Sunday, May 4, 2014

Tom Donelson and Denier Lies

Tom Donelson is a climate change denier. He is also a real estate agent in Iowa (according to his link) and apparently thinks he knows more about climate change than all of the climate scientists in the world combined. I have been exchanging some comments with him lately and they are so lame that it is unbelievable that anyone would believe them. You can read all of them here. Unfortunately, there are those that do. But, in his comments were some very subtle lies. I bring this up, not because I want to discredit Mr. Donelson (he has no credibility to begin with), but to illustrate how deniers lie to people.

Here is one such exchange. Read it closely to see if you can find the lie:

Tom Donelson · Top Commenter · Realtors at Iowa Realty
You can't even make the statement that this is the hottest century over the past two thousands years stick and there are 700 researchers who agree with me. So the real denier is you, have fun selling your book. I will look forward to see it under fiction

Name one that isn't associated with the Heartland Institute.

Tom Donelson · Top Commenter · Realtors at Iowa Realty
Christopher Keating Here is one lists of references to chew on. Of course every scientists who disagree with you is on the take. .

Tom Donelson · Top Commenter · Realtors at Iowa Realty
Bottom line, I have more than enough references to show I am right that there has been climate change over the pasts 2000 years, past 10,000 years and yes even the last 800,000 years. Since you can't even get the history of climate change right, the readers of this blog should not take you that seriously. And I am the snake oil salesman?

Tom Donelson · Top Commenter · Realtors at Iowa Realty

Give up? That is how good they are. It is hard to see and I confess I missed it at first.

In his first comment above, Mr. Donelson states, "there are 700 researchers who agree with me." Then, he gives a link to the CO2 Science website, one of the worst denier organizations out there. If you go to the link Donelson provides you find a page entitled, "List of Scientists Whose Work We Cite".

I think we can all agree that citing someone's published work is not the same as saying they 'agree' with you. For instance, I could write a paper talking about how bad the Nazis were for Germany and cite Mein Kampf somewhere in the paper. That does not mean Hitler agrees with me.

The fact that Hitler is dead is relevant. I looked up a bunch of these scientists and found that many of them have been dead for quite some time. In fact, it appears some of them died before CO2 Science was ever around. It would be virtually impossible for these individuals to agree with them.

CO2 Science does not make the claim that these scientist agree with them, they just say they cite their work. The claim of agreement is purely on Mr. Donelson. However, I bet if I contacted these individuals (at least the ones that are still alive) and told them that a denier is telling people they agree with him on his views on climate change that they would be pretty surprised.

Look at the last comment where he says, "I have more than enough references to show I am right that there has been climate change over the pasts (sic) 2000 years, past 10,000 years and yes even the last 800,000 years." This is the second lie Mr. Donelson says here.

The claim was never that there has been no naturally occurring climate change. Mr. Donelson changed the claim in mid-argument. The original claim by Donelson was "when for the past ten of thousands of years we have seen far more extreme temperature ensueing?" I responded that temperatures today are the hottest in the last 10,000 years. He then stated, "You can't even make the statement that this is the hottest century over the past two thousands years stick."

So, in summary, I said this is the hottest it has been for 10,000 years and he changed it to climate variability over the last 800,000 years. False argument. He did not respond to my claim, instead he substituted another to make it appear that I was wrong. The irony is that if Mr. Donelson had stuck to the facts he would have shown my statement, as I stated it, was wrong. It was actually warmer than today during the middle-Halocene period that occurred between 7500 and 5000 years ago.Here is a very good statement of the facts, from the National Climatic Data Center. So, if he hadn't turned it into a lie, he would have scored some points.

However, present day temperatures are clearly warmer than during the Medieval Warm Period, making today's temperature record the hottest for the last 2000 years, at least. The IPCC report states,

The uncertainty associated with present palaeoclimate estimates of NH mean temperatures is significant, especially for the period prior to 1600 when data are scarce (Mann et al., 1999; Briffa and Osborn, 2002; Cook et al., 2004a). However, Figure 6.10 shows that the warmest period prior to the 20th century very likely occurred between 950 and 1100, but temperatures were probably between 0.1°C and 0.2°C below the 1961 to 1990 mean and significantly below the level shown by instrumental data after 1980.

So, the Medieval Warm Period is not as warm as the period of 1961-1990, and significantly cooler than the temperatures recorded after 1980. But, the bigger issue is, so what? Discussions about naturally occurring climate change in the past have no bearing on the climatic issues of today. This quote from Richard Alley says it very well:

"Whether temperatures have been warmer or colder in the past is largely irrelevant to the impacts of the ongoing warming. If you don’t care about humans and the other species here, global warming may not be all that important; nature has caused warmer and colder times in the past, and life survived. But, those warmer and colder times did not come when there were almost seven billion people living as we do. The best science says that if our warming becomes large, its influences on us will be primarily negative, and the temperature of the Holocene or the Cretaceous has no bearing on that. Furthermore, the existence of warmer and colder times in the past does not remove our fingerprints from the current warming, any more than the existence of natural fires would remove an arsonist’s fingerprints from a can of flammable liquid. If anything, nature has been pushing to cool the climate over the last few decades, but warming has occurred."
So, Mr. Donelson inserted another implied lie into the argument, namely that we don't need to worry about today's warming because natural climate change occurred in the past, therefore this warming is just another natural cycle. What if I said it this way:

Pneumonia kills people
Gunshot wounds kill people
Pneumonia is a naturally occurring disease
Therefore, gunshot wounds are a naturally occurring disease

It's pretty obvious when you put it that way.  But, Mr. Donelson, and other climate change deniers, want you to believe that naturally occurring climate cycles in the past mean we have done nothing to the environment of today. Clearly, a false argument and, since they know it is a false argument (they have been told enough times), that makes it a lie when they continue to say it.

And, that is how the deniers operate.

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