Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Irony of Climate Deniers Attacking Published Journal Articles

A new peer-reviewed paper was published recently in the scientific journal Theoretical and Applied Climatology. Its title is "Learning from Mistakes in Climate Research" and the objective is to survey recent "denier" papers, that is, the rare papers that reject the unequivocal scientific consensus that human activity is warming our climate system. The authors - seven climate scientists and science communicators from Norway, the Netherlands, the United States, the UK, and Australia - highlighted the errors in fact and logic common to the selected denier papers.

Not surprisingly, the denier lobbyists and their network of front groups and bloggers attacked the study. The lines of attack ignored the validity of the actual points being made and focused instead on its publishing history and the impact factor of the journal. These attacks are about as ironic as you can get given that deniers rarely even attempt to publish in actual scientific journals (preferring instead to "publish" opinion pieces in business blogs). The one journal they publish most in has an impact factor that is essentially non-existent. As the proverb goes, those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

But it was rejected by other journals?

Deniers (on Facebook and other non-scientific venues, mainly by non-scientist ideologues and/or conspiracy theorists) are trying to denigrate the study by suggesting it was rejected by other journals. Their false conclusion is that if a paper is rejected by other journals it must somehow be wrong. That false conclusion shows an incredible ignorance of how scientific publishing works.

In previous posts I discussed how peer-review works (and how deniers try to abuse the process) so I won't repeat the basics here. Scientific journals reject thousands of papers every year based on factors that have nothing to do with whether the paper is good or bad. In all fields there are journals professionals in those fields consider the most prestigious, and so those professionals tend to submit their papers to the best journals first. That demand for space runs up against the obvious limitations of space each journal has to fill, so the most prestigious journals reject the vast majority of papers received solely on the basis of no room to print them. Journals may also reject papers because the topic doesn't fit the narrow scope of that particular journal.

In short, rejection in scientific journals is common, and expected.

The reason for the initial rejection of this particular paper is likely because it is an untraditional paper that doesn't fit the scope of most journals. Most climate studies collect data on temperature, sea level, ice thickness, or hundreds of other measurable factors, do statistics, and report the results. This paper is more of a survey of other papers selected because they represent the tiny percentage of papers rejecting the unequivocal science. The goal was to see if there were commonalities in their methods or logic. There are limitations of such a survey (as there are will all studies), and the authors acknowledge those limitations. The observations they make may be incomplete because the survey didn't look at all denier papers, but they are valid.

The irony here is that deniers rarely publish scientific papers, and when they try to publish they often are rejected. Those rejections may include the same factors as above, but they also include rejection based on lack of veracity of the data they present and the logic used to derive conclusions. As the "Learning from Mistakes" paper highlights, even the rare denier papers that do make it through the publication process have serious flaws that invalidate their conclusions. In fact, denier conclusions often don't even agree with the data they present in their own paper, never mind with reality.

But the journal has a low "impact factor?"

These same deniers have suggested that the journal the paper was published in has a "low impact factor." They falsely conclude from this that the journal is not to be trusted. That's silly, and inaccurate.

To begin with, the journal in which this paper was ultimately published, Theoretical and Applied Climatology, is put out by Springer Science, a renowned publishing company in business since 1842. The journal is a continuation of journals that have been published since 1949. In recent years the journal has evolved into an Open Access format, that is, the papers are available in full as PDFs for free to the public.

An "Impact Factor" is a measure of the average number of citations of recent articles, that is, how often are those articles cited by other authors in newer papers. It's a rather arbitrary metric with many criticisms, and there are other metrics that are also used. It's use is based on the assumption that papers that are cited more are somehow more important, but impact factors tend to be biased towards journals that publish review articles (people cite review articles instead of each individual study reviewed) and journals that publish cutting edge news (like Science and Nature). The more specialized the journal, the fewer opportunities there are for citing it.

The reason deniers have focused on this one metric is because they think it allows them to dismiss the paper without having to address any of its points. That, and the fact that the denier lobbyists sent word out via their blogging networks to tell everyone to focus on it.

The most recent impact factor for Theoretical and Applied Climatology in 2014 was 2.015. This falls within the range of most climate journals.

Not surprisingly, for the rare attempts by deniers to publish, their preferred journal, Energy & Environment, had an impact factor of 0.319, which ranked it 90th out of 93 journals in its category. Hardly something to brag about, especially since its editor admitted to "following her political agenda" in choosing the papers to publish (mostly from a small group of deniers). Of course, deniers' favorite platform for "publishing," that is, blogs, have zero impact factor because they aren't peer-reviewed at all. Which is why virtually everything in denier blogs is wrong.

There are more instances of denier ignorance and double standards demonstrating they don't understand most of what they parrot from their denier blogs. I've cataloged many of them on this page under Exposing Climate Denialism.

The main goal of the denier lobbyists and their blogger network (including Facebook trolls) is to deflect from the valid points being made in the journal article "Learning from Mistakes in Climate Research." Those "mistakes" made by deniers may be intentional, as the history of people like Willie Soon and Richard Lindzen suggest. They include "cherry picking," "curve-fitting," and other factual and logical errors like drawing conclusions that aren't even supported by the data they themselves present. This likely happens because they start with the conclusions they want and try to force-fit the cherry picked data to support it.

There's a word for that.

Take the time to read the article as it important to read what the denier lobbyists have tried to hide from the public. Dana Nuccitelli, one of the co-authors on the paper and a regular contributor to the Guardian, has provided a nice summary of their findings. Because the journal is open access you can download the full paper from their website and read it yourself. And here is the PDF copy.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot - Scientific Ethics and More

This is the story of Henrietta Lacks, her HeLa cells, and her family's struggle to learn about their long dead mother. It's also a detective story, a story of medical conduct, a story of Jim Crow, a story of modern and historical psychology, a story of ethics, and a story of religious faith. It is even a love story. It is all of these things, and Rebecca Skloot has successfully merged them into one of the most fascinating books I've read in many years. 

Until recently few knew about Henrietta Lacks the person, though cell culture researchers have known of the HeLa cell line for many decades. Taken from the cervical cancer that killed Henrietta in 1951, HeLa cells have become immortal, living in test tubes and freezers in the billions even now, more than 60 years after Henrietta's death. Growing like the cancer they derived from, HeLa cells have been used to develop treatments for many diseases, but also have contaminated virtually ever other cell line that has been attempted. This book traces the history of the cells, their benefits, and the ethical questions that arose because of their use without the knowledge of anyone in Henrietta's family.

Throughout the book Skloot examines the ethics behind medical procedures. In the late 1940s and 1950s, and continuing into at least the 1970s, there was little in the way of informed consent. Doctors could take cell and tissue samples from patients for research without informing those patients of their plans. Ironically, once someone died doctors had to get permission from family members for autopsies and tissue collection. That permission, however, was often given without any real understanding of what was actually happening. The book presents these ethical issues in the context of the times and the overall story of Henrietta's family. She doesn't judge, just presents. But readers with scientific backgrounds and careers would do well to think about the ramifications of those ethical discussions...and ensure they comply with current standards.

But even more than the medical story, this is a book about the struggle of Henrietta's descendants to learn about the mother they never knew. A poor African-American family that has gone through many personal trials must now take on the added trials of seeking out answers in a world they don't understand or trust. At times breathtakingly sad, the story can at other times have you cheering for Henrietta's youngest daughter Deborah and her extended family.

I highly recommend this book. Scientists will find the medical story captivating, both for the thrill of its discoveries and the questions raised about informed consent. Non-scientists should also be enthralled with the medical story, but will also see the broader questions of segregation, poverty, family, religious belief, and the sometimes expansive divide between scientists and the public.

Skloot's writing is stellar. She easily conveys the medical and technical material in language everyone can understand. She is equally adept in communicating the depth of emotion and confusion and anger of Henrietta's family.

[The Dake Page periodically reviews books relevant to science and communication. Feel free to check out past reviews.]

Thursday, August 13, 2015

It's Time Presidential Candidates Had a Science Debate

It's time for a science debate in which all the candidates for president - Republican and Democratic - engage in an honest discussion of science-based issues. Such is the premise behind ScienceDebate, a non-partisan, non-profit effort to require candidates to address science.

The effort began with the 2008 elections and continued through 2012 and now 2016. The ultimate goal is to have a stand-alone science-based debate or at least a science-based section in multiple official debates. They have managed to get the eventual nominees for each party to respond in writing to questions prepared by a group of scientists. Not ideal, but it's a step toward the objective of getting candidates to talk about science.

Why must candidates talk about science?

The following quote from the ScienceDebate website sums it up nicely:
"The world has changed. Science now impacts every aspect of life, with major economic, environmental, health, legal, and moral implications. Shouldn't the candidates for president be showing their leadership by debating these things on TV, so that voters can be better informed by coverage of them in the news media?"
Think about some of the current issues the United States must address, all of which are largely driven by our understanding of the science.

  • Iran nuclear agreement
  • Climate change
  • Vaccines
  • GMOs
  • Fracking
  • Evolution/Education
  • Chemical regulation
  • Pollution
  • Obesity
  • Food

And that's only a short list of the most obvious ones. These science-based issues, individually and as a group, affect not only the specific topic of each and the environment, they affect human health, the economy, energy, national security, international politics and power structure, and much more.

In short, these science-based issues affect, and determine, our future.

So how are the candidates doing on science-based issues?

Not very well. This page wrote an Open Letter to the 2016 Presidential Hopefuls about man-made climate change. It's a critical issue and based on unequivocal, undeniable science. We humans are warming the global climate system and action is necessary. The Republican party has made a political decision to deny the science, which disqualifies all of their candidates for the job they seek. The Democratic candidates all acknowledge the science, though they have been inconsistent in their support for policies to deal with it. This page will have more on Democratic proposals and their inconsistency in future posts. At least they are trying, as demonstrated by President Obama's and EPA's Clean Power Plan (though he too has been inconsistent).

In this modern world, science drives our decision-making and our future. It permeates our every day lives, from our reliance on industrial food production to our energy sourcing to our handling of man-made climate change. Science impacts our economic and national security...and our well-being.

It's time to have a science debate.

[More information on ScienceDebate can be found on their website and their Facebook page. Two of the founders, Sheril Kirshenbaum, and Chris Mooney, co-authored a book called Unscientific America, that is also worth reading.]

Thursday, August 6, 2015

What President Obama's Clean Power Act Does for Climate Change May Surprise You

On Monday, August 3, 2015, President Barack Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency released final rules designed to curtail coal-based power plant emissions. Called the Clean Power Plan, the goal is to reduced carbon emissions contributing to man-made climate change. The impact of this plan will surprise a lot of Americans.

The following video is only a little over 2 minutes and worth watching:

Reaction has been about what you might expect. The Republican candidates for president and their Republican colleagues in the House and Senate have falsely attacked the plan for the usual false reasons. The Democratic candidates and in Congress largely agree that the steps proposed are necessary to deal with the unequivocal science demonstrating humans are warming the climate system.

Media reporting of the Clean Power Act shows its critical importance. Time magazine says that the President is taking the lead on this "superwicked problem."  CNN says the President "unveils major climate change proposal." To the New York Times this is a "crucial step on climate change." Other media outlets also note the unprecedented action by the White House and EPA.

Of course, there are also the denial lobbyists saturating the blogosphere with anti-Clean Power Act rhetoric. All provide opinions based on a single negative "report" produced by, you guessed it, one of the denial lobbyist organizations in their network. That's a common tactic of lobbyists - create a biased report and then get all your friends to cite your biased report as "unbiased."

Meanwhile, the response from the scientific community has generally been positive, as might be expected given that nearly every climate scientist agrees that 100+ years of published science unequivocally demonstrates a need to address man's contribution to climate change. There are some, like outspoken climate scientist James Hansen, who feel the Plan is merely a drop in the bucket and won't in itself create significant progress in dealing with our changing climate.

Hansen is probably right.

So let's assume that the Clean Power Plan is insufficient to deal with climate change. In fact, we don't need to assume it because it's fairly self-evident. More action is necessary, both in the United States and globally. So is the Plan a waste of time?

On the contrary, the Plan is both much needed and highly effective in what President Obama is trying to accomplish. By talking about man-made climate change. By taking action on man-made climate change. By making it clear that while some elected officials are taking serious the long-term ramifications of man-made climate (while just as clearly other officials - and presidential candidates - are not taking it seriously), President Obama has gotten the public more involved in the discussion.

And public engagement in the discussion is critical.

It is the public that will pressure their elected officials to address man-made climate change. The science is clear - we humans are warming the climate. The impacts of that warming are significant, they are already happening, and they will keep getting worse without action. It's up to the public to make sure their representatives openly and honestly debate policy options to deal with the unequivocal fact that we're warming the climate. Denial of the science is not honest debate, it's a dishonest violation of the public trust. If the public is uninformed about an issue, than it is the obligation of their elected representatives to help the public become informed. To not do is to sacrifice your constituents.

So while the Clean Power Plan does take significant steps to reduce carbon emissions (which, in itself, is a much needed step in the right direction), the actual Power of the Plan is the public engagement on the issue. Because of it the public will spend more time "debating" climate change, becoming informed on climate change, and demanding action on climate change. The Plan also positions the United States as a leader in the global discussions of policy to deal with the science. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have already made inroads with agreements with China, India, and others, while also leading Europe and other countries at the table for what everyone hopes will be a significant global agreement at the December climate meetings in Paris.

The Clean Power Plan is one piece of a very large puzzle. The President has been actively working to move this process forward along multiple avenues. While the Plan itself will have some effect, it's larger effect is on making it okay to take responsibility for man-made climate change, and to do something about it.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

All Republican Candidates for President in 2016 Deny Basic Climate Science, Disqualifying Them for the Job

All 17 Republican candidates* for the 2016 presidential nomination deny the most basic climate science. Think about that. Every single Republican candidate for the highest political office in the United States has chosen to deny the very existence of unequivocal science. When they even bother to acknowledge the science at all they state that they have no intention of taking action on it, and in fact are likely to backtrack on action already taken.

Some of the more flagrantly dishonest and delusional candidates go so far as to claim that 100+ years of published science and all the world's climate scientists and organizations - and even physics - is part of a conspiracy to "tax us all into oblivion" or "make Al Gore rich" or "institute the U.N.'s Agenda 21" to "take over the world." [Cue Dr. Evil!]

Yes, these are the people who are running to be our next president. And these are the ones with the most support. It used to be this kind of dishonesty and looney tune conspiracy nonsense would be limited to the "crazies" in the far out wings of the party. Now they are the party. The Republican Party.

By choosing to lie to the American people so egregiously, they disqualify themselves for the job they are seeking. Every single one of them.

Their reasons for denying all of the science are varied. Some are simply indebted to the fossil fuel industry. Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz have all been summoned to a dog-and-pony show put on by the billionaire Koch brothers. The Kochs are infamous for financing much of the climate denial lobbying and misinformation campaigns that create the falsehoods the Republican candidates so often pantomime to the public. These same Kochs, one the former Libertarian nominee for Vice President, also run a network of libertarian and right wing "think tanks" (i.e., lobbying shops) that largely overlap with their climate denial network.

Other Republican candidates almost seem like they want to acknowledge the science but are simply afraid to be honest with their constituents. Ironically, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio's home state of Florida is likely to lose more of its land surface to sea water rise than any other U.S. state in the current century (Bobby Jindal's Louisiana may be a close second.) Other candidates are just plain buffoonish, focusing instead on appealing to the most bigoted wing of the Republican party, a wing that has grown larger as the constituency of the party has grown smaller.

Even if a Republican candidate for president were to acknowledge the science and suggest policy options, a continuing Republican-controlled Congress would not let that candidate achieve any progress with respect to climate.

And progress is necessary. Action is necessary. Last year (2014) had the hottest global warming on record, and 2015 is already poised to surpass it. President Obama has been working hard during the last few years to lead the world into a meaningful global climate change agreement to be signed in December 2015. Other large contributors to climate change like China, India, Brazil, and Europe have, along with the United States, committed to carbon reduction goals. The United States and many other countries in the world have been advancing into renewable technologies that will be, and already are, driving economic development. Even the Vatican has acknowledged the science, as have every other religious, scientific, cultural, political, and community organizations.

To deny a problem, and turn back economic progress - American leadership, innovation, and jobs - based on a political fear of being honest with their own constituents, patently disqualifies any Republican candidate from the presidency.

An Open Letter to the 2016 Presidential Hopefuls re: Climate Change

* Or whatever the number there are at the time you read this since another one seems to announce every few days. Technically, one Republican candidate, Lindsay Graham, does acknowledge climate science. He has been polling last of all the candidates, with less than 1% of the likely Republican voters supporting him. That in itself demonstrates how little regard for science the Republican party exhibits. More information on Republican positions can be found here.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Why the TSCA Reform Bills Should Become Law Even Though They Won't Make Us Any Safer

Recently there has been a sudden surge in support for passing bills in both the House and Senate to modernize the four-decade-old Toxic Substances Control Act, i.e., TSCA. This post will explain why this is happening, why TSCA Reform can pass now, and why it should pass - even though it likely will do nothing substantial to make us safer.

What is TSCA anyway?

For those who missed it, TSCA was passed in 1976. That's right, when Gerald Ford, the only President never to have been elected to either the presidency or vice-presidency (Hint: Nixon and Agnew were, in fact, crooks), signed it into law. TSCA was designed to regulate commercial chemicals before they could be put on the market. Well, except for the 65,000 or so chemicals that were already on the market - those chemicals got grandfathered onto an Inventory, a list of chemicals it was okay to use despite none of them ever having been tested for safety. New chemicals had to go through a review by the Environmental Protection Agency, though the EPA could not actually require any safety testing unless they could prove that the chemicals were dangerous...which they found hard to do since they couldn't require anyone to do any safety testing. You can see why there was a need to reform TSCA.

Which no one did for nearly 40 years.

Why COULDN'T TSCA be reformed before?

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) tried. In 2005 he introduced the first of several TSCA reform bills that were immediately relegated to the wastebasket with zero action. Not one ever got out of committee. For ten years the Republican Party, along with a few Democrats from states heavy on chemical industry influences, managed to block a half-dozen or more attempts by Lautenberg in the Senate (and Henry Waxman [D-CA)] in the House) from ever getting a vote.

Lautenberg's initial bill would have fundamentally changed our chemical control system by requiring companies to provide substantial health and safety data on chemicals before they went onto the market. It would have also required companies to provide data for all of the 65,000 chemicals that had been grandfathered onto the Inventory (plus, all the 25,000 or so additional chemicals that were added to the Inventory after only rudimentary model-based evaluation by EPA).

While needed, the requirements were functionally unworkable under our current review structure. When Europe passed a law called REACH that required essentially the same data, they also created an entirely new chemicals agency staffed with at least 500 people and a system for collecting and evaluating the millions of data points that would be coming their way over a ten year period.

A new agency! The EPA would not have been able to handle the workload, especially given the Congressional defunding and forced retirement of key staffers that has been plaguing them for the last decade or more. There is no way Congress would even boost their staff to handle the new data, never mind create an entirely new agency. That one fact killed any chance of a workable solution.

Lautenberg continued to try to revise his bills over the next 10 years, making them more and more industry-friendly with each iteration. His latest version, offered up soon before he passed away, was supported by then-committee chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who frequently sparred with then-ranking member and serial climate denier James Inhofe (R-OK). Her conflicts with Inhofe were seamlessly passed to his replacement, Senator David Vitter (R-LA), when he began working with Lautenberg on a new, even more industry-friendly, bill. After Lautenberg's death, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) joined with Vitter to come up with the precursor to the current Senate bill. While the bipartisanship was nice, the dropping of all the fundamental reforms originally proposed by Lautenberg make Boxer a bitter enemy of the bill.

Why CAN TSCA reform pass now?

The answer is easy, though it's also a reflection of the rather cynical power of lobbyists when it comes to making laws. After blocking serious consideration of TSCA reform for a decade, Industry found itself in a position where Republicans were in control of the House and Senate. Sensing that the window of opportunity was short - there is no guarantee the Democrats won't take back the Senate in 2016 - Industry decided to facilitate the bill-writing process. How much of the bills were written, as opposed to merely influenced, by Industry is something only insiders know, but clearly the new bills serve Industry more than they serve opposing environmental and health Advocacy groups or the public. And so bills suddenly appeared in the Senate and the House, the latter of which has been adamantly against anything that smells of new regulation, never mind complete reform of the primary chemical control law.

Another reason TSCA reform can pass now is because Barbara Boxer announced she is retiring at the end of her present term, i.e., after the 2016 elections. Given her long-time power and influence on the key committee in charge of reform, this decision clears the way for Democrats to support the TSCA reform bill presented by Industry via Vitter/Udall.

It's also clear that everyone knows that this bill (the Senate one) is the only bill that could ever get passed, either before, now, or later. This is it. It might get a few tweaks still, but the basic requirements and structure are the only ones that can garner enough support - and do so at the right time, which is now - to ever get passed. It's also clear that President Obama will gladly sign any bill that passes Congress given the rarity of such an event.

Why SHOULD TSCA reform pass now?

Part of the reason it should pass is what I just said in the paragraph above. It's the only one that can pass, and no one would argue that modernization of TSCA isn't way overdue.

Another reason is because EPA has been effectively hog-tied for the last 10 years with very little it could do to ensure the safety of chemicals, especially legacy chemicals, i.e., those on the Inventory that have never been tested for safety. The new bills don't require up-front testing to be submitted on old or new chemicals en masse, but the bills do provide EPA with a better mechanism for requesting data be provided on specific chemicals. It isn't great, but it's better. More importantly, the bills provide a better mechanism for looking at those legacy chemicals. That is a big deal. (Insert appropriate Joe Bidenesque qualifier)

In any case, the new bills will allow EPA to move forward even though they likely won't have the resources to move very far or very fast.

What ROADBLOCKS remain to making TSCA reform into law?

Anyone familiar with Washington knows that Congress can often find a way to self-destruct, even on things that most of them agree on. With the election year already in its craziest jockeying for attention period, the window for passage is small, and getting smaller every day. Senators believe they can get a vote on their version of the bill before the fast-approaching August recess, and with more than half of all Senators and true bipartisan support, passage is likely. Which gets us to the first roadblock.

The House version of the bill, which passed by a vote of 398 to 1, is laughable. While that might seem harsh, it's likely an understatement. As already noted, the Republican-controlled House is strictly anti-regulation. Because of radical gerrymandering, House Republicans know they are likely to be reelected no matter how irresponsible or radical they act. Not surprisingly, there is tacit understanding from all parties that the more contentious portions of the House bill will essentially be morphed into something palatable for all. In other words, the final TSCA reform law will largely reflect the Senate version. The Senate version even has the most politically safe name it could have been given, the "Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act."

The second and third roadblocks, which will be part of the first one above, are that there may be tweaking of two key provisions in the bills: preemption and risk standard. I won't go into detail about what they are because, frankly, they have no actual meaning with respect to the functioning of the law.

That last sentence will come as a shock to Industry and Advocacy lobbyists who have spent much of the last few years arguing over these exact provisions. But that's that point. These two provisions got the attention because they distracted from the real issue, which is how much data to require up-front for new and legacy chemicals. As seen above, Industry clearly won that battle.

The preemption issue has been claimed as the most important issue by Industry. The threat of up to 50 state-based chemical control laws is why Industry has wanted TSCA reform so badly (the Industry-friendly version of TSCA reform, to be clear). Industry strongly lobbied for provisions in the new TSCA that would bar states from taking action while EPA is evaluating the chemicals, a process that in some cases has taken decades with no resolution. The risk standard has also been contentious for basically the same reason, to make EPA spend tons of time building a case AGAINST a chemical (rather than Industry making a case FOR the chemical).

So if they are so important, how can they be so meaningless?

While on paper these may seem like they could have a massive impact on regulation, in the real world they don't. In this real world you get two things happening:

1) No matter what decision EPA reaches, they will get sued. If Industry is unhappy, Industry will sue the EPA and/or use whatever "hearing" provisions in the new law to keep EPA from banning or severely restricting their chemical for as long as they can. Using this strategy under the old law has kept some chemicals on the market for decades, all the while providing substantial profit while the manufacture develops a replacement. Similarly, if Advocacy groups are unhappy, they too can sue and/or use whatever provisions to keep the pressure on the chemical. Granted, the options and success rate of Advocacy groups are much more limited than they are for Industry - this new law will be no exception - but the power of Advocacy groups doesn't stop there anyway.

1a) As a corollary, EPA knows that its greatest pressure point is the threat of action. In the past EPA has managed to get Industry to participate in "voluntary" actions to increase data collection and influence how a particular company makes business decisions about pursuing putting, or keeping, chemicals on the market. The new TSCA law will increase EPA's ability to put unofficial pressure on manufacturers because the law will give EPA more authority to require data for chemicals raising safety questions.

2) The real power of Advocacy groups is in building public pressure on target chemicals. In the past this has meant some chemicals that are safe-for-use (i.e., safe if used properly) may have been unfairly pressured out of existence. On the other hand, chemicals that might have stayed on the market despite safety concerns have been forced into oblivion because of public pressure. The new law should actually make it easier to exert public pressure because supposedly the more questionable chemicals could be required to have a more substantial data set.

So in practice it will be public pressure that will take an even greater role in whether a chemical stays on the market (or perhaps even gets there in the first place). Despite attempts to limit the ability of states to regulate chemicals (i.e., preemption), states will still be able to take action on anything the EPA hasn't walled off by their own investigations. For any state-centric concerns, i.e., create undue risk within a state, that state will likely still have the opportunity to address those concerns. In any case, states and Advocacy groups will be gearing up to educate the public about chemicals of concern, and that market-based pressure will do more to change the decision-making habit of Industry than the new regulations.

The bottom line is that the TSCA reform law that emerges in the next few weeks or months will likely pass, and it should pass. While some Advocacy groups will complain that it doesn't go far enough (which it doesn't) and Industry groups will complain in public of the new requirements (while popping champagne corks in private boardrooms), the fact is that TSCA reform is desperately needed, the final bill will be the best that anyone can hope to achieve, and despite its limitations it will provide real improved opportunities for EPA to move forward in their quest to protect the public from unreasonable risk of chemicals. The law itself won't make us safer, but the fact that we'll be focused on identifying and prioritizing chemicals to take a closer look rather than waving our hands in the air doing nothing...well, that focus will make us safer.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Climate Denier Tactic - Lying About Actual Scientific Studies

We've talked about several of the tactics used by climate deniers to intentionally mislead the public. This past week provided a prime example of one tactic - intentionally lying about what a study says. Let's take a closer look at how this works.

Recall that the climate denial industry, in their role as lobbyists, are well-experienced in manipulating public opinion. Going back to the days of tobacco companies denying smoking causes cancer, they learned to develop a network of "manufacturers" (i.e., to manufacture doubt), "spreaders" (to get the doubt out there), and "repeaters" (to saturate the blogosphere with misinformation). This process was described earlier.

The misinformation process is often employed to spread their own non-science opinions, other non-peer-reviewed and unsupported blog posts, and the occasional paper they get through the peer-review process. But it works also when they want to spin (i.e., misrepresent) the findings of actual real scientific papers by actual real climate scientists. Such is the case this past week when the blogosphere became saturated with a false conclusion drawn from a presentation made at the Royal Astronomical Society meeting held in Wales.

One paper - not yet published or peer-reviewed, merely presented at a scientific meeting for discussion - noted that the study authors used a model that concluded solar activity conditions by the 2030s could be similar to the solar activity conditions experienced during the Maunder Minimum. That was the extent of their conclusions.

The Maunder Minimum was a period of time popularly linked with the "Little Ice Age," a perhaps overzealous term given to a period of excess cooling in some parts of the world (mainly the UK) from around 1550 to 1850.

But here's the thing. The authors of the study didn't say temperatures would be the same; they said solar activity conditions could be the same. In actual fact, the processes warming our climate system are so extreme these days that even the same solar activity conditions couldn't possibly drop our temperatures to that of the Maunder Minimum. We've actually already been in a period of low solar activity for a while now, and temperatures continue to get hotter.

So here is the tactic: Denier lobbyists and their media partners take the study findings and then wildly extrapolate far beyond anything the study authors said or the study shows. Suddenly the "similar solar activity conditions" are transmogrified into the falsehood "predictions of another Little Ice Age." There is absolutely no basis for this extrapolation, and is contradicted both by the evidence of the study they claim said it (it didn't) and the evidence of multiple other studies that show continued - and even expanded - warming for the foreseeable future.

Let's reiterate to make the tactic clear to all:

1) Grossly misrepresent the study being cited, often ignoring the actual conclusions and other evidence, to create an unsupported and inaccurate misrepresentation (i.e., fairy tale) of the study.

2) Get an accommodating media reporter to present the gross misrepresentation.

3) Ensure the gross misrepresentation is spread wide and far on the lobbyist-fed media and ideologically plagiarized blogosphere.

The key to this strategy is to saturate the internet and media with the false story line and to keep people from reading the actual study and actual results and actual conclusions. Since most people don't have access to the original study (especially since it hasn't even been published yet), it isn't hard to spread the fairy tale version in its place. Climate denier lobbyists know this, and they exploit it.

So now everyone is getting the false information rather than the real information. Eventually the deception of the deniers is revealed but the denier lobbyists don't care because they've already achieved their goals. They know none of their ideological followers will care that the falsehood has been debunked. In fact, they know that their followers will claim any debunking to be part of the "global conspiracy" by all the world's climate scientists for the last 100 years. Yes, the lobbyists relish the fact that they can manipulate their followers so easily.

For the rest of us, however, it's important to keep debunking the falsehoods and to keep exposing the tactics used by lobbyists and their partners in collusion to mislead the public and influence policy-making. Such is the goal of this series on exposing climate denialism.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Communicating Climate Science - The Series

A few months ago I published a series of posts on communicating climate science, and science in general, to three target audiences. Because of its popularity I've decided to create this compilation article to bring all of the articles in the series to one place.

The first post began by summarizing the four steps most scientists go through to produce the science to be communicated: Do research, Analyze the data, Attend scientific conferences, and Publish in a peer-reviewed journal. [You can read more about the peer-review process in last week's article.] But communicating the science takes more than getting the word out to other scientists in your own field, so this first post also introduced the idea of there being three distinct target audiences with whom scientists need to communicate. They were 1) Scientists in other fields, 2) Policy-makers, and 3) the Public. Communicating to each must be done in different ways.

In the second post I examined how climate scientists can reach out to scientists in other fields. While training in other sciences makes it more likely these people can understand a more technically-based discussion, they may still not be familiar with the very specific technical jargon that springs up in every profession. Thus, this article offers some suggestions as to how to reach out to other scientists.

The third post of the series looked at how climate scientists can communicate the science to policy-makers. We all know that science doesn't always drive policy, even though it should. Politicians and regulators have to work within an environment that is both political and beset with broader stakeholders. Which is why it is so critical for scientists to make sure policy-makers have a correct understanding of the science, and why the should be held accountable for using the correct science for making policy. [Hint: Tossing snowballs to deny climate change is not using the correct science for making policy.] Among other communication tips is reaching out directly to constituents.

The final post - and perhaps the most important of the series - looks at how scientists can communicate the science to the public. While the most critical, it is also the one that most scientists probably have spent the least time trying to do. Frankly, it's hard not to fall back on jargon no one can understand, or provide so many details that the eyes of everyone in the room start to glass over. This article gives some useful tips on how to reach out to the public, including speaking at libraries, clubs, schools, and churches; making yourself available to the media; teaching a MOOC; and even becoming the star of a TV show (or more likely, your own YouTube channel).

Each of these posts provides additional tips and links to more information. While we scientists tend to get lost in our "ivory towers" (or more accurately, basement laboratories and mud-filled field sites), it's critical that we take an active role in making sure the three audiences - other scientists, policy-makers, and the public - understand the science so they can make informed decisions.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

How Scientific Peer-Review Works - The Series

Earlier this year I posted a series of articles explaining what scientific peer-review is, and what it isn't. The series was very popular so I've decided to create this single post that links to all the previous ones.

In Part 1 we gave a basic definition of peer-review, described the process, what it is expected to accomplish, and what it is not expected to accomplish. In a nutshell, scientists conduct research and then write that research up in a formal paper (including methods, results, how the statistics were done, conclusions, and some discussion of what it all means). The paper is then submitted to a scientific journal, whose editors send it out to other scientists in the field who are capable of reviewing it for clarity, content, and value to expanding our collective knowledge. The reviewers don't validate or invalidate the work, just make sure it meets some basic scientific principles and complete enough for others to 1) know what the researchers did, and 2) replicate it.

Part 2 looked at how peer-review can go wrong. Standards for scientific journals can differ, with some being akin to Ivy League colleges while others may be less stringent. The relatively rare problem of "pal-review" (common among climate deniers) was examined, as was the difficulties caused by some (but not all) of the new "open access journals."

Part 3 looked at some people who have intentionally abused the peer-review system. In addition to the other points point in the article, it also highlights a prime example of intentional abuse - the pal-review case in which Willie Soon and Sally Baliunas were paid to write an error-filled "review paper" (i.e., no new research) that was spearheaded through a suspect review process at a policy journal notorious for printing faulty (see "error-filled") papers by climate deniers funded by industry lobbyists.

The final article, Part 4, examined how the internet (which is not peer-reviewed) has been used by climate denier lobbyists to bypass the peer-review system. One tactic used is posting something on a blog that would not withstand the scientific scrutiny of peer-review, then citing it as if it were valid science. Another tactic is to take any paper that did get through peer-review (which, as Part 1 noted, is only the first, most basic review) and then promote that single paper as if it overturns 100+ years of unequivocal science and the more than 100,000 other peer-reviewed papers that demonstrate the single one to be wrong. As already noted, most denier papers don't stand up to even minor scrutiny.

The sum of these four articles, along with many other articles here on The Dake Page, provide a good background on how scientific peer-review works, what are its limitations, and how some lobbyists have tried to abuse or bypass completely the process. Be sure to follow the links in each article to sources and further information as these help flesh out the points made.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Katharine Hayhoe at the Citizens' Climate Lobby 2015

This week the Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL) held its 6th annual International Conference in Washington, DC. The keynote speaker was Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. In addition to being a climate scientist, Hayhoe is an evangelical Christian, which generally would be irrelevant to the discussion except that she, with her husband, pastor Andrew Farley, wrote A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions. The fact that most religions have acknowledged the science was emphasized this past week with the release of the Pope's climate and environmental encyclical last week.

Dr. Hayhoe offered several valuable points during her presentation, several of which are worth expanding upon.

Most scientists are conservative: Conservative in the true sense of the term, not the hijacked definition of "conservatism" that is prevalent in today's political circles. Scientists, and science in general, are inherently conservative. Science is built on incremental gains in knowledge derived over time from thousands of scientific studies looking at ever smaller pieces of the puzzle. With respect to climate science, rather than be "alarmist" (as climate deniers falsely claim), scientists actually have traditionally downplayed the risks from climate change. In fact, as more and more data are collected, and as we see climate change impacting Arctic sea ice, land-based ice sheet melting, and other visible signs of change, the data have clearly shown scientists that have been underestimating the dangers.

Scientists are hesitant to speak out: Historically, scientists have tended to stay in their "ivory towers" doing research, either in the laboratory or out in the field. They have left the communication of the science to others (e.g., journalists, teachers), and done the same for policy decisions (policy-makers). Part of the reason is that policy-making isn't particularly interesting to scientists, but part of it is because scientists have been so often attacked for simply documenting the science. You can ask Galileo about how trying to communicate science worked out for him, or in more recent times you can ask climate scientists like Ben Santer, Jim Hansen, and Michael Mann, all of whom have been viciously and falsely attacked by climate denier lobbyists.

The data are out there: One common fallacy is that the public will understand the need to take action if only we can just get more of the science to them. While communicating science to the public can often be difficult, the problem isn't a shortage of information or the lack of trying to get it across. Just in the last two years there have been a swarm of "state-of-the-science" reports, including (but not limited to) the IPCC AR5, the US Climate Assessment, a National Academy of Science/Royal Society report, and many others. All have the same basic message:

"warming of the climate system is unequivocal" and "human influence has been the dominant cause of the warming."

So the public has the information it needs to understand. Many do understand, while others either are too busy living their lives to care (which is perfectly fine) or choose to deny the science (which is not fine).

Many politicians are lying to their constituents: This may not be exactly how she phrased it, but it means the same thing. There are politicians who privately understand that human activity is warming the climate system but don't dare admit it in public. She says this is not uncommon. We know, for example, (my own example, not mentioned by Hayhoe) that Senator McCain had sponsored the cap-and-trade bill advocated for by Republican politicians, only to withdraw (and even deny ever having given) his support when the "tea party" screamed "socialism" (apparently forgetting it was a Republican proposal based on free market principles). A few current presidential hopefuls also suggest (in private) that they would acknowledge the science if they could do so without being attacked by their own party. But they deny it in public. To me this disqualifies them to be president.

This last point is the crux of the problem. No matter what scientists do to communicate the science to the public and to policy-makers, it is ultimately the responsibility of our elected officials to construct and pass policy action. President Obama has been doing what he can within the authority of the Executive Branch, but more comprehensive solutions are needed...and those solutions require Congressional action.

Which gets us back to CCL. The entire purpose of the Citizens' Climate Lobby conference in Washington DC is to engage in meetings with policy-makers. Citizen volunteers from around the country meet with staff and lawmakers to both educate and to learn how we can get honest and earnest discussion of policy options to deal with the unequivocal science. If you attended, please feel free to leave a comment about your experiences. If not, check out the Facebook page and website.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Pope's Climate Encyclical and Why Climate Deniers are Their Own Worst Enemy

It should go without saying that when you deny reality long enough, eventually reality makes you look foolish. Climate deniers have been denying the science behind man-made climate change for so long that they have lost even the illusion of credibility. They have become their own worst enemy, and as such have put themselves on a path of complete irrelevancy.

Deniers have chosen this path, of course. By blatantly denying even the most basic science and by egregiously promoting the most obvious and ludicrous falsehoods, deniers have marginalized themselves to the point of inconsequentiality. Deniers now find themselves being taken as seriously as Donald Trump's presidential run. Yes, they have become that buffoonish.

And alone.

Deniers used to hide behind ideological blinders, seeking protection for their anti-science beliefs in the arms of "conservatives," the "religious," and "Republican" comfort groups. Now deniers find themselves in a category among themselves. In contrast, intellectually honest and informed people who identify within these traditional labels no longer provide cover for denial.

Religions do not condone denial of the science

This point is brought home as Pope Francis, leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, issues the Vatican's papal encyclical on climate change and the environment. [Here is a summary of the main points; and here is the full letter, in English] In it the Pope acknowledges the unequivocal science demonstrating human activity is causing our climate to warm, and that the changes observed and coming present a significant risk to humanity.

Let me stop here and reinforce this to make it clear, because this is a point that climate deniers have intentionally tried to confuse as they attack the Pope. What the encyclical does is acknowledge the 100+ years of peer-reviewed climate science, which unequivocally demonstrates humans are warming the climate system. Climate deniers have falsely stated that the Pope shouldn't be "doing science" because he isn't a scientist. But the Pope isn't "doing science," he's simply acknowledging the science done by climate scientists and documented in tens of thousands of peer-reviewed papers. So where the Pope (and the scientists of the encyclical that reviewed all the evidence) acknowledge the science, those attacking him are denying the science.

The point is that the Vatican is actually paying attention to the science, something they have been rightly criticized for not doing in the past and on other issues. Acknowledging the science is happening also in other religions and religious leaders. There are strongly Christian climate scientists, for example, who recognize that religious beliefs and the scientific reality of man-made climate change do not conflict. All religions have come to understand that the science is the science, and that their religious beliefs include stewardship of the environment. Denial of the science is shirking the moral responsibility to shepherd God's creation. Thus, deniers cannot pretend to be following religious principles. In fact, religions are leaving deniers behind.

Conservative principles do not condone denial of the science

Climate deniers have also shrouded their denial under the mantle of "conservatism." But that's false. Conservatism actually would acknowledge the science and protect - conserve - our resources and our planet. Deniers who hide behind their "conservatism" are actually false conservatives. Honest conservatives recognize that real conservatism includes stewardship. It also means looking at the evidence and acknowledging realities, then taking steps to honest dealing with those realities. Real conservatives don't let their blind ideology stand in the way of action. Real conservatives support "meaningful solutions," they don't deny reality in an effort to avoid having to take responsibility for offering those solutions.

Republican beliefs do not condone denial of the science

Many deniers seem to think they can hide their denial behind the "Republican" party mantra. That again is false. In fact, deniers are not listening to their own Republican scientists. Despite the usual blather from deniers that climate science is a "liberal hoax," climate scientists come in all flavors of political identity. Kerry Emanuel, Barry Bickmore, and others are Republicans despite and yet are also highly respected scientists doing climate research. Even looking beyond that, Republicans in the past have often been in the forefront of protection our environment. It was Nixon who created the Environmental Protection Agency, a constant target of modern "Republicans." Just recently it was John McCain, the 2008 Republican nominee for president, who was leading the Republican efforts to pass sweeping legislation to encourage renewable energy development and deal with climate change.

All of these demonstrate that climate deniers, while they still claim to be under the umbrellas of conservatism, Republican, or religious principles, are in actual fact separate from all of those.

Deniers, through their increasingly obvious dishonesty and denial of even the most basic scientific fact and physics, have ostracized themselves from the realms of credibility. Religious principles dictate the opposite of what deniers claim. Conservative principles also dictate the opposite of what deniers claim. And whereas Republican principles dictate taking responsible action to conserve our environment, Republican deniers have made denial of the science a parlor game in which they are so stridently buffoonish that it is clear to everyone that they are being blatantly dishonest for their own personal ambitions and the benefit of the fossil fuel and extremist right wing lobbyists who finance them.

Which gets us to the future. Climate deniers have become their own worst enemy by so intentionally and demonstrably given up all illusions to honesty. Will they eventually realize this and stop being so dishonest and buffoonish? The answer is no. If they stop, they will by definition cease to exist. But more importantly, they have invested so much into their fantasy world where they think dishonest denial is acceptable within religious, ideological, or party frameworks, they (i.e., deniers) will simply slink away into oblivion, eventually resurfacing to deny they even denied in the first place.

Because that is what deniers do.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Book Review - The People's Republic of China/Chemicals by William J. Kelly and Chip Jacobs

An important book, poorly written. The People's Republic of China Chemicals purports to reveal how the offshoring of American manufacturing to China helped China become the most polluted country on the planet. It does achieve that goal, though perhaps in spite of itself. While the title suggests a discussion on chemicals, the vast preponderance of the book is focused on the massive air pollution problems in China. This isn’t surprising given the authors’ previous collaboration, a book about the smoggy days of Los Angeles.

The early chapters provide some historical background on China’s dynastic rule and frequent invasions by the Japanese, the British, and others, as well as its own political infighting. Their overly rosy characterization of Mao’s various attempts to control everything once he and the communists took over is somewhat naïve – or at the very least, incomplete – but they generally capture the essence of how China came to set itself up as the world’s factory. The authors’ explanation of how entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) and various bilateral and multilateral trade agreements spurred the rapid growth of industry and economy, while perhaps overly rancorous, is well done.

In short, the book documents through rapid-fire detail and personal anecdote the rise of Chinese manufacturing and with it the extraordinary increase in coal-based pollution. The authors relate how bad the air pollution has become, and the subterfuge of the Chinese government to deny its existence even as giant screens in Tiananmen Square broadcast barely visible images of splendid panoramic vistas through the gritty air. The book does a good job of showing how China periodically shut down industry and banned automobiles in an effort to clear the air, usually when foreign dignitaries were in Beijing for meetings, during the 2008 Olympics, and for other events in which foreign media were present. Finally, near the end they discuss chemicals other than smog, though only superficially. They also touch on some attempts by China to do something about a problem they recognize but can’t solve alone. This last point deserved much more attention than it got. Still, the information they present is important for all of us to know and understand.

The biggest negative about the book is the writing. It often appears that the two authors each took the lead on different chapters. Some chapters are clearly written and eminently informative. Other chapters are so full of hyperventilating prose seemingly more interested in hearing its own breathless recitation of a thesaurus than communicating the information. In fact, these chapters and sections contain so many clichés (sometimes not even getting them right, e.g., “pedal-to-the-medal”) and bombastic turns of phrases that half the sentences carry no meaning whatsoever.

That said, the basic message, though too often lost in the laborious, self-indulgent writing, is that China became a cesspool of pollution in part because of our offshoring of manufacturing jobs to them. With global warming and prevailing air currents, that pollution is coming back to haunt us. So as difficult as it sometimes is to get beyond the verbal gymnastics, the book is still a worthwhile read.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Debunking the Rare Published Climate Denier Paper - Monckton edition

Climate deniers rarely publish papers in scientific journals for the simple reason that they rarely do actual research. Instead, deniers prefer to write Op-Eds in business magazines and newspapers, or offer themselves as pundits on cable media, or just write on blogs. None of these is peer-reviewed, so they can say pretty much anything they want. In rare cases, however, deniers will publish in a peer-reviewed journal. When they do, the published work never stands up to scrutiny. Never.

One recent denier paper caused an uproar because it claimed to overturn decades of actual climate science research, specifically arguing that climate models "run hot," that is, that models show greater future warming than warranted. To no one's surprise, the paper has now been soundly debunked. While once again deniers' claims are found to be false, the episode provides a good illustration for people who want to assess the veracity of denier claims.

First, assess the scientific backgrounds of the authors of the study. The denier study is authored by Christopher Monckton, Willie Soon, David Legates, and William Briggs.

Monckton is not a scientist, and worse, has been repeatedly found to have lied about what scientists and their studies say. He also has been told by the British House of Lords to stop referring to himself as a member (he isn't one).

Soon is an aerospace engineer with a long history of providing denier "deliverables," i.e., publications that meet the needs of his fossil fuel funders. He has co-authored at least three papers that have misrepresented the science.

Legates is a geography professor who often co-authors papers with Willie Soon and other climate deniers.

Briggs somewhat ridiculously calls himself as "statistician to the stars." [Or perhaps, "numerologist to the stars."]

All of these authors are also affiliated with various climate denial lobbying organizations such as the Heartland Institute. None of them does original climate science research.

Second, assess the quality of the journal. As noted in an earlier post, quality standards in journals can vary. In every field there are journals that are considered to be preeminent, and other journals that are considered second tier. The better journals tend to be more stringent in their peer-review process since they normally receive many more submissions than they have room to publish. The journal for the Monckton et al. paper is a new Chinese journal called Science Bulletin, which most climate scientists had never heard of prior to the right wing promotion of the Monckton et al. paper. That doesn't necessarily mean it is a bad journal, but it does suggest that Monckton and his co-authors (and their corporate promoters) had to search around for a journal whose standards were low enough to allow publication. Deniers, again on the rare occasions that they publish in a journal at all, generally find that only obscure or lower tier journals with limited or no peer-review standards will allow them to pass the first step in the review process. This is why so many denier papers are published in the British policy journal E&E, which is specifically focused on publishing denier papers that can't pass basic peer-review.

Third, assess the quality of the paper. Aye, there's the rub (to paraphrase Hamlet). Whereas it's difficult enough for the public to adequately assess the authors and the journals, it's even more improbable that the public can assess the veracity of the science supposedly being presented.

This last point is worthy of elaboration. Deniers count on the public not being able to evaluate the science. After all, climate scientists, like other professionals, spend many years in specialized education and work experience learning how to do research and evaluate the research of others. That is why deniers so rabidly use their lobbying organizations and paid bloggers to seed the internet with their talking points, knowing that the ideologues will plagiarize and saturate the blogosphere before the paper can be debunked, which it is every single time.

Fourth, assess whether the paper has withstood scientific scrutiny. Whenever a single paper claims to overturn the state-of-the-science based on 100+ years and 100,000+ papers, it's a good bet that the single paper is wrong. Sure, single papers can sometimes catch things others missed, but to overturn that much science it will take thousands of other studies confirming that single paper before we can be assured of its veracity. So if a paper makes what appear to be outrageous claims, search to find out if scientists have debunked it already. While the rebuttal paper described in Nuccitelli's article will invariably take some time to come out, there usually is some discussion of papers on various blogs. Which gets us to the last point.

Fifth, assess the trends of the authors and organizations involved. In other words, know who can - and cannot - be trusted to provide honest information. The public needs to make an effort to be informed about who are the paid deniers and the lobbying organizations that support them. Given that these deniers have long histories of misrepresenting the science, the public can safely assume that anything and everything these people and groups produce will be false. In this case, all four denier authors are from the usual small cast of deniers who constantly offer up unsupportable opinions. All four are associated with denier lobbyists. And the methods of the paper clearly show that they concocted model inputs that are contradicted by actual data and evidence. No wonder their results are unsupportable - they ignored real data and just make stuff up.

It's critical that the public knows who are scientists and who are lobbyist spokespeople. All four authors of this particular paper more close resemble spokespeople than scientists. If they want to be scientists then they have to do actual research and produce actual scientific papers that stand up to scrutiny, just like all legitimate scientists have to do. Alas, they don't. Nothing they have produced ever stands up to even the slightest scrutiny. And it isn't just a case of being wrong, it's a case of consistently misrepresenting the science and intentionally cherry picking the information to reach a desired conclusion. Every single time.

Since the public isn't likely to start reading highly technical scientific journal articles directly, it's important to learn which sources are reliable and which are not. 

I'll have more on the methods of real scientists vs deniers in future Exposing Climate Denialism posts.