Pruitt: Nobody Knows what Drives Climate Change
March 9, 2017
Might be fairies. Might be Flying Saucers. We just don’t know.
In other news, much too early to say if tiny invisible creatures can possibly cause disease.
I mean, they’re so tiny.
Need more research.
Glass half full: at least admits climate is warming.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said Thursday he does not believe carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming.
“I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see ,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
“But we don’t know that yet. … We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.”
Pruitt’s view is at odds with the opinion of NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere,” NASA and NOAA said in January.
Pruitt previously served as Oklahoma attorney general, where he rose to prominence as a leader in coordinated efforts by Republican attorneys general to challenge President Barack Obama‘s regulatory agenda. He sued or took part in legal actions against the EPA 14 times.
Newest “This is Not Cool” video is, of course, directly pointed at this tired, shopworn talking point.
6a) Where does the 97% number come from? Is it from one survey or multiple surveys? Is it among specialists, the general public, or some other population?
A number of studies have found 97% agreement among climate experts that humans are causing global warming. A 2009 survey by Peter Doran and Maggie Zimmerman found that among climate scientists publishing climate research, 97% agreed that humans are significantly raising global temperature. A 2010 analysis of public statements about climate change by William Anderegg found that among the scientists who had published peer-reviewed climate research, 97% agreed that humans are causing most of recent global warming. I was part of a team that published a 2013 analysis of peer-reviewed climate papers – we found that among papers stating a position on human-caused global warming, 97% endorsed the consensus.
There have been other studies measuring the consensus. This motivated us to collaborate with co-authors of seven of the leading consensus studies (the paper is Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming). We found two key results. First, agreement on human-caused global warming increases with expertise in climate science. The highest agreement is among climate scientists publishing climate research. Second, among the group of climate experts, there was overwhelming agreement – between 90 to 100% with a number of studies converging on 97%.
6b) Who are the remaining 3%, then? Can you give a representative example or two?
It’s difficult to give a representative example because there is no coherent story across the contrarian papers and scientists. They often argue positions contradictory with each other (e.g., arguing “climate change isn’t happening” versus “climate change *is* happening but not caused by humans”). This incoherence inspired us to coauthor a paper about the incoherence of climate science denial. Rejection of human-caused global warming isn’t about presenting an alternative, coherent explanation of global warming – it’s about manufacturing doubt in order to decrease public support for climate action.
6c) What data are they (the contrarians) using? Is their data complete? Is their data compelling?
We’ve published several studies examining the data and analysis in contrarian papers. In one study, we show how their methods consistently show methodological flaws and common mistakes. Probably the most common mistake is cherry picking – ignoring any data or research that is inconsistent with their argument. For this reason, contrarian studies are often found to possess significant flaws in subsequent research.
6d) Are they “just lying” or “making it up” or is something else going?
It’s always problematic trying to guess what’s going on under the hood, and judge whether a person is intentionally trying to deceive versus genuinely believing misinformation. Psychological research tells us that this is especially difficult because from the outside, intentional deception looks exactly the same as cognitive biases that cause people to self-deceive. For example, misleading through cherry picking might be intentional, but it might be the product of confirmation bias – people ascribing more weight to evidence that confirms their beliefs. Similarly, appealing to fake experts might be a strategy to cast doubt on the scientific consensus, but people also ascribe more credibility and expertise to people whom they agree with.
6e) What do you interpret their motivations to be?
The biggest driver behind the rejection of climate science isn’t ignorance, stupidity or lack of education. The biggest driver of climate science denial is political affiliation, and the second biggest driver is political ideology. Political beliefs drive people’s views on the human role in climate change.
The reason for this is because supporters of free, unregulated markets dislike that one of the proposed solutions to climate change is regulation of polluting industries. Aversion to a solution leads them to deny that there’s a problem in the first place that needs solving.
It’s crucially important to understand this dynamic as it helps us distinguish between genuine skepticism and science denial. Skepticism is a good thing – a genuine skeptic considers the evidence then comes to a conclusion. A denialist, on the other hand, comes to a conclusion first then denies any evidence that conflicts with that conclusion. And science denial carries certain tell-tale characteristics.
So ideology and tribalism are the key drivers of climate science denial.
The overall pattern of what Trump/Putin are attempting here, is a war on expertise, and forcing citizens to decide factual issues based on tribal affiliation.
From there it is a very short fall to Afghanistan.