Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Tom Harris Deceives About Science

Tom Harris, the fossil fuel industry paid shill, has another letter where he tries to portray science as nothing more than an opinion. If that wasn't bad enough, he quoted Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry as an authority. You can imagine that it didn't go very well - and it didn't. Read it here. I collaborated with commenter Terry on a response, which was published in the Duluth News Tribune here.  A more direct response is shown below.


Regarding the June 26, 2017 “Scientific theories aren't truth, but educated opinions,” this article is designed to deceive the reader. This isn’t a surprise considering the author, Tom Harris, is paid to place articles for the purpose of undermining climate science.

It is deceitful for Harris to claim science is an opinion. Gravity isn’t an opinion. It isn’t an opinion that humans must breathe air. The greenhouse effect isn’t an opinion. All of these are conclusions, supported with scientific evidence and reached via the scientific method.

As for his “experts” questioning climate science, the truth is that in excess of 97% of all climate scientists agree that manmade climate change is real. If 97% of engineers said a bridge was unsafe, would you drive over it because someone who isn’t even an expert in the field insists that science and engineering are opinions?

Concerning ‘skeptics,’ Harris isn’t one. A skeptic examines the facts with an open and questioning mind. Harris doesn’t fit that description. He has rejected science and has a long resume of advocating for the fossil fuel and tobacco industries. See more at

We also note how Harris quoted DoE Secretary Rick Perry concerning having an ‘open discussion.’ So, let’s have an open discussion concerning Secretary Perry.

Perry has received considerable funding from oil and gas interests, was a board member of Energy Transfer Partners — owner of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), is a former chairman of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC), and received funding for his presidential campaign from the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners. Perry even advocated eliminating the DoE during his presidential run.

Once the facts are presented, the picture is not as painted by the highly deceptive Harris. And, that is not an opinion.

Dr. Christopher Keating and Terry Buchanan

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Hockey Stick and Breitbart

There are few things that will get anti-science climate change deniers in a froth more quickly than bringing up the hockey stick. Maybe it’s because the hockey stick shows, without question, that global warming is real. The graph even leads to the conclusion, with no other data necessary, that it’s caused by humans.

For a review, the hockey stick is a nickname given to a graph produced my Dr.s Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley, and Malcolm Hughes (NorthernHemisphere Temperatures During the Past Millennium: Inferences, Uncertainties, and Limitations)

The nickname is a result of the shape of the graph showing average global temperatures for the last several centuries. There was a gradual downward trend following the end of the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) in the 14th century until a very large upturn in the late-19th century. Here is the original graph:

Source: Mann, Bradley and Hughes, 1999
As you can see, there is no comparable uptick in temperature anywhere else in the graph and this change occurred as our industrial complexes were expanding, strongly indicating this uptick was caused by us. Of course, further research was needed to confirm this result. That research has been done and the hockey stick has been confirmed by multiple studies.

Source: Mann, et al, 2008

Interestingly, this paper has been scrubbed from the NOAA website. The science haters in charge of the government are trying, and failing, to hide the science.

You can read a good discussion concerning the hockey stick here.

With confirmation of the hockey stick comes confirmation of the conclusion. Yes, the science is settled – manmade emissions are causing global warming and the associated climate change.

So, it isn’t surprising to find deniers go into a tizzy every time someone mentions the hockey stick and to produce any number of arguments to try and discredit it. The latest was an article in the Notrickzone: Scientists Increasingly Discarding ‘Hockey Stick’ Temperature Graphs

[UPDATE: For an excellent review of how completely false the Notrickzone article is go here. I particularly like the summary:
We rank the claims made by both Breitbart and No Tricks Zone as false, because they dramatically misrepresent the findings of the scientists who conducted the research and utilize poorly-articulated straw man arguments to further misrepresent the significance of the work of those scientists. These studies were local in nature, narrow in scope, meant to address how the climate system functioned in the past, and pose no threat to the tenets of anthropogenic climate change.
Thanks to jmac for providing the link.]
It doesn’t take long to see what the problem is with this article, namely cherry picking. Cherry picking is selecting data to support your predetermined conclusion and ignoring data that doesn’t. Take a quick look at the article and you’ll see graphs for the western Mediterranean, the Spanish Pyrenees, northern Spain, Arctic summer temperatures, South China Sea, Alberta, Scotland, and more. In other words, the author of this piece went and found scientific papers that discussed some aspect of temperature for some given region and he then expanded it to mean global warming.

There’s two huge problems with this. The first is that we are discussing ‘global’ warming, not ‘Alberta’ warming. There’s the cherry picking. Given global warming, it is a fact of the laws of thermodynamics that some areas will actually see a cooling trend. As more heat is stored in the atmosphere, more work will be done. Weather can only occur when there is a temperature difference between regions. So, as more work is done in the form of weather, it is required that some areas be warmer than others. That is why we focus on global averages. We want to know what is happening to the entire planet. What is happening in the Spanish Pyrenees is important and is a worthwhile thing to study, but it doesn’t fall under the definition of ‘global’ warming.

The other problem is that some of these graphs, showing temperature trends for limited regions instead of global averages, still show the hockey stick is present, even for the isolated region in question. The author of this article is trying to prove the hockey stick isn’t real by showing examples of it actually existing. And, I’m sure he has no problem with that logic.

I’m not the only one to find this article doesn’t pass any kind of scientific muster. You can read a much better review, conducted by five scientists, here.

I also refer you to this comment that was submitted:

This is just another giant cherry pick by "nottickszone" of the earths average annual air temperature. These cherry picks are typical of "notrickszone" and other denier blogs. Nobody has said that every region of the earth will warm at the same rate.
“Global warming” means Earth's average annual air temperature is rising, but not necessarily in every single location during all seasons across the globe.

"Temperature trends across the entire globe aren’t uniform because of the diverse geography on our planet—oceans versus continents, lowlands versus mountains, forests versus deserts versus ice sheets—as well as natural climate variability. When you’re zoomed in on a particular place, you may not be able to see the overall trend.

It is only when scientists calculate the average of temperature changes from every place on Earth over the course of a year to produce a single number, and then look at how that number has changed over time that a very clear, global warming trend emerges. In other words, it’s only when we “zoom out” to the planet-wide scale that the trend is obvious: despite a few, rare areas experiencing an overall cooling trend, the vast majority of places across the globe are warming.
Observed trend in temperature from 1900 to 2012; yellow to red indicates warming, while shades of blue indicate cooling. Gray indicates areas for which there are no data. There are substantial regional variations in trends across the planet, though the overall trend is warming. Map from FAQ appendix of the 2014 National Climate Assessment. Originally provided by NOAA NCDC.

The reason a “zoomed out” view makes the long-term trend so clear is that Earth's annual average temperatures from year to year are found to be very stable when nothing is forcing it to change. Today, though, every decade since 1960 has been warmer than the last, and the last three decades each have been the warmest on record. Relative to geologic time, the warming that has occurred—1.5°F (0.85°C) over a span of 100 years—is an unusually large temperature change in a relati vely short span of time.

However, not all land masses and oceans have experienced or will experience a constant, identical rate of warming. Natural variations in our climate system cause temperatures to vary from region to region and from time to time, leaving sporadic fingerprints in the long-term temperature record. When you consider the global map above, you can see that in a few parts of the world temperature trends were basically ”flat” over the last century."

In conclusion, I have to wonder why this guy would write an article that is so easily debunked. I guess there are people who will believe anything that affirms their hatred of science, but why would you be willing to make such a fool of yourself in the process? But, then again, I guess that's what they specialize in at Breitbart.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Guest Post: If deniers only want a debate, then why do they keep censoring comments?

The following was submitted to illustrate how the anti-science people censor anything they don't like. This, of course, is completely counter to having a debate. If they really wanted to debate the science, they would welcome pro-science people who cite the facts and the evidence. Draw your own conclusions.

You can find the original posting at:



The following comments include several of mine which seem not to have been posted on the PJ Media website, although for the life of me, I don't know why? The site seems to favor the comments of deniers, so I thought showing those that weren't shown or were delayed for some mysterious reason might make a good guest post for DOGW. At present, I am not sure that I will ever find them back where they vanished, after previously seeming to have been successfully posted there, in part, because the site possibly has a biased moderator, and because they may have been deleted due to some technicality. But over and over again the ones that I consider the best, are being held back or deleted entirely. Go figure?

Mekhlis  Peter Johnson * a day ago

I guess that a street sweeper can have an opinion on AGW, and it might be every bit as correct (or false) as Mr. Nye's. But a street sweeper would not advertise as the "Science Guy." My point was, and still is, that there is no more reason to listen to Nye than there is to anyone picked at random from the phone book. He is no scientist--certainly not a climate scientist. He is a first-rate fraud, though."

Peter Johnson  Mekhlis * a day ago
Nye can advertise himself as "the science guy," because he IS a "science guy." He may not have the same education or be the best qualified to explain climate science to others, but he has had a TV show on which he taught and demonstrated scientific facts. And, as far as I know, neither has he advertised himself as (Bill Nye the AGW expert guy).
Although a mechanical engineer does not learn all that a scientist learns in his education, he is none the less a scientist, and one that does understand many of the principles underlying our present global warming. I can understand why you may not give him much credit for being an exceptionally learned expert, but I have no idea why you think he should be called a fraud? ---has he ever claimed to know as much as climate scientists do? ---if not, how is he committing fraud?

Mekhlis  Peter Johnson * a day ago
An engineer is no "scientist." He is an engineer. Since that distinction should be apparent, I have no more to say on this subject. Goodbye.

Peter Johnson  Mekhlis * a day ago
"Mechanical engineering"
"From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia"
"The mechanical engineering field requires an understanding of core areas including mechanics, kinematics, thermodynamics, materials science, structural analysis, and electricity. In addition to these core principles, mechanical engineers use tools such as computer-aided design (CAD), and product life cycle management to design and analyze manufacturing plants, industrial equipment and machinery, heating and cooling systems, transport systems, aircraft, watercraft, robotics, medical devices, weapons, and others."
"Mechanical engineering emerged as a field during the Industrial Revolution in Europe in the 18th century; however, its development can be traced back several thousand years around the world. In the 19th century, developments in physics led to the development of mechanical engineering science. The field has continually evolved to incorporate advancements; today mechanical engineers are pursuing developments in such areas as composites, mechanics, and nanotechnology. It also overlaps with aerospace engineering, metallurgical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, manufacturing engineering, chemical engineering, industrial engineering, and other engineering disciplines to varying amounts. Mechanical engineers may also work in the field of biomedical engineering, specifically with biomechanics, transport phenomena, biomechatronic, bionanotechnology, and modeling of biological systems."
OOPS! I'm technically wrong--a mechanical engineer just needs to know many different things from many different branches of science---silly me!
You really do have nothing more to say about it, because you deny the broader role of science that permeates and incorporates knowledge taken from many different scientific fields. Do you allow deniers to borrow your hair splitter too?

In this next comment, Mekhlis resorts to the obnoxious tactic of insulting me and demeaning my use of Wikipedia, apparently just because he believes it is worthless. It is so ironic that many deniers think this kind of vitriolic and pugnacious attitude, just reeking with condescension, is theirs to use righteously and at will, while thinking it is they who are being insulted for simply having their beliefs challenged?

Mekhlis  Peter Johnson * a day ago
Congratulations. So, you have learned to cut and paste, and from Wikipedia at that, the dunces' go-to "source" that would earn an undergraduate an 'F' in any class. At least copying improves your otherwise shockingly poor grammar. Of course, advanced engineers master all sorts of fields; but Nye never earned an advanced degree, even in engineering. He has merely a Bachelor's degree, and you have no evidence at all that he has any expertise in any of the fields that you copied above. More to the point, read the segment that you copied, if you can: it says nothing whatsoever about climatology; he is certainly no environmental scientist. Nye also has lately taken to pontificating about gender, although he has no training in genetics, biology, biomedicine [not biotechnology], or even psychology. I do not see any reference above to any of these disciplines. With his bow-tie and plaid-jacket shtick he has managed to fool rubes into believing that he is a scientist, but he is nothing of the sort. A person who pretends to have expertise that he does not in fact possess is a fraud, plain and simple. I don't expect to convince you. This exchange is both pointless and tiresome, and it is a waste of my time. Goodbye for good.

My words:

1.The results of Googling the word "Biotechnology:"

"Biotechnology is a technology that is based on biology, and uses living organisms to make innovative products and techniques that will improve our lives. ... GE is a process where scientists and researchers deliberately modify the genetic makeup of an organism."

2.The results of Googling the word, "Bionanotechnology:"

"Bionanotechnology is a branch of nanotechnology which uses biological starting materials, utilizes biological design or fabrication principles or is applied in medicine or biotechnology."

3.The results of Googling the word "Biomedical Engineering:"

"Biomedical engineering (BME) is the application of engineering principles and design concepts to medicine and biology for healthcare purposes (e.g. diagnostic or therapeutic)."

These are various fields which utilize Mechanical engineering skills as part of their expertise. "Biomedical," refers to:

"Biomedical sciences are a set of applied sciences applying portions of natural science or formal science, or both, to develop knowledge, interventions, or technology that are of use in healthcare or public health."

So, all the three above scientific field are all included as areas of knowledge that are utilized by Engineers, and they all overlap with Mechanical Engineering in fields such as Aerospace Engineering,
Metallurgical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Industrial Engineering.

Each field deals with different specific applications of their knowledge, but all of them drink from a common well of knowledge that depends on the same basic, and fundamental scientific knowledge.

The world of science is not in Kansas anymore, it has numerous and similar applications across a broad spectrum of similar usage.

My words-In this final response I made to Mekhlis, I included the criticisms of Sarah Palin, because she seems pretty typical of all the non-scientist "experts" who seem to think they know more about global warming than the actual scientists that study it. However, the information about Nye's knowledge and career illustrates that engineers apply science when doing their jobs. Thus, it is absurd for Mekhlis to deny that people like Nye have a great deal of scientific knowledge that they use and apply in their work. So, if these facts don't make them scientists, why do they know so much about it, and apply it so expertly?

Peter Johnson  Mekhlis * a day ago
"So how do Nye and Palin's scientific credentials compare?"
"Palin has none. She has a bachelor's in communications-journalism from the University of Idaho. She has spent her career in politics. In addition to serving as governor of Alaska from 2006 to 2009, she was chairperson for the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission between 2003 and 2004 and Republican vice-presidential candidate in the 2008 election, among other posts.
Nye has a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Cornell. He also has six honorary doctorate degrees, including Ph.D. s in science from Goucher College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute."
"He held various positions as an engineer between 1977 to 2009, such as contributing to the designs of 747 planes for Boeing and the designs of equipment used to clean up oil spills."
"From 1999 to 2009, Nye worked with a team at the NASA and California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to design and create the MarsDial, a sundial and camera calibrator attached to the Mars Exploration Rover."
"Nye also holds three patents: a redesigned ballet toe shoe, a digital abacus (a kind of calculator) and an educational lens."
"Nye has written books on science, including "Undeniable" and "Unstoppable," which cover evolution and climate change, respectively. This is all in addition to decades of work in science advocacy and education, including acting as CEO of The Planetary Society and teaching as a professor at Cornell.
To sum up, Nye has a degree and experience working in engineering, which is the application of science. He has also spent much of his career working with and for the scientific community. Thus, his credentials make him more of a scientist than Palin."
"Editor's Note: SciCheck is made possible by a grant from the Stanton Foundation.
Categories: SciCheck and The Wire"

My words-Congratulations! You have graduated towards resorting to ad hominin insults, when the facts do not support your beliefs.

Yes, I cut and paste, and from many reputable sources--not just Wikipedia! Have you somehow transcended the petty human belief that if you want to quote people and articles that provide verifiable knowledge, then it is appropriate to provide links that show where that knowledge was taken from?
If your entire rebutting technique is going to consist of marginalizing my sources or insulting the facts that I provide, then this conversation really is pointless. So, go right ahead and drop out of it--be my guest, in fact.

My words-Lately it seems that many of my best posts end up living in purgatory on my disqus page. So, I am including this short back and forth between two other commenters, one being cunudiun, who I thought made excellent points. In The final post I added my two cents worth mainly because I think I wrote it well.

JinJa  cunudiun * 3 months ago
Why don't you admit that your a shill who wants the debate to be over? Do you say the debate is over? Yes or no?

cunudiun  JinJa * 3 months ago
What debate precisely? Yes to some things. No to others.

JinJa  cunudiun * 3 months ago
Climate science, precisely. Is debate over? Simple enough.

cunudiun  JinJa * 3 months ago
Ok. I'll answer that one if you answer mine: Chemistry: is the debate over?

JinJa  cunudiun * 3 months ago
Never. Old and new concepts are explored all the time. Your turn.

cunudiun  JinJa * 3 months ago
Ok. Same. Now answer this one. Is water composed of hydrogen and oxygen? Settled or not?

JinJa  cunudiun * 3 months ago
Nah. You still owe us your answer. Then I will reply.

cunudiun  JinJa * 3 months ago
I answered "Same," meaning same answer as yours. Should have made that clearer. Does that mean nothing in chemistry is settled? Is my point.

JinJa  cunudiun * 3 months ago
I was taught that scientists since Aristotle usually agree that nothing in science is settled, nor should be. Of course my evil corporate funded 10th grade public school teachers might have been lying about it.

Peter Johnson  JinJa * 13 days ago
What you are not seeing are two basic facts---that global warming exists, and that man is the primary cause of it. Those are facts--that's what the consensus confirms, those facts are firmly known. But of course there will continue to be unknowns about many specific questions involving climate science or about any branch of science, for that matter. That's why cunundiun asked you if it's a fact that water is composed of both Hydrogen and Oxygen--the answer is yes! That is completely known and completely verifiable--however that in no way implies that every single question raised by chemists is always completely known and completely verifiable. What your science class instructor was probably saying--was that there will always be specific unknowns in any field of scientific endeavor--in other words scientists will probably never know all there is to know about AGW, or about any other branch of science--they are not claiming to be know it alls! Yet they can continue adding knowledge regarding many specific scientific phenomena.

Many basic facts ARE virtually known--as cunudiun points out--that the chemical bond between hydrogen and oxygen is what produces water, or the fact that human beings are causing global warming to increase through our manufacture of Co2 as the result of combining fossil fuels and oxygen when catalyzed by heat. That's what the fire is, a chemical process whereby fossil fuels are combined with oxygen, by applying heart (and unfortunately) releasing billions of tons of Co2 as a harmful by-product of rapid oxidation.

Do I have that right cunudiun? (seriously)--you probably know much more about chemistry than I do? My last chemistry class was about 47 years ago.

What always impresses me is not just the total denial of science when their claims are threatened, but also the fact that, while exuding an air of anger and snobbery, deniers often resort to the claims that their opponents are insulting them? This is an easy out which keeps the commenter from actually responding to the points brought up by his or her opponents. But this ruse is accepted by too many people who would rather suspect a vast scientific conspiracy than the very logical conclusion that big oil and big coal companies are using their billons in profits to protect every last iota of their profits, which might be threatened if they were forced to reduce Co2 emissions. If more deniers really knew what is at stake, my hope is that they would quickly change their tune and take actions to preserve the only environment and the only planet we have.