6 June 2017

The Clown Just Popped Out of the Box!

Posted by Dan Satterfield

IPCC 2013

Since the U.S. pulled out of the Paris accord last week, old climate myths have been crawling out of their coffins. This includes some real winners from the past like “They said in the 70’s we were going to freeze to death!”, but I have yet to hear the “but grapes grew in Greenland!” claim. Just in case, John Cook at Skeptical Science has a long list of these along with some critical thinking examples of why they are ridiculous.

And now, here comes Forbes Magazine who published a piece claiming (wait for it) that the planet is cooling!

Wow! What a shock. Who knew?? How could every science body on Earth be so wrong??

They aren’t of course, and the writer of the Forbes piece has NO background in atmospheric science. Heartland gained notice a few months back when their attempt to send a glossy piece of junk climate science to thousands of science teachers, which backfired badly. They tried the same with on air weather-casters who tossed them as well, and this is no surprise since both groups tend to have decent critical thinking abilities as a whole!

Journalism is first and foremost about truth, and while there are usually two sides to most stories, that’s not true if one side is a lie and that’s the case here. Will this year be as hot as last year? Probably not, since we had a super El Nino last year which heats up the planet. I’ve been waiting for this very claim and I expected it would come from Heartland. I showed a graphic on air months ago that explains that while El Nino years are usually hot, the cool La Nina years are now warmer than the El Nino years used to be! I knew that after the El Nino, someone would yell global cooling, so I saved the chart.  You can always count on crazy and today is the day.  The clown has indeed popped out of the jack-in-the-box! 

Rising greenhouse gases are now adding about 2.3 watts/meter² of heat to the planet (See chart at the top of this post). Yes, there’s the natural small variation superimposed on that, but you cannot argue with the numbers. They are real, and you can see it in the chart above. The sad thing is that millions of people don’t have the critical thinking skills to understand this. We are in big trouble if we do not start teaching basic critical thinking in high school (and even more in college curriculums). You can improve your own critical thinking just by reading this book, and if you know a high school or college student, give them a copy!

Do the Forbes editors understand this? Actually, when you think about it, they probably do. They know that this piece of propaganda will be shared by thousands of people who are desperately looking for something to reinforce their political worldview. Unfortunately, science shows they’re wrong. If the writer of the Forbes piece disagrees, then let him get his claim published in a journal. 

Don’t hold your breath. In the meantime, Forbes, if you want to do a piece on science, get someone who has a background in the field, because you damaged your reputation today.

Note: Updated this post after publishing. I fixed a typo or two and FYI: There is a 50% chance now that 2017 will be as hot or hotter than 2016. With no El Nino!