The following serves as an example for fence-sitters out there of what me and others mean when we talk about a climate denier echo machine. Witness how step by step climate deniers turn a scientific result into misinformation and spread it around the dark corners of the Internet until it reaches the media and the public.
First a paper is published"An ikaite record of late Holocene climate at the Antarctic Peninsula" Earth and Planetary Science Letters
A Press Release is made
"Scientists use rare mineral to correlate past climate events in Europe, Antarctica" Syracuse University Press Release (March 22nd)
In part these press releases are supposed to help the public understand the science better. However through no fault of the University this one will end up being used for the opposite effect. What follows makes a very good case for university media relations departments to preempt and cover possible climate denier distortions of papers.
The Machine Spins Up
"More evidence the Medieval Warm Period was global" Wattsupwiththat.com (March 22nd)
A Little More
"Medieval warming WAS global – new science contradicts IPCC" - www.theregister.co.uk (March 23rd)
We are now in full flow. See the hits you get if you google the Register headline "Medieval warming WAS global". LOTS of hits. This is the infamous echo chamber. Check the top hits:
Is it really a coincidence that the top hits are all to extremist conspiracy theorist sites? No, it's a reflection of the true demographic of climate deniers. Some people wrongly think climate deniers are all paid shills for industry. No, very few of them are. The vast bulk of climate deniers are ideological crazies.
And Today The Story Reaches the Media
"Is this finally proof we're NOT causing global warming? The whole of the Earth heated up in medieval times without human CO2 emissions, says new study" www.dailymail.co.uk (March 26th)
Notice how with each step the misinformation gets exaggerated a little bit more. In the first iteration it's merely claimed that the paper is "evidence" that the medieval warm period was global. In the second iteration this becomes the medieval warm period "WAS" global. Finally the DailyMail article adds the suggestion "is this proof we're not causing global warming?". Each iteration of the story is spread around the internet. The next iteration will probably be performed by the moronic unpaid henchmen of the denialist machine - the readers and commenters of their blogs and media articles - who will exaggerate the misinformation even further to it's logical end. Shrill letters will pop up in local papers wide and far screaming "A recent paper proved man isn't causing global warming!".
And that's the climate denial echo machine in action. It's not a designed machine run by some nefarious entity, it's an emergent shitstorm of uninformed drones parroting misinformation at each other and eventually it bleeds out into the sane parts of the world.
Those who should know better (?)
The Global Warming Policy Foundation pushes it anyway.