Although I don’t have much time to look into this sort of thing, I am interested to know where memes originate. Knowing where the memes originate, and then looking at who funds the source, could well be a clue as to whether and what hidden agenda is being pursued. (Of course, knowing who is paid to re-inforce memes also is worth looking into.)
It turns out that a lot of the “denialist” mumbo jumbo can be traced to Naomi Oreskes. I haven’t read her book Merchants of Doubt, but did hear a youtube speech of hers. She’s pretty articulate, interesting, and convincing.
Convincing until you look deeper, that is, and start to grok just how much Oreskes doesn’t tell you.
The enormous “vested interests” are well over a thousand to one in favor of alarmism as measured by funding, yet Oreskes has not even considered them. The largest proactive skeptical organization (Heartland) has a budget that is one hundredth of Greenpeace and WWF’s combined. Funding for alarmist research since 1990 is at least $79 billion, and probably a lot higher. Funding for skeptical research is so small, no one can add it up. The oil giants like Shell and BP mostly support alarmism and carbon markets. The global carbon market was worth $176 bn in 2011, about the same as the global wheat trade, and the renewables investments added up to $243 bn in 2010. These are very large amounts of vested interest. Since Oreskes is blind to the real money in the debate we can only assume she is an activist rather than a historian.
She resorts to twenty year old documents about tobacco funding to smear by association because she has so little real evidence of actual funding or misbehavior of skeptics. As it happens, Fred Singer was never directly paid by a tobacco company, has never doubted that smoking causes cancer, but corrected a scientific error in a paper on passive smoking. He deserves thanks. Oreskes owes him an apology.
Apparently, Oreskes has been a busy bee, and co-authored Climate change prediction: Erring on the side of least drama?
Pielke notes that the Oreskes, et.al. paper is based on 11 “data points” (he meant 11 data relationships), but
Consider that the 2007 IPCC report alone had 2,744 findings, almost all of which were reported in probabilistic fashion. Evaluating the accuracy of those findings comprehensively against the evolution of the climate system would be difficult if not impossible, both empirically and epistemologically. Further, one could easily pick out a few findings from the report which tell a different story: drought, methane emissions, flooding, disaster costs, Himalayan glacier melt and so on. In 2010, Robert Watson, a former Chair of the IPCC, noted of the errors discovered in the AR4 report: “The mistakes all appear to have gone in the direction of making it seem like climate change is more serious by overstating the impact. That is worrying.” A Dutch assessment of the IPCC AR4 found much the same.
Five days after Pielke’s criticism of Oreskes, et.al., he was
asked to step down from the Editorial Board.
I am of course happy to make way for other scientists to “gain the experience of editorial duties.” However, if my critique of a GEC paper is in any way related to my removal from the editorial board, then the message being sent to those other scientists is pretty chilling. For my part, I value my academic freedom to offer critique as I see things far more than being allowed into certain clubs.