coloured a photograph of a testicle.
First it was denial - that it wasn't happening, that the globe was cooling, in fact. Then that it might be happening, but wasn't caused by man. Then that it was happening, but was caused by... the sun. Yes, the sun. A recent documentary, The Great Global Warming Swindle, makes the increasingly popular claim that it's not that we're keeping more heat in, it's just that more heat is arriving from the sun.
Well, that little notion has been cleaned up by the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the World Radiation Centre:
They conclude that the rapid rise in global mean temperatures seen since the late 1980s could not be ascribed to solar variability, whatever mechanism is invoked.
The UK's Royal Society says the new research is an important rebuff to climate change sceptics.
"At present there is a small minority which is seeking to deliberately confuse the public on the causes of climate change. They are often misrepresenting the science, when the reality is that the evidence is getting stronger every day," it says.
As Leigh Dayton of The Australian reports, regarding the results of the study (published by the Royal Society soon), University of Melbourne climate scientist David Karoly commented: "These findings completely refute the allegations made by some pseudo-scientists that all recent global warming is due to solar effects."
The phenomenon of climate-change denial is fascinating and complex. It's not as simple as scientists being bankrolled by oil companies, though this certainly does happen. Spokespeople for organisations called things like the Institute for Honest and Truthful Science that Doesn't Lie tend to be publicity experts rather than science experts, though that doesn't stop them having a doctorate. And interestingly, we can thank tobacco companies for some of the larger wholescale misinformers. Organisations that began as official-sounding denial of passive smoking find new funders in ExxonMobil and the like, now denying anthropogenic (that's manmade, kids) climate change.
Concern about climate change has become identified with The Left, thanks partly to Al Gore (who passes for left-wing in American politics) and the left-leaning social and economic policies of environmentally concerned groups (like, say, the Greens). What this means is that the massive self-supporting propaganda structure of Blog Punditry swings into action to counter it.
I'm sure I've said this before, but I'll say it again. It means that those people who normally identify with The Right will consider changing their mind to be some kind of loss in a very important game. And so when a theory is put forward that offers a chance of not losing a point to the Enemy, it's leapt on. When, like this sun thing, it is debunked, either the debunking is ignored or some other theory is found - preferably unfalsifiable.
And so it goes on, playing games while the world burns.