Those Darn Skeptics And Their Communications Professionals

“All right, boys,” began James Hansen, “Listen up. Climate contrarians are winning the argument with the public over global warming.

“This is so even though climate science itself is becoming ever clearer in showing that the earth is in increasing danger from rising temperatures.

“Why? I’ll tell you: the skeptics have sneaked behind our back and have employed your actual communications professionals to put forward their vile message that we—even we!—are too sure of ourselves.

“We’re losing because we genuine scientists are just barely competent at communicating with the public and don’t have the wherewithal to do it.

“So let’s summarize our media contacts and see where we stand. Then we can formulate a plan of attack. Agreed?

“We have the paper of record, the New York Times, especially Krugman who properly calls anybody who disagrees with the science a traitor that should be strung up.

“The Washington Post is on our side, of course. The LA Times and those Chicago papers can always be counted on for a pro-warming view. Plus, there lots of the medium-sized papers that take their led from their betters.

“And don’t forget England, where we at least have The Guardian and The Independent and so on. Pro-consensus views are always found there.

“We have the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia, as is only proper. And that’s just the English-speaking world. Le Monde is magnificent. Asahi Shimbum toes the line, as do The Times of India and Korea’s The Joongang Ilbo. Heck, even Bild follows us a lot of the time.

Let’s face it: we have fighting our cause the major papers in every capitol, English-speaking or not. Am I right?”

New York Post“Right boss,” said G., his ever-faithful sidekick. “We have them all except for the New York Post and The Daily Mail. What about the blogs?”

“Huffington, naturally. Daily KOS, Salon, and several other of the largest always do what’s expected of them. And I’d never forget your own valiant efforts, nor those of hundreds, even thousands of other blogs who preach the word of doom.

But, sadly, those vile skeptics have blogs, too. All are born out of ignorance or are the results of the pens of hired communications professionals—they get their funding from energy companies, you know.”

“Only fools read those blogs, boss,” ventured G. “Why not talk about what really counts—television.”

“TV? Why, we have NBC, CSB, NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, and all the government-funded PBS affiliates.”

“CNN?” asked G.?

“Right: CNN is a solid. But we musn’t forget HBO and Bill Maher. And these are just the stations in the USA. Looking abroad we find all the channels of the BBC, ABC in Australia, Al Jazeera, France 5 (and maybe the other four, too), Germany’s EarthTV and the Deutsche Welle.

Then there’s the All-Nippon News Network‎ and NHK in Japan, CBC in Canada, RAI in Italy, and so forth.

Once more, we can count as allies nearly every major television and cable outlet in every country except China.”

“Oh, how I hate Fox and Sky News!” G. shook his fist at his invisible enemies.

“True, G. Those backward networks are more evidence of the pernicious influence of communications professionals. The only explanation of the success of these media outlets is that these recalcitrant, wayward broadcasters is that they employ communications professionals whereas the other networks do not.”

“They must be stopped!” G. was trembling with rage.

“Before we get to that, let me remind us of the magazines on the side of the consensus.”

“No need, boss,” said G., anxious to show off his knowledge. “We all know about Time, Newsweek, The Nation, The New Republic, Scientific American, New York Review of Books, Mother Jones and the many others in the US, plus the several major publications in every civilized country. Plus, we own Hollywood. What I really want to know about are the politicians, the source of real power.”

“That’s easy. We have the Democrats and, believe it or not, even a few Republicans in the USA. We have Labour in the UK, the Greens, the Left, and Christians of various stripes in Germany, the Greens, Left, and Liberal in France, all of the EU hierarchy, the Greens and Liberals of Canada, Brazil is ours. Then there’s the Greens, Labor, and even the Liberal in Australia. That enlightened country even, thank the Powers, voted in a new carbon tax!

I could go on, but any fair counting shows at least half, and in many countries most, of the politicians support our cause, or at least say they do publicly.”

“What’s the bottom line, boss?”

“It’s obvious! We must address the glaring discrepancy in media access, which weighs so heavily in the favor of our enemies. We must pass a law banning the use of communications professionals!”

Parts of this post were prepared with the assistance of Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe, a public relations firm based in New York City.


  1. Ken

    All that press might convince those that read up to that level of sophistication…but a sizeable proportion of society is, believe it or not, even smarter than that & finds references like the following with which they exercise their gray cells:

  2. Speed

    A good reporter working for a good newspaper/on-line-news-publisher would have asked James Hansen for the names of “members of the climate sceptic lobby” and “communications professionals” he spoke of. But this article was constructed from a press release or some other form of one-way communications from Hansen to the world and is given a faint sheen of authority by including the words, “In a briefing at the Royal Society … ”

    This is not reporting, it is lazy, uncritical re-packaging of unsubstantiated claims.

  3. max

    Well to be fair, given the quality of their work (e.g. “24 Hours of Climate Reality”) one cannot claim the CAGW lobby has been hiring competent communications professionals. Thinking about the 10:10 video, if someone on the skeptic side has been feeding a chimpanzee bananas while it plays with a keyboard to produce press releases the skeptics have been employing better communications professionals.

  4. Ray

    I thought that Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe were lawyers. Were they disbared and had to take up another occupation?

    BTW, in the 1970s Dr. Hansen worked with Dr. Rasool who was a global cooling proponent. Millions were going to die from starvation caused by global cooling according to Erlich.

  5. jae

    Thanks for the humor (and truth). You made my day, again!

  6. Gary

    Hansen forgets the college & university journalism schools that are failing to properly train MSM “communications professionals” while churning out tons of skeptical ones.

  7. Sundance

    The same week Hansen is sobbing to the Royal Society, the MET Office warns ice age style winters will now be the norm for decades and they release a new paper that the Sun influences climate more than we knew. Then the BBC’s chief meteorologist lets loose with this.

    It’s no doubt a conspiracy by those “professional communicators” like Hansen imagines.

  8. Actually, I think it was “Dewey, Burnham, and Howe”, but that would be too convenient for a discussion on global warming…

    Loved the laughs on this blog!

  9. Unbeknownst to the world renown brainiacs attending the Hansen confab, this video of their continued meeting was apparently posted on YouTube.

  10. TDK

    Actually it’s worse than you say in the UK. All three major political parties and most of the minnows believe in AGW. You catch the Guardian, Independent, BBC axis but even the Mail and Telegraph play both sides of the argument. Delingpole and Booker are balanced by Louise Gray and Geoffrey Lean. The only skeptical TV consists of about two Channel Four shows over more than a decade. The rest of the TV output is firmly onside.

    Here’s the strange one. Despite continuous complaints about Fox, most of Murdoch’s Empire follows the party line

    It just goes to show that the Greens demand fundamentalism on Environmentalism – the slightest divergence and you are treated as a denier. Thus even though the Daily Telegraph shows a range of opinions it is claimed by AGW enthusiasts that it is keeping its readers in the dark.

  11. Richard Hill

    Like the humor but I hate to think that WSB might be missing the point. The MSM etc are actually doing their job. They are following the lead of the APS, AAAS, Royal Soc and other professional bodies. It is these bodies that are presenting the AGW case. It would be bad if the MSM didnt respect the professional bodies.

  12. smileyken

    This thing about the professional societies having a position or ‘statement’ about CAGW. Have they a similar posture about anything else?

    Have they positions on the controversies of astrophysics or microbiology? How many of these societies have pontificated about GM crops for example, or nuclear power?

    Just wondering

  13. Paul Boyce

    And let’s not forget The Economist!

  14. TDK

    It would be bad if the MSM didnt respect the professional bodies.

    It was a “professional body” that endorsed the Himalayan Glaciers will be gone in decades story and called detractors practitioners of Voodoo Science. Who were bad: the parts of the MSM who accepted a broadcast the story without challenge or the minority who actually dug into the story and found it incorrect.

  15. TDK

    Apols – forgot to close quote italics

  16. @ Richard Hill has scored a triple! Well played, RH. Not one, not two, but three logical fallacies in sixty words.

  17. Grzegorz Staniak

    Ah, William Briggs’ little obsession again. I guess it would have a chance to be funny were it any way connected to reality — parodying own straw-men is just sort of pathetic. Please be aware that apparently some poor folk are looking for “truth” in the figments of your imagination.

    And Ken, are you really that desperate? I’ve heard the name “Rutan” before, so I was genuinely curious what he could have to say on the subject. I expected a lot, but not this — quoting Beck? Reviving what looks like every single long-debunked myth, half-truth and downright idiocy that’s been coined by the denialist conglomerate? You exercise your grey matter on this? Have mercy on your grey matter, Ken — whatever it did, it doesn’t deserve Burt Rutan speaking on climate change.

  18. Richard Hill

    @49erDweet …and I had a wrong abbreviation for our host’s name. My bad. But, what are the logical fallacies? The APS or NAS etc. issue press releases, and from their august heights consider them urgent and important. Isnt the NYT or other MSM that presents itself as a journal of record duty bound to run such press releases? AFAIK the only national acadamies that show any doubt about AGW are the Japanese and the Polish. (Altho, the British Geology group may also have issued a statement that could be construed as casting some doubt on AGW, and there may be others) My basic point is that the energies that our host and others are expending in battering against the MSM would be better spent on attacking the NAS or the APS instead. How many Nobel Prize winners have to resign before NAS, the APS, the Royal Soc etc admit to uncertainty and doubt? If you cannot get the acadamies to change their tune then perhaps its time to admit they are right…

  19. Grzegorz Staniak

    @Richard Hill

    Polish Academy of Sciences is a bit schizofrenic on this: the Geological Comittee published a position paper that’s been enshrined on denialists’ blogs ever since, and ridiculed by everyone else — someone made an embarrasing mistake while interpreting ice-core data, assuming a series ended in recent years, while in fact it ended in the half of the 19th century. So they happily concluded that concentrations of CO2 comparable or higher than the present values appeared a number of times during the last 400 000 years…

    I don’t know why it’s geologist that particularly tend to lean toward the denialist positions, but they do, British or not. Perhaps it has something to do with the industries that give employment to most of them, perhaps it’s kind of professional feud against climatologists comparable to hostilities that can sometimes be seen between psychiatrists and psychiologists. Anyway, the Geophysical Comittee of the same Academy of Sciences (representing most of the Earth Sciences specialists, climatologist among them) published a similar position paper soon after — quite cautious in conclusions, but without any doubt acknowledging the reality of climate change and its, at least partly, anthropogenic character.

  20. DirkH

    Grzegorz Staniak says:
    15 October 2011 at 6:55 pm
    “I don’t know why it’s geologist that particularly tend to lean toward the denialist positions, but they do,”

    Geologists know that the planet had much higher CO2 levels than now during a lot of its history; and life didn’t end, nor did the planet undergo thermal runaway.

    It seems you never heard about that; if you did, you wouldn’t ask.


  21. Grzegorz Staniak


    Yeah, yeah. That’s exactly what I meant: they “know better”. They just forget to check the big picture with other specialists before going Rutan on the climatologists. Otherwise they might learn that when CO2 concentrations were much higher, the Sun was much fainter.

  22. Parma John

    Unless they have branched out to new businesses everyone knows that Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe are the best darned lawyers in Cambridge (our fair city), MA!

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