Protesters gather in Copenhagen. Why?

Be sure to visit again tomorrow, for another article in this series.

Time is up. Time to fight passion with calm reason.

That always works, doesn’t it? Those thousands of “activists” and riled up protesters who have infected Denmark would sit down and listen patiently to a lecture on what counts as evidence for disastrous global warming, wouldn’t they?

Of course they would. Who doesn’t prefer logic to polemic?

Sigh—yes, I know. Hardly anybody chooses reason to passion. Much more fun to scream at the top of your lungs, or mesmerize yourself with a hey-hey-ho-ho chant and leave the thinking at home.

All this is a long-winded way of announcing that I must bore you. I’ll have to test your patience and explain why I think these protesters have deluded themselves. It’s much more fun to discuss the politics, but we have to step back and understand how these “activists” came to their state of mind.

Most of them believe the sky has already fallen. But why? What caused them to come to this apocalyptic view?

Because they are confused about what is valid evidence for global warming. They have mistakenly conflated dire predictions of calamity as evidence that the mechanism that drives those predictions is true.

The number of forecasts of ill that await us when global warming finally strikes is countless. New ones appear daily. Each of them is soberly put and clothed in academic jargon, and are meant, by shear repetition and variety, to scare the bejesus out of people.

The great unwashed lap up these prognostications of doom—because they want to believe them; but never mind why for a moment—and use them to convince themselves that the doom is true. They say, “Global warming must be true because there are so many things that can go wrong when we finally get hot.”

This is a huge, monstrous mistake. It is fundamental. This path of thought is the complete opposite of reason.

Raise your hand if you believe in disastrous global warming

You cannot—not ever, not no how—use predictions of what might happen if something were true as evidence that that thing is true. If you do, we can say you have committed a reversal fallacy. You have things exactly backwards. You are fooling yourself.

Yet this is exactly what nearly everybody has done. This error is what has caused Yvo de Boer, the top UN “climate official”, to say, “Time is up.”

He, and his civilian and bureaucratic companions, must have been committing the reversal fallacy. There is no other explanation why they believe what they do.

Except, of course, for the cynical one that suggests no governmental leader believes in disastrous global warming, but they say they do, merely so they can seize more control and enlarge their purview. But I’ll be generous and not claim this.

What other evidence for disastrous warming is there? Certainly not in the predictions of AGW models: they have all said we could grow warmer, yet the planet has cooled over the last decade. But, even given this direct devastating negative evidence, people still believe that global warming is real. Why?

Could it be that people have noticed that in times historical it was sometimes cooler? Perhaps. But that is not direct evidence that disastrous global warming is true. It is just evidence that the climate on Earth never sits still.

No, it can only be that the will to believe that causes belief. A certain segment of humanity must want it to be true that humans cause climate misery. This is why these people focus on the forecasts of doom and use them as confirmation that their beliefs are valid.

They reason that it was not themselves who made the forecast that, say, more prostitutes will be found in the Philippines because of global warming; therefore this prediction is independent evidence that others besides themselves are rightly worried. And since others are worried, they should be.

In other words, they are putting science to a vote. They are saying, since so many others believe as I do, it must be that my beliefs are true.

All those who believe in disastrous global warming raise your hand? One, two, three…We have a majority—a consensus–therefore, disastrous global warming is true.

It is like the idiotic rumor that floated a few months ago that Congressional Republicans voted that, henceforth, π = 3. Progressives everywhere were incensed and bemused. How can they change a fact by pure force of will!

The same is happening now in Copenhagen. π will equal exactly what the power-hungry politicians want it to. All in the name of (a new kind of) “science.”


  1. Marco


    I’ll post kind of the same request I was too late to submit to your post “A Citizen’s Guide to Global Warming Evidence” here.

    While I agree completely with you I am still looking for a definitive set of data that are reliable (or authoritative as it seems that these days you have to grant you trust “cum grano salis”).

    For example you have repeatedly mentioned that for the past 10 years the global temperatures have gone down.
    Can you provide me with a link to those measurements?

    This is not because I do not trust, on the contrary, you but for my own peace of mind: I’ll finally have some hard data to present to my all-too-zealous GW followers.
    Please help!


  2. Briggs


    Look for the many pics at Watts Up With That.

    Of course, I speak in shorthand, and perhaps I should not. By “go down” I mean, some years up, some years down, but the average over the last decade remaining constant or a little down. I do not mean to imply that temperatures have fallen each year over the past decade.

  3. jOHN s


  4. mbabbitt

    And the point of your foulness, John, is what?

  5. Briggs

    jOHN s,

    why don’t you tell us what you really think?

    Far better would be to legislate his carbon-trading profits away. Have the money flow directly to Congress. See how active he’d be then.

  6. Marco


    Thanks for the link, I’ve been checking irregularly WUWT for the past 2 years however I was never able to find a plot that shows it clearly. the series “How not to measure temperature” started off nicely but then I got lost a bit playing catch up game.

    I guess I’d like something better than the plot I found here: and of course, as also mentioned at the bottom of the page, I cannot take seriously the average line in this other one: .

    I’ll keep looking but I think it would be great if sometime in the future you could post the data as they are and show the actual status.


    Thanks for the link; it’s very interesting.
    I guess my biggest problem with it is the lack of numbers as far as temperatures (few are there) and the too broad time period that squeezes too much the data for every single year. But after all it’s the spirit of the plot.

  7. Dragon

    we are having a global warming if you start records at the ice age, but before that we were tropical! so, what bought us out of the last ice age……….Fred Flintstone and the carbon from his little car???

    if indeed we are having a warming it will be same as the seasons, a natural occurance, ie tropical to ice age and back again

    Carbon is a natural substance and without it trees and plants would die, they use carbon to produce oxygen, stop them and kill yourselves through lack of oxygen

  8. kdk33

    Junkscience ( has links to the four major temperature data sets: UAH and RSS satelite data, GISTEMP and HADCRUT surface station data.

  9. 49erDweet

    To salute the spirit and intent of the Copenhagen protesters, and maybe even that of the delegates themselves, I think Matt should conduct a world-wide drawing to once-and-for-all determine as a scientific certainty just which year in history comprised the “ideal” world-wide climate.

    Print up a list of every year in recorded history and allow each protester and delegate in Denmark to choose a year from the list. No duplicates permitted. After everyone has made a choice a celebrity of Matt’s choosing could select the winning year by making a blind draw from a bucket. The winner could possibly be awarded one of Al Gore’s extra airplanes or mansions.

    The beauty of this plan is the world would finally have a base point from which to scientifically settle future climate arguments. We would call it the “Briggs Point”. The project should win Matt a Nobel Prize or two, one in the “peace” category for settling so many arguments and another in “physics” or possibly “literature” – as in imaginative fiction. Are you up for it, Matt? If would settle this earlier point under the first bullet.

  10. Joy

    There are four main outlets for global mean temperature. One being linked above, the surface station record courtesy of NASA, which shows the highest rise in temperature. Hadley climate research unit which the fuss has been about recently; the longest record, which has been subject to change on a monthly basis as far as I can tell. I’ve been following it like a heartbeat for the last two years. Despite all the fuss, this shows a downward hook on an otherwise gentle scallop upwards to, last time I looked, 0.4 degrees above some statistician’s idea of average global temperature.
    John Cristie’s record from the University of Huntsville and the RSS. These are the ones frequently referred to by both sides of the debate and not surprisingly the ones that show the highest trends are the most affected by public money/politics (The first two I mentioned.)

    Interestingly, I went to check the other day when the apple cart was upset and the Had CRU graph page ‘could not be found’. Now, when I linked to it, it takes you back to square one, to the University of East Anglia’s main page. Here are the four but the Hadley one is not currently available. I’ll see if I can find one from Hadley from earlier in the year that I mailed to a friend.

  11. Bernie

    Jeepers, I thought it was all the pot these protesters smoked. But if you insist on a more complicated explanation – here goes – Between this impediment to their collective memory, the fact that most of them did not live through the vicious cold winters of the early 60s and the “obvious fact” that evil US corporations are causing everybody to consume fossil fuels I am not surprised at all that the alienated and the nihilists are out there banging their pots.

  12. Ross Taylor

    Marco, I am sure you are looking for more sophisticated data than this, however I thought it would be interesting/amusing at this time if I could find out anything on temperature records for Copenhagen. I apologize that the figures are not absolutely precise because they are taken from graphs at I am sure Briggs could do a better job than me.

    In the last 28 years (as far as the online records I could find go back), the highest temperature in Copenhagen in December was around 11 degrees C and that was back in 1983. Over these years, the average (mean) highest December temperature was around 7 C. Today, the high is expected to be, surprise surprise, 7 C, exactly the same as the average of the last 28 years and 4 degrees COOLER than the high of the last 28 years.

    This would be funny, however I am beginning to find the complete whitewash of climategate and the fanaticism of the Copenhagen believers rather sad and a bit scary.

  13. Bernie

    Given that the theory is that anthropogenic CO2 is a major forcing with an appreciable multiplier effect via water vapor and that CO2 has continued to increase then the temperature should be monotonically increasing over any time period greater than the longest predicted cooling cycle. 10 years covers most of the “modelled” ocean driven cycles therefore the non-increase should give all those climate modellers serious pause.
    With that understanding Hansen’s charts are good enough to make the point. However, given what is emerging from UEA CRU – I would not bet the house on the precision of that trend.

  14. Due to its cold climate, Denmark has a much higher per capita consumption of energy than necessary. I propose that its entire population be moved to a warmer climate, say Bangladesh or Sudan. This will save all the energy they will have to burn this winter to keep from freezing. They can forgo air conditioning in their new warmer homes since air conditioning is not necessary to prevent death like heating is.

  15. Doug M

    “A certain segment of humanity must want it to be true that humans cause climate misery.”

    You can drop the word climate from that sentence.

    A certain dismal segment of the population firmly believes that humanity is a pestilence, that resources are finite or shrinking, and that an economic / environmental collapse is imminent, The world will end and the poor will be hardest hit.

  16. Briggs


    Very sensible, actually. Let us know the reception to your fine idea.

  17. Rich

    Matt, you’re making the assumption that everybody in a protest march is a believer. Not so. A friend of ours annouced that she was taking part in the “Climate Change” protest march in London recently. “Oh good,” says my dear one, “I want somebody to debate climate with Rich.” “Oh, “says our friend, “I don’t know wanything about climate change. I’ve just never been on a protest march before. Don’t spoil it for me”.

    Perhaps, like the Vogon guard in “Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy” they just like the shouting.

    “What do we want?” – “Rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!”
    “When do we wannit?” – “NOW!”

    (I couldn’t hear the chants clearly on the BBC report)

  18. Marco

    Thanks for this link. It’s actually what I’ve see the most and while it shows a small decline overall people would look at it and dismiss my objections with a: “it might be cooling NOW but for the past thenths of years it was getting hotter BECAUSE of AGW”. But I’ll keep this in mind.

    Junkscience is another site I was checking constantly then I had to reduce my internet exploration for my time is limited. Did anyone win the challenge?

    Wow! You’re really into this thing! Thanks for the links; I think this is what I am looking for. At least now I have a complete list of what and where are all the source data for the models.

    I get your point. I am also compiling a historical series for Milano, Italy (where I am from) since I do not remember, growing up, such cold weather; however even if I’m right I would not generalize my conclusion to the entire plane. Too many already do it.

    That is precisely my point. I too always use that argument: if it does not represent the past 10 years then there is nothing more to discuss because it’s not working. So back to square one with better ideas.

    Thanks a lot for the great help. And indirectly thanks to Matt whose blog quality contributes to attracting such nice crowd.


    PS: if any of you has additional resources please email them to me @ Thanks.

  19. ken

    RE: “…it can only be that the will to believe that causes belief….”

    Here you’re getting dangerously close to psychology which, in the absence of information to the contrary, is beyond your expertise. But I don’t think you ventured out of bounds….

    At any rate, here’s a good place to plug someone else’s book that DOES address the psychology in great detail (and its by an experienced MD forensic psychiatrist):

    “The Liberal Mind, The Psychological Causes of Political Madness,” by Dr. Lyle Rossiter.

    Check it out at: The e-book is available for $10 ($9.95) & comes quickly.

    EVERYBODY I’ve recommended it to has found it’s insights very illuminating. To understand the underlying psychology of the activist & politician, skip to chapters 43-46.

  20. JH

    …henceforth, π [pi]= 3. Progressives everywhere were incensed and bemused. How can they change a fact by pure force of will!

    My daughter’s 4th grade teacher instructed students to use the formula oF = 2 *oC + 32 to convert from Celsius to Fahrenheit. “Why?” I asked. The teacher said, “It’s easier since they don’t understand what 9/5 or 1.8 is?” Easier it is!

    But, even given this direct devastating negative evidence, people still believe that global warming is real. Why?

    Sometimes it’s EASIER to just believe than to be a skeptic, I think. Sometimes it’s beyond our ability to comprehend the subject. Sometimes we are just too stubborn to change our minds.

    There are possibly unlimited energy resources only if they are somehow utilized. Shouldn’t it be our goal to eventually have energy in unlimited quantity? Granted the science that prompted the Copenhagen conference has yet been settled, in a positive light, couldn’t the conference be seen as a path to achieve the goal? Yes, I know, it’s never as simple as we would like it to be.

    While all the heated political discussions are going on in the US, China–moving toward a form of authoritarian capitalism–has been investing heavily in environmental and clean technology projects. Due to the necessity and with the commitment of its future generation, it’s conceivable that China will become the leader in clean tech even though they are also the world’s leading polluter.

  21. Doug M


    If they are trying to make it easier then oF = 2oC + 30. As long as you are rounding off, keep going. And it is more accurate in any temperature you will encounter in my neighborhood.

  22. Briggs


    True. Perhaps I should have written “it is probably” instead of “it can only be.”


    When we start talking of warp-core containment fields, then we’ll know we have it made.

  23. Briggs


    Good link, thanks. I encourage everybody to click over and read that post. (Which, incidentally, heartens me: I am not the only blogger with outrageous typos!)

  24. JH

    Doug M,
    Your point is well taken, and I will see that my _twin_ daughters understand it. “Two” sure is a magic number.

    Mr. Briggs,
    Who knows! According to M. KaKu, the author of Physics of the Impossble, they may become possible.

  25. “What caused them to come to this apocalyptic view? Because they are confused about what is valid evidence for global warming.”

    That’s an overly simplistic explanation, and I don’t buy it at all. That said, the problems caused by certain types of mass movements are very real. And deadly, if the bloody worldwide paroxysms of last 100 years can be blamed (even partially) on mass aquiesence to authoritarian Big Lies.

    I am dodging the word “psychosis” here. The “Good German” phenomenon cannot be attributed to insanity, an excuse that doesn’t bear up under scrutiny.

    What is it that compels people to make really bad decisions en masse? I have no easy answers, but I do think the question is very important, and I appreciate your bringing it up.

  26. James Gibbons

    This all makes me remember somewhere in the 70’s, in a University parking lot, a bumper sticker that said “Save the whales, boycott Japanese Goods” – on a Datsun.

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