John Coleman has claimed that global warming is a hoax and the greatest scam in history. This article is direct rebuttal to the false claims John Coleman has made, and his position on global warming. In summary he simply has no science to support his argument. He uses non sequiturs, red herrings, false dichotomies, and straw man arguments. Our current global warming event is human caused and John Coleman is wrong on so many points that he simply can’t be taken seriously on this subject. John Coleman was one of the founders of the weather channel, and is now a weatherman at KUSI 51 in San Diego California.
Note: This article was originally published on May 11, 2008 on the Centrist Party website. I was posted first on the OSS site on June 20, 2009
A common theme amongst those in the global warming denialist camp is using opinion and appeals to ‘living the good life’ to counter the scientific understanding. This is the mainstay of John Coleman’s argument. He does not use science to counter the evidence, but rather opinion. When he attempts to sound like he is using science, he is often using facts out of context, or simply using incorrect data or references. In some instances, he seems to be making up facts, or merely imagining them into existence for the sake of his argument.
These types of arguments are known as ‘Non sequitur’ arguments. Latin for literally, “it does not follow”. This of course is confusing for those reading his materials on the subject of global warming. By appealing to individual sensibilities, he ignores the science, but he apparently thinks he is being ‘scientific’.
John Coleman in the vast majority of his arguments merely presents rhetoric in order to show that the science behind human caused global warming is wrong.
It would be accurate to say that the real scam is the presentation by John Coleman (KUSI 51), Joe D’Aleo (icecap.us), Bob Ferguson (scienceandpublicpolicy.org), and Lord Christopher Monckton, and others, are at best seriously misinformed, or at worst participating in an agenda oriented disinformation campaign.
Based on Coleman’s arguments he claims global warming is a hoax, bad science, high-jacking public policy, no joke, and of course, the greatest scam in history. He uses no science in his argument. It seems he just wants you to believe him?
Note: All rebuttal comments (text bold & indented)
Reference links included with comments.
Coleman’s words are in normal text as illustrated in this paragraph. This letter of his was posted January 28, 2009.
By John Coleman
The key players are now all in place in Washington and in state governments across America to officially label carbon dioxide as a pollutant and enact laws that tax we citizens for our carbon footprints.
OSS recommends the tax be point of origin, or point of import. As far as Carbon Dioxide being a pollutant Webster is a good source on definitions:
1: the action of polluting especially by environmental contamination with man-made waste ; also : the condition of being polluted
Only two details stand in the way, the faltering economic times and a dramatic turn toward a colder climate.
Two problems here:
1. Economy is not as large an impediment as Mr. Coleman assumes as shown by the Mckinsey report (also see PDF and general report coverage).
2. There has been no dramatic turn toward colder climate. Natural variation and the solar cycle cause the strength of warming to lessen at times, especially during solar minimum, which we are now in (2009).
When we return to solar maximum again, what will Mr. Coleman say then, oops? According to NASA “2008 is the ninth warmest year in the period of instrumental measurements“
The last two bitter winters have led to a rise in public awareness that there is no runaway global warming. The public is now becoming skeptical of the claim that our carbon footprints from the use of fossil fuels is going to lead to climatic calamities.
Mr. Coleman continues to confuse weather with climate. A ‘local’ cold spell does not reverse global warming and a ‘local’ cold winter does not mean global warming has stopped. Local, or regional, is not global.
Example: If the average winter temperature in your area is 13 degrees Fahrenheit and the global average temperature goes up 1 degree to 14, does that mean you don’t get snow? Of course not. Remember weather is a short-term event, and climate is long-term trend. The global trend is up, and forcing and inertia as well as the atmospheric lifetime of CO2 will keep it going for a long, long time.
Note: With Global Warming, you can actually get larger snow storms. This is due to the warmer oceans evaporating more moisture into the atmosphere. Therefore, both snow and rainstorms can potentially be larger and more devastating. Does that mean you can predict these events? No, weather is still weather. Climate change merely changes the odds based on regional context.
How did we ever get to this point where bad science is driving big government to punish the citizens for living the good life that fossil fuels provide for us?
This is a classic strawman argument, and contains only his opinion, no science. He is appealing to your ‘living the good life’ based on fossil fuels to prove that the science is bad. One has nothing to do with the other. The argument is absurd at best.
The story begins with an Oceanographer named Roger Revelle. He served with the Navy in World War II. After the war he became the Director of the Scripps Oceanographic Institute in La Jolla in San Diego, California. Revelle saw the opportunity to obtain major funding from the Navy for doing measurements and research on the ocean around the Pacific Atolls where the US military was conducting atomic bomb tests. He greatly expanded the Institute’s areas of interest and among others hired Hans Suess, a noted Chemist from the University of Chicago, who was very interested in the traces of carbon in the environment from the burning of fossil fuels. Revelle tagged on to Suess studies and co-authored a paper with him in 1957. The paper raises the possibility that the carbon dioxide might be creating a greenhouse effect and causing atmospheric warming. It seems to be a plea for funding for more studies. Funding, frankly, is where Revelle’s mind was most of the time.
Another strawman argument. Here Coleman is trying to say by implication that because a person was seeking funding, global warming is wrong? Again, absurd at best. To say a scientist would not want funding for research is kind of like saying a weatherman would not like money for doing the weather. It’s a red herring argument with no substance or relevance.
Next Revelle hired a Geochemist named David Keeling to devise a way to measure the atmospheric content of Carbon dioxide. In 1960 Keeling published his first paper showing the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and linking the increase to the burning of fossil fuels.
These two research papers became the bedrock of the science of global warming, even though they offered no proof that carbon dioxide was in fact a greenhouse gas.
1957 Paper Roger Revelle, Hans E. Seuss, –– Paper: “Carbon Dioxide Exchange Between Atmosphere and Ocean and the Question of an Increase of Atmospheric CO2 during the Past Decades” [Plass 1956 – Calculations by Plass (1956) indicate that a 10% increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide would increase the average temperature by 0.36C.]
1960 Paper Charles D. Keeling, –– Paper: “The Concentration and Isotopic Abundances of Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere“
Clearly the 1957 paper did establish CO2 as a greenhouse gas (ref. 1st paragraph on the second page, Plass 1956). So Coleman is clearly wrong. That is one of the great things about science. Once something is fairly well established, it is accepted or considered on that basis, unless proven otherwise, or reasonably challenged.
It’s like gravity, it’s pretty well accepted that gravity exists, even though it is not fully understood. The ‘we don’t know everything’ argument applies here. But just because we don’t understand everything about gravity does not mean we all just start floating off into space.
In addition they failed to explain how this trace gas, only a tiny fraction of the atmosphere, could have any significant impact on temperatures.
I WANT TO MAKE THIS EXTREMELY CLEAR, THAT ‘TINY FRACTION OF CO2‘ IN OUR ATMOSPHERE HAS MUCH MORE THAN A “SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON TEMPERATURES”. IT IS THE ONLY THING BETWEEN US AND A FROZEN PLANET THAT COULD NOT SUPPORT LIFE.
Mr. Coleman also states that those papers offered “no proof that carbon dioxide was in fact a greenhouse gas”. Who cares? There are probably thousands of papers about climate that are talking about things other than carbon dioxide. His statement is a toothless lion, and a red herring that distracts people from the science while attempting to draw them into emotional arguments.
Now let me take you back to the1950s when this was going on. Our cities were entrapped in a pall of pollution from the crude internal combustion engines that powered cars and trucks back then and from the uncontrolled emissions from power plants and factories. Cars and factories and power plants were filling the air with all sorts of pollutants. There was a valid and serious concern about the health consequences of this pollution and a strong environmental movement was developing to demand action. Government accepted this challenge and new environmental standards were set. Scientists and engineers came to the rescue. New reformulated fuels were developed for cars, as were new high tech, computer controlled engines and catalytic converters. By the mid seventies cars were no longer big time polluters, emitting only some carbon dioxide and water vapor from their tail pipes. Likewise, new fuel processing and smoke stack scrubbers were added to industrial and power plants and their emissions were greatly reduced, as well.
Again Coleman is building straw men and throwing red herrings at us to distract away from the science of global warming, with the science of pollution control. It’s a false dichotomy. One thing has little to do with the other in the context he alludes to.
Humans are putting around 9 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year lately. The smoke stack scrubbers were installed to scrub out some aerosol and toxic pollutants, not CO2. The majority of CO2 still comes from burning coal, not gasoline.
He is also trying to say that by putting catalytic converters on cars, we reduced CO2 from the tailpipes. But the catalytic converters were not designed not reduce CO2. In fact, they were designed to PRODUCE CO2!!!
Three Way Catalytic Converter
- Reduction of nitrogen oxides to nitrogen and oxygen: 2NOx → xO2 + N2
- Oxidation of carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide: 2CO + O2 → 2CO2
- Oxidation of unburnt hydrocarbons (HC) to carbon dioxide and water: CxH2x+2 + 2xO2 → xCO2 + 2xH2O
Two Way Catalytic Converter
- Oxidation of carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide: 2CO + O2 → 2CO2
- Oxidation of unburnt hydrocarbons (unburnt and partially-burnt fuel) to carbon dioxide and water: CxH2x+2 + 2xO2 → xCO2 + 2xH2O
CATALYTIC CONVERTERS MAKE CO2 BY OXIDIZING UNBURNT HYDROCARBONS AND CARBON MONOXIDE AND CONVERTING THEM TO CO2 and H2O.
But an environmental movement had been established and its funding and very existence depended on having a continuing crisis issue. So the research papers from Scripps came at just the right moment. And, with them came the birth of an issue; man-made global warming from the carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.
Right, got it. Thanks!
Revelle and Keeling used this new alarmism to keep their funding growing. Other researchers with environmental motivations and a hunger for funding saw this developing and climbed aboard as well. The research grants began to flow and alarming hypothesis began to show up everywhere.
Again, red herrings and strawman arguments. Coleman thinks that if he can keep your eyes on the political argument, you will be distracted enough from the science, and if his emotional appeals work, you will believe his opinion, and ignore the science.
The Keeling curve showed a steady rise in CO2 in atmosphere during the period since oil and coal were discovered and used by man. As of today, carbon dioxide has increased from 215 to 385 parts per million. But, despite the increases, it is still only a trace gas in the atmosphere. While the increase is real, the percentage of the atmosphere that is CO2 remains tiny, about 41 hundredths of one percent.
First, his pre-industrial CO2 number is wrong. It’s not 215ppm CO2. The real number is around 280ppm CO2.
Second he is missing the point. CO2 ‘is’ a “tiny fraction” of the atmosphere, without which Earth would be a giant frozen ball in space supporting no life at all.
Third, CO2 at “41 hundredths of one percent”. CO2 is estimated to be around .038% of the atmosphere, but his point is to attempt to show you that it’s such a small amount that it can’t possibly be a big deal. In reality, without that tiny fraction of CO2 life as we know it would not be possible on Earth.
It is specifically because it is a “tiny fraction” that humans were so easily able to alter its influence on the global climate… because it doesn’t take that much to increase climate forcing. Facts out of context are meaningless.
Several hypothesis emerged in the 70s and 80s about how this tiny atmospheric component of CO2 might cause a significant warming. But they remained unproven. Years have passed and the scientists kept reaching out for evidence of the warming and proof of their theories. And, the money and environmental claims kept on building up.
What remains unproven? It’s now 30-40 years later and we know with solid confidence that humans have altered the climate system. What does a 40 year old question, that has already been answered have to do with today? Coleman could just as easily be telling you the Earth is flat with the same amount of relevance.
Back in the 1960s, this global warming research came to the attention of a Canadian born United Nation’s bureaucrat named Maurice Strong. He was looking for issues he could use to fulfill his dream of one-world government. Strong organized a World Earth Day event in Stockholm, Sweden in 1970. From this he developed a committee of scientists, environmentalists and political operatives from the UN to continue a series of meeting.
Emotional appeal as distraction, Red Herring argument.
Strong developed the concept that the UN could demand payments from the advanced nations for the climatic damage from their burning of fossil fuels to benefit the underdeveloped nations, a sort of CO2 tax that would be the funding for his one-world government. But, he needed more scientific evidence to support his primary thesis. So Strong championed the establishment of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This was not a pure climate study scientific organization, as we have been led to believe. It was an organization of one-world government UN bureaucrats, environmental activists and environmentalist scientists who craved the UN funding so they could produce the science they needed to stop the burning of fossil fuels. Over the last 25 years they have been very effective. Hundreds of scientific papers, four major international meetings and reams of news stories about climatic Armageddon later, the UN IPCC has made its points to the satisfaction of most and even shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore.
Emotional appeal as distraction, Red Herring argument. The IPCC is one of the most conservative, vetted assessments of climate science in the entire world.
At the same time, that Maurice Strong was busy at the UN, things were getting a bit out of hand for the man who is now called the grandfather of global warming, Roger Revelle. He had been very politically active in the late 1950’s as he worked to have the University of California locate a San Diego campus adjacent to Scripps Institute in La Jolla. He won that major war, but lost an all important battle afterward when he was passed over in the selection of the first Chancellor of the new campus.
He left Scripps finally in 1963 and moved to Harvard University to establish a Center for Population Studies. It was there that Revelle inspired one of his students to become a major global warming activist. This student would say later, “It felt like such a privilege to be able to hear about the readouts from some of those measurements in a group of no more than a dozen undergraduates. Here was this teacher presenting something not years old but fresh out of the lab, with profound implications for our future!” The student described him as “a wonderful, visionary professor” who was “one of the first people in the academic community to sound the alarm on global warming,” That student was Al Gore. He thought of Dr. Revelle as his mentor and referred to him frequently, relaying his experiences as a student in his book Earth in the Balance, published in 1992.
So there it is, Roger Revelle was indeed the grandfather of global warming. His work had laid the foundation for the UN IPCC, provided the anti-fossil fuel ammunition to the environmental movement and sent Al Gore on his road to his books, his move, his Nobel Peace Prize and a hundred million dollars from the carbon credits business.
Emotional appeal as distraction, Red Herring argument.
What happened next is amazing.
The global warming frenzy was becoming the cause celeb of the media. After all the media is mostly liberal, loves Al Gore, loves to warn us of impending disasters and tell us “the sky is falling, the sky is falling”. The politicians and the environmentalist loved it, too.
This is a funny argument. The amount of media, left and right, hovers and waivers around 50% liberal, and 50% conservative, but 100% commercial. They market to their base because that is how they make money. Once again, Emotional appeal as distraction, Red Herring argument.
But the tide was turning with Roger Revelle. He was forced out at Harvard at 65 and returned to California and a semi retirement position at UCSD. There he had time to rethink Carbon Dioxide and the greenhouse effect. The man who had inspired Al Gore and given the UN the basic research it needed to launch its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was having second thoughts. In 1988 he wrote two cautionary letters to members of Congress. He wrote, “My own personal belief is that we should wait another 10 or 20 years to really be convinced that the greenhouse effect is going to be important for human beings, in both positive and negative ways.”
Did Revelle say this? Based on his views and recommended actions for Global Warming, it is doubtful. But that was 20 years ago, and Coleman may be taking it out of context? But Coleman does not cite the source, or link the letter?
If the letter does exist and the quote is correct and in context, then it doesn’t matter. If it is correct and out of context then it doesn’t matter. If it is incorrect, then it doesn’t matter. Coleman is relying on 20 year old arguments to claim current scientific understanding is wrong… that is simply absurd.
It’s been 20 years, we know this global warming event is human caused and now we need to work on mitigation.
He added, “…we should be careful not to arouse too much alarm until the rate and amount of warming becomes clearer.”
This argument is like waiting until after Christopher Columbus sails across the Atlantic to prove the Earth is round; and then saying we should not fund a Christopher Columbus voyage, because there is not enough evidence to prove the world is round. We should not waste taxpayer money on such unproven endeavors.
The irony of the conception above is compelling as it is based on the myth promulgated by Washington Irving’s publication of ‘The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus’, which established and popularized a fictional account regarding the Earth is flat. The idea that even ‘that’ story is a myth is even more appropriate, as it exemplifies fiction used by denialists to prove that the science of human caused global warming is not real. Using myths to disprove science, what a concept!
It has been 20 years since Roger Revelle wrote (may have written) those words. We now know that CO2 and other human caused greenhouse gases are not only driving climate but have significantly altered the natural cycle of climate on Earth.
And in 1991 Revelle teamed up with Chauncey Starr, founding director of the Electric Power Research Institute and Fred Singer, the first director of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service, to write an article for Cosmos magazine. They urged more research and begged scientists and governments not to move too fast to curb greenhouse CO2 emissions because the true impact of carbon dioxide was not at all certain and curbing the use of fossil fuels could have a huge negative impact on the economy and jobs and our standard of living. I have discussed this collaboration with Dr. Singer. He assures me that Revelle was considerably more certain than he was at the time that carbon dioxide was not a problem.
Revelle begged scientists and governments not to move too fast?
(See Carolyn Revelle, What My Father Really Said).
Here is a statement from Justin Lancaster that worked with Roger Revelle and links to testimonials regarding the Cosmos article. “My personal conversation with Roger shortly after the publication of the Cosmos article gave me the very strong sense that he was intensely embarrassed that his name was associated.”
Did Roger Revelle attend the Summer enclave at the Bohemian Grove in Northern California in the Summer of 1990 while working on that article? Did he deliver a lakeside speech there to the assembled movers and shakers from Washington and Wall Street in which he apologized for sending the UN IPCC and Al Gore onto this wild goose chase about global warming? Did he say that the key scientific conjecture of his lifetime had turned out wrong? The answer to those questions is, “I think so, but I do not know it for certain”. I have not managed to get it confirmed as of this moment. It’s a little like Las Vegas; what is said at the Bohemian Grove stays at the Bohemian Grove. There are no transcripts or recordings and people who attend are encouraged not to talk. Yet, the topic is so important, that some people have shared with me on an informal basis.
Here Mr. Coleman plants an unsubstantiated, and most likely untrue, idea in your head (read statement from Justin Lancaster) that doesn’t even matter. Humans are causing the planet to warm. It’s a scientific fact based on the known relevant science.
Roger Revelle died of a heart attack three months after the Cosmos story was printed. Oh, how I wish he were still alive today. He might be able to stop this scientific silliness and end the global warming scam.
Singer claimed in the Cosmos article that warming in today’s century will be“well below normal year-to-year variation.” That means 0.2C.
Fact: Revelle expected warming in the 21st century would be 1-3 degrees Celsius.
“Revelle was hoodwinked (by Fred Singer), in my view. Perhaps more severe terms are deserved.” – J. Justin Lancaster
Al Gore has dismissed Roger Revelle’s Mea culpa as the actions of senile old man. And, the next year, while running for Vice President, he said the science behind global warming is settled and there will be no more debate, From 1992 until today, he and his cohorts have refused to debate global warming and when ask about we skeptics they simply insult us and call us names.
Ah, the ‘Liar Liar, Pants on Fire’ defense. Not scientific, but kinda entertaining. If by ‘names’ Coleman means denialists of human caused global warming, well, the shoe fits.
So today we have the acceptance of carbon dioxide as the culprit of global warming. It is concluded that when we burn fossil fuels we are leaving a dastardly carbon footprint which we must pay Al Gore or the environmentalists to offset. Our governments on all levels are considering taxing the use of fossil fuels. The Federal Environmental Protection Agency is on the verge of naming CO2 as a pollutant and strictly regulating its use to protect our climate. The new President and the US congress are on board. Many state governments are moving on the same course.
I’m sorry, did I fail to mention the Webster definition of pollutant:
1: the action of polluting especially by environmental contamination with man-made waste ; also : the condition of being polluted
We are already suffering from this CO2 silliness in many ways. Our energy policy has been strictly hobbled by no drilling and no new refineries for decades. We pay for the shortage this has created every time we buy gas. On top of that the whole thing about corn based ethanol costs us millions of tax dollars in subsidies. That also has driven up food prices. And, all of this is a long way from over.
Ok, I’m finally agreeing with Coleman on something. The corn based ethanol thing is not the best idea by the assessments I’ve seen, but that actually does not mean there are no better ideas.
And, I am totally convinced there is no scientific basis for any of it.
If, for example, I am totally convinced that elephants can fly when my eyes are closed, does it make it true?
Global Warming. It is the hoax. It is bad science. It is a highjacking of public policy. It is no joke. It is the greatest scam in history.
Hmmm… Well, see all my notes above and of course:
To email John Coleman,.
For more info on (Coleman’s perspective on) the global warming scam, check out Coleman’s Corner.
- Real Climate: John Coleman
- Rebuttal to: The Amazing Story Behind the Global Warming Scam
- Rebuttal to: John Coleman’s position statements regarding global warming.
- Carolyn Revelle: What my father really said.
- The Revelle Gore Story by Justin Lancaster