Facts, Facts The Musical Fruit

Facts, Facts The Musical Fruit

Corey WilsonWednesday,22 July 2015

I suppose I’ll address you directly, Cal. I’d like to start by saying how much I enjoyed your article. My favourite part, in fact, was when you failed to provide any links for “data readily available and linked to scientific studies through climatdepot.com has found no trends, or declining trends when it comes to frequency of hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, floods, and wildfires,” yet were able to link to an article about Kermit the Frog from 1996. I hope you’ll enjoy this article as much as I enjoyed yours.

I’ll take a second to let everyone know that this is going to be fucking long. I mean. Very long. I shouldn’t swear; swearing reveals how limited my vocabularium is (God, I hope that’s a word).

I like citations and links, and I like learning. I took a moment to visit that website you linked for me, and I found so many things! None of them, of course, taught me anything about the climate, but I learned a lot. As a token of my appreciation, allow me to show you what I learned while I perused climatedepot.com.

I learned Climate Depot is a project of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT). I looked at affiliations because I haven’t crossed a “denialist” website that didn’t have monetary ties to big businesses. As I started digging further, the rabbit hole revealed itself.

Marc Morano, editor in chief of Climate Depot, is an employee of CFACT and was the highest compensated employee from (at least) 2011-2013.

As I dug through the tax records I noticed that CFACT received over $300,000 in 2011 (and more in the preceding and subsequent years) from an organization called Donors Trust (oddly enough, Donors Trust claims to have provided CFACT with over a million dollars in that same year). I became mired at this point, and struggled to find info on Donors Trust and who exactly was funding it (which is the point of the organization).

Then I stumbled upon the Knowledge and Progress Fund (hereby known as KFP); KFP is chaired by Charles Koch of Koch Industries. Surprisingly, the organization isn’t listed on any websites affiliated to Mr. Koch. I wonder why.

In 2010 KFP gave Donors Trust 2 million dollars in grants and contributions. Not only that, KFP doesn’t appear to have given any other organization money that year. In the same year, Donors Trust gave CFACT $1,260,753 for things like “general operations” and its Environmental Educational Fund project. In that same year, CFACT paid employee Marc Morano $149,000.

So, Cal. What have I learned? I’ve learned that Climate Depot is funded by the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, which is funded in part by Donors Trust, which received money from the Knowledge and Progress Fund, which is controlled by oil bazillionaire Charles Koch. So maybe, just maybe, Climate Depot is receiving funds (in)directly from Mr. Koch. I’m sure you understand the implications.

Now that I’m done pointing out Climate Depot’s possible bias, uncross your eyes and let’s move on. I’ve outlined three major assertions in this section (even though there are thousands and thousands more on that single webpage you linked); they are:

Claim One: Since December 1996 there has been no global warming at all.

Cal linked this page to accompany Claim One—naturally it redirects to climatedepot.com—which shows a graph that indicates the global mean temperature change from December 1996 to April 2015 has been -0.002ºC/century (no warming). That graph, plotted by using only the RSS satellite dataset (because one’s apparently enough), is the sole piece of evidence presented for Claim One.

I don’t know where to begin. I guess I’ll start by saying it’s outright fallacious because, and I quote, “any deviations from an unchanging linear warming trend are explained by the influence of [El Niño Southern Oscillations], volcanoes and solar variability.” For us muggles, that means we only see a pause in global warming when the aforementioned internal variables are present in the datasets. When those climatic anomalies are accounted for (and the data are adjusted to compensate for those anomalies), there is no cessation in the global warming trend.

“But that graph on that ugly Climate Depot website says otherwise!” ~ Hopefully not you, 2015

How do I reconcile that inconvenient “truth?” Simply: they’ve cherry-picked the data to start on a year with a massive temperature spike (the 1997-98 El Niño) as to influence the resulting trend. What Climate Depot has done by starting their measurements in 1996 is either disingenuous or ignorant because of course you’ll see a deviation in the warming trend when you start your measurements in a year where the temperature was abnormally hot. As senior research scientist at RSS Charles Mears explained, “It’s like a pro baseball player deciding he’s having a batting slump three weeks after a game when he hit three homers because he’s only considering those three weeks instead of the whole season.”

Climate Depot needs to look at the long term facts: the Earth has seen an increase in global warming from decade-to-decade since the 1950s.

Claim Two: Since 1979 the RSS and UAH (satellite) dataset series and the terrestrial dataset series are nearly identical.

Claim Two—the claim of similarity between datasets—is the most infuriating assertion in Climate Depot’s entire damn “article” because the evidence for Claim Two contradicts the evidence for Claim One.

Claim Two was made by Climate Depot to rebuke an assertion by RSS scientist Charles Mears. His assertion was that the three terrestrial (surface temperature) datasets are more reliable than the RSS (which Climate Depot based Claim One on) and UAH satellite datasets because the former are more consistent with each other. The point Dr. Mears was making was that “denialists” shouldn’t single-out the one dataset that lends to their claim when there are better, more consistent datasets available.

I will concede that Climate Depot’s assertion that all the datasets are nearly identical coincides with my research; the datasets are nearly identical. So I will also concede that I found it strange that Dr. Mears claimed the contrary (are you guys digging relishing my vocabularium?). Dr. Mears knows a lot more about the subject than I do, though.

The key here is knowing what the datasets show. What the previous link demonstrates is that the three terrestrial datasets show warming rates of 1.71ºC/century (GISS), 1.75ºC/century (NCDC), and 1.70ºC/century (HadCRU). The satellite datasets show warming rates of 1.57ºC/century (RSS), and 1.41ºC/century (UAH).

If the issue is not yet clear: Climate Depot has used the entire length of the satellite datasets to prove Claim Two, but has not used the entire length to prove Claim One. If they would’ve used the entire length instead of cherry-picking the 1996 start date, they would’ve realized that the satellite datasets agree that there hasn’t been a pause in the warming trend. The underlying point then is that it’s not okay to use the entire length of the datasets for Claim Two and not Claim One. Why? Because you can’t use evidence to prove one point, and then ignore that same evidence when it disproves another point.

Why would they look at the evidence that would disprove the “pause” and fail to acknowledge it? Hmm. That’s a tricky question.

Claim Three: Recent extreme weather cannot be blamed on global warming

You listed a lot of types of extreme weather, so I’m just going to narrow it down to one type (hurricanes) for the sake of brevity.

Claim Three is not wrong, but I’ll warn you about continuing down this path because this assertion easily becomes “global warming doesn’t affect the weather.” Now, maybe you wouldn’t take that next step, and that’s good, but I’m skeptical so I’ll continue.

Anyway, it’s true that global warming is not spawning more hurricanes; there is no tie between the rise of sea surface temperatures (SST) and the frequency of hurricanes. However, global warming is certainly affecting extreme weather.

Whether or not you’d like to admit it, sea surface temperatures are rising, and there is a link between the severity of storms and the temperature of the oceans. The U.S. Global Change Research Program states that, “simulations suggest that for each 1.8°F increase in tropical sea surface temperatures, core rainfall rates will increase by six to 18 percent and the surface wind speeds of the strongest hurricanes will increase by about one to eight percent.”

This is global warming affecting climate directly. You can declare that global warming isn’t causing more extreme weather to divert uninformed readers from the real issue if you want, but the fact remains that we’re going to see storms worsen as temperatures rise.

But wait, there’s more: sea levels are rising as well. Since 1997 we’ve seen oceans rise 60mm (or seven fingernails or whatever the equivalent of millimetres is in the imperial system), and we’re seeing an increase of 3.2mm a year. What is this caused by?

Water expands as it warms (to relate this to human anatomy, it’s the opposite of what happens to your junk in the cold) and as we’ve seen above, the oceans are totes warming. The other cause is the loss of all them glaciers. As the ice melts from the land and slips into the ocean, the sea level—obviously—increases.

What I’m getting at is an indirect way in which global warming is affecting hurricanes. Storm surge, as described by NOAA, is an “abnormal rise of water generated by a storm.” The danger should be clear. As sea level rises so too will storm surges; low lying areas—that may or may not already be affected by storm surge—are at greater risk for flooding.

But wait, there’s—

A rise in sea level also increases the destructive power of smaller category hurricanes. For though the wind speed may be lacking, that storm surge is more powerful by default.

And I’m going to stop here (for your sake, dear reader). I would’ve liked to have done more, but this article is already four times the average length. I would also like to apologize for abandoning my jovial tone midway through, but I just find it so annoying that the only links Cal cited were from bullshit websites, and that he tried to trick people into thinking one of his links was from the NOAA when it was actually a link to some fucking guy’s blog. I guess what you meant by “According to NOAA,” Cal was actually, “According to this guy who misinterpreted data from NOAA.” How fucking dishonest.

To conclude, Cal. The globe is warming; the sea is warming. Human activity is responsible for the warming. This is a fact, and it’s time to accept it so we can start making decisions on how to fix the damage we’ve already caused. Please, stop propagating bullshit.

Take Action!

Hat Tips:

Citizen Audit, YouTube, Economic Research Institute, Climate Depot, IOP Publishing (Science), United Nations Environment Programme & WMO, (Gotta take a break, my hand’s cramping from all these citations), NCDC & NOAA, U.S. Global Change Research Program, NASA, GISS, Image Credit: Flickrl

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