Free Markets, Free People

Climate-gate – How will the US media cover it?

USA Today’s cover story today is entitled “Is the Global Warming movement cooling”.  It features Penn State University professor Michael Mann who is puzzled, puzzled I tell you, over all the controversy.  My favorite Mann quote:

“I look at it like this: Let’s say that you’re in your car, you open up the owner’s manual, and you discover a typo on page 225. Does that mean you stop driving the car? Of course not. Those are the kind of errors we’re talking about here,” Mann says. “Nothing has fundamentally changed.”

USA Today lists his research as:

Mann’s research, which used tree rings, coral and other historical indicators to estimate how temperatures have risen in recent centuries, has been used by the IPCC in its reports.

Not a word about the infamous “hockey stick”. Not. A. Word. Of course the “hockey stick” and cherry picked tree-ring and temperature data have been the foundation of the IPCC’s conclusions. All have been found to be highly suspect by other scientists.

But to return to Mann’s self-serving analogy, this isn’t about a typo in the car’s owner’s manual.  This is about a fatal flaw in the engine.  The Himalayan glacier nonsense may be considered a “typo”, but the hockey stick, tree ring and temperature data is the foundation of the “consensus” opinion.

The article goes on to note that despite the controversy the Obama administration agree’s with the Mann analogy.

Carol Browner, the White House’s director on climate and energy policy, says there are “thousands and thousands” of scientists whose work provides evidence of global warming. She told USA TODAY that, based on her frequent visits to Capitol Hill, recent questions over science have not changed a single vote in Congress on climate change legislation.

“It’s easy to misuse these isolated reports of problems to suggest that the science behind global warming is somehow wrong,” Browner says.

It is also easy to ignore it when not doing so works directly against the outcome and result you’d prefer to see – government restrictions against and regulation of so-called “greenhouse gases.” And I doubt Ms. Browner has her finger on the pulse of Congress. Even today, Democrats included, they’re considering legislation that would block the EPA from unilaterally imposing restrictions on CO2 output.

The article is quite long, and I suggest you read it, but one further item of note – a new excuse, I suppose, for the “typo” in the “owner’s manual”:

Tim Wirth, a former U.S. senator who is now president of the United Nations Foundation, defends the IPCC, stating it has an annual budget of “only” about $3 million and relies almost entirely on volunteers to produce and fact-check its content.

Wirth says the organization would be aided by adding more scientists to its full-time staff. Yet he also criticizes what he called “K Street (Washington) PR firms … who are hired to examine every (detail) of the IPCC report and find problems and then get them out into the public domain.”

“It’s not a fair fight,” Wirth says. “The IPCC is just a tiny secretariat next to this giant denier machine.”

“Giant denier machine?” It’s mostly been individuals and bloggers. Volunteers.  The controversy broke in the UK, not in DC.  Most of the global warming research was funded by governments, for heaven sake, which are able to outspend any outside group without breaking a sweat. And then we have Al Gore, a movie and entire movement spreading the gospel of AGW as well.

But to the larger point – these volunteer fact-checkers were apparently good enough for Wirth and the governments around the world to propose draconian taxes and restrictive policies, but now that the results are being called into serious question, suddenly the IPCC – the Nobel Peace Prize winning IPCC – is just a “tiny secretariat” staffed mostly by volunteers.

Seems to me that while the US media, in this case in the guise of USA Today, has finally determined it can’t ignore the Climate-gate controversy anymore, if this article is any indication of its thrust, you can expect to see the problem minimized and ignored, despite the word count.



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22 Responses to Climate-gate – How will the US media cover it?

  • To use his analogy accurately, that owner’s manual was for a lawn mower instead of the car you are driving….

  • It’s interesting to see the disconnect between the ‘walk’ and the ‘talk’ in regards to climate change research and legislation.  For all the talk of the changes required in order to avoid catastrophic consequences, the changes that were being discussed at Copenhagen would not have made a measurable difference in global temperatures.  For all of the talk about how important an issue this is, the governments of the world could muster little more than $3 million and a few volunteers to produce a work that might prove critical to the planet’s future.
    It seems to me that the biggest players in the climate change forum do not consider it to be much of an emergency at all.  They seem more concerned about the size of their slice of the economic pie, even as their advisers warn us that before long there won’t be a pie left to cut up.  When the people making the claims do not show any conviction at all, it’s no surprise that the public at large begins to doubt the veracity of the “science” behind it.

  • One thing that everyone interested in fact and truth will have to learn is how to pierce the veil of public relations maneuvering.

    From “the debate is over” (before it had begun in earnest) to “the science is settled” (when it clearly was far from it) are both nothing more than strong public relations positions, which the media repeats because it is too lazy or too committed to the latest fad to take much interest in questioning.

    Journalists are among the worst purveyors of crap, but the scientists who feed it to them are the real frauds.

    Anthony Watts had this piece yesterday about the strange case of the “hockey stick.”

  • “an annual budget of “only” about $3 million and relies almost entirely on volunteers to produce and fact-check its content”

    I find it interesting that the Linux community, also relying almost entirely on volunteers, can thrive and compete quite successfully, as far as quality and reliability, with that huge business located in Wash. state. If Linux had all the free marketing that AGW and the IPCC does, that big old dinosaur would be extinct.

    • “an annual budget of “only” about $3 million and relies almost entirely on volunteers to produce and fact-check its content

      >>> What about all this “peer review” they repeated over and over like a mantra?  What a load.

      As Phil Jones said “Why should I give my data to you for review when you only want to find things wrong with it?”

      The scientific method at it’s finest I tell you.

  • Minor, insignificant typo, eh? More like a large crack in the foundation.  Only a small percentage of the total structure may be involved but the potential consequences to the entire structure are much greater.  

  • A “typo”?
    It’s more like your engine manual says you have a 2010 Porsche V-12, but you really have a 1983 Yugo 1.2L

  • This sort of “reporting” explains why there are people who continue to believe in global warming (or climate change or whatever they’re calling it today): when they never hear the other side of the story or at most hear it belittled as some sort of dark conspiracy, why on earth WOULDN’T they cling to their beliefs?

    On a broader question, what can be done about MiniTru?  We expect that the GOP will do well in November (which will basically amount to exchanging one group of corrupt idiots for another), but MiniTru will be unchanged: the same group of ideologically-motivated, ignorant hacks will continue to misreport the news just as they have been doing for years, with the continued bad results for our country.

    • Well, well…

      Email messages obtained by the Competitive Enterprise Institute via a Freedom of Information Act request reveal that the climate dataset of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) was considered — by the top climate scientists within NASA itself — to be inferior to the data maintained by the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit (CRU).
      The NASA scientists also felt that NASA GISS data was inferior to the National Climate Data Center Global Historical Climate Network (NCDC GHCN) database.
      These emails, obtained by Christopher Horner, also show that the NASA GISS dataset was not independent of CRU data.
      Further, all of this information regarding the accuracy and independence of NASA GISS data was directly communicated to a reporter from USA Today in August 2007.
      The reporter never published it. [emphasis mine – dj505]

      Clearly, what’s needed in climate studies is a complete ban on e-mails!


      H/T Wizbang

    • …what can be done about MiniTru?

      Nothing. There is no solution which isn’t worse than the problem, as far as I know.

      Fortunately, the problem will become much less acute, given time. Absent government subsidy (which we should fight tooth and nail), the big monodailies will be reduced to irrelevance in ten years or so. (There might be enough leftists and corrupt foreign millionaires to keep the New York Times going longer, but most of its relevance will be gone.) The networks in the same time space will either eliminate evening news entirely, or outsource it to cable networks, of which the only serious candidates are Fox and CNN.

      The under-25 generation would no more think of getting their news from a news show on TV or cable than they would think of checking a newspaper for movies listings.  

      We’re ripe for a complete revolution in the way news is packaged and delivered. The changes thus far (Drudge, blogs, etc.) are just the beginning. I don’t know what the end will be. Perhaps it will be as bad as what we have now, only in different ways. However, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be more distributed, and less monolithic and monocultured. That’s got to be a good thing.

      To insert a snarky metaphor, I think of the major news organizations in legacy media today as dinosaurs with their heads cut off. Dinosaurs are just primitive chickens, right? So we know what happens when the head gets cut off; they flops around for a while before the die.

      Somebody may buy the brands when they become cheap enough. You can still get Singer sewing machines and Marantz audio gear, even though neither has any connection with the products that made the brand famous.

      By the way, that’s the best case for them. If the leftists succeed in driving us off the economic cliff (and man, oh, man, Obama sures seems to be trying hard) then the legacy media will probably either be destroyed in the aftermath or become government agencies.

  • Oh gee, more distotions, innuendo, and ad homium attacks from the deniers.  This would just be sad, except that oft repeted lies can supress the truth.

    None of these manufactured ‘scandals’ has even touched the fundamental science.  The historical record for increasing temperature is robust.

    More importantly, the foundation of climate change concerns are two simple facts:  Carbon dioxide traps heat.  Human activitity is dramaticaly raising carbon dioxide levels.  If you want to talk about ‘cracks in the foundation’, you need to look at that, not find bad reporting on some glacer somewhere or busy yourself reading other peoples e-mails.

    Of course, deniers aren’t really interested in engaging in genuine science.  Like Rove said, “confuse to defuse,” and anti-science types have known for a long time that the illusion of controversy is as politically useful as real controversy.  The sad thing is how many apparantly intellegent people get caught up in this, just because they’ve decided ahead of time which side their team’s on.

    • You forgot to add the product blurb at the end:

      “This rant brought to you by the automatic leftist cant generator, developed in collaboration with major sites such as Daily Kos and Democratic Underground. Version: beta 2. Please note that errors in spelling and grammar are intentional, as part of the intended faux grassroots effect.”

    • This rant would have been more relevant three or four years ago, before the AGW movement began its quick decline.  None of the scandals are manufactured, as the alarmists involved have had to admit to their part in defrauding the public.  The underpinnings of the temperature record are apparently quite rotten, based on emails, programmer’s notes, and Phil Jones’ admission that his record-keeping left much to be desired.  The hockey-stick type of chart, which was used in order to promote the idea that increases in CO2 directly led to increases in temperature, have been discredited for some time now.  Jones himself admitted that there has not been any statistically significant warming in the past 15 years, despite a continued increase in CO2 levels.
      The IPCC gatekeepers were (and are) the ones not interested in science, genuine or otherwise.  They tried to game the peer-review process, stuffed AR4 with claims, data, and sources that undermine its credibility, and worked to modify temperature records with no regards for the truth.  If anyone can be accused of being anti-science, it’s the alarmists.  Or better put, the alarmists-turned-deniers, who now deny the facts and evidence surrounding the fraud perpetrated by Mann, Jones, and their ilk.

    • The temp record is bullsh*t. The “hide the decline” comment was about the divergence of tree ring proxie data from the recent temp record. If we can’t count on the tree ring proxie data for recent time periods, how can we trust it to tell us the world was cooler in the past?

      Besides that, we now have a number of facts coming out that undercut the modern temp record.

      You guys can continue to lie, but don’t expect anyone to believe you anymore.

    • “More importantly, the foundation of climate change concerns are two simple facts:  Carbon dioxide traps heat.  Human activitity is dramaticaly raising carbon dioxide levels.”

      Oh yeah, it is really that simple. You should have told us that before, then we could have believed in AGW and not have had to fund the CRU, NASA, NOAA, polar bear counters, ice measuring sattelites, ground weather stations, etc.

      CO2 is only a small % of the “greenhouse gasses” and there are carbon traps that trap large amounts of it, so much of what is released does not remain in the atmophere. Increasing CO2 has effect like increaing plant life. The greenhouse gas model that AGW is based upon is too simplistic to make serious predictions, witness the failure of the climate models these characters crank out.

      Perhaps CO2 will have bad effects. We don’t know that now, and given the tainted science these jokers engaged in, no one is going to believe them if they do come up with something solid.

      If you have serious concerns, you should vent rage at the likes of Mann, gore, et al, since they sold the science out. The deniers just pointed out the truth. You should stop calling them deniers, and thank them.

    • “except that oft repeted lies can supress the truth.” – Global Warming summit, that which has been demonstrated.
      Thanks Tom, for validating the reason we keep pushing the lies back.
      “The sad thing is how many apparantly intellegent people get caught up in this, just because they’ve decided ahead of time which side their team’s on.”   yes!  You have hit the nail precisely on the head!
      And we can put you down in the “fell for the lies” category can’t we.

    • “More importantly, the foundation of climate change concerns are two simple facts:  Carbon dioxide traps heat.  Human activitity[sic] is dramaticaly[sic] raising carbon dioxide levels.”

      That’s the (always pathetic and now thoroughly discredited) argument for global warming, child. ‘Climate change’ is what the screaming green ninnies scrambled to try to rename it when the fact it’s not getting warmer became so glaringly obvious that even the supine press couldn’t cover it up anymore. Do try to keep up.

    • Science has always pointed to CO2 as a lagging indicator of warming. In fact climate history says it lags by an average of 800 years. That make perfect scientific sense and it also makes CO2 an “effect” of warming.

      So tell me, when did that science change to where CO2 became a “cause” of warming? When you’re able to explain away that away – scientifically, of course and without unproven theories concerning the “greenhouse effect” – we can talk about the sun and solar cycles.

  • “Carol Browner, the White House’s director on climate and energy policy, says there are “thousands and thousands” of scientists whose work provides evidence of global warming. ”

    The above argument is the reason they came up with that bogus “scientist” petition that was signed by 2,000 plus scientists (of different types), technicians, environmentalists, homeless people, or whoever else signed the fu*king thing.

  • K Street lobbyists stopped fighting Global Warming long ago. Their paymasters decided it was better to be part of the system, create barriers to entry, get cap and trade money, etc.

    Big Business almost always ends up going along with new regulations and then works to capture the regulators later.