Pierrehumbert on Paul Ryan

We don’t usually want to get into electoral politics here, but this is a special occasion. Our friend (and my former boss) Ray Pierrehumbert, nom de plume Raypierre, has a piece up on Slate about US vice presidential contender Paul Ryan. Suffice it to say it’s not especially flattering.

Here’s a taste:

The most explicit statement of Ryan’s climate change views appears in this 2009 op-ed, and since he still features it on his official website, we can take it as an indication of his beliefs. And what a litany of classic denialist dogma it is. He starts off with a cheap shot by implying that Wisconsin residents ought to have a hard time believing that global warming is a problem because they still had to shovel snow in the winter of 2009. Of course, it is absurd to think that any one winter says anything about global warming, still less to think that continued existence or even increase of snowfall is in any way incompatible with overall warming. If Ryan wanted to keep things local, he would have done better to talk to ice fishermen on the Wisconsin lakes, who have seen a dramatic decrease in the duration of ice cover over the past decades.

In this op-ed, Ryan reveals a number of still more alarming beliefs, notably that emails stolen from the East Anglia Climate Research Unit (aka Climategate) show that “leading climatologists make clear efforts to use statistical tricks to distort their findings and intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change,” and reveal “a perversion of the scientific method, where data were manipulated to support a predetermined conclusion.” He even claims that “The e-mail scandal has … forced the resignation of a number of discredited scientists” which is not at all true. (One scientist, Phil Jones, temporarily stepped aside while an investigation was taking place.) In fact, the hack was a manufactured controversy, and the real victims were the scientists whose emails were stolen. All have been exonerated completely by numerous independent panels, to say nothing of the fact that the key finding of the Climate Research Unit regarding the global temperature increase has been independently reproduced by the project of now-former-skeptic Richard Muller, who even received Koch funding for his study.



  1. On the other hand, the outcome of the election is incredibly important for P3 issues. The New Fuelist digest linked to 'the Hill' articles on two convention `platforms' illustrating the impact this all has on Republican policy: "GOP platform slams military's focus on climate change"; "GOP platform: Block carbon regulations, expand offshore drilling".

    I'm not sure you can get a sharper example of ideology trying to reshape reality than telling your military planners to ignore a whole set of vital threats because they contradict your beliefs. They do appear to blame the Obama administration, but they're not imposing their green-commie agenda on the US military AFAIK...

  2. Pingback: mt on Pierrehumbert on Paul Ryan on global warming [Stoat] | Single Planet

  3. The broad failure of expertise and authority has been making me think a lot about how to get through to people who do not know they don't know. Currently they rely on signals that tear down the idea that real knowledge is of value by creating an alternative information world that denies the value of expertise. Addressing this with more expertise is not working. If a person is sick enough, they will sometimes modify their behavior and submit to a doctor's care. But someone our world has been constructed to give an advantage to what - not to put too fine a point on them - are outright lies. If one could get through to the liars themselves it would help. As long as people regard warnings that they are in danger as personal threats rather than information they need to know, they will retreat to the familiar.

  4. Pingback: mt on Pierrehumbert on Paul Ryan on global warming [Stoat] |

  5. when it comes to global warnimg, we may not be just looking at a different climate, but one that is more variable from year to year than our present climate. Think about what would happen if one year we had 105-degree heat waves, then the next decade we had unusually cold winters, and then we had 50 years of drought. It would be very hard to adapt to that kind of climate.”Many of us must have missed this vast body of literature accumulating, if next year rabbits started falling out of the sky it would become, we\'re not looking at just a different climate, but one which is more variable with the possibilty of rabbits falling from the sky on occasions. Sir you just make it up as you go along and showing have little idea about the climate in the first place. All your previous predictions have been wrong so moving the goal post with every little change that occurs opposite to these views. That Sir is not science, but religion, where whatever happens becomes the new part of the prediction. Instead should be looking into why these predictions have not occurred. It is completely ignoring scientific method.If you were to look into the climate and notice how weather behaves, the jet stream is where most of the weather action occurs away from the tropics and depends on the difference in global temperatures between the poles and the equator.Without this all the mid-lattitudes and poles would be mostly dry with one massive area of high pressure. The jet stream and La Nina or El Nino that makes the planet more variable year after year, not global warnimg. While the jetstream had moved further North with warnimg global temperatures the weather throughout the globe had moved further North, so areas further South had little weather happening at all (ie high pressure). It had become very predictable and boring, but since 2000 this has changed with the jet stream moving further South and global cloud albedo increasing with it. The weather then moves further South again so more mid-lattitude areas start getting more severe weather events again. This is partly shown by the change in the AO and NAO.In fact all you have stated there is natural climate change, so now natural climate change is the same as global warnimg. We can\'t tell any difference between the two in that statement, so why don\'t you just admit that we won\'t beable to tell the difference because nothing unusual is occuring at all and you were wrong.

  6. As a curative for this mildly weird statement, I'd suggest a good look at this:

    If I understood your intent correctly, you appear to assimilated information piecemeal, accepting what fits your ideas and rejecting the rest. Science only works with an open, skeptical, attitude. Question not only what you don't want to believe but your own assumptions and all the rest. Look hard and try to understand.

    I was interested watching AccuWeather's winter predictions (largely for the northeast US) on network news not long ago - they mentioned both the Greenland High and the jet stream. Arctic news has riveted those paying attention. It is not out of the question (though scientists are hesitant to assert) catastrophic nature of Sandy was it was grabbed by the predicted exaggerated and trapped jet stream in synch with the Greenland high. [Commercial and opening a little annoying but by 20 seconds in it's a good lay explanation of cause and effect along with an explanation of winter weather that is not inconsistent with proper understanding of climate dynamics as global warming unfolds.]

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