth noting that I, a creationist, find your arguments utterly sound, while many so-called real scientists do not? You know, Doug, you have something in common with our Creator. Jesus, through whom all things were made, was rejected by the intellectual leaders of the Jews and was accepted by the outcasts - the prostitutes, the tax collectors, etc. For this reason Jesus preached a parable about a nobleman who held a wedding banquet and invited all his supposed friends; all who demurred. So the nobleman instructed his servants to go out into the streets and invite in the wastrels, who filled his banquet.

Just before He was crucified Jesus said, "Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”, and of course one of the two criminals with whom Jesus was crucified did "listen" to Christ, and was accepted, while the other mocked. My point - while you, Doug, may not like it, you may be surprised by the ragged assemblage of outcasts who perceive what you write to be truth, while those whose acceptance you crave reject you.

And what do you think it is like for ME to function in modern society as a young earth creationist? You think that is easy? There is a cost to allegiance to truth, whether it be climate truth or cosmogonical truth.

But do not think for a moment I am not ready or able to defend what I beleive about cosmongony, though not a scientist. Presumably you are prepared to defend what you believe about God, though not a theologian. If you wish to assault my "lunatic" young earth science, than I will demand you elaborate and defend your understanding of the god that set evolution in motion.

Science & Religion

Your response is a good example why scientists should, and usually do, stay well clear of religion. Scientists tend to assume that logic, reason and empirical evidence apply in all situations. Unfortunately, religion belongs to the realm of belief—where faith, not rationality, is the driving force. I don't think less of you or your skepticism of anthropogenic global warming because you are an admitted creationist. I simply think you are right about the first and wrong about the second. But since creationism is based in the end on religious teachings debating it is unproductive. So instead, I will, for the benefit of my readers, quote what I said about religion in The Resilient Earth:

The scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating natural phenomena and acquiring new knowledge. It also provides mechanisms for correcting and integrating previous knowledge. The scientific method is based on gathering empirical evidence. This is accomplished by collecting data through observation, experimentation, and the testing of hypotheses. Empirical means simply what belongs to or is the product of experience or observation. The Science Fair Handbook puts it this way: “The scientific method involves the following steps: doing research, identifying the problem, stating a hypothesis, conducting project experimentation, and reaching a conclusion.”

The advantage of the scientific method is that, if followed faithfully, it is unprejudiced. An hypothesis can be tested through experiment and its validity determined. The conclusions must hold regardless of the state of mind, or bias of the investigator. In fact, the cornerstone of modern science is the testability of theories. This means that a theory must make predictions about the way the physical universe behaves, so that it may be tested by investigators other than the theory's author.

The dual requirements of testability and empirical evidence disqualify mystical or religious arguments from scientific consideration. Such arguments are based on forces outside of nature, and science is only concerned with the natural world. You cannot test or measure God, so attributing some phenomenon to an act of God is not a scientific theory.

Religious truth is revealed to individuals, and must be taken on faith by others. Scientific knowledge is discovered through observation, and can be tested through experiments repeatable by anyone. Some religions are based on secret or hidden knowledge that must be accepted without proof, science is based on shared knowledge open to question. Religion requires acceptance of that which is unseen (see Hebrews 11 for an example), science is based only on that which can be observed. But, this does not mean that religion and science need to be in opposition.

Religion answers questions that science cannot, science answers questions that religion should not. Just as religious teachings cannot be viewed as a valid source of scientific knowledge, science has no authority in spiritual or ethical realms. Science is the study of nature and nature is neither moral nor immoral. Nature, at best, can be viewed as amoral, and even that is dangerously close to viewing nature as a sentient being. It is not.

Nature is a collection of physical processes, possessing no intelligence, no conscience, and no moral compass. Nature does not mourn the passing of a single creature or the extinction of entire species. There is nothing in nature that provides a scientific foundation for morality, though some have sought one. Galileo is credited with saying that religion “tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.” The opposite also holds true, science does not provide moral guidance or satisfy the human longing for an underlying meaning to existence. Religion is religion, science is science and the two should never be confused.

Note that science attempts to explain how the physical universe works, not why it exists. Asking what existed before the Big Bang or lies outside of the universe is not science, it is philosophy. Further religious arguments are better discussed on a philosophical website.

Science and religion

Hi, folks

I feel at pains to point out that, there was once a time, long ago in Europe, when the 'argument' between science and religion would not have arisen in the first place: it was the 13th century.

The whole argument is based on historical ignorance. One of the best article I've ever seen about evolution from a religious POV is here: http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2011/09/adam-and-eve-and-ted-and-alice.html

We don't need to fight, people. We have nothing to fear from the truth.

Science & Religion Fini

With that pointer to a blog more in line with the religion vs. science debate, and since it is off topic, the moderator is closing this thread. The linkage between AGW skepticism and creationism was made by those trying to discredit global warming skeptics--please send any additional comments to the NCSE.

True or false?

Dear Doug,
I'm 100% with you in your challenge to the climate alarmists to come up with valid evidence and falsifiable hypothesis. But 100% opposed to you in your unreasoning support of the equally fanatical evolutionists.
I agree with you Doug that these are two completely unrelated sciences - but have another good look at evolution, Doug, and you will find the same absence of genuine supporting evidence and falsifiable theory as in the climate case. Sure, there is evidence aplenty - vast quantities of fossil and DNA evidence etc etc that Darwin would have given his eye teeth for - but not a scrap of which actually supports evolution. On the contrary, it comprehensively denies it!
Smell the coffee, Doug. The truth is out there if you will truly look for it!
with appreciation for your blog and kind regards,
Keith

See previous answer

See Dr. Hoffman's reply to the previous post.

Alarmist True Believers

True believers on any stripe are bad news for the rational thinkers. They always have been. To call Alarmists True Believers "climate Cassandras" is not fair to Homer or the cautionary tail of Cassandre. She was accurate and correct but not believed. These true believers, on any side, my or may not be believed but they are anything but correct. In my two essays Pseudoscience One and Two (http://retreadresources.com/blog/?p=152 and http://retreadresources.com/blog/?p=155) I review the thinking and the reaction of main stream science to Eugenics, Lysenkoism, Intelligent Design and AGW.

Since models are not science but tools of science and produce no true data the other major science frauds and AGW or any alarmist baffle gab, are essentially the same thing. Frauds Cassandre aside these people should just go quietly into obscurity or they too will have reputations to highly tarnished to be rehabilitated. Now don't go calling me a Cassandre. I may not be believed but I know full well I as often in error as I am correct.

Dennis Nikols, P. Geo.

True beleivers are bad news?

Dennis, I have read this post and perused your links, and while it may be on record elsewhere (I did not search) I find your position on creationism (and Intelligent Design) long on opinion but short on substance - "anyone who challenges the evolutionary/long-geologic period paradigm is an idiot".

Now (it seems) you are a professor of geology; As I understand it the godfather of modern geology is Lyell, whose uniformitarianism was the received dogma for generations, and to deviate from uniformitarian-truth was a ticket to exclusion from the upper echelons of geological science. However, I can supply recent mainstream geological science quotes that challenge uniformitarianism and suggest catastrophism as a more likely explanation for how we got where we are in the physical state of Earth (and by the way, in astrophysics what can the Big Bang and Inflation be characterized as but decidedly not uniformitarianism).

Now I have no intention of getting into a pissing match with a prof. in geology on geological science, unless you want to level the playing field by first explaining what your views on God are (you DID attack "true believers"), but I did want to point out, at least for the sake of readers, that geology is not always perfectly consistent (and therefore not perfectly rationale).

I also cannot help but wonder how rationalism as a way of life, as opposed to faith in the unseen God, is working out for you? Now, I know it worked on-screen for Star Trek's Mr. Spock, but I wonder what your wife, ex-wife, or ex-girlfriends (any of the above will do) as well as co-workers and people you interact with in rush-our traffic would have to say about your rationalism? Would they all testify to the fact of you being a perfectly rationale being who never does, or thinks, anything irrational? And if you are not always rational, then why not? If rationalism is the truth of our universe, then why do not even it's proponents not always act rationally (with the possible exception of you; I give you the benefit of the doubt as long as you assure me no one who has ever encountered you would disparage your rationality).

Poor Cassandra

I thought about Cassandra's story as well when I wrote the phrase "climate Cassandras" and despite the fact that she, unlike the climate alarmists, was actually correct in her visions of the future that phrase was more melodic than "climate chicken littles" or "climate boys who cried wolf". A bit of poetic license.

awesome

"climate boys who cried wolf" Awesome!