Crazy Coleman’s Cantankerous Conjecturing


Cross posted at

Alliteration makes me happiness.

I’d like to introduce you to John Coleman, whose claims to fame are that he was the first weatherman on Good Morning America, and that he was the founder of the Weather Channel. So, without further adieu, I give you John Coleman:

Currently, Coleman is a weatherman at KUSI in San Diego, California, where he apparently works with Tucker Carlson and Clay Aiken’s older brother.

Occasionally, he writes skeptical conspiracy theory propaganda, which is posted to the station’s website in a section called “Coleman’s Corner”. Much of it reads like a transcript of the Rush Limbaugh radio program. His latest work, in which he claims that global warming is responsible for our recent increases in the price of oil and even our economic downturn, has been making it’s rounds in right-wing circles.

Many on the right side of the aisle provide Coleman’s opinions as proof that global warming does not exist, which is understandable since he’s basically Einstein. I mean, he’s a friggin’ weatherman, and who would know better about forecasting global trends decades in advance based on weather conditions averaged over long periods of time than a guy who predicts San Diego’s weather into next week, right?

The claims made in Coleman’s can be separated into three categories: common skeptical theories, non-scientific obfuscations, and conspiracy theory nonsense. The nonsense, while useful for entertainment purposes, is patently absurd, so I’ll address the first two.

Coleman’s first scientific skeptical argument is actually a combination of two common arguments. In it, he states that our current warming is due to changes in solar activity and that warming stopped in 1998:

Worldwide there was a significant natural warming trend in the 1980’s and 1990’s as a Solar cycle peaked with lots of sunspots and solar flares. That ended in 1998 and now the Sun has gone quiet with fewer Sun spots, and the global temperatures have gone into decline. Earth has cooled for ten straight years. So, I ask Al Gore, where’s the global warming?

Coleman doesn’t need to ask Al Gore. He can just consult NASA’s GISS Department, which would point him to this graph:


You may notice that, instead of a constant cycle that peaked in the 80’s and 90’s, there is a steady increase in temperatures throughout the past century. This business of cooling since 1998 is based on 1998’s anomalous temperature, which is primarily the result of a very powerful El Nino effect. However, NASA GISS shows 2005 as being slightly warmer and the general trend is still upward.

Coleman’s next skeptical argument is a favorite of the oil and coal industries:

[CO2] is a natural component of our atmosphere…Every time we breathe out, we emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It is not a pollutant. It is not smog. It is a naturally occurring invisible gas.

As with several other skeptical arguments, this one is true but irrelevant. It is an often used red herring. The fact that CO2 also occurs naturally does not change the fact that it is a greenhouse gas that absorbs infrared light. Now, Coleman does have a point about there being a large percentage CO2 emissions from natural sources. However, there is also a large natural sink, which largely negates the natural emissions in what is called the Carbon Cycle. It is our recent increases in manmade emissions that are responsible for increases in CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.

Carbon Cycle

Coleman then moved on to the argument that CO2 is a trace gas:

I estimate that this square in front of my face contains 100,000 molecules of atmosphere. Of those 100,000 only 38 are CO2…how can this tiny trace upset the entire balance of the climate of Earth? It can’t. That’s all there is to it; it can’t.

Genius. It just can’t. I mean, who needs scientific measurements and calculations when you just know that “it can’t”? It’s not like climatologists have quantified the amount of heating that greenhouse gases are responsible for or anything.

IPCC Radiative Forcing Chart

Next, Coleman mentions a list of thousands of scientists who disagree with the theory of anthropogenic global warming. This list, called the Oregon Petition, has been ridiculed by many for its lack of verifiable information. Most attempts to verify credentials of its signatories have resulted in less than impressive results:

When questioned in 1998, OISM’s Arthur Robinson admitted that only 2,100 signers of the Oregon Petition had identified themselves as physicists, geophysicists, climatologists, or meteorologists, “and of those the greatest number are physicists.” This grouping of fields concealed the fact that only a few dozen, at most, of the signatories were drawn from the core disciplines of climate science – such as meteorology, oceanography, and glaciology – and almost none were climate specialists. The names of the signers are available on the OISM’s website, but without listing any institutional affiliations or even city of residence, making it very difficult to determine their credentials or even whether they exist at all.

The petition was basically a mass mailing, of which I also received a copy, that included a non-peer-reviewed “research paper”, a Wall Street Journal op-ed cut out and a form asking for a signature and some personal information. There was also a section on the form to ask for more copies to give to friends and colleagues. 31,000 is a large number, but it doesn’t really matter what the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker think about climate change.

So John Coleman is basically an old codger, who fits squarely in the Faux News and Rush Limbaugh audience demographics, and who’d rather believe in unsupported skeptical arguments, red herrings, and conspiracy theories than peer-reviewed scientific research. It’s people like Coleman who are helping to delay our government’s response to climate change. Fortunately, both of the two candidates in the current election, have expressed a willingness to address global warming.

CORRECTION: The guy in the middle of the picture above is not Tucker Carlson. His name is actually Goober McBowtie. My apologies.


~ by reasic on June 19, 2008.

17 Responses to “Crazy Coleman’s Cantankerous Conjecturing”

  1. I love the word cantankerous. Coleman represents a dying generation and an outdated ideology. The last gasp of pure insanity that we called the elite. he does not even care about global warming. His position is based purely on an economic level. Big Oil and Tobacco run our American World. The planter class he represents has fought long and hard to maintain control. They are running out of gas and breath.

  2. It’s funny you mention him being part of an outdated ideology. One of the funniest arguments I’ve heard from global warming skeptics is that they represent a “new paradigm”, as opposed to the “old paradigm” of anthropogenic global warming. Every time I hear that absurdity, I can’t help but laugh as I explain that the idea that humans couldn’t possibly change Earth’s climate is the old paradigm.

    This business of global warming skepticism follows a well-established path of industry fighting inconvenient change. The auto industry didn’t care for mandatory seatbelts. The tobacco industry had their own “scientists” who muddied the waters in that debate. This is no different, except the connection between the industry and the scientists is a bit more difficult to trace. What I find most interesting is that there are many out there, who have nothing to gain and are simply convinced by skeptical arguments because it fits into their conservative ideologies.

  3. I tried to read his “work,” but I couldn’t get past the writing skills, or specifically, the lack of….

  4. reading tele prompters is bad for your health

    oh and chk this, i made a new word the blinded by the Obamafication of America

  5. What reasic said…//..well-established path of industry fighting inconvenient change. //

    That is clobbering the nail and driving it right through the board!!!

    As far as weathermen….pffft…in collge I hung with a woman from the theater department, one week she was Lady MacBeth and waiting tables at Butch’s Anchor Inn and the next week she was on Channel 11 doing the weather!! ANYONE can be a weatherman!!!

    And What the Fuck! What is the ‘threat’ (other than what Reasic stated) of treating Global Warming as ‘REAL’? IF there really isn’t a trend of global warming……what the fuck is the problem with treating as REAL? A cleaner environment? Fuel conservation?

    Shit! DDT wasn’t a threat, either, and we are still recovering from it’s wide spread use. Polychlorinated Biphenyls were not considered a problem, and between 1957 and 1971 over 250,000 lbs were dumped in a local river by paper mills.

    Well, ya can’t eat too much of the fish, the PCB’s are moving into Lake Michigan and a DNR mandate for clean up is costing hundreds of millions of buckeroos and is not expected to be completed for years…..and they have no goddam idea how effective it will be!!

    You would think that embracing the concept of Global Warming WOULD be a CONSERVATE idea….aw, shit, now I am all worked up and have found my reason to have a beer later!

    You don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. So John Coleman can just BLOW me!!!

  6. Wow, I think I learned more about meteorology during my single semester in the class at Indiana University back in 1980. Some people are too blind to see the writing on the wall because it’s too close to their nose. All they have to do is take a few steps back and look again.

  7. Gosh&Stuff….I got a little worked up. I’m sorry. The topic of Global Warming kinda gets me……………….a little heated.

  8. okjimm,

    DDT wasn’t a threat, either, and we are still recovering from it’s wide spread use.

    Believe it or not, that’s another point of contention among many conservative skeptics. I’ve actually seen several posts on right-wing blogs about how “Rachel Carson Was Wrong”. Ugh. I actually wrote a rebuttal about a year ago on another blog if you’re interested:

  9. Here’s my take-

    People refute the idea of Climate Change because-

    1) They profit from the Status Quo, and know any real changes would sink them.

    2) They’re frightened/overwhelmed by the idea that we are possibly in the midst of a global catastrophe.

    3) They’re uneducated, and don’t really understand the science behind GW theory, but can easily understand the non-sense written by the “Skeptics.”

    4) They’re lazy, and don’t want to change their behavior/behaviors.

    5) They’re blinded by their political/religious ideology (This also leads people to deny what they know is true out of fear of rejection from their peer groups).

    6) They’re ignorant because they avoid, ignore any ideas outside their comfort zone.

    7) They’re FUCKING DUMBASSES!!

  10. Reasic….I read the post. Un-fucking-believable! It’s like saying Mother Theresa was a peodophile caused she worked with children…..shit! Now it is a THREE beer night.

    ya, what Fairlane said…. yuppers big on #7!!!!

    Make it Four beers!!!

  11. okjimm,

    I’m not going to give you anymore reading material, because you might have to go to work in the morning. 😛

  12. i work with a lot of meteorologists (well they are technically meteorologist, but they are really just weatherpeople – or people who read the weather who have meteorology degrees)

    even they say global warming is real — and a problem — and we are nearing a tipping point.

  13. Thing is, by the time the tipping point is passed, this old goofball will be off this mortal coil. That is, there will be no pay back. You see, sacrificing short term needs and wants for long term good isn’t something that comes natural to some people (i.e., republicans). I still think the decent out number the greedy, but damn don’t the greedy have loud voices?

  14. fairlane,

    As you know, I’ve debated with many a skeptic, and I completely agree with your list, except for one thing: I would add the word “and” between numbers 6 and 7. As with everything else, I think it’s a combination of factors. Everyone’s different, of course, but I think all of those are in play to some extent with most skeptics. Many of them are more number 3 than anything else. However, there are also people like Lubos Motl, a Harvard Physics professor and avid global warming skeptic, who are probably more number 5 than the others. It’s really annoying, because I truly believe if any of them would honestly look at both sides, objectively comparing them with an open mind, they would come to the conclusion that the earth is indeed warming as a result of human activities. However, they always gravitate toward those arguments that they agree with, regardless how illogical.

    It’s something that actually fascinates me on a psychological level. I just can’t bring myself to believe that there’s no way to remove the ideological blindfold that so many people wear. Bloggers and others who are publicly invested in a particular ideology are obviously not going to eat humble pie, but maybe most regular Americans are reachable. What do you think?

  15. DCap,

    As I understand it, skeptical meteorologists also make up a small minority among their colleagues. There’s one here in a nearby city (Birmingham, AL), and I’ve heard several people say they like him because of it.

  16. Hi. You might be interested in my residual correlation analysis of cumulative CO2 emissions vs. temperature for the last 150 years. I believe it cannot be explained by coincidence or confounding.

  17. “Go Fuck Yourself, San Diego.”

    Also, Goober McBowtie… Classic.

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