Thursday, June 17, 2010

Strawman Joe Barton: If He Only Had a Brain

Scientists do not say that "throughout history CO2 has always and in every case been the single controlling factor of global temperature."---Peter Sinclair at Climate Crock (video).

Today I was reading an article about man-made global warming on a site called Skeptical Science. The article was titled "CO2 lags temperature - what does it mean?" The author cited a straw man argument by the global warming denialist Congressman Joe Barton from Texas.

Just as I was reading this article, CNN reported that Congressman Joe Barton had apologised to BP CEO Tony Hayward during the Congressional hearing on the BP oil spill.

Congressman Barton claimed that BP had been the victim of a Whitehouse "shakedown" since BP had been pressured to put money in an escrow account to pay for the damage from their oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. It seems that Barton gets money from PB, but he doesn't get very much! From 1989-2010, Strawman Barton got just over 27,000 dollars from BP. It seems to me that BP got him got him dirt cheap. The Washington Post (6-17-10) describes Barton's incredible gaff. Horrified Republicans immediately forced Barton to retract his apology to BP.

Joe Barton is a man-made global warming denialist who claims on his Congressional site:

An article in Science magazine illustrated that a rise in carbon dioxide did not precede a rise in temperatures, but actually lagged behind temperature rises by 200 to 1000 years. A rise in carbon dioxide levels could not have caused a rise in temperature if it followed the temperature."

Rep. Barton was cherry-picking his facts in order to make a straw man argument, so Skeptical Science responded by providing a more complete picture of what the science really says:

When the Earth comes out of an ice age, the warming is not initiated by CO2 but by changes in the Earth's orbit. The warming causes the oceans to give up CO2. The CO2 amplifies the warming and mixes through the atmosphere, spreading warming throughout the planet. So CO2 causes warming AND rising temperature causes CO2 rise.

Read the whole article. Skeptical Science includes a short film from Climate Denial Crock of the Week called "The 'Temp leads Carbon Crock." [See their Youtube Playlist.]

The Climate Crock explains that the temperature leads carbon" argument is a straw man argument because Scientists do not say that "throughout history that CO2 has always and in every case been the single controlling factor of global temperature." That is a straw man argument because scientists do not say that.

Strawman Barton earned a B.S. in industrial engineering and an M.Sc. in industrial administration, so I think he is capable of understanding what the scientists are really saying. I can see that Strawman Barton is mischaracterizing what the scientists are saying.

If a college professor deliberately mischaracterizes his sources in his professional research, he has committed a serious ethical breach called "research misconduct." It can cost him his job. If a congressman mischaracterizes scholars, he can get donations from the fossil fuel interests.


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