About This Blog

I’ve recently been involved with other scientists and scholars in Utah trying to stop the spread of outright lies, half-truths, abuses of data, and distortions about climate change.  Much of this disinformation is coming from (or through) some Republican members of the Utah Legislature, and the other Republican (and some Democratic) members have swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.  A few local media outlets, like Provo’s Daily Herald, have also been active participants.  Climate change is not just a global or national issue–it will also be played out at the state and local levels.  Therefore, I see a need for some watchdogging specific to our neck of the woods.  (In addition, I’m a Republican myself, and it galls me that my own party has locally fallen for a bunch of conspiracy theories and scientifically incompetent trash.  In my opinion, something has to be done to save the party from disaster in the long run.)

This blog is meant to 1) archive a record of the ongoing disinformation campaign in Utah, and 2) examine it in detail.  Democracy depends on accurate information being readily available to the public, and I see people who propagate such disinformation campaigns as enemies of Democracy.

If you would like to participate on this blog as a regular contributor or guest poster, or if you would simply like to pass on information, please contact B.R. Bickmore (barry_bickmore AT byu.edu).

B.R. Bickmore, May 2, 2010

Responses

  1. Allow me to share:

    Lord Monckton, are you a Creationist? … an open letter (1,060 words)

    Lord Monckton,
    I’ve been reviewing your Minnesota Free Market Institute presentation. One of many disturbing aspects of your performance are the following statements. But, first to borrow from your 466 questions to Professor Abraham: Could you, Christopher Monckton, confirm that the following quotes accurately encapsulate your recorded comments?

    5:20: “… we all love the planet that the good Lord has given us. And he’s given us the stewardship of it, Genesis 1:22, very clear what our obligations are as stewards of the planet. We are to look after all that is in it, and over it and under it and swimming in the sea. We are not therefore to exercise that stewardship given to us by our creator in an irresponsible fashion. Therefore it is important that we do not waste money, effort, time, or resources on non-problems such as global warming. As I shall show you that it is.”

    9:22 to 9:45: A long Latin dissertation…{I guess to impress us}
    9:45: “‘Unto this was I born, for this came I into the world that I might bare witness to the truth.’ Now those words of our blessed Lord are a perfect mission statement…”

    10:25: “The truth is the truth whether you or I or anyone believe it or not. And here is why the truth matters. It was all very well for jesting (Pontius) Pilate to ask that question and then not to tarry for an answer. But that question that he asked: ‘What is the truth?’ Is the question which underlies every other question, its the only question in the end that really matters…”

    It seems that for someone to deliver those words as movingly as you have, the infallible Bible must be central to how you view everything. That being the case, I’m puzzled – How can you claim to be an impartial conveyor of scientific information? This portion of your talk begs a few questions. But, first some clear definitions are needed, please consider the following.

    You conveyed a commitment to the one and only true word of God Bible. That being a belief in a made-in-man’s-image of “God” sitting on a throne, looking down and judging all. Now, I have nothing against this faith-based image of God within the hearts of people and their families and churches. There is much tradition, comfort and strength there.

    But, taking this personal need fulfillment to some absolute “I know the One Truth!, because of My God” level, mangles the honest pursuit of science where all must keep an inquisitive skeptical mind. We have a real world biosphere that your ancient Bible is oblivious to – why shackle your exposure to new information and learning with two thousand year old tribal dogma? Which is exactly what you do! Talk about a dishonest “Appeal to Authority.” This is but one reason I claim your presentation was political showmanship and not science, and even worse, not education.

    Beyond that, another unavoidable implication of glorifying your personal “blessed Lord” is that you believe your Lord on his Throne executed that six day rush of creation, six thousand years ago… the entire cosmos, poof, just like that. Are you, Lord Monckton, a Creationist?

    I ask because honest science has unhitched itself from that made-in-man’s-image God. Today we appreciate the true God of time and creation is well beyond the understanding of us Earth bound sinners, filled, as we are, with our own self absorbed natures, our self serving greed and follies, and tragedies, leavened with a touch of love now and then. This does not mean the religions are wrong… it simply means there is so much more that no religion has, or can, encompass. God is in your heart – but, beyond your understanding.

    Lord Monckton, if you are a Creationist – how is it you can use graphs going back hundreds of thousands of years? This is central because understanding our climate demands an appreciation for Earth’s processes on very long time scales. It has no room for a six thousand year ago creation, nor the notion that God is just chomping at the bit to call it quits with his personal Armageddon. There’s room for that within ones heart, if that is what you want or need. But, not without, in the real physical biosphere, nor within the science struggling to understand it.

    The science is extracted from the real living Earth… which is, after all, where we come from and what sustains and nurtures us. Lord Monckton, your right-wing, Republican glorified, contempt for understanding that real living Earth, is contemptuous in itself.

    As for your grand allusions to the Christian ethic: Why does that allow you to handle your “adversaries” with such venomous scorn, bordering on hatred? How is it you find it so easy to broad-stroke many thousands of serious scientists as frauds – as the whole of your presentation clearly implies? Why are you so dismissive of learning about Earth’s Biosphere – as your bitter attacks on Earth observation funding proves? Do you actually believe there is nothing outside of your bubble for you to learn from?

    You finished off your slide program with another pompous Latin quote: “OMNIS SPIRITVS LAVDET DOMINVM,(All breath praise to the Lord) emblazoned above crossed USA & Canadian flags, with your seal superimposed upon the bottom portion of the flags. Incidentally, another grosser example of you’re symbolizing some notion of “dominion” over the USA, came in slide #2. How dare you!? I’ll never understand how those salt of the earth Minnesota Republicans so loved you.

    But, back to the matter at hand. Understanding what is going on within our biosphere and its climate. Lord Monckton, I will agree, lefties and Democrats have made plenty of mistakes, fine. But, even Republicans must notice their own track record of pushing very bad, very long term, very hideously destructive, very costly mistakes themselves. Don’t you?

    Why your eye for an eye until the whole world is blind attitude? Why can’t we all try to start learning about our climate in a serious manner rather than hiding behind politically motivated, corporate driven entertainment? Why can’t you, and your Republican backers, open your minds to real world information? The scientists are not the bad guys! Why not shut up and sit down to listen, think and learn for a while?

    Peter Miesler

    Durango, Colorado
    http://citizenschallenge.blogspot.com

    also see:
    Who is Lord Monckton at
    http://citizenschallenge.blogspot.com/2010/08/who-is-lord-christopher-monckton.html

    • Hi Peter,

      I don’t know why you posted this comment on the “About This Blog” page. In any case, Monckton is a Roman Catholic, which means he is free to believe God created life through evolutionary processes. So while Catholics are supposed to be “Creationists” in the sense that they believe God was ultimately behind it all, they are not necessarily “Young Earth Creationists” who think the Earth is only a few thousand years old.

  2. Mr. Bickmore, being both a Latter Day Saint and having a PhD in an earth science closely allied to the study of climate, should be utterly and abjectly ashamed of himself for falling face first into the greatest, ideologically weighted, Lysenkoistic fraud ever perpetrated on humanity in the name of “science” in our or anyone’s else s lifetime.

    AGW is now long dead as a hypothesis (it never had the empirical or observational strength to become a legitimate theory) and remains now only as it began, as an ideology in the service of a broader ideological movement.

    The sheer ease of its refutation stands in marked contrast to its sheer staying power among true believers such as Mr. Bickmore.

    Sad.

    • Yes, it’s so easy to refute that Loran doesn’t bother doing it.

  3. Barry,
    I’ve been reading through your Church Of Monckton and the Rap Sheet again and was surprised to find my above essay. Oh boy, sometimes I try a bit too hard. I owe you an apology for posting that ~ heck in hind sight I’m disappointed in the thing and really should rewrite it… but alas.

    I do have a recent essay I’m feeling pretty good about:
    The Denial Machine Keep Cranking (with forty-five embedded links to supporting information.)

    I’ll spare you the full text, but please look at it here:
    http://citizenschallenge.blogspot.com/2011/01/denial-machine-what-long-strange-trip.html.

    Best wishes and keep up the great work,
    Peter M

  4. Oh should you look at the essay please click “discredited political performer” in the sixth paragraph. ;-)

    “. . . Why use a ~discredited political performer~, and propagandist, one Lord Viscount Monckton of Benchley, as a climate science adviser and expert witness?”

  5. I’m a global warming skeptic. Part of the reason is the poor state of our journalistic outlets and due to the nature of this new science. Back in 78 I was told by a professor at Miami University that climatologists were now looking at global warming instead of the dreaded ice age that was to about to descend upon us. He said this was being brought about by a build in the Co2 content, and I believe, motivated by the newly acquired temperature readings of Venus, which were much higher than anticipated. They took measurements of the Co2 ( I don’t remember how anymore–I think it was from polar ice, if that makes sense) prior to the industrial revolution and post industrial revolution. To their surprise the Co2 content had not changed. Theories flashed that the ocean was absorbing more Co2 or just more plant life. No one knew.

    So I feel like I’ve been jerked around by a bunch of over educated under knowledged individuals who can’t really say they’re not really sure about what is going on. I know you think you have a handle on this but until you can give some hard scientific explanantions you’re going to be hard pressed to convince me and many other skeptics.

    Sun: NASA—I know, I know, they’re a right wing nut house but about 15 years ago they reported all of the planets in our solar system had seen a warming. Dismiss it if you wish but it was on the news and if you were going to deal with you should have dealt with it then.

    Phil Jones from the CRC after being caught with his e mails down said three things in an interview with the BBC: 1) It was probably warmer in Medieval era 2) It has cooled for the last 10 years 3) There is no consensus among climatologists about global warming or man’s contribution to it.

    The new CRC boss in a follow up interview said that, of course global warming is true and any reasonable person would see that. ( A not so clever manipulation of using reasonable). But what he then said really said volumes to me. He said, “even if there weren’t global warming we need to get people to think about their communities where they live and quit identifying themselves with what they own or where they live. My question is who is the ” we” who have to get people thinking about how they personally identify with others, themselves, and the world we live in? I agree with this premise but don’t like being manipulated by the obfuscation of facts, manipulation of data, and outright lies.

    • >> I’m a global warming skeptic.
      >> due to the nature of this new science

      Fair point, but I hope this doesn’t mean you will stop paying attention to this science.

      >> Part of the reason is the poor state of our journalistic outlets

      Yes, note the Phil Jones interview comment below.

      >> Back in 78 I was told by a professor at Miami University that climatologists were now looking at global warming instead of the dreaded ice age

      Computers and satellites were not all the rage back then. We have warm/cold cycles. It’s understandable to start off on wrong paths. I’m sure you know this.

      >> To their surprise the Co2 content had not changed. Theories flashed that the ocean was absorbing more Co2 or just more plant life. No one knew.

      So a single early attempt appears to have produced data not expected. And this proves what?

      I am so glad you make your decisions early in a science and after 1 data point. Whew!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide_in_Earth%27s_atmosphere Take a look at the values on that graph at the top for the last 50 years or so. They keep rising steadily and are now approaching 400 ppm

      “The most direct method for measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations for periods before direct sampling is to measure bubbles of air (fluid or gas inclusions) trapped in the Antarctic or Greenland ice caps. The most widely accepted of such studies come from a variety of Antarctic cores and indicate that atmospheric CO2 levels were about 260–280 ppmv immediately before industrial emissions began and did not vary much from this level during the preceding 10,000 years (10 ka)”

      “Relevant to this dispute is the observation that Greenland ice cores often report higher and more variable CO2 values than similar measurements in Antarctica. However, the groups responsible for such measurements (e.g. H. J Smith et al.[21]) believe the variations in Greenland cores result from in situ decomposition of calcium carbonate dust found in the ice. When dust levels in Greenland cores are low, as they nearly always are in Antarctic cores, the researchers report good agreement between Antarctic and Greenland CO2 measurements.”

      “Ultimately, most of the CO2 emitted by human activities will dissolve in the ocean,[26] however the rate at which the ocean will take it up in the future is less certain.”

      This may mean little if you don’t trust the current models, but let me just quote it:
      “To avoid a global warming of 2.1°C, it is estimated that a concentration of less than 450 ppm needs to be maintained if other gasses were to return to pre-industrial levels.”

      >> but until you can give some hard scientific explanantions you’re going to be hard pressed to convince me and many other skeptics.

      OK, what explanations are you looking at? It seems you stopped rather short with this CO2 thing, so it’s hard to know what evidence you have looked at.

      >> about 15 years ago they reported all of the planets in our solar system had seen a warming. Dismiss it if you wish but it was on the news and if you were going to deal with you should have dealt with it then.

      The last part makes no sense. The history of science shows that it takes decades many times to achieve consensus and develop theories. Just look at quantum mechanics. Surely, you believe QM today, right? But how long did it take to refine the theories and to recognize there was a problem and reconcile apparently contradictory evidence? Even Einstein may have taken a few shots there on the wrong side of history.

      So I hope you aren’t saying that if the full and correct theory or a rebuttal doesn’t appear instantly then it’s not worth paying attention. This isn’t a business contract with a time limit. This is about discovery of the truth based on pieces of evidence that may appear very mysterious in isolation or which may have been damaged in any particular instance…and which accumulate over time.

      As for the report, perhaps you can be more specific.

      I did google and got something that might be on the topic you were talking about, but as a rebuttal titled “Global warming on other planets in the solar system”. http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-other-planets-solar-system.htm

      This does a good job of refuting any claims of global warming across planets of the solar system because of the sun (not to mention that solar energy has been flat or dropping slightly during the observed time period), especially because some of the original works did not take various things into account (a person who hypothesizes something tries to make a contribution of an idea but doesn’t claim to be an expert in everything) and the data is based on so little. Again, a data point does not a theory disprove, and if we “don’t know” global climate on Earth, why would you believe we do on planets where we have orders of magnitude less in data?

      In a related page http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-on-mars.htm :

      “The global warming argument was strongly influenced by a paper written by a team led by NASA scientist Lori Fenton …Unfortunately, Fenton’s conclusions were undermined by the failure to distinguish between climate (trends) and weather (single events). Taking two end points – pictures from 1977 and 1999 – did not reveal any kind of trend, merely the weather on two specific Martian days.”

      Do not judge by just a data point (one author’s report based on two pictures of the planet). Do not ignore further analysis. Do not confuse correlation (eg, maybe a few planets might happen to be warming.. perhaps because of position around the Sun) with causality.

      >> Phil Jones

      Here is the interview http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8511670.stm . It is interesting to compare it to what other news places have said. I read various articles which misrepresented what Jones had said.

      >> 1) It was probably warmer in Medieval era

      Said no such thing.

      “Of course, if the MWP was shown to be global in extent and as warm or warmer than today (based on an equivalent coverage over the NH and SH) then … On the other hand, if the MWP was global, but was less warm that today, then current warmth would be unprecedented.”

      Further, look at this picture from Wikipedia for Northern hemisphere average temperatures over the past centuries http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1000_Year_Temperature_Comparison.png . You will see a fairly rapid rise from the 19th century to the present and that the MWP, which naturally has data that is less trustworthy than for the 20th century, is lower than what we got in the last few decades.

      What is important is that (a) the newer more trustworthy data (or calculations) show a very fast rise and (b) we are likely at record temperatures.

      >> 2) It has cooled for the last 10 years

      What he actually said:

      Question: “Do you agree that from January 2002 to the present there has been statistically significant global cooling?”

      Answer: “No. This period is even shorter than 1995-2009. The trend this time is negative (-0.12C per decade), but this trend is not statistically significant.”

      Have you ever seen modulated waves with noise? Have you ever seen cycles within cycles?

      Looking back at the picture above, it’s easy to guess that we are due for a pull back of a wave nature way before we finish off this century. It’s remarkable we have risen so much in less than 200 years and particularly the last few decades.. despite the expected periodic pullbacks. If we judge solely by curves of past centuries, we likely are overdue for a yearly pullback and even for a longer decades or centuries trend pullback. Despite this, the “pullback” is statistically insignificant and is inside a slightly longer period of “pullup”.

      Come on! Not even really good baseball batters bat .333 every single day, week, and month. Deviations from average are guaranteed. How many days in the improving years of a rising star player does he (or she) bat below his monthly average?

      >> 3) There is no consensus among climatologists about global warming or man’s contribution to it.

      Again, not true. Find quotes from that interview to support your claim. I don’t think you will be able to. Perhaps you meant that the WMP period is uncertain.

      But the question of global warming is largely believed and largely verified by data.

      And the question of man’s involvement is based on many sets of data (including the CO2 rises mentioned above) and is believed by him and by almost all experts.

      Question: “If you agree that there were similar periods of warming since 1850 to the current period, and that the MWP is under debate, what factors convince you that recent warming has been largely man-made?”

      Answer: “The fact that we can’t explain the warming from the 1950s by solar and volcanic forcing – see my answer to your question D.”

      Question: “I – Would it be reasonable looking at the same scientific evidence to take the view that recent warming is not predominantly manmade?”

      Answer: “No – see again my answer to D.”

      >> [Someone] said, “even if there weren’t global warming we need to get people to think about their communities where they live and quit identifying themselves with what they own or where they live. ”

      I googled and think you mean Peter Liss, but I was unable to find any quote at all like that. I also don’t see what it has to do with global warming consensus by world specialists.

  6. So here we are folks right in the den of the resident self appointed Mormon theologian-climatologist from BYU e.g.:

    http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=12&num=1&id=332

    http://www.tektonics.org/af/bickmore02.html

    http://bbickmore.wordpress.com/about-this-blog/

    who is busy as a little bee calculating how much juicy Apostasy he can squeeze out of those pesky sceptical scientists to balance on the pin of his head:

    http://bbickmore.wordpress.com/roy-spencer/

    http://bbickmore.wordpress.com/the-church-of-monckton/

    However, when the rubber on the tires of the mighty CAGW bandwagon (which poor BB so desperately wants to reconcile/integrate with the teachings of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young etc., etc.,) meets the highway of reality…..

    alas, the famed oil slick in the shape of Jesus (of which the latte day saint Carl Hiassen wrote in his frothy missive to the righteous ‘Lucky You’), awaits:

    http://rossmckitrick.weebly.com/uploads/4/8/0/8/4808045/mmh_asl2010.pdf

    http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~qfu/Publications/grl.fu.2011.pdf

    • Classy, Steve. It might sometimes be legitimate to point out ways in which someone’s religion could be biasing their conclusions about climate change, or some other scientific subject. But to avoid the appearance of being a raging bigot, one would normally point out how such a bias might come about. Since Mormons seem overwhelmingly to be climate change deniers, I’m not seeing it. Perhaps you can point it out to me, because I get the impression that you probably know more about Mormonism than I do. I can just feel waves of religious erudition pulsing outward from your post.

      And thanks for the links showing that climate models are not perfect predictors of all aspects of climate change. I’m shocked. However, it would shock me even more if you would explain why there’s so much paleoclimate evidence indicating that climate sensitivity is likely to be somewhere around 3 °C for 2xCO2. Could it be that the models don’t do as well at shuffling energy around within the Earth system, but do ok at mimicking the net energy in and out of the system as a whole? I know, I know… modelers around the world would all be astonished at this result.

  7. Hi, thanks for this blog. Extremist views get under my nerves too. When they mention ice cores, and all their historic data it really it is really ridiculous. Most of the time I have researched their data comes from authors rather than a glaciologist. All their figures do is dilute the truth with word-salad.

  8. Barry,

    Although I am not in the country anymore, I am glad to be updated of the issues taking place back home. Thanks for the great information.

    Cheers,
    Chris Spencer

  9. Dear Professor Bickmore,

    Like you, I could describe myself as a geologist turned environmentalist. I am also naturally sympathetic to the conservative (as opposed to progressive) mindset. Therefore, I am absolutely in awe of your clear and incisive presentation How to avoid the truth about climate change, and would now like to re-publish it on my Blog. Would this be acceptable to you.

    Yours hopefully,

    Martin Lack.

  10. Hi Dr. Bickmore,

    I just wanted to say that it’s wonderful to see someone from within the Republican Party talking sense on this issue. I’ve only discovered one simplistic argument that has ever worked for me (which seem to be the only kind that most climate change deniers are able to grasp):

    If you had chest pain, numbing in your right arm, shortness of breath, dizziness, etc., and went to a doctor for a diagnosis before the days that science had perfected heart disease diagnoses, what would you do if the doctor said something along these lines:

    “Although we can’t say definitively, your symptoms are in line with heart disease. I can’t prove this beyond doubt, but I’m reasonably sure this is the case. For this reason, I believe you should quit smoking and start exercising and eating a healthier diet than you have reported eating. Otherwise, I believe, although I cannot prove or say with absolute certainty, that you will most likely suffer a heart attack in the near future.”

    Would they quit smoking and start exercising and eating healthier? I’m guessing the vast majority of them would. Because it’s their hearts we’re talking about, and they only have one. No second chances if you disregard the doctors recommendations, then go on to have a heart attack. So, for the love of god, why would ANYONE take chances with our planet, which is the only one we have, and which isn’t just keeping one person alive, but is keeping EVERYONE alive? In life or death situations, one generally doesn’t wait for absolutely 100% certainty of proof behind what one’s doctor says before taking preventative measures; it would be foolhardy to do such a thing. So why do we treat our planet any differently?

    Thanks for your great work here and everywhere else you apply your knowledge.

    Tom Rowland

  11. For over 4 decades I have been involved with a tree ring Laboratory extracting ancient swamp Kauri the oldest timber to be naturally preserved in the world –through dendrochronology and dating it has been established this so called man made global warming which was suppose to have started in 1981 has happened 12 times before in the last 152,000 years


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