Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Slap a generator on that spin

I can't help but wonder whether Jim Inhofe actually believes the things he says or not. If he believes the things he says then he is one dangerous person to have in political power. If he doesn't, then he is even more dangerous because he has no interest in the truth or the people that the truth will hurt.

In a statement Jim Inhofe gave to the U.S. Senate Comitee on Environment and Public Works: "Climate Change: It’s Happening Now." he said:
Most meteorologists agree [with Allison MacFarlane, when she was asked about whether she thought the tornadoes in Oklahoma or Hurricane Sandy were extreme weather events, she said, “I would not call these events extreme. I would call them normal."]. A recent study by George Mason University reported that 63% of weathercasters believe that any global warming that occurs is the result of “natural variation” and not “human activities.” That is a significant two-to-one majority.
Here is a quote from the study (pdf) that Sen. Inhofe is referring to:
Weathercasters hold a wide range of beliefs about global warming.
Survey participants responded to a variety of questions assessing their beliefs in and attitudes about “global warming,” questions that have been used previously in our public opinion research. More than half of our respondent (54%) indicated that global warming is happening, 25% indicated it isn’t, and 21% say
they don’t know yet. About one-third (31%) reported that global warming is caused mostly by human activities, while almost two-thirds (63%) reported it is caused mostly by natural changes in
the environment. Half indicated that they have thought “a lot” about global warming, and a large majority said they are fairly or very well informed about the causes of global warming (93%), the consequences of global warming (89%), and the ways to reduce global warming (86%)—numbers that are much higher than public responses to the same questions. Over half of weathercasters indicated that humans could reduce global warming (58%), and that the U.S. should reduce greenhouse gas emissions regardless of what other countries do (63%). Almost half (47%) felt they needed some or a lot more information before forming a firm opinion about global warming, and almost one-third (30%) said they could easily change their mind about global warming. Just over one quarter (27%) agreed with the statement by a prominent TV weathercaster: “global warming is a scam.”
The picture that the study paints -- even the paragraph that Sen. Inhofe quote mined -- shows that meteorologists are geared more toward doing something about global climate change (or global warming if you prefer) than are geared toward ignoring it. And only about one in four think that "global warming is a scam".

But there is more to this study than that. The study was done to gauge what the meteorologists knew about global climate change. It is climate scientists that are doing the science on global climate change, not meteorologists. This was a study to see if the meteorologists were keeping up with what the climate scientists were learning. And while the study shows that the meteorologists are better informed as a group that the average American citizen, they still have a long way to go.

The very next paragraph from the study demonstrates the problem. Sen. Inhofe would have been much more truthful to report this:
Only one third of TV weathercasters believe that there is a scientific consensus on climate change. Despite the strong scientific consensus among climate scientists, almost two-thirds (61%) of TV weathercasters think there is a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether or not global warming is happening. Perhaps partly as a result, 79% of our respondents indicated that coverage of climate change science must reflect a “balance” of viewpoints just as coverage of political or social issues are covered. Prior research conducted by others, however, has shown that “balanced” news coverage about climate change is misleading in that it tends to give audience members the false impression that there is a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether or not global warming is happening.
Yes, global warming is happening. The science of the cause of global warming isn't new. The science has been well understood for quite some time. Greenhouse gasses make the atmosphere warmer. No one except the scientifically illiterate and the completely deluded would deny that. The deeper Jim Inhofe digs trying to find reputable people that believe the same way as he does, the more he will look like the bottom feeder that he is.

But you don't have to take my word for it. The study (pdf) isn't that long, and the findings aren't difficult to understand. Go read the study and you will discover just how much Jim Inhofe has to quote out of context to even bend the non-scientists to his viewpoint.

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