Deniers still ranting like street-corner prophets

Peter Jackson
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You have to wonder what the weather is like over at the National Post.

While the rest of the world continues to warm at an unprecedented rate, the forecast at Canada's No. 2 national paper hasn't changed in years: dense fog with scattered drivel.

I refer, specifically, to the unscientific ramblings of one Lawrence Solomon, the climate change denier primarily famous for writing a book about other climate change deniers.

Not everyone at the Post seems to be breathing the same air. Columnist Andrew Coyne certainly seems to understand the science behind global warming. Not so Lorne Gunter and Rex Murphy.

Murphy, Newfoundland's home-grown truth-stomper, loves to take on climate science. In Murphy's world, climate is best gauged by sticking one's hand out the car window.

In his column last week, Murphy takes an easy potshot at Al Gore, emulating countless other skeptics who specialize in shooting the messenger. Al Gore is a hypocritical and irrelevant, he says.

Murphy blasts The Globe and Mail for running a feature on Gore. What he doesn't realize is that the piece is an anomaly.

The only people who harp on Al Gore these days are the deniers. Most of us have moved on since then.

But it is Lawrence Solomon's relentless rain dance around the facts that really galls.

A case in point: an April blog post singling out one isolated statistic about Arctic ice cover from one isolated point in April.

"Yesterday, April 14, the Arctic had more sea ice than it had on April 14, 1989 - 14.511 million square kilometres vs. 14.510 million square kilometres, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) of the United States, an official source," wrote Solomon.

Well, whoopity do dah.

In fact, the NSIDC reported that peak winter ice in the Arctic was reached a full month earlier, on March 15.

"This year's maximum ice extent was the sixth lowest in the satellite record (the lowest maximum extent occurred in 2011)," the centre reported. "The 10 lowest maximums in the satellite record have occurred in the last 10 years (2004 to 2013)."

The beginning of the ice melt stalled briefly in early April, triggering the one insignificant piece of data Solomon picked up.

Solomon cites another statistic that's a little harder to track down: "Over the last two months, more of the Arctic has been frozen over on average for this time of year than during the decade starting 2000."

His source, a website called Arctic Sea-Ice Monitor, is credible, but the statistic he derives from it is elusive.

He makes no mention of summer melts, which continue to set records every year. Nor does he say anything about the difference between old ice and new seasonal ice. In short, Solomon doesn't seem to have any grasp of statistical trends and how they work.

Worse, he and Murphy, among others, seem confused about the difference between climate and weather.

Here's a refresher course: weather is a snow storm; climate is the long-term trend of snowstorms combined with every other weather event.

And here's another truly sad thing. Canada's Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver reportedly doesn't pay much attention to advice from real scientists.

In an open letter last week to the minister, Jim Hoggan of DeSmog Canada noted how, in a recent scrum, Oliver cited scientists who consider global warming fears to be "exaggerated" - yet he couldn't name one of them.

"It turns out one of your key information sources is controversial author Lawrence Solomon, a climate-change denier who, by the way, isn't a scientist," Hoggan wrote.

Mind you, this is the same minister overseeing possible oil exploration in an ice-free Arctic.

You can't make this stuff up.

Peter Jackson is The Telegram's commentary editor. Email:

Organizations: National Post, National Snow and Ice Data Center, Globe and Mail Arctic Sea-Ice Monitor

Geographic location: Arctic, Canada, Newfoundland United States

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Recent comments

  • Colin Burke
    May 17, 2013 - 12:15

    No, Winston, to forbid industrialism is not to take us back to the caves, or at least forbidding what I mean by the word "industrialism" would not do so. I sort of have to use "industrialism" to mean "production and transportation by fuel-powered means" because no other short term is handy for that at the moment. Under that definition, industrialism is immoral because it defies the moral principle that persons deserve the effects of what they do, which is a standard accessible to reason that has little or nothing to do with natural limits to exploitation of natural resources or any other limitation merely physical. I object, for instance, to travelling by gas-fuelled motor vehicle because no one actually does that vehicle's moving, so that no one deserves to benefit from that, as one deserves the benefit of riding a bicycle because one actually does what causes the bike to move; all one deserves by turning an ignition key is that the key be turned, not that gas combust and wheels revolve. If someone actually did what caused the generation of electricity to power an electric motor, then the benefit derived from using that motor would be deserved, or more nearly deserved, and so would be deserved the jobs of persons who performed the movements necessary to generate that electricity. An economic system can consist in a complex and highly convenient pattern of real actions offering much comfort to most without being what I perhaps misleadingly have called "industrial." The main objection to what I have called industrialism therefore is that it relies not enough on what people can do and too much on what can be induced to merely to occur. Another objection is that habituating people to controlling mere occurrences makes them think they can control everything which merely occurs, including what ought to be left merely to occur, like changes in the weather. Also, I almost suspect that some nasty people are trying to learn how to "prevent harmful climate change" because that would entail learning to control the weather absolutely, for good or ill. I know that sounds like "conspiracy theory," but I also have a notion that the only thing that would prevent some such theories from being true would have to be sheer honesty or lack of cunning in all who might be tempted to conspire for their own benefit to the detriment of others.

  • Ed Power
    May 16, 2013 - 20:07

    I can only assume that "LIVEFREENL"must be"living free in an alternate NL in alternate universe, as it is quite obvious that he isn't living on this planet. In that universe, "Cui Bono" refers to the agencies and scientists working in labs, universities and research institutions around the world with limited funding, and not the people who own and profit from the oil and coal extraction industries, fossil fuel burning factories and utilities, the (de)forest industry and automobile manufacturers. It doesn't refer to the millions of tons of carbon and other pollutants spewed into the atmosphere each year; or the 7 billion people - and growing - who farm, fish, drive, travel and cut down forests or burn oil and coal to cook, eat and heat their homes. It also doesn't refer to the millions of tons of sewage, industrial waste and garbage dumped into the oceans each year which poisons the water, increases water temperatures, alters ocean currents and fresh/salt water cycles and kills the vital planktons which absorbs CO2 and recycles it into oxygen. What a strange universe LIVEFREENL lives in, where ignorance is worn as a badge of honour. Unfortunately, trying to reason with people like LIVEFREENL is pointless. As Mark Twain so pointedly observed, "Never argue with stupid people. They will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience".

  • Just sayin
    May 16, 2013 - 15:57

    And what happened to all that Artic ice that used to come to Conception Bay most every spring? Whether getting colder you say? And 4 ft frost in the ground in the winter is now 6 inches. Some people are just so smart to deny the warming. they must work for the oil companies

    • david
      May 17, 2013 - 12:22

      You've been here for 40 or 50 years tops, paid sporadic attention for just the most recent 10 of that......maybe.....and you have the temerity to handpick a couple of dubious issues of interest and opine definitively on the historic state of the that's arrogance.

  • LiveFreeNL
    May 16, 2013 - 11:29

    It’s not just Rex Murphy and the Post who are talking about the fact that “Global Warming” is a sham… As a matter of fact they don’t even call it “Global Warming” anymore. Now it’s shifted to “Climate Change”. They realize that since the earth has been cooling for the past 10-plus-years it’s kind of hard to sell “Global Warming” to anyone with an IQ above room temperature and who's paying attention so they have shifted to “Climate Change”. Now there are a bunch of other mainstream sources admitting the truth. They include Forbes, Der Spiegel, the Guardian, the Daily Mail, NASA, and on and on. They realize the jig is up and scientists are fleeing the sinking ship trying to salvage some of their credibility. People aren’t buying the nonsense. They have asked themselves “Cui Bono?” And the answer to that question is obvious. With governments and the UN spending billions of dollars trying to prove “Global Warming/Climate Change”, people realize it’s a big money maker for the alarmists. Al Gore’s pocketed hundreds of millions since leaving political office, and the recipients of the billions of dollars of grants the government is paying out are not trying to find the truth about “Global Warming”, but simply to prove that it exists. Is it any wonder that “scientists” come out with studies that support the fraud when that’s exactly what they are being funded to do… to the tune of 10 figure sums? Hardly. We have heard that snow should already have been a thing of the past. As it turns out this past winter has seen some of the coldest weather and most snow in decades in the US, China, Russia and all over the world. We have been told that it’s a warming stratosphere that causes these extremely low temperatures. We have been told the heat is hiding at the bottom of the sea. I just read another article that said it will now take 6 more years before the effects of “Global Warming” are apparent at all. Meanwhile NASA says we are experiencing another “Mini Maunder” type of cooling event. The Climategate emails have proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that the top climate research institutes have conspired to hide facts that disprove “Global Warming”. Courts have found and ruled that Al Gore’s doc is full of lies. A British court just recently declared in a ruling that belief in “Global Warming” was accorded the status of a religion. Yet anyone who speaks up and says, “Wait a minute!” is akin to a street corner profit? I guess we are all supposed to believe that the only way to solve this “problem” is to pay into a global tax on the very substance we exhale that goes exactly where the rest of our tax dollars go, straight into the pockets of bankers, corporate execs and climate investors like Al Gore. Surely that will make everything better. Wake up, Jackson. Turn off your TV and do some real research. Here, let me start you off… "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed -- and hence clamorous to be led to safety -- by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." H.L. Mencken said that. Look him up; you might learn a few things that every member of the fourth estate should know.

    • Peter Jackson
      May 16, 2013 - 15:16

      LiveFreeNL: Without belabouring every statement you've made here, let me just address one. The term "climate change" was coined by Frank Luntz, who was then a pollster working for the Bush administration. He urged Republicans to push that term instead of the more alarming "global warming." The fact is, both terms are interchangeable. One focuses on the variability, the other on the overall trend. It had nothing to do with scientists trying to water down their own findings. Quite the opposite. And Luntz actually now accepts the evidence for human-caused climate change/warming.

  • Colin Burke
    May 16, 2013 - 08:49

    I'm not sure how valid this view is, but it seems to me that the defect in the "climate-control" position is that the climarte controllers want to regulate the emission of pollutants instead of forbidding what emits them: "Man's power over Nature means some men's power over other men with Nature as the instrument." I would prefer to see industrialism forbidden as morally reprehensible -- that is, unjust -- rather than regulated in pettifogging detail to "keep it safe."

    • Winston
      May 16, 2013 - 10:25

      Colin, to forbid industrialism is to take us back to the caves, is it not? Nature has limitations on abuse, and respect for those limitations by international regulation seems to be the correct way. I suggest industrialism becomes a moral issue when the limitation of nature and abuse of our environment exceeds reasonable limits. If one person pees in a large pond, it does little harm, but there is a limit where it becomes immoral. Knowing and respecting those limits is key.

  • Petertwo
    May 16, 2013 - 07:19

    What I object to is the air pollution and and the fact that the deniers believe they have the right to invade my body with their chemical pollutants, from which, on spaceship earth, there is no escape. Why are these pollutants not cleansed before being discharged? At a cost to the polluters. Plus their destruction of the forests, destroying the lungs of the earth. The seas slowly dying with their pollutants, corals are dying, plankton exposed to UV's and chemicals, bees, frogs and toads dying out et cetera et cetera. All under the guise that is good for us!

  • Ed Power
    May 15, 2013 - 19:32

    Not good, Peter, you've drawn the attention of Joe Oliver's minions. Sadly, they don't understand that there isn't anything to debate. On the one side you have the weight of scientific evidence from across a number of disciplines - geology, chemistry, physics, biology, climatology, anthropology, archaeology and various other fields. On the opposing side - Stephen Harper, Joe Oliver, Peter Kent, the Koch Brothers, the Oil Industry, the Coal industry, religious nutters who think that Jesus will fix it upon his return, Alex Jones, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh......Some debate.

  • waynemoores
    May 15, 2013 - 15:55

    Well Mr Jackson. I assume from your extreme doomsday vision that you wish the Nfld. offshore oil production and exploration and all other oil production in Canada to be shut down immediately as we are in immediate danger of wrecking the planet. I guess we should all go back to living the way people were living in Nfld in the 1880's, staving and freezing to death. Well pal, doesn't look like you missed a meal lately so you first. I guess it's up to valiant crusaders, like you and Crazy Lizzie to save us all. On a parting note your biblical like pronouncement that the world is warmer than it's ever been is nonsense. Even the high priests at the IPCC admit there has been no warming for the last 15 years. That darn mother nature didn't get the memo I guess. All this hysteria is based on modelling which has not panned out, no matter how many docudramas and books Al Gore peddles to keep the lights on in his four, that's right FOUR mansions. Your over the top rant sounds like someone desperate to get on the eco gravy train rather than a newspaper editor. Your nasy attack on Rex Murphy sounds juvenile and envious. I had no idea journalistic standards had sunk so low

  • david
    May 15, 2013 - 15:37

    ...By the way, Al Gore IS hypocritical and irrelevant. He has made $200 million since his stint as a monumental political failure, a very big chunk of it by selling his thriving (wink, wink) media outlet to middle-eastern buyers whose financial resources were, are, and forever will be, derived entirely from selling oil. Gore pillories Canada's oilsands but he has no problem laundering the money of its direct competitor for his own profiteering... a real hero. It's not exactly an intricate spiderweb of inferences that a reasonable person has to come up with to see the hypocrisy and conflict-of-interest in Gore's vilification of Canada's oilsands vs. his plain "business is business" attitude towards the "so-much-more-wonderful" Middle East oil. Oh, and that 20,000 sq ft. mansion Gore lives in? ...cue the crickets.

  • Winston
    May 15, 2013 - 14:58

    For the Nfld context on global warming, I would suggest two things:1. imagine a conversation between Rex Murphy and Capt Bob Bartlett of Brigus as to the state of the Artic ice and loss of the ice shelves up north, and see Rex deny the changes in the last 100 years. Of course , to imagine such a conversation, one much know the history of Bartlett and his struggles in the ice now disappeared.. 2. That one should look up the Nfld salt water temperatures and see that it has dropped considerably in the last 3 decades, enough to make it unpleasant for cod and caplin to prosper but ideal for scrimp and crab. And rationalize where all this cold water melt from the Labrador sea is coming from. Rex Murphy would deny decades and a century of data by saying "yes , but last week we had a one day record high temperature" and use that BS to counter a century of data to the contrary. Rex confused weather with climate, and the ignorant believes Rex on that issue, as often BS can baffle. If Rex has intelligence, and I suppose he has, it is in short supply on the climate issue. Science says we have now reached 400 ppm for CO2,( up from 350 ppm just 30 years ago) the highest in 800,000 years, and climbing at a much faster rate than 3 decades ago. Scientists are something like 99 percent in agreement on global warming. I guess Rex would debate every one of them, with a tangle of large and unfamiliar words that would make them unable to respond, making Rex the winner of the debate. I wish Rex was right. It is easier to abuse our environment than protect it.

    • david
      May 15, 2013 - 15:44

      "Imagine a conversation...." "Rex Murphy would....". So you "make up" events and thoughts on behalf of Rex Murphy, and then critique them. Compelling stuff.

  • robert
    May 15, 2013 - 13:23

    to the author: when someone uses terminology such as "denier" it is obvious that the person does not want to debate. The purpose of such polarizing language is to STIFLE debate. Now the question is whether the author is aware of this, or whether he's an ignoramus.

  • david
    May 15, 2013 - 13:12

    An article full of bullying, dismissiveness and hyperbole. If global warming is so singularly true, why is it that its supporters always turn up the hate so high? Fox News vs. Obama....same deal. Good company, eh? Rex doesn't ever scream and rant to get his points across...funny thing, intelligence. For such a fool, he sure can make his point much better than "enlightened" ones like Petey here.

  • david
    May 15, 2013 - 12:48

    I'm not a climate change denier...the climate changes. Fine. But if it's so damn obvious that we're causing it, why is it that all the academic research geniuses who conclude "the truth" so easily and clearly cannot present the untampered, undoctored, unfalsified proof ? Why, with the power of "undeniable reality" on your side (henbce the bullying slur "denier"...namecalling which is in every other aspect of life now verboten), would anyone stoop to lying or rigging data, as has been done and exposed countless times from several "scientists" ? Funny thing, that. As far as Peter Jackson goes..... another relevant topic for a column for the local Newfoundland audience. Keep up the ...well, whatever this is.

  • Too Funny
    May 15, 2013 - 11:28

    Opinions are fine as long as they agree with ours.

  • Oxford wants its scholarship back
    May 15, 2013 - 10:31

    Yes every time I read a Rex Murphy column, I have the urge to post an apology for the fact he comes from Newfoundland. In the time it took Murphy to switch from far left-leaning liberal to extreme right wing conservative, most of us would have whiplash. My guess the pay is better and there is more opportunity for advancement.

    • david
      May 15, 2013 - 12:55

      If given a choice between Rex Murphy's intellect, power of reason, and ability to come to a very persuasive, extremely well-informed and -presented opinion, or anyone who posts quips anonymously on the Telegram's messageboard.....well.... And BTW, I'm glad to know you're "ashamed" of Rex. Says a lot.

  • Ed Power
    May 15, 2013 - 09:39

    "That is the delicate balance the Secretary of the Interior must have: to be the steward for the natural resources for this generation as well as future generations. I do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns; whatever it is we have to manage it with a skill to leave the resources needed for future generations." - James G. Watt, during testimony before the House Interior Committee, February 1981. It is no coincidence that the amount of land leased to coal mining companies quintupled during his term as Secretary. Thirty years later, and our own Canadian versions of James Watt are in charge and, judging from the policies and pronouncements coming out of Ottawa, we should be expecting the Lord by Canada Day.....