Tag Archives: Climate Denial

Flat denial rejects 'very likely' science

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Warnings, predictions and statements of probability all have their uses, but only if people heed them. Research tells one story, human behaviour seems to offer another version.

LONDON, 28 April – The odds that global warming of almost 1°C since 1880 is just a natural fluctuation are very low: less than one in a hundred and probably less than one in a thousand, according to a study in the journal Climate Dynamics.

Shaun Lovejoy of McGill University in Canada didn’t play with computer simulations: he simply looked at the climate data since 1500 and subjected it to statistical analysis. The message from the historical data – records, tree rings, ice cores, lake sediments and so on – is that global warming is linked to fossil fuel-burning and to rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

“This study will be a blow to any remaining climate change deniers,” said the physicist. “Their two most convincing arguments – that the warming is natural in origin, and that the computer models are wrong – are either directly contradicted by this analysis, or simply do not apply to it.”

Lovejoy’s finding is unlikely to be the end of the story, perhaps because there are problems with words like “probability”. David Budescu of Fordham University in the US reports in Nature Climate Change that when people hear the words “very likely” used to describe a 95% chance that something is the case, they are more likely to interpret that as around 50% probability.

Budescu and his colleagues worked their way through the problems the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had in presenting its findings. The researchers settled on the terms very unlikely, unlikely, likely and very likely in 24 nations and 17 languages, and found that, on balance, while the IPCC intended “very likely” to mean a more than 90% chance, people tended to understand the phrase as “closer to 50%”. The researchers suggest that the IPCC puts the numbers in, or at least changes the way it presents uncertainty.

A challenge too far

But there has been consistent evidence that people tend to think in unpredictable ways when contemplating an uncertain future predicted decades ahead. In 2010, psychologists at the University of California Berkeley conducted an experiment on undergraduates and found that people tended to discount the most apocalyptic warning if it challenged their view of a stable and orderly world.

“Fear-based appeals, especially when not coupled with a clear solution, can backfire and undermine the intended effects of the messages,” the researchers conclude in the journal Psychological Science.

And even when people were prepared to accept that climate change was a substantial threat, there could be resistance to meeting the costs of mitigation.

The problem is almost as old as the spectre of global warming itself. In his 2012 book The City and the Coming Climate (Cambridge University Press) Brian Stone recalls the spectacular US heat waves and drought of 1988, then the hottest year ever recorded.

Off the charts

At the time the Nasa scientist James Hansen put up a $100 wager that at least one of the first three years of the 1990s would surpass the 1988 record. Hansen was the man who in 1988 told a senate committee “it was time to stop waffling … the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here,” and thus put global warming on the political agenda for the first time.

Nobody took his money. “1988 not only was hot: it was off the charts in terms of historical extremes, including the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s,” writes Stone. “Yet the 1990s would render the ’88 record almost trivial.”

The temperature anomalies continued to mount: new temperature records were set every 30 months. Nine of the 10 hottest years ever recorded happened between 2001 and 2010, and the temperature anomaly in 2010 was twice that of 1988.

The statistical probability that such a string of increasingly hot years had nothing to do with climate change was effectively zero, Stone writes. “The implications of these trends should be apparent to every sentient person alive today: the Earth’s climate is changing.” – Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Warnings, predictions and statements of probability all have their uses, but only if people heed them. Research tells one story, human behaviour seems to offer another version.

LONDON, 28 April – The odds that global warming of almost 1°C since 1880 is just a natural fluctuation are very low: less than one in a hundred and probably less than one in a thousand, according to a study in the journal Climate Dynamics.

Shaun Lovejoy of McGill University in Canada didn’t play with computer simulations: he simply looked at the climate data since 1500 and subjected it to statistical analysis. The message from the historical data – records, tree rings, ice cores, lake sediments and so on – is that global warming is linked to fossil fuel-burning and to rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

“This study will be a blow to any remaining climate change deniers,” said the physicist. “Their two most convincing arguments – that the warming is natural in origin, and that the computer models are wrong – are either directly contradicted by this analysis, or simply do not apply to it.”

Lovejoy’s finding is unlikely to be the end of the story, perhaps because there are problems with words like “probability”. David Budescu of Fordham University in the US reports in Nature Climate Change that when people hear the words “very likely” used to describe a 95% chance that something is the case, they are more likely to interpret that as around 50% probability.

Budescu and his colleagues worked their way through the problems the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had in presenting its findings. The researchers settled on the terms very unlikely, unlikely, likely and very likely in 24 nations and 17 languages, and found that, on balance, while the IPCC intended “very likely” to mean a more than 90% chance, people tended to understand the phrase as “closer to 50%”. The researchers suggest that the IPCC puts the numbers in, or at least changes the way it presents uncertainty.

A challenge too far

But there has been consistent evidence that people tend to think in unpredictable ways when contemplating an uncertain future predicted decades ahead. In 2010, psychologists at the University of California Berkeley conducted an experiment on undergraduates and found that people tended to discount the most apocalyptic warning if it challenged their view of a stable and orderly world.

“Fear-based appeals, especially when not coupled with a clear solution, can backfire and undermine the intended effects of the messages,” the researchers conclude in the journal Psychological Science.

And even when people were prepared to accept that climate change was a substantial threat, there could be resistance to meeting the costs of mitigation.

The problem is almost as old as the spectre of global warming itself. In his 2012 book The City and the Coming Climate (Cambridge University Press) Brian Stone recalls the spectacular US heat waves and drought of 1988, then the hottest year ever recorded.

Off the charts

At the time the Nasa scientist James Hansen put up a $100 wager that at least one of the first three years of the 1990s would surpass the 1988 record. Hansen was the man who in 1988 told a senate committee “it was time to stop waffling … the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here,” and thus put global warming on the political agenda for the first time.

Nobody took his money. “1988 not only was hot: it was off the charts in terms of historical extremes, including the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s,” writes Stone. “Yet the 1990s would render the ’88 record almost trivial.”

The temperature anomalies continued to mount: new temperature records were set every 30 months. Nine of the 10 hottest years ever recorded happened between 2001 and 2010, and the temperature anomaly in 2010 was twice that of 1988.

The statistical probability that such a string of increasingly hot years had nothing to do with climate change was effectively zero, Stone writes. “The implications of these trends should be apparent to every sentient person alive today: the Earth’s climate is changing.” – Climate News Network

Flat denial rejects ‘very likely’ science

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Warnings, predictions and statements of probability all have their uses, but only if people heed them. Research tells one story, human behaviour seems to offer another version. LONDON, 28 April – The odds that global warming of almost 1°C since 1880 is just a natural fluctuation are very low: less than one in a hundred and probably less than one in a thousand, according to a study in the journal Climate Dynamics. Shaun Lovejoy of McGill University in Canada didn’t play with computer simulations: he simply looked at the climate data since 1500 and subjected it to statistical analysis. The message from the historical data – records, tree rings, ice cores, lake sediments and so on – is that global warming is linked to fossil fuel-burning and to rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. “This study will be a blow to any remaining climate change deniers,” said the physicist. “Their two most convincing arguments – that the warming is natural in origin, and that the computer models are wrong – are either directly contradicted by this analysis, or simply do not apply to it.” Lovejoy’s finding is unlikely to be the end of the story, perhaps because there are problems with words like “probability”. David Budescu of Fordham University in the US reports in Nature Climate Change that when people hear the words “very likely” used to describe a 95% chance that something is the case, they are more likely to interpret that as around 50% probability. Budescu and his colleagues worked their way through the problems the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had in presenting its findings. The researchers settled on the terms very unlikely, unlikely, likely and very likely in 24 nations and 17 languages, and found that, on balance, while the IPCC intended “very likely” to mean a more than 90% chance, people tended to understand the phrase as “closer to 50%”. The researchers suggest that the IPCC puts the numbers in, or at least changes the way it presents uncertainty.

A challenge too far

But there has been consistent evidence that people tend to think in unpredictable ways when contemplating an uncertain future predicted decades ahead. In 2010, psychologists at the University of California Berkeley conducted an experiment on undergraduates and found that people tended to discount the most apocalyptic warning if it challenged their view of a stable and orderly world. “Fear-based appeals, especially when not coupled with a clear solution, can backfire and undermine the intended effects of the messages,” the researchers conclude in the journal Psychological Science. And even when people were prepared to accept that climate change was a substantial threat, there could be resistance to meeting the costs of mitigation. The problem is almost as old as the spectre of global warming itself. In his 2012 book The City and the Coming Climate (Cambridge University Press) Brian Stone recalls the spectacular US heat waves and drought of 1988, then the hottest year ever recorded.

Off the charts

At the time the Nasa scientist James Hansen put up a $100 wager that at least one of the first three years of the 1990s would surpass the 1988 record. Hansen was the man who in 1988 told a senate committee “it was time to stop waffling … the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here,” and thus put global warming on the political agenda for the first time. Nobody took his money. “1988 not only was hot: it was off the charts in terms of historical extremes, including the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s,” writes Stone. “Yet the 1990s would render the ’88 record almost trivial.” The temperature anomalies continued to mount: new temperature records were set every 30 months. Nine of the 10 hottest years ever recorded happened between 2001 and 2010, and the temperature anomaly in 2010 was twice that of 1988. The statistical probability that such a string of increasingly hot years had nothing to do with climate change was effectively zero, Stone writes. “The implications of these trends should be apparent to every sentient person alive today: the Earth’s climate is changing.” – Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Warnings, predictions and statements of probability all have their uses, but only if people heed them. Research tells one story, human behaviour seems to offer another version. LONDON, 28 April – The odds that global warming of almost 1°C since 1880 is just a natural fluctuation are very low: less than one in a hundred and probably less than one in a thousand, according to a study in the journal Climate Dynamics. Shaun Lovejoy of McGill University in Canada didn’t play with computer simulations: he simply looked at the climate data since 1500 and subjected it to statistical analysis. The message from the historical data – records, tree rings, ice cores, lake sediments and so on – is that global warming is linked to fossil fuel-burning and to rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. “This study will be a blow to any remaining climate change deniers,” said the physicist. “Their two most convincing arguments – that the warming is natural in origin, and that the computer models are wrong – are either directly contradicted by this analysis, or simply do not apply to it.” Lovejoy’s finding is unlikely to be the end of the story, perhaps because there are problems with words like “probability”. David Budescu of Fordham University in the US reports in Nature Climate Change that when people hear the words “very likely” used to describe a 95% chance that something is the case, they are more likely to interpret that as around 50% probability. Budescu and his colleagues worked their way through the problems the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had in presenting its findings. The researchers settled on the terms very unlikely, unlikely, likely and very likely in 24 nations and 17 languages, and found that, on balance, while the IPCC intended “very likely” to mean a more than 90% chance, people tended to understand the phrase as “closer to 50%”. The researchers suggest that the IPCC puts the numbers in, or at least changes the way it presents uncertainty.

A challenge too far

But there has been consistent evidence that people tend to think in unpredictable ways when contemplating an uncertain future predicted decades ahead. In 2010, psychologists at the University of California Berkeley conducted an experiment on undergraduates and found that people tended to discount the most apocalyptic warning if it challenged their view of a stable and orderly world. “Fear-based appeals, especially when not coupled with a clear solution, can backfire and undermine the intended effects of the messages,” the researchers conclude in the journal Psychological Science. And even when people were prepared to accept that climate change was a substantial threat, there could be resistance to meeting the costs of mitigation. The problem is almost as old as the spectre of global warming itself. In his 2012 book The City and the Coming Climate (Cambridge University Press) Brian Stone recalls the spectacular US heat waves and drought of 1988, then the hottest year ever recorded.

Off the charts

At the time the Nasa scientist James Hansen put up a $100 wager that at least one of the first three years of the 1990s would surpass the 1988 record. Hansen was the man who in 1988 told a senate committee “it was time to stop waffling … the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here,” and thus put global warming on the political agenda for the first time. Nobody took his money. “1988 not only was hot: it was off the charts in terms of historical extremes, including the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s,” writes Stone. “Yet the 1990s would render the ’88 record almost trivial.” The temperature anomalies continued to mount: new temperature records were set every 30 months. Nine of the 10 hottest years ever recorded happened between 2001 and 2010, and the temperature anomaly in 2010 was twice that of 1988. The statistical probability that such a string of increasingly hot years had nothing to do with climate change was effectively zero, Stone writes. “The implications of these trends should be apparent to every sentient person alive today: the Earth’s climate is changing.” – Climate News Network

'Dark money' funds US climate deniers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Most of the many millions of dollars channelled each year to US organisations which deny that climate change is an urgent problem come from sources which cannot be identified.

LONDON, 6 January – Approximately three quarters of the hundreds of millions of dollars that go to US climate change denial organisations is from unidentifiable sources, according to new research in the journal Climatic Change.

Robert Brulle, a sociologist at Drexel University in the US, set himself the challenge of trying to identify the financial backers who bankrolled more than 100 US organisations that make up what he calls the “climate change counter movement”.

He did so, he reports, because in the US the level of understanding of climate change as a serious and imminent problem remains low, despite urgent pronouncements from national academies and international agencies.

“In response to a survey question in the fall of 2012: Do scientists believe that Earth is getting warmer because of human activity? 43% replied no, and another 12% didn’t know. Only 45% of the U.S. public accurately reported the near-unanimity of the scientific community about anthropogenic climate change. This result reflects a broad misunderstanding of climate science by the general public”, he writes.

One major factor driving this misunderstanding was what he calls a “deliberate and organised effort to misdirect the public discussion and distort the public’s understanding of climate change.”

Opting for anonymity

So Brulle compiled a list of 118 important climate denial organisations in the US: many of them conservative think tanks, advocacy groups, trade associations and so on.

He then obtained Internal Revenue Service data from 91 of these organisations, and matched it with information from the US National Center for Charitable Statistics and the Foundation Center, a source of information on US philanthropy, fund-raising and grant programmes.

In his final analysis, he found that 140 foundations had made 5,299 grants worth $558 million to the 91 organisations between 2003 and 2010.

A number of free market and conservative trusts and foundations had openly funded the climate change counter movement, but more interestingly, once-prominent backers such as the ExxonMobil Foundation were no longer making publicly traceable contributions. Funding had shifted to untraceable sources.

For example, one foundation called the Donors Trust now provided 25% of all traceable funding used by organisations engaged in promoting systematic denial of climate change. But those who in turn funded the Donors Trust could not be traced.

Deniers’ megaphone

In fact, Brulle reports that most funding for denial efforts is untraceable: only a fraction of the hundreds of millions in contributions to such organisations can be accounted for in public records. Approximately 75% was “dark money” from unidentified sources.

In effect this “dark money” served as a megaphone to amplify the voices of denial, and leave many US voters with the impression that man-made global warming had doubtful scientific support, or was at least in scientific dispute. In fact, the illusion of uncertainty had been staged.

“To fully understand the opposition to climate change legislation, we need to focus on the institutionalised efforts that have built and maintain this organised campaign. Just as in a theatrical show, there are stars in the spotlight”, writes Brulle.

“However, they are only the most visible and transparent parts of a larger production. Supporting this effort are directors, script writers, and, most importantly, a series of producers, in the form of conservative foundations.” – Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Most of the many millions of dollars channelled each year to US organisations which deny that climate change is an urgent problem come from sources which cannot be identified.

LONDON, 6 January – Approximately three quarters of the hundreds of millions of dollars that go to US climate change denial organisations is from unidentifiable sources, according to new research in the journal Climatic Change.

Robert Brulle, a sociologist at Drexel University in the US, set himself the challenge of trying to identify the financial backers who bankrolled more than 100 US organisations that make up what he calls the “climate change counter movement”.

He did so, he reports, because in the US the level of understanding of climate change as a serious and imminent problem remains low, despite urgent pronouncements from national academies and international agencies.

“In response to a survey question in the fall of 2012: Do scientists believe that Earth is getting warmer because of human activity? 43% replied no, and another 12% didn’t know. Only 45% of the U.S. public accurately reported the near-unanimity of the scientific community about anthropogenic climate change. This result reflects a broad misunderstanding of climate science by the general public”, he writes.

One major factor driving this misunderstanding was what he calls a “deliberate and organised effort to misdirect the public discussion and distort the public’s understanding of climate change.”

Opting for anonymity

So Brulle compiled a list of 118 important climate denial organisations in the US: many of them conservative think tanks, advocacy groups, trade associations and so on.

He then obtained Internal Revenue Service data from 91 of these organisations, and matched it with information from the US National Center for Charitable Statistics and the Foundation Center, a source of information on US philanthropy, fund-raising and grant programmes.

In his final analysis, he found that 140 foundations had made 5,299 grants worth $558 million to the 91 organisations between 2003 and 2010.

A number of free market and conservative trusts and foundations had openly funded the climate change counter movement, but more interestingly, once-prominent backers such as the ExxonMobil Foundation were no longer making publicly traceable contributions. Funding had shifted to untraceable sources.

For example, one foundation called the Donors Trust now provided 25% of all traceable funding used by organisations engaged in promoting systematic denial of climate change. But those who in turn funded the Donors Trust could not be traced.

Deniers’ megaphone

In fact, Brulle reports that most funding for denial efforts is untraceable: only a fraction of the hundreds of millions in contributions to such organisations can be accounted for in public records. Approximately 75% was “dark money” from unidentified sources.

In effect this “dark money” served as a megaphone to amplify the voices of denial, and leave many US voters with the impression that man-made global warming had doubtful scientific support, or was at least in scientific dispute. In fact, the illusion of uncertainty had been staged.

“To fully understand the opposition to climate change legislation, we need to focus on the institutionalised efforts that have built and maintain this organised campaign. Just as in a theatrical show, there are stars in the spotlight”, writes Brulle.

“However, they are only the most visible and transparent parts of a larger production. Supporting this effort are directors, script writers, and, most importantly, a series of producers, in the form of conservative foundations.” – Climate News Network

‘Dark money’ funds US climate deniers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Most of the many millions of dollars channelled each year to US organisations which deny that climate change is an urgent problem come from sources which cannot be identified. LONDON, 6 January – Approximately three quarters of the hundreds of millions of dollars that go to US climate change denial organisations is from unidentifiable sources, according to new research in the journal Climatic Change. Robert Brulle, a sociologist at Drexel University in the US, set himself the challenge of trying to identify the financial backers who bankrolled more than 100 US organisations that make up what he calls the “climate change counter movement”. He did so, he reports, because in the US the level of understanding of climate change as a serious and imminent problem remains low, despite urgent pronouncements from national academies and international agencies. “In response to a survey question in the fall of 2012: Do scientists believe that Earth is getting warmer because of human activity? 43% replied no, and another 12% didn’t know. Only 45% of the U.S. public accurately reported the near-unanimity of the scientific community about anthropogenic climate change. This result reflects a broad misunderstanding of climate science by the general public”, he writes. One major factor driving this misunderstanding was what he calls a “deliberate and organised effort to misdirect the public discussion and distort the public’s understanding of climate change.”

Opting for anonymity

So Brulle compiled a list of 118 important climate denial organisations in the US: many of them conservative think tanks, advocacy groups, trade associations and so on. He then obtained Internal Revenue Service data from 91 of these organisations, and matched it with information from the US National Center for Charitable Statistics and the Foundation Center, a source of information on US philanthropy, fund-raising and grant programmes. In his final analysis, he found that 140 foundations had made 5,299 grants worth $558 million to the 91 organisations between 2003 and 2010. A number of free market and conservative trusts and foundations had openly funded the climate change counter movement, but more interestingly, once-prominent backers such as the ExxonMobil Foundation were no longer making publicly traceable contributions. Funding had shifted to untraceable sources. For example, one foundation called the Donors Trust now provided 25% of all traceable funding used by organisations engaged in promoting systematic denial of climate change. But those who in turn funded the Donors Trust could not be traced.

Deniers’ megaphone

In fact, Brulle reports that most funding for denial efforts is untraceable: only a fraction of the hundreds of millions in contributions to such organisations can be accounted for in public records. Approximately 75% was “dark money” from unidentified sources. In effect this “dark money” served as a megaphone to amplify the voices of denial, and leave many US voters with the impression that man-made global warming had doubtful scientific support, or was at least in scientific dispute. In fact, the illusion of uncertainty had been staged. “To fully understand the opposition to climate change legislation, we need to focus on the institutionalised efforts that have built and maintain this organised campaign. Just as in a theatrical show, there are stars in the spotlight”, writes Brulle. “However, they are only the most visible and transparent parts of a larger production. Supporting this effort are directors, script writers, and, most importantly, a series of producers, in the form of conservative foundations.” – Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Most of the many millions of dollars channelled each year to US organisations which deny that climate change is an urgent problem come from sources which cannot be identified. LONDON, 6 January – Approximately three quarters of the hundreds of millions of dollars that go to US climate change denial organisations is from unidentifiable sources, according to new research in the journal Climatic Change. Robert Brulle, a sociologist at Drexel University in the US, set himself the challenge of trying to identify the financial backers who bankrolled more than 100 US organisations that make up what he calls the “climate change counter movement”. He did so, he reports, because in the US the level of understanding of climate change as a serious and imminent problem remains low, despite urgent pronouncements from national academies and international agencies. “In response to a survey question in the fall of 2012: Do scientists believe that Earth is getting warmer because of human activity? 43% replied no, and another 12% didn’t know. Only 45% of the U.S. public accurately reported the near-unanimity of the scientific community about anthropogenic climate change. This result reflects a broad misunderstanding of climate science by the general public”, he writes. One major factor driving this misunderstanding was what he calls a “deliberate and organised effort to misdirect the public discussion and distort the public’s understanding of climate change.”

Opting for anonymity

So Brulle compiled a list of 118 important climate denial organisations in the US: many of them conservative think tanks, advocacy groups, trade associations and so on. He then obtained Internal Revenue Service data from 91 of these organisations, and matched it with information from the US National Center for Charitable Statistics and the Foundation Center, a source of information on US philanthropy, fund-raising and grant programmes. In his final analysis, he found that 140 foundations had made 5,299 grants worth $558 million to the 91 organisations between 2003 and 2010. A number of free market and conservative trusts and foundations had openly funded the climate change counter movement, but more interestingly, once-prominent backers such as the ExxonMobil Foundation were no longer making publicly traceable contributions. Funding had shifted to untraceable sources. For example, one foundation called the Donors Trust now provided 25% of all traceable funding used by organisations engaged in promoting systematic denial of climate change. But those who in turn funded the Donors Trust could not be traced.

Deniers’ megaphone

In fact, Brulle reports that most funding for denial efforts is untraceable: only a fraction of the hundreds of millions in contributions to such organisations can be accounted for in public records. Approximately 75% was “dark money” from unidentified sources. In effect this “dark money” served as a megaphone to amplify the voices of denial, and leave many US voters with the impression that man-made global warming had doubtful scientific support, or was at least in scientific dispute. In fact, the illusion of uncertainty had been staged. “To fully understand the opposition to climate change legislation, we need to focus on the institutionalised efforts that have built and maintain this organised campaign. Just as in a theatrical show, there are stars in the spotlight”, writes Brulle. “However, they are only the most visible and transparent parts of a larger production. Supporting this effort are directors, script writers, and, most importantly, a series of producers, in the form of conservative foundations.” – Climate News Network