Patterico's Pontifications

3/8/2012

Los Angeles Times Distorts Evidence on Public Opinion Regarding Global Warming

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Environment,General — Patterico @ 7:30 am

The Los Angeles Times recently opened a story on climate change opinion in the following manner:

After several years of finding that fewer and fewer Americans believed in man-made climate change, pollsters are now finding that belief is on the uptick.

The newest study from the National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change, which is a biannual survey taken since fall 2008 and organized by the Brookings Institute, shows that 62% of Americans now believe that man-made climate change is occurring, and 26% do not. The others are unsure.

There’s one slight problem with those opening paragraphs: they are absolutely 100% false. The survey in question reported on public opinion regarding global warming . . . not man-made global warming.

Click on the link above to the word “study.” It goes to a short description of the survey. The description is titled “Belief in Global Warming on the Rebound: National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change.” There is a link to a .pdf of the report on the survey. I have gone ahead and uploaded it to my site, so you can read it here.

Feel free to search for any evidence that the survey deals with man-made global warming. You won’t find it. The opening paragraph of the report states:

After a period of declining levels of belief in global warming there appears to be a modest rebound in the percentage of Americans that believe temperatures on the planet are increasing. . . . The survey, which was fielded in December of 2011, found 62% of Americans agreeing that there is solid evidence that average temperatures on earth have been getting warmer over the past four decades, with 26% of U.S. residents maintaining an opposing view on the matter.

These statistics are the same ones mentioned in the opening paragraphs of the L.A. Times article. The problem is that there is no reference to the concept that the survey relates to man-made global warming — the claim made by the L.A. Times. The questions asked in the survey included questions like: “Is there solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer over the past four decades?” and “What is the primary factor that has caused you to believe that temperatures on earth are increasing?” (The latter question does not address what people thought was the cause of warmer temperatures, but what was the cause of their change in beliefs. Answers included factors like melting ice caps, Al Gore’s documentary, and the like.)

The difference is huge. The evidence that the planet has been warming, while disputed by some, seems to me be quite strong. Whether that warming is man-made; whether humans significantly contribute to the warming trend; whether the evidence backs up the scientists’ contentions . . . these are questions that are far more subject to dispute.

Ironically, the study observes:

While Americans who think the planet is warming largely disagree with the premise that the media and climate scientists are overstating evidence about global warming, most citizens who do not see evidence of increasing temperatures on Earth believe that the scientists and the press are distorting evidence about the matter.

And they’re right . . . as evidenced by the distortions in this article regarding their opinions!

This comes to us via reader G.H., who says he has brought the matter to the attention of the Readers’ Representative. Apparently in vain, since there is no correction appended to the article.

I believe this is a black-and-white factual error. The article claims that the survey measures changes in beliefs on man-made global warming, and it just doesn’t. So I’ll make this another of my quixotic battles. This post is the opening salvo. It would be nice if it were the only shot I have to fire, as my time and energy are short. If any of you want to take up the next step and write a letter to the Readers’ Rep, that would be fantastic. I will publish every single one you write, together with any response you receive.

40 Responses to “Los Angeles Times Distorts Evidence on Public Opinion Regarding Global Warming”

  1. Continuing the effort to expand the reach and power of the State over all of our lives by any any means necessary… that’s the L.A. Times, in a nutshell.

    Colonel Haiku (b0c693)

  2. Reporter fails to understand something about business, science, statistics, Greg Packer. Go figure. It’s almost like they don’t study these things in order to become “journalists.”

    carlitos (49ef9f)

  3. Dean Kuipers is something of a climate change slut I think

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  4. The same reporters who are so convinced they know the scientific facts keep failing to to parse such basic logical distinctions.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (a18ddc)

  5. There IS a problem with global warming… it stopped in 1998.

    [note: fished from spam filter. –Stashiu]

    MSL (f060a0)

  6. As ever, Brother Bradley is exempt from any sweeping generalizations about journalists.

    carlitos (49ef9f)

  7. I believe North America is warming, but South America is cooling. The tempertures are balancing out. Then there is the nonexistence of high tides and melting glaciers. There is no evidence of any imminent catastrophic environmental destruction in the future, anywhere.

    Of course, there is evidence that the sun has caused some of these problems. Maybe a sun deflector in outer space can solve the problem.

    MyOpinion (f16fab)

  8. In the same way they often equate opposition to illegal immigrants with opposition to all immigrants.

    aunursa (0687cf)

  9. carlitos,
    No worries. I feel as strongly as you do about the lack of insight and balance among the Tribe of Media. The lack of self-awareness is astonishing. The various factchecking programs are hallmarks to institutional blindness and groupthink.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (a18ddc)

  10. ___________________________________________

    The same reporters who are so convinced they know the scientific facts keep failing to to parse such basic logical distinctions.

    And how many of them are quite devoted to Green Earth politics, yet can’t do something as basic and simple as choosing not to drive around in an SUV, or some other large vehicle? Or can’t at least choose to live close to their workplace. I wonder how many employees of the LA Times even make an effort to reside near or within downtown LA?

    All the millions of commuters driving long distances every day on California’s clogged freeways, tooling around by themselves instead of with passengers, can’t all be non-environmentally-friendly rightwingers, can they?

    Mark (31bbb6)

  11. Next to Dashiell Hammett, Roger Zelazny is my favorite author. He wrote a book, “Jack of Shadows”, in which the Earth had stopped spinning on its axis. The daysiders had sun deflectors to keep that part of Earth from being a boiling hell. The darksiders had something the same to keep the dark side from being a frozen wasteland. The twilighters had it good.

    Humans are adaptable. They live in the Sahara and they live in the Arctic. They migrate to find hunting grounds or arable land. Opposable thumbs with a brain to control them, and adaptality — the definition of human in a nutshell.

    nk (dec503)

  12. *adaptibility*

    nk (dec503)

  13. Then there is the nonexistence of high tides and melting glaciers

    The glaciers have been melting since the end of the little ice age in 1850. It slowed down for a while, but glacial retreat has increased significantly since 1980.

    carlitos (49ef9f)

  14. I sent the following:

    There are frequent references to human-caused global warming throughout the piece, but the underlying study which is the topic of the article concerns beliefs about global warming from all causes.

    This is a problem, since beliefs about whether an event is occurring are different from beliefs about the cause of this event.

    For example, I could imagine a survey that measured the belief that a major metropolitan newspaper has shown a steady decline in its science reporting; but my study would not in itself indicate anything about the probable causes of such a decline.

    I suggest that you modify the article to better reflect the study: that belief in global warming, independent of cause, is on the rise.

    Pious Agnostic (7c3d5b)

  15. While there are some assertions that there is global warming going on the key point of he hockey stick hoaxwas to make he Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice age go away and to claim no other factor ever could affect climate and that the only factor affecting climate was greenhouse gases by which they mainly mean carbon dioxide. And the claim that it is no longer going on is a claim that it leveled off in 1998, not that the 1990s weren’t warmer than the 1960s. The skeptics will point also that temperatures were declining roughly from about 1940 through 1970 (The actual reason was large fires caused by war, and especially nuclear bomb tests in the atmosphere.)

    If carbon dioxide, that is carbon dioxide alone, or in combination only with methane and other products of modern civilization released by human beings that should have about the same history, , was causing global warming, then what you should see is a simple accelerating trend, like the hockey stick graph, but the hockey stick graph is a fraud.

    The projections of the climate alarmists not only do not work for the future, they can’t even fit the past. No matter how complicated they try to make it. At least economists always manage to model the past.

    And this still begs the whole question of whether or not global warming is a net good. Or if not, if there is a better way of handling this than trying to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, or more accurately, pretending to do so.

    And there are further and further questions.

    Like, are you really sure that increased levels of carbon dioxide cause or contribute to global warming? Maybe it is global warming that causes carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere to go up!
    (and something else, at least in part, causes global warming)

    There is certainly a vast reservoir of carbon dioxide which rotates in and out of the atmosphere. Carbon 14 levels have dropped a great deal since the 1960s. Almost in half, in fact, and that’s not radioactive decay, and that’s not the release of C-14 free CO2 into the atmosphere, because the percentage of CO2 has not come close to doubling. We also release a lot of H20, but would you relate the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere to the amount created by burning?

    Sammy Finkelman (a1f34f)

  16. * While there are some assertions that there is NO global warming going on….Climategate involved the hockey stick graph, and the inability to model anything using their assumptions of only man made causes. And even the denial is only a denial of any increase since 1998.

    All the great climate change skeptics do not deny that there has been some limited amount of global warming. They deny and dispue and dispute all the other things the alarmists are saying.

    Sammy Finkelman (a1f34f)

  17. * They deny and dispute…

    The key point is not a limited amount of global warming in the last several decade, for which there seems to be strong evidence for, although climate measurements are difficult really. The key point if the projections of disaster and the simple-minded remedy.

    Sammy Finkelman (a1f34f)

  18. Also the alleged (sole) cause, and the implicit or explicit claim that there are no natural changes or variations in climate. While in fact they have occured throughout history.

    Sammy Finkelman (a1f34f)

  19. * The key point is the projections of disaster. Not if. (and the cause and the remedy)

    Not whether it is mildly warmer now than the 1960s.

    And you can’t say for sure how long it will stay that way.

    Sammy Finkelman (a1f34f)

  20. Expecting accuracy from the LA Times is like expecting justice from Eric Holder.

    ropelight (e04219)

  21. Dear Mr. Finkleman,

    >>The skeptics will point also that temperatures were declining roughly from about 1940 through 1970 (The actual reason was large fires caused by war, and especially nuclear bomb tests in the atmosphere.<<

    Actually, I've heard that it's the Pacific Decadal Oscillation that causes this 35 year cycle – and that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is driven by the wobble in the Earth's orbit and axis tilt. This is a very open question, not something you can say 'actual reason' about.

    For instance, the four major volcanic eruptions that occurred from 1931-1934 actually put a temporary stop to the warming trend that had been going from 1906 to 1940. It picked up right where it left off in 1935, once the sulfuric soot washed from the sky.

    Your comments about fires caused by war and nuclear bomb tests in the atmosphere don't seem to fit with the studies I've read about volcanic effects.

    I'll also add that the reason we start in 1906 is because that is the first year we have temperature readings for more than 5 locations in the United States. The first mass-produced thermometer came out in the US in 1905. Temperature readings before then are either from individually made thermometers or very often extrapolations from tree rings, CO2 counts in air bubbles, and the like – they have very high error ratings.

    luagha (5cbe06)

  22. Bottom line: the Dog Trainer’s juice box journ-o-list assumed that ANY story in regards to global warming must be about man-made global warming. Why? For the same reason that the supposedly non-partisan scientists created the meme in the first place — nobody pays attention to global warming stories unless they include the words man-made in order to guilt us into paying attention.

    Icy (76598a)

  23. This story reemphasizes a point I made last week regarding the Gleick/Heartland institute bogus documents.

    Those individuals that are unable to recognize a bogus document (and in this case unable to read a basic survey question) somehow believe they possess the superior critical thinking skills to ascertain the validity of the science.

    Joe_dallas (ce33bc)

  24. Posted a link to your article at the tips section of WattsUpWithThat blog.

    j.pickens (3dec33)

  25. I have some prime seaside luxury real estate in Greenland for sale…

    We know temperatures were decreasing during part of the 1900’s, because that was why we were told we were facing another little ice age in the mid-late 70’s. I imagine there are various reasons that people can give as to what may have contributed to this fact, but to point out what others say about other things, it is not like we can do the kind of science the conditions are controlled and a given result deduced from the manipulation of a single variable. And since this is reality, not a problem in a book, there is no “Answer Section” that we can check to make sure there is nothing that we are overlooking.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  26. They say that believing there has been warming is the same as agreeing that man caused it. Isn’t this the same as saying that if you believe man evolved then you believe in Christian creationism because you agree that man didn’t exist at one point and now you agree he does, so you must agree that God must have made him? I suspect they would not be so casual about this logical connection if it was applied to them.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  27. Those individuals that are unable to recognize a bogus document (and in this case unable to read a basic survey question) somehow believe they possess the superior critical thinking skills to ascertain the validity of the science.

    One of few exceptions to this stupidity/bias is Megan McArdle, who saw what most of the MSM couldn’t/didn’t want to see:

    “The bottom line is that while the Times thought that “its tone and content closely matched that of other documents that the group did not dispute”, to me, they aren’t a close match at all. Rather, they read like, well, like someone without the imagination–or motivation–to pass an Ideological Turing Test wrote up a neat little executive summary for their ideological fellows.”

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (a18ddc)

  28. If you are confident in your position, it is only logical to tell lies to support your position.

    JD (516dcc)

  29. CA Congressional Office: ““The environment is much more important than jobs”.Congresswoman Karen Bass seems more interested in re-electing Obama and promoting “Critical Race Theory” than either job creation or environmental protection. Details, with video and graphic, at link.

    Mutnodjmet (c4995d)

  30. Mutnodjmet,
    May the blessings of Ra be with you!

    Here’s my video of Karen Bass’s conviction of being a Tax Traitor in the court of the Honorable John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou on May 25, 2010.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (a18ddc)

  31. The skeptics will point also that temperatures were declining roughly from about 1940 through 1970 (The actual reason was large fires caused by war, and especially nuclear bomb tests in the atmosphere.)

    If I remember correctly, Carl Sagan and four others published a groundbreaking paper demonstrating that above-ground nuclear testing was responsible for the decline in temperatures from the 1940’s to 1970’s.

    Michael Ejercito (64388b)

  32. I thought it was called climate change because it is getting colder.

    Another LA Times lie.

    AZ Bob (3b8a4c)

  33. The LAT reporter could be intentionally pulling a Gleick. If wire fraud and impersonation are heroic, writing false stories certainly qualifies.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (878217)

  34. SF: The skeptics will point also that temperatures were declining roughly from about 1940 through 1970 (The actual reason was large fires caused by war, and especially nuclear bomb tests in the atmosphere.)

    Comment by Michael Ejercito — 3/8/2012 @ 7:08 pm

    If I remember correctly, Carl Sagan and four others published a groundbreaking paper demonstrating that above-ground nuclear testing was responsible for the decline in temperatures from the 1940′s to 1970′s.

    Fires is my idea, assuming it is not a statistical artifact that the cooling goes back before 1945.

    Nuclear bomb tests I read about a long long, time ago in Analog, in an article or editorial entitled something like “Nuclear Bomb Tests do Affect the Weather”

    I think Carl Sagan was in the 1980s. That analog article I think appeared when John Campbell was still was still the editor.

    No, it was in 1982. By John Gribben, a name I now recognize. And I should have gone with my first instinct: The word ‘Tests” is not in the title of the article.

    http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?57073

    That cover looks familiar.

    http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?115289

    Title: Nuclear Bombs Do Affect the Weather
    Author: John Gribbin
    Year: 1982
    Type: ESSAY
    Series: Science Fact (Analog)
    User Rating: This title has fewer than 5 votes. VOTE
    Current Tags: None Add Tags

    Publications:

    * Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, August 1982, (Aug 1982, ed. Stanley Schmidt, publ. Davis Publications, Inc., $1.50, 180pp, Digest, magazine) Cover: Kelly Freas – [VERIFIED]

    Bibliographic Warnings:

    * Missing ISBN/Catalog #: Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, August 1982 (Aug 1982)

    Then this idea used to argue about a “Nuclear Winter’ about 1983. It started to be really pushed by the Soviet Union, and connected with the idea of a “Nuclear Freeze (basically, the USA should build no more nuclear weapons) because of the cooling effects of a nuclear exchange, like as if we didn’t think before that that having a lot of atomic bombs going off was a bad idea.

    I initially thought, when Breitbart first announced a video, that the Barack Obama video came from this time period.

    Sammy Finkelman (0f573e)

  35. Comment by luagha — 3/8/2012 @ 11:13 am

    Actually, I’ve heard that it’s the Pacific Decadal Oscillation that causes this 35 year cycle – and that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is driven by the wobble in the Earth’s orbit and axis tilt. This is a very open question, not something you can say ‘actual reason’ about.

    Yes, you can’t really easily give the real reason for the temperature decline from roughly 1940 to 1970, but nuclear bombs (except for two in Japan in August, 1945, tests) make a great deal of sense.

    I heard about the general idea of variations in the earth’s tilt and so on like that but nothing about a cycle as short as 30 years or less.

    Wait http://jisao.washington.edu/pdo/

    The Pacific Decadal Oscillation has nothing to do with the earth’s orbit or wobble or tilt. Oscillation refers to the alleged climate pattern.

    For instance, the four major volcanic eruptions that occurred from 1931-1934 actually put a temporary stop to the warming trend that had been going from 1906 to 1940. It picked up right where it left off in 1935, once the sulfuric soot washed from the sky.

    I didn’t know about these volcanoes. That explains why it took until 1934 or 1935 for the Great Depression to cause record high temperatures and the Oklahoma Dust Bowl. The dates hadn’t quite fit.

    Your comments about fires caused by war and nuclear bomb tests in the atmosphere don’t seem to fit with the studies I’ve read about volcanic effects.

    Volcanoes also do it (lower temperature) And so does burning coal.

    I’ll also add that the reason we start in 1906 is because that is the first year we have temperature readings for more than 5 locations in the United States. The first mass-produced thermometer came out in the US in 1905. Temperature readings before then are either from individually made thermometers or very often extrapolations from tree rings, CO2 counts in air bubbles, and the like – they have very high error ratings.

    I’m familiar with New York City where records go back to 1869. Are you telling me that before 1905 temperature records were kept in only 5 places in the United States?

    Sammy Finkelman (0f573e)

  36. The left lives on distortion. Why buy or read the l.a. times. If you don’t, they won’t survive. It is time to shout down the left’s media outlets. A peaceful showing of millions of people targeting various media goons, would be fun. And damaging.

    sickofrinos (44de53)

  37. Because, the lie is repeated by AP, McClatchy, Reuters, et al.

    narciso (87e966)

  38. sickofrinos,
    Lefty bias may be a good business model for the LA Times, situated in a region dominated by that ilk.

    The paper’s disinformation especially appeals to lefties who fancy themselves moderates. A putatively objective newspaper provides validation to these “moderates” that an openly left-wing pub like The Nation or Daily Kos can’t.

    There may be enough of these willing-to-be-deceived faux moderates to keep the paper afloat, albeit in a diminished state. It’s their ideological security blanket.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (878217)

  39. Those individuals that are unable to recognize a bogus document (and in this case unable to read a basic survey question) somehow believe they possess the superior critical thinking skills to ascertain the validity of the science.

    One of few exceptions to this stupidity/bias is Megan McArdle, who saw what most of the MSM couldn’t/didn’t want to see:

    “The bottom line is that while the Times thought that “its tone and content closely matched that of other documents that the group did not dispute”, to me, they aren’t a close match at all. Rather, they read like, well, like someone without the imagination–or motivation–to pass an Ideological Turing Test wrote up a neat little executive summary for their ideological fellows.”

    Comment by Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. — 3/8/2012 @ 4:14 pm

    McArdle’s analysis is devastating to any claim of authenticity.

    The more important issue that emerges from the Gleick memo – is not that the AGW proponents lack the critical thinking skills to recognize a bogus memo (and by extension probably lack the critical thinking skills to ascertain the validity of the science) but herd mentality to defend the authenticity of the memo even after it was shown highly likely to be fraudulent. Which begs the question, is it a herd mentality to defend the portions of climate science even when logic errors are pointed out – ie the deniel of the MWP.

    Joe_dallas (ce33bc)

  40. The problem with LA Times journos, and most of that profession’s fifth column, is that they are poorly educated but compensate for their intellectual deficiencies with ego. The are informed beyond their capacity to skeptically analyze what they “think” they know, but politics is easy and liberalism is easy and gutless. Anyone stupid enough to support policies that take freedom from individuals and cede it government, obviously believes he is part of the ruling elite (or should be) and neither he nor his will suffer any negative consequences. It’s a mental disorder. No sane person works against his own reasonable self-interest just to get “those others” in line.

    The Morrigan's Pet (953692)


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