Thursday, April 30, 2015

#14 Considering Malicious Falsehoods vs Right to Learn - CC/Steele Landscapesandcycles Debate

A virtual debate with Jim Steele, based on his interview at Heartland Institute: 

Heartland Daily Podcast | Jim Steele | January 27, 2015 
Research Fellow H. Sterling Burnett (for the National Center for Policy Analysis) interviews Jim Steele, ecologist, director emeritus of the Sierra Nevada field campus of San Francisco State University

Steele writes:  "And we trust the scientific theory because its been fairly tested by others - the theory must out perform all alternate explanations, eliminate confounding factors plus lively debate.  But, what I was finding was the scientific process was being defiled when scientists refused to debate in public. ... and any attempt to prevent that debate, in our schools, in the media, in peer reviewed science, it's only denigrating the scientific process.  ... 
And I think those public debates would help create real climate literacy …"

Well then Mr. Steele, let's have our Great Global Warming Science Debate.  
I will accept these responses from your Heartland Institute podcast as your opening round.  I'll offer my rebuttals, evidence and questions.  I agree to post your thoughtful responses unaltered. (Though it's looking like you're going to do your best to hide and ignore these critiques of your self-certain claims. Your silence will serve to expose your hypocrisy and inability to defend your statements on an even playing field.)

With this fourteen installment I complete my critique of Mr. Landscapesandcycle's interview with Heartland Institute's Sterling Burnett.  

There is one last section, but I reviewed that back at #2 Fear of Debate - CC/Steele Landscapesandcycles Debate of this series, since it dealt with Mr. Steele's demand for public debates to establish the truth of climate science and I used his words to justify this virtual debate with him.  Why he continues to hide from my invitation, only he can explain.  

Though I did discover yesterday that he's written some posts about me at his Landscapesandcycles blog, not that he returned my courtesy of emailing him fyi's on what I'm posting (to and) about him.  I only had enough time to skim one before setting it aside for a future project.  Still, I do know, it'll make for an interesting study in contrasting styles.

In this installment Mr. Steele voices an impassioned plea on behalf of the poor people of the world - encouraging us to continue burning fossil fuels as fast as we can get them out of the ground so they can live better lives. 

And me, I wander off point a little and consider concepts like "malicious falsehood" - "slander" - "Intent to deceive" and such.

You know, things like strategic interference with a scientist's duty to report on the science according to the data collected, rather than what the masters of the universe want to hear.  

I wonder out loud whether We The People have a right to demand honesty in the information we receive from scientists, free of malicious interference and tactical crazy making (manufactured doubt).

I'm hoping there are some people over at San Francisco State University who also believe these are questions worth confronting here in the summer of 2015 when we finally need to be spending our time, treasure and energy on constructively dealing with what's coming our way and not pretending that the science isn't solid and conclusive.

"How should society contend with those who knowingly 
disseminate misinformation about climate science."  

Steele:  And then there's sort of, I think the most bizarre paradox by this narrow point of view, is that poor nations where people are increasingly moving vegetation for heating or cooking fuel.  Or they use slash and burn agriculture, those practices create more barren land, and if you understand the effects of landscapes on climate you realize that those barren lands raise the regions temperature many degrees higher than normal. You probably thought this yourself if you ah, simply were in bare feet on a summer day and step from grass to pavement, you remove the vegetation you have pavement, or bare ground, the temperature is many many degree's warmer
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Jim, what are you talking about?  What does accepting the recognized physics of greenhouse gases have to do with poor people being left with no alternatives but to increasingly degrade their landscapes?

And what does the difference between the heat gain of grassland vs barren land or pavement have to do with increasing our global atmosphere's insulating ability?                   Please explain.

Steele:  well, and, probably for a broader example you might look at the effects of a dust bowl.  When buffalo grass was removed and barren soil was dominated, the regional climate after the government wheat subsidies collapsed farms were abandoned, and resulting in the greatest droughts and the highest temperatures of the twentieth century in the United States.

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Wrong!  Jim, what gives you the right to consistently ignore the many other factors that work in concert to create these situations you discuss?

The "cause" of the 30s drought was not the barren soils, though that was certainly a "threat multiplier," as they say.

The drought was initially triggered by global dynamics -
A shifting of the jet stream, which was in turn triggered by cooler than normal tropical Pacific Ocean and a warmer than normal Atlantic ocean impacting the upper atmosphere.

On the Cause of the 1930s Dust Bowl
Schubert, Suarez, Pegion, Koster, Bacmeister
Science | March 19, 2004 
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Dust Bowl
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North American Drought: A Paleo Perspective.
Steele: So you know partly you have to teach people that part of climate change is driven by landscape changes, it's not CO2.
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A very small part!  Science has firmly established that the overwhelming lion share of warming is due to the physics of CO2 holding in more warmth and that warmth is being absorbed throughout our global heat and moisture circulation system.  Science has also resoundingly established that future warming will be directly tied to how much greenhouse gases we actually inject into our atmosphere.  

Your message of unrestrained fossil fuels burning advocates for the fast track to extreme warming.  Many find that choice unconscionable.

I myself think you deserve to be hauled in front of a Court of Law to stand trial for your many acts misrepresentating scientists and their studies and your complete disregard for academic standards of fidelity to the truth.  But alas lying has become an integral and apparently acceptable part our public discourse.

Still, that we stand here in 2015 and that your San Francisco State University (who's badge you're constantly waving at us) officials condone your political theater of misrepresenting serious scientists and their work is beyond me and is something I intend to get to the bottom of over the next months now that I'm to the end of dissecting and cataloging your many misrepresentations in this January Heartland interview.
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I appreciate that in your capacity as a spokesperson for the Republican/libertarian attack on serious climate science, you've actually removed yourself from the academic setting, thus you find refuge in Freedom of Political Speech protection.

However, you very often present yourself as a serious "biologist" and "ecologist" and someone who projects a deep understanding of wildlife science.  Furthermore, you frame your talks as though you are presenting the state of scientific knowledge - rather than merely your own skewered opinions.

Therefore, since you are constantly reminding the audience that you're the "Director Emeritus of the Sierra Nevada field campus of San Francisco State University," I don't see why you shouldn't be held to an expectation of upholding academic standards - including fidelity to the known scientific understanding. 

In light of your constant bastardization of the known wildlife and climate science which I have been carefully and rationally documenting - along with your clearly malicious slander towards serious honorable scientists, I believe I am justified in complaining about your disregard for academic standards:

False Information and Representation, Fabrication or Alteration of Information
  • Furnishing false information in the context of an academic assignment.
  • Failing to identify yourself honestly in the context of an academic obligation.
  • Fabricating or altering information or data and presenting it as legitimate.
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Mr. Jim Steele, for your further edification, lying about people, including serious scientists, isn't socially acceptable behavior!
n. oral defamation, in which someone tells one or more persons an untruth about another, which untruth will harm the reputation of the person defamed. Slander is a civil wrong (tort) and can be the basis for a lawsuit. Damages (payoff for worth) for slander may be limited to actual (special) damages unless there is malicious intent, since such damages are usually difficult to specify and harder to prove. 
Some statements, such as an untrue accusation of having committed a crime, having a loathsome disease or being unable to perform one's occupation, are treated as slander per se since the harm and malice are obvious and therefore usually result in general and even punitive damage recovery by the person harmed. Words spoken over the air on television or radio are treated as libel (written defamation) and not slander on the theory that broadcasting reaches a large audience as much as if not more than printed publications. 
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Malicious falsehood

Malicious falsehood is the utterance of a lie about someone with the intention to cause damage to that person. A lie can be defined by the active knowledge that the information was incorrect or that sufficient precaution was not taken in checking its veracity. Having established that the published information was false, the plaintiff must then prove that the defendant’s actions were malicious, they were undertaken either with the design to cause harm or that, through negligence, no consideration was given to the harm communication of the information could cause, and that some harm is likely to be caused.
With malicious falsehood, unlike defamation, the onus is on the claimant to prove that there was falsehood, malice and damages caused. The other major difference and the main reason for malicious falsehood’s being is that it deals with statements that are damaging but are not defamatory, i.e. they didn’t cause damage to a reputation. A statement of malicious falsehood, then, must be something that does not reflect badly upon the party that it is about, yet it must have the potential to cause the plaintiff financial loss.
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We The People have a right to learn about the true state of scientific understanding without constantly being bombarded with tactical misinformation and lies intended solely to confuse rather that to teach!  Too much time has been wasted and too much damage has already been inflicted.  

We need the truth rather than your faith-based self-certain alternate-reality mind-games.
Steele: And, and, ah, what we keep seeing is that it's blamed on rising CO2, and in turn, because it becomes a justification for stifling a carbon economy that could actually reverse some of that environmental degradation in the third world and reduce the poverty.
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Your steadfastly refusal to acknowledge the geophysical reality of our atmosphere's greenhouse gases is tiresome.

You show a profound disconnect by refusing to appreciate the simple reality is that landscapes and cycles occur within the overarching framework of our global heat and moisture distribution engine and that they are dependent on the conditions of that global climate system.  If you can't fathom that, fine - but you have no right broadcasting your silliness as though it were solid science, it's your imagination, no evidence behind it.

Then you compound it by refusing to acknowledge how dependent our complex modern society, its agriculture, transportation, power production, construction, even quality of life, is on the fairly benign and predictable weather patterns we have experienced these past hundreds of years.

You refuse to look at, let alone acknowledge that continuing to increase our planet's insulation will push planetary temperatures beyond any experienced during human evolution.  It will also push weather patterns into an intensified chaotic state until a new equilibrium is established, something that will require centuries, if not millennia to achieve.

Your worship of our "carbon economy" ignores that its been a vicious double edged sword that's exacted a heavy toll on people and landscapes.

            Accidental discharge of oil

           Oil and the Gulf War

In an article published in Environmental Science & Technology -- the journal of the American Chemical Society -- a team of researchers acknowledged that the disposal of fracking wastewater is a serious challenge for energy companies that use hydraulic fracturing.
The wastewater left over from the process is not only highly radioactive, but also is contaminated with heavy metals salts known as halides, which are not suitable for consumption, according to the scientists.
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          Fracking Induced Earthquakes ?
A team of USGS scientists led by Bill Ellsworth analyzed changes in the rate of earthquake occurrence using large USGS databases of earthquakes recorded since 1970. The increase in seismicity has been found to coincide with the injection of wastewater in deep disposal wells in several locations, including Colorado, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Ohio. Much of this wastewater is a byproduct of oil and gas production and is routinely disposed of by injection into wells specifically designed and approved for this purpose.
Steele:  So .. I guess..?..?  Despite the increases in agriculture production during so-called global warming
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"So-called" global warming?  
Jim, what part of reality don't you get?


Steele:  the Pope has been persuaded by advisers that global warming is going to hurt the poor. 
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Jim, it's the evidence and serious science, that you ignore and the pope was brave enough to look at, that persuaded him global warming is hurting the poor and that it promises much more misery in the coming years and decades.

Climate change and poverty 
In an ever-progressing world with an increasing demand for energy, it is difficult to avoid climate change and its impacts on societies both locally and globally. Climate change affects social development factors, such as, poverty, infrastructure, technology, security, and economics across the globe. Although climate change affects everything we see around us, the interrelation between climate change and social vulnerability and inequality is particularly evident in impoverished communities.  
In particular, impoverished communities experience reductions in safe drinking water as well as food security as a result of climate change (OECD 2013). These typically rural, isolated communities do not exhibit sufficient financial and technical capacities to manage the risks associated with climate change (climate risk) (Skoufias 2012). Energy development and policy alteration could adjust the severity of climate change impacts; this is being tested now, as renewable energy sources develop. 
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It’s widely accepted that climate change will have bigger negative impacts on poorer countries than wealthy ones. However, a new economic modeling study finds that the economic impacts on these poorer countries could be much larger than previous estimates.  
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A bad climate for development 
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Global Warming will Affect Poor Countries the Most: World Bank Says 
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London School of Economics Consultancy Project for The Overseas Development Institute 
McGuigan, Reynolds, Wiedmer,  2002
Steele: I think he has a sincere concern for the poor, but his climate stance is based on helping the poor, you know my mother used to say, 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions'.  The last time a Pope, I think it was Pope Innocence who commented on climate change, he blamed witches for the crazy weather that was happening in the little ice age.  And I sort of have no doubt that a few global warming zealots will use those comments to engage in a witch hunt against skeptics, and I think that's only keeping us and the public from understanding the complexities that go into climate change. 
Heartland:  "Right."
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Yeah, right...
"a few global warming zealots" ???

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Scientific Consensus on Global Warming

Scientific societies and scientists have released statements and studies showing the growing consensus on climate change science. A common objection to taking action to reduce our heat-trapping emissions has been uncertainty within the scientific community on whether or not global warming is happening and if it is caused by humans. ... Below are links to documents and statements attesting to this consensus.
Scientific Societies
  • American Physical Society: Statement on Climate Change

    "The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now." (November 2007)
  • American Geophysical Union: Human Impacts on Climate

    "The Earth's climate is now clearly out of balance and is warming. Many components of the climate system—including the temperatures of the atmosphere, land and ocean, the extent of sea ice and mountain glaciers, the sea level, the distribution of precipitation, and the length of seasons—are now changing at rates and in patterns that are not natural and are best explained by the increased atmospheric abundances of greenhouse gases and aerosols generated by human activity during the 20th century." (Adopted December 2003, Revised and Reaffirmed December 2007)
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science: AAAS Board Statement on Climate Change

    "The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society." (December 2006)
  • Geological Society of America: Global Climate Change

    "The Geological Society of America (GSA) supports the scientific conclusions that Earth’s climate is changing; the climate changes are due in part to human activities; and the probable consequences of the climate changes will be significant and blind to geopolitical boundaries." (October 2006)

  • American Chemical Society: Statement on Global Climate Change

    "There is now general agreement among scientific experts that the recent warming trend is real (and particularly strong within the past 20 years), that most of the observed warming is likely due to increased atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, and that climate change could have serious adverse effects by the end of this century." (July 2004)
National Science Academies
  • International academies The Science of Climate Change

    "Despite increasing consensus on the science underpinning predictions of global climate change, doubts have been expressed recently about the need to mitigate the risks posed by global climate change. We do not consider such doubts justified." (2001, 16 national academies of science)
  • National Research Council of the National Academies, America’s Climate Choices

    "Most of the recent warming can be attributed to fossil fuel burning and other human activities that release carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere." America's Climate Choices, Advancing the Science of Climate Change, 2010
  • U.S. Climate Change Research Program, Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States (2009)

    "Global warming is unequivocal and primarily human-induced. Global temperature has increased over the past 50 years. This observed increase is due primarily to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases."
  • Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, Peter T. Doran and Maggie Kendall Zimmerman

    "It seems that the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes."

    Doran surveyed 10,257 Earth scientists. Thirty percent responded to the survey which asked: 1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant? and 2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?
  • Beyond the Ivory Tower: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, Naomi Oreskes

    "Oreskes analyzed 928 abstracts published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003 and listed in the ISI database with the keywords 'climate change.'... Of all the papers, 75 percent either explicitly or implicitly accepted the consensus view that global warming is happening and humans are contributing to it; 25 percent dealt with methods or ancient climates, taking no position on current anthropogenic [human-caused] climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position."
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  • Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis, IPCC, 2007. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M.Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

    “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level”

    “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”

    IPCC defines "very likely" as greater than 90% probability of occurrence.
Sign-on Statements
  • Climate Change and the Integrity of Science
    Signed by 255 members of the National Academy of Sciences. "... For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet. ... The planet is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. ...Most of the increase in the concentration of these gases over the last century is due to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation." (2010)
  • U.S. Scientists and Economists' Call for Swift and Deep Cuts in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    "We call on our nation's leaders to swiftly establish and implement policies to bring about deep reductions in heat-trapping emissions. The strength of the science on climate change compels us to warn the nation about the growing risk of irreversible consequences as global average temperatures continue to increase over pre-industrial levels (i.e. prior to 1860). As temperatures rise further, the scope and severity of global warming impacts will continue to accelerate." (2008)
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Jim, I challenge you to read this article at Scientific American and tell me what, if anything you find wrong with it: 
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Jim, what do you have to counter all those carefully considered reports and statements that reflect the collective understanding of many thousands of serious scientists and other informed experts?  Why do you reject all that brain power with such absolutism?  

What do you have, beyond a bunch of confusing campfire stories and a whole bunch of angry, if not paranoid, rejection of everything you and Anthony and your Heartland pals disagree with?  Please explain.

For example, what should rational people make of those "31,000" signatures on the scandalous Oregon Petition?  

In April 1998, Art Robinson and his organization the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, along with the Exxon-backed George C. Marshall Institute, co-published the infamous “Oregon Petition” claiming to have collected 17,000 signatories to a document arguing against the realities of global warming.

Along with the petition there was a cover letter from Dr. Fred Seitz, a well-known climate change skeptic (and tobacco scientist), who over 30 years ago was the president of the National Academy of Science. Also attached to the petition was a “research paper” titled: Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide.

The Oregon Petition's Disguise Attempt 
The petition and the documents included were all made to look like official papers from the prestigious National Academy of Science. They weren't, and this attempt to mislead has been well-documented. 

The included research paper was also made to mimic the style of the National Academy’s prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy journal. 

With the signature of a former NAS president, and a research paper that appeared to be published in one of the most prestigious science journals in the world, many scientists were duped into signing a petition based on a false impression.  In fact, the documents had been authored by Art Robinson, Sallie Baliunas, Willie Soon (both who receive funding from the oil industry) and Robinson’s son Zachary.

The petition was so misleading that the National Academy issued a news release stating that: “The petition project was a deliberate attempt to mislead scientists and to rally them in an attempt to undermine support for the Kyoto Protocol. The petition was not based on a review of the science of global climate change, nor were its signers experts in the field of climate science.”
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Then there's Fred Singer's ad hoc NIPCC?  Which consists of a team of three lead authors and eight contributors, who are paid by Heartland Institute to write down their complaints about of the IPCC, without ever slowing down enough to consider what all those studies in the IPCC are telling us.  That's not science or learning, that politics. 

I specifically use the term 'ad hoc' to describe the NIPCC because it's not focused on understanding anything, it's only focus is on countering and confusing whatever the IPCC comes up with.  
  • Its purpose is not to give clarity on climate science, as the IPCC does, but to critique the IPCC, according to the Heartland leaked documents
  • The scientists working for the NIPCC get paid; the IPCC scientists don’t
  • The NIPCC report only critiques papers published by deniers, whereas the IPCC critiques all papers, including those published by deniers.
That's got nothing to do with honesty or learning about this Earth we depend on for everything.
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Heartland’s NIPCC Report in US Schools – Notes for Educators
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Fossil fuel interests lurk behind latest stunt to confuse climate science
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DenialGate Highlights Heartland's Selective NIPCC Science
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Not the IPCC (“NIPCC”) Report
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Heartland's NIPCC letter to educators
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Heartland Institute and its NIPCC report fail the credibility test
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The Alternative Reality of the Heartland Institute’s “NIPCC” Report
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Heartland Payments to University of Victoria Professor Susan Crockford Probed
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S. Fred Singer Lied to the IRS about identity of his chair

Willie Soon A Heartland Institute Star Since 2003: Was He Paid? If So, When And With Whose Money?

Well Jim that's it for this.  Yes, I will be making more effort to get San Francisco State University officials to take a stand on your liberal use of their good name and reputation to lend yourself a false sense of "authority" you don't deserve.  

Guess I've got some posts to read at your Landscapesandcycles blog, but first I've got to catch up on other things.  I'm curious why no dates on that, and why not a courtesy email letting me know that you were posting that stuff?

I suspect I know the reason.  I sense that you are waging some imagined ideological war and i am the enemy.  Too bad for you, I won't play.  For me, it's about the learning and exposing the dynamics of the big lie. 

Cheers, CC  

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