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Heartland logic: More people have heard of Fidel Castro than Michael Mann, therefore global warming is false.

Posted on 16 April 2014 by Guest Author

This is a guest post from Narahani.


Or is happening and is good for you, or has stopped happening, or is caused by CO2 but only a little, or is about to reverse due to lots of yet-to-be-discovered negative feedbacks, and clouds. And anyhow, peas and water lilies love CO2 so ramping it up to 1000 ppm would be fantastic. The logic is dizzying.  

And yes, Joe Bast repeated his widely criticized statement equating people who support action to limit climate change with "murderers, tyrants, and madmen," declaring that the fact that more people have heard of Fidel Castro than Michael Mann proves his case.

Heartland Institute came to Washington this week to tout their second major effort to discredit the IPCC with a hefty volume ("over 1000 pages!" they keep boasting). This one advertises the benefits of carbon dioxide to plants. The first volume trotted out a long list of well-debunked theories including the old standbys: there is no consensus, "solar cyclicity" is about to cause cooling, and conversely, warming in occurring but will be less than predicted by the IPCC.

Tuesday's press conference featured Heartland's standard cast of characters: Joe Bast, Craig Isdo, Fred Singer, and Ken Haapala. Bast introduced the event, describing Heartland as a "free enterprise think tank". He pointed at their two massive volumes placed strategically in the middle of each of the three tables, declaring that they "prove without a doubt that there is no consensus," and "prove the IPCC is wrong." The presenters took every opportunity to effuse that the tomes are  "over 1000 pages long" and cover "1000's of peer reviewed papers." fat tomes

Fred Singer led off by showing a favorite climate denier image by Roy Spencer that purports to demonstrate that "all the models are wrong." The graph shows a tiny and difficult to measure sliver of the global system, the mid-troposphere in the mid-tropics, to compare models and selected data.  Even though the supposed errors have been well explained (; Thorne, et al.) deniers continue to show this picture, undoubtably because in the real world the models have actually done a remarkably good job of predicting global temperatures

Singer was followed by economist Ken Haapala who complained that the U.S. government is spending too much money on climate-related programs. He railed about $22.5 billion in the 2013 expenditures, which includes $6B to support development of clean energy technologies. He failed to mention our estimated $14-50B in annual fossil fuel subsidies. 

Finally, Craig Idso used carefully selected data to promote his theory that the benefits of increasing CO2 will overwhelm any dangers of global warming. Of course, it's no news to scientists that many plants grow faster when given more CO2.  Scientists also know, as does anyone who has ever planted a garden or cared for a potted begonia, that plants have ideal temperature ranges, need nutrients and water, and are attacked by pests. Plants are living things and their health cannot be predicted by pointing at one factor. In short, like us, plants live within our global ecosystem and are dependent on the functioning of all its parts. 

The most encouraging thing about this press conference was its tiny audience. By my count, the 8 am room was occupied by:

  • 5 Heartland participants
  • 5 grumpy-looking old white guys 
  • 1 supporter from the American Enterprise Institute
  • 2 bored looking middle-aged guys playing with electronic devices
  • 1 journalist from CNS news ("The right news. Right now")
  • 1 guy running the Fox TV camera 
  • 2 women who came in late
  • Me and my co-conspirator.

A rerun at 9 am attracted even fewer people, most of whom were so dubious of Heartland's claims that the organizers closed the session early to cut off the stream of inconvenient questions.

The tiny turnout showed that most people give this nutty fringe the attention it deserves.  

Unlike the Heartland crew, most intelligent people of all political stripes look at the world the way it is, not as they wish it to be. Ideological lenses do not bring science into clearer focus.  When smart people recognize the state of the world, they begin to look for solutions. Solutions to the climate crises demand creative and innovative thinking from across the political spectrum.  The dismal turnout on Wednesday shows that while the Heartland club is peering down the wishing well, the rest of the world has moved on to the real challenge of finding solutions.


Thorne, P. W., Lanzante, J. R., Peterson, T. C., Seidel, D. J., & Shine, K. P. (2010). Tropospheric temperature trends: history of an ongoing controversy. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 2(1), 66–88. doi:10.1002/wcc.80 (open access)  "It is concluded that there is no reasonable evidence of a fundamental disagreement between tropospheric temperature trends from models and observations when uncertainties in both are treated comprehensively."

Fossil fuel subsidies:

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Comments 1 to 7:

  1. The tiny turnout showed that most people give this nutty fringe the attention it deserves.

    Good, but why are you then giving it publicity by writing this article?  If people aren't listening to this group of people anyway, why not just ignore them?

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  2. Simon,   Because this thinking is STILL controlling the Republican party almost completely as well as oil and coal democrats. The blogsphere is filled with all stripes of deniers effectively confusing the accurate science even in palces like Scientific American. So, while it may be a nutty fringe in Washington, it still has vast sway in parts of the country and prevents any legislative action on a national level. And inaction by the US gives cover for the entire rest of the world to not increase efforts to curb CO2.

    I am pleased that no legislators turned up fo this. I hope it makes Heartland rather discrouraged

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  3. Curious...  any idea whom the "5 grumpy-looking old white guys" or the "2 bored looking middle-aged guys playing with electronic devices" were?

    Would be nice if Heartland was discouraged by spooning with Fox will keep em excited (around) I am sure (unfortunately).

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  4. Simon,

    It is important to be as aware and informed as possible. The key point was the Fox TV camera. These same frauds will be the guests on many of the staged Fox News propoganda sessions. And those orchatrated song and dance numbers have a large audience of grumpy-looking old white guys with money who are easily impressed into contributing to the "Good Work being done against the Threat posed by the likes of the IPCC".

    Money and the "image it can create" still matters more than true substance in America and many of its Mini-Me type followers. It is important to be aware of the real challenge, actually succeeding at disappointing unethical powerful rich people and all those who want to be like them. That can only happen when everyone who actually wants to be a caring and considerate person genuinely interested in developing a sustainable better future for all, better understands who and what should impress them.

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  5. As I grumpy-looking old white guy I protest your denigrating grumpy-looking old white guys! I know you are being tonge-in-cheek, but deniers will use anything they can agianst this site. Might be better to leave out the racial humor.  

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  6. Narahani,

    Nicely written!

    As another who could find himself described as a "grumpy-looking old white guy" I still liked your article. :- )  I thought it was well written and it painted a vivid image.

    Also thanks to SkS REPOSTing policy I'm able to reproduce it at my blog.  

    Thanks for a job well done.

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  7. I'm realy amused by that report. To confirm my amusement, I just wated to make sure: is it the same type of annual conference by Heartland that we used to see in previous years? Those bygone conferences I recon have been held in exquisite venues, like Hilton hotels and attreacted hundreds of people together with mainstream medias and I've seen them reported on i.e. my ABC news the same day.

    If so, the Heartland collapse is finally imminent (although long overdue).

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