04 Dec 2009

Can You Stand It? More Climategate

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Joe Romm hosts a conference call featuring Michael Mann (of hockey stick fame), Gavin Schmidt (RealClimate), and Princeton’s Michael Oppenheimer. I am not allowing myself to listen to the audio, since I have backed-up work from my last-minute trip to DC to appear on a panel discussing renewables. (I will post the YouTube of that when it’s available. Joe Romm would not approve one bit.)

Anyway the transcript is not yet available (though the full audio is, at the link) so Romm just posted some of the highlights. Who knows if they started out with apologies, but from the quotes these guys are as confident as Dick Cheney discussing no WMD in Iraq.

Yet besides the “no regrets” attitude, what most interested me was this quote Romm highlighted from Oppenheimer:

“From my point of view, the most important issue is whether anything has been added to or subtracted from the scientific picture of global warming. The answer is simple. Nothing has changed. It remains true that the temperature has warmed over 1.2 degrees last centeury [sic]. It remains true, that the sea level has risen by about 2 inches over the last centuer [sic], and that’s enough to erode 60 feet around average beech [sic?]. It remains true that glaciers are warming. And it remains true that the ocean is more acidic than it used to be because of the build up of carbon dioxide.”

This is simply fascinating; it perfectly illustrates the mentality I was criticizing in my recent MasterResource post.

Suppose for the sake of argument that every last word of Richard Lindzen’s recent WSJ op ed were perfectly true. Even in that scenario, every word in Oppenheimer’s quote above could be equally true.

In other words, the “scientific picture of global warming” that Oppenheimer describes is perfectly consistent with the non-alarmist, governments-don’t-need-to-do-anything-yet-with-CO2 view of Lindzen. And yet Romm–and possibly Oppenheimer himself–is clearly quoting this to show that the case for aggressive government action is just as “solid” as it was two months ago.

Oppenheimer’s summary of what we know–and Romm’s endorsement of it–is classic bait-and-switch. They are making it sound as if the only way you can question the urgent need for strong agreement at Copenhagen, is if you doubt that the globe has warmed or that CO2 has increased.

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