Tom Harris distorts the maturity of global warming science and imagines expertise where little exists

The science supporting global warming theory has a history going back almost 200 years, but readers of Tom Harris commentaries might come away thinking that it’s all brand new science.

Tom Harris, Executive Director of the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)

Tom Harris, Executive Director of the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)

For the other posts in this series, click here.

Starting in the middle of December, 2014 and continuing through February, 2015, Tom Harris, Executive Director of the industrial climate disruptionA denying International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC), wrote at least eight nearly identical commentaries that appeared mostly in small local newspapers and websites around the English-speaking world. The stated purpose of the commentaries was to call for scholars and philosophers to engage in the public discussion about climate disruption (aka global warming or climate change), and Harris wrote that “philosophers and other intellectuals have an ethical obligation to speak out loudly when they see fundamental errors in thinking.6” S&R’s analysis found that Harris’ commentaries contained multiple examples of the very logical fallacies he was taking others to task for as well as disingenuous arguments and rhetorical boobytraps, all in an attempt to convince readers that the science of climate disruption is less certain than it actually is.

In Parts One through Three, S&R showed how Harris’ commentaries were filled with hypocrisy, illogical arguments, and misinformation and how he was making the bizarre and irrational argument that ignorance and inexperience should be considered equal to knowledge and expertise. Today S&R corrects Harris’ many misunderstandings about the present state of climate science and what makes someone a climate expert. Continue reading

The billion billion stones of Jasper Beach

I had already been reminded that morning what a billion billion looked like. I had started my day well before dawn and so had taken the opportunity to gaze skyward. With no ambient light to pollute the heavens, I could see infinity spread above me—layer upon dark transparent layer, a billion stars set in each one, stretched across the sky.

Hours later, standing at the edge of the sea, I was reminded again of a billion billion. This time, I needed only to look down rather than up: a billion billion small, smooth stones, piled like a high sand dune that stretched the entire length of the beach. Continue reading

Nota Bene #109: You Can't Tuna Fish

“It’s absolutely stunning to me, the contempt in which the network holds the audience. The idea that these people have standards is laughable.” Who said it? Continue reading

31,478… 13,245… 152 OISM "scientists" can't be wrong

robinsonIn early 2008, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM) published their Petition Project, a list of names from people who all claimed to be scientists and who rejected the science behind the theory of anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming (AGW). This was an attempt to by the OISM to claim that there were far more scientists opposing AGW theory than there are supporting it. This so-called petition took on special importance coming after the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report, and specifically the Working Group 1 (WG1) report on the science and attribution of climate change to human civilization.

The WG1 report was authored and reviewed by approximately 2000 scientists with varying expertise in climate and related fields, and so having a list of over 30,000 scientists that rejected the WG1’s conclusions was a powerful meme that AGW skeptics and deniers could use to cast doubt on the IPCC’s conclusions and, indirectly, on the entire theory of climate disruption. And in fact, this meme has become widespread in both legacy and new media today.

It is also false. Continue reading

The Weekly Carboholic: carbon dioxide lifetime 50-100x longer than generally reported


There is a great deal of confusion regarding how long carbon dioxide (CO2) persists in the atmosphere. There are at least two reasons for this. The first reason is that there are multiple physical and biological processes that combine to remove CO2 from the air and they behave differently and at different speeds. The second reason is that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has changed how it describes the lifetime of CO2 in the Summary for Policymakers twice over the course of four assessment reports. And since most politicians and media don’t dive deeper into the assessment reports than the summaries, some confusion is reasonable, if unfortunate.

A new paper titled Atmospheric Lifetime of Fossil-Fuel Carbon Dioxide and reported on by Nature Reports aims to describe and understand the confusion over the lifetime of CO2. Continue reading