Climate Denialists At it Again – Creating a Fake Quote to Misrepresent an Interview by Phil Jones

Filed in Gather Politics News Channel by on February 15, 2010 0 Comments
The climate denialists just can’t seem to help themselves.  The latest lie is to completely misrepresent an interview given by Dr. Phil Jones of CRU fame.  They even went so far as to create a fake quote that they attribute to Dr. Jones. The quote goes “There has been no statistically significant global warming since 1995″ or alternatively, depending on which denialist blog you read, “”There has been no global warming for 15 years.”

Except Phil Jones never said it.

But nothing the denialists have ever said has been true, so why should this be an exception.
The interview was published Saturday February 13, 2010.  You can read the actual and complete published Q&A here.  According to the lead-in, “[t]he BBC’s environment analyst Roger Harrabin put questions to Professor Jones, including several gathered from climate sceptics.”
The quote being attributed to Dr. Jones does not appear anywhere in the article.  In fact, the quote was created by the denialist industry by writing the sentence they wanted to see and enclosing it in quote marks.  Again, what does that tell us about denialists that they are always deceitful in how they present the information?

The article is interesting in the sense that several of the questions were geared to get the answers the interviewer wanted to get, on the order of “do you still beat your wife.” He admits that some of the questions were “gathered from climate sceptics,” which explains why some of the questions are faulty. Whether the interviewer did this intentionally, or due to lack of understanding of the science, or as an unwilling lackey for the professional denialist crowd is unknown.

Still, Jones answered the questions accurately even with their faults. Specifically to the fake quote, Jones was asked “do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming?” He, of course, responded accurately by saying “Yes, but only just.” And then went on to explain his answer with the context that is needed to understand it completely. The denialists have chosen to extract the one part of Jones’ explanation that they could then apply their predetermined storyline to, even to the point of fabricating a “quote” to say what they wanted to say, even though Jones never said it.

What Jones did say is that there was a positive warming trend during this period, just not statistically significant.  He indicates that the positive trend was very close to the significant level, but just missed it.  In other words, another point or two and it would have been statistically significant.  Statistical significance is a stringent mathematical function and doesn’t mean that something isn’t happening, just that it didn’t meet the very tight mathematical controls for defining it as statistically significant.

Jones goes on to explain that achieving statistical significance is more likely at longer intervals and that the interval in the question was too short. He reiterated this in other questions, that the time periods are too short to achieve statistical significance.  In other words, looking at such artificially short time frames isn’t very meaningful.  In fact, if one looks at the graph of temperature rise (see below) it is easy to see that there are lots of times when the temperature seemed flat or even decreasing in the short term.  So cherry picking one small period of time isn’t science, it is cherry picking.
http://media-files.gather.com/images/d583/d233/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg
See it larger here.
To reiterate, keep in mind that there is considerable short-term variability. Just look at the graph above of global mean temperature and you can see that it bobs up and down like a rubber duck in a bathtub. But you’ll also see that the trend has been clearly going up for the better part of the last 50-100 years, i.e., the duck is bobbing but the bathtub is filling up more and more. And at some point it will overflow and it will be too late to turn off the tap. The short-term changes reflect short-term impacts of things like El Nino and La Nina (among others); the long-term trends reflect the totality of all forces on the system, and it is clear that the totality of all forces is significant global warming and other climate change effects. There is no disputing this.

In fact, despite the denialist cherry picking and misrepresentation, the following is Jones’ full response to the question “How confident are you that warming has taken place and that humans are mainly responsible?” To which Jones replied: “I’m 100% confident that the climate has warmed. As to the second question, I would go along with IPCC Chapter 9 – there’s evidence that most of the warming since the 1950s is due to human activity.”

So what does this tell us?  It tells us that the planet has continued to warm and that the current decade was the warmest on record.  And it also tells us that denialists will stop at nothing to misrepresent the science and the scientists.  Seriously, what does it say that the denialists created a fake quote – complete with quotation marks – after pulling a piece of Jones’ comments out of context and applying their own meaning that ignores everything else he said? Why the deception? Why not simply report the question, the full answer, and explain it accurately?

Well, because that is what denialists do.

Note that this article is now located in a group called “Exposing Climate Denialism – A Guide to Tactics and Tall Tales,” located at climatelies.gather.com.  Please join the group and set settings to receive new articles when they are posted.  The group also includes an archive of past pasts.

For those interested in knowing the truth about climate change, please check out my group The Truth About Global Warming at climatetruth.gather.com.


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If you want to reach me, try here: http://www.davidjkent-writer.comAnd here: http://hotwhitesnow.wordpress.com/David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity, published by Sterling Publishers and available

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