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Simon Clark: The climate lies you'll hear this year

Posted on 26 April 2024 by BaerbelW, John Cook, John Mason

This video includes conclusions of the creator climate scientist Dr. Simon Clark. It is presented to our readers as an informed perspective. Please see video description for references (if any).

This year you will be lied to! Simon Clark helps prebunk some misleading statements you'll hear about climate. The video includes a few interview snippets with John Cook and John Mason while a longer version of the interview is available on subscription based Nebula.

Support Simon Clark on patreon:

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Comments 1 to 14:

  1. Some commentary on a recent form of climate scepticism that I thought was interesting:

    Prof Jem Bendell: When my book Breaking Together came out in May, some of my climate activist friends were surprised that I gave significant attention to rebutting scepticism on the existence of manmade climate change. I also surprised some of my colleagues at COP27 a year ago, when I gave a short talk on the rise of a new form of scepticism. That new form is couched in the important desire to resist oppression from greedy, hypocritical and unaccountable elites. I think the surprise of some that we still need to respond to climate scepticism reflects the bubble that many people working on environmental issues exist within. That’s a bubble of Western middle classes who believe they are well-informed, ethical and have some agency, despite relying on the Guardian, BBC or CNN for much of their news. Outside that bubble, there has been a rise in the belief that authorities and media misrepresent science to protect and profit themselves, while controlling the general public. That was primarily because of the experience of the pronouncements and policies during the early years of the pandemic. When people who are understandably resistant to that Covid orthodoxy have discovered the way elites have been using concern about climate change to enrich themselves, such as through the carbon credits scam, many have become suspicious of the whole agenda on climate change. Those of us who know some of the science on climate, and pay attention to recent temperatures and impacts, can feel incredulous at such scepticism. My green colleagues ask me: “How can someone deny what’s changing right before their very eyes?”

    My correspondence with people expressing a new type of freedom-defending climate scepticism has led me to conclude that something else is needed than simply correcting their views with clear logic and evidence. My answers to the questions, which you can read below, may not have been perfect (he presents a list of climate myths and correct information similar to . But the responses from sceptical people have sometimes seemed irrational. For instance, one type of response is an inconsistent switching between epistemologies (the fancy word for describing our view of how we come to know things about the world). That inconsistency involves sometimes claiming to reject all scholarship as untrustworthy instead to trust only firsthand experience. It is inconsistent because they ignore lots of firsthand experience contrary to their view, while also reaching for second hand and poorly referenced or debunked scholarship (often in the form of a blog or video clip) that might seem to support their view. Another irrational approach is the repetition of a claim that has already been debunked, which is the intellectual equivalent of raising one’s voice. One example is sending a blog or a video that repeats previously debunked claims. Another approach is to switch topic on to values and principles, while repeating false binaries given to them by the media. Specifically, that is the binary that climate change can’t be real because globalist elites are profiting from the issue and trying to control us. Instead, both the former and latter can be true at the same time (yep, quite elementary logic). Finally, the most widespread and pernicious irrationality is to regard these discussions as just one topic, and then choose criticism of the globalists as being the most important response, rather than understanding the situation of the natural environment and responding to it in a better way. That happens when people think “after all this debate, I’m not sure about climate change but I’m certain about resisting the globalists, so I’ll focus on that.” If one’s motivation for inquiring into public affairs is to feel like a moral agentic person and experience a burst of energy from belonging to the good guys in a fight, then such a conclusion is seductive. That is especially because it requires no painful recognition of the ecological tragedy, no sacrifices, no risk taking, no changing of lifestyles, and no complicated participation in community projects. It also generates easy likes on social media from people similarly addicted to narratives that avoid difficult self-reflection and change. Unfortunately, the result of this irrationality is people don’t begin to prepare emotionally and practically for what has already started unfolding around them.

    ( I don't entirely agree with the writers own tendency towards criticism of globalism and elites,  and of the mainstream authorities motives,  and of the idea of covid lockdown policies, but I thought he makes some good points on other issues as above)

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    Moderator Response:

    [BL] Link fixed.

  2. Sorry the link got messed up. Corrected link:

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    Moderator Response:

    [BL] If you do not include the "https:" part of the link when you create it, it looks like the SkS web code assumes it is supposed to be an SkS link.

  3. nigel:

    Reading that quote from Jem Blendell in comment #1, I can't tell if the first paragraph represents an argument against standard climate science, or an argument against the contrarian/denial viewpoint. It's not very well worded. In the second paragraph, it seems more clear that he thinks the contrarian viewpoint is not well supported.

    When he talks about "the elites" and people being in the Guardian/BBC/CNN "bubble" and "the whole agenda on climate change", it certainly looks like he accepted some rather bogus arguments against climate science. Personally,  don't accept climate science because of what I read in newspapers, web pages, or media outlets - I accept climate science from having learned it in university classes, teaching it in university, and reading the scientific literature and reports summarizing that literature such as the IPCC.

    That final sentence in paragraph one finally reassures me that Jem Blendell has not drunk the contrarian koolaid, so the second paragraph is more palatable.

    The unfortunate reality is that expecting the general public to become more scientifically-literate is a tough row to hoe. The tier-1 contrarians, who know they are peddling lies, know that emotional and bogus rhetoric wll convince a lot of people. There is the old variant of the old saying:

    You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time...

    ...and that's enough.

    There is also the old Christian Science Monitor cartoon:

    Inconvenient Truth


    SkS used to have a web page that highlighted contradictions in "contrarian" viewpoints. Things such as "the temperature record is unreliable" while using the same temperature record to claim "no warming since 1998 2016". (The SkS page was taken down because it was too much work to maintain. There is an archived version here.)

    The contrarian "science" is full of such contradictions. The ability to believe multiple  contradictory viewpoints at the same time is a feature of compartmentalization.

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  4. Bob Loblow.

    I agree entirely that the first paragraph was not well written.  I almost didn't post it - but I felt it was needed for context and cutting bits out of it is tedious work.However it looks like  hes just having a moan about mainstream media by suggesting The Guardian are far from perfect and also that its readers are allegdely unaware of the views of the current contrarians (which I would dispute). If you even just quickly scan the link its clear the writer is a bit of a media sceptic himself and also a bit suspicious of elites. 

    This is why I highlighted material in italics the second paragraph which seemed to summarise the main point of his article, which is the anti elite and anti  globalisation agenda and how thats a convenient excuse to do nothing about the climate change. I think you seem to have got distracted by the other stuff.

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  5. I am really hoping that somebody will be able to debunk the following claim in a way I can understand, or point me to an article which already does that. Yesterday, I was Googling about climate change and I came across a claim about CO2 and photons. Basically, it was saying that out of every 100,000 CO2 molecules which absorb a reflected IR photon from the surface, only 2 will actually re-emit that photon. Instead the other 99,998 molecuales will bump into a molecule of nitrogen or oxygen. And the claim was this means the contribution of CO2 to global warming was infinitesimally small. It seems to be referencing this article. Thanks.

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  6. nigel @ 4:

    I have to admit that I did not read the link to Bendell's web page before commenting on the portions you posted. Reading the link, I still don't like the way he refers to "elites" and such. What the heck is an "elite"? Although wiktionary includes a definition of "Someone who is among the best at a certain task", it also includes a definition of "A special group or social class of people which have a superior intellectual, social or economic status as the elite of society".

    In the context of climate, economic, and social debates, the latter definition is probably closer to what is intended - but it also becomes a dog-whistle for "those uppity people that are trying to control us". The wiktionary definition uses the word "superior" - but that implies some sort of measurable scale by which the ability or status can be determined. If we consider "the elite" as people that have earned that status through demonstrated ability, then it's not a pejorative. In dog-whistle politics, the term "elite" has the implied meaning that the individual or group is unjustified in asserting any sort of superior position.

    In that context, Bendell probably has some sort of point to make - but I think he has lost the battle by accepting the framing of the contrarians. The vagueness of the term "elite" works to their advantage - we may not know who "the elite" are, but we know they are Bad™. There is an innate resentment of that vague group, and framing the debate that way feeds the anger (to the advantage of the contrarians).

    It used to be an argument of "but that's communism", and we now see "woke" being used in the same fashion. Apply a term everyone "knows" is Bad, and avoid actually making a concrete argument. It's not a new approach.

    In reading Blendell's full post and his About page, I also see that he is not a climate scientist - and that some of his comments about contrarian arguments (e.g. climate models) demonstrates a lack of understanding why some of those contrarian arguments are wrong.

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  7. Martin Watson @5 ,

    the absorption and re-emission of IR-photons by CO2 molecules is discussed in "Most Used Climate Myths" Number 74  ~ check the top left of (every) page on the SkepticalScience site.   [Click on View All Arguments]

    The energized CO2 molecules then then immediately transfer energy (kinetic) to neighbouring molecules (being mostly N2 and O2).   Much the same thing happens with other GreenHouse Gas molecules e.g. of water molecules etc.

    And N2 and O2 molecules transfer energy by impact to their neighbours ~ including to CO2 as well.  All these impacts happening at a rate of billions per second.

    Therefore, even though the IR-photon emission "percentage" is ultra-low for a particular molecule of CO2 or other GHGas . . . the billions of impacts produce an emission of a sea of photons per cubic millimeter of air.

    Also, the geoexpro  article you link to, goes into all this in a more detailed way. 

    Martin, I did not see that article make a suggestion that CO2 had an "infinitesimally small" global warming effect.  Have I missed something ~ or were you confusing your memory with some other article elsewhere on the internet?  It would be interesting to examine who or what was making the claim that CO2  (or H2O or other GHGasses) was inert . . . and was making a claim that GreenHouse-type global warming does not exist.  Because such a claim goes against all the evidence gathered during the last 100+ years of investigation by physicists.

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  8. Hi Eclectic

    Thanks for the reply.

    Yes, it was another website making the claim that this research meant the effect of CO2 was infinitesimally small. I then tracked down the geoexpro as the original source of the info. I have to confess I didn't understand it!

    This was the website where I first read it:

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  9. Martin Watson @ 5:

    From a quick reading, there is nothing wrong with the information presented in the link you provide. It looks like an accurate discussion of what happens to the energy contained in an IR photon when it is absorbed by a greenhouse gas (CO2 or otherwise). That energy is almost always lost to other molecules (including non-greenhouse gases such as oxygen and nitrogen), and this leads to the heating of the atmosphere in general.

    The article you link to also goes on to explain how higher temperatures in the atmosphere lead to more collisions with CO2 molecules (or other greenhouse gases), which will increase the rate at which they emit IR photons. And it explains how those are emitted in all directions, and how this leads to the greenhouse effect.

    Just because very few absorbed photons lead directly to an immediate photon emission by CO2 does not mean that the energy is lost forever and the energy is not eventually emitted as a photon. The complete 100% of the absorbed photon energy is added to the atmosphere, and it continues to remain in the atmosphere until it is eventually emitted out to space or absorbed at the surface.

    Eli Rabbet's blog has an excellent discussion of this same factor.

    In other words, that article is an accurate description of exactly the process by which greenhouse gases such as CO2 lead to warming of the atmosphere. It provides nothing that represents a refutation of modern (the past 100+ years) of climate science. The article does not mean what the people are claiming it means.

    If you are in a debate with someone making this argument, perhaps you can try asking them "what happens to the other 99.998% of the energy?" Or perhaps ask them "why are you referring to an article that accurately describes the greenhouse effect and how it causes warming, as if it refutes it?"

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  10. Martin Watson @ 8:

    As a general rule, you can assume that any paper that is linked to at NoTricksZone wiil not say what NoTricksZone thinks it says. That site is pretty much a complete waste of time.

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  11. Thanks, Bob Loblaw

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  12. Martin:

    To see an example of the sort of "tricks" used by NoTricksZone, you can read this pair of old posts on the 1970s global cooling myth:

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  13. Martin Watson @11 and prior :

    thanks for that info ~ and yes, as Bob Loblaw says, the NoTricksZone website is indeed pretty much a complete waste of time.

    Note the names Pierre Gosselin and Kenneth Richard attached to the "NTZ" article you linked to.  These two names have a long history of showing a shameless disregard of truth & probity, and they appear to have no hesitation in trotting out a pile of misleading half-truths ~ year in, year out.  Or quarter-truths.  Or worse.

    NoTricksZone  may have the occasional worthwhile article ~ but I have never yet come across one there (admittedly I haven't bothered to make an extensive search of that website).   NoTricksZone  is the sort of website which you might use to kill some time reading . . . if it's a wet weekend . . . and you absolutely, absolutely , have exhausted every other avenue of mental entertainment.

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  14. Martin Watson @ 5,

    Bob Loblaw and Eclectic provide good explanations. To add to them, look up Kirchoff’s Law for radiant energy: Absorptance = Emittance when at thermal equilibrium. Understanding this concept will go a long way toward helping understand the mechanism of global warming. Combined with the atmospheric temperature profile, it is key as to why global warming is a result of increasing CO2 and CH4 in the cold upper atmosphere. It explains why absorption in the lower atmosphere does not prevent radiant energy in the 14-16 micron range from being transferred to the upper atmosphere. Consider a 3-step process: 1) absorb a photon, 2) collisions bring adjacent molecules to the same temperature, 3) emit a photon. It might seem like a pass-through of photons, but think of it as conservation of energy, not conservation of photons. Thus, absorption and emission are functions of temperature. The atmospheric temperature profile is controlled by several factors including adiabatic expansion, condensation, convection, and concentration of greenhouse gases. When these factors are not changing, the temperature profile is fixed. Temperature controls radiant energy. The temperature changes only when something upsets the energy balance and steady state equilibrium temperature, like increasing greenhouse gas concentrations.

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