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Climate Hustle

There's no room for a climate of denial

Posted on 8 June 2011 by haydnwashington

This opinion piece was published in The Canberra Times by Dr Haydn Washington, co-author of Climate Change Denial, published by Earthscan.

Denial is as old as humanity but is not the same as scepticism. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a sceptic as ''A seeker after truth; an inquirer who has not yet arrived at definite conclusions''. We should thus all seek the truth. Genuine scepticism in science is one of the ways science progresses.

Denial is very different; it is a refusal to believe something, no matter what the evidence. Climate change deniers often call themselves ''sceptics''. However, refusing to accept the overwhelming scientific evidence is not scepticism but denial.

Paradoxically, as scientific evidence for human-caused climate change pours in, interest and belief in climate change within the public is on the decline. In Norway, the percentage of people who were worried dropped from 40 per cent in 1989 to less than 10 per cent in 2001. In Australia in 2009 the Lowy Institute reported that 56 per cent of those surveyed thought climate change was very important. However, this was down 19 per cent from 2007. How can this be?

One can divide psychological denial into three categories: literal (the denial industry, often funded by fossil fuel companies); interpretive (e.g. government spin or describing a massacre of civilians as ''collateral damage''); and implicatory (denial ''we the people'' engage in). Implicatory denial is not denying the facts about climate change per se, but denies the implications and is a failure to transform your belief into action. People accept information about human-caused climate change as true, yet choose to ignore it. We can thus let denial prosper within ourselves, through a sort of self-interested sloth.

There are various types of denial arguments. One useful classification breaks them down into ''conspiracy theories'', ''fake experts'', ''impossible expectations'', ''misrepresentations'' and ''cherry picking''. Space precludes covering all the denial arguments about climate change in detail (there are 160 of them!) though you can find the full list at my co-author's website.

Commonly, deniers cherry pick what evidence they present. One key example is ''global warming stopped in 1998'', picking one particular data source which showed a temporary levelling in air temperatures. It ignored other studies that show temperature is still increasing, and that most of the warming goes into the oceans. Global warming has not in fact gone away.

Another common denial argument is that ''climate has always changed in the past''. For the past 8000 years we have been in a stable climate. Society has never lived through the degree of climate change we are now causing. Bushfires can also be natural yet we don't dismiss the existence of arson. What most deniers conveniently overlook is that Australia is a nation at great risk from climate change. We are the driest inhabited continent in the world. Doing nothing about climate change will end up costing us far more than taking action such as instituting a carbon price.

Why do we let denial prosper? Many things are involved, including fear of change, failure in values, the belief in endless growth, ignorance of ecosystem services, and also the media itself. Researchers note the ''balance as bias'' within the media, where a denier is given equal prominence with all climate scientists. Thus the public could be forgiven for thinking the science is in doubt when it is not, as every academy of science in the world has concluded. The media thus gives deniers prominence as it loves a controversy. It is actually even worse than this, for it is common in Australia for the media to fail to give equal time to scientists.

How do we roll back climate change denial? ''Accept reality!'' is an obvious response. Climate change denial has succeeded because we as a society let it prosper. We let ourselves be deluded by the siren song of denial. When we worry about something, if it makes us afraid, if it clashes with our self-image, then we can move into denial.

However, when denial threatens society and the Earth's ecosystems, it has become not only a delusion, but a dangerous pathology. If we abandon denial, we can both solve climate change and make the world a better place. That, nobody should deny.

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Comments 51 to 54 out of 54:

  1. "Maybe, but how many natural disasters can you name from 1998? That is only 13 years ago, and occurrances do not come to my mind rapidly. Yes, I can remember the earthquakes from the past few years, the tsunami in Indonesia, and hurricane Katrina. However, before that, everything becomes a little bit fuzzier."

    Then one has to do actual research before dismissing this year as being not unusual, and to dismiss it in such a way *without* doing such research is simply denialism.


    Especially when scientists are telling us that this was by far the most extreme tornado April in history, that we're seeing 100 year floods, etc etc etc. There have been a large number of extremely rare events in the last year, and basic probability theory tells us that the combination of a large number of low-probability events has a far lower probability.

    So unless you can point to evidence that these events aren't actually rare (Joplin isn't the point, it's the incredible level of tornado activity of which Joplin and Tuscaloosa were part of that's the point, so "one tornado in 1954" is not a relevant comparison), I at least will run with the fact that the combination of low-probability events we're seeing is extraordinarily improbable, and very possibly unique in recorded history.
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  2. Fair enough. However, one year does not a trend make. http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/img/climate/research/tornado/tornadotrend.jpg
    Yes, this year has been unusual. As of Jun 1, we have witnessed 75 violent tornadoes (EF3 or greater), that is the third highest since 1950. With the rest of the summer remaining, we will very likely pass 1965 inot the number 2 spot, but may not break 1974's total. Was 1974 an unusual year? Apparently, we witnessed a similar La Nina occurance that year. If we finish near or above 1974, I would still say it has been an unusual year, but not rare.
    It has also been very cold and snowy winter, but does that mean we are headed for colder temperatures in the future?
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  3. Eric the Red wrote:

    "Maybe, but how many natural disasters can you name from 1998?"

    hardly any Eric, I think you will find that is very much the point Tom was making.
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  4. Eric and Norman,
    Which characters are you in the video that I posted @28?

    Extreme weather events (e.g., droughts, heavy rainfall, heat waves) are on the increase, that much is objectively and quantitatively described in the reputable scientific literature. And events in the past 12 months or so are consistent with the the long-term trends documented in the literature.

    Anyway, thanks for continuing to provide such an excellent example of denial at work. You will disagree I'm sure, but your failure to recognize the err of your arguments and only further enforces the OP's point.

    Norman,

    "Albatross, this thread is asking why so many doubt AGW's dire predictions"

    Your opinion is not shared by those in the know an by climate scientists. If anything it is shared by misguided, or misinformed or conspiracy theorists. Also, you are arguing a strawman, the OP says:

    "However, refusing to accept the overwhelming scientific evidence is not scepticism but denial."

    and this

    "Paradoxically, as scientific evidence for human-caused climate change pours in, interest and belief in climate change within the public is on the decline."

    That is essentially what the OP is about, not the red herring what you are trying to push above.
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  5. Eric the Red @52, my point was a response to Norman's comment @46. In it he suggested that past weather events are on topic on this thread because they may be the reason for peoples denial of global warming. Logically, however, if they only remember only one or two events from any give year in the past, that cannot be their reason for concluding that 2010/11 has not been unusual. (I did not choose 1954 as a sample year, by the way, Norman did.

    I have discussed the US tornado record here as it is of topic on this thread.
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  6. I think Eric the Red has a valid point (our memory is fuzzier the further back in time you go).

    Is there a study in the frequency of "natural" disasters?
    How about annual insurance losses (corrected for inflation and increased population density)?

    I think the data supports the larger point that most posters are trying to make, but the "what can you remember" approach is not particularly satisfying. I spent most of 1986 and 1987 out of civilization, so I don't remember any natural disasters in those years. But folks who lost loved ones to those disasters for sure do.
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  7. 54 Albatross

    I guess I am none of the characters you posted in your video at #28.

    Actually I am not trying to push a "red herring" argument with my line of posts above. It was a response to the Daniel Bailey video post #39. Also the historical data is why I am skeptical about the future predictions of the Climate Scientists.

    Maybe I appear to be a man sinking into the sea yet denying what is going on around me. I like to think of myself as a researcher. I will investigate any claims made to see if they hold up to scrutiny.

    I am involved in my own local project to monitor evidence of global warming in my local region. I put in daily temps, previous normal high and low temps, record high and low temps into an excel sheet and calculate daily anomalies and monthly deviations from normal.
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  8. Albatross and Tom Curtis

    I started my questioning of the AGW claims because of my research into historical data and this historical data is why you would consider me in "denial".

    I am not interested in consensus view. History has also demonstrated that consensus views are often wrong. Truth does not depend upon the number of people who believe something to be true. Only evidence to support it is valid.

    How many consensus views in the Medical field have been overturned? Consensus views of "experts" in their field have been overturned and wrong.
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  9. [moderator trolling snipped]

    As I stated earlier I think it is on topic as it explains why I am not embracing the AGW view of future disaster.

    Daniel Bailey, even though I do not forsee a coming nightmare climate future, it does not mean the human race should not conserve and look for alternate forms of energy to power our modern lifestyles. I think burning 80 million barrels of oil daily to run inefficient transportation is very foolish. I totally agree we need to cut our waste and excess of energy. Doing nothing is a foolish position.

    Historical data calls into question AGW climate change....

    "During a period of 160 such days from 31 October 1923 to 7 April 1924, the Australian town of Marble Bar set a world record for the most consecutive days above 100 °F (37.8 °C).[22]

    The 1936 North American heat wave during the Dust Bowl, followed the one of the coldest winters on record—the 1936 North American cold wave. Massive heat waves across North America were persistent in the 1930s, many mid-Atlantic/Ohio valley states recorded their highest temperatures during July 1934. The longest continuous string of 100 °F (38 °C) or higher temperatures was reached for 101 days in Yuma, Arizona during 1937 and the highest temperatures ever reached in Canada were recorded in two locations in Saskatchewan in July 1937."

    These extremes have not yet been surpassed. From wikipedia article on heat waves.

    Our fire suppression activity may very well be the cause of increased numbers and intensity of wildfires.

    Droughts and wet cycles, climate extremes long before AGW and very long sustained patterns.

    Flatline for hurricanes over time.
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    Moderator Response: [Dikran Marsupial] Moderator trolling snipped. Do not do that again; next time I will simply delete your post.
  10. Norman @59, before I go any further into this, what where temperatures like in the United States in 1923-4? And what where temperatures like in Marble Bar in 1934-7?
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  11. #59 Norman: So you think cherry-picking individual heatwaves from history disproves the radiative forcing effects of CO2? Interesting logical process you have there...

    Observations of extremes in climate is all about loading the dice. The globe has shown a very well-verified warming of ~0.8C in the past century. It does not mean steady year-on-year increases in maximum recorded temperatures at individual locations. If a '12' on two dice is a heatwave, and a '2' is a severe cold spell, then climate change increases your chance of rolling 12's and reduces your chances of rolling a '2'. In fact, 13's become possible (e.g. Russia last year), and soon 14's will be on the cards, but they will not happen at every location in every year. Last year, Jeff Masters gave us this list of 19 countries that set national all-time high temperature records in 2010, while not one single country set an all-time low record, despite the headlines of snow in the UK, Europe and the USA. In the linked articles is a note that 33% of countries set record highs in the last decade, while only 6% set record lows. That's loading the dice. The record lows show that, given ideal weather, cold records can be still be achieved, it's just they need more 'ideal' conditions.

    Next time the weather conditions are favourable in your cherry-picked locations, those heat records will probably fall too, when the dice get their chance to roll a '12', or the shiny new '13' made possible by the extra heat in the Earth's atmosphere.
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  12. Norman @57 and 58,

    As I said before "You will disagree I'm sure, but your failure to recognize the err of your arguments and only further enforces the OP's point." And your posts have just affirmed that.

    One has to look at the body of evidence from around the globe when it comes to extremes, one also has to do some pretty sophisticated statistics. There are many studies by respected scientists (Dai, Trenberth, Zwiers, Allen, Stott, Santer and many more) that have quantitatively demonstrated that extreme events are on the increase. I am happy to provide links on another thread.

    You claims to consider yourself a researcher, but you have not cited any publications from reputable journals to back up your claims. That is not how science works.

    It is very easy to convince yourself that here is not a problem when you seek out extreme events at selected locations, but as I said earlier you have to consider the body of evidence form around the globe, it is called AGW after all. For example, last year 19 countries set all time record highs, compared to only one all-time record low, not surprisingly 2010 was tied for the warmest year on record, despite a prolonged solar minimum and the onset of a strong La Nina.

    "As I stated earlier I think it is on topic as it explains why I am not embracing the AGW view of future disaster."

    Sorry but that line of thinking is not only unscientific, but foolhardy. Do not forget that AGW is very much about where we are heading should we continue to be myopic and complacent regarding the consequences of doubling or trebling CO2. We have more than enough evidence now to know that we are facing some very difficult times ahead should we continue on this path. The prudent course of action is to not deny the facts and to take action in reducing GHG emissions. Bizarre that some would like to wait until it is too late to take action, just like in the video I showed @28.

    "Consensus views of "experts" in their field have been overturned and wrong."
    But nobody has overturned the theory of AGW. Regardless, your claims about consensus are moot; what we have now with the science is consilience, which is much stronger than consensus alone.

    You can continue to seek out events to convince yourself that AGW is not an issue, but doing so is just reinforcing your denial.

    "Historical data calls into question AGW climate change"

    No it doesn't.
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  13. "Last year, Jeff Masters gave us this list of 19 countries that set national all-time high temperature records in 2010, while not one single country set an all-time low record, despite the headlines of snow in the UK, Europe and..."

    I see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_of_2010–2011_in_Europe Northern Ireland beating their all-time record low in 2010. Obviously does not affect your climate argument at all, but does suggest that one should not rely on blogs for detailed claims.
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  14. Eric @63,

    Masters did not mislead anyone-- note the date stamp of his post:

    "Posted by: JeffMasters, 1:25 PM GMT on November 23, 2010"

    The year was not over when he posted those data. Dr. Masters is a reliable source of information. I noted the single all-time record low in my post @62.

    But yes, I agree that everyone should be cautious about citing information from blogs, including wikipedia ;)
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  15. One should also note, with the greatest of delicacy, that Northern Ireland is not an independent country. The UK (of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) has an all-time low record of -27.2C set on three occasions, 1895, 1982 and 1995, all in the highlands of Scotland. So Masters is right, at least where the UK's national record is concerned. Masters also corrected a previous error - his earlier posting had suggested that there had been a single national low temperature record, in Guinea, but this was actually in 2009.

    That leaves no national cold records for 2010. I of course accept that blog posts are not necessarily the most reliable of sources, but to my knowledge Jeff Masters has proven a reasonably reliable source of information, and his post includes both original sources and caveats about the records so people can check up on them. If anyone has more up-to-date or accuarate information the please post it!

    Regional and local records are broken with greater frequency, due to the very variability I was describing, but national, regional and local records all show the same trend towards more extreme highs and fewer extreme lows.
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  16. With regards to the countries that set records, many of these countries have temperature records going back less than half a century. That is not saying that it was not a hot year, but most of the state temperature records in the U.S. were set in the 1930s. We simply do not know how many of those countries may have experienced warmer temperatures in the first half of the 20th century.
    On the flip side, very few record cold temperatures have been recorded anywhere in recent times.
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  17. Do you have sources for that assertion Eric? I understand you accept the general premise, but the global record, as constructed and validated by many independent sources now, does not show the same pattern as the US, with regard to an especially hot 1930s. Based on the records constructed from the GHCN and other datasets, I would doubt what you say about the 1930s, and 'we simply do not know' does not stand up to perusal of the GHCN.
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  18. #61 skywatcher,

    Your comment "So you think cherry-picking individual heatwaves from history disproves the radiative forcing effects of CO2? Interesting logical process you have there..."

    No I would not think this. The available empirical evidence does demonstrate that Carbon Dioxide, present in the atmosphere, does radiate Downwelling Longwave radiation back to the surface. Being energy, it will cause warming to some extent. Without any positve feedbacks, a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere will raise the global temp a degree Celsius or so.

    The question I am raising is not about the science of CO2. My "denier" position is not over this point. My position of denial is that such a temp increase will lead to much more devastating climate conditions than have already taken place.

    The global anomaly is 0.8 C in 100 years. Most record temperatures are far above this level from normal. This would mean that to get an extreme heat event (like in Russia last year) you must have a location with much colder temps (area in siberia east of Moscow). I am greatly questioning the hypothesis that a few degrees of warming will lead to much more extreme weather. When I watch the World News heat waves are blamed on global warming or climate change yet the mechanisms of why a small increase in global average temp would lead to extreme weather events is lacking. Just saying more tornadoes is the result of the small global temp increase does not make it so. What are the mechanics that would show global warming is responsible for more violent weather?
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    Moderator Response: [Dikran Marsupial] this thread might be a good place to discuss such issues (and indeed find some answers to your question).
  19. 62 Albatross

    I will send a series of links to floods and droughts if you are interested. A historical perspective.

    Last 100 years of some major floods in the USA.

    Major flooding episodes in Australia.

    Worst floods in History.

    Droughts reconstructed over 500 year period.

    100 years of flood estimated damage figures in USA (note sporadic jumps).

    More if needed, let me know the thread you are posting your links on, thanks.
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  20. Albatross,

    I did have one more page of interest (compiled by NOAA if you trust this source).

    New Mexico precipitation patterns over 2000 years.

    Question to you Albatross. You rely on experts to direct your thinking about future climate events. That is okay, expert opinions can certainly be valid. I would not be interested in statistical analysis of extreme weather to show an increase and then link this to AGW theory, what would interest me is mechanisms to explain how a small increase in global temps will lead to extreme climate events (more heat waves, floods, droughts, wildfires...). This is the part of the science I am interested in. The forces that make a sustained drought. Texas has a very bad drought condition. How did the 0.8 C degree Global temp increase cause this and sustain it?
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  21. Daniel Bailey,

    I did find this interesting article compiled about year 2000 extreme weather events. Very similar to your 2010 video. Not a video version but a text one but it does suggest my point. Look at some year, pick all the worst weather related disasters you can find and say this is proof of global warming and we are in for some severe problems. Well this was 10 years ago, has it gotten worse in that time period?

    2010 seems very similar to 2000.
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  22. Norman, take note of the increases in extremes of temperature and precipitation, but a couple of quick papers for your perusal:
    Sterl et al 2011: " When can we expect extremely high surface temperatures?", just published in GRL.

    Diffenbaugh et al 2005: "Fine-scale processes regulate the response
    of extreme events to global climate change
    ", in PNAS.

    Stu Ostro has some speculations about a link between extreme weather and warming in this long (and large) presentation. What's interesting is the connections made between strong blocking events and extremes.

    We're moving well beyond wondering if extremes are going to increase: we're observing them increase, and there are many papers postulating explanations as to why. To think that the extremes are not on the increase would put someone in a clear position of denial. Given the observations of increased extreme events, like the European heatwaves of 2003, 2006 and 2010, or any number of severe flooding events (Pakistan, Australia, Brazil, Sri Lanka, USA, NZ), we obviously have a climate that is not responding by gently nudging the maxima up by fractions. The meteorological expression of climate change is proving complex and often unexpected, and there is room for many hypotheses about how the atmosphere is responding to increased heat, water vapour and reduced ice cover, but so far the responses have been obviously not 'slight'... to think so would put you in denial of the news headlines.
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  23. "How many consensus views in the Medical field have been overturned?"

    Far fewer after medicine became dominated by science (kicking and complaining all the way, of course).

    Consensus views of "experts" in their field have been overturned and wrong.

    Mostly by scientists like Galileo supporting the observations and explanations of Copernicus against the Church, science overturning much of medical silliness (still ongoing, look how many people believe that distilled water (homeopathy) can cure cancer and everything?)

    Take care with your own goals, dude.
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  24. "I would not be interested in statistical analysis of extreme weather to show an increase and then link this to AGW theory, what would interest me is mechanisms to explain how a small increase in global temps will lead to extreme climate events (more heat waves, floods, droughts, wildfires...). This is the part of the science I am interested in"

    No, you're not interested in "this part of the science". Physics (drop this stupid "AGW theory crap", the CO2 could come from God deciding to fart rather than our burning fossil fuels) predict greater chances of drought and extreme precipitation due to warming.

    ""I would not be interested in statistical analysis of extreme weather to show an increase and then link this to AGW theory"

    So what you're saying is that if atmospheric physics predicts X, you're not interested in statistical analysis to see if X is true.

    'fraidy cat ...
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  25. #70 Norman "... what would interest me is mechanisms to explain how a small increase in global temps will lead to extreme climate events ..."

    Won't answer this just now. Have to clear the decks. Firstly, you omitted a word here. "a small increase in _average_ global temps".

    Having got the average notion straight, you really need to think about what 'small' means in terms of an average global temperature change. Sure it's small in relation to day/night, summer/winter, but is it small in terms of climate?

    Do you know how many degrees cooler it was in average global temperature for a full-blown ice age? Or how many degrees warmer it was when the ice went away?

    Is 0.8 warmer in a few decades an insignificant, or small, or noteworthy, or a significant step in the journey to such a change?
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  26. Norman @69:

    "Last 100 years of some major floods in the United Stats

    By decade:
    1900-1901 6 major floods
    1910-1919 4 " "
    1920-1929 3 " "
    1930-1939 6 " "
    1940-1849 2 " "
    1950-1959 3 " "
    1960-1969 8 " "
    1970-1979 8 " "
    1980-1989 6 " "
    1990-1999 14 " "
    2000-2010 16 " "

    So if I understand this correctly, from data that only shows six of less major floods in cool decades, and only shows ten or more major floods in the most recent, and very warm decades, you have concluded that temperature has no bearing on the likelihood of a major flood.

    I could make a similar point from the Australian data where, for example, the Queensland record for flood affected area was set in March of 2010, with an affected area equal in size to Texas (Victoria for an Australian comparison) only to be smashed in January 2011 with a flood effected extent larger in area than Texas plus California (equal to Victoria plus New South Wales for Australians), while concurrently Victoria was experiencing its worst ever floods both in area affected and record breaking as to depth in most locations flooded.

    You, of course, would have us believe that that had nothing to do with the record Sea Surface Temperatures around Australia at the time; and that those record Sea Surface Temperatures had nothing to do with global warming.
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  27. Norman,

    With a couple of exceptions, you seem intent on not providing peer-reviewed papers form the scientific literature to support your claims. You, contrary to advice offered to you, continue to cherry-pick and ignore the sage advice of some here. You posts are a perfect example of someone who is in denial about the severity of the situation we face should we continue along this path.

    And you fail to recognize that paleo data is one of the major reasons climate scientists are concerned about what we are doing and where we are headed, rather than a reason fro complacency or to fuel denial. In fact, with respect, you have your logic backwards, and your attempt to justify the reason for no concern amounts to nothing more than a form of argumentum ad absurdum. Read the IPCC AR4 they have extensive sections on past climate, yet they understand that we are in for a bunch of hurt should we continue along this path. Also, do not forget that the global population will be near 10 billion later this century, so climate disruption will likely exert an even greater toll than it would have centuries ago when people had the ability to move.

    Here is a lists of some recent papers on extreme rainfall from the literature, available links here:

    "Wentz et al. (2007, Nature):

    "Climate models and satellite observations both indicate that the total amount of water in the atmosphere will increase at a rate of 7% per kelvin of surface warming. However, the climate models predict that global precipitation will increase at a much slower rate of 1 to 3% per kelvin. A recent analysis of satellite observations does not support this prediction of a muted response of precipitation to global warming. Rather, the observations suggest that precipitation and total atmospheric water have increased at about the same rate over the past two decades."


    Zhang et al. (2007, Nature):

    "We estimate that anthropogenic forcing contributed significantly to observed increases in precipitation in the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes, drying in the Northern Hemisphere subtropics and tropics, and moistening in the Southern Hemisphere subtropics and deep tropics. The observed changes, which are larger than estimated from model simulations, may have already had significant effects on ecosystems, agriculture and human health in regions that are sensitive to changes in precipitation, such as the Sahel."

    Lau et al. (2008, JGR-A)

    Allan et al. (2010, Env. Res. Letters):

    "Analysing changes in extreme precipitation using daily data within the wet regions, an increase in the frequency of the heaviest 6% of events with warming for the SSM/I observations and model ensemble mean is identified. The SSM/I data indicate an increased frequency of the heaviest events with warming, several times larger than the expected Clausius–Clapeyron scaling and at the upper limit of the substantial range in responses in the model simulations."

    Allan and Soden (2008, Science):

    "We used satellite observations and model simulations to examine the response of tropical precipitation events to naturally driven changes in surface temperature and atmospheric moisture content. These observations reveal a distinct link between rainfall extremes and temperature, with heavy rain events increasing during warm periods and decreasing during cold periods. Furthermore, the observed amplification of rainfall extremes is found to be larger than that predicted by models, implying that projections of future changes in rainfall extremes in response to anthropogenic global warming may be underestimated."

    New et al. (2001, IJC):

    "Data from a number of countries provide evidence of increased intensity of daily precipitation, generally manifested through increased frequency of wet days and an increased proportion of total precipitation occurring during the heaviest events. Over most land areas there has also been an increase in the persistence of wet spells.""

    Also, from here,

    "Lenderink and Meijgaard (2008, Nature):

    "Here, we analyse a 99-year record of hourly precipitation observations from De Bilt, the Netherlands, and find that one-hour precipitation extremes increase twice as fast with rising temperatures as expected from the Clausius–Clapeyron relation when daily mean temperatures exceed 12 °C"
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  28. Sky,
    I understand that some people may not accept this as a valid source, but it is tabulated nicely and correlates well with other sources.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._state_temperature_extremes
    Almost half the state records hgih were set in the 1930s. The last new state record high was set in 1995 (two have been tied since).
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  29. Eric, US is 2% of earth area. I believe the sky was pointing you to global records.
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  30. Norman wrote : "what would interest me is mechanisms to explain how a small increase in global temps will lead to extreme climate events (more heat waves, floods, droughts, wildfires...). This is the part of the science I am interested in. The forces that make a sustained drought. Texas has a very bad drought condition. How did the 0.8 C degree Global temp increase cause this and sustain it?"


    Question (and answer) 9 at this link should help you.
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  31. #72 skywatcher,

    I thank you for the links. The Stu Ostro report was very interesting but very similar to the video Daniel Bailey posted. It takes many extreme events around the world.

    My problem is I can't find enough data on weather related disasters (on the Net) for 1954 to develop a case. I would probably have to go to the library and dig up microfilm records of papers and magazines of that year...way too time consuming.
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  32. 77 Albatross,

    I looked at all the abstracts you linked to. Not enough for me to switch my view at this time. I am not closed minded. I like the information you provide and will always consider it.

    Do you think the links I send are flawed information because they are not in peer reviewed magazines?
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  33. #76 Tom Curtis,

    Your quote "You, of course, would have us believe that that had nothing to do with the record Sea Surface Temperatures around Australia at the time; and that those record Sea Surface Temperatures had nothing to do with global warming."

    I would not have you believe any such thing. I do not have enough available information to make any statement one way or the other. I am questioning that global warming is the cause but I am not stating it isn't.

    I did some research and you may have a good point with your Australia flooding...

    World record rain events.

    Rainfall amounts in the 2010-2011 Australian floods.

    Australian Ocean temp anomaly in 1979.

    The 1979 Australian temp anomaly for January does so ocean temps about 1 C above normal.
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  34. Thank you for this Norman. I went looking for info from Munich Re and, somehow, got to the general info for the EU. Some great maps, graphs and all sorts of fascinating stuff.

    Very, very hard to get anything prior to 1970, but have a look at this one giving flood events, and related deaths, since 74. (Don't bother with the 'older versions' link. It doesn't go any further back, the newer versions just add in recent events.)
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  35. adelady,

    From the graphs it does appear flooding is increasing in Europe. But is that because the globe is warmer? The hypothesis is not a bad one...warmer temperatures over water allow for more evaporation which will fall as more rain, but is that the cause?

    Today the North pole is just above 32F while in Texas it was 108F a 76F difference. Weather is driven by a natural pattern to balance this difference. Cold air is heavy and dense and will push under the lighter warmer air. This causes the natural circulation for cold northern air to move south and visa versa. It is why the poles do not get so cold as they would in winter (no insolation) or the equator does not get so hot.

    This huge difference can cause massive temp swings. One day can be 20F above normal and the next few days can be the same temp below normal.

    Omaha Nebraska June temps with graph to demonstrate temperature extreme fluctuations.

    This article on the jet stream shows how dips in the stream can cause colder than normal in one area and warmer in adjacent areas"

    Images from GISS to demonstrate extremes as they move about, mostly look at the Arctic region. Greenland is very warm in January and Siberia is the cold spot, by April the pattern has totally shifted.







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    Response:

    [DB] Before I take the time to try and fix your graphs, Norman, what is your point?  The topic of this post is "There's no room for a climate of denial".  Struggling to follow your thread of conversation, I see no real point other than a stance by you that any warming currently happening is part of a natural cycle or "It's not us".  Which are the subjects of different posts.

    Out of deference to adelady and scaddenp, I'll leave this up to give you the chance to reply.

  36. Norman, the predictions from the models regarding extremes in flooding etc can be found here. Note especially 10.3.6.1 for the papers on why this is expected.
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  37. Sorry my images did not work.

    I will send links...

    GISS January 2011.

    GISS February 2011.

    GISS March 2011.

    GISS April 2011.

    These links show a drastic change in surface temperature in the arctic regions in a period of 4 months. Was this switch due to the fact the globe has warmed 0.8 C in 100 years and it makes these wild fluctuations or it this just a normal cycle?

    Given time I could generate a GISS map for every month and look for overall patterns in how temperature moves around and see if blocking patterns that create heat waves in localized areas are a new phenomena that has only started to happen or it is part of the random fluctuations one sees with a temp difference of several degrees from pole to equator.
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    Response:

    [DB] "Given time I could generate a GISS map for every month"

    If you do, please do not post them here.  If you have a point (see my response to your previous comment), make it.  Supposing correlations using Eyecrometers without any real analyis is not part of the aegis of this forum.  If that is your wish, please seek a different venue for it.

    Feel free also to write up your point in proper scientific fashion and submit it to a peer-reviewed publication.

  38. Norman, your issue with localised extreme effects of what you describe as a "small" increase in average global temperature is nicely illustrated by this other GISS product.

    Northern latitudes are much, much more affected than the other two regions displayed. The fact that seasonal changes in the Arctic are also pretty drastic is not the point. Is it different from before? If so, is it getting more or less congenial for the plants, animals and people who rely on this region? And about 40 other questions which spring immediately to my mind.

    Blocking 'patterns'? We've had a couple of incredible consequences of extended blocking events, Pakistan/ Russia obviously. The possibilities are endless. These may be simple exceptional events. They may be related to Arctic melt. Or the first indicators of a new trend. Or an aberration related to an impending extreme La Nina.

    There is no way - yet - to know which of these or any other explanations may apply. The one thing we do know. A warmer ocean, a warmer atmosphere, more moisture, less ice will combine to produce more unusual weather effects more often. Which particular effects will have more impact in which regions we won't know for certain until the trends or 'patterns' show up in the numbers.

    My own view is that we have quite enough numbers already, even if we lack the wit to discern some of the patterns clearly. The glacier, Arctic sea ice and ocean acidifcation, heatwave and flood numbers are quite enough for me.
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  39. DB,

    Here is the part of the article that generated my line of posting (as well as your video).

    From article: "Another common denial argument is that ''climate has always changed in the past''. For the past 8000 years we have been in a stable climate. Society has never lived through the degree of climate change we are now causing. Bushfires can also be natural yet we don't dismiss the existence of arson. What most deniers conveniently overlook is that Australia is a nation at great risk from climate change. We are the driest inhabited continent in the world. Doing nothing about climate change will end up costing us far more than taking action such as instituting a carbon price."

    My research was to determine the validity of this statement and it is a common denial argument. I started to research climate of the past 8000 years and shorter term extreme weather events to see if we really have never lived through this level of climate change. That is why I felt it was the correct thread to post this discussion upon.
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  40. Probably too late for this thread but thought I'd post anyways:

    Norman: "How many consensus views in the Medical field have been overturned? Consensus views of 'experts' in their field have been overturned and wrong."

    I'm in that field, and I think it's actually not that often that true consensus views get overturned. A bigger problem is that a few hypothesis-generating retrospective papers come out suggesting some effect of a medication or intervention and the media overhype the results. Then later more scientifically valid prospective papers overturn what was never really a "scientific" consensus (estrogen for heart attack prevention is an example that comes to mind).

    Anyways, back on topic, I think we don't often discuss in the context of the psychology of denial, the prerequisite that that which is being denied must be so disturbing as to threaten a core belief or understanding. In the medical field you may often come across a patient who denies that they have hypertension because it is a threat to their core perception that they are "healthy" or "not the kind of person who needs medication". In cancer patients, denial of a potentially fatal cancer may occur due to the threat to our belief we are "healthy", but also because of the threat to our belief that we will not die. Often these forms of denial come in the form of minimizing the threat, as the evidence of a problem may be too obvious to deny.

    I think because we don't like to talk about politics, we often don't discuss the core beliefs threatened by climate change. In my opinion and in that of many others, this threatened core belief usually centers around a strong faith in the free market. But other threatened beliefs I think can also be involved "I'm not a polluter" being one.

    I hope these underlying threatened core beliefs that lead to denial are addressed in John's book that I plan to read, because I know that without addressing these in the medical field, denial is pretty hard to beat...
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  41. Utahn,
    You present a good point. (I just happened to glance back at this thread to see if there was any recent activity).
    Let us say that a medical advance did not overturn a medical belief, but simply reduced its significance. Now the "consensus," which may have been rather loose, is not exactly overturned, but minimized.
    Now, back to climate. How much does CO2 drive climate? 100%, 75%, 50%, less? If a loose consensus thought it was about 75%, and scientific research determined it was only 50%, does that really overturn the original belief?
    I would agree that a true consensus does not get overturned often, but one of the biggest medical changes would be the discover of bacteria-causing ulcers revamping ulcer treatment.
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  42. Eric the Red:
    "Now, back to climate. How much does CO2 drive climate? 100%, 75%, 50%, less? If a loose consensus thought it was about 75%, and scientific research determined it was only 50%, does that really overturn the original belief?"

    I would say no, unless all of the other 50% turned out to be some previously undiscovered factor...

    I think the H.Pylori thing is really interesting too, but even that didn't exactly overturn a consensus, as it turns out H.Pylori causes ulcers in large part by increasing gastric acid secretion. So acid is still causing the ulcers, lowering acid still treats and prevents ulcers (even if you don't kill the H.Pylori), it's just that in many cases a germ is causing the high levels of acid to be secreted, and you can better prevent recurrence of ulcers by also killing the germ.

    To me this would be analogous to finding that C02 still was warming the globe, that we were emitting it, but that something else was causing us to emit it besides our various desires leading to industrial and personal energy use. Maybe if God were causing us to use all these fossil fuels...which is actually probably true in some way! Do you know of any antibiotics that work on God?
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  43. I think there is little doubt that the increase in CO2 is manmade. Although, the warming of the oceans will contribute some.
    I was not trying to compare the two directly, and in fact, treating the acid will help with the symptoms, but not the cause.
    However, if we treat the CO2, i.e. switch 100% to alternate energy sources, we will elimate that warming due to CO2. Any warming due to any other cause will not be affected. If only half the warming is abated, it may be analogous to the physician who wonders why his treatment is only partially effective.
    Getting back to the idea of a consensus, is there a consensus view of what percentage of the warming was a result of increased atmospheric CO2?
    On the subject of denial, I think the two strongest forms of denial are with regards to those problems which we cannot changes (cancer in your previous post), and those problems we do not want to change.
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  44. "Getting back to the idea of a consensus, is there a consensus view of what percentage of the warming was a result of increased atmospheric CO2?"

    I'm probably not the person to ask, but from the 2007 IPCC report summary for policymakers(which I'd say was a consensus document), it appears that the consensus is that 90+% of the current forcing is anthropogenic, the great majority of which is greenhouse gas forcing.

    I think you're right that there may be stronger denial when there are things we can't change, but they still have to conflict with our core belief or core understanding to foster denial. For example, I can't (truly) change the fact that I have brown hair, but I don't deny it because it doesn't bother any core belief or value I have. I think cancer bothers a core belief that many have that they will not cease to exist, and hypertension fosters denial because some people think they will never be "sick" or "need medicine". You may actually be able to change the conditions so someone survives their cancer at least, or fixes their blood pressure, but the denial is really there due to the conflict with core beliefs...

    I think anthropogenic climate change fosters denial because believing it is true brings conflict with core beliefs such as "the free market is the best way to go", or core beliefs about our selves such as "I'm not one who hurts the environment" etc...
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  45. I had not really seen a value attributed to CO2, rather vague statements to the tune of "likely," "very likely," etc.

    I thought about your last statement, which seems to be more indifference than denial. Is it denial if someone does not really know about it or care? I would call that apathy. Denial is more of a conscious effort to repress what one actually knows to be true.
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  46. I think the "likely" is about certainty etc... but the consenus view on how much of the warming is "likely" or "very likely" due to C02 is probably somewhat reflected in the linked graph (neglected to mention its on page 16).

    I think the point I was trying to make, which we appear to agree on, is that not being able to change something may foster stronger denial, but the inability to change something is neither necessary nor sufficient for denial. In other words, assuming climate science is correct in that we are causing the great majority of the current warming with C02, we can change it. So the denial doesn't really come from any belief that we can't change it, it comes from the conflicts with our core values of believing in anthropogenic climate change etc... If someone says they believe we can't change our climate for the better, I'd say that stated belief is just an expression of their denial (which is likely caused by a deeper conflict such as mentioned in my last post)..
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  47. Agreed.
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  48. Norman commented in a post on another thread about reasons for denial. The post was deleted, presumably because it was well and truly of topic on that thread, however, I wish to respond to some points he made. I assume it is on topic here (please delete if not) and so shall respond here.

    The gist of Norman's comments (and working from memory, so apologies if I get it wrong) is that many people are deniers because, no matter what large scale weather event occurs, somewhere in the MSM will be a report connecting it to global warming. Based on a well known aphorism, that which explains everything, explains nothing.

    As I had previously indicated climate scientists do not simply attribute everything to global warming. Rather, they make such attributions when they have some causal mechanism in mind which would justify the connection. Those connections may be disputed, indeed, controversial amongst climate scientists, but those who make the attributions do so because of their understanding of the science.

    Unfortunately this does lead to a problem in the mainstream media. The MSM is not discriminating in its reporting, and will accept uncritically almost anything that can fill the pages. Its reporting of science, in particular, is atrocious. Consequently when some scientist with an as yet disputed mechanism steps forward attributing some weather phenomenon to global warming, the reporting will not indicate if the attribution is speculative, preliminary, or well founded. Nor will it indicate whether the mechanism is being considered by only a few researchers, or commands a consensus. All just goes into the melting pot of misinformation that we call "news".

    This goes to show that science by press release is a bad idea. It has never had anything to commend it except personal aggrandizement. Not that the scientists are always to blame. If major weather events are happening, reporters will ask for a comment and then shears all context and nuance from the reply. Then the sub-editor shears all context and nuance from the story in deciding the headline, and its the headline that sticks.

    My point is, however, that this is not a reason for denial in any person, or at least it is not a substantive reason.

    I once debated with a man who was convinced that global warming was wrong because he was convinced that he could remember the temperature from fifty years ago in his youth, and distinguish between those of today. It was, according to him, warmer then than now. That the thermometer readings disagreed with him (it was Australia, not the US), that Australia, let alone a small rural town in Victoria is not the globe, that we can't distinguish temperatures with the necessary sensitivity from day to day, let alone acrosss decades, and that the elderly are notorious for feeling the cold more - all where irrelevant considerations. He had his Reason, and science could go hang.

    Nobody of sound mind could consider that an acceptable reason to be a denier. Well the same is true of the activities of the mainstream media. They are notorious for getting things wrong, for beating up non-existent controversies, for exaggeration and for over simplification. If I were to trust the mainstream media, I would think that 30% or more of climate scientists disputed global warming.

    Because of these well known features of the mainstream media, anybody who bases their disagreement with climate science on media reports is on a fools errand. They may be deniers, but they certainly are not skeptical. Had they been even a smidgeon skeptical, they would have known the propensities of MSM, and not attributed to climate scientists the ridiculous hodge-podge view that they do.
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  49. Good post Tom, although I do not know how many others will get a chance to read it. The attribution of every little weather event (not to mentiona the Japaneses earthquake) to gloabl warming has been a very thorny issue. The media reporting is less the issue as is the statement by a reputable (?) scientist who made the claim. The media will always try to sensationalize anything to sell.

    These claims have gone beyond the media, as recent novels have used the "blame it on global warming excuse" to write off any unexplained event (i.e. J. K. Rowlings and Michael Scott).

    As far as the numbers go, I tend to dismiss anything that gives a specific number as it seems that anyone can claim to be a "climate scientist" these days. Then there is the question of exactly what is being disputed. I would suspect that 90% of scientists could find some aspect of global warming to dispute, especially since many aspects have a wide range of results. I also feel that too many of this category are lumped in with the term denier, just because they dispute some aspect of AGW theory.
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  50. Eric the Red wrote : "I would suspect that 90% of scientists could find some aspect of global warming to dispute, especially since many aspects have a wide range of results. I also feel that too many of this category are lumped in with the term denier, just because they dispute some aspect of AGW theory."


    Instead of relying on vague suspicions, could you back up that claim ? I presume it's based on something more tangible than suspicion ?
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