Daily Mail to Breitbart to congress: BS all the way down on climate change

The Weather Channel threw their “two cents” into the debate about credible journalism by calling out Breitbart on a climate change denial story. Their willingness to step up and explain to viewers why the Breitbart position was completely bogus could be a sign that more sources will call out such stories. I hope that happens. I loved this so very much: Breitbart misleads Americans on Climate Change. The headline was great, it used correct and consise words and The Weather Channel is generally seen as a reliable source of information to the public – possibly because it’s rather difficult to fake standing in feet of rain or snow, or attempting to stand upright in hurricane force winds.

TWC took offense at the Breitbart bullshit (a technical term meaning communication that lacks content, logic or truth from the perspective of natural science) because one of their clips was used in the piece. The Breitbart piece claimed that global warming was an unwarranted “scare” that will soon die considering this “new” revelation. That revelation was a cherry-picked, deceptive ploy by a writer at the Daily Mail to suggest that El Nino effect, not human-induced climate change, was responsible for record high temperature of recent years. The Daily Mail piece, written by David Rose, was roundly picked to shreds by climate scientists.

This article is a textbook case of cherry picking—it selects only one record, ignores the limitations of the data it comments on, and forms an argument based on only a few months of a much longer record. This is akin to claiming that sea level rise has ended because high tide in one area has ebbed.

Other climate experts (ACTUAL experts) also called the piece “incredibly misleading” (Zeke Hausfather), “flawed to perfection” (Stephen Lewandowsky) and the argument made by Rose “completely bogus” (Stephen Sherwood).

It seems kind of pointless to try to precisely attribute why one year was warmer or cooler than the last; this is basically just due to climate variability (including but not limited to El Niño). The broader point is that all evidence suggests that the long-term global surface warming trend has continued. There is no evidence that the rate of warming since 1998 is statistically different from the long-term trend since 1950.

– Kyle Armour, U. of Washington

Rose appears to have deliberately picked out only a portion of the data showing land temperatures from the past few years that do not apparently rise. This careful selection of data is difficult to do by accident. Rose also is deliberate in his assertion that things are very simple – El Nino was to blame for the warming – ignoring the various factors that play into GLOBAL climate change including ocean temperatures and the 30-plus year crystal clear trend of warming that shows no sign of abating. It’s wrong to confuse small-scale fluctuations in the data with long-term trends just as it’s silly to say there is no global warming because we’ve had a few days of a cold snap.

This commentary suggests quite deftly that Rose considers his readers too stupid to understand how he manipulated the data and ignored actual references to science and expert opinion. But Rose was appealing to cognitive bias and his actions achieved their goal of effectively skewing the truth.

The Weather Channel did an OK job of calling out Breitbart perhaps because the US House Committee on Science, Space and Tech endorsed the Breitbart piece with a retweet. (Whomever runs this Twitter account has previously made callous, ignorant quips against “green” organizations concerned about global warming.) It’s now common for UK tabloids to write a bullshit story and have the American propaganda outlets co-opt it for clicks, and then such nonsense is taken seriously by our anti-science legislators. At least this lapse in judging credibility got some attention.

But, hang on, Breitbart quoting the Daily Mail? Yep, it’s turtles all the way down. We’re seriously falling down on media literacy these days.

Sadly, climate change is in the headlines today also due to the President-elect’s choice to head the EPA. Several headlines in major news outlets call Scott Pruitt out as a “climate change skeptic” – an irritating and poor choice of words. It’s not clear if Pruitt does not subscribe to climate change because he is in denial of the scientific consensus or if he just doesn’t want to face uncomfortable action such as restrictions on fossil fuel burning and increased environmental regulation which he is obviously not fond of. Either way, he’s no “skeptic”, he’s not doubtful or withholding judgement, he is actively in denial about the serious consequences the world will face.

How long can this theater of lies and denial about global climate change continue? The evidence is compelling and dozens of scientific specialty fields have independent data pointing to the effects of climate change happening today. Just as with evolution denialism, research will be flawed and useless if objective truths are rejected. Your predictions will fail and potentially dangerous consequences will befall society when we fail to accept those objective truths that have been demonstrated to exist by multiple means. Public consensus has shifted towards acceptance of climate change and greater concern over what it means for all life on earth, particularly for humans (and polar bears). Will it shift again as this fallacious position becomes prominent with the incoming wave of science denialists? That’s hard to say. But I commend the Weather Channel for speaking out in clear, understandable terms to their audience who needs to hear it exactly this way. It’s fruitless to throw scientific studies and point-by-point refutation of bogus news stories out to the public. They won’t read them nor understand it. Climate change is complicated scientifically, politically, and socially. We need to talk about this subject in terms everyone can comprehend and address the values that are threatened. Climate change is not stopping. The more everyone can individually press, however they can, to make that fact clear, the harder it will be for unscrupulous media outlets and ignorant politicians to play this dumb game.

  10 comments for “Daily Mail to Breitbart to congress: BS all the way down on climate change

  1. Perry
    December 8, 2016 at 12:47 PM

    “How long can this theater of lies and denial about global climate change continue?”

    Until its too late, which it might already be.

  2. December 8, 2016 at 12:48 PM

    No doubt there.

  3. Mike
    December 8, 2016 at 1:08 PM

    The Breitbart cesspool has now responded to Kait Parker, an atmospheric scientist, by claiming that her rhetoric is “Argument from a Pretty Girl”.

  4. December 8, 2016 at 1:15 PM

    How deplorable. Please note that I object to linking to Breitbart. They are not a reliable source of news and should be ignored as such. IOW, I care not a whit how they respond to this.

    Trash Trash Thread Trash & Ban IP | Trash Thread & Ban IP
    Power user

  5. Catspaw Assassin
    December 8, 2016 at 1:47 PM

    Ironically, the Weather Channel is partly owned by Mitt Romney’s old stomping ground, Bain Capital.

  6. Graham
    December 8, 2016 at 7:24 PM

    It’s been too late since the 1980s.

  7. randall krippner
    December 9, 2016 at 8:12 AM

    Breitbart quoting the Daily Mail is sort of like the National Enquirer quoting the old Weekly World News as a “reliable source”.

    You have a very valid point when you point out that quoting scientific studies and other valid sources in an attempt to counter this kind of nonsense is going to be futile. What needs to be done is to adopt the same tactics the climate liars use; adopt arguments that generate emotional responses rather than intellectual ones.

    The climate liars primary weapon is emotion, not logic. Their favorite is JOBS! of course. Their emphasis, not mine. Reducing carbon emissions is going to cost jobs. It’s going to cost you money. It’s going to hit you in the wallet. It’s going to cut your standard of living.

    Perhaps instead of focusing directly on how the climate is being devastated, we should be focusing on how alternative energy industries could be massively profitable, how they could cut your expenses, how they are creating thousands of new jobs at a time when we really need them. Some of the best new and profitable companies around here in Wisconsin are ones that are involved in alternative energy or other businesses that are linked to them, while the companies that are linked to mining, manufacturing mining equipment, etc. are moving out of the state or even closing their doors completely.

  8. Bob Jase
    December 9, 2016 at 2:10 PM

    You really can’t fix deliberately stupid.

  9. TheRook
    December 9, 2016 at 4:48 PM

    Not to be too political, but with a Trump presidency and Republican-controlled Congress, it is more important than ever to stand up against and call out the faulty science used by climate change deniers to make their case to do nothing. Our future is at stake! If the fossil fuel industry wins, the planet loses.

  10. David Group
    December 13, 2016 at 12:17 PM

    If Breitbart thinks Climate Change is BS, then I’ve got some beachfront property in Florida I’d like to sell them.

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