HuffPo’s “5 Tips for Handling Climate Skeptics” implodes

Thanks to Steve Milloy for alerting JunkScience readers earlier today to this 1/16/13 Huffington Post article by Climate Counts Project Director Mike Bellamente. When asked if he attempted to apply his own ‘handling’ tips to people who promote the idea of man-caused global warming, Bellamente said he did. We await to find out how that turned out for him, but let’s go ahead and try that exercise right here, shall we?

The exercise to re-word Bellamente’s article is just too easy, for example, his 2nd paragraph can be turned on him this way:

When it comes to the climate debate, those who invoke out-of-control capitalism and fossil fuel industry conspiracy (see Media Matters) have demonstrated a high degree of effectiveness. At the very least, they have succeeded in clouding too many people’s common sense on the climate issue with their apparent attempts to manufacture doubt about the credibility of skeptic climate scientists. At most, they’ve upped the ante on a game of chicken that pits the long-term best interests of basic public freedom and the pursuit of happiness against relentless and unsupportable assertions that Mother Nature is in peril.

But I digress. The sad part about the article is the manner in which its 5 points on how to handle skeptics of man-caused global warming can be more effectively used to as tactical offense to handle people who are on Al Gore’s side.

1) Consider the Source: Bellamente plays a neat shell-game tactic that many on his side advocate, which we see as a maneuver to sidestep the problem of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) not being able to conclusively prove that human activity drives global warming under severe criticism by many skeptic experts. He claims we ‘cherry-pick’ from the press. Quite the contrary, as Donna Laframboise said so succinctly today about what many of us actually do:

Whenever I say anything about the IPCC – or any other organization or individual – I provide direct links. With the click of a mouse readers can go check things out for themselves. They can form their own opinions about whether my views are reasonable and whether I’ve characterized matters accurately.

This is why I and so many others look at the ‘source’, as Bellamente terms it, as a secondary consideration, after first having pointed out their failures to establish how skeptic climate scientists are wrong. In light of that consistent failure, we then look at sources and associations. Consider Bellamente’s associate at Climate Counts, Lisa Witter, Board Vice Chair at Fenton Communications. That’s the same Fenton communications where Al Gore’s former spokesperson Kalee Kreider returned after a long absence, as I detailed near the end of my last RedState article, and the same the PR firm which promoted Ross Gelbspan’s anti-skeptic book in 1997. Gelbspan, as I’ve noted in my numerous articles, has every appearance of being the epicenter of the long-term smear which claims skeptic climate scientists are paid shills of the fossil fuel industry.

2) Know Your Stuff: If Bellamente was truly sincere in wanting people to apply this handling tactic to skeptics, he would have suggested that people on his side should thoroughly examine skeptic material seen right here at JunkScience, or at WUWT, ClimateDepot, ClimateAudit and certainly the NIPCC Reports, which authoritatively – at the very least – contradict IPCC climate assessments. An educated guess is that Bellamente would not advocate that out of a fear it might backfire. Perish the thought of Gore followers knowing too much about skeptic material.

But to add further insult to injury, our own eagle-eyed JunkScience commenter “Doubting Thomas” quoted Bellamente and then pointed a big error:

“…drastic rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide (carbon dioxide) since the industrial revolution 300 years ago that is now causing man to play a role in this process.”

So now they extent the industrial revolution back to 1700 so they can explain the recovery from the Little Ice Age in global warming terms? That’s pretty good since James Watt didn’t produce the first practical steam engine until 1775.

Oops. That must have left a mark.

3) Look around You: “… few people beyond Bill McKibben seem to be talking about it with any degree of regularity. …” Right. Meanwhile in the real world, no less than the PBS NewsHour had three days in a row of on-air broadcast segments last month of global warming coverage, and practically everywhere you look, it is spoken of as a forgone conclusion, even in seemingly innocuous pronouncements from insurance companies about weather events.

4) Don’t let politics and religion cloud the issue: Read through lengthy papers psychoanalyzing the motivations of skeptic climate scientists, and a recurring theme in them is about such skeptics’ alleged political positions on free-market capitalism, yet these same papers never attempt to refute the skeptics’ detailed science assessments, they simply plunge ahead under the unsupported premise from a single source that skeptics are corrupt.

Regarding religion, it appears entire religious organizations’ web pages are devoted to the idea of the moral imperative to stop global warming, giving unquestioned space to enviro-activists, but as can be seen in one, nobody bothers to answer my simple question about the 9th commandment as applied to the treatment of skeptic climate scientists. In another, it appears the best response anyone can come up with is rather flat.

5) Embrace Common Sense: Bellamente’s last tip on how to handle skeptics seems devoid of common sense, since he immediately attempts to apply nothing more than a measure of intuitive feeling to criticisms sourced from examination of hard science. The common sense approach to any given criticism is to examine it thoroughly and fairly, and disprove the content without prejudice about the critic. Once that has been accomplished, then you analyze why the critic offered something that can be so easily wiped out – motivations, funding, etc. In that order.

Taking the half-backwards approach of hurling accusations of corruption at skeptic climate scientists while failing to fully examine their criticisms is a tactic that lacks common sense, perhaps clouded by political leanings or a distorted religious perspective, while certainly failing to take into consideration what is demonstratively happening on strict scientific terms to the planet. It is a tactic that is both seemingly lacking in full knowledge of the complete situation while also dependent on extreme-left political reasoning as a shell-game defense mechanism to avoid the core problem.

So if Bellamente actually did apply his 5 handling tips to those who promote man-caused global warming, how could he have not arrived at the same incredibly damaging conclusion?

Russell Cook’s collection of writings on this issue can be seen at “The ’96-to-present smear of skeptic scientists.” You may also follow him at Twitter via @questionAGW
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11 responses to “HuffPo’s “5 Tips for Handling Climate Skeptics” implodes

  1. If there’s ever an argument about “climate change” I simply point out that Al Gore, the father of all enviro green, sold out to BIGGEST oil and he’s a fraud, just as the climate change religion is. Case closed.

    • Howdy ralph
      To extend on your comment:
      1. Hurricane damage is usually mostly storm surge; storm surge has very little to do with rising sea levels and a lot to do with building high enough to avoid it.
      2. Legislatures that act based on the current “climate models” are the ones who are being un-scientific, since the current models have shown “little skill” in predicting anything. North Carolina’s legislature has been far more scientific thatn California’s.

    • Ralph, you have successfully demonstrated that Al Gore is a corrupt politician. You have not addressed the more important issue of climate change.

      • “Important”, as defined by what?

        • Important as defined as what people are going nuts over and trying to waste trillions of dollars and millions of lives to combat.

          We cannot win this war with ad-hominem.

          • Ah, good! A very important clarification and very true point about trading gutter-level insults. Gore’s own personal behavior has its entertainment value in some cases with regard to the appearance of hypocrisy, but we definitely should focus on two fronts – the pursuit of the scientific method as applied to understanding the cause of global warming; and on widespread efforts to marginalize skeptics, specifically skeptic climate scientists, through the use of accusations of industry funding corruption. Since I am no scientist, my focus has been entirely on the latter.

  2. Nullius in verba

    • The irony of the Royal Society’s motto is breathtaking, considering their position on global warming. But my favorite variant of this is how Lord Monckton responded to a questioner in his “Apocalypse? No!” presentation, at the 1:09:44 point here ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=gPtC5K8wck8#t=4184s ) in a nutshell, to be skeptical of all sides.

      This is probably one of the most damaging distinctions between both sides of the issue, when it comes to the credibility of the AGW side. I invite anybody to question what I say, as does Lord Monckton and all everyone else I know of on this side, and I readily invite disinterested bystanders to look at this blog here and those pushing AGW like there is no tomorrow. The folks on the other side routinely point only to other AGW web sites, they run from debate and they are loathe to tell folks on their own side about anything beyond superficial detail about skeptics.

      Notice in Bellamente’s article that when he noted Fox News and the Heartland Institute, his web links went to Media Matters and the NY Daily News, not straight to Fox or Heartland’s sites. Meanwhile, when I noted Media Matters, I linked straight to Media Matters without hesitation. The thought never occurred to me to link tosomebody else’s assessment of Media Matters.

  3. Couple of days ago, Wired ran an article titled, “The Worst Scientific Mistakes, Missteps and Misdeeds of 2012.” Of the 15 “worst” at least 6 were cited for some combination of falsification of data, cherry-picking of data, poor analysis, and pal-review – and appropriately so in those cases.

    They also had a “worst” related to global warming (surprise!) that cited the rube NC legislature for requiring the State to plan for sea level rise using only historical data, and that elaborated that “science is outlawed” in NC for, in effect, not using models that allowed for accelerating rates of rise due to melting ice caps, rising temperatures, etc. Two images were included showing destroyed homes and washouts on barrier islands after a hurricane (but no pic of polar bears on a mini-berg). Even a quote from Stephen Colbert was offered for some added scientific weight.

    It occurred to me that the juxtaposition of the 1 related to global warming vs. the 6 others indicates how the global warming industry has an amazing aura around it that makes it immune to data finagling, incompetence, and corruption, and that also makes the MSM, NGOs, and politicians blind/mute to the same.

  4. So his five steps are:
    1) Use ad hominem attacks
    2) Indoctrinate yourself with the propaganda
    3) See step 2
    4) See step 1
    5) See steps 1-4

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