The State of California vs Denialism

Somebody working for Governor Jerry Brown (of whom, let me be quick to say, I am a fervent long-time admirer) has slapped together a page about climate denialism as part of an official State of California website about climate.

I would like to say that I think it gets the whole situation wrong and may do more harm than good by being polarizing and superficial. Most of the naysayers, and at this point there are a lot of them, believe themselves to be decent people doing the right thing. They cannot be expected to appreciate this sort of slap in the face from an official site.

If the governor wants to get in touch with me about how to do something useful on the web given actual resources, he not only could do worse, he already has done.


  1. Living in California, the reactions I have to Governor Brown are quite nuanced. Between political stints, he had an afternoon weekday show on KPFK, the local Pacifica outlet (yes, I do listen to it and have even supported it despite my strong disagreement with many viewpoints expressed there). I was highly impressed with the depth of his intellect, his lack of dogmatism, and his keen insight. On the other hand, his pandering to the various unions in California (SEIU, prison guards, teachers, etc.) is an unmitigated financial disaster. I really have no idea how Oakland residents feel about his tenure as their mayor.

    With that out of the way, my reaction to that page was the same as yours. Such a presentation has no chance of bringing an open minded climate skeptic (the kind you referred to as believing themselves to be decent people doing the right thing) to a clear understanding of the reality of the situation. For those who already have a grasp it's so superficial as to be useless. I'm sure it was prepared by a bunch of staffers and I wonder if Governor Brown ever saw it or even realizes it's there. My immediate reaction was "what in the world do they think this will accomplish?"

  2. Pingback: Climate FAIL: Moonbeam Brown’s ‘denier page’ can’t even get the temperature graph right | Watts Up With That?

  3. I'm no fan of Jerry's, but I like the site. Its pithiness is admirable.

    Of course deniers aren't the audience for a site like this. I think more likely it's local agencies that drag their heels on action (which Jerry, whatever his many faults, is pushing in several regards). I suspect being able to reference this site's contents as official state policy will make relevant environmental review processes easier. Plus any local agency that wants to say something about climate change (people do ask) can just plop a link to this on their site.

    I can also imagine large numbers of students assigned to write a paper on global warming making good use of this site.

    On the pure politics of it, these days I don't think Jerry hesitates much before bashing climate deniers or any other part of the CA Republican base.

    But anyway, Michael, "gets the whole situation wrong"? Not seeing it, I have to say, nor did you explain why it's true. 'Splain pls.

  4. Wow, okay. First I am a climate change denier. Not because I deny that man effects the climate, nor that we have effected it to make it warmer but I deny the fact that this is in anyway alarming. In point of fact I would argue that it has as many upsides as downsides.

    So on this sight do they talk about the increased amount of time that the warmer climate has allowed in a growing season, how the increase in CO2 has increased plant growth by almost 20% over the last century, how food production is set to more than triple at a doubling of CO2 DESPITE the problems that possible flooding and drought will occur along with it? Of course not. CO2 Bad. No Good come from CO2.

    I do not know who is more in denial, people who do not look at science and accept that the world is warming or those that do and only see catastrophe because of it. Of course perhaps I am the one who is wrong and we are all going to die if we continue on the current course of using fossil fuels. I hope not I actually have five kids. Nor am I against finding better opportunities to produce energy but most of those come from nuclear reactors. Sigh... I am disappointed in the page that I read they address none of my denier issues with 'Climate Change' or 'Global Warming' or what ever the crap they want to call it and simply seems to me the attempt of a child to do a raspberry at those who disagree with them.

    Oh well...

  5. This is a bit off topic and might have been purged for that. The topic is whether the website is counterproductive to Governor Brown's stated goals.

    That said, your information about CO2 fertilization is wrong, I think. I offer as evidence Food for Thought: Lower-Than-Expected Crop Yield Stimulation with Rising CO2 Concentrations, (Long et al., 2006.)

    But as always I can be convinced. If you'd like to continue the conversation, please provide a citation, preferably one from after 2006 citing Long et al.

    You have an interesting perspective: we are causing climate change, but CO2 fertilization makes up for it.

    There is such a variety of ways to be wrong about this issue! The truth, whatever it is, is unique. The problem is that the stakes are very high. In this case you advance a position that has few supporters. Are you so sure of it as to risk your family's future? The whole world's? Are you perhaps being overconfident?

  6. So far, aside from the graphic selection semi-error, no criticism of substance from you or Tamino, Michael. But I am patient. 🙂

    Re that graphic, as I noted over at Tamino's, January-April is the period of greatest concern for temps in California because of the snow pack. I'm suspecting a low-level staffer who didn't understand the material was told to insert a suitable graphic and picked an incorrect one notwithstanding getting the dates right. But even the correct graphic would require some interpretative text.

    In general, I'd say the site needs a further page specific to California climate. The linked CALADAPT site seems good at a quick glance, but its designers seem to have gotten carried away with slick interactive graphics to the point that it's a little user-unfriendly.

  7. Pingback: Our house is in order: reframe the debate guys, don’t make a mountain out of mole dung « Watching the Deniers

  8. Put yourself in the mindset of a reasonably openminded person who has been burned by ill-informed environmentalism or poorly designed environmentally motivated bureaucracy in the past. Then look at the "denial" page. If your blood isn't boiling you lack empathy with your opposition.

  9. Pingback: Our house is in order (part 2): the art of repudiation is a powerful thing « Watching the Deniers

  10. Hmm, I'm just not seeing it, Michael, although I do think it would be helpful if the page drew a distinction between the organized denialists and their victims.

    Yeah, there are people who are pretty much permanently enraged when it comes to anything environmental, but I see little utility in catering to them.

  11. > most of the naysayers

    You won't educate the copypasters, the "tubes" the Internet is made of.
    They move stuff undigested from one end to the other.
    You see what appears to be a lot of 'em online, but they're, er, copies.

    They don't have much influence in California any more.

    This planning blog's discussion makes an appropriate comparison:
    climate denial as implemented legally by North Carolina and Virginia.

    Watch this space:

  12. Agreed. Michael, a single paper is not a comprehensive case even if it has been peer reviewed! Commercial intensive crop growers have long used artificially high levels of CO2 to improve yields, eg

  13. Nobody is disputing that higher CO2 levels enhances the productivity of certain plants, and may be enhance the production of those plants. It also provides some drought resistance, and contributes to biotic sequestration, as far as I know. The really odd thing is how some people will suggest that these effects are the only ones it has.

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