An environmental scientist who writes a column for The Guardian has claimed that my video on climate change “spreads climate denial misinformation” to millions of viewers on Facebook. Not so.
Here is my point-by-point rebuttal to Dana Nuccitelli’s claims in the British newspaper based on my video, which has attracted more than 8 million views and 139,000 shares on Facebook. The video has so alarmed climate activists that they’re using it to pressure Facebook to ban “climate deniers.”
Claim: “Basically, [Marc Morano’s] critique is that the study sample size was too small to make a conclusive determination about the level of expert consensus. That’s a valid point … ”
Response: So Nuccitelli admits my point about “77 anonymous” scientists making up the alleged 97 percent consensus is “a valid point.” Good. Let’s move on.
Claim: “In fact, the authors of seven separate [climate] consensus studies using a variety of approaches (some with very large sample sizes) teamed up in 2016 to publish a paper concluding that the expert consensus on human-caused global warming is between 90 and 100 percent. So, this critique is invalid when considering all the available consensus research.”
Response: Climate Depot, the website I founded, has covered and debunked the claims of these so-called “consensus” studies, which were a rehash of the same claims but packaged together to appear comprehensive. Chapter 3 of my book, “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change,” is devoted to debunking the 97 percent claims.
As I have detailed before: These claims “really confirm that it is easier to get papers published if they support the narrative of man-made global warming.”
Responding to these “consensus” surveys, I told the Media Research Center: “These types of ‘consensus’ surveys are meant to provide talking points to politicians and the media in order to crush dissenting voices and ban skeptics from the mainstream media. It frees the climate crisis promoter from having to research any scientific points and instead allows them to say, ‘90 percent of scientists agree. Case closed!’”
Nuccitelli, as seen here and here, has a history of skewing climate science to fit his political narrative.
Claim: “Morano also critiques the consensus study that my colleagues (including John Cook) and I published in 2013. He does so simply by quoting economist Richard Tol saying our 97 percent figure ‘was pulled from thin air.’ Tol argued that the methodology in our study was flawed, but when we applied his critiques in a follow-up paper published in 2014, we found that the consensus was still 97 [percent, plus or minus 1 percent].”
Response: Here are Tol’s own words on Cook’s claim of 97 percent consensus, and readers can judge whether I accurately quoted him:
The 97 percent estimate is bandied about by basically everybody. I had a close look at what this study really did. As far as I can see, the estimate just crumbles when you touch it. None of the statements in the papers [is] supported by the data that’s in the paper. The 97 percent is essentially pulled from thin air, it is not based on any credible research whatsoever.
Tol continued to be unimpressed with Cook’s claims even after his follow-up paper published in 2014. In 2015, Tol again ripped Cook’s continued claims of a 97 percent consensus. “Cook’s analysis is a load of old bollocks,” he wrote.
(I debated Cook in 2015 at the U.N. Paris climate summit. Listen here.)
Claim: “In short, Morano’s only evidence to dispute the expert consensus on human-caused global warming is to quote an economist who agrees the consensus is 90 to 100 percent, and that the experts are correct that humans are responsible for global warming.”
Response: Tol has pushed back on claims that he cited a consensus of 91 percent.
PolitiFact to Tol in 2015: “The 91 percent endorsement rate is a direct quote from your paper: ‘The headline endorsement rate would be 91 percent in that case.’ (Cook cites it multiple times in his reply to your paper.)”
Tol rebuffed this, writing back to PolitiFact: “Do check the grammar: ‘would […] in that case’ does in no way indicate my agreement with the number. In fact, I make it very clear that any number based on Cook’s data is unreliable.”
In addition, Nuccitelli’s claim in The Guardian that my “only evidence” is Tol is not correct. In the 2-minute Facebook video, I alluded to Tol’s comment and to the other key “consensus” study. But in my book, I devote a whole chapter to debunking all of the various 97 percent consensus claims.
Also see this and this. And past climate “consensuses” have changed dramatically, as seen here and here.
Claim: “Morano claims that we’re not actually in the midst of the hottest period on record, and that ‘hottest year’ claims are ‘merely political statements’ because for example, he claims, scientists can’t say with 100 percent certainty that 2016 was hotter than 2015 due to the margin of uncertainty in the data. This claim is similar to one made on Fox News that earned a ‘Pants on Fire’ rating from PolitiFact based on consultation with climate scientists. The years 2014 through 2017 are indeed the four hottest years on record, outside the range of uncertainty.”
Response: First off, citing PolitiFact as a climate science authority is beyond the pale, even for The Guardian. Second, the media has been forced to admit that “hottest year” claims are statistical noise.
In 2015, the Associated Press issued a “clarification,” stating in part:
The story also reported that 2014 was the hottest year on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA, but did not include the caveat that other recent years had average temperatures that were almost as high—and they all fall within a margin of error that lessens the certainty that any one of the years was the hottest.
“Hottest year” claims are purely political statements designed to persuade the public that the government needs to take action on man-made climate change.
In Chapter 7, my book deals with “hottest year” claims and their statistical significance.
Claim: “Morano argues that the experts are wrong because there are hundreds of factors influencing Earth’s climate, and that carbon dioxide ‘is one of these factors that gets essentially drowned out, and you can’t distinguish its effect from natural variability.’ That claim is entirely false, as elegantly illustrated in this graphic created by Bloomberg.”
Response: The claim here is that carbon dioxide can have a warming impact on the atmosphere, but this does not mean CO2 is the control knob of the climate.
Philip Stott, University of London’s professor emeritus of biogeography, rebuts the notion that carbon dioxide is the main climate change driver, writing:
As I have said, over and over again, the fundamental point has always been this: Climate change is governed by hundreds of factors, or variables, and the very idea that we can manage climate change predictably by understanding and manipulating at the margins one politically selected factor (CO2), is as misguided as it gets.
Climate is the most complex coupled nonlinear chaotic system known to man. Of course, there are human influences in it, nobody denies that. But what outcome will they get by fiddling with one variable (CO2) at the margins? I’m sorry, it’s scientific nonsense.
Atmospheric scientist Hendrik Tennekes, a pioneer in development of numerical weather prediction and former director of research at the Netherlands’ Royal National Meteorological Institute, has declared (as quoted in my book): “I protest vigorously the idea that the climate reacts like a home heating system to a changed setting of the thermostat: just turn the dial, and the desired temperature will soon be reached.”
Claim: “Human-caused global warming now [is] far outside the range of natural variability. In fact, we’re now warming global temperatures more than 20 times faster than Earth’s fastest natural climate changes.”
Response: Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever points out that “.8 degrees is what we’re discussing in global warming. [Just] .8 degrees. If you ask people in general what it is, they think—it’s 4 or 5 degrees. They don’t know it is so little.”
Climatologist Pat Michaels explained that in any case the world’s temperature “should be near the top of the record given the record only begins in the late 19th century when the surface temperature was still reverberating from the Little Ice Age.”
“We are creating great anxiety without it being justified … there are no indications that the warming is so severe that we need to panic,” award-winning climate scientist Lennart Bengtsson said. “The warming we have had the last 100 years is so small that if we didn’t have meteorologists and climatologists to measure it we wouldn’t have noticed it at all.”
As climatologist Roy Spencer wrote in 2016:
Global warming and climate change, even if it is 100 percent caused by humans, is so slow that it cannot be observed by anyone in their lifetime. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts and other natural disasters have yet to show any obvious long-term change. This means that in order for politicians to advance policy goals (such as forcing expensive solar energy on the masses or creating a carbon tax), they have to turn normal weather disasters into ‘evidence’ of climate change.
And even if we actually faced a man-made climate catastrophe, we would all be doomed!
University of Pennsylvania geologist Robert Giegengack, as I write in my book, noted in 2014: “None of the strategies that have been offered by the U.S. government or by the EPA or by anybody else has the remotest chance of altering climate if in fact climate is controlled by carbon dioxide.”
Claim: “And of course, climate scientists have observed human fingerprints all over climate change. … ”
Response: As Spencer wrote, “There is no fingerprint of human-caused versus naturally-caused climate change … To claim the changes are ‘unprecedented’ cannot be demonstrated with reliable data, and are contradicted by some published paleoclimate data which suggests most centuries experience substantial warming or cooling.”
Richard Lindzen, an MIT climate scientist, said that believing CO2 controls the climate “is pretty close to believing in magic.” Climate Depot revealed the real way they find the “fingerprint” of CO2.
Nuccitelli’s “fingerprint” argument in The Guardian echoes claims by the Associated Press from 2017, when AP science reporter Seth Borenstein wrote: “There’s a scientifically accepted method for determining if some wild weather event has the fingerprints of man-made climate change, and it involves intricate calculations. Those could take weeks or months to complete, and then even longer to be checked by other scientists.”
I responded to Borenstein’s claims by writing that he seems to believe “there is some kind of arcane black box that finds the fingerprint of man-made global warming” and it is available only to a select few.
Claim: “It would be absurd to take Marc Morano’s word over the evidence published in peer-reviewed studies by climate scientists at NASA and other scientific institutions around the world.”
Response: I wholeheartedly agree. There is no reason to take the word of either The Guardian’s Nuccitelli or me. We have science, data, and the geologic history of the Earth to handle that.
Current NASA climate claims (under Gavin Schmidt and formerly James Hansen) are steeped in politics and funding. Former NASA scientists have criticized the agency (see here and here).
Other prominent scientists reject carbon dioxide fears.
Ivy League geologist Robert Giegengack, former chairman of the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Pennsylvania, spoke out against fears of rising CO2 impacts promoted by Al Gore and others. Giegengack noted that “for most of Earth’s history, the globe has been warmer than it has been for the last 200 years. It has rarely been cooler.”
[Gore] claims that temperature increases solely because more CO2 in the atmosphere traps the sun’s heat. That’s just wrong … It’s a natural interplay. As temperature rises, CO2 rises, and vice versa. … It’s hard for us to say that CO2 drives temperature. It’s easier to say temperature drives CO2.
In 2014, Giegengack told Climate Depot: “The Earth has experienced very few periods when CO2 was lower than it is today.”