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F*** it, I'm biased.

Had an assignment to thoughtfully analyze the strengths and downfalls of a climate change contrarian argument. The source given was Singer and Avery 2007. I only had three pages, but I had a lot more to say. Their chapter looks like a war zone now that I got done reading it from all the notes and highlights I wrote. I really find it unfathomable that pieces of shit literature like this get published and people take them at face value.

Original Source: Singer,  Avery. 2007. Chapter 3: Shattered Glass in The Greenhouse Theory. In: Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1,500 Years. Plymoth: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc. p 35-44

Shattered Glass Still Traps Heat

Taken at face value, climate change contrarian arguments can have a visceral strength to them. They often use rhetoric implying ad hominem such as “climate change alarmists” or “scaremongers”, while referring to themselves as “reality-based skeptics” (Singer & Avery 2007, p. 39). This works to make the reader feel uneasy and unintelligent for disagreeing with them. If the data weren’t taken out of context with a liberal amount of ellipses, it would be an effective argument. However, once one uncovers the sources and details of their augment, there is a frustrating realization at the amount of cherry picking and inaccurate paraphrasing of sources.  
            This paper aims to deconstruct the tactics used in Singer and Avery’s (2007) argument against climate change, to reveal the invalidity of the entire piece. Some time will be focused on rhetoric, and construction of argument used to sway readers unethically to their side. The majority of the time however will be used to dig deeper into their originally cited sources to reveal the discontinuity between the original sources and Singer and Avery’s argument.
            “Articles appear almost daily about ‘abrupt ice ages’ and ‘millions of extinct species’ based on nothing more than self-aggrandizing speculation” (Singer & Avery 2007, p. 42).  This is one of Singer and Avery’s concluding points. I want to point particular attention to the haughty rhetoric used within this statement. Frankly, that level of biased word choice and rhetoric has no place in an academic piece of literature. One would hope, at the very least, that a credible source would avoid logical fallacies in their argument. However, this piece falls to one of the most immature logical fallacies—ad hominem or attack of the person.  There is simply no reason to subtitle a whole section “Still, the scaremongers are trying” (p. 39).  It’s offensive, it’s rude, and it’s biased.
            Further, where Singer and Avery do give voices to these “scaremongers”, like the World Wildlife Fund, it is with a great density of ellipses and lack of proper citation. The very first quote of the chapter, taken from the World Wildlife Fund, contains two ellipses. What information was left out? Was it left out for brevity, or because it contained points that were inconvenient to their argument? Turns out, it is impossible to tell, because the original citation no longer links back to the direct text, and there is no appendix of the full paragraph or section from which this quote is taken. While I would like to have good faith this quote was not fabricated, without a link to the original text, it is impossible to tell if the quote represents the opinions of the World Wildlife Fund at all. This wasn’t the only citation that proved difficult to find. Many of the statements made within this paper have improper citation or even no citation at all.
            In the text I found an overwhelming amount of statements that were not followed up with a citation. A sample of these include “The Earth’s temperature has warmed only slightly since 1940” (p. 36), “the other 97 percent of Antarctica has been cooling since the mid-1960’s” (p. 36) and “the temperature at and near the North and South Poles are lower than they were in the 1930’s” (p. 39). None of these statements have any citation. Without proper citation, the author might as well be making them up, and, as it turns out, that isn’t too far-fetched of an assessment.
            There is no proper citation for the statement “the temperature at and near the North and South Poles are lower than they were in the 1930’s” (p. 39).  Since there was no citation, I researched the literature myself. I found this graph from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (n.d.) of the arctic temperature record over the last century (table 1). Interestingly, the average temperatures in the 1930’s still fall far below current temperature trends in the arctic. Perhaps Singer and Avery picked certain points of data from the 1930’s compared to selected points of data in the present to purposefully construct their argument, but without proper citation or methodology section, it is impossible to tell. Moreover, Singer and Avery refer to the 1930’s without mention of why the 1930’s in particular are being discussed, and without any explanation for why the 1930’s may have been anomalous. Their argument seems to be, simply: it was kind of warm in the past, so we shouldn’t be concerned about the warming now, even if we lack complete mechanistic understanding of why the warming occurs.    
Table 1
Perhaps the most interesting article Singer and Avery cite is Laat and Maurellis (2004).
The authors point out a serious flaw in the IPCC’s surface temperature record…[T]here’s virtually no information from Antarctica, which is known to have cooled slightly in recent decades. When the authors calculate the satellite-based temperature trend for the same regions actually covered by the IPCC, they find that the IPCC’s geographic selection results in an overestimation of warming by 33%.
Singer and Avery conveniently leave out that the apparent mystery of the Antarctic cooling is really no mystery at all. Correlations between cooling and the anthropogenic ozone hole have been well documented for over a decade (Randel & Wu 1999). Secondly, there is no mention of an IPCC inaccuracy of 33% in the original article (Laat & Maurellis 2004). Finally, despite Singer and Avery using Laat and Maurellis as a citation, the claims made within Laat and Maurellis’s piece directly confute previous claims made by Singer and Avery. For instance, Singer and Avery claim (with no citation) “Satellite and high-altitude weather balloon data confirm the lower atmosphere is not trapping lots of additional heat due to higher C02 concentrations” (p. 36). Of course, they don’t specify how they are operationalizing “lots”. Because of this lack of operationalization, we cannot say that Laat and Maurellis directly confute their claim, but it is interesting that Laat and Maurellis directly say “Satellite measurements show that lower tropospheric temperature trends for the period 1979-2001 are spatially correlated with to anthropogenic surface C02 emissions”. At the very least, it seems these two sets of authors differ fundamentally in purpose, argument, and theory. Usually an academia, a researcher will not cite an article for statement or data, when the same article refutes a previous claim they are trying to make. If it does happen, researchers will at least try to refute why the dyssynchrony exists. Singer and Avery however take pieces of individual articles to fabricate their argument while conveniently leaving out all the pieces that disagree with them.
            Singer and Avery make a strong visceral argument, aided by liberal amounts of logical fallacies, inaccurate citations, and cherry picking of data. Their strength, frankly, lies in their lack of acknowledgement of contradictory arguments. While academia does an excellent job of noting downfalls and gaps in knowledge, Oreskes and Conway (2010) make a good point that the general public becomes doubtful from such cautious rhetoric. Climate change contrarians like Singer and Avery hold more sway in the public opinion by being steadfast in their claims—however fallacious they are. Singer and Avery conveniently create a straw man argument of climate science and use an argument littered with incomplete citations to knock it down. Without further knowledge or investigation of Singer and Avery’s claims, they make a compelling argument because they badger the reader into feeling unintelligent and ostracized for not agreeing with them. I wish I could attribute more merit to these authors aside from their ability to galvanize logical fallacies to their advantage against the general public, but I’m afraid I can’t.


Laat A., Maurellis A.. 2004. Industrial CO2emissions as a proxy for anthropogenic influence on lower tropospheric temperature trends. Geophysical Research Letters. [cited 2013 March 21] 31. Available from:

Oreskes N. and Conway E. M. (2010) Defeating the merchants of doubt. Nature 465: 686-687

Randel W, Wu F. 1999. Cooling of the Arctic and Antarctic Polar Stratospheres due to Ozone Depletion. Journal of Climate. [cited 2013 March 21] 31: 1467–1479. Available from:

Singer,  Avery. 2007. Chapter 3: Shattered Glass in The Greenhouse Theory. In: Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1,500 Years. Plymoth: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc. p 35-44

Smithsonian Institute. (n.d.). Is the Arctic Changing Now?: [cited 2013 March 21]. Available from:


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