The climate confusers continue their ‘conversation’

modelby Ivan Walsh

The Heartland Institute: Undermining Science in the Name of the “Scientific Method”
[Via DeSmogBlog – Clearing the PR Pollution that Clouds Climate Science]

I must confess, I’m less and less motivated these days to write posts debunking climate change skeptics and deniers. Their minds don’t change, and fighting over climate science may just make us polarized—especially since mounting evidence suggests the climate divide is really more about values than science to begin with, and science is simply the preferred weapon in a clash over different views of how society (and especially the relationship between the government and the market) should be structured.

Sometimes, though, you just can’t resist blasting away. This is one of those times.

The Heartland Institute is having yet another conference to undermine climate science, and this time, they are flying it under this banner: “Restoring the Scientific Method.” It’s like they think they are now Francis Bacon (at left) or something.


Anyone who calls anthropogenic climate change a ‘failed hypothesis’ ,as the Heartland Institute does, has an incomplete view of how science and the scientific method works.

But then their purpose is not to further our understanding of the world around us but to create political cover for policy makers. They used the same sorts of tactics against cigarettes. In fact, some of the same groups involved in confusing us about lung cancer are involved in confusing us about climate change.

Science works best by creating models to describe Nature. We use data to understand how good a fit the model is to reality. The better the model, the better it fits – not only to data that have already been generated but also in a predicative sense, explaining data that will be generated.

There is a huge amount of data, much of it generated after the idea of AGW was promulgated, that supports this model. Other models that have been proposed – its the sun, it due to incorrect data readings, etc. – has simply fallen away because they do not explain the data we have generated.

The best explanation is a model that includes human generated carbon dioxide. This comes closest to fitting ALL the data.  That is why this model is so strong.

There is no other model which does as good a job. Until there is, AGW will remain. If they want to overturn AGW by science, then do it by science – come up with a better model.

It has not happened so far, although many have tried. There might be something better than AGW – after all, it is a model of reality – but it is the very best we have at the moment and there is no indication of any better one coming along soon.

Climate denialists, just as we see with denialists of every stripe, really have no model to fit the void that would be left if the scientific model was removed. They have no explanation that is both explanatory or predictive.

If they did, there would be some real understanding of the Scientific Method. All they really have is obfuscation and confusion.

I guess lying and fibbing is a living. At least for lawyers. Not for scientists.

2 thoughts on “The climate confusers continue their ‘conversation’

  1. Deniers deal in facts, not models. There is no practical way to program a model that can cope with all the interconnected variables. Heartland do tend to be a bit ‘stuck’. I am hoping they can come up with some new stuff, especially believable current temperature trends which do not support global warming and certainly have no direct relationship to the continuing CO2 climb.

    1. Science is about creating models – lets call them hypotheses – describing the real world. Data either support or refute those models. Currently, the data continue to support climate change, with human causes being an important part. This model yields predictions that continue to be verified by new data.

      Currently, denialists have no scientific model that explains the data that is being generated in a wide variety of fields. Scientific models are overthrown when a new model is promulgated that does a better job explaining all the data. So far denialists have not provided such a model. Few denialists seem to be interested in creating such a model. Creating confusion is so much easier.

      Simply trying to tear down a scientific model does not succeed. Even the creationists finally realized that and tried to come up with a model to replace evolution – intelligent design. Unfortunately for them, ID fails because it does a much poorer job of describing the world around us than does evolution, as well as being, at heart, non-scientific.

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