Confronting the Cranks: journalist to challenge climate “cranks” on camera, hilarity sure to unfold

Journalist – and author of ” Hot: living through the next 50 years on earth” – Mark Hertsgaard is planning to take on the climate “cranks” in Washington and film the results:

“…Newly emboldened by the midterm elections, the Republicans are gearing up to put environmentalists and climate scientists on the defensive and block progress against global warming for the rest of Obama’s presidency. It’s time to turn the tables on them. The first step is to connect the cranks to the terrible consequences they have set in motion, and thereby discredit them from further influence over the nation’s climate policies.

How? Our initiative, Confront the Climate Cranks, will do just that: confront the cranks on camera and accompanied by some of the children they have put in danger. We will video all of our confrontations and then quickly make them available to the public—by posting them on YouTube and sharing them with mainstream and alternative media and the social networks of our partner organizations. (In the run-up to these confrontations, we will invite the participation of the members or readers of The Nation, Grist, Kids vs Global Warming and the other partnering organizations, polling them on which cranks to target, what questions to ask and so on. Thus we hope to build momentum before arriving in Washington, as well as generate continuing attention and activism after the confrontations.)

By no means is our initiative alone sufficient to turn the tide in the climate fight, but we believe it can make a valuable contribution, especially if others lend a hand. By naming and shaming the climate cranks, we hope to shift the political terrain of the climate fight. By highlighting the specific climate impacts that have already begun and will intensify in the coming years, we aim to shift the debate away from abstract ideology toward the actual consequences the cranks have wrought for Generation Hot. And by conveying our message through children and parents, we can reach the ordinary Americans whose support is essential to overcoming the power of money and insider status in Washington. We hope you’ll join us.”

Some may question this “foot in the door journalism”, but I’m definitely looking forward to seeing this “in your style” journalism.

Like me, Hertsgaard was motivated by the birth of his daughter:

“…All of this makes my daughter an involuntary member of what I call Generation Hot. In fact, every child on earth born after June 23, 1988, belongs to Generation Hot, roughly 2 billion young people in total. I choose that date because it was the day humanity was put on notice that human activities were unwittingly raising temperatures on this planet. The warning was in NASA scientist James Hansen’s testimony to the Senate, boosted by the decision of the New York Times to publish the story on Page 1, thus making “global warming” a common phrase in newsrooms, government offices and households the world over. But Hansen’s and countless subsequent warnings have gone unheeded, largely because of stiff resistance from the carbon lobby, to borrow author Jeremy Leggett’s term—the energy and auto companies that profit from carbon dioxide emissions, the politicians and propagandists these companies sponsor and the right-wing ideologues who share their antigovernment sympathies. 

My daughter and the rest of Generation Hot are fated to pay the price for this foot-dragging. One of the most unpleasant facts about climate change is that, once triggered, it cannot be turned off anytime soon. Even if humanity somehow stopped emitting carbon dioxide overnight, King told me, “temperatures will keep rising and all the impacts will keep changing for about twenty-five years.” Since it is likely to take us at least a quarter-century to leave fossil fuels behind, the reality is that we’re locked in to at least fifty more years of rising temperatures and the harsher climate impacts they bring. Thus the young people of Generation Hot are condemned to spend the rest of their lives coping with a climate that will be hotter and more volatile than ever before in our civilization’s history.” 

I could not have expressed by own anger, frustration and urgent desire to “do something” any better.

We need a new movement: “Parents Against Climate Change” (PACC).

21 thoughts on “Confronting the Cranks: journalist to challenge climate “cranks” on camera, hilarity sure to unfold

  1. Manuel Moe G says:

    Bravo. The moral imperative made clear.

  2. elsa says:

    I am pleased to have two children in Generation Hot. My guess is that they plus the millions in China and India of their age will grow up in a world that is a great deal more prosperous and comfortable than the one I grew up in, although I do worry about the possibility of a war which would undo it all. Fortunately for most of humanity your advice on climate change has pretty much been ignored so far, as indeed it should be until such time as you are able to come up with some much better science to back it up.

    This campaign looks to me like a witch hunt and the language is not of a person taking a reasoned approach to the potential problem. You should be careful what you wish for. You may well find that the more the public see and hear of a hot headed warmist confronting someone he regards as a crank (but the public, who after all may have voted for him, regard as relatively normal) the more they will start to regard the warmist as the crank. There was an incident of this kind in the UK when George Monbiott, the Guardian journalist and leading warmist, confronted Bjorn Lomborg. Far from convincing the audience of the horrors of global warming the confrontation had quite the opposite effect.

    • klem says:

      I for one will welcome the climate crank film. Especially when it is unleashed on an unsuspecting public which is now composed of a majority of unbelievers, in other wrods the majority of viewers are on the crank side. It should do wonders to swing themover to the environmarxist side. Bring it.

  3. Sailrick says:

    elsa

    Lomborg is a serial deceiver, who knows how to win debates, with his thruthiness. Debates are about being persuasive. Who wins a debate has little to do with who is telling the truth. Perhaps you missed the book “The Lomborg Deception”. And perhaps you missed this –
    The Danish Research Agency has condemned Lomborg for “scientific dishonesty,” deeming the book (the Skeptical Environmentalist) “clearly contrary to the standards of good scientific practice” and systematically one-sided.

    Or perhaps you missed this:

    Something is Rotten in the State of Denmark a Skeptical look at the “Skeptical Environmentalist” by a panel of specialists.
    http://www.grist.org/advice/books/2001/12/12/of/

    including the one on extinctions below:

    “Lomborg’s estimate of extinction rates is at odds with the vast majority of respected scholarship on extinction. His estimate, “0.7 percent over the next 50 years” — or 0.014 percent per year — is an order of magnitude smaller than the most conservative species extinction rates by authorities in the field.
    Before humans existed, the species extinction rate was (very roughly) one species per million species per year (0.0001 percent). Estimates for current species extinction rates range from 100 to 10,000 times that, but most hover close to 1,000 times prehuman levels (0.1 percent per year), with the rate projected to rise, and very likely sharply.”
    by biologist Edward O Wilson – Harvard professor for fourty years, author of 20 books, winner of two Pulitzer prizes, and discoverer hundreds of new species.

    or this:

    Still think Lomborg is your man? Still think Al Gore is full of it?

    Ok, then lets compare them.

    Comparison of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and Lomborg’s work from the website devoted to debunking him, shown above.

    Al Gore´s film: 2 errors, 8 flaws, 10 in total.
    Al Gore´s book: 2 errors, 11 flaws, 13 in total.
    Film and book together: 2 errors, 12 flaws, 14 in total.

    Chapter 24 on global warming in “The Skeptical Environmentalist”: 22 errors, 59 flaws, 81 in total.
    (This is more than one distortion per page).

    “The Skeptical Environmentalist” in total (up to now 12/9/09):
    117 errors, 219 flaws, 336 in total.

    “Cool it!”, British edition: 48 errors, 111 flaws, 159 in total (up to now, with about 40 % of the book investigated).
    (This is nearly two distortions per page)..

    http://www.lomborg-errors.dk/

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      Thanks for that, well worth pointing out.

    • elsa says:

      I think my main point was that regardless of who is right and who is wrong you need to be careful that you don’t achieve exactly the opposite of what you intend by being hot headed and trying to shout down your opponent. Whatever your feelings about Lomborg more people were convinced by him than the quite often hot headed Monbiot in their confrontation. From my point of view it is fine that you do this because I think it is highly likely to backfire.

      • BlueRock says:

        elsa,

        Having been shown that Lomborg is basically lying about climate science, you completely ignore this and respond with some irrelevance about a debate (between non-climate scientists) and produce some empty rhetoric about Monbiot being “hot headed” – which he most certainly is not… passionate, no doubt – but not “hot headed”.

        Why? Are you not interested in the truth?

        > Whatever your feelings about Lomborg …

        It’s not about “feelings” – it’s about science and demonstrable *fact*. It appears you have no interest in these things. This will make you a perpetually easy target for liars, such as Lomborg.

        Every national science academy of every major industrialised country on the planet confirms recent climate change is due to human activity. No scientific body of national or international standing offers a dissenting opinion.

        Why do you think you know better? Why are you listening to cranks and not climate scientists?

  4. Ray says:

    “I’m definitely looking forward to seeing this “in your style” journalism.”

    Journalism? This is not journalism! The Society of Professional Journalists makes it very clear this “style” of confrontational ambush fails on numerous ethical accounts to be even close to journalism.

    http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

    This article is a clumsy attempt to attach some credibility to garbage, its failed already.

  5. sailrick says:

    Elsa

    If it’s a witch hunt you are concerned about, then pay attention to what some GOP congressmen have been doing and intend to intensify in this congress. Then there’s the witch hunt by Virginia’s Attorney General, Cuccinelli, who is targeting Michael Mann. Read the series of articles about the Wegman report, another witch hunt, at Deep Climate.

  6. Ross Brisbane says:

    Alert:

    The NZ investigative journalist Ian Wishart on his web site referenced here. This bragging how he had you cornered you regarding his earlier posts that mankind’s contribution is minimal. All the while ignoring the greater body of evidence globally that such impacts as a consequence of fossil fuel burning are very real.

    I suggest we do an article on the free sustained CO2 to counter his fiction novel publication hypothesis – AirCon.

    I tried posting on his NZ website but was denied access – Little wonder – this guys a coward and a dogmatist about his own pet fringe science theories.

    This Mr Ian Wishart is censoring opposing opinion and not playing ball.

    He can quote Galileo till the cows come home. It certainly weakens his argument. And if wants a run in with another born again Christian – he will get a real challenge from me. This guy has a case of serious logical dissidence. In other words centring on limited analysis of science whilst ignoring greater bodies of evidence as typical of a denier.

    Nothing better to do with his time since NZ now has a Conservative Government – he has now turned his “toy cap guns” on climate change.

  7. elsa says:

    Bluerock,
    I happen to be what you would no doubt call a “denier” although I would say that I am very much in favour of science. The basic point that I wanted to make on this section of this site is that you and your mates may well be wrong in thinking that having a journalist going round “confronting” deniers will move the rest of the world (who are mostly not that interested) to support your views. Having seen your response I can see that you are amongst the part of the warmist lobby that tends to this view and thinks that the louder it shouts the more successful it will be in pursuading the population at large. Well please go ahead because I think the more people see of you and your ilk the more they will realise that you do not really know what you are talking about.

    You say “Every national science academy of every major industrialised country on the planet confirms recent climate change is due to human activity. No scientific body of national or international standing offers a dissenting opinion.”

    I am not sure that even a properly educated warmist would agree with that statement. Remember that even the IPCC, an organisation not known for its “denier” approach, has been unable to confirm with 95% certainty (and that’s using their own numbers) that climate change is due to human activity.

    “Why do you think you know better?”
    I think so because I have repeatedly asked your side to give me:

    1. a set of circumstances which would demonstrate that the CO2 warming hypothesis was wrong.
    2. An explanation as to how they have been able to analyse the individual effect of each of the factors that may have caused the quite limited warming/cooling in the past 100 or so years.

    So far I have not received an answer and until I receive a proper answer I shall continue to think not only that I do know better but also that I am justified in so doing.

    “Why are you listening to cranks and not climate scientists?”
    I do not listen to cranks. I have studied quite a bit of the work of climate “scientists” and I think there may well be some truth in what they say. Unfortunately we have no way of testing their propositions and for that reason I think that most of them do not merit the self applied label of “scientist”.

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      “You say “Every national science academy of every major industrialised country on the planet confirms recent climate change is due to human activity. No scientific body of national or international standing offers a dissenting opinion.”

      I am not sure that even a properly educated warmist would agree with that statement. Remember that even the IPCC, an organisation not known for its “denier” approach, has been unable to confirm with 95% certainty (and that’s using their own numbers) that climate change is due to human activity.

      There is not a legitimate scientific body on the planet that rejects the science:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change#Statements_by_organizations

      “….No scientific body of national or international standing has maintained a dissenting opinion; the last was the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, which in 2007 updated its 1999 statement rejecting the likelihood of human influence on recent climate with its current non-committal position”

      So yes, we “warmists” are confident in stating that.

      • elsa says:

        There is a difference between accepting something as a fact (the first statement) and rejecting the view (the second). It is quite possible (indeed I would say it is the correct position) to take the warmist view as unproven while not saying that it is demonstrably wrong. Indeed since there is no way I know of in which it could be proved wrong that latter bit is not too surprising.

    • BlueRock says:

      elsa:

      > I happen to be what you would no doubt call a “denier”

      Very evidently from your rhetoric.

      > …although I would say that I am very much in favour of science.

      Selectively.

      > …the more people see of you and your ilk the more they will realise that you do not really know what you are talking about.

      You deniers have been producing this nonsense for years. There is overwhelming public acceptance of climate change science, e.g. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jan/31/public-belief-climate-change

      > I am not sure that even a properly educated warmist would agree with that statement.

      You broadcast your ignorance again – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change

      Also, the *vast* majority of climate scientists agree that human activity is causing global warming: http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/01/97_of_active_climatologists_ag.php – the few who don’t are usually funded by vested interests.

      Who do you deniers have? Literally a handful of real climate scientists who say things won’t be too bad – and then a pile of clueless weathermen, rightwing economists, an ex-mining executive and a mountain of cranks on the internet.

      > …the IPCC … has been unable to confirm with 95% certainty (and that’s using their own numbers) that climate change is due to human activity.

      And again you broadcast your scientific illiteracy. First, the certainty of the science has increased since the IPCC AR4 was published. Second, we do not need 100%, cast-iron certainty to act.

      There is *always* a possibility that *any* piece of science could be overturned – but 90%+ is good enough to act on.

      If 97 aero engineers told you the aeroplane you were about to board was “90% likely” to crash after take off and 3 engineers said it probably wouldn’t – would you get on board? You’d be stupid to board. But that’s what you’re doing with climate science.

      > I think so because I have repeatedly asked your side to give me:

      Why are you asking to be spoon fed when the science that has been published by NASA, the Royal Society, by the IPCC, in peer-reviewed journals, on thousands of blogs, in the MSM. You’d need to make a massive effort to *avoid* it to not have seen it. And that’s why you are called a denier – you simply don’t want to see reality.

      > I have studied quite a bit of the work of climate “scientists”…

      They really are scientists – no need for the scare quotes… it marks you out as a crank when you do that.

      > …and I think there may well be some truth in what they say.

      It is the truth – or as close to it as we can get. The level of consensus in climate science community is a huge clue about the certainty of the science.

      > Unfortunately we have no way of testing their propositions

      Ignorant nonsense. Climate scientists say the planet will heat as CO2 is added. The planet is heating up. They predicted more extreme weather – that’s what is happening. They predicted ocean acidification – that is what is happening. They predicted the ice will melt – that is happening. Etc.

      > …and for that reason I think that most of them do not merit the self applied label of “scientist”.

      Your attempt to smear the professional status of thousands of PhDs around the planet who do the hard work and publish for review is not interesting and says more about you than them.

      Global warming is as good as fact. There is no credible doubt. There are just cranks and liars who say otherwise.

      • elsa says:

        The standard statistical test for “certainty” is the 95% confidence one. By saying that for global warming should have a lower standard applied to it you reveal your own ignorance of standard statistical practice.

        You say that it is ignorant nonsense when I state that we cannot test the proposition and then say that because CO2 and temperature have both risen the one must have caused the other. But there is a problem for that view. The temperature has not risen relentlessly as CO2 concentrations rose. On the contrary temperatures fell in the middle of the last century. So the basic CO2 driven theory has been shown to be wrong. It is then rescued by adding a variety of other factors. Unfortunately once you add these in, the theory ceases to be a falsifiable proposition. To have a science you need a testable proposition. All the peer reviews and Phds and talks of consensus in the world will not make a proposition scientific if it cannot be tested. And while you huff and puff in your above comment you do not answer the two questions I raised that would give your theory scientific merit.

      • BlueRock says:

        else:

        > The standard statistical test for “certainty” is the 95% confidence one.

        1. 100% of national science academies confirm global warming is happening

        2. 97% of climate scientists confirm the same

        3. so, you would board a plane that 90% of aero engineers said would crash? If only you deniers were the only ones who would suffer as a result

        4. you have completely misunderstood the IPCC report and how they are using 90% (it actually states “greater than 90%”) to simply mean ‘very likely’ – when experts say ‘very likely’, intelligent people listen

        5. why have you not published this amazing insight to show all those thousands of PhDs to be fools who don’t understand basic statistics?! Could it possibly be that your argument is simplistic nonsense?!

        > …it cannot be tested.

        CO2 has been measured – it is going up due to humans burning fossil fuels (isotope signatures). It is not now higher than at any time in millions of years (ice cores + other proxies). Basic physics says the planet should be heating up as a result – it is. The fact that you do not grasp these very simple concepts is testament to your ignorance on this subject.

        You have no science, only Dunning Kruger-fuelled confusion. You are simply the equivalent of a creationist or flat earther – and only convincing to other creationists or flat earthers.

        Global warming is as good as fact. There is no credible doubt. Fortunately, the lies and nonsense produced by you deniers is not swaying the public – science and reality is:

        * UK Public belief in climate change weathers storm. 83% view climate change as a current or imminent threat. Deniers represent fringe position – mainly comprised of old, male conservatives.

        * American opinion on global warming is once again on the rise.

        P.S. None of this is being written for your benefit – I’m very aware that you deniers are unreachable.

  8. elsa says:

    Bluerock,
    1. I have not denied that the world is a bit warmer so I am not sure why you state this.
    2. I repeat, I have not denied that the world is a bit warmer so I am not sure why you state this.
    3. The difference is that aero engineers are able to make such claims. Climate “scientists” cannot and do not. I think you would benefit from reading a little about confidence limits.
    4. I have not misunderstood the report. The conclusion I have drawn is that even using their own figures they have not been able to make the warmist view pass the most widely used statistical test. None of what you say contradicts that.
    5. The point has been made by others more qualified than I am. What I notice is that you do not answer the two questions that would solve the problem that I have posed for you and other warmists. If the situation is so simple then just answer the questions.

    “Global warming is as good as fact”. Again you change the rules of the game. I am not and never have denied that the world has warmed a little. What I have questioned is the warmist link between CO2 and temperature. Now instead of being rude and getting hot under the collar and saying I am unreachable show that you are not unreachable (after all it is you that asks everyone to change their lives) and answer the two simple questions I have asked. If you can’t then don’t go around claiming to be scientific and asking humanity to make enormous sacrifices to satisfy your odd beliefs.

  9. john byatt says:

    That the Planet is warming due increased Co2 and that increased CO2 is due to fossil fuel is fact

    Uncertainties only pertain to
    the exact extent of the warming
    internal variability
    feedbacks

    posted by Gavin Schmidt at RC over a month ago,

    • elsa says:

      I am not sure why you repeat claims to fact but do not answer the two very simple questions that I have asked as your whole claim to factual knowledge rests on being able to provide a satisfactory to those questions.

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