Cartoon: How The Climate Change Hoax Works


If you like these cartoons, please support my Patreon! A $1 pledge helps keep me drawing cartoons.


I drew this one back in June, but as far as I can tell, I never got around to posting on “Alas.” Oops!


“I die and the spirit of science dies with me!” cracks me up, but I have no idea if readers will find it funny or not.
The debate over climate change exhausts me. Because while we should be debating what’s to be done about climate change, or how to mitigate climate change, we’re instead stuck endlessly debating if climate change exists or not.

And I always wonder – what do climate change deniers believe is happening among climatologists? Why, in their view, has virtually the entire scientific community in this field chosen to mislead the public and perpetuate a hoax?

Artwise, this was a fun one. I amused myself by sticking nonsensical “science stuff” in the backgrounds – a reel-to-reel tape recorder, a big lever, a portrait of Al Gore (I swiped the “celebrity photo in the background” gag from the beautiful comic strip Bloom County). The mad scientist character’s design looks unlike my usual characters and I really enjoyed that (I had a “eureka! moment when I realized how much better he’d look if he had no neck or chin).

I’m especially pleased with how the dude in the final panel came out. I’m usually pretty conservative with how I use coloring, but for that dude the coloring is really carrying the drawing, and (to my eyes at least) it looks good.


Transcript of Cartoon

This cartoon has four panels.

PANEL 1

Two scientists are talking. We can tell that they’re scientists because they’re wearing lab coats and there’s sciency-looking equipment in the background. Also a reel-to-reel projector and a photo of Al Gore. The Young Scientist is talking animatedly to the Older Scientist; Young’s eyes are wide and naive.

YOUNG: Doctor Goldberg, I know it’s my first day on the job, but I found data proving that global warming is a hoax!

PANEL 2

Older Scientist holds a hand high in the air, gesturing towards a brighter future. Young Scientist turns away, looking up in a noble fashion, his left fist clasped over his heart.

OLDER: It’s true, we made it all up! But play along and you’ll be rich!
YOUNG: Never! The people have a right to the truth!

PANEL 3

OLDER has produced a handgun and shoots YOUNG in the back; YOUNG is in great pain and looks like he’s about to fall over.

OLDER: What a shame.
YOUNG: AAAGH! I die and the spirit of science dies with me!

PANEL 4

Two completely different characters, a man and a woman, in a completely different scene. (We know it’s different because there’s no longer science stuff in the background, and because the color scheme has changed). The man is telling a story.

MAN: …So that’s what I think happens.
WOMAN: It does sound more likely than global warming being true.

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27 Responses to Cartoon: How The Climate Change Hoax Works

  1. 1
    J. Kenneth Riviere says:

    I don’t seem to have gotten this in my email as a Patreon supporter. I see my receipt from just a couple of weeks ago so I’ve still been paying. Glad to support you and glad to see the cartoon, just wanted to let you know your system of sharing might have a kink in it.

    Peace,
    jkr

  2. 2
    Ampersand says:

    Hi, JKR! Thanks so much for supporting the Patreon!

    What happened with this cartoon is that I posted it on Patreon back in June. And then I forgot to post it on “Alas” and “Leftycartoons” – and didn’t notice I’d forgotten until last night. So Patreon supporters did get this one in their emails – but seven months ago!

    I’ll be posting a new cartoon on Patreon later today. :-)

  3. 3
    Sai Nushi says:

    I’ve met a number of people who admit that the world is warming, but that don’t believe it’s humanity’s fault. They think it’s just the natural cycles of the Earth. Their argument is that the Ice Age was unnatural, and this is just the world resetting back to the tropical baseline like how it was during the dinosaurs. A lot of these people have the view that the scientists have the right data, but in their panic have attributed the wrong reasons for that data.

    Personally, I think that the world was already warming, but that we’ve put it on hyper-speed, and that it is something we need to worry about. I’m not convinced that there’s much we can do to slow it back down, but I’m also all for us trying to.

  4. 4
    Vigil says:

    @Sai: It’s pretty well accepted by climatologists that the globe does have its own warming and cooling cycles that act independent of humans. But they are measured in terms of tens of thousands of years, whereas the current warming is measurable in decades.

    It’s like watching a house spontaneously catch fire and saying it’s just caused by the natural rise in temperature caused by the sun coming up.

  5. 5
    Zag says:

    Is this that psychological thing called projection?

    I don’t see to much hysteria among the deniers or denialists or whatever they are called, just questioning and a refusal to take everything hook, line and sinker, but I see Al Gore writing that in ten years the planet will be gone and unsavable (and he wrote that something like fourteen years ago), and I see just today that Ocasio-Corez said, “… and we’re like, the world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.”

    So who is touting your conspiracy in the cartoon, or anything like it? Mr. Denialist Strawman, that all-purpose right-wing whacko? I see humor and mockery among the deniers, but not much hysteria.

  6. 6
    J. Squid says:

    So who is touting your conspiracy in the cartoon, or anything like it?

    I’ve met and know several people – including family members – who believe that global warming is a conspiracy promoted by scientists for the massive piles of money.

  7. 7
    Mandolin says:

    I mean, I’ve met people who are oil employees who believe “the other side” is being bribed.

    (In my experience, this is generational, with younger employees more likely to accept ethical dilemmas about their work, possibly because those dilemmas were already clear by the time they became employed in a way they weren’t for some of the older folks.)

  8. 8
    lurker23 says:

    i do not know how it works but if there is bias it is probably the thing where it starts at the beginning and goes through the whole time, not just that it starts at the end.

    someone was talking about bell hooks in a different thread and i think that is sort of the same thing. it is like asking is it a “conspiracy” that black womens studies people all like bell hooks? i think it is is much more simple, which is that black womens studies are set up not to let people get in and graduate and call themselves “black womens studies people” unless they like bell hooks.

    like i do not think you can go to a jesus school and get free money and get published and write alot of evolution articles, right?

    maybe climate is set up to not let people get into climate research school, and get money to study climate, and publish alot of climate stuff, if they disagree? i think alot of things are like that and climate might be one of them.

  9. 9
    Mandolin says:

    Do you think Shakespeare is popular for the same reason?

  10. 10
    J. Squid says:

    You gotta have faith! (In your favorite conspiracy theory)

  11. 11
    lurker23 says:

    i do not think there is a conspiracy. but if there was something going on with climate change i think it would be more like what i talked about.

  12. 12
    RonF says:

    Actually, the process is more like “Dr. Goldberg, I’d like to investigate an alternative process to climate change that would show that it is not anthropogenic.” “Yeah? Good luck getting funding for that, kid. I’m not signing that grant application and neither will anyone else in this department. I suggest you try basing your career on proposals that will get funded.”

  13. 13
    Mandolin says:

    There are huge pools of money available for looking at contrary research, though. Oil companies fund it; they have a lot of money. Their research just hasn’t actually turned up persuasive evidence.

    This is just the tobacco debate, which was before it various debates about the health of new, useful technologies. Presumably, at some point, it will be the X debate where X represents some useful and lucrative ox that I would prefer not be gored. I resisted global warming for a while; I may well resist the next one. I like technology, and consequences are a pain.

  14. 14
    Charles says:

    RonF,
    That’s an absurd claim.

    Even leaving aside that this is an absurd and baseless lie about the research community, even if it were true, there’s an entire trillion dollar industry that is easily capable of dwarfing the funding of existing climate research. In fact, researchers employed by oil companies were world leaders in climate modeling and got the same results as everyone else in the 80s, even though their jobs literally depended on getting a different result. Likewise, in 2014, a fossil fuel front organization set up the Berkley Earth project to disprove the hockey stick graph. They employed competent people willing to actually follow the data, so they instead provided an independent replication of the global temperature record. Earlier than that [in the 00s], researchers worked with Anthony Watts to test his theory that the heat island effect and other issues with weather stations were responsible for the apparent temperature change. In a paper that Watts coauthored, they found that the effect was negligible.

    Additionally, the idea that research efforts like the TAO drifters, which measure ocean temperature, or weather satellites that measure atmospheric temperature, were somehow developed to be biased towards showing global warming demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of how science works. Maybe the biology labs you worked in were all fraudulent scams (I doubt it), but that’s not what most science is (even more so in exploratory fields). The people who designed and built the TAO array were trying to understand ocean temperature, not play some part in a grand conspiracy to suppress the truth. The initial techniques for extracting atmospheric temperature profiles from satellite data were developed by a renowned denialist. There were plenty of unconvinced climate scientists into the late 90s (I had a coworker who did has graduate work with one who held the title of Oregon State Climatologist at Oregon State University), so the idea that they were blocking research by unconvinced scientists is one that could only be held by someone who knew fuck-all about the field.

    As a final example, cloud dynamics and reflectivity have been one of the last hopes as a poorly understood area of climatology that could conceivably be a negative feedback loop. In your batshit bullshit World Nut Daily reality, presumably research on that has been stymied to prevent the negative feedback loop being confirmed, but in everyone else’s reality, that research continues.

  15. 15
    Erin says:

    In your batshit bullshit World Nut Daily reality …

    Kind of a side note, but what is it about this topic that requires you to be so unrelentlingly insulting and hostile to everyone — without apparent provocation? RonF seems like a nice guy, and he is just discussing things.

    I guess you’re under stress because you have seen the light and everyone else is just so … stupid … with regard to climate change. But can you understand that you can make all of these idiots understand in a faster way if you lead them to it instead of constantly insulting well-meaning people?

    I am not trying to be a troll here, I am really curious about what it is about this topic that is so stressful – and Ampersand also seems to have a touch of it.

    The feeling that the world is going to collapse in a few years if there are not radical changes could be just a feeling. Many predictions from 15 or 20 years ago have not come true – including those from big climate promoters like Al Gore – New York is not yet underwater and the earth is not yet a Venus-like runaway hothouse – so maybe things are not so urgent. Or maybe they are, then we all have to move to Norway.

  16. 16
    Ampersand says:

    Erin, you’ve made two posts so far in 2019. Neither one has in any way commented on policy or on an issue; instead, you’ve written two comments about other comment-writers here (myself and Charles). That’s not what this blog is intended for. If that’s all your contribution from now on is going to be, you will be asked to leave. But if you could try making substantive policy arguments, rather than trying to divert everything into “let’s talk about Charles” or “let’s talk about Amp” or “let’s talk about Richard,” then you will be welcome to stay.

    I’m taking you off the “automatic approval” list (partly because I suspect you’re a person who has been banned from Alas previously). From now on, your comments will have to be individually improved approved by moderators. Read the previous paragraph for a guide to what you can write in order to have your comments approved.

    The last time you actually discussed any issue at length, you refused to have a good-faith discussion about climate change. You provided a graph and asked Charles to explain it. Charles and I put a fair amount of time and effort into responding to you, to which, basically, your only response was the absurd argument that you refuse to read anything sourced to skepticalscience, on the grounds that skepticalscience supports opinions that you disagree with. When both Charles and I asked you, multiple times, what source you might find credible – suggesting several possibilities, such as NASA – you refused to answer.

    None of that suggests that you were even for a moment prepared to have a good-faith discussion.

    And that you’re now more eager to discuss Charles (or me) than to actually discuss the issue is, frankly, further evidence that you’re unwilling to have an actual discussion of the issues.

    Which is why Charles and I seem impatient. We’ve been doing this for many years, and it’s frustrating.

    Charles was insulting to Ron. But Charles also has the best understanding of the issues involved with global warming of anyone who comments here regularly, and I learn a lot from reading his comments on this subject. (Also, as Charles pointed out, Ron slimed an entire scientific discipline without the slightest hint of supporting evidence).

    For example, in the comment of Charles’ you’re objecting to, there was a lot of really substantive arguments. Which you have completely ignored.

    If you’d like to post again on this thread, please begin by answering this question: What are sources that you will admit are good sources, on the subject of climate change?

    Finally, Al Gore is a pundit, not a scientist, and he has gotten the science wrong or exaggerated from time to time. I doubt your specific claims about him are true, but I don’t care, because Al Gore could once have claimed that moon cars are being driven through the Vatican by Elvis, and that would not change the overwhelming scientific evidence, and the consensus among experts, that global warming is occurring and is being driven by human activity. Focusing on Al Gore is an attempt to distract from the subject, not a willingness to actually discuss it.

    [Edited later to change “improved” to what I meant, “approved.” Aaargh.]

  17. 17
    Ampersand says:

    The feeling that the world is going to collapse in a few years if there are not radical changes could be just a feeling.

    No one here has argued that the world is going to collapse in just a few years. This seems like a strawman.

    I don’t think the world will “collapse” (whatever that means) in just a few years. I do think that we’re in danger of reaching a point in which large-scale disasters related to climate change, occurring over the next century at least, will become unavoidable (barring some completely game-changing advances in mitigation technology). I think that many people in the future will have their lives made miserable, or ended, in ways that could have been avoided if we in the present were more willing to accept scientific evidence and act on it.

  18. 18
    Erin says:

    If you’d like to post again on this thread, please begin by answering this question: What are sources that you will admit are good sources, on the subject of climate change?

    I answered honestly the last time that I wouldn’t really consider any source as the ultimate truth, and I would have to spend a year or two looking into this myself to be convinced.

    I don’t see anything wrong with that answer. If you do, you just think differently than I do. You look to an authority you trust to tell you what opinion to hold, and I want at least the feeling that I have answered my questions in my own mind and have a good feel of the material. Just a diffence in styles, but you don’t seem to grasp that people could have different thought processes than you.

    It just boggles my mind that you react with such hostility when someone just honestly has mind processes that differ from yours. You don’t understand, so you just lash out and attack.

    From now on, your comments will have to be individually improved by moderators.

    Well, I guess I have to decline your kind offer to essentially ban me, unless my comments are individually “improved” by moderators.

  19. 19
    Ampersand says:

    I answered honestly the last time that I wouldn’t really consider any source as the ultimate truth, and I would have to spend a year or two looking into this myself to be convinced.

    But I didn’t ask what source you’d consider “the ultimate truth.” That would be ridiculous.

    I’m asking if there’s any source that you’d consider legitimate. By that I mean, you’d actually engage with arguments sourced to them, rather than using “I don’t agree with that source” as an excuse to evade.

    You look to an authority you trust to tell you what opinion to hold, and I want at least the feeling that I have answered my questions in my own mind and have a good feel of the material.

    Dismissing arguments out of hand, while refusing to engage with the material, is not ever going to give you a “good feel of the material.” You’re pretending I’m asking you to accept what sources say without questioning the arguments or examining the sources. But that’s not what I’m asking. I’m asking you to engage with material you don’t agree with in good faith, rather than simply dismissing arguments if they’re sourced to a website advocating mainstream scientific ideas about global warming.

    It just boggles my mind that you react with such hostility when someone just honestly has mind processes that differ from yours. You don’t understand, so you just lash out and attack.

    I’d love to have a discussion of issues. How about this: If your next comment is all about climate change issues, with no comment about me or any other person here, then I’ll reciprocate. Deal?

    Well, I guess I have to decline your kind offer to essentially ban me, unless my comments are individually “improved” by moderators.

    Aargh. That was a typo; it ought to have said “approved.”

  20. 20
    lurker23 says:

    climate change is like abortion i think!

    there are some progressive people who only like to think about climate and who do not want to think alot about the cost of trying to do the fixes they want, those are like the “the fetus does not matter much and we should only talk about abortion rights” people

    and there are conservative people who only think about costs and do not want to think alot about the future climate, those are like the “the mother does not matter that much and we should only talk about fetus rights” people

    and there are moderate people who want to talk about balance, those are like the “we should not be having discussions about fetus rights without also talking about mothers, we should not be having discussions about more abortion rights without also talking about fetus, and we should be talking about climate change and also about costs” people.

    this is why i think they are very much the same: i think that alot of people are in the last group, both on abortion and on climate. and i think that there is alot of fighting between the first group of progressive people and last group, and alot of progressive people and conservative are trying to make the last group look stupid or evil, just like alot of abortion rights people do on both sides.

    i thought that was interesting

  21. 21
    RonF says:

    Actually Amp, this is one of the most civil places on the Internet to have a discussion. I’ve learned a few things over the years here, I’m not at all ashamed to say. Learning is good. Based on “discussions” I’ve had on Twitter and Facebook, around here the occasional “your batshit bullshit World Nut Daily reality” doesn’t bother me too much and says more about the author than the target to the participants here. Especially when you think about the recent Buzzfeed debacle and the absolute vitriol directed towards the Covington kids.

  22. 22
    Ampersand says:

    Ron, do you have anything to say about the substance of Charles’ comment? Do you still maintain that skeptics have little chance of being funded to do research?

  23. 23
    Kate says:

    there are some progressive people who only like to think about climate and who do not want to think alot about the cost of trying to do the fixes they want, those are like the “the fetus does not matter much and we should only talk about abortion rights” people

    and there are conservative people who only think about costs and do not want to think alot about the future climate, those are like the “the mother does not matter that much and we should only talk about fetus rights” people

    And once again, we see that you can’t get to a “both sides do it” summary without mischaracterizing progressives as more extreme than they really are and conservatives as less extreme than they are.
    Progressives are very much interested in looking at costs of different approaches to mitigating global warming, including solutions that were quite conservative in the 1990’s, like creating a market for carbon emissions and investing in green energy alternatives (as opposed to taxes and regulations, which tended to be the left approach to the issue). On the other hand, conservatives have not looked into the costs of climate change, the costs of fighting it and made a reasoned argument that the latter outweigh the former. They are loath to acknowledge that warming is happening at all, or that humans could do anything about it even if it were. They won’t consider solutions, much less make estimates of how much they’d cost, because they refuse to admit there is a problem.
    Similarly, progressives on abortion are absolutely willing to work to reduce abortions by increasing access to contraception, and financial assistance to people who want to carry their pregnancies to term, but feel they can’t for economic reasons. Conservatives not only exclusively consider making abortion illegal as an approach to reducing the abortion rate, they want to limit every non-coercive way to decrease the abortion rate there is. If their policies were fully enacted, the abortion rate would go up.

  24. 24
    Ben David says:

    We are very diverse and tolerant in my synagogue.

    But I can tell you with certainty that people with opinions to the Right of me are fanatics – and the more liberal ones are heretics.

    I was scandalized to discover that one of them considers ME – me! – a fanatic, and the other thinks I’m a heretic.

    Can you imagine????

    Regarding funding bias, this looks good:
    https://www.nationalreview.com/2015/02/global-warming-follow-money-henry-payne/

  25. 25
    Kate says:

    Well, the people to both the left and right of me seem to have pretty legitimate points (although they are all left of center). When I look a bit further to the right of me, there is a big gap filled with little more than Susan Collins’ hand wringing. Further right, there are fanatics. When I look far to the left of me, there they are fanatics as well, but I’m less worried about them because, aside from a few college protests, they exist mostly in history books.
    And, no, the article about funding bias @24 is not “good”. Dated to 2015, it claims that at that point there had been a lack of warming for over a decade, citing that “…winter’s dangerous, record-breaking low temperatures.” But, the link that they provide just refers to two nights of record lows in Detroit. All the studies I can find show 2015 as the hottest year on record globally (5th hottest on record in Australia), with graphs showing rising temperatures between 2005 and 2015.
    It also provides a very unbalanced summary of “Climategate”. I think there are troubling aspects regarding peer review and access to data (as left of center mainstream sources, like the Guardian and the Atlantic acknowledged at the time). But, the appearances of actual fraud all turned out to have legitimate explanations. Most notably, the reference to “hiding the decline” refers, not to declining temperatures, but the declining reliability of tree ring data after 1960.
    In any case, even if Mann were a total fraud, that doesn’t justify Soon hiding his funding sources, or make the media’s exposure of his dishonesty illegitimate. That guy on the other side is worse, is not a legitimate defense against wrongdoing.

  26. 26
    Charles says:

    In addition to the flaws Kate points out, that article assumes a grand conspiracy by the funding agencies to fake global warming in order to justify increased regulatory power, but it doesn’t ever provide any evidence that this is happening. It also notes that the fossil fuel companies spend much less on climate research than government funding agencies do, but it offers no explanation for why the fossil fuel companies don’t bother to spend enough to reveal the truth, it just presents fossil fuel companies giving up on doing climate research as though it were somehow evidence that something were afoot. 32 billion dollars over 36 years is not actually a terribly large portion of the budgets of the fossil fuel industry, and if climate change were the hoax of some grand conspiracy, it would actually cost far less to disprove the hoax than it would to run the hoax.

    This sort of stupid conspiracy theory also still can’t make any sense of the main expensive parts of the climate research, like establishing and maintaining the TAO drifter array or developing and launching the GRACE satellites (which enable us to measure Antarctic ice mass loss, among other amazing things). Those efforts provide the observational data that let us know what is happening, but before GRACE was put in place, there was no inherent way to know if it would show mass loss or mass gain. Only someone who either knows nothing about how this all works or who is committed to absurd conspiracy theories could claim that the GRACE program was set up by the conspiracy of “pro-warmists” (as that ridiculous article calls them) in order to fake Antarctic ice loss. Developing and launching GRACE cost half a billion dollars, which is a little more than the lobbying budget for 1 year for US fossil fuel companies, but GRACE data is publicly available, so any competent research group with enough budget to employ half a dozen people (so less than a million dollars) could do a reanalysis of the data and reveal the imaginary conspiracy. That’s about what the fossil fuel industry spends on lobbying on 1 work day, so surely it would be worth it to spend that money to show that Antarctic ice is not actually melting at an increasing rate?

    In addition to Kate’s comments about Climategate, it is also worth pointing out that the global temperature timeseries that Mann was involved in developing was independently replicated by the Berkeley Earth project, which was actually funded in part by fossil fuel money and was intended as a debunking project. So whatever one might think about Dr. Mann, the temperature record that scandal was supposed to implicate has been verified by groups that weren’t part of the imaginary grand conspiracy. This sort of thing, along with Exxon’s climate modeling efforts in the 80s are why the fossil fuel companies don’t spend a lot of money on funding actual climate science- if they hire competent people to do reputable research, they end up producing results that show that climate change is happening and that fossil fuels are the main driver.

  27. 27
    Kate says:

    Ron, do you have anything to say about the substance of Charles’ comment? Do you still maintain that skeptics have little chance of being funded to do research?

    And crickets… until the next time this issue comes up, when the “skeptics” will ask the same questions, and provide links to similarly thin propaganda as if their questions have never been addressed before.

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