25 Reasons Why You Should Understand Neil Boortz Is Wrong

While I wish I had had the time late last week to do this, I sim­ply haven’t. Last Fri­day I had all but giv­en up on the Newsvine com­mu­ni­ty (not that that would be bad for me). It’s often hyped for being civ­i­lized and hav­ing high-brow dis­cus­sions but the fact that such a stu­pid arti­cle had got­ten so many votes was kind of irk­ing me. How could peo­ple be so gullibe? Well, Mon­day morn­ing saw my rebut­tal, which was pret­ty far down the page already, with more votes than the arti­cle itself. I still am amazed at how many peo­ple though that Boortz’ base­less rant was worth vot­ing for (espe­cial­ly since I doubt many even read the whole thing due to link­ing issues). How­ev­er, it was nice to know that some peo­ple demand­ed some facts, whether they agree with me or not.

Two similar images taken at the same time of polar bears standing on a chunk of ice

Pho­tos of polar bears on chunks of ice tak­en by sci­ence team mem­bers of the 2004 Beau­fort Gyre Expe­di­tion Project, north of Alas­ka. Polar bears have become the a sym­bol of glob­al warm­ing as their hunt­ing habi­tat, float­ing Arc­tic ice, is grad­u­al­ly dis­ap­pear­ing due to the great­est warm­ing at the high­est lat­i­tudes. While glob­al warm­ing can­not be cred­it­ed with con­fi­dence for any one event, such as these inter­est­ing loose chunks of ice which have been formed into odd shapes by the wind, sci­en­tists explain that ocean lev­els will rise and polar ice will con­tin­ue to melt at ever-increas­ing rates as aver­age glob­al tem­per­a­tures increase.

This is an expand­ed copy of a com­ment I made in response to (a seed of) Neil Boortz’ “Why Am I Skep­ti­cal About Man-Made Glob­al Warm­ing?” [Note: Good luck find­ing the arti­cle in the seed­ed link, you can find it here, tough]. That piece was so wrong as to be con­temptible. Here are the facts with more links to back it; some­thing Boortz was inca­pable of pro­vid­ing. That’s because he had to either make up stuff of just believe the lies of oth­ers to write that arti­cle.

Also, I’ve tried to point out which items are sci­ence and which items are pol­i­cy (or polit­i­cal in nature), which are two dif­fer­ent parts of the dis­cus­sion. Sim­ply because one dis­agrees with a pro­posed pol­i­cy does­n’t mean one need to reject the sci­ence; a con­cept which is sore­ly miss­ing on the skep­tic side of this ‘debate.’

  1. The U.N. is anti-Amer­i­can? What about NASA, NOAA, NIST, EPA etc.? These are Amer­i­can sci­ence insti­tu­tions who clear­ly have our nations best inter­est in mind. The fact that the IPCC, which was estab­lished by the U.N. (who if they said the sky was blue, Boortz would claim was red). Then again, I imag­ine that Boortz hates all the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment agen­cies, too. How­ev­er, that hard­ly makes them un-Amer­i­can nor does it make the IPCC, which is made up of many Amer­i­can sci­en­tists un-Amer­i­can. [pol­i­cy]
  2. Com­mu­nist rhetoric aside, there’s noth­ing stop­ping a free-mar­ket approach to solv­ing glob­al warm­ing right now. Sure, we may have to enact some reg­u­la­tion, but that’s noth­ing new to U.S. pol­i­cy, espe­cial­ly when it comes to ener­gy pol­i­cy, and it hard­ly makes us Com­mu­nists. [pol­i­cy]
  3. Solar forc­ing is wide­ly researched in cli­mate sci­ence. The sun plays a key In fact, solar forc­ing is men­tioned as a par­tial com­po­nent of warm­ing on Page 2 of the IPCC Sum­ma­ry for Pol­i­cy Mak­ers (SPM, here­after). [sci­ence]
  4. There is no glob­al warm­ing on Mars (nor any oth­er of our solar sys­tem’s plan­ets), at least not any­thing at all like what we have record­ed on Earth. It’s a tired myth that comes up all the time, and has yet to be true. [sci­ence]
  5. I think this chart clear­ly shows that the 1930’s were not warmer across the globe. Boortz is sim­ply wrong here. [sci­ence]
  6. Anoth­er tired old argu­ment is the glob­al cool­ing myth (more here). While some MSM pub­li­ca­tions did have some scary head­lines, cli­mate sci­en­tists were not the one’s caus­ing the alarm thir­ty years ago, and cer­tain­ly not with any large con­sen­sus like we have now. This is just more rea­son to lis­ten to what the sci­en­tists have to say instead of untrained jour­nal­ist mouth-pieces (ex. — Neil Boortz). [sci­ence]
  7. One degree does­n’t sound like much, but it’s an annu­al glob­al mean. Just because we would­n’t notice (or even mind) in the short term does­n’t mean it’s not a huge deal. Remem­ber, this is glob­al warm­ing and not just rais­ing the ther­mo­stat in your house. Fur­ther, the arc­tic is ris­ing at a much high­er rate, melt­ing arc­tic ice which proves prob­lem­at­ic in the low­er lat­i­tudes, even if the tem­per­a­ture here does­n’t change as much. Oth­er­wise, cute attempt at ignor­ing a prob­lem. [sci­ence]
  8. It’s sim­ply not true that the so-called “Hock­ey Stick” graph has been proven false. On the con­trary, the Nation­al Acad­e­my of Sci­ences found that the so-called “Hock­ey Stick” graph was indeed accu­rate sci­ence, and the 4th Assess­ment from the IPCC appears to agree that the last 50 years were like­ly warmer than any in the pre­vi­ous thir­teen cen­turies. Too bad for skep­tics (and peo­ple who ignore the news). How­ev­er, even if the graph was incor­rect, which is high­ly doubt­ful, it would­n’t mat­ter as it’s far from the only evi­dence at hand. [sci­ence]
  9. The pol­i­cy of the Kyoto pro­to­col has noth­ing to do with the cause of glob­al warm­ing. How­ev­er, too many peo­ple are pre­ma­ture­ly call­ing Kyoto failed (as in past tense) when we’ve not even fin­ished the sec­ond phase yet. [pol­i­cy]
  10. How­ev­er, the Kyoto pro­to­cols can also be seen as an ini­tial attempt to curb green­house gas­es. One which clear­ly needs work and the sup­port of the U.S. gov­ern­ment. [pol­i­cy]
  11. One of the more recent argu­men­t’s I’ve heard late­ly is with regards to cli­mate sci­en­tists who lie or stretch facts in order to secure funds for future research. I think any­one who is famil­iar with the grant writ­ing process would instant­ly rec­og­nize this is as ridicu­lous, but clear­ly this argu­ment is for their ben­e­fit. First of all, research grants are not easy to come by, even for those who have secured them in the past. Sec­ond­ly, are we then to dis­trust any research as a result of con­tin­ued grant mon­ey? What about can­cer research or quan­tum com­put­ing? Research in a mul­ti­tude of fields is fund­ed by fed­er­al (and some state) grant mon­ey and it is absurd to dis­count its valid­i­ty based on that. Sec­ond­ly, it is sim­ply poor log­ic on one hand to demand more pre­cise data and then on the oth­er deny the peo­ple who seek to pro­vide it. [pol­i­cy]
  12. I don’t wish to “pun­ish” any­one who dis­agrees with me, as Boortz and oth­er mil­i­tant skep­tics might assert. I am try­ing to get them to see rea­son and under­stand the sci­ence. I just am astound­ed by some peo­ple’s will­ing­ness to ignore sound sci­ence. Then again, I’m also astound­ed when peo­ple ignore the advice of their physi­cians, which is an appro­pri­ate anal­o­gy here. Nei­ther is smart. How­ev­er, that being said, I do wish to call out some­one who is per­pet­u­at­ing myths and that is exact­ly what Neil Boortz is doing. He is either lying or mis­lead, but he is most def­i­nite­ly not right. [pol­i­cy]
  13. The Medieval Warm Peri­od. Yet anoth­er pop­u­lar myth. The short answer: it’s glob­al warm­ing, not just Euro­pean warm­ing. [sci­ence]
  14. One sci­en­tists said some­thing that is tak­en out of con­text? This hard­ly proves any­thing oth­er than some­one’s will­ing­ness to spin the com­ments of anoth­er. How­ev­er, nei­ther the so-called “Medieval Warm Peri­od” nor the “Lit­tle Ice Age” dis­prove glob­al warm­ing. (Actu­al­ly, noth­ing dis­proves glob­al warm­ing since it’s clear­ly been observed.) Fur­ther, to accept those events as evi­dence, one must then accept our the sci­ence of pale­o­cli­ma­tol­ogy, as in “the Hock­ey stick.” [sci­ence]
  15. Por­tions of the Antarc­tic ice sheet are thick­en­ing, but yet loos­ing over­all vol­ume due to shrink­ing area. In short, glob­al warm­ing results in great air mois­ture which in turn results in more pre­cip­i­ta­tion. Oh, what does it mat­ter, Boortz did­n’t care about the sci­ence to begin with… This is cher­ry pick­ing data at best and sim­ply lieing at worst. Either way, we have a num­ber of mea­sure­ments (the most accu­rate is prob­a­bly NASA’s GRACE satel­lite mea­sure­ments, which detect grav­i­ty changes) which point to a loss of Antarc­tic ice. [sci­ence]
  16. Well, once again, It’s glob­al warm­ing, not U.S. warm­ing. The tem­per­a­ture dif­fer­ence isn’t the same every­where (par­tic­u­lar­ly wrt lat­i­tude). How­ev­er, the U.S. is def­i­nite­ly get­ting warmer along with the rest of the globe. [sci­ence]
  17. Here’s one of the Boortz’ incon­sis­ten­cies that a lot of peo­ple, myself includ­ed, picked up imme­di­ate­ly. Inter­est­ing that in one sen­tence we can’t know what’s going on with the major­i­ty of the world’s glac­i­ers because we haven’t vis­it­ed them and in the next Boortz claims to know exact­ly what is hap­pen­ing with them. The fact is, most glac­i­ers are los­ing vol­ume (glob­al­ly, glacial vol­ume is decreas­ing) and we don’t have to set foot on them to know this. We have satel­lites that take remark­ably accu­rate mea­sure­ments, in addi­tion to oth­er means of mea­sure­ment. [sci­ence]
  18. Again, a por­tion of the Antarc­tic ice increased. The author of this study has clear­ly stat­ed that this cher­ry-pick­ing of data rep­re­sents noth­ing but a mis­lead­ing use of sci­ence, which has hap­pened before and at least one author has spo­ken out on. [sci­ence]
  19. Yes. Sea lev­els change nat­u­ral­ly as the Earth­’s cli­mate changes. How­ev­er, both are chang­ing at a rapid and pre­vi­ous­ly unrecord­ed rate. That’s real­ly kind of the con­cern here. A large part of cli­ma­tol­ogy is to pick out what is nat­ur­al, cyclic phe­nom­e­na and what is not. In short, were the cur­rent glob­al warm­ing obser­va­tions a result of nat­ur­al cycles, we’d be able to see them in the pale­o­cli­mate data, which we do not. [sci­ence]
  20. Like Antarc­ti­ca, the total vol­ume of ice is reced­ing in Green­land. Fur­ther, it’s doing so at near­ly twice the pace pre­vi­ous­ly though to be occur­ing. We recent­ly dis­cov­ered what was thought to be a penin­su­la was actu­al­ly an island that had been con­nect­ed by ice. It isn’t any­more. [sci­ence]
  21. While the mar­gin of error in some stud­ies may sup­port the notion that there have been mul­ti­ple ice ages in the past 3,000 years (most glob­al tem­per­a­ture recon­struc­tions are for only 2,000 years or less), the Earth is clear­ly warmer today than it has been in 400 years, and like­ly for more than 2,000 years (ref. item num­ber 14 above). [sci­ence]
  22. The Earth­’s tem­per­a­ture has decreased? Boortz has tru­ly gone off the deep end. Glob­al tem­per­a­tures have most def­i­nite­ly not decreased. I hon­est­ly don’t know of any­one who believes oth­er­wise. If Boortz had pro­vid­ed any sort of ref­er­ence, I might be able to address this one, but he did­n’t. Of course, he expects his read­ers (and lis­ten­ers) to take every­thing he says as fact with­out both­er­ing to check it out. All I can do is sup­pose this might be what he is talk­ing about, which is shown to be incor­rect. [sci­ence]
  23. An NPR report­ed would­n’t inter­view a sci­en­tist is evi­dence of what? Much like Kyoto, the will­ing­ness of a jour­nal­ist to inter­view a sci­en­tist has noth­ing to do with the sci­ence. If this is a cru­cial piece of evi­dence, why ever lis­ten to a sci­en­tist in the first place? [pol­i­cy, but that’s even being kind]
  24. More on grant mon­ey. Con­trary to Boortz’ claim, if these sci­en­tists are in it for the grant mon­ey, they are most cer­tain­ly not say­ing it’s set­tled. It can’t be both. The fact is, most sci­en­tists are want­i­ng to pin down the effects so we can back out a solu­tion of what to do about it. This goes hand in hand with mak­ing sure the ini­tial assump­tions are right. This is sci­ence, and it’s clear­ly some­thing Boortz does­n’t get. How­ev­er, we do know enough about cli­mate and what is hap­pen­ing to begin to enact some pol­i­cy to try and curb the neg­a­tive con­se­quences. This goes direct­ly to the com­mon con­fu­sion about sci­ence ver­sus pol­i­cy. [pol­i­cy]
  25. More of that Ice Age stuff? Well, the point is, Time (and Newsweek) aren’t peer-reviewed sci­ence jour­nals and if you look at what those said at the time, there was not pre­dic­tion of glob­al cool­ing and most cli­ma­tol­o­gists clear­ly said that there was no rea­son for alarm of cool­ing (ref. item num­ber 6 above). Of course, as we see now, the main­stream press has a real­ly hard time under­stand­ing what sci­en­tists are say­ing. The fact is, the green­house effect has been under­stood since the 1800’s (yes, that’s right) and cli­mate sci­ence is a mature field which quite pos­si­bly has the most strin­gent review of any sci­ence in the world. The Fourth Assess­ment Report by the IPCC rep­re­sents what may very well be the sin­gle most peer-reviewed sci­ence doc­u­ment in his­to­ry. To ignore it with the psue­do-log­ic and poor under­stand­ing of sci­ence is noth­ing short of sad. [sci­ence]

Boortz’ arti­cle clear­ly shows that he knows noth­ing of the sub­ject he’s claim­ing to be a skep­tic about. How­ev­er, I have not doubt that like many oth­er radio mouth­pieces who know noth­ing about sci­ence, his lis­ten­ers and read­ers take it with­out doubt. Fur­ther, he con­tin­ues to pro­vide mis-infor­ma­tion to feed doubt, even on some of the most ridicu­lous sub­jects. Most recent­ly (note: that link may be bad in a few days, giv­en his poor site man­age­ment sys­tem) he claims that a recent cold spell in Chica­go is some­how evi­dence that glob­al warm­ing isn’t hap­pen­ing (com­mon skep­tic tac­tic is to con­fuse weath­er with cli­mate) and fur­ther he pro­vides a link to a peti­tion which sup­pos­es to have a mass of sci­en­tists against glob­al warm­ing. Nev­er mind that it’s six years old and has wide­ly been crit­i­cized as mis­lead­ing and a fraud.

I believe I’ve clear­ly demon­strat­ed what a fraud Boortz is when it comes to glob­al warm­ing and real­ly, sci­ence in gen­er­al. He’s wrong on every account and sim­ply does­n’t under­stand what he’s writ­ing or talk­ing about. I think it’s high time that we all start­ed call­ing this stuff what it is instead of pre­tend­ing it’s just the oth­er hand of an equal debate. It’s not. It’s a bunch of mis-lead­ing infor­ma­tion meant to cast hard sci­ence in a poor light out of some fear of pos­si­ble pol­i­cy actions (Boortz is an adamant anti-fed­er­al­ist). There is no sig­nif­i­cant debate over whether man is caus­ing cli­mate change in sci­en­tif­ic cir­cles and the soon­er the mas media under­stands this, the soon­er we can all get to solv­ing the prob­lem.

Update 2007-09-19: Any­one who would like to read more should check out some of the fol­low­ing (I’ll add more as I find time):

Most impor­tant­ly, every­one should read the Sum­ma­ry for Pol­i­cy Mak­ers [.pdf] from the Fourth Assess­ment by the IPCC, pub­lished online last Fri­day. It’s real­ly hard to over­state just how impor­tant this doc­u­ment is. This doc­u­ment con­tains the state of the art in cli­mate sci­ence.

Please see this arti­cle at Newsvine for updat­ed links for more infor­ma­tion.