Donna Laframboise: How to Avoid the Argument

It’s been a while, so I figured I’d see how the charming Donna Laframboise has been going of late. To my surprise, she had recently made it downunder to market her new book. She has a video up of her presentation to the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), an organisation described by McKewon (2012) as a “neoliberal think tank and high-profile news source that rejects the evidence of anthropogenic climate change and opposes mitigation strategies such as an ETS”. In the same article, McKewon (2012) defines neoliberal think tanks as “keeping with the interests of the economic elites who fund them, neoliberal think tanks promote core values of the political Right – free market capitalism, anti-socialism, privatisation, small government and deregulation…”

You get the picture. With the wonderful work the IPA did for Plimer’s 2009 book, Heaven and Earth: global warming – the missing science (McKewon 2012), Laframboise rightly should have been appreciative of their interest in her book.

You must watch the presentation;

It seems the book took a different turn than what I had been expecting from her hype in the lead up. I was hoping for more of a religious zeal to be waxed over the IPCC and any individual who comes to the same conclusions. I was disappointed by the mundane summary provided.

To summarise what I took aware from the presentation above;

    1. Most professional bodies speak highly of the professionalism of the IPCC authorship
    2. Authors didn’t turn out to be the cream of the crop in the field of their chapter
    3. Indeed some authors seemed to have been selected for political grounds rather than due to science background
    4. Professional activists co-authored the IPCC reports (some of which are associated with rich green activist groups)
    5. The World Wild Fund for nature recruited many of these authors for its own panel on climate change
    6. The WWF “has an interest in affecting the very questions [the IPCC] were supposed to be examining”.
    7. Thus authors throughout the chapters were affiliated with the WWF.
    8. The IPCC has no consequences for disobeying governing regulations/rules; “It’s like putting up a speed limit. But if there’s no police officers enforcing that speed limit, what do you suppose is going to happen?”
    9. All of the above taken into account and that no scientist has public stated the above is contrary to what the IPCC has said about itself – what else has the public been misled about?
    10. Thus, the IPCC isn’t trustworthy or reliable and we need our heads examined if we are to trust its opinion on something as complicated as climate change.

Please point out if I’ve missed something.

Now, the questions that continued to repeat within me were as I watched the presentation were; what has this got to the material that was peer reviewed within the reports? What has this got to do with the peer reviewed literature more broadly that removes all doubt of the role of CO2 as a greenhouse gas and a vast amount of the uncertainty in what we can expect from doubling CO2 concentrations above pre-industrial limits?

I suspect, not a lot.

Maybe the internal configurations of the IPCC could learn a thing or two from Laframboise’s book, however this doesn’t change the fact that audits of the 4th report found that it was above board (albeit, with a few mistake – such as the heavily inflated “Glaciergate”).

I’m not sure as to why a committed sceptic would make much of her book. To think its status undermines the genuine science of climate change is to be fooled by the Heartland’s despicable billboard campaign. Someone un(der)qualified or undesirable believes climate change is real and due to our actions, thus the science is flawed!

No it isn’t.

Instead, the creator has presented nothing more than guilt by association. I don’t care who is telling me that gravity acts as a constant acceleration, the evidence is compelling. You could have a debate between a serial killer insisting that the human eye is an imperfect result of evolution and the love of my life insisting rather that it’s the perfect example of divine creation and I’m sorry, but as detestable the character is, I’d have to agree with the former on this single point, regardless of their other failings.

Evidence cannot be characterise into or out from a valid conclusion. It’s that simple.

Funny how she should take such a route when, on her own website, she has a page of Smart People Who Beg to Differ (one of which, Fred Singer, was brave and accurate in also begging to differ on the subject of smoking causing cancer and CFC’s role in the depletion of the Ozone layer… oh wait). Admittedly she mentions that these characters are not infallible, but urges us to consider their arguments before making up our minds… If this isn’t a direct contradiction to the book where she seems to avoid the argument completely and instead focus on the author’s value as an expert in the field of climatology, I don’t know what is!

Lastly it’s also noteworthy that Donna has a little chuckle about “consensus”. As McKewon (2012) states, “As neoliberal think tanks are not academic or scientific organisations, their strategy for neutralising the consensus in a number of scientific fields has often involved recruiting contrarian scientists (often not experts in the relevant field) who are willing to undermine the scientific consensus in interviews with the media; this creates the impression of a genuine “scientific debate” while legitimising attacks on authoritative scientific research…”

Of course, time and time again I quote Dr Nurse, “Consensus can be used like a dirty word. Consensus is actually the position of the experts at the time and if it’s working well – it doesn’t always work well – but if it’s working well, they evaluate the evidence. You make your reputation in science by actually overturning that, so there’s a lot of pressure to do it. But if over the years the consensus doesn’t move you have to wonder is the argument, is the evidence against the consensus good enough.”

Another day, the same old spin!


For more on Donna, check out Donna Laframboise and cloud screaming and the links there in.


2 thoughts on “Donna Laframboise: How to Avoid the Argument

  1. The IPCC could just as well have understated the problem. The structure of the IPCC endeavor made underestimation inevitable – since it was made up of scientists AND government representatives AND agents of industry – for example, Exxon was represented. The political and the financial both trump the scientific.

    Since the IPCC final documents are distilled from peer reviewed studies and back-room concensus agreements, this combination assures that only the most tepid and least contentious conclusion make final print. It is an agreement of all representatives. So yes, here I can agree with Donna Laframboise, the public is being mislead. Since all non-science interests would guarantee an underestimation of climate changes impacts.

    I am not sure where she gets her information, climate scientists that I hear speaking at the Universtity of Washington and the science blog discussions I read generally seem to be arguing only 2 broad questions: “How bad?” and “How soon” – since some very bad things – Arctic melt, fires, droughts and heatwaves – all seem to be happing way sooner than models had predicted. (that darn Arctic is supposed to stay frozen way up to summer of 2050)

    Donna Laframboise gave a nice presentation, just nothing there.


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