The Watering Hole, Monday, May 19th, 2014: Deniers vs Debunkers

In a recent thread on ThinkProgress, State Representative Mark McCollough of Oklahoma, one of eleven members of the Oklahoma House Administrative Rules and Government Oversight Committee, used the typical climate-change denialist’s talking points to support his vote against new standards for Oklahoma’s science education. From TP [bold emphasis mine]:

On Monday, the Oklahoma House Administrative Rules and Government Oversight Committee voted 10-1 to reject the Oklahoma Academic Skills for Science, a set of academic standards that had been developed by a committee of teachers, community members, as well as business and industry representatives over the last year and a half.

“One of the things brought up in the House Committee meeting was concern over teaching climate and weather subjects in early grades.

Oklahoma Rep. Mark McCullough expressed his concern over the sections in the standards that deal with climate science, sections he said make references to “human impacts on the climate” in third, fourth, and fifth grades. He also said he thought references to human activity related to the environment focused on negative aspects of human involvement, such as the over-spraying of pesticides, and said “positive” examples of humans intervening in the environment to produce a change, such as flood control, weren’t as common, a focus that could end up leading to an “agenda-driven curriculum” that teaches students that “people are the problem.”

“There’s been a lot of criticisms, in some sectors, as to maybe some of the hyperbole — what some consider hyperbole relative to climate change. I know it’s a very very difficult, very controversial subject,” he said, going on to ask, “do you believe that those sections specifically relating to weather and climate particularly at the earlier ages…could potentially be utilized to implicate into some pretty young impressionable minds, a fairly-one sided view as to that controversial subject, a subject that’s very much in dispute among even the academics?”

The Oklahoma Science Teachers Association (along with just about anyone with half a brain) disagree. The OSTA’s blog reports that, “[A]ccording to teachers who were present at the hearing”, one of the two “dominant concerns expressed by members” was:

“Weather and Climate being placed in early grade levels – It appeared to observers that committee members believe standards that reference climate at all might be utilized to direct students to being forced to subscribe to climate change theory. ([Blog Archivist]: Isn’t it ironic that a state so dependent on weather and climate might be lead by elected officials who are afraid that science teachers might broach the topic in 3rd or 4th grade?)”

Okay, climate-change deniers, enough is enough. Let’s start the debunking.

May 16th’s Bill Moyers show featured Canadian scientist and environmental activist David Suzuki discussing the topic of “The War on Climate Change Scientists.” It’s a fascinating – and frightening – interview, which can be seen (here. (The transcript of the interview is available via the link just below the video.) The Moyers & Company website then provided Eight Pseudoscientific Climate Claims Debunked by Real Scientists,” by Joshua Holland. Here’s just a couple of excerpts:

Under “No, the Earth Hasn’t Stopped Warming Since 1998 (or 1996 or 1997)”:

“But the idea that the climate stopped warming at some point goes back even further. In the 1990s, two climatologists, Roy Spencer and Richard Lindzen, published a series of papers hypothesizing that global warming had stopped. Spencer and Lindzen are among the few climate contrarians with real scientific credentials, and have been widely cited by climate skeptics; Spencer has testified at a number of Republican congressional hearings on climate science.

Spencer also dismisses the theory of evolution, and has written: “I view my job a little like a legislator, supported by the taxpayer, to protect the interests of the taxpayer and to minimize the role of government.”

“But according to John Abraham, a professor of thermal and fluid sciences at the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering, “It turns out that they made three serious errors in their data…It took years, and it took a lot of time from other scientists to find these errors in their calculations. In fact, they switched a positive sign for a negative sign in one of their equations.”

Under “Yes, There Is a Scientific Consensus”:

“There have been three studies, using different methodologies, that have shown that almost all working climate scientists — 97 percent — accept the consensus view.

“But what if those three percent who reportedly reject the consensus are like Galileo, who challenged the 16th century view that the sun revolved around the Earth? John Abraham and five of his colleagues published a study earlier this year which found that studies authored by climate contrarians “were often found to be unsubstantiated by the data,” resulting in “criticisms, corrections, and in some cases, resignation of editors.” They add: “the same fate has not befallen the prominent consensus studies.”

Under “Yes, It’s Been Warm Before”:

“Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech, says…“Just because something happened before for one reason, doesn’t mean that when it happens again it’s for the same reason.”

““Our planet is running a fever,” says Hayhoe, “and I can think of six or seven reasons why it could be running hot. As a scientist, you don’t just jump to conclusions. You do the tests. You say, ‘OK, could it be a natural cycle this time? Could it be the sun? Could it be volcanoes? Could it be orbital cycles and ice ages?’ We run those tests and we see if it could be any of those things that caused the climate to change naturally in the past. And in this case, we’ve run those tests and the answer to all those questions is, ‘no.’ In fact, if our temperature were controlled by natural causes right now, we’d be getting cooler, not warmer.”

Let me finish with one of the most influential people in environmentalism’s history, the ‘mother’ of environmentalism, Rachel Carson. The Moyers & Company site has an article honoring “The Bravery of Rachel Carson”, which reminded me of Carson’s influence on my mindset. In high school (early ’70s), we were treated – if that is the right word – to a viewing of the documentary “Silent Spring”, an account of Rachel Carson’s research and writing of the book.

“The most alarming of all man’s assaults upon the environment is the contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous and even lethal materials. This pollution is for the most part irrecoverable; the chain of evil it initiates not only in the world that must support life but in living tissues is for the most part irreversible. In this now universal contamination of the environment, chemicals are the sinister and little-recognized partners of radiation in changing the very nature of the world — the very nature of its life. — Rachel Carson

I remember the tears in my eyes watching the documentary, tears of sympathy for the land, the animals, the environment being spoiled by pesticides. And here I am, 40+ years later, seeing a similar disaster-in-the-making, with Monsanto running/ruining crops, with GMOs with who-knows-what effects yet on humans, and with climate-change deniers trying to blind people to the fact that our planet is already suffering the consequences of man-made global climate change. And I still weep.

This is our daily open thread–what’s on YOUR mind today?

49 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Monday, May 19th, 2014: Deniers vs Debunkers

    • One of the SyFy shows that Wayne and I are addicted to is Continuum. It starts in 2077, when the U.S. is ‘governed’ by the Corporate Congress, and “Protectors” (police) are equipped with implanted computer links and suits that are bullet-proof and have all kinds of technological gizmos built in. The basic premise has one of the Protectors being ‘accidentally’ sent back in time, and that time has an evil corporation called Sonmanto. It is so obviously based on Monsanto that I’m surprised that they haven’t complained. Heh.

  1. No matter the effects of climate change, you would think we could all agree that spewing pollutants into the atmosphere, and depleting natural resources at a great rate of speed, is inherently short-sighted and foolish. In their greed, the deniers have even made conservation into a dirty word. Those who would deny both climate change and evolution had best be praying evolution is true.

  2. Occupy Activist Cecily McMillan Sentenced To Three Months In Prison

    An Occupy Wall Street activist has been sentenced to three months in prison for assaulting a police officer as he led her out of a protest.


    McMillan, 25, received a three-month sentence to be followed by community service and five years of probation. Having been remanded at Riker’s Island jail for the past two weeks, she will receive credit for time served.

    McMillan was earlier this month found guilty of deliberately elbowing Officer Grantley Bovell in the face at Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park in March 2012.

  3. If it takes Nathan 4 hours to unload a moving truck and it takes Iris 2 hours longer than Nathan to unload a moving truck, how long would it take the two of them, working together, to unload 2 moving trucks?

    A) 5 hours

    B) 4 hours and 48 minutes

    C) 4 hours

    D) 2 hours and 24 minutes

    E) 2 hours

    My answer is F
    None of the above.
    It is impossible or extremely dangerous to unload a moving truck unless you park it.

  4. . . . leading to an “agenda-driven curriculum” that teaches students that “people are the problem.”

    People ARE the freakin’ problem! People are proving themselves to be the potential mass extinction equivalent of the meteor that smashed into the earth 65 million years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs AND (apparently) Adam and Eve as well.

    Of course there are the “positive” things humans have done —

    . . . “positive” examples of humans intervening in the environment to produce a change, such as flood control . . .

    I mean wow, just wow! Wonder how that idiot will explain the “positive” impact of Florida and NYC under water thanks to sea level rise?

    Umm . . . oh, wait . . . Florida gone, NYC submerged . . . Well, I’m sure there’s a negative in there somewhere.

    • I’ve been told that 10,000 years ago the ocean was 200 miles east of where I am now, about 2 miles west of the shore. One would think having all the additional land that a cooler Earth would provide would be desirable for the economic development opportunities!

  5. when man returns the climate to what it was when dinosaurs roamed the earth, will evolution cause dinosaurs to reappear?

  6. America’s Most Gerrymandered Congressional Districts

    This election year we can expect to hear a lot about Congressional district gerrymandering, which is when political parties redraw district boundaries to give themselves an electoral advantage.
    Gerrymandering is at least partly to blame for the lopsided Republican representation in the House. According to an analysis I did last year, the Democrats are under-represented by about 18 seats in the House, relative to their vote share in the 2012 election. The way Republicans pulled that off was to draw some really, really funky-looking Congressional districts.

    This article has some good maps showing how ridiculous this has become. Combined with Republican obstruction, is there any wonder Congress doesn’t have to produce laws that benefit the majority?

  7. Yes, it has been warm before. But human civilization wasn’t trying to perpetuate itself in those pre-Cambrian days of yore…

  8. Wheat Set for Longest Slump in 15 Years as Rain Aids Crop

    Wheat futures headed for the longest slump since 1998 amid speculation that rains will boost U.S. crops at a time of expanding global supplies.

    As much as 2 inches of rain will improve soil moisture for developing wheat from Texas to Nebraska beginning May 23 after weekend showers bolstered some crops in the region, T-Storm Weather LLC, said in a report today. Prices have slumped about 10 percent since reaching a 14-month high on May 6 as drought conditions eased in the Great Plains.


    World stockpiles will rise 0.5 percent to 187.4 million metric tons by June 1, 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said May 9. Corn reserves before the 2015 harvest will increase for a fourth straight year, and combined grain supplies are projected at the highest since 2001, the agency forecasts.

    Something better get cheaper, because meat sure isn’t! Now corn is cheap, and the feedlots can’t get the cattle because ranchers cut their herds last year because of the drought..

      • The Invisible Hand is the cost added by the commodities speculators who bid up the price of everything just to take a profit out of it. If taxes on capital gains were high enough, it would only sell to businesses who actually make products out of these, since their costs would be tax deductible. When Goldman Sachs gets out of buying and selling aluminum then Boeing and Lockheed can make aircraft cheaper. I wonder how much that would lower the defense budget.

    • What gets me is they lament when drought causes a terrible crop, then lament when good weather causes a surplus.

  9. For all of us NW folks, here’s a can’t miss event to attend:
    (apologies for the Bing linkage)
    The Seattle Creation Conference is WA’s largest event that features Christian scientists & apologists supporting Biblical worldview and that are dedicated to glorifying God through scientific studies of His creation. The purpose of the event is to educate & strengthen faith against pseudoscience, debunk evolutionary myths and encourage the Church to trust in the Bible as authoritative on early Earth history.

  10. Tonight I’m back on 8 hours, so I only work until 11:30pm (9:30 Zootime). Today is also my first day as a direct employee instead of a contractor, unless HR screwed it up. I get paid for next Monday!

  11. And, in the same vain (sic) as the last post, here’s another doozy.
    Eternity Conference
    Two ticket options: 1. The Full Conference ~ $30 for Three Sessions Crystal McVea (Thursday, June 5th – 7pm), Don Piper (Friday, June 6th – 7pm), Heaven is for Real (Saturday, June 7th – 4pm) 2. Heaven is for Real Event ~ $15 for One of Three

    • I had a Western Civilizations class, where we were taught that the Code of the Sumerians was the template for the Ten Comandments.

  12. Can’t seem to get away from them this came in the mail:

    We are inviting you and your family as a public service to help people get answers to their Bible questions; such as does God really care about us? What happens to us when we die?, How can I find happiness in life? We would like to introduce you we would like to introduce to you our new website JW(.)org where you can find reliable accurate answers to life’s most important questions.

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