Can We Trust Climate Scientists?

One of the claims deniers are now making is that we can’t trust the climate scientist that are involved with global warming research. Their line of reasoning is that their grants and positions depend on finding evidence of global warming and they risk losing either, or both, if they ever find anything else. This, of course, is so ridiculous as to be funny, except there are people that believe this. So, let’s examine this and see if there is any truth to the claim.

The basis, and motivation, for the claim comes from the fact that deniers are paid by the fossil fuel industry to discredit climate research. The funding is dependent on finding the results the fossil fuel industry wants. In other words, it is directed funding. This funding source greatly damages the credibility of the deniers, much to their chagrin. They can’t get funding from any other source and are stuck with it. So, they respond by trying to paint authentic climate researchers with the same brush. If they are getting funding to find evidence of global warming, then we can’t trust them, either. The irony of this argument is that they are themselves saying they can’t be trusted. By making the claim that directed funding discredits you, they are admitting their own directed funding must discredit them. But, this posting is about the credibility of climate scientists, not the lack of credibility of the deniers.

The claim of the deniers depends on one thing – are the climate scientists being directed in their research? Do they receive funding to find evidence of global warming? Or, are they simply receiving funding to do research and let the chips fall where they may?  If this claim they are being directed is not true then we should be able to find research results that do not support climate change. This is actually pretty easy to do. Climate and weather are very complicated and not everything is going to lead to global warming.

A recent announcement from the National Science Foundation (NSF)  illustrates this. A researcher at the University of Michigan studied the effects of pollen on the climate and found something interesting. It had been thought pollen had little effect because it was such a large particle it would settle out. But, Dr. Allison Steiner and her team found that pollen particles actually break apart and become many small particles. These small particles lift water vapor up into the atmosphere where they assist in cloud formation. It this way, pollen actually works against global warming by providing a cooling effect.

By the way, Dr. Steiner gets her funding from the NSF. So much for being paid to find only proof of global warming.

Another example is some work done by scientists at Princeton University, the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science and the Australian University. They studied the way droughts are measured and they state there is an issue with the way droughts are measured. One of the beliefs about global warming is that the amount and severity of droughts worldwide will increase as the climate warms. The most common measure of drought, the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI), has shown that this is actually happening. However, this team of scientists studied the PDSI and their conclusion (released in November 2012) is that this measure is in error because it was dependent on climatic conditions off the past. When they adjusted the measure to account for climatic changes due to global warming they found little change in the amount of drought over the last 60 years.

Again, credible scientists at reputable institutions finding results that do not support global warming.

This is the way science works. Researchers do the work and discover what the science says. If the science does not support what they believe, then they will change what they believe. The science is irrefutable.

The deniers fail in this manner. When the science does not support what they want to sell the public, they simply discard it and find a new false argument to try and persuade people to believe in what they want them to believe.

The claim that climate scientists are getting paid to prove global warming doesn’t pass the credibility test. Climate scientists are paid to do climate research. There will be a climate with, or without, global warming. Their jobs do not depend on global warming and anyone thinking about this for even a few seconds will see that is true. If nothing else, we need a much more robust understanding of climate science for weather forecasting. That, by itself, is enough to justify all of the climate research being done and that would be true even if there were no such thing as global warming. The issue of global warming simply makes it that much more important.

Scientists are not motivated to find a specified result. They are motivated to find the correct result and to find it first. Honors go to the first, not the second. They do not give the Nobel Prize to runners-up. But, at the same time, by the scientific method, any scientific finding must be repeatable by anyone else. Scientists are not magicians and do not have special powers. They have special training and experience, but anyone with similar training and experience must be able to replicate their results. If only one person can do it, it isn’t valid. If some scientist was to announce some kind of result and it couldn’t be validated by other scientists the damage to that person’s career can be devastating. Consider what happened to Pons and Fleishmann after their cold fusion announcement.

Finally, consider this. Much of the research on climate change was done during the administration of George W. Bush between 2001 and 2009. The Bush administration was openly hostile to climate change research and worked to suppress it. The irony is that, contrary to claims by the deniers, climate scientist were actually risking their careers by finding evidence of global warming, not the other way around.

What can we conclude? Can we trust climate scientists? The answer is that we can trust climate scientists to do valid scientific research in climate change and the science they produce is not directed by the funding source.

If only the deniers could make the same claim.

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14 thoughts on “Can We Trust Climate Scientists?

  1. “… the fact that deniers are paid by the fossil fuel industry to discredit climate research. …”

    You mean 'unsupportable talking point', on the funding accusation and the denier label.

    Sorry, other obligations put me behind in having a look at your material. How's it coming on your quest to prove I'm some kind of Heartland hatchet man, paid to intimidate bloggers? Just wondering, no intimidation here at all, but instead a genuine curiosity solely on my part of what you can dredge up, with a sort of a bet to myself on just how many errors of assumption you can make.

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  2. I showed quite conclusively, and to the very standards you set, that climate change deniers are funded by the fossil fuel industry with the goal of undermining climate science. Your actions and the claims by the Heartland Institute both show that you are a Heartland hatchet man. Of course, it is your job to deny and attempt to discredit any of that, so I think that argument is a closed one.

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  3. Nuts, I was hoping you'd come up with a more entertaining response, instead of a rather predictable sidestep away from the word “paid”. No surprise to me on your inability to prove I'm paid and instructed to do what I do, you're not the first by any stretch on that failure after making such an accusation. If there is any surprise, it's how you haven't yet erased my other comments, especially considering how they undermine your assertions.

    Case in point is your “the very standards you set” bit, when the actual standard I set was for providing physical evidence (repeating ad nauseum, full context document scans, undercover video/audio transcripts, leaked emails, money-transfer receipts, etc, gleaned from ExxonSecrets, Desmog, Gore, Oreskes, etc.) proving skeptic scientists were paid industry-sourced money to fabricate demonstratively false science papers, reports, assessments or viewpoints. You haven't come anywhere close to meeting that standard, in whatever analogy comparison makes you feel more comfortable since you didn't like the suggestion about satisfying the evidence demand standards in courtroom hearings. I thought surely a comparison to satisfying the vagueness of a hearsay visual sighting or bolstering a sketchy headline assertion to satisfy a tough newspaper editor would resonate with you.

    Your parting bit about 'denying your accusation or what my job is' is just as predictable. My favorite one over the years was the guy who was on a tangent about CO2 reaching lethal levels – when I asked him what possible mechanism could do that in our atmosphere, he stomped out of the thread discussion, saying I was obviously closed-minded and incapable of reasoned debate. Yep, that brought legions of supporters to his side.

    I won't deprive you the happiness of considering the argument a closed one, if that is what you sincerely feel. It's good to focus on the things that make you feel happy. Myself, it is quite soul-satisfying to be able to make a statement, and then also be able to defend it when asked to do so in detail. No doubt you will agree that simple assertions that are tossed out in hopes that no one will question them can be rather nerve-wracking. No matter whether a person declares that only 324 of a particular style of 1972 Chevy Camero were produced or that skeptic scientists are paid illicit money to lie, the person is either a deer-in-the-headlights when someone asks “Ya got proof for that?”, or they are just fine when they can readily say, “why, yes I do, I'm glad you asked, allow me to show you my stack of evidence so there is no doubt in your mind.”

    Alas, I have other things that greatly occupy my time, so I will wish you a happy life in your pursuits, live long and prosper. Join me in planting more trees.

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  4. Unfortunately for you, I have provided just about everything you stated. The information provided would, undoubtedly, be satisfactory on any court case where the denier organizations want to bring for libel/slander. The official documents, leaked documents and statements by the players involved all confirm that are funded, at least to a great extent, by the fossil fuel industry and this funding is done for the directed purpose of undermining climate science.

    As for your paycheck(s), I have no knowledge nor do I care. You are associated with the Heartland Institute, you attack climate science and climate scientists and deny global warming with false arguments and lies. You have even gone so far as to state there there is no such thing as deniers. Your credibility doesn't exist any more. So, I have to go with the evidence and that evidence shows that you are a hatchet man for the Heartland Institute and that does not depend on exactly how you get paid.

    My offer still stands. If the science supporting man made global warming can be questioned as easily as you claim, take one of my challenges.It shouldn't be hard. After all, you can do it with a cut and paste even. Your silence is deafening.

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  5. Slave to temptation that I am, it is tough to just let your latest reply go idle.

    The deafening silence – for two decades – is any follow-up on the incomplete guilt-by-association accusation. Without evidence to prove sinister intent, you have the potential that whatever money was donated was done so because the donors appreciated what they hear.

    The deafening silence – for as long as the 'denier' talking point has been around – is proof to satisfy all that skeptic climate scientists actually deny global warming is happening at all.

    The deafening silence throughout all your responses to me has been proof that I lie, that my challenges to people to support their own assertions is any sort of “attack”, or that anything I do constitutes 'hatchet man' tactics.

    Fact is, the science of AGW is already being questioned exactly the way you phrase it, that is why I refer people to the NIPCC reports and other material from skeptics. Please, by all means, do bring your $10 grand challenge to the ICCC in Vegas ( http://climateconference.heartland.org/ ).

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  6. I'm sorry, but my posting on denier funding clearly showed leaked documents that show how the fossil fuel industry was funding deniers for the purpose of undermining climate research. Then you actually state that global warming isn't even happening. Since you have to know your statements are false, that makes you a liar. The alternative is that you are an utter fool. Pick you poison.

    As for the NIPCC, I am prepared to refute any of their false claims.

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  7. Oy vey. The documents you linked to included a memo Heartland says outright is a fake, which you were unable or unwilling to prove otherwise. But worse for you, not one of the 'documents' throughout the land of AGW believers proves any sort of quid pro quo arrangement exists between skeptics and industry… and you are still unable to rise to the challenge of proving otherwise. Most embarrassing is what appears to be your pathological enslavement to this “denier” line. NONE of the skeptics nor I have ever said global warming has not happening over the last century, but I do repeatedly point to the way in which they say the IPCC has not made its case for human-induced greenhouse gases being the primary driver of what little warming we've seen, and this is further undermined by the ongoing rise of CO2 in the face of the flat-lining of temperatures over the last 17 or so years.

    What must frustrate you no end is that when given multiple chances to prove that my statements are false or demonstrably foolish, or that I'm paid to attack you, the only thing you can come up with is the nebulous 'it must be true because I say so' thing.

    How I wish I could finance a table for you at ICCC with your $10 grand challenge out for all to see, along with a “False NIPCC claims refuted here” sign. But will you leap at that golden opportunity yourself, or offer yet another sidestep?

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  8. Of course, you are living in the land of lies and deception.

    The documents I listed certainly do rise to the level of the challenge. As for the Heartland – they are a professional denier organization caught with their pants down with their own documents. Of course they deny it real. Too bad the evidence doesn't support them. Oh! I forgot. Deniers aren't interested in evidence. By the way, analyses of the supposedly faked document by experts found that it was real and the contents were mirrored in other Heartland documents. But, what do you expect from a group of professional liars?

    I love your line about “NONE” of the deniers ever saying global warming doesn't exist. That's like saying the Holocaust didn't happen. This is such a pathetic statement that it took me mere seconds to find an example of a denier saying “there's no actual “global warming?” “.

    http://townhall.com/columnists/johnhawkins/2014/02/18/5-scientific-reasons-that-global-warming-isnt-happening-n1796423/page/full

    Of course, temperatures have been rising for the last 17 years. Nine of the ten hottest years ever recorded have occurred since 2000, including the three hottest. More importantly, the temperature of the ocean keeps climbing at an alarming rate. When we say 'global warming' we mean the entire globe is warming. It is interesting how you deniers keep ignoring the facts. But, they are inconvenient to you, aren't they?

    As for the table at Denial-Palooza (ICCC), this is the age of the Internet. They can submit on-line anytime they want. I'm still waiting. If it is so easy and so obvious, why haven't any you deniers done it yet? By the way, have you managed to get any real scientists that aren't funded by the fossil fuel industry to speak at it? It would be interesting if the sum total of your speakers produced even one iota of scientific evidence to support your claims.

    You speak, but you never say anything. Typical denier. The only people that will fall for you deception are the people that have already deluded themselves. No thinking person will accept any your lies and deceptions.

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  9. Oy vey. You fly off a cliff, regather yourself somehow, go back up to the top and drive right off it again. Within in the body of that TownHall article, it says plain as day “There hasn't been any global warming since 1997”, the headline was shorthand for that. How could you miss something that huge?

    Yeah, Peter Gleick managed to get his hands on budget documents and what did they NOT prove? That money was paid under the directive to lie and fabricate demonstratively false science papers and assessments. You miss that secondary requirement every single time.

    And as Reagan would say, “there you go again” with the “funded by the fossil fuel industry” bit. Geeze louise, don't just say it, prove it! You speak, but you never say anything, but even more embarrassing, you literally cannot rise to the simple challenge of proving anything I say are lies and deceptions. That must bother you no end.

    BTW, congrats on getting the “Climate Change Deniers Using Same Methods as Tobacco Industry” piece of yours online in various places around the internet, it arrived in my inbox via my daily Google Alerts for global warming stories. Much as others who've repeated approximately the same talking points, you've done nothing to back up what you say within the piece. The tobacco talking point dates from 1992 if you weren't aware of it. Yawn.

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  10. Speaking of driving someone crazy, it must drive you crazy that someone can come along and disprove all of your lies so easily. I know one of your strategies is to just continuously deny, but it doesn't change the science. And, it doesn't change the fact that everything you say is a lie. I just love doing lectures and showing how you guys are paid deceivers and liars. It really is a lot of fun.

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  11. “… it must drive you crazy that someone can come along and disprove all of your lies so easily …” And where exactly have you succeeded in doing that? And where have you EVER proven I deny climate or deny global warming in the preposterous general term that is repeated ad nauseum across the media and internet? You cannot point to a single place where I have or where a single climate scientist has or a single skeptic speaker has, otherwise you would have done so not just in single instances, but in multiple places.

    Love your lectures if you wish, probably because no one questions your accusations so far. But if someone stopped you and asked, “you CAN point to physical evidence proving skeptics operate under specific instructions to lie and are paid traceable amounts of money to specifically do so, right?”, will you do no better than you've done so far, with 'evidence' of literally nothing beyond guilt-by-association devoid of an explicit directive? Without evidence of that directive, you have an either/or situation: either the directive exists and nobody has found it after 20 years, or what paltry money donated to scientists and skeptic speakers is because they agree with what they hear. If you cannot disprove the latter, and you cannot produce evidence for the former, you've got nothing. Exactly what part of that do you not understand?

    By all means, find a way to bring your lecture to the ICCC, along with your $10 grand challenge, instead of just preaching to the choir. Dive into the lion's den. I do, have you not noticed yet how I dive into places surrounded by AGW believers without hesitation? It does not drive me crazy that 'someone can disprove my lies' because no one has even established they are lies, nor have they ever disproved what I've said about the origins and people pushing the smear of skeptics. They haven't even put out a good 'college try' on my material, which is really weird.

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  12. I wonder if anyone, including you, has counted up the number of times you've sidestepped my challenges for you to support your assertions. In my collective 4 years of 60+ online articles and blog pieces, along with my narrower focus at my current blog, please explain for the benefit of all what precisely about my writings is drivel. Not only do I establish the massive problem with accusers not producing an iota of proof for that skeptics operate under a directive to deliberately lie and are paid to do so, I detail at length what is massively wrong with the inconsistent narratives that are supposed to support the 'paid industry crooks' accusation. The appearance that the accusation is literally unsupportable is what it is, and if you have proof to the contrary that blows everything I detail about it out of the water, then by all means, let's see it, if only to satisfy yourself that the accusation is above reproach. Think positive here, you have a golden opportunity to go where no other accuser has gone before.

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  13. Well, I don't bother counting the number of times you have ignored the evidence that I was more than glad to provide that shows, conclusively, that denier organizations, including your masters at Heartland, are funded by the fossil fuel industry to undermine climate science. That is almost as bad as your attempt at rewriting history by claiming deniers have never said man made global warming is not real.

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