Thursday, July 08, 2010

Rebuttal to "Crock of the Week - Flogging the Scientists"

Peter Sinclair AKA "Greenman" a cartoonist and Al Gore disciple has been hard at work creating YouTube videos that smear skeptics and their arguments. The following is a complete rebuttal to his "Crock of the Week - Flogging the Scientists" video.

1. Sinclair claims that as a "non-scientist" he has found that the most "reliable" scientific information comes from "respected" peer-reviewed science journals. The problem with this statement is the use of subjective criteria. First he is admitting to be a "non-scientist" so why would anyone take his advice on where to find "reliable" scientific information or on what journals are more "respected"? Regardless what is considered "reliable" or "respected" is purely subjective and cannot be objectively determined. Now it is true that within the scientific community more scientific credibility is applied to "peer-reviewed" publications which is why skeptics have extensively published in peer-reviewed journals. Being peer-reviewed however does not mean something is a scientific truth, only that it has passed a certain level of scrutiny within the scientific community. There are documented cases of the corruption of this process,

A Climatology Conspiracy? (David H. Douglass, Ph.D. Professor of Physics; John R. Christy, Ph.D. Professor of Atmospheric Science)
Caspar and the Jesus paper (PDF) (Andrew W. Montford, B.Sc. Chemistry)
Circling the Bandwagons: My Adventures Correcting the IPCC (PDF) (Ross McKitrick, Ph.D. Professor of Environmental Economics)
The Double Standard in Environmental Science (PDF) (Stanley W. Trimble, Ph.D. Professor of Geography)

2. Sinclair then uses a strawman argument by comparing peer-reviewed journals to the conspiracy website InfoWars, the conservative news site WorldNetDaily and the UK's conservative newspaper the Daily Mail. Despite these site's excellent coverage of Climategate (even conspiracy sites get some things right) they are never confused by prominent skeptics with peer-reviewed journals.

3. In an attempt to attack the Daily Mail article, "Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits: There has been no global warming since 1995" Sinclair uses an article from what he calls, the "conservative" Economist magazine. The problem is the Economist magazine is not conservative,
"...the Economist's philosophy has always been liberal, not conservative" - Former Economist Editor Bill Emmott
This appears to be a failed attempt by Sinclair to pretend a conservative source agrees with his position.

4. Sinclair uses a quote from the original BBC interview with Phil Jones that actually makes the skeptics case,
BBC: Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming?

Phil Jones: Yes
This question originated with Dr. Richard Lindzen, Ph.D. Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT who has been trying to make a point about the ridiculously small fractions of a degree in temperature change that are being debated. When standard error bars are applied to these, you are left with no statistically significant warming in 15 years. Without statistical significance you cannot rule out that any recent positive warming trend did not occur by chance or in this case, measurement error.

5. Sinclair then dishonestly implies that Dr. Lindzen is "denying" the mild warming trend over the last century which is blatantly not true,
"Most of the climate community has agreed since 1988 that global mean temperatures have increased on the order of one degree Fahrenheit over the past century," - Dr. Richard Lindzen

6. Sinclair harps on a recently retracted paper on sea-level rise that for obvious reasons was widely discussed on skeptic websites prior to it's retraction. The retraction he claims was based on the findings of a recent PNAS paper by Steven Rahmstorf who's 2007 paper on the exact same subject in the journal Science was discredited,

- Comment on "A Semi-Empirical Approach to Projecting Future Sea-Level Rise" (PDF)
(Science, Volume 317, Number 5846, pp. 1866, September 2007)
- Torben Schmith, Soren Johansen, Peter Thejll

"We revisit the application of the statistical methods used and show that estimation of the regression coefficient is not robust."
- Comment on "A Semi-Empirical Approach to Projecting Future Sea-Level Rise" (PDF)
(Science, Volume 317, Number 5846, pp. 1866, September 2007)
- Simon Holgate, Svetlana Jevrejeva, Philip Woodworth, Simon Brewer

"Although we agree that there is considerable uncertainty in the prediction of future sea-level rise, this approach does not meaningfully contribute to quantifying that uncertainty."

7. Sinclair then goes off promoting Al Gore like fear-mongering of over 6 ft of sea-level rise by the end of the century, ignoring both the IPCC and a recent review of the science in an article in the journal Nature,
"This issue was highlighted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its 2007 assessment report. They concluded that 'understanding of these effects is too limited ... to provide a best estimate or an upper bound for sea level rise' in the twenty-first century. Excluding these effects, they projected a sea level rise of 0.26–0.59 metres [10-23 inches] by the 2090s for their highest-emissions scenario.

The available evidence still doesn't allow us to say with certainty whether sea level rise could exceed the IPCC's projections.

...Although increases of up to two metres this century can't be ruled out, this does not mean that they are inevitable or even likely."
Other peer-reviewed papers show even less to worry about,

New Perspective on Global Warming & Sea Level Rise: Modest Future Rise with Reduced Threat (PDF)
(Energy & Environment, Volume 20, Number 7, pp. 1067-1074, November 2009)
- Madhav L. Khandekar

"It is concluded that the best guess value of Sea Level Rise for the next 100 years is a relatively modest 23 cm +/− 5 cm [9 +/- 2 inches] which poses little threat to coastal areas of the world either at present or in future."

8. Sinclair repeats the big lie that the Climategate emails do not undermine climate science. The significance of the emails and how they undermined the credibility of the climate science community and thus the science itself was exposed in a 2010 U.S. Senate report,

The CRU emails show scientists,
- Obstructing release of damaging data and information;
- Manipulating data to reach preconceived conclusions;
- Colluding to pressure journal editors who published work questioning the climate science “consensus”; and
- Assuming activist roles to influence the political process

9. Sinclair lies that the South Dakota legislature passed a resolution urging schools not to teach the science of climate change, when the resolution says no such thing. It explicitly states that they recommend some points be included with the instruction of global warming. You can pause the video and read this for yourself. The wording of the resolution is also poor and it is fairly clear the legislature meant astronomical not astrological and geothermal not thermological. All the more reason politicians should consult scientists if they are not sure about scientific terminology.

10. Finally Sinclair lies about Marc Morano's comment about public flogging when the website it was quoted from explicitly says, "He doesn't wish anyone harm". For someone who likes to use clips from Monty Python Sinclair sure has a hard time identifying sarcastic remarks from those he is trying to smear.

A note from Richard Lindzen on statistically significant warming (Watts Up With That?, March 11, 2008)
A sea of uncertainty (Nature, April 6, 2010)
Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits: There has been no global warming since 1995 (Daily Mail, UK, February 14, 2010)
Climate of Fear (PDF) (The Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2006)
'Consensus' Exposed: The CRU Controversy (PDF) (83 pgs) (United States Senate, February 2010)
The New Big Lie: Climategate Emails Are Not Significant (Canada Free Press, December 14, 2009)


acadie1755 said...

And let's not forget the censoring of anyone who does correct "The Cartoonist" on the "Crap of the week" videos. Many of time my comments are deleted and "Comments not allowed" is the norm rather then the is the way of the cowards and "the cartoonist" is fit mold.

FZ said...

Great stuff, this Sinclair twerp for far too long has had this air (kinda like RealClimate) of scientific infallibility and objective authority among alarmists. It's about time someone really pointed out the holes in, and speciousness of, his viewpoint and attacks.

And hey, isn't "Greenman" one of those types who endlessly attacks anyone he does not deem a "climate scientist?" And now he admits to being a non-scientist. What a flaming hypocrite!

Unknown said...

Great stuff man! Just thought you should realize that the terms liberal and conservative mean different things throughout the world. The Economist is "classically liberal" which means it favors the idea of limited government.

When the newspaper was founded, the term "economism" denoted what would today be termed "fiscal conservatism" in the United States, or "economic liberalism" in the rest of the world.

Andrew said...

Donnie, unfortunately I just do not see many of the positions the magazine endorsing as "classically liberal", including endorsing a carbon tax, backing the Labor party, supporting stimulus spending and endorsing John Kerry for president of the United States in 2004. There is nothing classically liberal about any of those positions. But what seals the deal is their endorsement of the most socialist U.S. president since FDR, Barrack Obama. No the magazine is definitely NOT "classically liberal".