We are Ignored, then Dissed, then Debated, then We Win.

Global Warming Debate Soho Forum May 8, 2019

The post title is a reference to a quote from Mahatma Gandhi who said, when facing overwhelming odds opposed by an entrenched establishment in India:

Watch: Skeptical scientist wins rare New York City climate debate against warmist scientist – Audience flips from warmist views to skeptical after debate (H/T John Ray at his blog Greenie Watch)Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The Soho Forum, Published on May 6, 2019

Resolution: There is little or no rigorous evidence that rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are causing dangerous global warming and threatening life on the planet.

For the affirmative:

Craig Idso is the founder, former president, and currently chairman of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change. The Center was founded in 1998 as a non-profit public charity dedicated to discovering and disseminating scientific information pertaining to the effects of atmospheric carbon dioxide enrichment on climate and the biosphere.

Dr. Idso’s research has appeared many times in peer-reviewed journals, and is the author or coauthor of several books, including The Many Benefits of Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment (Vales Lake Publishing, LLC, 2011), CO2, Global Warming and Coral Reefs (Vales Lake Publishing, LLC, 2009).

Dr. Idso also serves as an adjunct scholar for the Cato Institute and as a policy advisor for the CO2Coalition, the Heartland Institute and the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow.

For the negative:

Jeffrey Bennett is an astrophysicist and educator. He has focused his career on math and science literacy. He is the lead author of bestselling college textbooks in astronomy, astrobiology, mathematics, and statistics, and of critically acclaimed books for the general public on topics including Einstein’s theory of relativity, the search for extraterrestrial life, and the importance of math to our everyday lives.

Other career highlights include serving two years as a Visiting Senior Scientist at NASA Headquarters, proposing and helping to develop the Voyage Scale Model Solar System that resides on the National Mall in Washington, DC, and creating the freeTotality app that has helped tens of thousands of people learn how to view a total solar eclipse.

His book A Global Warming Primeris posted freely online at http://www.globalwarmingprimer.com.

Moderator: “We have the final vote. The yes vote on the resolution that there is no evidence that’s causing dangerous global warming: It began at 24% (of the skeptical yes vote supporting that position) and it went up to 46% (after the debate). So [skeptical argument] gained 22% points. That’s the number to beat (46%).

The no resolution (warmist position) started at 29%. It went up to 41% or up 11 points.” The winner of the debate is skeptical scientist Dr. Craig Idso with his resolution asserting that “There is little or no rigorous evidence that rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are causing dangerous global warming and threatening life on the planet.”

Flashback 2007: Scientific Smackdown: Skeptics Voted The Clear Winners Against Global Warming Believers in Heated NYC Debate – RealClimate.org’s Gavin Schmidt appeared so demoralized that he mused that debates equally split between believers of a climate ‘crisis’ and scientific skeptics are probably not “worthwhile” to ever agree to again.

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Climate Models on Fire!

They are at it again: Our future will be filled with death and destruction according to climate models. The latest doomsday scenario is that every summer in the future will be hotter than the one before, brought to you by CNN: “All the Fear All the Time.”

Future summers will ‘smash’ temperature records every year says CNN. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

If you think it’s hot now, you haven’t seen anything yet. A new study predicts that parts of the world will “smash” temperature records every year in the coming century due to climate change, “pushing ecosystems and communities beyond their ability to cope.”

The scientists who authored the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Monday, used 22 climate models to game out exactly how hot these summer temperatures would be. They determined that by the end of the 21st century, future temperature events “will be so extreme that they will not have been experienced previously.”

The temperature increase is directly tied to rising global greenhouse gas emissions, the authors say.

The world is already seeing record setting temperatures and while warming hasn’t been uniform, earlier studies have shown that the planet has been in a warming trend, generally.

Heat waves will be deadly. Heat stroke, breathing issues, heart attacks, asthma attacks, kidney problems are all a big concern for people when the temperatures increase, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Higher temperatures can also make air pollution worse, make water scarce and cause crops to fail, leading to malnutrition and starvation.

In 2014, the World Health Organization predicted 250,000 more people will die annually between 2030 and 2050 due to climate change. More recent studies predict that this is a “conservative estimate.”

If, however, countries meet goals of limiting global temperature rise less than 2 degrees Celsius, as set out in the Paris agreement, that scenario would be much less likely.

Footnote: A second separate heat wave alarm study was published and trumpeted in the Seattle Times. (H/T kakatoa, comment below) Cliff Mass does his usual thorough review pointing out problems both in the estimating of future temperatures and in calculating projected deaths from heat waves.

The article by Mass is The Seattle Times Story on Massive Heat Wave Deaths in Seattle: Does it Make Sense?


Epic Science Fraud by Inept Journalist

Alex Berezow reminds why we cannot trust today’s journalists to tell the truth, especially regarding anything scientific. His article at American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) is La Croix And BPA: Journalist Celebrates That She Caused Millions In Losses. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Journalism is thoroughly inept and corrupt. The quality of journalism has gotten so bad that I have whittled down my trusted sources to merely a handful. Even then, when it comes to science, these sources often get it wrong.

The reason is two-fold: First, journalists aren’t experts in anything. Many of them went to journalism school, which taught them absolutely nothing useful. An editor at The Economist once told me that the newspaper did not hire journalism majors, preferring people who majored in “something real.” The craft of journalism can be learned on the job. Besides, as science communicator Mary Mangan once wrote, “Every crank in the crankosphere has either a politics degree or a journalism degree.”

Second, too many journalists believe their primary job is to “change the world” rather than “report the facts.” If it seems like many journalists behave like partisans or activists, it’s because they really are partisans and activists. Truth matters less than fulfilling an ideological mission. This attitude was summed up best by Michael Wolff, who once said, “If it rings true, it is true.” Really, who needs facts when you have feelings?

Putting this all together, we shouldn’t be surprised when a journalist goes on social media to celebrate when her (poor) reporting causes a company to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in market capitalization.

Business Insider Journalist Celebrates a Massive Loss of Wealth

La Croix is a popular beverage that I refuse to drink because I think it tastes like fizzy horse urine. But plenty of other people like it, which is one reason why its parent company, the National Beverage Corporation, has a market cap well over $2 billion.

Like several other high-profile companies, La Croix has been the target of a junk science lawsuit. The company was accused of using synthetic chemicals instead of natural ones as advertised, a distinction without a difference, as my colleague Dr. Josh Bloom explains.

Now, they are the subject of another lawsuit, this time revolving around bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that is used as a liner to protect the integrity of cans. There are no known health effects caused by the tiny doses to which humans are exposed, and the FDA declares BPA “safe.” So, what’s the basis of the lawsuit?

According to court filings reported by Business Insider, the president of the National Beverage Corp. planned to lie about the BPA content of its products. Specifically, he allegedly planned to announce that the company no longer used BPA months before the cans would actually be BPA-free. When a high-level executive voiced opposition, he was fired. The lawsuit, then, is for wrongful termination.

There are two facets to this story: (1) The science of BPA; and (2) The conditions surrounding the termination of the employee. As already discussed, (1) is perfectly clear. Yet, despite the fact that the FDA has declared BPA “safe,” Business Insider originally called the chemical “toxic.” The article was eventually updated to remove that completely inaccurate descriptor.

The exact details of (2) are unknown. The only thing we know is that allegations have been made in a lawsuit. But Hayley Peterson, the author of the Business Insider piece, not only seems to have concluded erroneously that BPA is dangerous, but that the company is guilty of wrongful termination. How else can we explain her decision to go on LinkedIn and brag that her reporting cost the company 10% of its market cap?

How a Responsible Journalist Would Cover the La Croix Lawsuit

Instead of just cursing the darkness, I will attempt to light a candle. Here’s how a responsible journalist would cover the La Croix lawsuit.

First, it would be discussed in-depth that the entire basis of the controversy — namely, the presence of BPA — is entirely misguided because it’s a safe product. Whether the company engaged in wrongful termination is far less important than the larger discussion about BPA, which is used in many different products. Second, it would be made clear, if it is eventually found that the president planned to lie and that he acted illegally by terminating an employee, that this has no bearing on the safety of BPA. BPA is safe whether or not the president is a jerk. Third, a responsible journalist wouldn’t go on social media and brag about how they destroyed hundreds of millions of dollars of wealth.

Essentially, I’m asking that journalists be competent, well-informed, and well-behaved. I know that’s asking a lot in 2019.

Is Climate Catastrophe the Lie Whose Time Has Come?

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” — Joseph Goebbels

The US election cycle is heating up, while the Brexit melodrama is morphing into “Zero Carbon, Please.”  Kids are in the streets on Fridays or suing the government in courts.  Oil Companies are under pressure to commit Hari-Kari by those proposing that wind and solar power be ramped up from 2% of global energy supply to 89% in 12 years.  Can the herd grow any madder than this?

A recent CNN poll of Democrats had 96% saying any presidential nominee has to promise aggressive action to slow climate change, numbers right up there with Mom and apple pie.  And they demand candidates have a whole debate dedicated to climate change so the dozen or so pols can be checked for sincerity.

Progressives certainly think the issue is a winner for them because most Americans agree with them.  But do they really?  How reliable are these polls?  One that is frequently mentioned in support of climate belief by the masses is dissected below so you can draw your own conclusions.

Climate Change Is a State of Mind

A recent survey by Yale and George Mason activists is another reminder that “climate change” is actually a branch of environmental psychology. Consider that “climate” is an human construct, defined as the pattern of weather we remember in our living space over seasons and years. And “climate change” is therefore an added belief that our expectations about future weather are uncertain and unreliable. And so, attitude surveys are a suitable way to explore an issue that is wholly a matter of public opinion, IOW a state of mind rather than a state of nature.

The survey is appropriately entitled: Climate Change in the American Mind. Title is link to the website for the 2018 edition, with earlier results back to 2008.

The resources there are informative, including articles expressing both satisfactions and disappointments with the levels of belief and concern expressed by survey participants. The compliant mass media cherry pick various findings, giving headlines like these.

“We’ve entered a new era” of climate concern, survey finds CBS

Americans Believe in Climate Change, But Not Climate Action NYmag

Yale Poll: Climate Change ‘Personally Important’ to Record Number of Americans EcoWatch

Most Americans Don’t Know Vast Majority Of Scientists Agree On Climate Change CleanTechnica

Most Americans now worry about climate change—and want to fix it National Geographic

Poll Shows Most People Believe ‘Global Warming is Happening’ necn

Survey reveals 70% of Americans favour the environment over economic growth ClimateAction

What is the American Mindset according to the Survey?

So beyond details of particular responses, what can we learn from this series of polls about the American state of mind regarding global warming/climate change?

The specific questions and response patterns are at Appendix I: Data Tables & Sample Demographics

There are a lot of questions asked and answered, including exploring a complete range of feelings people have on the issue. I will summarize the central questions and the pattern of responses over the last decade.

Click on image to enlarge.

The core set of global warming beliefs are listed on the left.  The marked lines show the % of responses each one achieved over the years.  For example, over 50% agreed to four of them in 2018: GW is happening, GW is man made, Future generations will be greatly harmed and Most scientists agree.  Other patterns are also of interest.  Personal experience of GW effects is reported by almost 50%, while only 30% are very worried.  Indeed, people are less concerned about harm to themselves or even the US, then they are fearful for Developing Countries (DCs) and for Future Generations.

Notice there is a general curve to most of the answer time series.  Beliefs are only slightly higher in 2018 than they were in 2008.  In general, the %s were flat or declining in this decade until starting to rise again around 2014.  This points to the linkage between the opinions held by the public and the emphasis promoted in the mass media.  Compare the curvature in the above graph with this chart of climate change coverage in leading US newpapers.

The chart and research come from International Collective on Environment, Culture & Politics, AKA ICECaP.  Note the peaks in 2007-8 at the time of IPCC AR4 and Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth flick, and in 2009-10 around the time of the Copenhagen COP.  The Climategate emails were also in the news in 2010, but for some reason newspapers were less interested in that aspect, the topic dropped in coverage.

The spike in 2013 coincides with Obama’s SOTU speech featuring climate change as the “defining issue of our time.”  The rise in climate change coverage in recent years is a more complex matter.

Climate journalists (like most all journalists) have been obsessed with trashing Donald Trump, and climate change is mentioned often as a subset of Trump complaints.  Consider this chart from Media Matters.

See that huge spike in the middle? That’s from June 1, 2017, when President Donald Trump announced that he intended to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement. No other day in the last three years saw anywhere near that much coverage. When Trump stages an event related to climate change, the media snap to attention. The rest of the time it’s like, “Climate what?”

That aligns with what Media Matters found when we looked at climate coverage on broadcast TV news programs in 2017: Trump dominated the news segments about climate change. Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder, in the International Collective on Environment, Culture & Politics, reached a similar conclusion when they analyzed TV news coverage from November of this year: “In US television coverage of climate change or global warming in November 2018, ‘Trump’ was explicitly invoked over fourteen times more frequently than the words ‘science’ or ‘scientists’ together and nearly four times more frequently than the word ‘climate’ itself.”

A research group at the University of Colorado-Boulder, the International Collective on Environment, Culture and Politics (ICE CaPs), produced the findings that illustrate how much climate coverage has been driven by President Donald Trump. It examined coverage last year in five major American newspapers: The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Times. In the 4,117 stories in those papers that mentioned “climate change” or “global warming,” the word “Trump” appeared 19,184 times — an average of nearly 4.7 times per article.

My Mind is Made Up, Don’t Confuse Me with the Facts. H/T Bjorn Lomborg, WUWT

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Summary

To summarize, Survey Says:

What He Said:   “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.” (Obama tweet).  The survey could be reduced to one question:  Do you agree with this tweet?

There is not much upward movement in public belief in global warming/climate change.  There is increased attention from the left-leaning media as part of their general dislike of the Trump administration. One more time, who made global warming into a political rather than a scientific issue?

NPR Defends Pseudo-Science

This morning in the car doing some errands I listened to an NPR broadcast regarding a NYT article claiming the Trump administration is attacking the fundamentals of climate science. Two journalists involved in the NYT article made two revealing defenses of IPCC climate ideology.

First they objected to the Geological Survey decision to limit consideration (required by US law) of climate change to impacts foreseen between now and 2040, setting aside projections out to 2100. Their reasoning: We won’t see any significant effects from our reducing (or not) CO2 emissions until the second half of this century. All of the forecasted temperature rise of 8F, along with sea level rise, storms, droughts, floods, etc. is only seen to occur after 2040. How do they know this? It is certain because it comes directly from the Oracle of Delphi the Climate Models, which have so accurately forecast the climate in the past (sic).  All the pressure to unplug industrial civilization now, with results to appear many decades later.

Then they expressed shock that a Presidential Commission may be set up to review and questions climate assumptions put into agency planning. They said everyone agrees on the science of global warming, and this is not the way climate science is done. The two journalists, without a single bit of self-awareness, proceeded to discredit the possible chairman William Happer by saying he was not a “climate scientist.” Like, how would they know? He is a world expert on atmospheric gases responses to infrared radiation, which is the supposed mechanism of man made global warming, and something about which they  are  clueless.

In other news today, Arnold Swartzenegger was “starstruck” to meet with teen climate activist Greta Thunberg. How bad will this nightmare get before people wake up?

See Also Stop Fake Science. Approve the PCCS!

Get a Second Opinion Before Climate Surgery

US News is Skewed Up and Dumbed Down

Under the Suspicions Confirmed file, we have quantitative proof that US news is increasingly skewed according to the values of the media outlet. Rand corporation is publishing studies on the theme Truth Decay, based on analyzing 15 prominent and popular media platforms. The latest report is at phys.org entitled US journalism has become more subjective. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

U.S.-based journalism has gradually shifted away from objective news and offers more opinion-based content that appeals to emotion and relies heavily on argumentation and advocacy, according to a new RAND Corporation report.

In a unique analysis on news discourse and presentation, researchers found that the changes occurred over a 28-year-period (1989 to 2017) as journalism expanded beyond traditional media, such as newspapers and broadcast networks, to newer media, such as 24-hour cable channels and digital outlets. Notably, these measurable changes vary in extent and nature for different news platforms.

“Our research provides quantitative evidence for what we all can see in the media landscape: Journalism in the U.S. has become more subjective and consists less of the detailed event- or context-based reporting that used to characterize news coverage,” said Jennifer Kavanagh, a senior political scientist and lead author of the report, which is second in a series of research into the phenomenon of “Truth Decay,” the declining role of facts and analysis in civil discourse and its effect on American life.

News consumers can now see how the news has changed over the years and keep that in mind when making choices about which media outlets to rely on for news,” she added.

The analysis, enabled by a RAND text analytics tool previously used to analyze support and opposition to Islamic terrorists on social media, offers a detailed assessment of how news has shifted over time and across platforms. The RAND-Lex tool scanned millions of lines of text in print, broadcast and online journalism from 1989 (the first year such data was available via Lexis Nexis) to 2017 to identify usage patterns in words and phrases. Researchers were then able to measure these differences not only within one outlet or type of media (e.g. print) but also comparatively with other forms of journalism (e.g. print vs. digital).

Researchers analyzed content from 15 outlets representing print (The New York Times, Washington Post and St. Louis Post-Dispatch), television (CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, Fox and MSNBC) and digital journalism (Politico, The Blaze, Breitbart News Network, Buzzfeed Politics, The Daily Caller and The Huffington Post).

The findings point to a gradual and subtle shift over time and between old and new media toward a more subjective form of journalism that is grounded in personal perspective.

Consider broadcast news. Before 2000, broadcast news segments were more likely to include relatively complex academic and precise language, as well as complex reasoning. After 2000, broadcast news becomes less pre-planned as on-air personalities and guests engaged in conversations about news. (That year, 2000, is significant in the evolution of the media landscape, as viewership of all three major cable networks began to increase dramatically.)

Comparing broadcast news to cable programming, differences become more stark, with cable segments dedicating more time to opinion coverage and using argumentative language. The size and scope of these changes is substantial, but researchers also noted that these differences may be in part a result of their different audiences, with cable news focusing on specialized audiences.

When comparing newspapers to digital outlets, researchers were able to identify significant differences. Newspapers have changed the least over time, with content slightly shifting from a more academic style to one that is more narrative. As for digital journalism, the report found that online content is more personal and direct, narrating key social and policy issues through personal points of view and subjective references.

“Our analysis illustrates that news sources are not interchangeable but each provides mostly unique content, even when reporting on related issues,” said Bill Marcellino, a behaviorial and social scientist and co-author of the report. “Given our findings that different types of media present news in different ways, it makes sense that people turn to multiple platforms.”

The report is one in a series of RAND-funded reports into the triggers and consequences of Truth Decay. The first report, written by Kavanagh and RAND President and CEO Michael D. Rich, examined how Truth Decay is a set of four interrelated trends:

    • increasing disagreement about facts;
    • a blurring between opinion and fact; 
    • an increase in the relative volume of opinion and personal experience over fact; and
    • declining trust in formerly respected sources of factual information.

That report identified how changes in the media have contributed to Truth Decay by increasing the volume of opinion over fact. Forthcoming reports will examine issues such online civic engagement and use of social media for political activities, public trust in institutions and how to evaluate media literacy programs.

“RAND has always been an institution where facts matter,” Rich said. “This new stream of research sheds additional light on the drivers and implications of Truth Decay and is part of our continuing efforts to use analysis to improve civil discourse and public policymaking.”

Footnote

See also How Mass Media Became One-Sided

For discussion of media impact on global warming/climate change see Climate Is a State of Mind

Bill Nye, Bad Science Guy

Bill Nye has a history of pushing bad science, including but not limited to climate change/global warming. Alex Berezow explains at American Council on Science and Health Bill Nye Is A Terrible Spokesman For Science.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds

When I was a kid, Bill Nye the Science Guy was a thing. I never watched his show (as I was too busy keeping up with Ren & Stimpy), but he seemed fun enough. If I could go back in time, I’d probably watch.

Some years later, Bill Nye experienced a resurgence in popularity. But instead of the old, nerdy-but-lovable Bill Nye, we got Bill Nye 2.0, a somewhat cantankerous scold who clearly knows less about science than he leads on.

It was clear that something was amiss a few years ago when, amid Nye’s renewed celebrity status, it came to light that he aired an episode of Eyes of Nye that perpetuated anti-GMO propaganda. Nye was subsequently criticized by the scientific and (especially) science writing communities. Not long thereafter, Nye had a change of heart.

Good! Better late than never. But was this “conversion” based on a new understanding of biotechnology or simply a calculated marketing move? Evidence points toward the latter. As late as 2015, Nye was still pushing anti-GMO nonsense. That year, he published a book called Undeniable, which promoted evolution over creationism. The book entirely lacked references (quite bizarre for a science book), and despite GMO technology itself being “undeniable,” Nye wrote this:

“But there is something weird and unnatural about putting fish genes in fruit, in tomatoes. Nobody wanted it, so that research was abandoned.

I’ll grant you, this could be a visceral reaction from ignorant consumers. Emotional responses do not necessarily reflect scientific reality, as is evident in everything from creationism to the anti-vaccine movement. In this case, though, I think science and emotion are on the same side. There are very valid scientific reasons to approach GMOs with caution, and those turn out to dovetail with economic reasons. So far, it’s not clear that investment in GMOs pays off. It is certainly not clear that GMO research should be funded with tax dollars.”

By 2016, however, he was singing a different tune. Call me jaded and curmudgeonly, but his newfound faith in GMOs doesn’t seem authentic.

Bill Nye, Prophet of Doom

In his latest appearance, Bill Nye had a cameo on John Oliver’s show, in which he lit a globe on fire and dropped a few F-bombs. (I guess that passes as comedy.) He also said that Earth’s temperature could rise by 4 to 8 degrees, presumably Fahrenheit, since Nye didn’t indicate which scale he was using. His projection is within the range predicted by the IPCC, so at least he got that right.

But is setting a globe on fire an appropriate analogy to get the message across? Earth’s temperature has gone up 1.4 degrees F since 1880. Undoubtedly, another 4 to 8 degrees is quite a lot in a short period of time. It doesn’t take a master prognosticator to conclude that might cause some problems. But Earth is not — nor will it ever be — a flaming ball of fire. Earth isn’t Venus.

Bill Nye 2.0

Ultimately, it seems that Bill Nye just panders to whatever he thinks the audience wants to hear. He thought (incorrectly) that they wanted to hear why GMOs were bad, so he altered his message when he got pushback. He won’t get pushback for exaggerating climate change, so it’s likely he’ll keep this up for a while.

I don’t think Nye actually believes the climate hysteria. Because if he did, Nye would support whatever means necessary to stop it, like nuclear power. After all, he’s a mechanical engineer. But lo and behold, Nye is opposed to nuclear power. Big surprise. Audiences don’t like nuclear power.

Evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne once wrote of Bill Nye, “I’m not a fan of the new Science Guy, and see him as a self-aggrandizing person trying to capture his lost limelight more eagerly than he wants to promulgate science.”

Unfortunately, I think that assessment is accurate. Bring back the old Bill Nye. Version 1.0 was better.

NYT Maple Syrup Story Not Fit to Print

Journalists are finally exposing the rot inside the news mass media. Sharyl Attkisson resigned as an investigative corespondent from CBS News and wrote at Epoch Times How Media Narratives Became More Important Than Facts. Excerpt in italics with my bolds.

I was among the first to really pay attention to the increasingly effective operations to shape and censor news—the movements to establish narratives rather than follow facts—and to see the growing influence of smear operations, political interests, and corporate interests on the news.

We agree there is terrific journalism being committed on a daily basis at organizations from The New York Times to local news stations. However, we agree that national media has also largely become co-opted by powerful interests who understand how to direct the news landscape in a way that services certain narratives and agendas.

Case in Point Global Warming vs. Maple Syrup

Eric Felten describes how this works in his article at Real Clear Investigations Why This NY Times Maple Syrup Story Tastes Odd. His exquisite takedown of a recent NYT essay linking AGW to maple syrup should be gracing a page in the NY Times, except for narrative being the mission, not truth. Excerpt below in italics with my bolds.

Climate change is at it again, ruining everything good. This time around it’s maple syrup that is at risk, according to the New York Times, which on Saturday had the alarming headline, “Warming Climate May Slow the Flow of Maple.” Or at least it would be alarming if it weren’t for the tell-tale word “may.” If a warming climate were actually slowing the flow of the sap that makes for syrup, you can be sure the Times would declare it clearly. To say it “may” slow the flow suggests that it isn’t actually happening, at least not yet.

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium sample maple syrup in Ottawa last year.

But one would hate to be unfair to Kendra Pierre-Louis, the reporter who typed up the doom and gloom for the Times. Perhaps she has evidence supporting her warning of dire syrup consequences—statistics, even. Let’s see how she marshals her facts and makes her case.

“In fact, climate change is already making things more volatile for syrup producers,” Pierre-Louis laments in her front-page article. “[M]aple production fell by 54 percent in Ontario and by 12.5 percent in Canada over all.” The cause was “an unusually warm spring.” Well that’s some pretty compelling data, or would be if it were from 2018, or perhaps 2017 or even 2016. But no, that’s not even close. To find a year in which there was unseasonably warm weather that affected the maple crop, Pierre-Louis had to go all the way back to 2012, which is the year the Times cites as the “fact” for climate change’s impact on syrup producers. The Times finds room to return to that year again later in the article.

Isn’t it a bit odd that the New York Times cites 2012 for its evidence of climate change? After all, were the paper looking for a bad production year, the most recent one would be a perfect example: 2018 was an off year for maple syrup production in Quebec, the province that produces the vast majority of Canadian syrup. In 2016 Canada produced a record 12.16 million gallons of maple products; 2017 was another banner year, with Canada delivering a new record of 12.51 million gallons. But last year was a relatively bad one, with maple production falling in Canada to 9.8 million gallons, a significant drop — indeed, a drop more substantial than that in 2012. And yet for some perplexing reason, the Times fails to mention the drop in 2018, let alone the statistics showing record production in the previous years.

If we’re worried about maple syrup production, wouldn’t you think that the recent decline would be more newsworthy, or at the very least worth including in the article, if not making it the lede?

It doesn’t take much digging to find what’s wrong with 2018 as an example of climate change hobbling the syrup trade. Yes, weather was to blame for 2018’s bad results. It just wasn’t the right sort of weather. Here’s how Halifax Today reported on last year’s maple results: “Quebec — which produces about 72 per cent of the world’s maple syrup — produced 40.4 million litres, down 22.4 percent from 2017 due to unusually late snow and cold.”

Unusual cold? That’s right. As the official government Statistics Canada explains in its report on “Maple products, 2018,” in “Quebec, production was hurt by unusually late snow and cold, while the decrease in New Brunswick was the result of a long and severe winter followed by a short spring.” This year could prove to be another disappointment for Canadian maple farmers. In late February Canada’s CBC reported, “Local syrup farms say the recent cold temperatures are leaving taps dry.” Could it be that the New York Times neglected to mention the maple syrup decline of 2018 and the slow start to 2019 because the reductions were caused by abnormal cold rather than warming?

One should find that hard to believe. Because for that to be true, one would have to believe that the Times is willing to cherry-pick data in an effort to mislead its readers. Surely the newspaper of record has more respect for itself than to play such a cheap trick on its customers. RealClearInvestigations reached out to the Times’s reporter via her website for comment but received no response.

The evidence piles up that the Times is playing fast and loose with the facts. Take the suggestion by the Times that climate change is limiting the number of days when maple trees can be successfully tapped. “More Narrow Window for Syrup Production,” reads the newspaper’s sub-headline. The weather determines the sap flow, after all, and University of Vermont “sugar maple expert” Mark Isselhardt told the Times that “[e]very day that you don’t get sap flow has the potential to really impact the total yield for that operation.”

But is the production window actually narrowing?

Surely the sugar maple expert at the University of Vermont, in telling the Times about the window when sap is ripe for collecting, had at his fingertips the latest data, which are readily available. The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service keeps figures — helpfully broken down by state — on maple syrup production in the United States. Among the information collected are data on the “Maple Syrup Season,” that elusive window. The figures for the last four years are readily available. In 2015, the season for the U.S. as a whole was 26 days. In 2016 it was 33 days. In 2017 it was 37 days and in 2018 the window expanded again, this time to 42 days. The figures for Vermont — which we can assume our University of Vermont maple expert is particularly familiar with — show the state’s maple syrup season widening: 26 days in 2015; 44 days in 2016; 46 days in 2017; and 52 days in 2018.

What about the suggestion in the New York Times that the production window is not only shrinking, but moving, as climate change causes “season creep”? The newspaper quotes the executive director of the New York Maple Producers Association, who says that when she was a kid, 50 years ago, the start of the tapping season was mid-March. “This year,” according to the Times, “they were tapping in late January.”

Were they really? In upstate New York, the last week in January this year was marked by brutally cold temperatures. A normal high temperature for late January in Buffalo is 31 degrees. Though there were days in that ballpark during the month — and one mid-month day actually made it to 47 degrees — late January was for the most part frigid. The high temperature in Buffalo Jan. 30 was 11 degrees. On the 31st the thermometer peaked at 7 degrees.

This last winter’s extreme cold persisted well into February in Canada, where the deep freeze kept the maple sap from flowing. It wasn’t until the middle of March that sap started to trickle from the trees north of the border.

How did the New York Times get things so wrong? Is it carelessness? Or is there an ideological agenda at play, one that requires the reporting and writing to lead to a preestablished conclusion? On Twitter, the NYT reporter calls herself Kendra “Gloom is My Beat” Pierre-Louis. That is no doubt a gesture at self-aware humor. But it also suggests that her reporting is skewed: If you see gloom as your beat, by definition you ignore information that doesn’t advance the narrative of impending doom. And then there is the larger institutional bias. Pierre-Louis is officially a “climate reporter” for the Times; she leads NYT-branded “student journeys” to places such as Iceland (cost: $8,190 per high-schooler for 15 days) to teach the risks of a warming planet. In other words, the Times has a business built in part around Pierre-Louis that depends on her being a warning voice on warming.

Those sounding the alarm about climate change do a lot of fretting over what may happen 50 to 100 years from now. Fair enough — or at least it would be if those delivering the warnings were in more of a habit of playing it straight. It would be much easier to credit their predictions of future catastrophes if they were more honest about what is actually, observably, happening right now.

Footnote:

It should be noted that the NY Times has a long history of botching science stories, including but not limited to climate change. Bernie Lewin gives several examples in his book on environmental scares, and of course it was NYT who headlined the global warming claims of Jim Hansen.  When objective historians look back on these fear-mongering days, NY Times will be seen as a leading traitor against the public interest.

See Progressively Scaring the World (Lewin book synopsis)

Rise and Fall of CAGW

 

Climate Change Chumps

Definition “chump”: A foolish or easily deceived person.

Update May 5, 2019

In this overheated time of school kids in the streets and elected “adults” declaring emergencies without any understanding of what is or is not happening, it may help to know how we got here.

Why are so many people taken in by climate alarms? The question is often on my mind, especially when tens of thousands attend UN conferences like Katowice, or when hearing the caterwauling in the media over the climate scare of the week. Last night while watching a football game, my escape from the issue was interrupted by a commercial break that included a flaming earth on the screen for a few seconds. It was an ad for Discovery Channel including the image above.

[Old joke:  I don’t know if they are using subliminal advertising, but yesterday I went and bought a tractor.]

And in a flash I realized how several factors are driving warming suckers into a fearful frenzy.

Firstly, The power of images over words and thinking.
A picture is worth a thousand words. (Sometimes attributed to Chinese)
The Asian attribution is doubtful, but Confucius did say something similar:

Second, We are immersed in imaging technology, entrancing the public. I have no interest in post modern philosophers, but in this sense they are onto something perverse: We are mistaking images for realities.

Third, Pied Pipers are using the media to put us under their spell.
A key point in the fable is the piper’s ability to put a spell on the children, and thereby rob the village of their future.  And he did this to get leverage over the council when they refused to pay for exterminating the rats. Our children have been brainwashed with environmental activism since preschool, and educators have taken Confucius to heart:  The process goes beyond preaching, to videos, posters and projects.

Fourth, Our embrace of mass and social media makes us suckers for fake news, including climate claims.

Note that the majority are not confident to discern fake from real news.  Even worse, today’s “fact checkers” operate out of spin rooms.

Fifth, Social proof is now all that matters.

Climate lemmings rushing over the cliff.

Finally, the drumbeat of climate alarms imprints ever more deeply a false assumption.

It doesn’t matter if any particular climate claim is false or exaggerated, the communications continuously reinforce the underlying myth of the Garden of Eden:  Nature is perfect and eternal so long as humans don’t mess it up.

The reality is more subtle and complex.  Humans are also a force of nature, and with our self-awareness we have the ability and responsibility to add order and purpose to the rest of nature.  Go to Kyoto and watch the landscapers labor for hours to fashion an exquisite Japanese garden, the fruition of collaboration between humans, plants, water and rocks.  Humans can and do improve on nature by taming destructive natural forces to preserve and enhance living structures.

The UN IPCC process is a blind alley, a path to nowhere.  It plays upon fears and guilt feelings.  Worse, it distracts from rational programs of actual environmental stewardship.  I fear it will only get worse in the next 12 years:

 

 

Climate Boogeyman

As You Sow, So Shall You Reap.

This proverb from the bible draws an analogy from farming: The seeds you choose to put in the soil lead to different crops. Humans are responsible for the effects of their actions. If the action is based on goodness, it will churn out only goodness in the long run. If the action has been evil, the outcome also tends to be evil. The Holy Gita and Koran also emphasize the same. Goodness is the child of good deeds and misfortune and calamities are the children of evil.

Bringing this into the present, we are seeing the effects of environmental evangelists sowing seeds of fear into generations of children. The climate change movement has morphed into a doomsday cult, with those who have been duped taking to the streets like so many zombies with minds totally captured by fear. Could it be that the alarmists are ramping up fears of the climate boogyman just now, when indications of a cooler future are gaining strength?

We Have Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself.

Parents know that small children at some point become afraid of the boogeyman under the bed. Each child must confront the fear in order to go beyond it. Hank Aaron, #2 all-time home run hitter, said he was cured after his father pulled Hank’s mattress off the bed, putting it directly on the floor. In some way, every child must come to recognize the difference between figments of a fearful imagination, and realities to be faced and overcome. Sometimes people are consumed with doubt and fear as were Americans following the Great Depression. In 1932 Franklin D Roosevelt famously said upon taking office, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” He went on to say: “Nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”  Where, oh where is there such leadership today?

Bjørn Lomborg wrote about the overheated discourse that has children taking to the streets on the advice of adults who should know better.  Overheating About Global Warming was published at Project Syndicate.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and images.

Decades of climate-change exaggeration in the West have produced frightened children, febrile headlines, and unrealistic political promises. The world needs a cooler approach that addresses climate change smartly without scaring us needlessly and that pays heed to the many other challenges facing the planet.

Across the rich world, school students have walked out of classrooms and taken to the streets to call for action against climate change. They are inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who blasts the media and political leaders for ignoring global warming and wants us to “panic.” A global day of action is planned for March 15.

Although the students’ passion is admirable, their focus is misguided. This is largely the fault of adults, who must take responsibility for frightening children unnecessarily about climate change. It is little wonder that kids are scared when grown-ups paint such a horrific picture of global warming.

For starters, leading politicians and much of the media have prioritized climate change over other issues facing the planet. Last September, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres described climate change as a “direct existential threat” that may become a “runaway” problem. Just last month, The New York Times ran a front-page commentary on the issue with the headline “Time to Panic.” And some prominent politicians, as well as many activists, have taken the latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to suggest the world will come to an end in just 12 years.

This normalization of extreme language reflects decades of climate-change alarmism. The most famous clip from Al Gore’s 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth showed how a 20-foot rise in sea level would flood Florida, New York, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, and Shanghai – omitting the fact that this was seven times worse than the worst-case scenario.

A separate report that year described how such alarmism “might even become secretly thrilling – effectively a form of ‘climate porn.’” And in 2007, The Washington Post reported that “for many children and young adults, global warming is the atomic bomb of today.”

When the language stops being scary, it gets ramped up again. British environmental campaigner George Monbiot, for example, has suggested that the term “climate change” is no longer adequate and should be replaced by “catastrophic climate breakdown.”

Educational materials often don’t help, either. One officially endorsed geography textbook in the United Kingdom suggests that global warming will be worse than famine, plague, or nuclear war, while Education Scotland has recommended The Day After Tomorrow as suitable for climate-change education. This is the film, remember, in which climate change leads to a global freeze and a 50-foot wall of water flooding New York, man-eating wolves escape from the zoo, and – spoiler alert – Queen Elizabeth II’s frozen helicopter falls from the sky.

Reality would sell far fewer newspapers. Yes, global warming is a problem, but it is nowhere near a catastrophe. The IPCC estimates that the total impact of global warming by the 2070s will be equivalent to an average loss of income of 0.2-2% – similar to one recession over the next half-century. The panel also says that climate change will have a “small” economic impact compared to changes in population, age, income, technology, relative prices, lifestyle, regulation, and governance.

And while media showcase the terrifying impacts of every hurricane, the IPCC finds that “globally, there is low confidence in attribution of changes in [hurricanes] to human influence.” What’s more, the number of hurricanes that make landfall in the United States has decreased, as has the number of strong hurricanes. Adjusted for population and wealth, hurricane costs show “no trend,” according to a new study published in Nature.

Another Nature study shows that although climate change will increase hurricane damage, greater wealth will make us even more resilient. Today, hurricanes cost the world 0.04% of GDP, but in 2100, even with global warming, they will cost half as much, or 0.02% of GDP. And, contrary to breathless media reports, the relative global cost of all extreme weather since 1990 has been declining, not increasing.

Perhaps even more astoundingly, the number of people dying each year from weather-related catastrophes has plummeted 95% over the past century, from almost a half-million to under 20,000 today – while the world’s population has quadrupled.

Meanwhile, decades of fearmongering have gotten us almost nowhere. What they have done is prompt grand political gestures, such as the unrealistic cuts in carbon dioxide emissions that almost every country has promised under the 2015 Paris climate agreement. In total, these cuts will cost $1-2 trillion per year. But the sum total of all these promises is less than 1% of what is needed, and recent analysis shows that very few countries are actually meeting their commitments.

In this regard, the young protesters have a point: the world is failing to solve climate change. But the policy being pushed – even bigger promises of faster carbon cuts – will also fail, because green energy still isn’t ready. Solar and wind currently provide less than 1% of the world’s energy, and already require subsidies of $129 billion per year. The world must invest more in green-energy research and development eventually to bring the prices of renewables below those of fossil fuels, so that everyone will switch.

And although media reports describe the youth climate protests as “global,” they have taken place almost exclusively in wealthy countries that have overcome more pressing issues of survival. A truly global poll shows that climate change is people’s lowest priority, far behind health, education, and jobs.

In the Western world, decades of climate-change exaggeration have produced frightened children, febrile headlines, and grand political promises that aren’t being delivered. We need a calmer approach that addresses climate change without scaring us needlessly and that pays heed to the many other challenges facing the planet.

Bjørn Lomborg, a visiting professor at the Copenhagen Business School, is Director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center. His books include The Skeptical Environmentalist, Cool It, How to Spend $75 Billion to Make the World a Better Place, The Nobel Laureates’ Guide to the Smartest Targets for the World, and, most recently, Prioritizing Development. In 2004, he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people for his research on the smartest ways to help the world.

See also:  GHGs Endangerment? Evidence?