For a group of people that caution we must be 100% certain before drawing conclusions about human-induced climate change, the denier industry sure jumps all over a single, preliminary study as absolute proof of their own conclusions.
The subject of their breathless “I-told-you-so’s” is a paper to be published (pdf copy here) shortly in The Journal of Geophysical Research by a scientist named Stephen Schwartz.
Environment and Public Work’s minority chair and global warming denier grandfather Senator James Inhofe writes in a news release today: “An abundance of new peer-reviewed studies, analysis, and data error discoveries in the last several months has prompted scientists to declare that fear of catastrophic man-made global warming “bites the dust” and the scientific underpinnings for alarm may be “falling apart.”
You would think with such absolute language as the entire theory of human-induced climate change “biting the dust” that Inhofe and his mini-me spindoctor Marc Morano would actually read the study. As a legislator it is Inhofe’s job to carefully weigh evidence before attempting to lead the public to believe such a claim.
That is what responsible leaders do. Anything else would be considered demagoguery.
As it turns out, the author of the paper, Stephen Schwartz, is probably not comfortable with the claims being made by Inhofe, as evidenced by the conclusion of the Schwartz paper. It states:
Finally, as the present analysis rests on a simple single-compartment energy balance model, the question must inevitably arise whether the rather obdurate climate system might be amenable to determination of its key properties through empirical analysis based on such a simple model. In response to that question it might have to be said that it remains to be seen. In this context it is hoped that the present study might stimulate further work along these lines with more complex models…. Ultimately of course the climate models are essential to provide much more refined projections of climate change than would be available from the global mean quantities that result from an analysis of the present sort.
In other words, Schwartz is suggesting that he has perhaps found an new line of interesting inquiry that he hopes can be elaborated on with further research.
I guess Inhofe and Morano didn’t read that part. They’ve also vividly illustrated how loose and fancy their definition of certainty actually is.
It’s a shame that an individual like Inhofe, in such a place of authority and trust, is willing to make such irresponsible claims. No doubt, such exaggerated claims have an effect on the average American who looks to the political leadership for guidance on issues they are concerned about, like global warming.
Joseph Romm has a great piece on the deniers and the Schwartz research. And climate sensitivity expert James Annan has a more scientific take on the Schwartz research.