Global Warming Is No Laughing Matter

The next time some media member says something stupid like "the global warming debate is over," or "the science is settled," consider the firestorm that was set off by a tiny NewsBusters article playfully titled "Clean Air Causes Global Warming, Global Warming Causes Smog."

Although it is now two weeks since this was first published, folks at NewsBusters and RealClimate -- as well as an "esteemed" NASA scientist -- continue to bicker about its contents and meaning.

In fact, as of Thursday evening, NASA's Gavin Schmidt was still battling to make his point:

I have never insinuated that Sheppard didn’t know what photochemical means. I have merely pointed out that he doesn’t understand the differences between ozone and aerosols, or tropospheric and stratospheric ozone. And now you are blaming Reuters for you and Sheppard’s inability to read more than two lines in to an article.
If the "debate was over" and the "science settled," why would one of the world's leading climate alarmists be arguing "the differences between ozone and aerosols, or tropospheric and stratospheric ozone" with strangers, while trying to make the point that someone he's never met or spoken to is unaware of such distinctions due to poor reading comprehension skills?

Considering the hundreds of articles I've written concerning the way anthropogenic global warming is being reported around the world -- including numerous exposés about how the NASA unit Schmidt works for might be involved in manipulating temperature data -- it seems extraordinary that a somewhat satirical, 577-word frolic - with almost half consisting of quotes from cited sources - generated so much discussion and consternation.

After all, it should go without saying that if you can't see the irony in one study claiming cleaner air in Europe is largely responsible for rising temperatures, and another concluding that global warming is increasing smog, you must either be too close to this subject or completely lacking a sense of humor.

That "clean air" and smog might be scientifically unrelated in technical terms is irrelevant. Probably less than five percent of the world's population knows the difference between the two, and likely less than one percent can explain the disparities between photochemical smog and smog.

Moreover, probably less than one percent understands that aerosols in the air refer to particulate matter and not what comes out of their Right Guard cans.

Yet, those familiar with my writing and fastidious attention to research and detail are well aware that I am part of the knowing percentages estimated in the preceding paragraphs.

This, in my view, made the Reuters and NewScientist pieces, and their timing, so ironic as well as newsworthy from a media analysis perspective. After all, NewsBusters is INDEED a media analysis website.

Yet, this seemed lost in Schmidt's July 12 RC posting wherein he referred to my article as "nonsense," "boneheaded," "foolishness," and "dumb," while concluding that for me "complexity is something to be abused rather than a challenge to be understood."

All that anger over a 577-word trifle that comically concluded with the much-quoted punch line of a 1970s margarine commercial - "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature" - which even included a link to a video of the ad so that people who didn't remember the reference could get the joke?

C'mon! Even if humor isn't your strong suit, how much "complexity" would you expect from a 577-word article anyway? After all, it took Schmidt 922 words to debase it -- not to mention the time he and his followers have devoted to trashing it and me since his piece was posted -- and frankly, I don't think he did a very good job.

Now, almost two weeks later, this item that probably took me all of ten minutes to put together -- and required less functioning brain cells than what are supposedly destroyed by consuming one domestic beer! -- has taken on a life of its own as evident in a recent RC comment by Schmidt himself:

My point in the above piece was that Sheppard didn't know what he was talking about, and yet saw fit to pontificate at great length on the perfidy of scientists.

Great length? The non-quoted text in my "pontification" amounts to 292 words. To loosely paraphrase Jack Palance in the hit 1991 film "City Slickers" (admittedly a stretch, but what I'd like to say might be inappropriate for a family website!), I've had belches last longer. If this is what Schmidt considers great length, it further brings into question the veracity of his infamous climate models which are so at the foundation of the entire global warming myth.

As to perfidy, if Schmidt thinks my introductory quip "In today's 'People Can Prove Whatever They Want If They Really Try Hard Enough' moment" rises to the level of accusing the folks involved in these studies of perpetrating a fraud, he's lacking signficantly more than a sense of humor.

Does this mean I am employing the John Kerry botched joke defense? Not at all, for there was a serious point attempting to be made amidst the levity.

But, those that couldn't detect the obvious comedic bouquet - assuming, of course, they even read the article in question, and didn't just take Schmidt's debasement as gospel - should ask themselves "Why?"

After all, this was clearly an opinion piece intentionally lacking "complexity" designed to tickle the intellect...if not the intellectual.

For instance, wasn't this Swiss study fascinating in that it found Europe's clean air efforts resulted in at least 50 percent of that continent's 1°C rise in temperatures since 1980?

Wouldn't that mean that less than half of the warming in Europe during this same period could possibly be attributed to rising CO2 levels if such was your wont? With this in mind, how much of America's rising temperatures since the mid-'70s could be traced to her efforts to eradicate pollution?

Think about it: If American and European desires to clean their respective air have INDEED resulted in higher temperatures in both regions, mightn't this be a factor to consider as it pertains to global warming?

Schmidt dismissed this in his hit piece on me claiming Europe isn't the globe. An RC commenter supported his position by stating that since Europe only makes up five percent of the earth's total landmass, its numbers are irrelevant in determining a global average.

Not to pick nits, but Europe's landmass is actually 6.8 percent of earth's non-water total. Now, throw in the U.S. - the third or fourth largest nation (up for dispute) behind Russia and Canada - and if its temperature increases since 1980 are also more a result of its anti-pollution efforts than rising carbon dioxide levels, isn't this important? Or, are temperatures in America and Europe really too small a percentage to be concerned with as it pertains to global warming?

As I pointed out in my July 18 piece, regardless of the percentages involved, if this Swiss study is right, rising temperatures caused by cleaner air on any part of the planet do indeed increase the average. The idea that folks are contesting this - here goes my overblown sense of humor again! - is rather hysterical.

What I also seem to be alone in finding fascinating is the possibility that our efforts to protect ozone and reduce smog - whether aerosols are involved or not! - might have led to cleaner air which has warmed parts of the planet and potentially resulted in, according to the EPA, increased photochemical smog.

Schmidt scoffed at this. And yet, as I demonstrated in my July 18 piece, in America the legislation enacted to comply with the Montreal Protocol - the Clean Air Act of 1990 - did INDEED result in cleaner air here and NOT just reductions in ozone depleting sources. As it is possible that other nations around the world also used Protocol compliance to further their anti-pollution efforts, it is by no means farfetched to suggest that the Montreal Protocol resulted in cleaner air in some parts of the world and NOT just a reduction of CFCs.

Yet, two weeks later, Schmidt is still fighting this issue :

Hmmm.... so let's see. Perhaps Sheppard's use of the term "chicken and egg conundrum" is unfamiliar to you? It refers to something (X) causing something else (Y) which goes on to cause X over again. What are the somethings to which Sheppard refers?

In an interesting chicken and the egg conundrum, scientists in America claimed Thursday that global warming causes smog.

So, cleaning the air causes global warming - which ends up leading to higher levels of smog?

It's pretty clear from this sentence that Y="global warming". X is first "clearing the air" (referring to the reports on the GRL aerosols paper), and yet at the end, X is clearly 'smog' (referring to the press about the EPA ozone report). So if Sheppard is not equating the two, perhaps you would care to explain what is chicken and what is egg? It can't be aerosols, because the EPA report does not suggest the warming increases aerosols. And it can't be ozone because ozone is a greenhouse gas and clearing it from the air would lead to a cooling not a warming. Do please enlighten me.

Let me try, Gavin: you're looking at this like a Vulcan and NOT a human being. The entire flight deck of the Enterprise is laughing their heads off as the credits roll, and you're frowning at the camera because the punch line was "illogical."

Imagine for a moment -- if it's at all possible! -- you're NOT a climate modeler trying to spread global warming hysteria around the world, and, like probably 99 percent or more of the population, you don't know the intricate scientific differences between clean air, dirty air, aerosols, smog, and photochemical smog.

Under this scenario, here's the chicken and the egg conundrum that should be tremendously obvious -- as well as FUNNY! -- if you weren't working so hard to defend your dogma: air dirty; man cleans air; cleaner air causes global warming; global warming causes smog; air dirty again.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Is this scientifically accurate? No, but that wasn't the point, and those suggesting it was are either doing so disingenuously to discredit a writer that has suddenly become a threat to their cause, or are so lacking a sense of humor that they should do us all a favor and stick to reading technical papers and journals.

When all the aerosols clear, my July 11 article was intended to make people smile while they think. It appears the contentiousness surrounding this debate makes this as tough for some as walking and chewing gum at the same time.

For what it's worth, I also find this extremely amusing, and aren't the slightest bit concerned if I'm doing a Billy Idol impersonation...with apologies in advance to those that don't get that joke either.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.