tiny man, huge megaphone

ShutterstockIf only they would shut up.

Watch out: A tsunami of stupidity is due to crash over the world next Friday.

That’s when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will release a summary of its big new climate assessment report, the first since 2007. But that’s not the stupid part.

A global campaign funded by fossil-fuel interests has been steadily building to discredit the report. That’s where the stupidity comes in. From The Guardian:

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Organisations that dismiss the science behind climate change and oppose curbs on greenhouse gas pollution have made a big push to cloud the release of the IPCC report, the result of six years of work by hundreds of scientists.

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Those efforts this week extended to promoting the fiction of a recovery in the decline of Arctic sea ice.

The IPCC assessments, produced every six or seven years, are seen as the definitive report on climate change, incorporating the key findings from some 9,000 articles published in scientific journals.

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Climate deniers are pushing their messages out through blogs as well as old-fashioned outlets like the Daily Mail. From Skeptical Science:

Like the way a picnic on a sunny afternoon in August tends to attract lots of annoying wasps, major events on the climate change timeline tend to see certain contrarian figures and organisations dialling up the rhetorical output.

This is frustrating yet it has over the years become quite predictable: arguing with some climate change contrarians is similar to attempting debate with a well-trained parrot. Imagine: the parrot has memorised some twenty statements that it can squawk out at random. Thus it will follow up on ‘no warming since 1997’ with ‘in the 1970s they said there’d be an ice-age’ and so on. Another piece in the UK-based Daily Mail’s Sunday edition of September 8th 2013, written by a figure familiar to Skeptical Science readers, Mail and Vanity Fair journalist David Rose, gives a classic example of such parroting. There’s another in the UK’s Daily Telegraph along remarkably similar lines (it could even be the same parrot).

Meanwhile, the Koch-funded Heartland Institute has already published a compilation of lies in its own preemptive report. Its “experts” are so desperate to get their climate-denying messages out that they would probably turn up at your kid’s birthday party if you asked them nicely enough.

The news here is predictable but not terrible. Scientists and activists are doing better jobs of organizing communication strategies in the face of anti-science blather. From Inside Climate News:

Dozens of prominent scientists involved with drafting IPCC reports formed a Climate Science Rapid Response Team that punches back against misleading claims about climate research.

Kevin Trenberth is part of that team as well as a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and an author and editor on the forthcoming IPCC report. He explained that nearly every time there is a scientific paper linking man-made carbon dioxide emissions to climate change, the “denial-sphere” immediately responds with accusations that the research is wrong.

“The scientists get nasty emails. Certain websites comment. … So a bunch of us formed this rapid response team to deflate these arguments.” The group has been very busy in recent weeks.

Although those who make a living by denying climate science are screaming as loudly as ever, most people are getting better at tuning out their histrionics. Again from the Inside Climate News article:

Cindy Baxter, a longtime climate campaigner, said she thinks climate skeptics “are getting more shrill, but getting less notice,” because Americans are more convinced that global warming is real.

“Hurricane Sandy. Droughts. Flooding. Wildfires. People are feeling the effects of climate change. That makes it harder to deny,” said Baxter, who is also a co-author of Greenpeace’s new report Dealing in Doubt, which chronicles the history of climate skeptic campaigns. Polls say a larger majority of Americans from both parties see recent waves of deadly weather as a sign of climate change.

Unfortunately, this denier campaign will be around for a while. The IPCC report due out next Friday is just the first of four scheduled to be released over the coming year. Maybe after the final one comes out, the denial pushers will finally potter off to find new work, perhaps as baby-seal clubbers, orphan poisoners, or textbook reviewers for the Texas State Board of Education.