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Refuting Global Warming Deniers at Thanksgiving

Posted on Nov 25, 2009 by billsimmon in crazy people, family, politics, science | 6 Comments

[UPDATED below]

Thanksgiving Day is tomorrow and families will be coming together for dinner all over the USA to share the big meal. Football will be watched. Pie will be consumed. And inevitably, in some homes, politics will be discussed. Family members love each other, but they don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye on political issues. Political divisions among family members are often extreme and for some of these people, holiday meals are the only times in the year that they come face-to-face with folks who are so diametrically opposed to their political views.

So this year, Candleblog would like to offer a little help — some ammunition for the Thanksgiving table-talk.

One big topic of discussion will be the continuing debate on Capital Hill over health care reform. That’s what’s still taking up the bulk of the news cycles. But that debate has been raging for many months and all you good progressive blog readers should already be on your game for that discussion (if you’re not, there is some great material to get you started here).

But I think the political dark horse at this year’s Thanksgiving table will be global warming. Right wing blogs are all in a lather this week about some recently hacked emails from the University of East Anglia in Britain. These bloggers have cherry picked some quotes from individual scientists over the last decade of the email log and presented them as evidence that global warming is a sham being perpetuated by a conspiracy of alarmists. The link above literally calls the news “the final nail in the coffin of ‘Anthropogenic [human-caused] Global Warming.’”

Right wing blogs and email lists (and Fox News) are apoplectic about this, so if you have family members at your turkey-day table this year who follow these information sources, it’s likely you’ll get an earful, particularly given the imminent summit on climate change in Copenhagen.

The truth, of course, is that while the hacked emails have proven embarrassing for some of these scientists who were informally (and sometimes ingraciously) communicating with each other in what they assumed was private correspondence (let this be a lesson for everyone about the security of email), the science behind human-caused climate change is totally unaffected by this development.

Below you’ll find a series of links to some good reactions to the “climategate” story in both the MSM and climate science blogs. There’s a lot of info here and it’s fascinating stuff. If your time is limited (gotta mash those potatoes!), I recommend starting with the NYTimes’ story on the hacked emails and them immediately reading the reaction to that story by Dr. Joe Romm (MIT physicist, former Clinton Dept. of Energy official and a leading climate change blogger):

Then if you still have some time, read the reaction from the scientists at (very thoughtful piece) and from the indispensable Nate Silver, who writes:

I don’t know how you get from some scientist having sexed up a graph in East Anglia ten years ago to The Final Nail In The Coffin of Anthropogenic Global Warming. Anyone who comes to that connection has more screws loose than the Space Shuttle Challenger. And yet that’s literally what some of these bloggers are saying!

Incidentally, 2009 is shaping up to be the 5th warmest year on record, according to the conspiracists at NASA.

And if you’re still hiding in the office and surfing the net when you should be making the gravy, there’s more good info at HuffPo and The Wonk Room at Think Progress.

But my favorite reaction is this one from the Carbon Fixated blog (quoted in the HuffPo piece above), which declares that “Newtongate” has driven “the final nail in the coffin of Renaissance and Enlightenment ‘thinking.’”

If you own any shares in companies that produce reflecting telescopes, use differential and integral calculus, or rely on the laws of motion, I should start dumping them NOW. The conspiracy behind the calculus myth has been suddenly, brutally and quite deliciously exposed after volumes of Newton’s private correspondence were compiled and published.

Good luck! If you actually do engage your relatives on this, make sure you leave comments here about it! We like to know we’ve helped (or hurt) your argument.

H/T to Steve Benen for providing me with some of the above links.

UPDATE: In the comments, Gerry Canavan reminds us that a good first stop in dealing with climate change deniers is this post about How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic. And indeed, it’s a great clearing house for refutations of the most common canards coming from the global warming deniers. I do take issue with the use of the phrase “climate skeptic,” however. A “skeptic” is someone who doesn’t trust a given claim in the absence of strong evidence. There’s ample evidence of anthropogenic global warming to convince any actual “skeptic.” Once they’ve been presented with the evidence and scientific consensus, if they still claim it’s an open question, they’re just deniers at that point. Perhaps a new post needs to be written about How to Talk to Climate Change Ostriches (heads in the sand and all). Or maybe there’s no point in talking to them — if the actual evidence doesn’t convince them, it’s unlikely that a few more links will.



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  1. Matt Taibi’s recent piece on Sarah Palin — how she uses her endless interpersonal conflicts to general political capital that is totally independent of anything so mundane as “ideas” or “positions” — really opened my eyes on how this Climategate nonsense is doing it works. Climategate shifts the field of debate from statistics and facts, which only a small minority are qualified to discuss, to the field of interpersonal relations and “bad behavior,” on which we can all have an opinion. It’s being pushed as a “huge scandal” precisely because it remakes climate change into a moral question about how sometimes smart people turn out to be arrogant jerks.

    That this moral question is totally irrelevant to the facts isn’t a bug, it’s the whole point.

  2. Man, too bad I can’t edit that after the fact. Typopalooza.

  3. It won’t let me leave a comment with a link, but “How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic” is still your key resource here…

  4. On December 3, 2009, juni said:

    Well the thanksgiving is over. I celebrated it with my family. We are not too much political kind. Instead we played fun games, discussed stories of past had lunch and dinner together. It was only after last thanksgiving that our whole family was together. Despite my extremely hectic schedule I managed to go online and buy some nice, decorative, scented candles for my whole family. Veria has large variety and seasonal discount. I guess the offer will be valid for the entire festival season and I’ll buy some more for Christmas and New Year. Here is the link you can also check it out.

  5. On December 3, 2009, billsimmon said:

    Juni, that’s the most post-specific spam I’ve ever seen. I’m so impressed, I’ll even leave it up.

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