On the face of it, Al Gore conducting a global warming conference during a blizzard a few years ago looked bad.   But maybe it was a teaching moment.

The weather has always had swings and separating weather from climate is a key aspect in understanding why (a) pollution is bad and (b) we should have less of it, even if the weather is nice.

Chris Mooney, writing on desmogblog.com, starts off the discussion of a recent UCS press conference rather poorly when he notes "The Union of Concerned Scientists, a group I greatly admire..." - really, journalists wanting to advocate good works and good works organizations are a huge chunk of the reason why 50% of the educated world shuts down when they see articles on global warming.(1)  People do not feel like journalists are trusted guides any more but are instead framing science to suit their beliefs. 

After making the gaffe of injecting himself into the story (I know, I know, it's his blog, he can do what he wants) he recovers nicely and notes that a key reason why people conflate weather and climate and basically believe what they want about climate change is confirmation bias, the tendency for people to interpret information in a way that confirms preexisting beliefs, like that Democrats are pro-science and Republicans are not.

And then there's this pesky business about more snowstorms four years after Al Gore said global warming would be rampant in 10 years.

The confusion is understandable.  UCS and Al Gore and others spent a great deal of media time pushing global warming.  When that turned out to be not so...errr...global, and not so warm, it became climate change.  And then climate instability.   Next they can just call it Smurf or Jobs Created Or Saved, or some other term which means basically anything you want it to mean.

He cites one UCS detractor, Marc Morano, and in the piece he (or if there are editors over there, they) cleverly link to their own Marc Morano hit page, and note that he worked for James Inhofe and Inhofe got $1 million from the energy sector and therefore Morano can't be right about anything (the worst sort of logical fallacy) and therefore his criticisms of UCS have no merit.(2)

Well, UCS gathered more in donations last year to promote global warming all by itself than Exxon gave to 43 groups in the previous 10 to refute it, so if money invalidates knowledge then there is no 'Scientist' in the UCS name beyond just that, the name.  They are instead a PR group.

Obviously I can't fault Mooney or the blogsite for their take on this - they exist to have that take, like we exist to do science and point out when partisans are using science for their own ends - and Mooney writes there because he will write predictable things, like Morano will do at ClimateDepot.com.

Somewhere in the middle of all that is truth and it's unfortunate more people cannot find it without being hit over the head by politicos pretending to be science writers - the truth is, this is a physics issue and it is happening.     There are twice as many people today as when I was born and they all have to be fed and that takes machines and trucks and cows and wheat and producing all that generates emissions.  If you have ever had a party in your house and put 15 people in a room, you know it got warmer and you had to open a window.

It isn't the hysterical 'we are doomed if America doesn't stop driving cars' silliness you see in some circles, but it isn't going away either.    We need a better way to feed people and get them from place to place and give them better lives than what current methods allow for today.

In that sense, I don't think the UCS was wrong for noting that climate change could lead to wilder swings in the weather.   Yes, correlating the two, after scientists (well, real scientists, not the UCS kind) spent all this time separating climate and individual weather events, may have seemed like a bad idea but noting that these events are linked and it might be nice to have less dramatic events is a wise thing to do when people are throwing out their backs shoveling snow. 


(1) Mooney is more columnist than journalist so we can give him a break.  His claim to fame among progressives is a book called "The Republican War of Science" and that is really only akin to journalism the way Keith Olbermann's show is; it feels vaguely science journalism-y, if you are a Democrat and want to sneer at Republicans, but only works if you ignore obvious facts like that almost the entire anti-science anti-vaccine community votes Democrat, along with the anti-agricultural movement, the people who want to ban circumcision, the anti-biomedical activists, etc.

(2) And they are not fooling around.  In true "icy chill" fashion they make no secret about threatening anyone who detracts from their message:
DeSmogBlog thoroughly investigates the academic and industry backgrounds of those involved in the PR spin campaigns that are confusing the public and stalling action on global warming. If there's anyone or any organization, ( i.e. scientist, self-professed "expert," think tank, industry association, company) that you would like to see researched and reported on DeSmogBlog, please contact us here and we will try our best.
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