The real elephants in the room/ hearing chamber are Republicans for Environmental Protection – as Nixon appointee Bill Ruckelshaus was the godfather of the EPA , and sundry palaeocons, who staunchly maintain that conservation is, well, conservative.
How are the invitees chosen? I have always been curious….
I will be missing Drs Santer and Alley this time around – who make up some of my favorite youtube moments.
-I <3 climate science AND american football
[Response: The invitees are chosen by the committee, roughly half-half on each side (but it varies according to committee/topic/size of the majority etc.). Christy is a predictable choice for the Republicans (from a pretty thin bench of credible options), and Pielke Sr. was probably chosen because he is perceived to be a critic of the mainstream position on the science (though probably less so than some hope). Zwiers (a Canadian statistician) is there because of the recent paper in Nature on attribution of precipitation intensity extremes, while Somerville and Field are mainstream science picks (from the Dem side). Not sure why Nadlehoffer is there. The DDT guy is obviously a Republican pick, but that was probably just to muddy the waters (and it is a tragedy that this is so predictable). – gavin]
[Response: Nadelhoffer is a biogeochemist/ecologist with a background in nutrient and carbon cycling in terrestrial ecosystems, including their relationships to climate change. I’m hopeful this means there will be discussions on those topics, though that seems like asking a lot.–Jim]
Thanks for doing this. I thought you and Eli did a great job last time around and really appreciate the effort.
Fun and games, sure, but having expert annotation in real-time of hearings like these is a genuine step in the right direction, even if there are many more steps to go on the path toward communication and democracy.
Is anyone questioning the repeated lies of the denial side?
For example, Ben Santer posted a comprehensive rebuttal of the claims that he manipulated the content of Chapter 8 of SAR in this site February 2010. I recently found an extract of a book by prominent climate science denial ranter Bob Carter that repeats the allegations as fact (pp 25-26).
Kevin McKinney says: “Each, or both, makes you realize anew just how blindingly, amazingly, stupidly irresponsible the US political system is with regard to energy, climate change, and the Middle East.”
Why all the qualifiers. You could have stopped at: “Each, or both, makes you realize anew just how blindingly, amazingly, stupidly irresponsible the US political system is”
To paraphrase the late, great Molly Ivins: If they weren’t all crooks, liars and idiots, it wouldn’t be representative democracy.
Nadelhoffer is on faculty at the University of Michigan. He has been active at a local and regional level on the dangers of climate change (see http://www.lsa.umich.edu/eeb/news/pdfs/mi_us_congress_climate_ltr10_09.pdf). He has written specifically about climate change and the Great Lakes Region – Michigan. The Committee Chair, Fred Upton, represents southwestern Michigan. Nadelhoffer is probably going to address changes in Michigan – the Great Lakes region in an effort to make this issue more “real” to Upton.
Viewing this hearing from the UK has left me stunned – is this really the way in which the legislative process in the world’s biggest economy takes place? Two political sides choosing their own experts for a tag team contest, and each side only asking questions of their own experts. And no doubt both will go away claiming that their experts have carried the day.
I thought the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences was mandated by Congress to provide expert opinion on such issues? And the NRC has provided several detailed assessments which have dealt with all the questions raised at the hearing. It appears that many of the Committee have never encountered the NRC’s assessments, and prefer instead the propaganda of ‘free market’ fundamentalist groups.
The UK parliamentary process has many flaws, but I’m afraid this embarrassing House hearing makes our process look positively brilliant. I wish the United States could find a better way of ensuring its legislative process is informed by the best expert advice. But I’m afraid today’s display has greatly diminished the reputation of Congress and the United states in general.
If they wanted a panel that represented the real world, shouldn’t there by about 25-50 researchers to balance out Dr. Christy? I really don’t know what the point is; most of these congressmen don’t even know undergrad level physics, and they are making decisions on extremely complicated stuff.
It’s hard enough watching politicians at the best of times, but that was horrible. I stopped watching after about 2 hours. Inslee seemed more interested in demonstrating his own knowledge than finding out anything, but the Republican members were partisan at best and incoherent at worst. All of them seemed more interested in making statements than hearing answers, except to smug patsy questions. Bang head on wall.
Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 8 Mar 2011 @ 12:47 PM
Christy said something to the effect that ‘There is no thermometer that reports human induced warming; that attribution is all model driven.’
Christy himself reports atmospheric temperatures from instruments via a physical model of the atmosphere. Does that mean that his temperature reports are meaningless because his reports rely upon models?
Honestly, that lack of consistency ought to count for something in polite company.
[Response: Christy’s points are mainly rhetorical. All attribution is model based – those models can be GCMs, statistical, intermediate models or whatever, but you need to have some way of assessing what would happen with or without a particular driver. See this post on attribution. He is trying to imply that no attribution is possible at all. – gavin]
My thoughts on the live blogging and committee:
Roger Pielke Sr. was there to rehash his dislike of the IPCC and anything associated with them, as well as push his idea that the heat island effect is the holy grail of climate science. When he wasn’t being dismissive of the other scientists, he was pushing his own ego like a giant rock up a hill.
Inslee has read a lot of the science, but he’s fascinated by the popular ideas, not the complex science behind the climate.
Waxman tried to get the committee back on focus to the EPA standards that might change, along with the subcommittee’s chair, but they didn’t do a very good job. It became a free-for-all, especially when Griffin (R-Louisianna) got to naming almost every farcical denialist claim as if they actually were scientific proof. He also derailed much of the discussion when he tried to push the 1970’s popularized theory of global cooling.
The live blogging was far too light. ScienceInsider could have done a lot better job. As well, someone needs to address the distortions that Pielke Sr. tried to push out there.
James Hansen states (I think) that 2012 with its el nino event and ACC will hopefully be a unfortunate milestone in the fight in ACC. 2010 was bad enough for Russia, Australia and many other parts of the world and whilst 2011 wont be the warmest it is commented on that 2012 should be.
The longer we delay action the larger the tanker gets and the harder it is to turn. Can you change a culture of greed, influence, being seduced, vested interests, lobbying, denial, etc, its doubtful based on a alleged non existant threat of ACC to the republicans.
Its all denial and the media are in the way to of the scientific relevance what increased fossil fuels burning and land use changes mean
The one thing that struck me quite forcefully is that the Congress-people really don’t want to talk about science (apart from a couple of clear exceptions). The WVa representative for instance was very focused (unsurprisingly) on his constituents – many of whom rely on the coal industry. No-one on the panel wanted to address his questions – which to be fair are not scientific – but it seems obvious that the question was important, and the lack of a response – even at the level of a personal opinion – was unsatisfying.
I think someone on the panel should have said something – perhaps along the lines of an acknowledgement that miners are not the culprits here; it is not their fault that CO2 is a greenhouse gas that we are emitting faster than the planet can assimilate. They too are victims, and while Congress (and the world) can rightly decide that continuing coal burning without CCS is too large a risk for global climate, they owe a responsibility to those who will lose out as a response to policies decided because of larger concerns. It probably would not have appeased the Congressman, but ignoring the fact that reducing carbon emissions will inevitably have impacts on the fossil fuel extraction industry, seems odd. The other bone that could be tossed might be the development of large scale CCS – if the problems there can be sorted out efficiently.
18, Ray Ladbury: Why all the qualifiers. You could have stopped at: “Each, or both, makes you realize anew just how blindingly, amazingly, stupidly irresponsible the US political system is”
This is not new. It began with the Continental Congresses, and continued through the Washington, Lincoln, FDR and LBJ administrations. It is not peculiar to the U.S. Judging from migrations, and petitions to immigrate, not a lot of actual systems are actively preferred to ours, however.
34, Gavin: they owe a responsibility to those who will lose out as a response to policies decided because of larger concerns. It probably would not have appeased the Congressman, but ignoring the fact that reducing carbon emissions will inevitably have impacts on the fossil fuel extraction industry, seems odd. The other bone that could be tossed might be the development of large scale CCS – if the problems there can be sorted out efficiently.
This pattern seems pretty common in the arguments/debates that I see.
“Fixing the problem is too expensive.” is commonly used to counter “Houston, we have a problem.” The expense of fixing the problem is not at all a counter to the fact that there is a problem, but it is perceived to be by too many, or so it would seem.
Sure, there are costs associated with fixing the problem, but those who argue from a costs perspective seldom relate what it will cost to fix the problem with what it will cost to not fix the problem. And in all honesty, that is difficult to quantify. We might as well face it that the ride of cheap energy is over, or at least on hiatus until alternatives are in large scale production. I liken it to someone haggling over what it will cost to have firemen come to put out the fire in their house; meanwhile, the fire is spreading.
Fixing the problem basically means putting the coal industry out of business, and they know this. It is hard to imagine what could be done or said that will appease someone threatened with being systematically driven out of business.
[Response: CCS is one thing. Scholarships for mining families is another. Additional training, landscape renovation projects, etc. What happened to communities built around asbestos mines? Or the families in Centralia, PA? Or mining villages in Wales? Things can be done that are better than nothing. – gavin]
“his constituents – many of whom rely on the coal industry”
I always wonder how much actual west virginian residents benefit from the coal industry… there seems to be, at a superficial level, a correlation between resource-rich/extraction-intensive regions and poverty both within the US and internationally. How much of the money made by mining and selling coal goes to miners compared to the Wall Street based owners? And, the corollary, if a CO2 tax was imposed, how much would that take money out of the pockets of miners compared to owners?
In the long term, the coal industry will probably shrink in response to high carbon prices, so there the question is can the funds raised be used for worker retraining programs and other ways to help the actual West Virginians (in contrast, again, to the owners).
Not to completely diss owners of capital, land, and companies: good company management deserves commensurate rewards for what is a (presumably) rare resource and what often requires many hours (though behind a desk rather than in a mine): also, stocks of coal companies are presumably owner by many kinds of individuals: but certainly, the rhetoric one hears is always about the poor miner who needs a job and not the owner.
[Response: Agreed. But that doesn’t change the fact the coal miners (like the asbestos miners) are not to blame for the consequences of their product. There is strong evidence that the local impact of mining is very deleterious on local population as well, and of course, mining is no picnic either, so it isn’t a given that everyone in WV is pro-coal. – gavin]
Gavin wrote: “… ignoring the fact that reducing carbon emissions will inevitably have impacts on the fossil fuel extraction industry, seems odd.”
Well, the Koch Brothers are certainly not ignoring that fact. Indeed, it is their acute awareness of that fact that leads them to fund the election campaigns of politicians who then work aggressively to block any efforts to reduce emissions.
Ignoring the fact that those politicians have essentially been paid to delay and obstruct any and all emissions reductions efforts, no matter what climate science tells us, does indeed seem odd.
J Bowers #29 Could he not have done that in written testimony? I think he missed an opportunity. One point that stuck in my caw was Christie’s remarks about the arctic melt. He said words to the effect that the melt was being caused by different (presumeably warmer) air and ocean currents, not AGW. No mention of what might be causing the warmer currents. I think he came quite close to false testimony there. Perhaps I just misunderstood him.
[Response: He was talking about atmospheric circulation patterns (the NAO/AO etc), which do impact the interannual variation of ice. But he wrongly implied they were responsible for the trend, for which there is no evidence whatsoever. – gavin]
Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 8 Mar 2011 @ 5:24 PM
Septic Matthew, The American ruling class (not the politicians, but those who buy them their offices) is now a fully fledged kleptocracy. The only thing most of these rich bastards know how to do is hold onto granddaddy’s money. They are supported in this by a nation of idiots, to stupid even to acknowledge the concept of physical reality, let alone identify what constitutes physical reality.
Ben Franklin said that eventually Americans would become too lazy and corrupt to govern themselves. He was correct.
You don’t know what serious is, Gavin, so let me try to explain it to you as gently as I can. EVERYONE is a carbon emitter. To suggest that coal miners are less guilty of a global problem than anyone else is not only apologetic appeasement, it’s quite obviously wrong.
[Response: Sure everyone is a carbon emitter, but my livelihood does not depend on whether my electricity comes from solar or coal, or whether I drive a gasoline-powered car or cycle. To assume as you appear to be doing that all costs associated with a carbon price however implemented will be spread evenly across the population is naive. It won’t be, and there will be some groups who will be proportionately disadvantaged (and others who are unaffected). Why is this even contentious? – gavin]
To assume as you appear to be doing that all costs associated with a carbon price however implemented will be spread evenly across the population is naive.
To assume that ANY carbon pricing scheme is going to solve this problem is your naivete, not mine. My perspective is based upon a realism of the scope and scale of the problem, not on yours or anyone else’s fantasies of the type of bandaide solutions that are capable of solving it. The level of self delusion about the situation here on this planet among the intellectual scientific community (which includes yourself) is really quite astonishing. This is contentious because you aren’t even in the ballpark about what is coming, how soon it is coming and what has to be done to put a dent in it. It’s like you aren’t even on the same planet, gavin, independent of your scientific specialty. You are simply not seeing the big picture. Sad, really, as the scientific community should among those to grasp the nature of the coming societal meltdown and should be the most vocal in bringing the inevitable to the fore of the conversation.
[Response: I look forward to seeing any actual outcome from your approach (angry blog comments don’t count). Please keep us posted. – gavin]
I look forward to seeing any actual outcome from your approach
By my approach you mean – increased efficiency, more insulation, more alternative energy, more reforestation and species protections, better and more widespread education, widespread birth control promotion, innovative technological breakthroughs in condensed matter physics and solid state technology, and the cultivation of a deep public appreciation for nature, life, science and self sufficiency, as opposed to say, taxing or pricing the carbon combustion of an already intransigent industry that is going to continue burning come hell or high water no matter what you demand.
You tell me what is the more realistic solution. Pain is coming, the idea is to minimize that pain.
[Response: Christy’s points are mainly rhetorical. All attribution is model based – those models can be GCMs, statistical, intermediate models or whatever, but you need to have some way of assessing what would happen with or without a particular driver. See this post on attribution. He is trying to imply that no attribution is possible at all. – gavin]
Arguing that attribution is impossible because it’s model-based is a rabbit hole Christy really doesn’t want to go down. At the fundamental level he’s arguing from attribution of the movement of an apple to gravity as it falls would be impossible too. After all, gravitation is model-based as well.
His own models would thus be rendered useless, as would all of science. Back to phlogiston, anyone?
I have been thinking a little bit about the circus that we were witness to this morning. The GOP representatives seemed wholly ignorant of the science, and eager to latch onto any notion that supports their ideology, regardless of how inaccurate, incorrect or mythical it is. This is clearly an ideological issue for them, regardless of what they might claim. You can present them with the truth, the facts, but that will not change their minds.
That these men representing the GOP have been elected to office is reflects how very poorly informed the electorate are (even farmers) on the science. To be honest I was floored by the level of ignorance the GOP representatives displayed as well as their clear disdain for science. They GOP representatives were frequently guilty of making argumentum ad absurdum (e.g., talking about banning CO2, or EPA forcing Americans to going back to the 1800s), arguing straw men, floating red herrings, and not to mention myths.
I am not going to venture to know how to solve this– ideology and science don’t mix. These are clearly dark days for science in the USA, and the scientist and EPA are going to face a huge uphill battle.
Christy and Pielke Snr seemed happy to give the myths and misguided ideas of the GOP representatives free pass, while also making several misleading, incorrect and fallacious statements themselves. It was unfortunate that the others in the know did not have time to address that misinformation. Do people like Pielke Snr know that ideologues are using their science to rationalize doing nothing and attacking science? If so, does that not bother them?
This whole sad episode left me incredibly discouraged, and I fear that the words shared with me by one of the IPCC Nobel laureates might come true. They said “We are f*$#ed”. At the time I thought they were being a little dramatic and overly pessimistic, but if the ignorance of the GOP goes unchecked, they may well be shown to be correct.
Next time they do this, the scientists need to be afforded the time to address each and every one of the myths perpetuated by the contrarian scientists and/or the politicians. Their ignorance needs to be exposed for all Americans to see.
PS: On an optimistic note, Dr. Somerville in particular was brilliant.
Missed the hearing but followed the live blogging. I was impressed with the quality of blogging and comments. Would be nice if the Congresspersons had experts with live access to that, so they could question the witnesses in real-time. The whole Christy Models Don’t Match Data could be examined more closely, along with perhaps a recounting of the history of the UAH record, his conflicting peer-reviewed comments on the matter, and the general usefulness (or lack thereof) of trying to imply anything about climate sensitivity from a short record. The various strawmen and other bogus rhetoric from Pielke and Roberts and could be handled as well. Pielke and Christy’s arguments appear almost rational compared to Roberts.
I’m with Gavin on consequences. Thanks for stating the obvious that we all have trouble facing.
On education, please note the link on high school education from my post 23. I’ve been harping on forever about the fact that until we get proper undistracted education (kids not using cell phones in school, for example, so they can’t outnumber their teachers and ignore them), respect for education, and respect for how hard it is to qualify as a real scientist must be addressed or nothing else will work.
I was struck recently by the increase in traffic and automatic attack machine that defends Judith Curry. What this means is that most of the population (over 99%, I’d guess) have no idea what science education is or what science does. This is a fundamental problem.
Sadly, Ray Ladbury nails it 43:
“a fully fledged kleptocracy”
The chiefs want to get rid of all the indians, and ignorance is their friend.
I am not a scientist, but it is not necessary to be a scientist to respect (a) the scientific process and (b) history. Not to mention the real world outside your twitter/facebook/infotainment engine.
The ignorant are now proud of it. They no longer have to try to learn, they can just insult learninbg.
The Virginia senator is going to set up his people for a whole lot of hurting. The writing is on the wall– coal is dirty and people do not like it, and that is neglecting carbon.
Going by your numbers they have 5-10 years to adapt. Adjusting is tough, but it beats being unemployed. If they were prudent, conservative and smart, they would have already started the transition. But what are they doing? Playing martyrs and burying their heads ever deeper into the ground. That is denial and ideology at work.
I am agreeing with you, not arguing with you. @51 you gave a list of coal-fired plants that will be shut down relatively soon. That does not bode well for states which rely on selling coal. That is where I was coming from.
No time, but read a few lines of Christy’s testimony…like “we can’t attribute the flood in Podunk last week to AGW” or the earthquate in Haiti, either, for that matter. Ergo, there’s no such thing as global warming.
Caught the tail end of the hearing and scrolled through the comments. Verdict? More Gavin – less Roger would have been ideal. Being able to refute arguments and provide links in real time was a real bonus. As someone might have pointed out above, it would have been great if a staffer had kept up with the live blog and fed questions to some of the Congressmen. Any of you folks have connections? Wonder if some contact could be made to one of the AAAS fellows – they’re an eager bunch.
And Henry Waxman has always been a friend of science. But the Chair entering the “dissent” document was a foul end to the day.
Sad, really, as the scientific community should among those to grasp the nature of the coming societal meltdown and should be the most vocal in bringing the inevitable to the fore of the conversation.
The scientific community’s job is *NOT* to grasp the implications of the coming social meltdown.
Their job is to do the science and present the facts. It is the job of our policy makers to make decisions based on those facts and therefore prevent the coming social meltdown. Granted individual scientists may decide to be politically active if they should so choose.
To be clear I certainly agree that our so called leaders are at best ignorant and at worst deliberately derlilect in their duties.
Personally, as much as I think that climate change taken by itself, is a major crisis for our civilization, it pales in comparison to resource depletion and the head on collision with continuing population growth. Granted climate change cannot be seperated from everything else that is happening in the world right now. There are way too many feedback loops at work with multiple major train wrecks occuring simultaneously.
May I recommend spending some time with Dr. Joseph Tainter, who carefully crosses the ‘T’s and dots the ‘I’s of the coming collapse of our complex civilization. Here’s a short preview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzuviYRse3E
62 Steve bsaid: “I understand Mister Hansen has made many predictions – most of them have not come true.”
I’ll see Gavin and raise. Below is a google scholar search on Hansen’s publications. Start with the first and tell us where it is wrong. Then go to the second tell us where it is wrong. Then the 3rd. Then the 4th. I’ll be looking forward to your responses.
your question Gavin, “Is it possible to have susbtantive discussion in public on these issues?” is right at the nut of it … David Suzuki received an award in February of this year and at the event he is reported to have said (words to the effect) that “We have been at this for 50 years now and the situation is getting worse.”
“I thought the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences was mandated by Congress to provide expert opinion on such issues?” – whatever
Republicans haven’t been listening to the NRC since Reagan, when they started their attack on science and reason in earnest.
Republican presidents dropped the position of science advisor from presidential cabinets. Obama has returned to reason by returning to the tradition of having one.
Comment by Vendicar Decarian — 9 Mar 2011 @ 10:01 AM
Roger Pielke Sr. was there to rehash his dislike of the IPCC and anything associated with them, as well as push his idea that the heat island effect is the holy grail of climate science.
If Pielke actually thinks that the “heat island effect” is a real issue, then he’s definitely out of touch. Demonstrating that UHI is not a significant factor in the global temperature
signal is something that on-the-ball lower-division undergraduate students would have no trouble doing.
MapleLeaf wrote: “The GOP representatives seemed wholly ignorant of the science, and eager to latch onto any notion that supports their ideology, regardless of how inaccurate, incorrect or mythical it is. This is clearly an ideological issue for them, regardless of what they might claim.”
It’s not an “ideological” issue. It’s a money issue.
They are tools of the fossil fuel corporations and they will do whatever it takes to perpetuate for as long as possible the fossil fuel corporations’ one billion dollars per day in profits from business-as-usual consumption of their products, and to delay and obstruct for as long as possible any measures to reduce fossil fuel use, whether through efficiency, renewable energy, mass transit, etc.
Their fake, phony, trumped up, Koch-funded, Madison Avenue-scripted, focus-group-tested, talk radio-programmed pseudo-ideology is as bogus as their pseudoscience.
The point of this stuff is to get statements into the record that the committee members can then point to as given — and base decisions on.
The statements themselves — like the UHI stuff — don’t have to have a basis in fact. They’re in the record. That’s all that’s needed.
You saw the same tactic in the realtime blogging, with wossname the ‘advocacy science’ guy posting assertions that climate doesn’t affect crop yield, with nothing but cherrypicking.
The problem here is that the science side uses the time to give a view of the science, while the political side uses the time to accumulate a pile of cherries, and in the committee work that follows, what matters is who has more cherries.
I’ve been harping on forever about the fact that until we get proper undistracted education (kids not using cell phones in school, for example, so they can’t outnumber their teachers and ignore them), respect for education, and respect for how hard it is to qualify as a real scientist must be addressed or nothing else will work.
Respect for education … not only are the newly elected tea party types anti-science, their anti-intellectualism extends to an all-out attack on teachers and the educational system.
An educated electorate works against them, and they know it.
…not only are the newly elected tea party types anti-science, their anti-intellectualism extends to an all-out attack on teachers and the educational system.
Actually, part of the problem is that I think a fair number of teachers fall into the tea party realm. Case in point is a commenter at SS who said he was a teacher, was adamantly skeptical, and claimed that in his science department of ten there was only one “lukewarmer.”
That’s bad news… when those who should understand science at least to some small degree don’t, but think they do, and teach what they don’t properly understand.
Climate science has moved well beyond ever being able to explain it to people, I think. It’s too complex, and the efforts to derail it really are too easy to carry out. If there were a political motivation, I think any powerful lobby could convince people that relativity, or even the efficacy of modern drugs, are all a myth. Look at DDT, ozone/CFC’s, and autism and vaccines.
The gap between those that don’t understand and those that can is just too great. I really believe a lot of the problem we face today is due to a simple lack of respect for scientists as authorities. It’s not that people need to understand the science, it’s that they need to respect and trust the people who do (and to recognize when someone else, i.e. the FF industry) is using stooges to undermine the perspective of real science.
To be honest I was floored by the level of ignorance the GOP representatives displayed as well as their clear disdain for science.
I think it’s time for someone with the right name (no idea who) to write a book. It’s time to compile and report on the individuals behind denial. Someone needs to take the transcript of this hearing, and any others, as well as all of the myriad published articles and misstatements, and go to town embarrassing and lambasting the people involved. Call a spade a spade. Point out idiocy, inconsistency, and self-serving distortions of the truth.
Make people’s reputations suffer for the games they are playing, and get on record so that the constituents know, a year or three from now, that the officials that they elected sold them out, by either purposely ignoring the facts, or by not doing their jobs properly and not merely wallowing in but trumpeting their own ignorance as if it were a virtue.
A) Embarrass the people who should be embarrassed
B) Get it on record, now, so that as the irrefutable facts of climate change continue to accumulate, people will at least be able to look back and say “holy cow, why did I let them get away with this?”
This GOP crew is going to destroy a whole lot of things before people get as angry as they need to be.
The problem with “science” is that often there is more to the “science” than meets the eye.
For example, the subject of DDT (which you mentioned — just saying) is more complex (as any reading of the history of its ban would reveal) than “it’s bad”. Yeah, it was “bad” in some ways, and ineffective and abused and so on.
It’s the complexity of the subject that tends to create both cynicism (I’m a professional cynic and quite expert on the subject of cynicism …) and scientifically invalid mythologies. We had our “warm” winters, and now we’re having milder and more meteorologically violent ones. Same cause, different experience. Try fitting that into a sound bite.
For politicians (since this is about politics …), they are accustomed to having the Crisis du Jour and it’s supporters coming to them, Hat In Hand, looking for money from the public larder. We don’t have a Congress filled with physicists (and economists and social scientists and …), we have a Congress mostly filled with lawyers and career politicians. Compared to the Framers, our current bunch in Washington knows little or nothing of the Natural Sciences. Sure, Ron Paul is a medical doctor, but he seems to be the exception. Anyone have a list of degrees by percentage representation? My guess is “graduate studies in science and economics” is grossly underrepresented compared to the most pressing problems of the day.
44, gavin, inline comment: To assume as you appear to be doing that all costs associated with a carbon price however implemented will be spread evenly across the population is naive. It won’t be, and there will be some groups who will be proportionately disadvantaged (and others who are unaffected). Why is this even contentious? – gavin
The value of a carbon tax depends on its being paid for by the carbon users, both to internalize the otherwise external costs of the (byproducts of) the carbon-based fuels (that is, to make the beneficiaries pay all the costs associated with their benefit, an equity argument) and to spur the development of alternatives that have fewer total costs. Therefore, the costs should not be borne equally across society, but by the purchasers. If the costs be born equally, then that simply continues the current practice of making people who don’t benefit from coal (for example) pay (some of) the costs of coal.
Consider the comparison of California (which I criticize sometime) and W. Virginia. California is little dependent on electricity from coal, and is engaged in a very costly program to reduce its dependence further, and to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels generally. Why should Californians pay additionally to help the W. Virginians gradually wean themselves from a coal economy as other states reduce their dependence on electricity from coal? Politically, something may have to be paid to W. VA to get the W. VA representatives on board, but I see no argument from either equity or economic efficiency why Californians should pay the costs of W. VA’s transition, after having borne their own transition costs without the help of W. VA.
That is where the contentiousness comes from, the arguments by diverse factions in the polity about how much they have to pay, and for what, and to whom, and the justice of it all. California has already paid, a lot and unwisely in my opinion, but I see no argument based on either justice (social equity) or economic efficiency why they should pay more.
The other bone that could be tossed might be the development of large scale CCS – if the problems there can be sorted out efficiently.
This comment has a breezily cynical undertone. Rather than address the future realistically, we’re in the business of tossing bones – even when the problems to be “sorted out” are as apparently intractable as in the case of CCS.
Yes, it’s a knotty problem. I’d be happy if people just learned geography, history, and reality checking (critical thinking). That would knock out some of the cobwebs and magical thinking that makes people ignore reality in favor of their illusions. I’d love it if people realized it was their own shortfall that they find science difficult, but at the moment that is a dream largely beyond hope. And there are weird artifacts like that engineers know lots of science but seem shortsightedly focused on the extent rather than the limitations of their knowledge.
My impression of climate change is that it is here and obvious. What is startling is that as the evidence piles up, the illusionists are getting better at persuading people it isn’t real.
It’s probably true that teaching is being infiltrated, but on the whole I don’t think it’s the hardworking underpaid public servants who are to blame, but the communities who don’t want real instruction for fear it will “corrupt” their children.
The endemic disrespect for learning in our culture is a real problem.
[ot: I kind of like evoljucija sedifir – all kinds of weird word play in there]
BTW, it is not the job of your host to bring you to a sense of reality about stuff you’ve already decided. It is nice of him to let you air your prejudice, but a proper study of what Hansen and Mann actually said and did would be of great value. Repeating carefully picked misrepresentations is neither helpful nor courteous, in addition to being wrong. The burden of proof is not on the hardworking guy who tries to bring some sense and civility to this conversation.
“This GOP crew is going to destroy a whole lot of things before people get as angry as they need to be.”
I fear that you are probably right. Heck, they gave Bush two terms (and the second one with a majority IIRC) before they finally got the message.
TO deviate, I just remembered something that I meant to say earlier.
I was struck how one GOP senator kept asking questions along the lines of “Is it your opinion…”.
The scientists missed the opportunity to say “While you, sir, may elect to be interested in opinion and rhetoric, I am concerned about facts and evidence….”.
I was also struck by the irony of the politicians who (falsely)accuse climate scientists getting involved in policy trying to solicit their opinion on policy. Nice try, but only Christy took the bait. Whatever little respect I might have had for him as a fellow scientist vaporized yesterday.
“Next time they do this, the scientists need to be afforded the time to address each and every one of the myths perpetuated by the contrarian scientists and/or the politicians. Their ignorance needs to be exposed for all Americans to see.” – 48
Sorry to burst your bubble, but the American people elected those GOP science illiterates to office.
You can only expose scientific illiteracy to someone who is scientifically literate.
15 years ago, I held an optimistic vision that American Conservatives could be educated. Meaning that I thought that they could be trusted to respond to logical argument and reason.
At that time I was participating in some on line forums in which simple facts, of history, of science, and of basic common sense, were presented, along with some logical arguments leading to some inescapable conclusions.
When presented with the inescapable conclusion that these Conservatives were wrong invariably the responded that they weren’t wrong, but that they history must be wrong, or scientific fact must be wrong, or the news-media must be involved in a conspiracy to lie, or that the rules of logic didn’t apply to a particular set of facts.
Several people expressed their opinions in the following manner – to paraphrase the collection – “You think your facts and arguments are right, but no matter what you say, no matter how truthful your argument, we will never believe you. Your conclusions can not be part of our reality.”
Now the topic at hand were typically the observation of CFC catalyzed ozone depletion, but they also included evolution, abortion, education, and other hot button Conservative items, not least of which was the abysmal political record of George Bush Jr.
Ultimately the reactions from the Conservatives was always the same. A complete denial of the facts, and a complete denial of reality.
Scientists who expect to reason with these people are working under the false assumption that they are amenable to reason, that they will accept rational arguments, and accept facts as facts.
This is not the case.
This is also why Science has lost ground. Why, to a large extent, Americans believe Evolution even less today than 40 years ago.
Now science will eventually win. But the scientists here should ask themselves if they wish to continue to lose on all fronts for the rest of their lives, or take the political steps necessary to bring all of these issues to a head, and defeat the enemy.
I am not an evolutionary biologist. Neither am I a Climatologist. I am not even American, so I can not fight these battles for you.
You have to have the Guts and Brains to do it yourselves.
You have to have the Guts and Brains to break some heads.
Being Mr. Nice Guy has got you nothing but defeat.
Comment by Vendicar Decarian — 10 Mar 2011 @ 4:38 AM
I have to admit that I don’t understand much of what is said here but I come back often because I really do appreciate all that you do. Thanks. Oh, what prompted me to write anything was the chuckle I got out of, “Anyway, for those who are aficionados of science as contact sport (TM, Steve Schneider), it might be fun.”