The Climate Show #2: Oreskes and the Merchants of Doubt

Cracking episode of The Climate Show this week, featuring a must-listen interview with Naomi Oreskes discussing the background to her book Merchants of Doubt. The people who attacked her 2004 paper on the scientific consensus about global warming didn’t know what they were letting themselves in for. Also in the show: excellent infographics, Arctic warming bringing colder winters to the northern hemisphere, European biofuels, John Cook of Skeptical Science discusses the new Twitter bot that auto argues with denier tweets, electric cars again, and steady state economics. Not wide-ranging at all, really… 😉

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The Climate Show

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Show notes below the fold.

For the interesting temperature graphic, see this post and follow the links therein.

Climate Vulnerable Forum held in Kiribati — small island states prepare “Ambo Declaration” for delivery to UN meeting in Cancun in December
Island life, covered by Bryan Walker here and here. Kiribati government climate change site here.

The steady loss of sea ice in the eastern Arctic could produce significant changes in the region’s atmospheric circulation, possibly resulting in a period of colder winters in the planet’s northern latitudes, even as the global climate warms, according to a new study. Via Yale e360.

The first independent analysis of Europe’s biofuel plans to reduce greenhouse emissions by 2020 has reported the plans may, in fact, produce more emissions, not less. In order to grow crops for biofuel along with Europe’s food, millions of hectares would need to be cleared, releasing more than twice as much carbon as Europe’s cars would produce if they stuck with petrol.

Feature interview:

Naomi Oreskes is a science historian, and Professor of History and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego. She is the author of Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming [review]. It’s a book that exposes the influence of these scientists on political and public opinion and how they misrepresented science, and in fact, turned science in on itself to further the cause of the free market.

Naomi joined us from Brisbane, (many thanks to Rob Mackay-Wood at the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland for finding a time slot in her schedule) during her current Australian lecture tour. We did try to get Skype video working, but it was not to be, sadly.

Debunking the skeptic with John Cook from Skeptical Science. This week:

Twitter Bot Auto-Debates Climate Change Critics


Technology Review

Hacker News

The Many Parts Solution

Over 1 million electric cars expected to be on Asian roads by 2015

Steady State Economics: a huge subject — not something we can deal with in depth, but a part of any solution because we have to learn to live within our planetary means. Web site with lots of info: Centre for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE).

Climate Wars review.

Thanks to our media partners: and KiwiFM.

Theme music: A Drop In The Ocean by The Bads.

11 thoughts on “The Climate Show #2: Oreskes and the Merchants of Doubt”

  1. Hi.

    Thanks for the show, and thanks especialy for the Naomi Oreskes interview. When I heard she was doing a tour of Aus, I tried to get in but unfortunately the venue in my city was overbooked by the time I found out about it. Definitely getting the book.

    Regarding the challenges of consumerism and the steady state economy. Worth reading is a book that helps us understand Status Anxiety: Alain De Botton, Status Anxiety.

    Keep up the good work!

    Adelaide, South Australia.

  2. Love the video. I’m a big fan of Oreskes. When my mum asked me to look up climate change for her I thought, bugger I must do a lit survey, then I googled and got the Oreskes 2004 Science paper that did the lit survey for me – but that same google introduced me to a world of nutterism that is the denial world

  3. I have just watched an excellent George Marshall presentation on climate denial which is currently featured on Desmogblog. In my view its the best analysis so far of why and how people deny what is patently in front of them and how the association of climate change with the environmental movement is simply a matter of timing, and complicates the situation in some respects.

  4. Wow, I’m speechless. I was a bit apprehensive at first about listening for over an hour, what with my modern attention span and all, but it was well worth it! Big, big compliments to all of you. The quality is already pretty high and will only get better with each episode.

    That Naomi Oreskes is amazing. What rhetorical skills. And it was great to get to know John Cook a bit better as well (somehow I thought he was this really old and wise scientist, but he’s actually quite young).

    What was really funny though, was that while I was listening I was thinking to myself: at some point these guys have got to give some attention to steady-state economics (as it is, in my view. the only true solution to the crisis cocktail we’re brewing and shaking).

    And then, all of a sudden, there goes Gareth talking about CASSE. I was flabbergasted, I tell you. Maybe in a future show you could ask Rob Dietz from CASSE to talk about the steady state economy, or I could ask for you. And everyone who reads this: become a member of CASSE and donate a bit if you can.

    So again, great show. When can we expect a new one?

    1. Thanks for the kind thoughts, Neven. We’re currently aiming to do a show every two weeks, and the next one will be recorded next week. We’re hoping to get an on-the-spot report from Cancun, amongst other things.

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