OMFG. WSJ Gets Loopy. Me, Too.

The recent IPCC report on the connection between global warming and extreme weather did not make much of a splash in the news.  OK, it was a pretty boring report, but still, I am told the science (some of which was pretty hard to follow) was sound, if overly conservative.

It probably did have one important consequence: sandwiched in the few weeks  between its release and the start of the Durban climate talks, we were treated to Thanksgiving leftovers from the already debunked (repeatedly) “Climategate” e-mail trove of out-of-context, fairly routine talk among scientists.  Even that did not have the impact it did last time around; but, what with the e-mails mined for nuggets that might look damaging when taken out of context, and the Durban talks now going on,  there is a renewed buzz of activity among those who are firmly, squarely, and confidently irrational. Why am I actually surprised by any of this, or that it appears in stark form in today’s Wall Street Journal?  OK, what they are saying is just plain anti-science, but everyone knows that if anything is said often enough in prominent places, a lot people will believe it.

So, how to respond? In my line of work, we are accustomed to examining arguments for either their false premises or for conclusions that do not follow from the evidence or premises. How old school, I know, trying to reason with people.

I was just in the middle of cataloging the confusions, errors, and bad reasoning in today’s downright loopy WSJ editorial about the, um, get ready for this, dying global warming religion. Read it if you have the stomach. You’ll regret it, I promise.

“The Great Global Warming Fizzle: The climate religion fades in spasms of anger and twitches of boredom”

Then, after about an hour of looking at things like storm activity, floods, droughts, temperatures, and some of the connections between climate and weather, I have just become too fed up to continue. There are great bloggers out there who have more patience than I do today, and I will provide their links to the WSJ’s denialism, not just of long-term climate change, but of the short-term extreme weather being experienced all over the globe.

So, for tonight, I have decided to forget about trying to explain why it appears that the evidence relied upon by the WSJ is so much more than flimsy, it actually seems to be misunderstanding even the difference between weather and climate, let alone their connection, or things as basic as how to measure changes in weather during the past few years. Instead of analyzing the WSJ’s ridiculous argument, it seems to me that a change of tone is needed. Maybe not, but I need it.

Which means that all I can muster at the moment is a reprise of a short video I had re-posted a few months ago. It does explain the difference between weather and climate, and the tone seems right. Plus, it is British, so the accents make it sound smarter.

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For a more serious piece by David Jenkins on David Frum’s blog about why conservatives should reject the wave of GOP science denial, click here.

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About Scott Brophy
Scott Brophy is a philosophy professor whose work is focused on the intersection of philosophy and public policy, especially on environmental issues, law, and education. He has also taught philosophy of science, logic, and the history of philosophy. He has served as a consultant for educational programs and schools throughout the U.S. and abroad, and as an adviser to several philanthropic foundations.

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