From a boy who loved NASA: How 49 heroes lost the right stuff and sullied their names over climate politics

[This article originally appeared on the neorenaissance website, author retains copyright]

Timing is Everything
When I was a boy, I loved NASA. So imagine how pleased I was to be invited to speak at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center this week – where the kindly, soft-spoken and brilliant Willy Wonka of the place, astrophysicistJohn Mather, and his team are building the James Webb Space Telescope – perhaps humanity’s most ambitious engineering project – and where scientists use satellites to study climate change in incredible detail.

My talk, on Wednesday, was about the subject of my new book, Fool Me Twice: fighting the assault on science in America, and ways NASA scientists, particularly NASA climate scientists, can communicate complex science in the face of antiscience attacks, such as those by global warming deniers.

At that very moment a living example was was unfolding around me. I started getting texts, tweets and emails about 49 former NASA employees who were taking the agency to task for publishing information on climate change – something they didn’t politically agree with.

The sweet and fetid stench of propaganda

One of the most common tactics deniers use is something I call The Impressive Letter Technique, or this being NASA, let it be known by the acronym TILT – which is exactly what it tries to do to your thinking. A TILT is a letter signed by a lot of impressive sounding people who make a public statement or demand, and expect the gullible antiscience press (whose last science class was probably in high school), and the public, to lap it up because of their collective authority.

99.9% of Petition Project signers (pink) are not climate scientists (green).

The classic example of a denialist TILT is the OISM Petition Project, which claims to have the signatures of31,487 scientists who question the scientific consensus on climate change. Pretty impressive, huh? That many scientists questioning something must mean there’s a real scientific controversy about it. Until you break it down and then the petition project begins to evaporate into the fetid smoke and mirrors of propaganda. It turns out that the petition is open to anyone with a bachelor’s of science degree, which is roughly 20.5 million Americans. Those are their “scientists.” So it’s perhaps not surprising that of the signers, 99.9% of them don’t have any training in climate science. And out of a pool of 20.5 million, only 31.5 thousand, or 00.15%, have signed the petition. In other words, outliers.

49 former NASA employees fall from grace

Ironically, at the same time I was speaking to some of NASA’s climate scientists about how to counter these kinds of propaganda attacks, the denialsphere was abuzz with a new TILT – this one signed by 49 former NASA employees. Like other letters of its kind this one, addressed to NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, is signed by some prominent and semi-prominent names, thus is has the sheen of collective authority, but none of them are climate scientists or have any training in it. In fact when you break the letter down, it too evaporates into propaganda – in a way that sullies the names and credentials of these formerly respected individuals.

A word about “unproven remarks”

For example, the letter demands that NASA

refrain from including unproven remarks in public releases and websites. We believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated, especially when considering thousands of years of empirical data.

Sounds like a reasonable request. Troubling even. Until you realize that science never proves anything. Ever. That would be math.

What science does is measure, compare those measurements to known quantities, make testable predictions, do experiments, and produce results that either confirm or refute the predictions. In this way it builds knowledge of the physical world that is separate from us as individuals and our opinions and beliefs about the way we wish things would be. After a while that knowledge begins to pile up and paint a pretty compelling picture. The jigsaw puzzle picture begins to come into focus. Then we can either accept it or begin to deny the reality of our own measurements.

Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study (BEST) was partly funded by the Koch brothers, but it, too, verified the measurements of NASA.

That’s the sort of hard-headedness that I used to love about NASA – the idea that humans, if they just kept plugging away, could figure stuff out – and that other humans – astronauts and test pilots – would stake their very lives on it. Not this hand-wringing by deniers that argue we can’t figure anything out, we can’t afford to do anything, it’s all a vast hoax, and we shouldn’t try. A far cry from the can-do of NASA. How could guys that once put their very lives in the hands of science be so dumb about it as they get old?

In the case of climate change, those measurements after measurements by thousands of scientists for over fifty years are adding up to an extremely compelling and robust argument because they all pretty much agree with each other: we can send people to the moon, and our excess CO2 is changing the climate.

Take for example, NASA GISS director James Hansen’s 1981 prediction (pdf), which the climate scientists who blog at RealClimate have overlayed with a chart of what the temperature actually turned out to be:

That is an excellent example of good science: based on measurements of carbon dioxide and temperature, and on our understanding from basic physics of the interactions between carbon dioxide and light, Hansen made a bold prediction that could be tested and verified experimentally over time. He put it out there for anyone to tear apart. His career hung in the balance.

In the more than 30 years since, he’s been proven correct – sort of. It turns out Hansen was too conservative. He underestimated the temperature rise by about 30%.

Or consider Peter Sinclair‘s brief video comparing the statements of climate scientist Mike MacCracken in 1982 to what actually happened:

49 more authoritarians abandoning science in favor of politics

Next this TILT makes the classic appeal of antiscientists – not to facts, not to data, but to authority – the sort of appeal that would have made any colonial Tory proud to support the authority of the King instead of the upstart self-determining colonists:

With hundreds of well-known climate scientists and tens of thousands of other scientists publicly declaring their disbelief in the catastrophic forecasts, coming particularly from the GISS leadership, it is clear that the science is NOT settled.

Uh, wait a minute. Haven’t we seen that? Tens of thousands of scientists? Really boys? I thought you guys all had the “right stuff.” Would you really let just anyone with a BS run mission control when your butts were up in orbit?

If yes, you’re not so b-right after all, and if no, well, don’t try to fool us with your OISM “tens of thousands” of scientists. That’s not the kind of thing I want from a guy I used to look up to – to take advantage of that to try to fool me? Come on. If that makes the science unsettled when compared to the billions of data points accumulated by thousands of real climate scientists working over fifty years, then nothing will ever be settled enough for you. The hypocrisy of this is astounding and saddening.

If you ain’t got the data, you can always use smear

Considering this, I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me these gentlemen – 49 out of tens of thousands of former NASA employees (more than 18,000 people currently work for NASA, so this is about 0.27% of current employees) would next move into the emotional language. It shouldn’t have surprised me, but it disappointed me just the same.

NASA's hyperwall showing their polar fleet of satellites that observe the Earth and measure climate change.

Often deniers portray themselves as reasoned, cautious, and conservative scientists, while the real scientists working in the field are described with emotionally charged adjectives like “alarmists,” “warmists,” and the like to weaken the public’s respect for their work and to fool journalists about who’s who. If you can degrade, mock or destroy the individual, then it’s easier for the public to dismiss everything that individual said.

The unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change is unbecoming of NASA’s history of making an objective assessment of all available scientific data prior to making decisions or public statements.

So here we see fifty years of science manipulatively described instead as “unbridled advocacy.” As in wild, emotional, and not objective, but rather subject to the passions of an unbroken horse – just the opposite of the careful collection, calibration, and verification of billions of data points, which last I checked, don’t have feelings, unbridled or otherwise.

Some of those data points can be seen in this incredible video prepared at Goddard that layers sea surface temperature data on top of ocean current data to create a powerful representation. For instance, it’s easy to see why England, which is much farther North than most of the US, is still fairly temperate. This is the kind of thing these guys should be standing up and applauding.

Heartland Institute propaganda outfit ties

Former Apollo astronauts Walter Cunningham and Harrison “Jack” Schmitt are listed as the main contacts for the letter, and both of them have a public history of advocacy against climate change science. This casts doubt on the scientific validity of any of their statements.

For example, in 2009 Schmitt appeared on the talk show of 9/11 conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and said that he believed that the environmental movement was a front for Communism.

I think the whole trend really began with the fall of the Soviet Union. Because the great champion of the opponents of liberty, namely communism, had to find some other place to go and they basically went into the environmental movement.

Sadly, Schmitt’s got it backwards – he’s the evidence-denying authoritarian, akin to the communists of the old Soviet Union, not the climate scientists he’s complaining about.

Walter Cunningham wrote against climate science in a pamphlet (pdf) published by the Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank fighting climate science.

Schmitt, a former Republican senator from New Mexico, is a current board member of the Heartland Institute, and was a speaker at a conference arranged by the Heartland Institute to deny climate change.

The Heartland Institute provides the most coherent and consistent articulation of and source of information on basic American approaches to the resolution of major issues of our times, said Schmitt.

ExxonMobil and the Koch Brothers, who stand to gain hundreds of billions of dollars in profits from the denial of climate science, have been major funders of the Heartland Institute in the past.

Recently leaked documents show Heartland is drafting a national science curriculum created by a non-climate scientist database technician, designed to undermine traditional science education and promote climate change denial by teaching school children that there is a scientific controversy when in fact there is not – the controversy is political. That’s a long way from the kind of science NASA greats used to inspire, when kids gathered in cafeterias to watch moons shots.

Hail to the chief (scientist)

Waleed Abdalati, NASA Chief Scientist. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Waleed Abdalati, NASA Chief Scientist. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA chief scientist Waleed Abdalati handled this propaganda attack with the grace and aplomb of a leader who’s come up through the trenches and seen this sort of shameful ploy before. Of course he has – NASA exists at the intersection of this debate.

NASA sponsors research into many areas of cutting-edge scientific inquiry, including the relationship between carbon dioxide and climate. As an agency, NASA does not draw conclusions and issue ‘claims’ about research findings. We support open scientific inquiry and discussion…If the authors of this letterdisagree with specific scientific conclusions made public by NASA scientists, we encourage them to join the debate in the scientific literature or public forums rather than restrict any discourse.

That is the key point. Abdalati has graciously skewered these denialist propagandists by reminding everyone that they haven’t produced any scientific evidence to back up their claims – no data, no peer-reviewed research. Just smears and emotional ploys in a TILT letter. They are seeking to restrict discourse – like the authoritarians of the old Soviet Union Schmitt deplores.

If you disagree, he’s telling them, let’s see what you got. Step up to the table like real men or women and subject your work to the withering scrutiny of peer review. Can’t do it? Thought so. Because it’s not based in reality.

Two questions: why, and why?

In the end, these 49 signers sought to … what? Embarrass NASA into abandoning real science? Pressure director Bolden into firing James Hansen? Probably just to give Republican climate deniers some more ammo in the propaganda war to go after NASA’s budget in the upcoming review on Capitol hill. Watch for it and see which Members trot this letter out as if it were some sort of evidence, and try to use its collective authority effect on new gullible audiences. Odds are on Inhofe, Shimkus and the like.

But what these old timey NASA heroes really did is tarnish their own names. And that’s a sad thing for a boy who loved NASA.


Get Shawn Lawrence Otto’s new book: Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America,Starred Kirkus Review; Starred Publishers Weekly review. Visit him at Like him on Facebook. Join to get the presidential candidates to debate science.


  1. It's certainly unusual. But who's doing the spinning?

    It's also unfortunate. I think Shawn Otto is only trying to prove they are wrong.

    Shawn is very kind about their motivations, which are to publicly expose the natural tensions between the earth observation mission of NASA and the astronautics one, especially insofar as budget is concerned. Eli Rabbett has been at his snarky best on this aspect.

    The question really boils down to which is more important, Earth or Mars. I think it is an easy question. Turning it on its head is where the desperate spin is needed.

  2. I'm not sure that being unprecedented makes it significant but it should certainly be widely publicised, along with Waleed Abdalati's succinct and sufficient response.

    It's contentlessness makes it startingly clear just how weak the arguments are from those who don't want to see action to address anthropogenic climate change. When anyone who is not much engaged in this debate sees that this is the level of argument that gets seized on and promulgated by the 'sceptics' they will immediately understand where the balance of credibility lies.

    Incidentally Michael - I like the new layout, with the 'Beyond Planet Three' links appearing alongside the featured articles, but is it possible to show number of comments on these as well?

  3. (Ah, that was the other thing I was going to say...)

    It's also instructive to see how the self same people who get so het up about (false claims of) argument from authority arguing ... from authority, becuase that's all this letter is. I wonder if this is an aspect that will be examined in the media, I suspect not - that might lead to a certain amount of introspection about their own tendencies, and inability to effectively identify authority.

  4. "Michael Tobis says:

    The question really boils down to which is more important, Earth or Mars. I think it is an easy question. Turning it on its head is where the desperate spin is needed."

    The the answer is insanely easy... MARS. NASA is supposed to be about space and non-earth planets/objects. If one of the thousands of earth centric groups like the EPA(just to name one of thousands) can't be bothered to do ITS FRICKING JOB its not NASA GOAL OR JOB to pick up the slack.

    Even if the foolish argument of "its all about funding" is correct the letter and arguments are still correct. IT'S NOT NASA JOB and they're DOZENS of large groups in the US alone WHO JOB IT IS.

    I also like the realclimate link of hansen 81... you see you can find studies that well say anything... like lets take hansen 88


    Not so correct.

    The thing with all doomsday cults like global warming cultism in this case, they make thousands.... hundreds of thousands of predictions through thousands upon thousands of models... then to add in even more they make NEW prediction(through predicting exactly the same thing just with a new start point) every year.

    Any simple search will find hansen and countless other doomsday nuts claims "we have just 1-2 years left"... and then 5 years later you see the same thing.

    This site has tiny handful of the predictions made and how they have failed

    and this is just some links to the repeated "we're all going to die in just a few years".

    and this of course one of my favorites

    In 1989 the Miami Herald quoted a U.N. environment official who warned of a "10-year window of opportunity to solve" global warming, because "entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000."

    According to the UN we all must be global warming zombies... which does kind of make sense due to the total lack of brains of the global warming doomsday cultists.

    The other fun thing is of course hansen who makes these predictions is the very person in charge of the data that supposedly validates them...being that we evil deniers kind of tend look dimly on someone making claims without having any outside data to back it up.

    More so when the data being used is being "adjusted" heavily all seemly to favor to the doomsday predictions.

    "When “global warming” only shows up after the data are adjusted, one can understand why so many people are suspicious of the adjustments."

    Now i know some retard is just chomping at bit to jump in here and say "well other independent data sets confirm"... to that retard/s you clearly know nothing about how the data sets work. First the other "best" data set is run by the CRU... which is also run by another doomsday cultist who likes to make doomsday predictions... but lets set that aside(not that you the retard care).

    Anyone who knows anything about the data sets knows that when they "adjust" the data they "adjust" it against other data sets as well.

    Meaning that when GISS(the thing hansen "adjusts") gets out of sync with say the CRU data base they simply "adjust", pretty always taking the warmer and running with that.

    This is done for the other data sets as well... so basically they are all "adjusted" off themselves meaning none of the current data sets are independent from each other. This is of course all documented in the revision statements that the hansen and so forth put out to justify the "adjustments".

    I also like the video lot of nothing in it... but I do always find the "the ice is melting" argument funny... according to the IPCC the ice is fine...

    Thats right according to the IPCC arctic ice is fricking FINE. The massive cherry picking of data tells whatever the propaganda writer wants it to say. Of course it is insanely important to only focus on the NEW prediction never look back at the old... unless of course you control the "old" data as well... hmmm reminds me of a saying how did it go...

    "He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future"

    O and just to add in according to doomsday cultists the arctic ice would be gone by 2008

    To put it simply... if hansen was running a medical company he and all his buddies would have been in jail a long long time ago for selling the global warming drug.

    And I give this to the mod who will not be allowing this through moderation due to too many facts that don't fit into the proper religious "perspective"

    "Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts." - Richard_Feynman

  5. The Six Random Misunderstandings style of troll. Ah, well.

    I will request that replies follow the following rules:

    1) Respond to a single item, not the whole gallop

    2) If the troll tries to change the subject in a reply to you, go back to your chosen point. If unrelated half-truths and untruths are brought into the fray, let someone else pick it up.

    3) Remember that the troll is much more likely to be in part a victim and well-intentioned, rather than one of the few paid, sociopthic perpetrators. After all, that is the purpose of the perps, to create trolls. So while tearing apart a point you choose, be angry at the people who misled the troll, not at the troll. Sometimes the spell can be broken.

    4) Scrupulously admit scientific uncertainties and personal errors. The troll will have been taught to perceive these as weaknesses. Never mind that. Demonstrate what real discourse would look like anyhow.

    I hope people can step up to the plate with those rules. Maybe we can make lemonade out of this lemon.

  6. robotech master, there will be others better able to clearly explain the more technical issues but I'll pick up on 'one of your favourite' 'failed' predictions.

    Your link gives no more context than the brief quote from an unspecified UN official you have picked out, and although I've only searched very briefly I can't find the original article without paying for it. Even if the meaning of the quote is what you imply do you agree that this is weak evidence, a third-hand quote from a newspaper article without context, for there being many failed predictions? If these predictions are so prevalent why would one of your favourites be so obscure?

    However, even then the meaning of the quote does not appear to be what you imply. It is the reversal of the global warming trend that would appear to be being called for within the 10-year window, the 'prediction' that "entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels" (and note the 'could' in there) isn't within that timespan. Do you disagree with my interpretation of this brief quote?

  7. "Even if the meaning of the quote is what you imply do you agree that this is weak evidence, a third-hand quote from a newspaper article without context,"

    Context as in what exactly? While I completely agree its an unnamed UN official all the others have named people who were wrong. The "context" argument is the argument of the propaganda machine. Unless your going to make a very bold claim and say he was on drugs or something when he dropped this quote context is fairly meaningless... "is" does mean "is".

    "the ‘prediction’ that “entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels” (and note the ‘could’ in there) isn’t within that timespan. Do you disagree with my interpretation of this brief quote?"

    I completely agree with it... mostly because this doomsday cult ideology exists on the "could", "may", "could possibly", etc, etc, etc factor. I could grow a third arm tomorrow and thus this could prove global warming is real.

    The "could" factor is why I laugh every time i real a doomsday paper because anything "could" happen the question is will it... and thats the difference between science and fortune telling... scientists don't bet lives on what "could" happen. They say what will happen and admit they were wrong when they are wrong...

    And lets be clear here according to the doomsday cult preachers the warming trend did last until 2000 and continues today at or about the same rate that was happening in 1989... according to the preachers...

    Lets talk more hansen then since you want a direct quote from a source though...

    were all going to die... and one of the links i posted above was a hansen quote saying were all going to die in 5 years(from back in 2010).

    I highly suggest you just run through the real-science site... it adds alot of historic perspective recent events... aka they have all happened before. Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Its why I like all the newspaper clips that people send into the site that give a bit more context to the massive hysteria that is the current massive hysteria.

    To Michael Tobis

    I most love this one out of that "rather than one of the few paid, sociopathic perpetrators."

    Why can't I be an unpaid sociopath perpetrator... why is it that I must be payed to kick the retarded babies... or club the baby seals? Some of us do it just for the sick and twisted amusement of it all...just saying is all...

  8. "Context as in what exactly?"

    Context as in who this person was and in what capacity they were talking, whether this was an official press release or an off-the-cuff comment, what else was said along with these two extracted sentence fragments which might moderate or clarify the message. I am always sceptical of any isolated quotes such as these without a link being provided to the original source.

    Earlier you said "This site has tiny handful of the predictions made and how they have failed" yet all the examples you have given appear to be about either projections of global temperatures, which I am sure others will pick up on if you want to push the issue, or the timespan we have available to take action to avoid committing ourselves to future consequences. With this second category, which your quote from an unnamed UN official is an example of, I don't see how you can say this is a failed prediction before the timescale in which those preditions might be expected to be testable against observations.

    As I asked above, why is this then one of your favourites? If there are so many 'failed predictions' why have you picked out one that is a) so obscure and so stripped of context and b) not actually a prediction of something that could yet be said to have failed?

    "The “could” factor is why I laugh every time i real a doomsday paper because anything “could” happen the question is will it… and thats the difference between science and fortune telling… scientists don’t bet lives on what “could” happen."

    So can I just clarify, are you changing your argument from 'doomsday predictions that have failed' to 'doomsday predictions that aren't (yet) falsifiable'? Will you withdraw your claim of 'failed predictions' or can we focus on specific examples of predictions that can already be said to have failed?

  9. Michael Tobis says:
    April 14, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    “Why can’t I be an unpaid sociopath perpetrator…”

    "I suppose you could be. We’ll see based on how seriously you make an effort to engage in conversation."


    Don't worry we'll have lots and lots of fun...


    "Context as in who this person was and in what capacity they were talking, whether this was an official press release or an off-the-cuff comment, what else was said along with these two extracted sentence fragments which might moderate or clarify the message"

    While in isolation I would tend to agree with you but are you really trying to argue that the UN in both official/"unofficial official" statements, press releases, etc has not claimed anything and everything and been slapped repeatedly for such retarded claims? I want to understand your argument/lack of argument here because I find it hard to believe your going to make such an absurd claim for well, any topic that comes from the UN least of all something like global warming. Science via press release is one of the "best" kinds of science...

    PS Since I want to hurry up with this clubbing the quote is in context as far as I know, its not from a press release its from where it says from a newspaper interview. So its the "unofficial official" kind... you know the "you can quote me on that until its wrong" kind of quote. I have more of it but I'm going to let you run the line out a bit on this one... because its fun when the line suddenly snaps taut.

    You are amusing as trolls go. However, you do not get to Gish Gallop around the place. I have a new rule for moderation, therefore. Comments that make a whole bunch of unrelated points will only have the first point posted in the main thread. You will see the rest of this one in the borehole, (at least once the borehole is fixed; it seems to have been clobbered in the redesign).

  10. The “could” factor

    Well what would you have scientists say? As was mentioned in the above article "science never proves anything. Ever. That would be math."

    Hence words like could and likely. But dig deeper and you will find those words to have real meaning. Here for example are the IPCC definitions:

    Virtually certain > 99% probability
    Extremely likely > 95% probability
    Very likely > 90% probability
    Likely > 66% probability
    More likely than not > 50% probability
    About as likely as not 33 to 66% probability
    Unlikely < 33% probability Very unlikely < 10% probability Extremely unlikely < 5% probability Exceptionally unlikely < 1% probability

  11. If you mean "clubbing" in the sense of clubbing baby seals, you have hit upon the wrong seal colony, buddy.

    This is a pretty lame counterargument. You make a substantive accusation, and when pressed for evidence, reply "do you really not believe that there are a whole lot of similar accusations?" Well, what of it?

    No large institution will ever manage to be error free; the idea is ridiculous. On the other hand, one can learn from specific errors, both about what propensities caused the error, and how to guard against similar errors in future. That's the right thing to do about real, actual errors. What do do about imagined errors is another thing.

    Your abuse of the word "retarded" makes me guess you are about thirteen.

    If you are actually interested in learning something, you could decide to stick around, but if you're really just trolling, you might want to look for easier game than Planet3.0.

  12. "are you really trying to argue that the UN in both official/”unofficial official” statements, press releases, etc has not claimed anything and everything and been slapped repeatedly for such retarded claims?"

    I haven't tried to argue anything, what I've done is ask you for your evidence of failed predictions, or to withdraw your claim if you can't provide that evidence. Can you do one or the other?

  13. "OPatrick says:
    I haven’t tried to argue anything, what I’ve done is ask you for your evidence of failed predictions, or to withdraw your claim if you can’t provide that evidence. Can you do one or the other?"

    lol thats good I like that we both have agreed their have been no failed predictions of global warming because their have never been any predictions of global warming... unless of course your withdrawing your argument that their have been predictions of global warming? Are you withdrawing said argument?

    (edited. see borehole.)

  14. Michael Tobis's Point 3 is particularly important. People know if they have been paid or not, and when blanket accusations come their way, it gives them ammunition.

    We have enough trouble getting reality front and center without shooting ourselves in the foot by making disprovable accusations.

  15. "Dan Moutal says:
    Well what would you have scientists say? As was mentioned in the above article “science never proves anything. Ever. That would be math.”

    Hence words like could and likely. But dig deeper and you will find those words to have real meaning. Here for example are the IPCC definitions:"

    I note that you don't have a scale for "coulds" or "mays" on there... Likely does have a scale which of course you posted... which of course is completely off topic and wasn't being talked about. We also have the difference between projections and predictions and the many scales of "likely" that comes with them. If your not making a prediction however then "likely" or any or wording is meaningless because your not putting putting your reputation up for that argument. Anyone can make projections and later claim "well I did the best projection I could at the time and that still makes me great even if I was completely wrong".

    This is of course exactly what OPatrick argument is.

  16. Is there any point in continuing this? You haven't answered a simple, direct question but instead make nonsensical claims about arguments you imagine me to be making. This discussion is about the claims you made in your original comment, so can we focus on those? You suggested there are multiple failed predictions made by 'doomsday cultists', but seem unwilling to either give clear evidence of these predictions or a clear indication that you withdraw your claim.

    My best attempt at interpreting what you have written is as a tacit admission that your claims of failed predictions is not supportable, but can you confirm that?

  17. Our young troll is just repeating stuff from the echo chamber.

    Again, it would be astonishing if no errors could be found, but that is not the issue at all as far as trolldom is concerned. He is castigating me for not getting involved but he really hasn't said much.

    I'm tolerating him because he has raised a couple of interesting questions:

    1) Is "CAGW" as they insist on calling it a falsifiable theory within the Popperian framework of science? Sure it is, if we continue the experiment. The point is that we do not want to continue the experiment; that on close examination the evidence that we do not want to push the system until it fails is overwhelming. Is that a Popperian hypothesis? No. But it sure seems like a true one. Which can take us down a rabbit hole of philosophy of science for which Amusing Troll is presumably intellectually unprepared, but which also is beside the point. The point of P3 is that policy must be informed by science. Policy itself can never be determined by science. (Which brings me to the economists' fallacy...)

    2) Is NASA really about astronauts going to Mars? Who designs and builds the communication satellites? The weather satellites? The hydrological cycle observation satellites? When does this cross the line into too "cultish" to observe? Should EPA really develop its own launch platform? Why is observing the climate less important than sending a canned monkey to Mars?

    3) Isn't there overwhelming observational evidence against the "theory"? How does the anti-science web actually select its evidence? How does it direct its skepticism? Climate being a physical system, does it not follow that some group of people are likely to be teh experts on its function? How would one go about identifying such experts, and perhaps, how would one go about forming an international panel of them to report on the sense of the best science?

    But answering them all like that is a Gish Gallop on its own. It's hard to direct the conversation to be interesting and productive, which is our goal here.

    Top be sure, we had a better quality of troll, back in the 90s. Ah those were the days when geeks were geeks and trolls were trolls. But Robomaster is presumably a very young person, and is obviously an intelligent one. Perhaps we can get his attention. If not, have no fear, he will wander off soon in boredom to somewhere where he can get people angry and confused.

  18. The weather service does this all the time. They estimate how likely they are to be wrong. In any individual case it means nothing but it has a very rigorous meaning in the statistical aggregate.

  19. "This is of course exactly what OPatrick argument is."

    No, my comment about the use of "could" was an aside.

    My argument is that you haven't given examples of predictions that could be said to have failed, because we have not yet reached the timescales when the consequences of those predictions could be matched against observations. I also pointed out that you had to go to an obscure and dubious (dubious in that it is not clear what the full context of the quote is) source to find the sort of comment you wanted to highlight. If these predictions are so common why not give an example which is easier for us to examine in detail?

  20. RTM links to this quote "In 1989 the Miami Herald quoted a U.N. environment official who warned of a "10-year window of opportunity to solve" global warming, because "entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000." "

    IIUC the official meant that we had until 2000 to solve the global warming problem by reversing the GW trend to avoid "entire nations being wiped off the face of the Earth..." in the future. The official didn't say that they would be wiped off the face of the Earth in 2000.

    Given that we haven't solved the problem and reversed the trend of emissions and now have at least 2°C of warming locked in then the official is probably right.

  21. To Turboblocke congrats on being the first person to post who can read and make a logical argument based on info read.

    You however stopped short of the complete argument.

    1. That the UN was/is right and thus were all doomed anyway so no point in changing anything now.

    2. That the UN was/is, was or is wrong and thus breaking into

    A. Why should we trust them this time.
    B. Why were they wrong in the past and has it been corrected?
    C. Has anything changed at all?

    3. Since we have countless claims that we have pasted or will pass the "tipping" point in X number of years or on X date. We must ask ourselves are we pasted the tipping point... or does the tipping point simply not exist.

    One also has to ask have the scientists that supposedly the claims of doomsday refuted the claims... To that I personally have never seen someone from the pro-doomsday crowd refute a doomsday prediction until after its pasted or nearing its passing.

    You would think that scientists who's research is being wrongly abused/used to make these doomsday predictions would be the very first to refute, counter and complain that they're science arguments are being wrongly used.

    4. The classic way a doomsday cult runs is by making huge amount of vague predictions with dates and when dates come and fail to result in said "projections" they simply move the "projections" to another date. This is of course doomsday cultism 101.

    Science doesn't work like that.

    This also gets into the massive amount of propaganda claims made by the media(with the silent approval of the "scientists") who post anything and everything making all kinds of on the face retarded links and connections to global warming. A great prime example of that is al gore and his movie. Which of course has been proven for the most part wrong and nothing in it has been proven yet that wasn't proven wrong. As always the media and "scientists" were silent about the issues until they couldn't be silent any more.

  22. Robo, regarding your other posting, it makes too many points and I am traveling and cannot do a decent job editing as I only have my iPad with me. In future please stick to one topic per post. I'll post your first point to then main thread if it's on topic and move the rest to the moderated comments page (borehole) next week. Sorry for the delay.

    In this post you go on about a peculiar view of what IPCC is and what it says. There are many points at which you are building a straw man argument, presumably inadvertently based on reading sources that are opposed to facing facts. It is hard to know which fiction to take on first.

    I will presume that by UN you mean IPCC. So when did IPCC suggest "we are all doomed"?

    I do think it is fair to say that we are already in a situation where serious consequences are unavoidable. But there is a long way between serious consequences and doom. I a confident that the word "doom" appears nowhere in IPCC reports, though.

    Note that IPCC is structured so as tonrequire unanimity among all national delegations. That is, it is structured (as an explicit response to insistence from the Reagan administration) to be extremely tentative in it's claims with respect to evidence. This has succeeded in skewing the debate toward delay.

    I don't think many people believebthat we have reached a condition where we are physically committed to a population collapse, and even that is short of doom. But many people are starting to suspect that resource driven and especially fossil fuel driven growth is sonhabitual that we are not going to get a grip before the damage is enormous. I for one want to minimize the damage.

    If you think you are arguing against a doomsday cult, I submit to you again that you have come to the wrong place. I think, in fact, that the doomsday cult you oppose is a fiction, like obama's being a Kenyan or a socialist. Many people believe and oppose things these days that just aren't remotely true.

  23. At some point I plan on writing an article on the folly of fixed deadlines (eg need to solve the problem by 2000). A better way of thinking about deadlines in dealing with climate change is along the lines of: everyday we delay makes the problem more difficult to solve.

    Think of it like this: Can we still prevent temperatures from rising by 2 degrees C? Yes, but the task today is much harder (perhaps impossible from any practical perspective) than it was 10 years ago. And 10 years ago the task was much harder than it was 20 years ago.

    So I cringe whenever someone (usually not a scientist I might add) mentions a hard deadline. And when they do I try and look past the heard deadline and see what they really mean.

  24. I think you're as politically motivated as your opponents. If global warming is true and doomsday is at hand, putting up a few windmills and driving a battery powered car isn't going to help. Paying some scientists to launch satellites to accurately document our demise isn't helpful.

    We've got a rapidly developing third world. Whatever "green" we find will be undone and more over the next 50 years. Proving that global warming exists without meaningful solutions accomplishes nothing.

    If global warming is real, we're going to have to figure out how to live in that world. Whatever we do, the third world will undo.

  25. Probably not going to be a very interesting conversation, but it's worth capturing the point of view. There seems to be a new kind of dismissives showing up: it's happening and there is no point to trying to stop it, so enjoy the intact planet while you can. I find it ethically unsatisfactory.

  26. Indeed. We have only one life to live, and hopelessness doesn't help anyone. But this is the latest fallback position from the phony skeptic barricades with their dragon's teeth.

    There's some good stuff in the recent New York Times (that bastion of liberal thinking, paid for by advertisers, heavily representing big fossil, but bravely trying). Gail Collins even manages to bring humor in:

    (yours truly and her dear friend Mike Roddy have scored high in "reader's picks" she egotistically asserts)

    (not quite as successful here, but still hanging in ...)

  27. "ethically unsatisfactory" -- what an understatement! I would call declaration of moral bankruptcy instead. And that's the whole f*n point of this century: Is Homo S "Sapiens" an intelligent and moral animal? Put otherwise: Does your God exist?

    Third world: Why should they undo our efforts? They have already noted that solar and wind are cheaper and more reliable sources of energy. They will not be able to afford much gasoline (Peak Oil). And we should tax fossil carbon at the source (Australia, U.S coal.).

    Anyhow: Climate chance (its effects on agriculture) plus population overshoot will make many a 3rd world nation collapse a la Darfur or Syria. They will not starve peacefully. Even a collapse of India is not unimaginable. That will quite probably be the largest climate related problem for the first world: Where to put a billion hungry raving loonies? (I suggest cannibal concentration camps on some Arctic island.)

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