This new Citizen's Voice feature at the KNS is going great. One of their featured voices is Dr. Pete Stevens, a "retired international business and education consultant, researcher, writer, speaker, manager and professor," who today tells us that global warming is a "leftist" hoax.

(The headline on the KNS website says "Another look at the controversial issue of global warming." The print edition headline in bold print on the front page of the editorial section says "A leftist hoax?")

It's not clear what his PhD is in or what his field of research is, and I'm unable to find a reference to him in any published works or professional directories. (I was able to find a couple of irrational, radical rightwing rants on his website.)

Whatever his qualifications are, I'm sure his climatology credentials are stellar. Or that at least his status as an amateur climatologist is well established. And he cites one of the most respected climatologist of our time, whose credentials are beyond repute:

The global warming scare is, as John Stossel says, junk science and merely the latest anti-capitalism and anti-America leftist hoax.

Indeed.

Let's look at some of Dr. Stevens' studied assertions so that we might learn more about this hoax.

Read more...

Dr. Stevens:

Conclusions can only be historical and only covering such period wherein current instruments and methodology were employed. What will happen with respect to temperature in the future is speculation.

From the IPCC Working Group report on The Physical Basis of Climate Change:

• Current concentrations of atmospheric CO2 and CH4 far exceed pre-industrial values found in polar ice core records of atmospheric composition dating back 650,000 years. Multiple lines of evidence confirm that the post-industrial rise in these gases does not stem from natural mechanisms.

• It is very likely that average NH temperatures during the second half of the 20th century were warmer than in any other 50-year period in the last 500 years and likely that this was also the warmest 50-year period in the past 1300 years.

• Climate models are based on well-established physical principles and have been demonstrated to reproduce observed features of recent climate and past climate changes. There is considerable confidence that AOGCMs provide credible quantitative estimates of future climate change, particularly at continental scales and above. Confidence in these estimates is higher for some climate variables (e.g., temperature) than for others (e.g., precipitation).

Dr. Stevens:

The cause of this temperature increase is speculation. What effects a temperature increase of one or two or five or 10 degrees will have on the Earth's ecosystem is speculation.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency's State of Knowledge:

Scientists know with virtual certainty that:

Human activities are changing the composition of Earth's atmosphere. Increasing levels of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere since pre-industrial times are well-documented and understood.

• The atmospheric buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases is largely the result of human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels.

• A warming trend of about 0.7 to 1.5°F occurred during the 20th century. Warming occurred in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, and over the oceans (NRC, 2001).

• The major greenhouse gases emitted by human activities remain in the atmosphere for periods ranging from decades to centuries. It is therefore virtually certain that atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will continue to rise over the next few decades.

• Increasing greenhouse gas concentrations tend to warm the planet.

From the IPCC The Physical Basis of Climate Change report:

• From new estimates of the combined anthropogenic forcing due to greenhouse gases, aerosols and land surface changes, it is extremely likely that human activities have exerted a substantial net warming influence on climate since 1750.

• Greenhouse gas forcing has very likely caused most of the observed global warming over the last 50 years.

• It is very likely that heat waves will be more intense, more frequent and longer lasting in a future warmer climate. Cold episodes are projected to decrease significantly in a future warmer climate. Almost everywhere, daily minimum temperatures are projected to increase faster than daily maximum temperatures, leading to a decrease in diurnal temperature range. Decreases in frost days are projected to occur almost everywhere in the middle and high latitudes, with a comparable increase in growing season length.

Intensity of precipitation events is projected to increase, particularly in tropical and high latitude areas that experience increases in mean precipitation. Even in areas where mean precipitation decreases (most subtropical and mid-latitude regions), precipitation intensity is projected to increase but there would be longer periods between rainfall events. There is a tendency for drying of the mid-continental areas during summer, indicating a greater risk of droughts in those regions.

• There is unanimous agreement among the coupled climate-carbon cycle models driven by emission scenarios run so far that future climate change would reduce the efficiency of the Earth system (land and ocean) to absorb anthropogenic CO2. As a result, an increasingly large fraction of anthropogenic CO2 would stay airborne in the atmosphere under a warmer climate.

• Increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations lead directly to increasing acidification of the surface ocean. [..] Ocean acidification would lead to dissolution of shallow-water carbonate sediments and could affect marine calcifying organisms. However, the net effect on the biological cycling of carbon in the oceans is not well understood.

Sea level is projected to rise between the present (1980–1999) and the end of this century (2090–2099) under the SRES B1 scenario by 0.18 to 0.38 m, B2 by 0.20 to 0.43 m, A1B by 0.21 to 0.48 m, A1T by 0.20 to 0.45 m, A2 by 0.23 to 0.51 m, and A1FI by 0.26 to 0.59 m. [..] In all scenarios, the average rate of rise during the 21st century very likely exceeds the 1961 to 2003 average rate (1.8 ± 0.5 mm yr–1). During 2090 to 2099 under A1B, the central estimate of the rate of rise is 3.8 mm yr–1. For an average model, the scenario spread in sea level rise is only 0.02 m by the middle of the century, and by the end of the century it is 0.15 m.

• Results from embedded high-resolution models and global models, ranging in grid spacing from 100 km to 9 km, project a likely increase of peak wind intensities and notably, where analysed, increased near-storm precipitation in future tropical cyclones. Most recent published modelling studies investigating tropical storm frequency simulate a decrease in the overall number of storms, though there is less confidence in these projections and in the projected decrease of relatively weak storms in most basins, with an increase in the numbers of the most intense tropical cyclones.

Granted, scientists use terms such as "very likely" and "extremely unlikely", meaning that Dr. Stevens is technically correct that this is "speculation." Scientists, however, quantify the terms such that "very likely" means a greater than 90% probability, and "extremely unlikely" means a less than 5% probability.

Which brings us to Dr. Stevens' next assertion:

Scientists cannot prove anything. What they can do is disprove things. They disproved that the Earth is flat and speculated that it is round.

He goes on to discuss controlled experiments with controlled variables and that this is the only way to establish even a suspicion of cause and effect.

This is all very true. But gravity is just a theory. Its effects, however, can be observed by dropping a lead weight on your toe. The science behind Bernoulli's Principle is just a theory, too, but observation of a Lockheed L-1011 in flight suggests that it's pretty good science. If Bernoulli is "disproved," will airplanes suddenly start falling out of the sky? Fingerprint and DNA science are used every day to "prove" guilt or innocence "beyond a reasonable doubt."

While the IPCC says significant advancements have been made in understanding the problem through "large amounts of new data, more sophisticated analyses of data, improvements in the understanding and simulation of physical processes in climate models and more extensive exploration of uncertainty ranges in model results," they are very careful to differentiate between what they know with a high degree of certainty versus what is still uncertain or unknown.

But the bottom line is that with existing science they are able to conclude with a high degree of certainty that climate change is occurring at an accelerated rate and that human activity is the cause.

We are also able to conclude that the KNS should be more circumspect in allowing unfounded, unverified, unreferenced "science" to be foisted off on readers of its editorial pages without at least a disclaimer that these allegations of "junk science" are themselves "junk science."

Realizing, of course, that it takes a lot of time and effort to read and study and understand all that science mumbo-jumbo with all those big words and data and stuff, we understand why it's easier to just take the word of some local yokel quoting John Stossel that the "leftist" science is all wrong, and ignore the most comprehensive, international, multi-discipline, peer-reviewed science currently available.

What's really sad about all this is that people like Dr. Stevens and John Stossel, who call this science "anti-American" and "anti-Capitalist," can't see the declining forest for the ailing trees. Regardless of your ideological or political bent, reducing pollution and reducing the use of fossil fuels and our dependence on foreign oil are about as All American as it gets. Getting out in front of this with our Yankee Ingenuity (whatever happened to that?) would save us a lot of money and make us even more money.

We could be world leaders again in at least one field besides export of dysfunctional idiot entertainers if we had the political will and our energy policy wasn't being held hostage by a corrupt government run by corporate interests enabled by their lapdog media and so-called "conservative" pundits.

Andy Axel's picture

Wonder if this "doctor" is

Wonder if this "doctor" is this same guy:

November 9, 2005: Building Support for 2008.

As reported today in the Huntsville Times in Gregg Parker's article, GOP Group ponders Rice Candidacy, Dr. Pete Stevens, our eastern Tennessee chairperson, is going to be speaking before the Republican Women of Madison (Alabama) next week, November 16th. These types of meetings, presentations and other gatherings are the model for the future as we build the essential grassroots support we need to have a successful draft movement for 2008. Look for us to post photos and a full report online after the meeting.

East TN chairman of Condi "Chevron" Rice for President? Gee, no conflict of interest there.

____________________________

Am I the only solipsist here?

Andy Axel's picture

It's not clear what his PhD

It's not clear what his PhD is in or what his field of research is, and I'm unable to find a reference to him in any published works or professional directories. (I was able to find a couple of irrational, radical-rightwing rants on his website.)

Randy, I'm sure you did more thorough vetting than the KNS did.

____________________________

Am I the only solipsist here?

rikki's picture

for real

It's clear Mr. Neal did more homework this morning than Mr. Stevens did during all the time he had to write his piece.

Socialist With A Gold Card's picture

And Jack McElroy wonders why

And Jack McElroy wonders why readership of the KNS is declining ...

--Socialist With A Gold Card


"I'm a socialist with a gold card. I firmly believe we need a revolution; I'm just concerned that I won't be able to get good moisturizer afterwards." -- Brett Butler

Joe P.'s picture

ummm ...

John Stossel?? That's not only a lame source, but an utterly meaningless one. Jeez. What, no quotes from Nancy Grace or Montel Williams available?

and this section "Scientists cannot prove anything. What they can do is disprove things. They disproved that the Earth is flat and speculated that it is round" sounds like mindless dialog from a low budget 1950s sci-fi film.

Sven's picture

Hey, maybe next they can get

Hey, maybe next they can get a 9/11 truther.

This American Life had a great show about cranks a while back. I really like the idea of a magazine for crankery, Modern Jackass.

rikki's picture

Here's some sensible

Here's some sensible commentary on global warming.

Factchecker's picture

Damn that kid perfectly

Damn that kid perfectly nailed the sound of Will Ferrell doing W.

Factchecker's picture

McElroy furthers KNS as Journalistic Joke

...and this section "Scientists cannot prove anything. What they can do is disprove things. They disproved that the Earth is flat and speculated that it is round" sounds like mindless dialog from a low budget 1950s sci-fi film.

Yes, this was the part that most strongly yelled "CRANK" to me. Where is his disproof of global warming?

This may be an opinion piece, but responsible editors never should give such a prime platform to wackos like Stevens. The regular Letters to the Editor section is the only part of the paper where such foolish nonsense does not reflect on the journalistic integrity of the newspaper.

Great job of showing McElroy and Stevens their asses, skb.

rikki's picture

yabba dabba doh

Yes, this was the part that most strongly yelled "CRANK" to me.

For me, it was the claim that there was a consensus among scientists that the Earth is flat. That's like claiming dinosaurs and man coexisted, isn't it?

WhitesCreek's picture

Let's do something

I think we can make fun of the outrageous claims all we want and nothing changes. I plan to write KNS in a few minutes. Sure they may ignore me but it won't be because I didn't speak out.

A news outlet that allows its pages to provide intentionally misleading information is shirking its Constitutional duty to inform the electorate. They would never allow someone to make the case that small pox was caused by demons, for instance. And yet they allow discredited information on something that will more than likely change life as we know it on this planet.

It takes relentless hammering to change minds. I plan to pound away.

WhitesCreek's picture

My Letter to the editors, KNS

Your Citizen's voice feature was the source of much ridicule in my circle of learned friends, as we dismembered Pete Stevens irrational piece on climate change being a hoax. Why do you give letters with obvious factual errors the same space as you do those that have been carefully checked and which provide references for verification? I'm referring to peer reviewed journals as opposed to the circular firing squads of conservatives, whose quotations go round and round and end up nowhere with a nonexistant basis in reality.

I think we can make fun of the outrageous claims all we want and nothing changes, unless we speak out with factual analysis, as opposed to the hyperbole, wishful thinking, and fantasies of Mr.Stevens, whose main arguments consist of demonstrably false statements, which ultimately degenerate into the common conservative argument against against climate change: "Doing something will cost us money."

Was there ever a more immoral argument?

Is there a greater immorality than giving voice to the irrational discourse of those who apparently do not care about our children's future, except to hope that their own die rich?

A news outlet that allows its pages to provide intentionally misleading information is shirking its Constitutional duty to inform the electorate. They would never allow someone to make the case that small pox was caused by demons, for instance. And yet they allow discredited information on something that will more than likely change life as we know it on this planet.

News outlets have allowed themselves to be pawns in the mass marketing of destructive ideas for long enough. I wonder how your editors can look themselves in the mirror.

After all, If essentially all the scientists in the whole world could possibly make exactly the same errors in analysis, and we follow their advice and do something about our current civilization's extremely risky science experiment with the chemical composition of the very air we breathe before it is too late to reverse its effects, it won't cost us much on average.

If we don't act now...It could cost us everything.

AS a subscriber to the Knoxville News Sentinel, I ask that you only be a vehicle for factual information. I would like to trust you for information... At present, I cannot. Our future is at stake here.

It is important.

Sincerely,

Steve

WhitesCreek's picture

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Eleanor A's picture

Good job, Whites. I don't

Good job, Whites. I don't actually have a subscription to the Tennessean (mostly because I live in an area with no recycling pickup and I'm not hauling 50+ pounds of the thing to the dropoff center), but it might not be a bad idea to start keeping a weather-eye on 'em for similar vicissitudes.

What a bunch of maroons the warming-deniers are. I really think we ought to consider withholding actual science from them until they clean up their acts...no storm forecasts, images from space, advice on crop management, etc.

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