“Will” I be able to think of a witty title for this post?

BS has the definitive answer to the George Will nonsense. Or read John Fleck, who conveniently links to our joint paper. Until I started typing this, I had an even better answer: I ignore it, it’s a pile of toss. But alas, I’m unable to resist joining in, even though I have nothing new to say. And indeed, I haven’t even bothered to read what he wrote, so uninterested am I in his errors (yes yes, I know dearest septics, but life is too short).

Andy Revkin (a page, incidentally, that the vaunted Chrome displays very badly) f*cks this up badly, effectively painting Gore and Will as equivalents. This had the usual cause: not because he thought they were, but because for that piece at least he really wasn’t interested in what they were saying: he just had a journalistic point to make, and they were convenient fodder. Revkin, of course, isn’t about to apologise for his error, and in this he is just like Will, or whatever paper printed Will’s twaddle. See, I can do false equivalence too.

Will’s stuff is twaddle, and we’ve already debunked it, so enough of that: let’s look instead at whatever evil Gore has committed. Gore is in most respects correct, so it’s worth picking at any problems. I’m having a slightly hard time finding out what Gore actually said. It’s apparently all about one disasters-are-increasing slide. Brad Johnson defends Gore on the grounds that Revkin Is Attacking Gore For Trusting The New York Times, which is odd. Gore certainly *should* be attacked, if he is sourcing his climate change info from a newspaper. Gores office makes the same defense. With all due respect to the few good journalists out there, it’s just not the way to get your science. If you find something appealling in a newspaper, you have to track it down to the original source, and read that. You simply cannot reply on a newspaper. RP Jr as usual flies off the handle, but he has at least bothered to read the original, and for the idealogically pure who won’t follow a link to Roger, I’ll quote justifying the upward trend in hydro-meteorological disaster occurrence and impacts essentially through climate change would be misleading. Which is correct. AIT was largely correct, with misleading sections. This appears to be the same sort of thing. Because Gore isn’t a scientist, and his primary interest isn’t the scientific truth. He is a politican, and his primary interest is convincing people of things.

And if you say to me “but his heart is in the right place, we should support him” I say in reply [[Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Andrewjlockley]]. Or, put another way, it’s best to be accurate. As the wise mt says, we know the answer already, from the climate viewpoint.

ps: it took quite a bit of reading through the CRED report to find anything about causes. The end of a rather long exec summary (clearly none of these people have ever talked to an exec 🙂 offers a few weak words, which certainly can’t be taken to clearly link disasters to climate change. Indeed, the point of the report only seems to be to produce figures, not to draw any strong conclusions. I imagine that the Gore folk just naturally assumed that the two trends (T and Disasters) must be linked; after all, how could it be otherwise, and what need can there be for any proof? Here’s what I found:

Although if the above mentioned trends are consistent with the conclusions of the IPPC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) fourth assessment report- stating that climate change is likely to affect the severity, frequency, and spatial distribution of extreme climatic events such as hurricanes, storm surges, floods and droughts- the linking of past trends in the EM-DAT figures and to climate change needs to remain guarded. Indeed, justifying the upward trend in hydro-meteorological disaster occurrence and impacts essentially through climate change would be misleading. Climate change is probably an actor in this increase but not the major one- even if it impact on the figures will likely become more evident in the future. The task of identifying the possible impact of the climate change on the EM-DAT figures is complicated by the existence of several concomitant factors. For instance, one major contributor to the increase in disasters occurrence over the last decades is the constantly improving diffusion and accuracy of disaster related information. Furthermore, disaster occurrence and impacts do not only depend on exposure to extreme natural phenomena but also depend on anthropogenic factors such as government policy, population growth, urbanisation, community-level resilience to natural disaster, etc. All of these contribute to the degree of vulnerability people experience. Beside past major efforts to reduce disaster risk, the vulnerability of those populations most at risk continued to increase over the last decades. Climate change comes as an additional pressure on this rising vulnerability. Developing countries, many of which are already the most vulnerable to natural disasters, will be particularly affected by climate change. This will occur not only through the experience of more frequent and/or or severe disaster phenomena, but also through the slow onset impacts of climate change.

7 thoughts on ““Will” I be able to think of a witty title for this post?”

  1. William — I wasn’t defending Gore “on the grounds that Revkin Is Attacking Gore For Trusting The New York Times.” I was criticizing Revkin for failing to disclose that obviously salient fact.

    [Hmm, OK, but I’m not sure it really is a salient fact. If you’re saying, it was in the NYT, so Revkin should have attacked the NYT for publishing it… I’m not sure I agree. I would have thought that the NYT publishes lots of wrong things, and I wouldn’t expect Revkin to attack them all. Maybe he doesn’t even read them all. None of this excuses Revkin, or his failure to back down, but the real failure on his part is the false-equivalence stuff, IMO -W]

    I believe that Revkin was engaging in dishonest practices, and consider that the most important story to come out of his piece.

    [Dishonest? Why? I think he was putting his own agenda – which is to say, finding something to write about so as to accumulate mind share – above the common good. That is selfish, but is it dishonest? -W]

    I hope to get into the substantive question of the CRED/Gore/Pielke/Revkin affair in a later post, but defending Gore is not my top priority.

    [Glad to hear it, because on this one (probably minor) issue Gore is wrong -W]

    Thanks, Brad.


  2. Revkin sez: “a series of apparent errors”

    Oh, there’s a turn of phrase to set off any conscientious copy editor.
    Does that mean:

    “a series of obvious errors” or
    “a series of what appear to be errors” or
    “a series of what may appear to be errors” or ….

    or something else?

    I went digging for mention of the actual paper Will talks about — it’s been widely discussed in the science journals, by people all of whom knew it was talking about the very longterm future, none of whom ever mentioned the global kewling nonsense, for years.

    And it’s been mentioned a few years ago by one nitwitter, in two places — the guy’s soi-disant ‘news’ blog and a comment, probably by the same guy, in a thread on a Stanford news article.

    I’ve forgotten his name alread. Power-something, maybe it was. You know how to find this stuff.

    My guess? Will employs some kid who does “research” for him; that kid found the assertion claiming the article was about imminent icing over, as spun by the nitwitter, either online or in their slush pile of email submissions, fell for it, and fed it to Will unchewed and Will passed it out onto the news page undigested.


  3. Glad you liked my post, William. It’s either the smartest or dumbest thing I’ve written on my blog.

    I would so love it if some activists that Hansen is trying to whip up would do a side trip to the Post’s HQ.


  4. Speaking of global cooling (as poor old George Will did so carelessly*), I thought you’d enjoy this:

    “They said ‘ice age’ or ‘global warming,’” Williams remembers. “The difference is just wind.”

    It’s from ‘Briggs: Climate change may be unstoppable’, _Indian Country Today_, 26th February 2009. Forlorn link here:

    Apart from being a thing of great beauty in itself, the quote surely proves that you don’t have to be a ‘denier’ to remember the ice age scare of the 1970s.

    And the whole article surely proves that you don’t have to be a ‘denier’ to get the science wholly wrong. (I count seven *unambiguous* errors.)

    *Didn’t anyone tell him that if he used quotes from the non-specialist press of the 1970s to suggest that in the 1970s there had occasionally been a bit of a thing in the non-specialist press about an imminent ice age then, things being what they are, he’d be pilloried for perpetuating the myth of an informed and perpetual 1970s scientific consensus on global cooling? Such innocence!


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