Thursday, July 30, 2009

As predicted (Update below)

Eli has always been pretty good at figuring out where the fruitcake will be deposited, so a couple of weeks ago when he pointed to an editorial by Rudy Baum in C&E News (the American Chemical Society house organ)

The science of anthropogenic climate change is becoming increasingly well established. The scientific consensus on the reality of climate change has become increasingly difficult to challenge, despite the efforts of diehard climate-change deniers (for brevity’s sake, CCDs).
We were fully confident that
Rudy Baum, editor in chief of C&E News (ACS's membership magazine) had a stemwinder of an editorial in the June 22 issue which will, without a doubt, encounter much snorting in the near future to be featured in Rabett Run.
UPDATE: Thanks to Big City, we have Baum's reply to Joe the Chemist reads in part

ACS, in fact, has an official position on climate change, which is easy to find under the "Policy" section of The position statement opens with the following: "Careful and comprehensive scientific assessments have clearly demonstrated that the Earth's climate system is changing rapidly in response to growing atmospheric burdens of greenhouse gases and absorbing aerosol particles (IPCC, 2007). There is very little room for doubt that observed climate trends are due to human activities. The threats are serious and action is urgently needed to mitigate the risks of climate change."

I am also struck by the contempt of many of the letter writers for the thousands of scientists who work for government agencies such as EPA, NASA, NOAA, and DOE. Their harshest vitriol is aimed at the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Many of the letters dismiss out of hand any report from IPCC or any U.S. government agency that supports the idea of human-induced global warming, calling such reports irredeemably "politicized." I am startled that they so blithely impugn the integrity of so many of their colleagues.

Baum also includes an interchange with a mysterious interlocutor, later shown to be one Steven J. Welcenbach. First we had Joe the Plumber, later shown to be Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher who was no plumber, now we got Joe the Chemist, who has a BA and runs some sort of disposal company. Joe's Emails are right out of denialdepot
And sure enough, the harumphing(c) has begun with a whole bunch of letters, but if you actually read them, over half support Baum.

The criticisms ranges from simple, I don't know therefore everyone don't know (a
How many readers of C&EN even know why carbon dioxide is the "culprit"? How many kilocalories of infrared energy can a ton of carbon dioxide absorb? What is the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed in fresh or salt water, and how is that equilibrium impacted by temperature or other environmental factors? What are some of the other variables that can cause an increase or decrease in temperature?

To the evergreen OISM petition
Man-made global warming is a theory that is supported by a "consensus" of investigators in the field of studying the relationship of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and its effect on Earth's global temperature. Consensus is not proof, and a petition has been signed by more than 30,000 persons with scientific academic degrees (9,000 of them having Ph.D.s) who are skeptical of global warming caused by carbon dioxide emissions.
and of course

Your editorial in the June 22 issue of C&EN was a disgrace. It was filled with misinformation, half-truths, and ad hominem attacks on those who dare disagree with you. Shameful!

Are you planning to write an editorial about the Environmental Protection Agency's recent suppression of a global warming report that goes against the gospel according to NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies Director James Hansen? Or do you only editorialize on matters in keeping with your biased views on global warming?

It's actually quite staid (that's what editors are for silly with a balancing amount of support for Baum
The more people try to trivialize global warming, the more we and our descendants will suffer the results, some of which have already been quantified (for example, glacier melting and polar ice disappearing). Weather disruptions and shore erosion, for example, will begin to occur. The people who deny global warming are in the same class as those who rejected the negative effects of DDT, those who denied the negative effects of CFCs on the atmosphere, and so on.


Your comments about the climate-change deniers are right on target. In fact, your closing paragraph, "Sow doubt; make up statistics," etc., was one of the best summaries I've seen of the deceitful practices that the deniers are allowed to get away with.

We humans seem to learn from experience, and thus our modern systems of justice are not well geared for dealing effectively with climate-change deniers. This is a shame, because every month's delay in taking meaningful action likely will lead to more climate-related death and destruction in the future. There should be a law.

Including this from Eric Heller

I understand that letters published in C&EN do not necessarily reflect your views. I also appreciate the benefits of publishing a diversity of opinion. However, I am sure you exercise editorial discretion in choosing which letters are to be published and that you would not want to appear to be giving credibility to unscientific thinking and irresponsible conclusions.

But that is exactly what you did when you published the letter on global warming by Albert Z. Conner (C&EN, April 20, page 6). A quick Internet search reveals statements by Conner in a letter to the editor of a Delaware newspaper, complaining about higher taxes on cigarettes: The government "continue[s] to promulgate the outright lie of the dangers of secondhand smoke and the fictitious statistic that 400,000 people die each year in the U.S. from smoking." To deny the link between smoking and lung cancer and other diseases in this day and age and in face of all the evidence is absolutely inexcusable and irresponsible.

Believing that global warming is not at least partially caused by humans and believing that cigarette smoke does not cause cancer are becoming roughly equivalent in credibility. I doubt that C&EN would want to publish, in 2009, a letter that claimed that cigarette smoke does not cause cancer.

It would make the publication look frivolous and irresponsible, even if the editors disagreed with the writer's conclusions. But in 2009, denying the connection between carbon dioxide and global warming is just as frivolous and irresponsible, indeed even more so, because of the consequences of ignoring the problem.

This indeed is an excellent example of RTFR. Look at our friends over at denial central and you would think that the entire ACS membership is screaming for Baum's head. Send the guy a letter of support.

Chemical & Engineering News Letters To The EditorOur e-mail address is fax number is (202) 872-8727.

Or you can send your letter to:

C&EN Editor-in-Chief
1155--16th St., N.W.
Washington, DC 20036

Letters should generally be 400 words or fewer and should include the writer's full name, address, and home telephone; letters may be edited for purposes of clarity and space.


Hank Roberts said...

Thank you, excellent summary.

They're doing exactly what he describes in response -- NYT just had a science editor participating online, and his thread filled up with this stuff, wildly exaggerating the response to the editorial very quickly, though he mildly enough told them Andy Revkin was the go-to guy.

bigcitylib said...

Althugh I think the editor says they included all the printable letters. The unprintable ones probably skewed heavily to the anti- side.

John Mashey said...

And all may be amused by: The 10 Most-Respected Global Warming Skeptics".

bigcitylib said...

Since I haven't blog-whored in awhile over here, the "scientist" behind the move to oust Baum is Steven J. Welcenbach. He runs a garbage disposal company or, in other words, is "an environmental chemist".

Anonymous said...


doesn't it get you wondering to see this proliferation of positively slanted denialist profile articles? Would they perhaps have a perceived respectibility problem at this critical junction in time?


Anonymous said...

But, the mind boggles at trying to keep the bona fide requirements straight.

Haven't Eli and his cohorts always, always, demanded that only Certified Climatologists having Published Peer-Reviewed Publications in only the Approved Peer-Reviewed Climatological Journals are Certified to speak about The Great Global Climate Change Calamity?

I know it to be true.

The name of the publication in which the subject declaration appeared is Chemical & Engineering News, published by The American Chemical Society.

This organization even includes (shudder) engineers. And Chemists are not Certified Climatologists. I see no Qualifications to Speak here.

Based on the previously revealed Certification Requirements, the Declaration in its entirety can be simply dismissed as Not-Science.

Certainly it's Not-Climate Science.

BTW, where can I enroll as a Climatological Major in any Approved Climatologist University?

John Mashey said...

There are two separate anonymous's here. I address the first.

I conjecture: historically, there has tended to be a big uptick in this stuff whenever it actually looked like somebody might think about doing something.

See the history of the George C. Marshall Institute for example.

On the other hand, that "Top Ten" list looks like someone trying to build web traffic.

EliRabett said...

Is anybody old enough that the name Andrew Langerr rings a bell (and Nudds to you Ms. Calabash wherever you are)

EliRabett said...

The top ten list John pointed to is risible. You actually could make a list that was sensible, Lindzen, Singer, Pielke Sr. the guy from Holland, etc.

John Mashey said...

What? You don't think Carlin belongs in the Top 10? :-)

Like I said, someone with a website trying to build traffic. Some useful photos, though.

Craig Goodrich said...

As a matter of fact, the "dangers of secondhand smoke" IS a fabrication that the EPA created by manipulating the data. Smoking, yes. But secondhand smoke -- smelly, unpleasant, staining-the-curtains though it may be -- offers no health risks to anyone, with the possible exception of small children with asthma (who are exceptionally sensitive to any form of air pollution).

So I'm completely with Albert Z. Conner on his letter, particularly since after thirty years and more than fifty billion dollars of taxpayer money, the IPCC models have never been validated and every new piece of evidence that's been discovered has shown the whole CO2 greenhouse theory to be not merely wrong, but spectacularly wrong.

cce said...

Here's a sampling from the first page of results from a Google Scholar search on "passive smoking" covering the last 10 years.

The only health risk examined that passive smoking wasn't implicated in was breast cancer.


Acute Effects of Passive Smoking on the Coronary Circulation in Healthy Young Adults

Conclusions Passive smoking substantially reduced CFVR in healthy nonsmokers. This finding provides direct evidence that passive smoking may cause endothelial dysfunction of the coronary circulation in nonsmokers.


Passive smoking and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: prospective study with cotinine measurement

Conclusion Studies based on reports of smoking in a partner alone seem to underestimate the risks of exposure to passive smoking. Further prospective studies relating biomarkers of passive smoking to risk of coronary heart disease are needed.


Effect of passive smoking on respiratory symptoms, bronchial responsiveness, lung function, and total serum IgE in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey: a cross-sectional study

Passive smoking is common but the prevalence varies widely between different countries. Passive smoking increased the likelihood of experiencing respiratory symptoms and was associated with increased bronchial responsiveness. Decreasing involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke in the community, especially in workplaces, is likely to improve respiratory health.


Passive Smoking Exposure*
A Risk Factor for Chronic Bronchitis and Asthma in Adults?

Conclusion: The control of passive smoke exposure in the workplace might reduce the risk of respiratory symptoms independently of exposure to other airborne contaminants.


Delayed conception and active and passive smoking

Conclusion(s): Smoking by men and passive and active smoking by women are associated with delayed conception.


Association of Pediatric Dental Caries With Passive Smoking

Conclusions There is an association between environmental tobacco smoke and risk of caries among children. Reduction of passive smoking is important not only for the prevention of many medical problems, but also for the promotion of children's dental health.


Glutathione S transferase deficiency and passive smoking increase childhood asthma

Conclusions: GSTM1 and GSTT1 deficiency may increase the adverse health effects of in utero and current smoke exposure.


Estimate of deaths attributable to passive smoking among UK adults: database analysis

Results Across the United Kingdom as a whole, passive smoking at work is likely to be responsible for the deaths of more than two employed people per working day (617 deaths per year), including 54 deaths in the hospitality industry each year. Each year passive smoking at home might account for another 2700 deaths in persons aged 20-64 years and 8000 deaths among people aged 65.

Conclusion Exposure at work might contribute up to one fifth of all deaths from passive smoking in the general population aged 20-64 years, and up to half of such deaths among employees of the hospitality industry. Adoption of smoke free policies in all workplaces and reductions in the general prevalence of active smoking would lead to substantial reductions in these avoidable deaths.

Deech56 said...

Somewhat OT.

Eli, I have to ask: did you pay a visit to our modest, local newspaper Forum? A user registering in your name posted (a very nice post, I might add) and the locals are all atwitter (anonymous bloggers and all that).


Oh for second-hand smoke, a good starting place is the 2006 Surgeon General's report.

EliRabett said...

Deech, yep, Eli follows the links on sitemeter on occasion and Fredrick is just up the block:).

EliRabett said...

John, George Carlin is popping daisies, but he was funnier that all those clowns put together and thrown down the Rabett hole.

Deech56 said...

Thanks for the support, Eli - I'll have to link to you more often ;-) (although not on a Friday afternoon when hopping up the block can take like forever).

William said...

Is denialism like some kind of recurring illness? Seems like people who were in denial over smoking (and CFCs?) have now succumbed to climate denial.

There are some commonalities I guess - all these are 'environmental' problems; they all require complicated statistics that surely tax the brains of the dnialism sufferers; and they all require rules and regulations to stop people (businesses?) from doing what they damn well like.


Anonymous said...

You obviously arent Christians if you believe man can destroy what the Bible says clearly is upheld by the power of God Himself. We cannot destroy this planet. We dont posses the ability. All of you harping about saving something that God Himself is going to consume in fire and remake are wasting your time. The very people you listen to base their entire thought processes on the presupposition that there is no God and we are all there is. What a poor miserable existence for you. What is happening right now was foretold thousands of years ago in both Daniel and Isaiah and reaffirmed in the Gospels and Revelation. You have raised up gods for yourselves since you cannot stand the living God. Your god is this planet, your causes, your false beliefs. Repent and turn to the living God and He will turn you from your failed and miserable existence. Quit worrying about this orb and worry about your soul. A Christian may NOT believe that mankind can destroy anything God has made or upholds. Turn back to Jesus and read His words. What you see happening is the course of events set in motion long before we were created. Prepare for He is coming quickly!

so there.

EliRabett said...

Now let me see, we can't destroy what according to your beliefs God gave unto our safekeeping.

Eli suggests you think about the internal contradictions of that before you muck up our world even more with your sophomoric self justification.

Perhaps the bunny can give you a hint. Since people are also, according to your beliefs, God's creation, people cannot kill people by your logic. Allow Eli to suggest that there are numerous counterexamples to this.

Anonymous said...

William asks "Is denialism like some kind of recurring illness?"

If the poster above is right, it goes back thousands of years to the Old Testament: Denial and Isaiah.

Deech56 said...

I would have to say that Anonymous of 3:37 AM was being satirical.

The "so there" is kind of suspicious.

At least I would hope so.

Anonymous said...

yes, but just another type of fruitcake

Pico said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pico said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pico said...

Wasn't the Garden of Eden somewhere in Mesopotamia?
So much for God keeping creation in tip top condition. Perhaps he should sack the gardener.
-> Iraq in throes of environmental catastrophe

Anonymous said...

RE: Iraq in throes of environmental catastrophe

yes, but the Iraq war is nonetheless a success. We won. We're number one!

So there!

(The Johns Hopkins studies published in Lancet were a fraud and breathing depleted uranium dust is no worse than breathing Airwick. So there!)

John Mashey said...

re: So there

Eli: Poe's Law helps keep blood pressure down.

William T said...

Poe's Law or not, there is a real problem that the Rudy Baum 'interchange' just highlights and that is the polarisation of views on AGW along political lines - especially in the US but also in other countries. It seems to me that by and large the denialism side is composed of political conservatives. That is understandable since most solutions to the problem entail internationally co-ordinated responses (and of course government intervention, taxes, and regulations...). However, the 'debate' is now being swamped by the more extreme 'fruitcake' element and so it seems to be difficult for political conservatives who ARE actually concerned about this problem to contribute anything constructive without being drowned out by those fruitcakes. Let's face it, if a global solution is going to work, it will need support from conservatives as well as liberals. It's about time for some of those concerned conservatives to stop quibling over minor details (SST, regional temps, measurement unceratinty, etc) and start putting their efforts into helping to construct a global solution - 'to win the war' if you will. Unfortunately the old isolationism or individualism simply does not work when the problem is of such global magnitude as the atmospheric composition.

Anonymous said...

William says: "the 'debate' is now being swamped by the more extreme 'fruitcake' element"

The fruitcakes have been with us for a while now.

It's just that they have begun to ferment.

Hank Roberts said...

Maybe the Fermi Paradox is because eventually any civilization works up to a class of problems that simply can't wait for a new and better-educated generation to replace the one that's stuck with beliefs that prevent it from seeing solutions.

Thinking back, pretty much everything that science has come up with has led to solutions -- after a generation or two.

Solutions that were adopted only after enough irreconcilable intransigents died, and a new generation could look at the old, unsolved problems in the light of what would to be -- to the youngsters -- 'old' and established science.

How on earth did the oldtimers miss the obvious answer to the problem was ....
-- washing their hands/testing the well water/seeing the eggshells thinning/smelling the stuff in the air/adding up the books on the business/recognizing the hidden costs ...

thingsbreak said...

Off-topic snack for Ethon:

David B. Benson said...

Joesph Tainter
"The Collapse of Complex Societies"

Martin said...

cce: thanks for doing the footwork.

An aunt of mine died of passive smoking. Her husband smoked like a chimney (and predeceased her, don't know what from), she didn't, and contracted bladder cancer typical for smokers. Anecdotal, I know. Good to see systematic research shows the same.

alotstuff said...

nice blog.....

EliRabett said...

Aldo, Eli expects more stylish blogwhoring.