Calling Them Out

Ivan Frishberg sent me another e-mail asking me to call out the climate change deniers in Congress.

David —

Today, all across the country, people are telling members of Congress that it’s not OK to deny the science behind climate change.

There are 135 climate change deniers in Congress — elected officials who refuse to believe that climate change is real, manmade, and dangerous. Today, we want everyone pointing and laughing at these folks.

It’s easy to join in. Can you help by sharing something on Twitter or Facebook?

Tweet at Speaker John Boehner, the lead climate denier in Congress — and call out the climate denial.

Or share this graphic on Facebook:

Call on Speaker Boehner to stop denying the science behind climate change.
Share on Facebook

It only takes a second — but if we do our jobs, it’ll be fun to watch these climate change deniers try to explain themselves.

Keep it up and tweet right now:

Or share the shame of climate change deniers on Facebook:



Ivan Frishberg
Climate Campaign Manager
Organizing for Action

It seems to me that an important part of science is observation. For instance, I have observed that the high temperature on the day I write this is about 75°. This is unusually cool for Indiana in the middle of August. I am aware, of course, that one unusually cool summer does not disprove the theory of global warming, but then, if we were having an unusually hot summer, the climate change alarmists would be taking that as proof that the Earth was getting dangerously warmer.

I wonder why we are having such a cool summer. I am a little concerned. I believe I’ve said before that I would be a lot more worried if there were a worldwide cooling trend than a warming. It really wouldn’t take much of a decrease in global average temperature to affect agriculture adversely. Of course, this is only one year and I am sure next year will be more normal. In the meantime, I will enjoy the pleasant weather.


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7 Responses to “Calling Them Out”

  1. Ben Dattilo Says:

    Do you really think that your expertise trumps that of people who have studied climate for their entire careers? Do you really believe them to be so stupid as all that? Alternatively do you believe that there is a world-wide conspiracy to hide this blatently obvious reality? Do they have to sign a document stating that they will hold to the lie before being allowed into climate school? Is climatology one of those fields that gets last pick after all the smart people choose politics or business, leaving them with the stupidest people on earth? I am dead serious: the phenomenon of science denial which is especially prevelant in this country just fascinates me. It’s like people going to their mechanics for medical advice. Fair enough, some do.

    • David Hoffman Says:

      Just because someone has spent his whole career studying something does not mean he is automatically right about everything. Yes, they can all be in error. That has happened before in science. I have a brain and I am capable of examining evidence.I have learned how exceedingly complex the interactions of the Earth’s atmosphere that create weather and climate and how difficult it is to get solid data about temperatures of the times before widespread monitoring has been possible. I am aware that the relationship between the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and global mean temperature is far from straightforward. Anyone who claims precise knowledge of what the Earth’s climate is likely to do in the near or far future is either incompetent or a liar. I would hope that contrary to media reports, climatologists have a more nuanced view of things. In any event it seems rather incredible to me that there is supposed to be an overwhelming consensus. I think there is much less here than has been reported.

      I am also aware of the flagrant dishonesty of many people who support the idea of global warming/climate change. I have had environmentalists tell me my whole life that a catastrophe is just around the corner unless action is taken RIGHT NOW. When a salesman tells me to act right now I ignore him. Why should I pay any attention to anyone else who is trying to pressure me. There is the odd change in terminology from global warming to climate change. Could that be because climate change is vaguer and less subject to falsification? There are the claims that a hot summer or unusually dry or wet weather all mean that climate change is real. There is the habit of calling dissenting voices “deniers” with its clear reference to Holocaust denial. This is dishonest and malicious.

      I do not believe in any of the silly conspiracy theories you attribute to me. I also do not believe that science is supposed to be some sort of Authority to be used as a handmaiden for certain political agendas, an oracle never to be questioned. I thought science was about asking the questions and getting the answers, not some dogma to be enforced. Perhaps my views are science denial.

  2. thirdnews Says:

    Isn’t all science denial, till proven through method?

    As I understand the ‘global freezing’…(or is it warming now?) problem, and the resulting ‘we have 1year to fix-it’ panic, or ‘we are all dead’ thinking, is that the experts have failed to prove we broke it -and, that’s if you are willing to take a ‘we are the experts’ leap of faith that there is anything but nature’s cycle at play.

    Observationally, politics is killing science, and climatologist are not exempt -are we pretending the ‘hockey stick’ fiasco was an isolated incident?

    So the score for me is

    real = not proven
    manmade = not proven
    dangerous = so is all life

  3. Ben Dattilo Says:

    I am not so interested in the conclusions really, talking points that i have heard over and over, and a subject that is only marginal to my expertise. Also, politics does inevitably corrupt science-the role of advisor should only go from scientist to politician, not the other way around. The politician can act or not act, whatever, but when politicians start telling scientists what to say, well that is tantamount to saying that scientists are not needed. Such a country (see Lysenkoism–Soviet Union) deserves what it gets. As for thirdnews question, a positive claim in science is never proven, but subject to testing, sorta, but not quite the same. Dave, you certainly know why the Arctic and Antarctic circles, the tropics, the poles and the equator are placed at their various latitudes, which is better than a lot of the climate deniers can do. You may even be able to point out the causes for various climate regions as marked out on an old Koeppen climate map, explain thermohaline circulation, and the Eckmann spiral. I doubt many others who presume to poke holes in climate science could even claim that much. In my own field of Paleontology it is interesting to see how many people feel perfectly confident disputung very well establish interpretations of the fossil record, yet would be completely lost determining which of the abundant fossils found in the 421 road cut in Madison are corals, bryozoans, brachiopods or clams, trilobites or sponges. Likewise they are perfectly confident discussing their depositional interpretation for these same strata without being able to go to the same roadcut and distinguish dolomite from limestone, or too tell the difference between a trace fossil and a mud crack. I (along with my colleagues) find this so astounding that we usually can’t do anything but laugh nervously. Similarly, I have had long conversations with medical doctors who were so cock sure they could demolish the theory of evolution, yet their training was so narrow that they did not know the difference between a synplesiomorphy and a synapomorphy, nor could they homologize the bone of the mammalian ear with the bones of the avian jaw. I have had similar conversations with cock-sure anti-evolutionary dentists who had never heard of something so fundamental as the I/i-C/c-P/p-M/m tooth classification scheme for mammals. But I at least understand how a doctor or dentist might mistake his own expertise for something relevant to evolution. I also understand the arrogance of the engineers who get into this fray–they make things and only see the natural world as backdrop or inspiration for their creations. So naturally they interpret everything as created. As Plato remarked, everyone who has a lot of knowledge in one field seems to underestimate his lack of knowledge in other fields. Thus I look around me and am accused by those who are utterly and hopelessy ignorant of me or my work and reputation, of being a hack. I listen to people claim that I am somehow either a) in collusion to lie about earth history, or b) (as my brother recently stated) just somebody with his own idiosyncratic ideas about

    The obvious thing to note is that science denial ism is not universally applied to every scientific theory, so it appears to me to be motivated by cultural causes that lie well outside the realm of science when a particular theory conflicts with a particular belief or value, not necessarily the same cause for each denial:

    So there is climate change denial which may be motivated by religious believes like the second coming (why even bother, the earth is a paper plate to be thrown out), the idea of Divine providence or the promise God made to Noah, and obviously the economic challenge of formulating an effective response. Evolution denial is clearly based in a literal interpretation of the Genesis. Vaccine safety denial is about ?individualism over socialism?, GMO crop safety denial seems to be a hippy style back to nature issue? In the past there was tobacco-cancer denial, based certainly on concerns about the rights of corporations. There was also a lead paint -brain damage denial, causing US bans to lag behind European bans by decades: again it seems fair to attribute this to higher values being placed on corporate profits, or perhaps straight up corporate meddling in government.

    But that leaves the common thread of anti-expertism.

    So I guess I am still working through my own understanding of why people, Americans in particular, but others as well, are so confident in venturing so blindly into areas where someone like myself would not dare go. Is there suddenly a point where you know enough that you know you don’t know? Does this have to do with a particularly Protestant or American knowledge ethic, perhaps founded ultimately in the Gutenburg Bible and Luther’s “sola scriptura”? Perhaps finally reinforced by the universal right to vote which makes everyone feel privelidged without invoking responsibility to understand, learn, or know what is going on? Whatever it is, it seems, from my view, a far more dangerous entitlement (everyone is entitled to their own ill-backed opinion) than food stamps.

    • David Hoffman Says:

      I am not sure if I am being insulted or praised.

      The reasons people believe the things they do has less to do with any rational considerations and more to do with emotional or psychological factors. People believe the things that satisfy their needs. This is true of each of the “deniers” you cite, but it is equally true of the people you might hold to have utterly rational and scientific views. Remember, each of the deniers can cite what they take to be completely rational and scientific reasons for what they believe, which make perfect sense to them, no matter how absurd or ignorant it may seem to you or me. Also, different people have different life experiences and have been exposed to different information of varying quality, which obviously influences the way in which they view the world. This is one of the reasons that I am not inclined to take what the experts say at face value. Yes, they have a lifetime of expertise, but they also have a lifetime of unconscious biases and unexamined prejudices which influence their judgement. And, how many times has “settled science” proven to be incomplete, or just plain wrong.

      I do not think the problem is one of science denial, or denial or any kind. People should be skeptical. I wish there were more deniers. The problem is that most people are not skeptical enough. Most people simply repeat the arguments for the positions they happen to agree with without questioning or “denying” the sources of the arguments or looking into what the opposite side has to say about the matter. Your doctor and dentist did not err in trying to debunk evolution. Even a theory as well established as evolution shouldn’t be a sacred cow. They err in not questioning the young earth creationist material they were probably quoting from or in actually examining the theory of evolution on their own. In other words, they are relying on people they take to be experts without establishing that they are experts or questioning whether they know what they are talking about.

      This is the thing that irritates me about YECers. It is not so much that they want to debunk evolution. It is that they don’t bother to find out anything about evolution. If I wanted to debunk evolution, it seems to me that I would study the subject until I knew as much as possible before I started, but that is just me.

    • David Hoffman Says:

      Do the people who try to refute evolution talk really fast?

  4. Ben Dattilo Says:

    I have seen these videos and never really noticed the fast talking! ha . . maybe that is because one of my mentors was a “New York Jew” . . .you start not to notice . . .

    I intend neither insult nor praise, I just want to understand the epistemological basis for arguing against expert consensus. I suppose that is a good enough answer.

    I will note that, while I have gone up against one scientist in my own field who resisted my arguments overturning a paleontological “doctrine” of sorts (I can send you a really nasty comment and reply series if you like), the vast majority really do appear to seriously consider any real arguments, and admit defeat the minute they understand that they were wrong. It is actually a badge of shame to keep fighting for what you once put forth, if it has been proven wrong.

    My latest questions have centered on what I consider to be a mistaken climatic interpretation of 450 m.y. old phosphorite deposits. I am told that it will be an uphill battle, but I am not so sure. The going explanation is that phosphogenesis in the North American epeiric sea occurred during periods of cooling and upwelling through the Seebree Trough. This interpretation has been reinforced through almost a century of work (albeit without many people actually working on it at any one time). When we looked at this, we found it impossible to justify paleogeographically. There is no way to get upwelling from the vicinity of the modern Gulf of Mexico all the way up the Mississippi Embayment and into Indiana and Ohio. When we investigated further to try to understand the Chemistry of phosphogenesis, we found that the original model (propounded in the 1930s by a Soviet Scientist and propagated through the United States Geological Survey, presumably because someone attended a meeting in Moscow) was based on an understandable over-application of Waltherian facies models. Which is to say that because phosphogenesis is generally associated with transgressive stratigraphic successions, this Soviet scientist assumed that phosphatic deposits were simply an indicator of deep water. Without the benefit of the modern sequence stratigraphic models which take into account first derivative effects of sea-level change itself, the mistake is understandable. His next step was to hypothesize a chemical process to go along with it. Realizing that, we are more amazed that someone has not shot this idea full of holes.

    Of course, we found when we started seriously reading geochemical literature that the deposition of hydroxyflourapatite is actually fairly well understood, and that the main requirement for its concentration in the sedimentary record is repeated reworking with repeated burial of organic material. It just so happens that this is the principle characteristic of transgressive deposits. So we feel that we have this problem fairly well explained, but we have to educate sedimentary geologists on the problem. Our first very tentative delicately-stated talk was received well.

    Somewhat related, just recently I heard that some climate scientists are reconstructing ancient climates from deep sea cores and whatnot based in part on positive del C13. I have been thinking about this and it really concerns me. Whereas del O18 does correlate very well with ancient temperature, del C13 is controlled primarily by the well-known fractionation effect of photosynthesis. Some of these scientists are arguing that a positive del C13 excursion is indicative of increased photosynthesis, which is fair enough until you think of the time-scales represented. While a bloom of algae may well raise inorganic del C13, to effect anything permanent would require burial sequestration of that organic material. Otherwise it would simply be recycled into the inorganic reservoir effecting no net change. So in effect, they are measuring burial and erosion rather than productivity. Burial and erosion, of course, have as much to do with sea-level as they have to do with climate, so this is a poor climate proxy. Still thinking about this one though.

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