Debunking The Debunkers Who Are Full Of Bunk, Part 1

Thursday, January 03, 2008

I was recently blessed with a copy of the "New York Times Bestseller" Unstoppable Global Warming; Every 1500 Years by S. Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery, marked as "Updated and Expanded." Updated and Expanded indeed, full of bullshit.

The premise of the book, of course, is to prove global warming to be a hoax and that what is happoening actually happens in natural cycles every 1,500 years. Thus, we have nothing to worry about.

A quick check on Amazon shows some of the people who rated this tome of knowledge:

Mrs. Avery and Singer provide an excellent readable and well documented book on the global warming hoax. The reader can only conclude that this book is an invaluable resource on the topic of global warming. The work refers to a vast amount of scientific research in a wide variety of scientific journals indicating a natural sunspot magnetic wave is causing what little global warming exists. Man created carbon dixoide has very little effect on the earth's climate.

Avery and Singer go further by providing an in depth expose of the fallacious research that alledgedly supports man made global warming. In particular the authors make an incisive investigation into the so called hockey stick hypothesis of unprecedented recent warming hoax widely enunciated by the UN's climate change panel. This hoax was first exposed by two skilled and courageous Canadian researchers - McIntyre and McKitrick.

Pseudoscientists and others with a vested interest in controlling the global economy by use of the global warming hoax will not like this work. However informed readers concerned with human welfare and human progress will find this book invaluable. This book should be read by all Amercians and really by everone else in the world
My favorite is
Detailed and documented, Fred Singer is a Distinguished Research Professor at George Mason University and Professor Emeritus of environmental science at the University of Virginia. He also debunked the "passive smoking as a cancer risk" nonsense...
...The report attacked the US Environmental Protection Agency for their 1993 study about the cancer risks of passive smoking and called it "junk science"
Let's start with Fred.

Mr. Siegfried Frederick Singer
Singer is the President and co-founder of the Science & Environmental Policy Project, the focus of which is to dispute the prevailing scientific views of climate change, ozone depletion, and secondhand smoke. He is also the science advisor to the conservative journal NewsMax. I have not yet had the time to look into all of the organizations he is a part of, but I think I know what I'll find if I do.

As for Mr. Singer's track record on scientific matters, I offer the following:
During Operation Desert Storm in 1991, Dr. S. Fred Singer debated Carl Sagan on the impact of the Kuwaiti petroleum fires on the ABC News program Nightline. Sagan said we know from the nuclear winter investigation that the smoke would loft into the upper atmosphere and that he believed the net effects would be very similar to the explosion of the Indonesian volcano Tambora in 1815, which resulted in the year 1816 being known as the year without a summer, in massive agricultural failures, in very serious human suffering and, in some cases, starvation. He predicted the same for south Asia, and perhaps for a significant fraction of the northern hemisphere as well as a result. Singer, on the other hand, said that calculations showed that the smoke would go to an altitude of about 3,000 feet and then be rained out after about three to five days and thus the lifetime of the smoke would be limited. In retrospect, we now know that smoke from the Kuwait Oil Fires dominated the weather pattern throughout the Persian Gulf and surrounding region during 1991, and that lower atmospheric wind blew the smoke along the eastern half of the Arabian Peninsula, and cities like Dhahran, Riyadh and Bahrain experienced days with smoke filled skies and carbon fallout.."
So he struck out on that one. No biggie. Just forgot to carry the 3 or something. Well, it certainly doesn't improve for Dr. Singer:
[English global warming skeptic]David Bellamy has said that most glaciers have been advancing since 1980 as evidence against global warming. This contrasts with the scientific consensus that the vast majority of glaciers have been retreating since 1850. In an editorial in The Guardian, [environmental journalist and political activist]George Monbiot said that Bellamy's argument came from Singer, and that Singer's stated source is an unspecified 1989 article in Science. Monbiot reports that he performed both electronic and manual searches of the journal, and found no such article[emphasis mine].
Okay. So, more than forgetting to carry the 3, it looks like we're now into making shit up. Cool. We're used to that. And then there's the kicker.
A 2007 Newsweek cover story on climate change denial reported that: "In April 1998 a dozen people from the denial machine — including the Marshall Institute, Fred Singer's group and Exxon — met at the American Petroleum Institute's Washington headquarters. They proposed a $5 million campaign, according to a leaked eight-page memo, to convince the public that the science of global warming is riddled with controversy and uncertainty."[emphasis mine] The plan was reportedly aimed at "raising questions about and undercutting the 'prevailing scientific wisdom'" on climate change.
And there it is. A meeting with the oil and gas industry at their turf to create a PR campaign.

Let's move on to his Co-author.

Dennis T. Avery
Dr. Avery is the director of the Center for Global Food Issues at the Hudson Institute, where he edits Global Food Quarterly (sounds like a real barn-burner of a newsletter. According to Sourcewatch:
Avery crusades against organic agriculture claiming that modern industrial agriculture and biotechnology will save the world from starvation and disaster. Avery also disputes the scientific consensus on global warming.

He is the originator of a misleading claim that organic foods are more dangerous than foods sprayed with chemical pesticides.

Avery served as a senior agricultural analyst for the US Department of State for between 1980 and 1988 under the Reagan administration[emphasis mine]
A look at Dr. Avery's track record, like we did with Dr. Singer, shows this little trip-up:
[Avery writes]"According to recent data compiled by the U.S Centers for Disease Control (CDC), people who eat organic and 'natural' foods are eight times as likely as the rest of the population to be attacked by a deadly new strain of E. coli bacteria (0157:H7)," Avery wrote in the Fall 1998 issue of American Outlook, a Hudson Institute publication. This happens, he said, because organic food is grown in animal manure, a known carrier of this nasty microbe. He said his data came from Dr. Paul Mead, an epidemiologist at the CDC.
The CDC answers:
CDC took the unusual step on January 14, 1999 of issuing a press release stating, "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not conducted any study that compares or quantitates the specific risk for infection with E. coli 0157:H7 and eating either conventionally grown or organic/natural foods."
Oops. Yeah, so Dr. Avery quotes scientific studies that don't actually exist. Again, we're sort of used to that by now. The plot thickens with this one, including a phone call from the CDC to Dr. Avery, telling him to quit citing the CDC as his source because, you know, it isn't. As for the Hudson Institute, at which Dr. Avery is a senior fellow, a search string yields, at the end of the day, a slew of conservative think-tanks that contribute to it, including the Capital Research Center, which ranks the Hudson Institute "as a 7 on its ideological spectrum with 8 being 'Free Market Right' and 1 'Radical Left.'"[link broken]

So there you have it: the authors of this fine study. I intend to do many more "parts" to this "study" as I sit down to slog through it and comare its arguments to those that we know are accurate. If I have the energy.

11 comments:

Sopor 8:19 AM  

Wow.

You know, if there's one thing we can be reasonably sure of, it's that the amount of Bull Shit being thrown around by people who claim to be "in-the-know" and "experts" has released enough methane to start Global Warming all on it's own!

I wish people could get one thing straight: The world is warming. Who cares who's fault it is, we're past the point of blame. If we want to inhabit this earth long enough to spread and not be dependent on one planet, then we need to do everything we can to slow or reduce this affect!

Rickey Henderson 10:46 AM  

These are the same people who like to tell us that volcanos account for the majority of pollution in the atmopshere, aren't they?

What a pack of shitheads.

steves 12:07 PM  

As someone who is very dependent on the expertise of others in this topic (I haven't had a science class since high school), I would agree that it is very frustrating.

I also get frustrated at some of the celebrity hypocrisy. Not that I base my decisions on what they say (I will not heed Sheryl Crow's admonition to use only one square of toilet paper for...), but I get tired of hearing about what I have to do when their energy consumption is 30 times that of mine. Also, carbon offsets seem kind of like papal indulgences.

I am old enough to remember the scares of the 1970's. I remember all sorts of documentaries that painted a dire picture of massive over population and wide spread famine. They also pretty much said that we would live under the same conditions as the movie Soylent Green. Going back even farther, there are articles from the 20's and 30's that said we would run out of oil by 1940.

I am all for erring on the side of caution, but I would rather stick with facts and things that really work.

This reminds me of the debate over directional drilling under the Great Lakes. It ended up being a very emotional debate and we decided to not do it. I remember talking to my dad about it. He had worked for the DEQ and had also been a professor of mining engineering and geology. He said the opponents of directional drilling convinced people that it was a risky, untested technique. The reality was that this untested technique had been pioneered in the 1930's and was used all over the world. Consequently, we do not drill under the Great Lakes, but Ontario does and we end up buying (at an increased cost) some of our natural gas from them.

I tend to believe the global warming people, but if we are going to develop policy, I'd rather it be based on things that really work, as opposed to feel-good stuff that really doesn't.

Smitty 2:58 PM  

carbon offsets seem kind of like papal indulgences

Funniest thing I've seen today.

That said, carbon offsets are getting businesses interested in being "green" because there is profit to be made from it and a commodity to trade. If their becoming green is not based on altrusim but instead on profit...who cares?

Ultimately, I too agree (obviously) with the global warming folks. I disagree that this is an opinion or there is room for argument. But ultimately, indeed, being "green" needs to be done by techniques that will have an impact. So for now, offsets (which as you point out are really trading an unmeasurable footprint like a papal indulgence) are at least working to get the business comminity at least interested in carpooling, flying less and using those incandescent bulbs. Good first step.

Bob "Chief Beer Advocate" 3:04 PM  

"I also get frustrated at some of the celebrity hypocrisy."

Amen.

I want to punch that Prius-driving m****r-f****r Leonardo DeCaprio in the face. Everyone knows damn well that he lives in a G.D. mansion. What's the impact of that on the world? I wonder if he has a heated pool. I also guarantee that his job does more environmental damage than mine.

I aslo agree with steves on the carbon offsets B.S. What's that? I can pollute because I can afford it? If everyone tries to buy these things isn't it pointless?

We need some serious data about this issue. As I made the point before, cars in the U.S. account for 1.5% of the worlds C02, but you wouldn't know that lisenting to all the rhetoric and you will not find that data on any environmentalist website.

Sopor 10:46 AM  

Carbon credits are a joke. So I can buy a tree or two (that already existed) to offset the extra emissions from my Dodge Viper? Who cares? What the hell good did that do?

Electricity seems to be one of the bigger problems. We think we're being clean by using electric devices and the like... wrong! The power plants creating that electricity are HORRIBLE for our atmosphere.

I'm personally a big fan of Nuclear Power. I've been to the Palisades Nuke south of South Haven, and I was pretty impressed. Biggest problem with that plant was the hot water it discharged into lake Michigan. Nukes are actually very safe (When you don't operate them like Chernobyl.) Nuclear waste is a problem, but I honestly feel that it is a smaller problem than the current state of CO2 in our air.

Check this out.

steves 4:06 PM  

Nuclear energy is very safe, but a variety of environmental groups would have a fit.

Anonymous,  6:37 AM  

You sheeple are out of your fucking minds! Baaaaaa Baaaaaa

Anonymous,  7:17 PM  

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Anonymous,  10:53 PM  

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Anonymous,  7:24 PM  

I think you have the history incorrect. Singer got it right and Sagan got it wrong. Sagan even conceded as such. Where was the disruption in agriculture in much of Asia? Where was the year without a summer?

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