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Ben Santer on Seth Meyer’s Late Show – How Climate Deniers Lie

Posted on 15 March 2017 by greenman3610

This is a re-post from Climate Crocks

The reason most people have not heard of Ben Santer is that, while his contributions to climate science have been massive and epic in importance, and his courage in standing up to an almost unparalleled barrage of attacks is legendary, Ben himself is one of the quietest, most unassuming people you will ever meet.

My conversations with Ben a few months ago lead me to believe he had decided it was time to be more public in his advocacy, and I guess this is evidence of that.

One of the burrs under Ben’s saddle in the last year has been Senator Ted Cruz’s brazen and dishonest claims about climate science, on display most prominently in a December 2015 Senate Hearing, where a veritable clown car of climate criminals were brought out to repeat some of the most eminently crushable distortions.  And Ben, in truest form, rather than just “arguing from authority” as one of the world’s highest experts, spent a year going thru the various claims, and publishing a point by point rebuttal.

Now see the video that drove Senator Cruz, and Breitbart crazy – Dr. Santer and other key scientists show precisely how this climate denial lie was constructed.

More below from Dr. Carl Mears,  keeper and collector of the data Senator Cruz claims to use.

Finally, Santer finished off on Meyer’s show with an inspiring (really) observation about a grand teachable moment on climate science.


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Comments 1 to 24:

  1. The only way that climate change denial works is to take isolated data and distort, when we look at the overall picture there is no reasonable doubt that the global climate is in transition to a warmer state.


    - This includes significant and continuing loss in the cryosphere.

    - Year after year of record global average temperatures.

    - Changes in the timing of the seasons.

    - Increases in extreme weather events especially extreme heat waves that have become much more frequent.

    - Rises in sea level from thermal expansion and melt water from glaciers and polar ice sheets.

    and more...

    The uncertainty in data in any limited area of climate study is smoothed out when placed in an overall context and that includes satellite data. Science doesn't just look at that or depend on models or just look at the temperature record, it looks at all the evidence and it all points with a very high degree of certainty at a steady warming of the Earth as we add progressively larger amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Which is backed up by the basic physics, carbon dioxde absorbes photons in the range emitted by the Earth's surface but not in the range of incoming solar radiation. It's like we're building an ever larger dam to trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere, just look at the Hiroshima "clock" steadily ticking here, the heat equivalnet from over 2.4 BILLION Hiroshima sized nuclear weapons has been added to the global climate since 1998.

    Deniers are clowns who are skilled at entertainment and distraction, scientists are sober researchers and teachers. We all have a choice whether we want to continue to be entertained and face impacts that will eventually include the kind of collapses seen in the past by earlier migration of global climate much faster than most species can follow as has been detailed here.

    There's growing evidence that wer're recreating events like the Permian Extinction, there will be no one left to buy the lies from people like Ted Cruz if we keep letting people like him set policy.

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  2. This is not a case of whether the climate has been getting warmer. Why would you put it in such a manner?

    Climate is nothing more than a long term averaging of weather patterns and it has obviously gotten warmer since the Maunder Minimum and then the Dalton Minimum.

    The questions lie in whether CO2 has any connections to this and whether this has anything other than a passing relationship with man.

    If you observe you will see that the Milankovitch Cycles suggest that we should be in a warmer part of their cycles. This suggests that we are having more solar energy being injected into the northern hemisphere at this time. And land area reacts differently with this energy than oceans do.

    So whether man has anything to do with the warming climate is what the question is and that is not answered. Calling those who suggest this "deniers" in the same sort of personal insults that the "deniers" are forbidden to do on this site.

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  3. Wake: Recommended reading...

    Climate Deniers, You're Climate Deniers--Deal with It

    The Freuds wrote the playbook, and you're following it to the letter

    Opinion by Peter Dykstra, Scientific American, Mar 7, 2017

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  4. Responding to Wake-

    "This is not a case of whether the climate has been getting warmer. Why would you put it in such a manner?"

    Because the overall global climatic system is in a widely recognized transition to a much warmer state. And at a rate that is comparable to earlier highly likely carbon dioxide forced warming events such as the Permain Extinction that resulted in the dying off of a majority of species then on the planet.

    There's very little doubt that carbon dioxide does in fact play a central role in the moderation of the radiative balance of the Earth's atmosphere, this is based on science going back several centuries. We now understand this effect in the quantum dynamic properties of both the cardon dioxide molecule and the photons emitted by the Earth's surface which because of the vast temperature difference are of a much shorter wavelength than the photons that arrive from the sun. Carbon dioxde does not readily absorb incoming solar radiation means the bulk of it gets through the Earth's atmosphere. The much longer wavelength photons emitted by the Earth's surface are right in the strong absorption band of carbon dioxide meaning progressively more and more of the outgoing radiation that otherwise would have directly transited back into space is absorbed and promptly re-emitted by the carbon dioxde in the atmosphere. This is a stochastic process meaning that when these photons are re-emitted many of them instead of transiting into space are sent back to the Earth's surface. This is readily seen in the increase of radiation detected on the Earth's surface in the absorption band of carbon dioxde.

    And this is a much more powerful radiative forcing the the realtively tiny forcings that come from something like the Milankovitch Cycles which depend on 1/10s of a watt per meter^2 forcing applied over thousands of years to cause significant climate change. The direct feedback of carbon dioxde in the atmosphere does much of the actual work in driving global average temperature down in a cooling cycle and up in a warming. Carbon dioxide also plays a central role in the Milankovitch Cycles, initial slight warming or cooling events are amplified by feedback in the carbon cycle, more uptake of carbon into cooling oceans and freezing terrestrial reservoirs results in much greater cooling and a large release of carbon dioxide from warming oceans and melting land surfaces in a warming phase provides the kick to take the Earth out of glacial periods.

    I think the evidence is more than clear that carbon dioxide plays a central role in moderating the Earth's radiative balance which determines climate and that our species has significantly alterted the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxde to levels not seen for millions of years. And at a rate far faster than natural mechanisms can compensate for. Meaning that much of this additional human emitted carbon dioxde has remained in the atmosphre where it creates a constantly positive forcing steadily warming the Earth and goes into the oceans where is has significantly raised acidity.

    If someone is intentionally engaging in denial of almost all the evidence - almost all peer reviewed science in this field is in support of human forced cliamte change- then we don't need to describe them as deniers, their actions do.

    It's stating what almost certainly is a fact, just as many of us do when we communicate the vast amount of evidence that indicates that carbon dioxide is a key player in moderating the Earth's average surface temperature which determines climate and that the results in the past of doing this very thing have been catastrophic. In the case of the Permian Extinction it killed most life then on the planet.

    And recent research is putting what we're doing now with massive carbon dioxide emissions on the same scale as events like the Great Dying.

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  5. Slight correction in my above comment, photons emitted by the Earth's surface are of course of much longer wavelength that those emitted from the surface of the Sun.

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  6. Wake @2 says"

    "If you observe you will see that the Milankovitch Cycles suggest that we should be in a warmer part of their cycles."

    I can't see this in the article. In fact the following article on milankovitch cycles clearly states "We are currently in a decreasing phase, which under normal circumstances, without the excess GHG’s, would cool the climate system"

    In any event the changes from the Milankovitch cycle cause very small changes in temperature over thousands of years, and cannot possibly explain the rapidity of warming over the last 50 years.

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  7. This could be more appropriate for another thread (glacial cycles). I am well aware, as are all others who have done the least bit of digging on the subject, of Milankovitch cycles. Unlike what Wake suggests ("injecting more energy"), the cycles do not change how much energy is received from the Sun but rather its ditribution on the surface, which is especially important in the Northern hemisphere. Tamino has examined the issue in some detail in the past. 

    I followed the link in Wake's post and the graphs posted do not indicate at all that we should be heading into a warmer period. In fact, it is exactly the opposite: we are coming from a warm period, called interglacial when considered in the context of glaciation cycles. The global climate should be getting cooler, sea ice and land ice should be slowly increasing if it was only up to Milankovitch cycles. This is clearly visible in the 2 graphs at the bottom right of the page linked by Wake. There is a large body of research about the subject, with graphs that are easier to read than the ones on the linked NASA page (long time scale). Most sources show that these are normally slow changes. SkS also has examined the argument hinged on "coming out of an ice age" although the more common argument pertains to the so-called "Little Ice Age."

    We have had on multiple occasions posters referencing legitimate science and attempting to make it say the opposite of what it actually says. It shouldn't be a suprise that this kind of argument is not well received.

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  8. Wake:

    If you observe you will see that the Milankovitch Cycles suggest that we should be in a warmer part of their cycles.

    Actually, you won't see that. The time resolution of the graphs on that page isn't sufficient.  In fact, climate scientists generally agree that we've passed the peak warming in this inter-glacial, and without the fossil carbon we've returned to the atmosphere it would be cooling.

    So whether man has anything to do with the warming climate is what the question is and that is not answered. Calling those who suggest this "deniers" in the same sort of personal insults that the "deniers" are forbidden to do on this site.

    They are called [AGW-]deniers because it's long since been shown that the warming is at least %100 anthropogenic, that is, the sum of "natural" forcings is cooling.  There's no shame in not knowing that initially, but anyone who insists that "whether man has anything to do with the warming climate" hasn't been answered, when it's easy enough to find out that it has, is in denial. 

    On the Internet, you can find all the evidence and analysis that supports the lopsided consensus of working climate scientists for AGW, but you also can find a lot of false facts and logical fallacies. You'll need to know how to tell the difference, and not assume that you have all the knowledge you need to contradict genuine experts until you're one of them (when you are, everyone will know it).  Otherwise, get used to being called an AGW-denier.

    In particular, if the US National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of the UK, two of the world's most respected scientific bodies, jointly publish in 2014 a report that begins with (emphasis in the original),

    CLIMATE CHANGE IS ONE OF THE DEFINING ISSUES OF OUR TIME. It is now more certain than ever, based on many lines of evidence, that humans are changing Earth’s climate.

    then you should be very skeptical of anyone who says it's still not certain!

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  9. Wake @2, following on from Mal Adapted's comment, here is the insolation at 65o North in a more detailed scale:

    The image is from WUWT, from a post in which David Archibald argues we are entering a new ice age.  He, however, has prior form which indicates he does not know what he is talking about when it comes to temperature predictions, but the graph is accurate.  As can be easily seen on that graph, summer insolation at 65o North is near a minimum but still declining.  Absent some other driver of climate, we would still be cooling.  Instead we have soared to temperatures comparable to those at the Holocene Climate Optimum.

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  10. Wake #2:
    "…. you will see that the Milankovitch Cycles suggest that we should be in a warmer part of their cycles."

    The summer insolation at high northern latitudes won’t change much over the next 20,000 years. If we were in an ice age (or more precisely a glacial period) right now, we would almost certainly stay there for at least the next 25,000 years without any human intervention.

    Hmm….it seems that Tom was faster than me with his graph in #9, but here is mine!

    Summer insolation at 65 N

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  11. I think we are veering too far off the subject while injecting some reality to counter Wake's unsupported assertions. The subject of this thread is the manipulation of data, misrepresentation of science and abuse of public trust by specific individuals. Ben Santer has gone through a pretty thorough process and demonstrates that the word denier is entirely appropriate to designate some who have distorted the scientific findings.

    Wake is making a strong case to reinforce that demonstration by throwing anything he can find at the wall to see if something sticks, and in the process tries to represents some science as saying exactly the opposite of what it actually says.

    Nonetheless, the arguments presented by Wake do not belong on this thread. If he wants to talk about glacial cycles, there are threads for that. This one here is about deniers in a position of power misleading the public. If he dislikes the word denier, he can attempt to go through Ben Santer's analysis and show by some solid reasoning that Santer is wrong. I doubt that it's possible to do without a messy divorce from reality. I hope mods move this discussion where it belongs; we are getting distracted by smoke and mirrors. The issue is the blatant nonsense spewed by Ted Cruz, let's stick to that.

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  12. I think it's also important to point out that for science to operate as intended it must leave room for doubt and modification. The denial of science faces no such challenges.

    Deniers can claim with full certainty than the Earth is in fact not warming, or if it is it's not because of us. Or even that we're now in a cooling trend. All with perfect certainty but little to no factual support. This can be traced directly back to the tobacco lobby which took almost exactly the same approach of not just challenging the data but attacking the scientific method itself.

    The background claim of deniers isn't just that the data is wrong on climate change but that science itself is unreliable because it all includes an error margin. Not explaining that everything does, it's just that in science this is incorporated and quantified in a way that isn't in most other disciplines. With the result that successively complex ideas can be built into comprehensive bodies of knowledge that can be effectively tested.

    It's simply easier to tell most people that something is right or wrong and much more difficult to communicate the complex inter-relationships that give us a much better understanding of the natural world through science.

    In a largley PR battle - as we see with climate change - scientists have one arm tied behind their back bacause they will not categorically deny anything...and neither should they. They speak in probabilities and the best information currently available.

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  13. I have looked at two of the Santer video's, and they are great videos, clear, concise, perfectly true, and the guy is warm and has a sense of humour. You couldn't expect more in two minutes. If people still don't get it, maybe they are just closed minded.

    Saying the satellite record showed no warming was always false.  Clearly the warming trend was obvious, and is now even more obvious since the 2015 and 2016 temperatures were released.

    I have a very low opinion of climate denialists views and tactics, however I don't think it's wise to call people liars or dishonest, unless you are very sure, and proving lies is hard. Cruz is probably repeating and exaggerating some denialist claim that the satellite warming does not appear as strong as surface warming. The public won't like it if things descend to a shouting match of the form, "you are a liar, no I'm not a liar" or personal attacks, and will turn their back on the whole climate thing.

    However Cruz is plain wrong, and he needs to be told exactly that in those words.  It's fair to be strongly and bluntly critical of Cruz for not respecting overwhelming expert commentary that there's a warming trend, and not respecting simple, accepted mathematical tools to establish such trends, that are  used throughout science and are fully proven to be valid. Cruz should also be strongly criticised for relying on just one data set, especially when there are concerns over it's reliability.

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  14. Thank you nigelj.   So I simply say to Wake, "you are wrong, look it up".

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  15. Sailing free @14, yes say that "you are wrong and look it up" or something similar, but with some detail obviously on what you think on the issues.

    I'm merely saying I think be careful before accusing people of lying, or getting very rude with people by calling them names. The denialists are trying to bait people into losing control. 

    Having said that I see nothing wrong with telling people their thinking is a bit idiotic, occasionally. Theres no point being excessively polite either, and boring everyone to tears. Hope I'm not being contradictory.

    It's finding a balance somewhere between blatant rudeness and over politeness. It's just my opinion, and you can do whatever you want. 

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  16. A recent very fashionable term "fake news", "fake facts" sounds more polite than "denial" or "denialism", maybe we should switch to it here?

    Ben, in this interview, uses the new term in a very cheerful way to the gtear effect. I admire him for his casual attitude while talking about issues that will be classified in the future as social deceptions & environmental crimes, the attitude required by the program's format (comedy). I would not be able to do the same in Ben's shoes: I'm getting angry when I see irrational arguments or logical fallacy in the arguments of any discutant. It takes quite a skill to fight irrationale with a laugh.

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  17. NigelJ @13 makes a plea for people not to accuse denialists of being liars. While fighting them online, I dropped this all-out assault on their honesty a while back. Nowadays, I use the 4D approach which covers all of the spectrum. 4D stands for deceived, deceitful, deluded or dumb. I think that covers all of them. Oddly enough, I get far less kickback when using all the three or four words than when just describing someone as being a liar or an idiot

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  18. @Wake

    According to the Milankovich cycles, the earth should now be slowly cooling.

    Besides, greenhouse warming is different from warming by more insolation (the Milankovich cycles cause more or less insolation, based on variations in the earth’s orbit). Greenhouse warming has its specific characteristics: nights warm more than days (if the current warming was due to more insolation, days would heat up more than nights), and winters warm more than summers. Also, the lowest layer of the atmosphere – the troposphere – is warming up while the layer above it – the stratosphere – is even cooling (if the current warming was caused by more insolation, the stratosphere would warm up as well).

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  19. A recent very fashionable term "fake news", "fake facts" sounds more polite than "denial" or "denialism", maybe we should switch to it here?

    Feel free to switch in your own comments, but deniers deny, and while AGW-denial may be understandable it can never be respectable.  For the sake of concision if nothing else, I 'll never abandon those words voluntarily.

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  20. Nick Palmer @17, I like your 4D approach.

    I just avoid the term lies, unless I'm very sure. Lies are false statements with deliberate intention to deceive. An intentional untruth. It's hard to be sure people are doing this because its hard to see into their minds and motives.

    I have used the terms deceitful and delusional and just plain silly, and I get less kickback as well. It's also much easier to be certain these are reasonable accusations, and easier to back them up.

    Lies are different from being deceitful, being misleading,  or making a mistake, or being ignorant, or obtuse. It is subtly different from speculating or making things up. Donald Trump does a good deal of all of these things in my opinion, but telling them apart is a challenge. People lump them all together as lies, but it's not strictly accurate to do this.

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  21. Chriskoz: I'll stick with "pseudo-science poppycock."

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  22. At the present time the Earth's ecentricity of it's orbit is near it's minimum. This means that the Earth remains closer to the Sun for the entire year.

    The axial tilt is is in the middle of it's range meaning that equator is nearer the sun that at it's limits.

    The orbital presension is very near it's winter solstice meaning that while we have slightly cooler summers more importantly we have warmer winters. And the greatest effect of this is on the northern hemisphere and hence the weather patterns that pushed colder air into North America allowed both warmer air into the Arctic and more direct sunlight to have effects on the ice pack.

    So I don't know why you are all lining up to tell me how mistaken I am when this is more than common knowledge.

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    Moderator Response:

    [RH] Repeating what you've previously stated and been corrected on is not a rational form of argument. This is called "sloganeering." You need to read what has been presented to you not just blindly reject it. If you believe the other commenter is incorrect, then you need to show the research that shows that. Just repeating the same erroneous statements doesn't fly here.

  23. At the present time the Earth's ecentricity of it's orbit is near it's minimum. This means that the Earth remains closer to the Sun for the entire year.

    IIRC, this has little infuence on the annual average insolation. Average distance to the Sun over a year is very similar at highest and lowest eccentricity, but there are significant (single-digit percentage) differences in distance and insolation at closest and furthest from the sun. At Eccentricity, thus, has an impact on the magnitude and lengths of the seasons. Also, at high eccentricity, velocity of the Earth is fastest the closer it is to the sun. I'm not an expert, though, and I'd wonder if the seasonal timing of eccentricity would make a difference - eg, whether the closest part of the orbit is in Wnter or Summer. But I don't think it's true that "the Earth remains closer to the sun for the entire year" at minimum eccentricity, or, if it does owing to velocity changes, that this would have much impact on annual/decadal/centennial scale temps.

    Axial tilt is halfway between it's maximum (which helped end the last ice age) and minimum (which leads to cooling). Minimum will be rached around 11,800 AD.

    Northern summers occut at aphelion currently, which should see milder extremes and cooler global temps.

    People may be lining up to tell you how mistaken you are owing to you being mistaken.

    Earth orbital variations have combined for a slight cooling phase since the Holocene Maximum after the ned of the last ice age, and would either hold pattern or continue to cool for another 23,000-50,000 years, when the next glacial maximu would occur.

    Something else worth noting - these orbitally forced changes happen over tens of thousands of years. They have pretty much no impact at centennial scale.

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  24. Apologies for typos.

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