Guest post : Watt about a mole at Al Gore’s course?

Recently Anthony Watts published a guest post by someone who claimed to have been a mole in Al Gore’s Climate Leadership Training. As you might imagine, the mole is quite critical of Al Gore’s climate leadership course.

I was contacted a few days later by Amy Huva, who works in the environmental sector in Vancouver Canada, with an offer to write a response to the mole’s comments. I agreed and the response is below. I was a little uncertain at first given that Amy has referred to the mole as a “denier” and it’s a term I’ve tried not to use. I decided to go ahead anyway, largely because this is Amy’s response not mine, I’d rather publish a guest post unedited than insist on changes, and a bit of controversy might be interesting. Also, the word “denier” isn’t really pejorative, it just means to deny something – in this case anthropogenic global warming – for which there is extensive evidence. I also should add that this guest post was not solicited, I don’t know Amy and Amy does not even know who I am. This is also a first for me, so I’m keen to see how this goes.

It hurts the deniers feelings when we call them that – A response to the ‘mole’ at Climate Leadership training

Apparently last week at the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Chicago, someone turned up to be a climate denier ‘mole’ at the sessions. I was also at the climate leadership training last week and had quite a different experience – not sure which table he was sitting at!

He criticised the crowd for being ‘super-liberal Kumbaya’ and on that I would agree with him (although he misspelt kumbaya). Environmentalism has a reputation for being hemp-wearing hippies and there were definitely a few of those at the training, however as for his claim of ‘carefully timed applause’ – seriously? There was no-one telling anyone when to clap, not even in a ‘make some noise!!!!’ NHL-style.

Yeah, it had a bit of an evangelical feel to it occasionally that some of us on the Canadian table didn’t feel comfortable with, but that’s also what happens when people are really passionate about something. Unless they don’t get that excited at the Heartland conference???

He complained about ‘lumping data together’ year by year or decade by decade. I’m not sure how many statistics courses this guy took in school, but that’s how you can see a long term trend rather than variability. That’s how we can see climate from the weather and how climate science works. You need 30 years of data to determine climate.

The reason Gore mentioned that urban heat island effects and measurement inaccuracies are minimal is because they are. As technology and monitoring systems have gotten better and scientists have gotten more skilled at minimising error margins, the data has gotten more accurate. Yay for progress in science and technology!

FYI in case the mole was checking his twitter feed when Gore went through the linking of CO2 and temperature – he actually said that the relationship is coupled. That one or the other can lead. It’s a two way street, not a one way street, and paleoclimate research into previous mass extinctions have shown that.

The denier mole apparently didn’t like the use of the word ‘denier’ to describe him and his cohort who cherry-pick data to disprove reality. Awww. Maybe we could come up with a different name – data cherry-pickers, variation nit-pickers, fossil fuel defenders? And I’m sure they never engage in name calling either, right?

According to his post, the denier was hoping for something ‘new’ in the presentation. I’ve got bad news for him – the body of scientific evidence around climate that has been solidly building studying the changes in our atmosphere and biosphere are not new – they’re continuing. They’re continuing in the same way that was projected in the 1980s by Dr. James Hansen and are honed through the scientific method.

There was a comment at the table I was at that the training didn’t mention ocean acidification, which is certainly a very important issue. But this was not a science training session – this was a science communication session. It was about learning how to communicate more effectively.

As for the denier’s question at the end of his post about the ‘faked’ Climate 101 video my response is: really? You’re that worked up about whether a video really did the experiment while they filmed it or not?

It’s a pity that the denier wasted his time and money to go to a conference that he’d already decided was BS simply so that he could sniff around for evidence of ‘brainwashing’ the new ‘Gore-bots’. For my part I thought the three days of training were excellent. There were some really practical suggestions on presenting the work of the Climate Reality Project, and on ways of communicating – even with people who disagree with you. Also, I went to the ‘Pro Snow’ winter breakout session which was great – I even got to meet an ex-Olympian.

Good luck on your ten acts of climate leadership over the next year!

Amy Huva is an environmental chemist and writer in Vancouver, Canada. She runs the blog Read the Science and also writes for the Vancouver Observer.

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35 Responses to Guest post : Watt about a mole at Al Gore’s course?

  1. islomane says:

    I wish I could read the Climate Denier’s original post. Like you, I eschew the label “Denier” as serving no great end in the end. But certainly there is a special reservation for a mole like this. I’ve never been one of Al Gore’s “groupies” or “Gore-bots”, but the man is just downright impressive: his well-honed communication skills rival those Bill Clinton’s and he’s a man of science, the caliber of which I hadn’t appreciated until now. Which are really the reasons a climate denier like this mole are running scared. They know that the truth is gonna hit hard.

  2. Unless it’s not working, the link at the top of the post is to the mole’s post at WUWT. I agree that what seems to be happening now is an indication that those who reject the science associated with global warming are finding it harder and harder to argue about the evidence and so revert to ever more absurd strategies.

  3. Bob says:

    When I saw the title of your post I assumed someone had found a mole (Talpa europaea) on Al Gore’s golf course, thus (of course) proving that global warming is a big hoax.

  4. To be honest, it wasn’t intentionally, but when I noticed that someone might have interpreted it this way, I decided to leave it as is 🙂

  5. Steve Bloom says:

    And the mole has now been suitably whacked. 🙂

  6. dana1981 says:

    WUWT just gets increasingly juvenile. Hacking photoshopped joke photos from SkS, now a ‘mole’ at an open-to-the-public conference. Whoopdy-doo.

    I love what a big deal Mr Mole makes about the lack of new technical information. It’s a climate communications conference, not a climate science conference. Al Gore isn’t a climate scientist. If you expect groundbreaking science from this conference, or if you criticize it for lacking information well outside its scope, you’re delusional.

    FWIW, from what I’ve heard the conference was quite good.

  7. CTL says:

    Having attended as well, I take issue with the comment “He criticised the crowd for being ‘super-liberal Kumbaya’ and on that I would agree with him.” This misrepresents those in attendance. At my table were business sustainability managers, scientists and educators – none of which I would have termed “liberal”, but rather realistic. I ran into some who identified themselves as independents and even a couple who identified themselves as republicans, but they did add that they were conservationists and also realistic.Now it is true that the “liberals” might have been louder, but that is to be expected. The crowd was a nice mix from all walks of life and both sides of the political spectrum. However it is important to point out – this is not a left or right wing; liberal or conservative; democrat or republican issue. This is a human issue and one that is going to take all of us to solve.

  8. Thanks for the comment. I certainly agree with the latter part of your comment. It is important and it should be an issue that we’re all concerned about. As I said above, this is Amy’s piece and not mine, so maybe Amy will comment on why she said what she did. Amy does go on to say “there were definitely a FEW of those” so certainly wasn’t claiming that everything was in that category. Also, when I read that section I thought that maybe Amy was simply trying to find something about what the Mole had said that she could agree with. It was presumably quite difficult and so maybe this was the best Amy could do 🙂

  9. NikFromNYC says:

    “The denier mole apparently didn’t like the use of the word ‘denier’ to describe him and his cohort who cherry-pick data to disprove reality. Awww. Maybe we could come up with a different name – data cherry-pickers, variation nit-pickers, fossil fuel defenders?”

    Gavin Schmidt has words about her flip snark:

    http://tinypic.com/player.php?v=2lsehp2&s=5

    The central thing skeptics indeed “deny” is the now falsified but still hushed up fact that all climate alarm pivots around a highly speculative supercomputer model assumption that water vapor vastly amplifies (3X) the traditional greenhouse effect. All misleading innuendo about how skeptics deny the basic high school level physics of the greenhouse effect itself represents lazy, self-defeating slander that very much helped us skeptics take away exactly 50% of your former political support. With the NSA scandal now brewing, next us nerds will capture the hearts and minds of the geeks who are mostly Democrats but whose core privacy based activism is highly libertarian, as I very well know since way back in the 90s I was -=Xenon=-, founder of The Macintosh Cryptography Interface Project, a port of PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) to the Mac. This gives me more street credibility with geeks than you can possibly imagine from the greenie bubble you inhabit here and on your PR firm owned blogs.

    Global Warming evolved into a collective scam based on agenda driven R&D funding that punished any and all dissent at the level of a witch burning Inquisition, with you guys (and gals) shaking holy water flasks at us.

    -=NikFromNYC=-, Ph.D. in carbon chemistry (Columbia/Harvard)

  10. bg says:

    I did one of the first Gore training sessions, #5 in January 07. I’ve obviously got well over 400 of his slides on my computer.

    I tell the deniers, that he’s got the science right. If they think he doesn’t, I tell them I’ll go $100 a slide, on whether they are scientifically correct or not.

    I figure I could use $40K extra to fund my retirement. So far, no takers, they refuse to put their money where their mouth is 🙂

  11. All I can say is, Wow!

  12. NikFromNYC says:

    Shake it, baby:

  13. bratisla says:

    Damn, now I will have to up the ante and manage to let a post like that go through “skeptical” sites.
    Level : god if it allows me to get a guest blog post.

  14. bg says:

    wonder if this is the same one getting h/t’s from that denier clown goddard at realscience

  15. Possibly. I presume the Stephen Goddard you mention is the one who thinks that the high temperature on Venus is simply a consequence of the high atmospheric pressure.

  16. BBD says:

    That’s the spirit. Force the discussion to the science and insist that the contrarians make their case. Otherwise they will play the defamation-as-misdirection game ad nauseam.

    After all, physics doesn’t care if Al Gore is fat.

  17. BBD says:

    To be quite clear, that’s a meme.

  18. bg says:

    Yep, they say they want to deal in facts. then you ask for facts, and suddenly they go quiet.

    right now they are going bat shit crazy over that artlcle in the danish paper.

  19. bg says:

    so, are we conflating global warming and the government spying on the general public?

  20. NikFromNYC says:

    Here is how I nearly single handedly converted most conservative blog owners into data competent skeptics after Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck initially got their attention after Climategate: for about eight months I followed most every climate news story back in 2010 based on Tom Nelson’s skeptic blog and also Google news related stories and I commented on each story including blog posts about them and I included quick links to single glance infographics, especially simple plots of the few very old real thermometer records that exist and a simplification of the NOAA’s own plot of the global average temperature, both of which show that recent warming has near perfect precedence:

    I indeed recently hung out on Goddard’s site and spent considerable outspoken effort to reign in his shock jock tactics since prior to the Big Brother scandals his Nazi analogy posts and liberal bashing were severely alienating social libertarians. He’s a country boy who hates city folks, hopefully not so badly now though.

    -=NikFromNYC=-

    P.S. When I ran into this blog a couple years ago I recorded a first impression at the real WUWT site: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/06/15/quote-of-the-week-collapse/

  21. bg says:

    one and the same. the same one who picks one (1) tidal gauge, and uses that data to say that sea level rise does not exist, etc., etc., etc.

    Actually it’s more of a right wing anti-Obama site than anything else.

    I got banned because I said he’d picked enough cherries the start a cherry pie business.

  22. > Gavin Schmidt has words about her flip snark: […]

    Indeed, if her flip snark was meant as a conversational marker, it would be a dud. Which is not what her flip snark was about, i.e. it serves to describe “them”, not to talk to “you”. This use could make sense to the Gavin I’ve just listened to.

    I’ll repeat that “denier” is suboptimal. And for =Xenon=, I think “son of Chuck Norris” should be more appropriate.

    As a geek, I can only thank you for your concerns.

  23. NikFromNYC says:

    The blog owner here has moderated out my long reply, bubble boys.

  24. No, I’d gone to bed and it went into moderation because of all the links.

  25. I have a sneaky suspicion you have confused me with Wottsupwiththat. I appreciate that my blog name is similar, so partly my fault for not making myself sufficiently distinct. I only started this 5 months ago, so you really couldn’t have run into it a few years ago.

  26. Frankly, I’m amazed some of the posters on WUWT have time for anything else. Or the energy – they’re so full of spite, bile, anger, and paranoia it’s unreal!

  27. I suspect that there is one person in particular that springs to mind. If Anthony doesn’t like me writing this blog, he can partly blame those on WUWT who behave as you describe above.

  28. Yes, I can think of one particularly SHOUTY individual!

  29. I suspect we’re thinking of the same particularly SHOUTY person then 🙂

  30. Now, as for someone who really is worthy of the term “denier”, I submit Dana Rohrabacher, who is a member of the US House Science Committee. Here is a video clip of Rohrabacher in action last week during a town-hall meeting in a wealthy suburb of his Orange County (California) district: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0Dqi5tX-SY

    Watch the whole thing and consider the implications of having a global superpower’s science policies at the mercy of this guy’s delusions.

    In parts of Orange County, you will find lots of rich folks who, frankly, aren’t very bright — they are Rohrabacher’s base of support.


  31. Here is how I nearly single handedly converted most conservative blog owners into data competent skeptics…

    Knowing how to “cherry pick” data from individual locations does not a competent data analyst make.

    Folks, if you really want to see how robust the global-warming signal is — with raw or adjusted/homogenized data — download the Global Temperature Virtual Machine at tinyurl.com/NASA-HANSEN4. It’s a big download at about 530 MB, but it includes an entire “virtual machine” that automatically launches a global-temperature computation program that is married to a user-friendly Google-Map front-end — the virtual machine contains all the temperature data and software you need, all ready to go in a near “plug-and-play” package. With the app, you can click on stations and “roll your own” global temperature results with stations that *you* choose.

    Follow the straightforward instructions provided at the link on the right side of the download page. The app will run on any newer (5 years old or newer) Windows or Mac with at least 2 GB memory. You can set it up and run it with just a series of mouse-clicks per the instructions provided.

    What you will quickly discover is that even though you can “cherry pick” individual stations that don’t show recent warming to be the strongest (per nick’s tricks above), once you average together a few dozen stations scattered around the world, the global-warming signal will “jump out at you”.

    In fact, for time periods where you have at least 30 or so stations scattered around the world, your own results — with adjusted or raw data — will line up nicely with the official NASA results (which are plotted for comparison purposes).

    The app implements a very “dumbed down” version of the NOAA temperature anomaly gridding/averaging routine. The basic algorithm is simple enough to teach on-the-ball to first-year programming students. Even so, it will produce global-average results that are amazingly similar to the official NASA results — even from *raw* temperature data.

    But don’t take my word for it — download it and try it yourselves. But be sure to read through the “quickstart” section of the documentation at the very least.

    And a final note — don’t let anyone try to “pull a fast one on you” by conflating temperatures from an individual location with a true global-average temperature record.

  32. Tom Curtis says:

    For less informed readers, pay attention to what Caerbonnog writes. He was at the forfront of recent attempts to find out just how few temperature records it is necessary to use to match the “official” global warming indices. He knows that approximately thirty stations, chosen at random and evenly scattered over the Earth will do the job because he has done it repeatedly. He also knows that the temperature adjustments make little difference to the overall result because he has compared raw and adjusted results. Playing around with his app will leave nobody with an open mind in any doubt that NicfromNY is practicing the art of the cherry pick.

    Caerbonnog discusses an earlier version of his app here, including graphs of some results.

  33. Tom,
    Mucho thanks for the shout-out.

    And now for some additional “backgrounder” comments re: the global temperature work.

    I was just one of a number of folks (professional and amateur) who decided to take a crack at the temperature data in the wake of all the “climategate” temperature data manipulation claims.

    The folks who tried “rolling their own” global temperature results coded up algorithms ranging from sophisticated (Tamino, Nick Stokes) to simple (mine). We all got very similar results (some differences in the year-to-year “wiggles”, but we all nailed the long-term temperature trends “dead on”).

    Not a single person who actually rolled up his/her sleeves, wrote data-crunching code, and then crunched the data found any problems with any of the results published by NASA/NOAA/CRU — in fact, every single person who published his/her own “hand rolled” global temperature results ended up confirming that those evil climate-scientists had gotten it right all along.

    And as for confirming global temperature results from as few as 30 stations, IIRC that was originally done by members/colleagues of the RealClimate team. My contribution to that end was basically a “me too” effort. 😉

    After I found out how easy it was to confirm the NASA/NOAA/CRU global temperature results, I got to thinking about how to put together a package that someone who wasn’t a hard-core Unix command-line nerd could easily use.

    The package had to meet the following requirements:
    1) I could actually do it 😉
    2) It wouldn’t cost me any money (wasn’t going to shell out $$$$$ for something like Visual Studio).
    3) It had to be easy to install/run on most Laptops/PC’s (Windows or Mac).
    4) No software licensing issues — I wanted something that could be given away with “no strings attached”
    5) It had to run fast enough for interactive use on even the cheapest laptops/PCs.

    After quite a bit of head-scratching and fumbling around, I ended up cobbling together (with a combination of my own code and code that I borrowed from others) a Google-Map javascript front end (code borrowed and modified), TCP server socket code (again, code borrowed and modified), my original “simple” global temperature app, and the free GnuPlot scientific plotting package. For me, the easiest way to get it to “run everywhere” was to bundle it up into a virtual machine with the help of Oracle’s free VirtualBox app.

    Anyway, confirming the NASA results ended up being the easy part — figuring out how to bundle up the software so that others could actually use it was much more work.

    For those who are interested, the package is free for anyone to download, use and share. It’s still a bigger download than I’d like (virtual-machine images tend to be kind of big). But I did get it down to where it doesn’t take too long to download (about 15 minutes over my 2nd-cheapest-available DSL connection), and will easily fit on a CD.

    Folks should feel free to share the package with any students/science-teachers/etc. who might find it useful.

  34. I started watching that and then couldn’t finish. It was just a bit too much to put myself through.

  35. Pingback: Guest post : Watt about a mole at Al Gore’s course? | Amy Huva

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