RealClimate logo


2006 Year in review

Filed under: — group @ 27 December 2006 - (Français)

A lighthearted look at the climate science goings-on over the last year:

Best highlight of the gap between the ‘two cultures':
Justice Scalia: ‘Troposphere, whatever. I told you before I’m not a scientist. That’s why I don’t want to have to deal with global warming’ .

Least effective muzzling of government climate scientist by a junior public affairs political appointee:
George Deutsch met his match in Jim Hansen.

Most puzzling finding that has yet to be replicated:
Methane from plants

Worst reported story and least effectual follow-up press release:
Methane from plants

Best (err… only) climate science documentary on public release:
An Inconvenient Truth.

Most worn out contrarian cliche:
Medieval English vineyards.

Previously prominent contrarian cliche curiously not being used any more:
“The satellites show cooling”

Most bizarre new contrarian claim:
“Global warming stopped in 1998″.
By the same logic, it also stopped in 1973, 1983, and 1990 (only it didn’t).

Most ironic complaint about ‘un-balanced’ climate coverage on CNN:
Pat Michaels (the most interviewed commentator by a factor of two) complaining that he doesn’t get enough exposure.

Most dizzying turn-around of a climate skeptic:
Fred Singer “global warming is not happening” (1998,2000, 2002, 2005) to global warming is “unstoppable” (2006)

Best popular book on the climate change:
Elizabeth Kolbert’s “Field Notes from a Catastrophe

Least unexpected observations:
(Joint winners) 2006 near-record minima in Arctic sea ice extent, near-record maxima in Northern Hemisphere temperatures, resumed increase in ocean heat content, record increases in CO2 emissions

Best resource for future climate model analyses:
PCMDI database of IPCC AR4 simulations. The gift that will keep on giving.

Best actual good news:
Methane concentrations appear to have stabilised. Maybe they can even be coaxed downward….

Biggest increase in uncertainty as a function of more research:
Anything to do with aerosols.

Least apologetic excuse for getting a climate story wrong:
Newsweek explains its 1975 ‘The Cooling World’ story.

Most promising newcomer on the contrarian comedy circuit:
Viscount Monckton of Brenchley

Least accurate attempted insinuation about RealClimate by a congressional staffer:
‘There’s so much money’: Marc Morano (Senate EPW outgoing majority committee staff, 5:30 into the mp3 file)

Boldest impractical policy idea:
Geo-engineering

Boldest practical policy idea:
Creation of a National Climate Service, which could more effecitvely provide useful climate information to policymakers.

Most revealing insight into the disinformation industry (fiction):
Thank you for smoking

Most revealing insight into the disinformation industry (non-fiction) and year’s best self-parody:
‘CO2 is life’

Feel free to suggest your own categories and winners…


106 Responses to “2006 Year in review”

  1. 51
    kyangadac says:

    The Golden Wedgie Award for the double back flip and pike executed stylishly by PM John Howard of Australia – who went overnight from being an ardent climate sceptic to a true believer for whom the only possible solution is nuclear energy – a wedge, as a correspondent in ‘The Australian’ today put it, into the heart of the Australian Labour Party’s left wing. He hopes.

  2. 52
    buck smith says:

    On Geo-Engineering, only a 5% increase in total photosynthesis will offset current fossil fuel CO2 flows. I would think a 10% increase is not that hard to achieve, especially if genetic engineering was applied to the problem.

  3. 53
    Nick Riley says:

    #51- I was in Australia when the Stern Review came out and was inetrviewed by the press there. It was interesting watching the TV reports. With such terrible drought conditions and the Howard Gov. in an election year it was interesting to see the debate over GW unfold in the media. One interesting debate was in Newcastle (NSW) where wine growers are against further coal development as the drought is damaging their vineyards and threatening jobs- but with the coal producers saying new mines are needed for local jobs.

    To be fair the Howard Government- despite not signing up to Kyoto, has supported more R&D on low emission technologies than many countries (including those that have signed Kyoto!) and the Australian Gov. claim they are on track to meet their target (as if they had been in Kyoto). I see a high degree of commitment in Australia to deal with the problem of GW.

    See http://www.co2crc.com.au/

  4. 54
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    It’s still 2006, so here are the most convoluted, illogical arguments re GW:

    In response to those who claim that global warming could not possibly be caused by human GHG emissions, because there were no SUVs around during past warmings (only hybrids?):

    About past warmings, they could not have happened, because there were no climate scientists then, and the only reason there’s global warming today is because we have climate scientists today, and mainly because we have climate science grant-funding agencies, who keep funding the science. A simple matter of cause & effect. Ergo (I think I’ve lost track of my illogic), both sides of the issue are wrong, and it’s all maya. Or, is it everyone’s right? Whatever.

  5. 55
    Hank Roberts says:

    Lubos’s site explained why climate sensitivity is one degree, and (as I read him) his method makes sense given the assumptions: he created a twin for each carbon dioxide molecule in the atmosphere, with no other change, and measured the difference in temperature.

    That’s a thought experiment, of course. But using quantum mechanics, it’s imaginable.

    Too simple for me to have imagined. I’d have been attached to the idea that the carbon had to come from somewhere and be going somewhere.

    Of course if the physicists can do this in practice, our problems are solved.

  6. 56
    James says:

    Re #48: If I’m figuring the exchange correctly, your electric rates don’t seem markedly higher than what I’m paying (in the western US). Though we don’t have rates varying by time of day, your middle rate would be about $0.15/Kwh, and last I looked mine was around $0.12/Kwh.

    As for the capture of CO2 from power plants, you’d have a lot of work to convince me that it could be done at all, much less at an affordable price. It seems like another hydrogen economy scam, the false promise of a just-around-the-corner future technology that somehow never materializes.

  7. 57
    Nick Riley says:

    Re #52- Buck Smith do you have a reference to support your statement that a 5% increase in global photosynthesis would offset fossil fuel emissions?

    Even if this statement is correct (which I doubt)- the biologically fixed carbon would need to be fixed permanently to truly offset fossil fuel emissions.

    How would you improve the productivity of coccolithophores – especially as an acidifying ocean (due to anthropogenic CO2 emisssions) in hibits their growth?

    Re #James- CO2 capture and storage is already happening- its not science-fiction see.
    http://www.iku.sintef.no/projects/IK23430000/

    http://www.bp.com/sectiongenericarticle.do?categoryId=9007626&contentId=7014493

    Note also the intention to build hydrogen based power plant -you can use hydrogen burning turbines to generate electricity so the hydrogen economy is closer than you might think!.

  8. 58
    John L. McCormick says:

    RE # 56

    James, you are right on the money with your comment:

    [As for the capture of CO2 from power plants, you’d have a lot of work to convince me that it could be done at all, much less at an affordable price. It seems like another hydrogen economy scam, the false promise of a just-around-the-corner future technology that somehow never materializes.]

    Consider the 2005 CO2 emissions from US coal-fired power plants is approximately 2.44 billion tons. The voume is about 268 cubic miles of gas to collect, pressurize and pipe to distant geologic formations for burial each year..every year..(for how many years?).

    Scam or nonsense. Take your pick.

  9. 59
    James says:

    Re #57: “CO2 capture and storage is already happening- its not science-fiction…”

    Sure, CO2 can be injected into wells – I think it’s a fairly common technique used to increase recovery from marginal oil wells. The injection isn’t the hard part, though you might have problems finding enough suitable formations to hold several billion tons – that’s just this year’s production, so be prepared to do it again next year, and the year after that – and transporting the CO2 to those places. But the real problem, I think, is finding an economically and technically feasible way to capture the CO2 from an exhaust gas stream.

    And “…you can use hydrogen burning turbines to generate electricity so the hydrogen economy is closer than you might think!”

    Well, duh! Building a hydrogen-burning turbine is a no brainer. A standard natural gas model would probably do an acceptable job; if not, NASA has lots of experience with hydrogen-burning rocket engines. Burning H2 is no problem. The big question is where to get it. There aren’t any hydrogen wells, you know, so you either have to react coal or natural gas, which releases more CO2 per unit energy than using the fossil fuels directly, or you have to make it by electrolysis, where again it’d be far more efficient to use the electricity directly. Then you have numerous problems of building a safe & reliable transport & delivery infrastructure. Even if you’re willing to pay the cost of that, you’re stuck with the fact that H2 is a gas at normal temperatures, so it needs to be either compressed to very high pressures or liquified at very low temperatures to have an effective energy density. Both of those processes take lots of energy, which means your delivery infrastructure is going to be very inefficient.

  10. 60

    It takes much less energy to capture a mole of CO2 from its diluteness in the atmosphere, as a carbonate, than is yielded by its formation in oxidizing a mole carbon. Schemes to pressurize and pipe it may indeed be nothing but “scam or nonsense”, but they aren’t the whole of the carbon sequestration deal, and other parts are neither.

  11. 61
    Chuck Booth says:

    Re #52
    Converting CO2 into biomass requires a dozen or more nutrients, esp. nitrogen and phosphorus – where do you propose these will come from? And, even if increasing photosynthesis could reduce atmospheric CO2 levels, what do you do with the new biomass? It must somehow be sequestered (e.g., buried in sediments at the bottom of the ocean), or it will eventually die and decompose, releasing the CO2 back into the environment. If you are going to propose simplistic solutions to complex problems, at least think through the underlying logic and the scientific principles involved.

  12. 62
    buck smith says:

    http://epswww.unm.edu/facstaff/gmeyer/envsc101/wk14biogeochem.htm

    This site shows carbon mass flows of 5.4 GigaTons/year from fossil fuels, 120 GigiaTons/year from Land photosynthesis and 107 120 GigiaTons/year from ocean photosynthesis. So fossil fuel combustion is < 3% of photosynthesis.

  13. 63
    Nick Riley says:

    re #58 & 59

    See
    http://www.ipcc.ch/activity/srccs/index.htm

    Also note that the BP Peterhead project gets its hydrogen from methane reforming- this leaves a relatively pure stream of CO2 to be dealt with for storage.

    Geological storage of CO2 is extremely space efficient because the CO2 is stored in its dense phase. CO2 pipeline technology is mature, their are several CO2 grids in the USA.

  14. 64
    peon says:

    2006, the year when we connected positive feedback loops to abprupt climate change / as happend a few times in earth history. Diffrence now is the speed of emission.

    As in 29# quotes from the independent article, id like to add these quotes>

    The scientists investigated what would happen if they tinkered with 11 of the world’s biggest computer models of the complex climate-carbon cycle. They wanted to simulate what would happen to the carbon sinks on the land and the ocean for each model as the world gets warmer. All the models agreed that as the world heated up, the ability of the land and the oceans to keep on absorbing carbon as efficiently as they have in the past 200 years gets appreciably worse.

    In other words, we cannot rely on planet Earth to be so accommodating in terms of mopping up half of our carbon pollution. But could something even worse happen? Could these carbon sinks turn into carbon sources? The answer is yes. Many models suggest that the terrestrial biosphere could become a net carbon producer by the mid 21st century. Signs are that it is already happening in some parts of the world.

    http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/article2110651.ece

    We have to cut emission rightnow, or it will be to late for over 90% of the living species on the planet / including humans.

  15. 65
    pete best says:

    Regarding sequestration of CO2

    Surely we could somehow take all of the post industrial Co2 (some 200 billion tonnes so far released sinece 1850) out of the air by increasing photosynthesis in order to get rid of it?

    I wonder how many trees we would have to plant and how long we need to wait. Unfortunately I thought that on the whole vegetation was decreasing on earth and not increasing.

  16. 66
    Grant says:

    Re: #62

    The site you refer to states

    o land photosynthesis-respiration (120/yr in and out of plants)
    o ocean (phytoplankton) photosynthesis-respiration (107/yr in and out of phytoplankton)

    Notice the “in and out” part; this refers to the amount that goes in a cycle through the system, hence causing no net change in the atmospheric CO2 concentration. That’s why CO2 was reasonably stable at around 270 ppmv for the last 11,000 years or so. Increasing photosynthesis 5% will only mean 5% more CO2 coming out of and going in to the atmosphere — no net change.

    Note that later the same site states:

    o land-use changes (1.6/yr to atmosphere)
    o fossil fuel burning (5.4/yr to atmosphere) â?? large flux

    Note the “to” with no “from.” These processes give a net flux, which is why the concentration has risen to 380 ppmv today.

  17. 67
    KL says:

    I’d like to see more education in how to consume LESS of everything. We Americans now live in larger homes (average 2500 sf compared to 1000 sf), drive more cars, buy more pre-packaged food and drinks, including water, in disposable plastic (made from oil). During the 70’s energy crisis, the airwaves were full of guidelines to reduce consumption. Alternative sources are certainly important, but we could take a lesson from our European peers and developing nations to consume less. Sometimes I walk through stores like Walmart and think “who is buying all this stuff?”

  18. 68
    Ike Solem says:

    Most hypocritical governmental behavior: Giving lip service to renewable and alternative energy while refusing to actually fund such science:

    “In addition to the earmarks, failing to pass the 2007 budget bills also means the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, CO won’t receive expected increased funding. NREL was slated to receive a funding increase between $6 and $10 million. The lab also would have seen additional money from dedicated funding for solar, wind, hydrogen and biomass research.”

    Most hypocritical university behavior: Stanford’s “Global Climate and Energy Project”. The Major Sponsors control all patents for a minimum of five years and also have final say in what projects are funded – the Sponsors being Exxon, Schlumberger (oilfield services), General Electric (mostly nuclear) and Toyota. So much for the free flow of information! It is the height of hypocrisy for Stanford to accept such terms from Exxon, the leading funder of the climate denialist groups.

    Stanford says this: “Global Climate and Energy Project sponsors include private companies with experience and expertise in key energy sectors. The sponsoring companies will contribute significant financial resources (anticipated up to $225 million over a decade or more), technical expertise, and insights concerning eventual deployment of energy technologies.”

    Meanwhile, ExxonMobil will be plowing over $100 billion into the search for new oil and gas reserves over the coming decade – all while they get to control the direction of renewable energy research at Stanford at a relative cost of 1/5 of 1%.

    Stanford has also changed the name of it’s petroleum program to The Department of Energy Resources Engineering. The program has ‘no immediate plans’ to hire anyone who specializes in renewable energy, however.

    Most hopeful behavior by a scientific organization: THe British Royal Society sending a letter to Exxon requesting that they stop funding climate change denial.

    The statement by Exxon that so irked the Royal Society was this: “While assessments such as those of the IPCC have expressed growing confidence that recent warming can be attributed to increases in greenhouse gases, these conclusions rely on expert judgement rather than objective, reproducible statistical methods…”

    That was from Exxon’s “Corporate Citizenship Report” which also highlights the deal with Stanford. While it is to be expected that major oil companies would behave in this manner, Stanford should know better.

    See also #13 above.

  19. 69
    Dan says:

    re: 68. “In addition to the earmarks, failing to pass the 2007 budget bills also means the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, CO won’t receive expected increased funding. NREL was slated to receive a funding increase between $6 and $10 million. The lab also would have seen additional money from dedicated funding for solar, wind, hydrogen and biomass research.”

    There is a silver lining here in that it refers to NREL “increased funding” as opposed to no funding at all. In other words, they should at least receive baseline funding. That is far better than other unfunded mandates and other research earmarks which will likely recieve nothing as things look right now.

  20. 70
    dhogaza says:

    Of course, it was NRDC that brought suit and forced the issue.

    The Center For Biological Diversity (Arizona) was lead plaintiff, joined by others. A great organization.

    And then, of course, they are only going to talk about it and review the issue for a year, so, well, maybe it wasn’t really such a big turnaround afterall.

    It is. The Endangered Species Act calls for the year planning and public comment process. Those who’ve sued want the opportunity to toss stones while USF&W puts things together.

    And if the administration tries to back out of the settlement, the Court will enforce it.

    This doesn’t represent any change of heart on the Bush administration, just a recognition of the legal realities. His dad’s administration tried to illegally overrule the USF&W scientific finding regarding the northern spotted owl in the late 1980s. By law, it’s the scientific finding which drives listing. The result was an injuction issued by a federal court which stopped nearly all logging on federal lands in the PNW virtually overnight. W’s administration knew they couldn’t win this case, the ESA is unambiguous regarding listing once the professional staff of USF&W issues its scientific finding of the status of the species in question.

  21. 71

    Re “There is a silver lining here in that it refers to NREL “increased funding” as opposed to no funding at all. In other words, they should at least receive baseline funding. That is far better than other unfunded mandates and other research earmarks which will likely recieve nothing as things look right now.”

    No increase in funding is effectively a decrease. We’ve got 3% inflation.

  22. 72
    Mark A. York says:

    There’s more temperature razamatazz here by new usual suspects rushing to discredit the polar bear listing.

    http://www.washtimes.com/commentary/20060514-094348-8238r.htm

  23. 73
    Mark A. York says:

    http://www.udel.edu/Geography/CCR/PIC.html

    Somehow they used this source to deny climate change.

  24. 74
    Mark A. York says:

    RE: I met a sceptic at Xmas. I have two Republicans in my family down here in Florida and both cite the exact same things headlined by one Grand Theme: They hate Al Gore and thus, it must be bunk by default. One cited biased FOX Milloy propaganda, myth of global cooling:wrong then and now, liberal media hype and the like, and a NASA report on the sun cycle that claimed nothing he thought it did. The jury’s still out and there is no consensus he said with complete confidence. Gavin’s explanation on the hockey Stick MM controversy was “just one spin on it” to him.

  25. 75
    Ron Taylor says:

    I thought public understanding of the AGW problem actually improved in 2006. But then I read this story in the NYTimes this morning and thought, oh-oh, these people are going to lull the public back to sleep again. The results of the research are alarming and it is not being alarmist to report them.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/01/science/01climate.html

  26. 76
    Dan says:

    Looks like the denialist claim that global warming peaked in 1998 is clearly shot down (as if it had any legs to stand on in the first place):
    http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/article2116873.ece

  27. 77

    See Scientific American: The Political Brain – A recent brain-imaging study shows that our political predilections are a product of unconscious confirmation bias – by Michael Shermer
    http://tinyurl.com/yeanlf

    “confirmation bias, whereby we seek and find confirmatory evidence in support of already existing beliefs and ignore or reinterpret disconfirmatory evidence…”

    We need to find a way around this hard-wired pre-disposition to deny the “inconvenient truth” of global warming.

    In Australia, Prime Minister Howard has gone from global warming denial to “we need to build nuclear power stations”. At the same time his government is refusing to fund research for some promising geo-thermal projects (renewable base-load electricity from radioactive decay within granite) and had to be hounded by a TV station into restoring funding for solar power initiatives.

  28. 78
    Eli Rabett says:

    A simple question about the NYT article. Does the denialist side have any scientific credibility left. No, thought not. In which case the “middle ground” may be a politically meaningful description, but what it really is is the least possible action that needs to be taken.

    Once more members of the climate science community are not thinking before speaking. Enunciating nuance in the middle of a knife fight is not a survival tactic.

  29. 79

    In Australia, Prime Minister Howard has gone from global warming denial to “we need to build nuclear power stations”. At the same time his government is refusing to fund research for some promising geo-thermal projects (renewable base-load electricity from radioactive decay within granite)

    That’s good. In the teeth of the best watchdogs and gadflies public oil and gas money can buy, nuclear has gone from 526.1 million tonnes-of-oil-equivalent in 1995 to 627.2 million in 2005 (7-MB BP statistical compendium). If hot dry rock were the same sort of threat to civil servants’ incomes, they’d be slipping front groups money to talk about radon and its indirect daughter, Litvinenko’s bane, 210-Po. It is difficult to extract heat from rocks in which it is coproduced with 222-Rn without also extracting the 222-Rn.

  30. 80
    Ike Solem says:

    Here’s the best source I’ve found for tracking the fossil fuel and nuclear public relations efforts which are largely aimed at preventing real CO2 emissions regulations from being put in place:

    http://www.prwatch.org/taxonomy/term/105

    You can always ask the denialists what they think about the fossil fuel industry spending hundreds of millions of dollars on public relations efforts aimed at burying the global warming issue, or why the state of funding for renewable energy research in the US is so poor (compared to say, pharmaceutical-sponsored university research). As far as convincing the people who won’t believe anything that Al Gore has to say… we could use better basic science education in this country, as well as more journalists with at least some scientific training – enough to allow them to point out the glaring inconsistencies in the climate denialist’s arguments, at least. How many times have you heard “we can’t blame any single event on global warming” – what does that mean? Can we blame two independent events on global warming? How about three? Ten? A hundred? Can you blame someone’s lung cancer on their lifelong tobacco habit? Or is that also an isolated event, which cannot be attributed to anything? The timing and track of Katrina may very well have been dependent on the flapping wings of an African butterfly, but the intensity was predictable.

    Katrina was strengthened because it encountered a tounge of warm deep water in the Gulf – so how did that tounge get there? More heating of the sea surface due to the higher concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere led to anomalously high temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico. The oceans are warming; here’s the SST anomaly for December 2007, for example. (Note the absence of depth profile temperature information, which would tell you something about the heat content of the oceans).

    The only option is to use carbon-neutral renewable energy resources in place of fossil fuels (including nuclear). This means that fossil fuel markets will shrink away to nothing… thus all the public relations efforts, which extend from politicians to grade schools to universities to the TV, radio and newspaper outlets.

  31. 81

    Re “See Scientific American: The Political Brain – A recent brain-imaging study shows that our political predilections are a product of unconscious confirmation bias – by Michael Shermer”

    Michael Shermer believes in sociobiology. I don’t. The human evolutionary specialization is flexibility of behavior. The whole point about human beings is that we’re NOT prisoners of our genes. We have free will.

  32. 82
    Hank Roberts says:

    At least we’re free to think so (grin). Today’s NYT Science (registration required) has a decent short article on that. One of the brain researchers quoted there sounds a lot like Freud, saying we have “free will in the form of a veto power over what we sense ourselves doing. In effect, the unconscious brain proposes and the mind disposes.” Or at least can.

    Some of our neighborhood kids are involved in gaming (sports or video) — not as players, but as statisticians. They could grow up to be expert handicappers or gamblers, or to be scientists. We can hope.

  33. 83
    Mark A. York says:

    Ike I couldn’t agree more. What they do though is all cite the same denialist argument. All they need is one Ph.D who disagrees and they all cite him in unison. See:
    “I understand that people who do not live in the north generally have difficulty grasping the concept of too many polar bears in an area. People who live here have a pretty good grasp of what that is like to have too many polar bears around.

    This complexity is why so many people find the truth less entertaining than a good story. It is entirely appropriate to be concerned about climate change, but it is just silly to predict the demise of polar bears in 25 years based on media-assisted hysteria.”

    Dr. Mitchell Taylor Canadian polar bear biologist

    And even his crticism isn’t as great as the denialists claim, but it’s good enough for them. Twain was right: a lie can travel around the world while the truth is putting its boots on.

  34. 84
    andrew worth says:

    Re “See Scientific American: The Political Brain”
    Humans have a powerful evolutionary instinct to demonise their adversaries, in a world of intense competition for limited resources it’s a powerful survival tool.

  35. 85

    Re “Humans have a powerful evolutionary instinct to demonise their adversaries, in a world of intense competition for limited resources it’s a powerful survival tool.”

    Again, very little human behavior is based on instinct. The human evolutionary specialization is flexibility of behavior.

    If you want some numbers, consider that Edmund O. Wilson (the author of 1975’s “Sociobiology”) estimates that only 15% of human behavior is genetically driven.

  36. 86
    Steve Sadlov says:

    Well I have to thank the folks who run this blog for this thread. The leading post reveals a lot of highly useful data.

  37. 87
    Steve Sadlov says:

    RE: #25 and #26 – Here is another site that deals with the “Peak Oil” topic. It also deals with some aspects of Deep Ecology:

    http://dieoff.org

  38. 88
    Sally says:

    Re: 86 “Well I have to thank the folks who run this blog for this thread. The leading post reveals a lot of highly useful data.”

    I am assuming your tone is sarcastic. Apologies if I am wrong.

    The topic began with the words, “A lighthearted look at the climate science goings-on over the last year”

    Although hard science reputedly turns its collective nose up at social science, officially data can be quantitative or qualitative. This, I would say, is qualitative and concerned with the social, or human aspects of the issue.
    And aren’t scientists allowed to be human? Even at Christmas?

    Perhaps we should balance it with a round up of most useful research from 2006. Any offers?

  39. 89
    Steve Sadlov says:

    RE: #88 – It was not sarcastic. In fact, you hit the nail in the head – that post reveals significant sociological information. That is precisely what was valuable about it. And it was entertaining to boot.

  40. 90
    Mark A. York says:

    BPL doesn’t the fact that it’s neccessary you don’t believe genetic behavioral origins to square “faith?” The belief gene.

  41. 91

    Re “BPL doesn’t the fact that it’s neccessary you don’t believe genetic behavioral origins to square “faith?” The belief gene.”

    Could you repeat that in English? I have no idea what you’re saying here.

  42. 92
    andrew worth says:

    Re #85 ” only 15% of human behavior is genetically driven.”

    I can’t see how a simple figure like this pulled out of the air can be considered sound.
    I would say that virtually all human activity is a result of one or another basic instinctive motivation, but that this instinctive motivation has more socially/culturally obvious motivations layered on top.

    In the AGW debate I find the science interesting, but I find the various positions people have taken, and the reasons for them taking those positions fascinating.
    Consider some of the arguments that are proposed and promoted by well-qualified scientists in the denialist camp:
    Global warming stopped in 1998.
    The calculation that supposedly shows that Manâ??s contribution amounts to 0.12% of the GH effect.
    The Khilyuk and Chilingar paper in Environmental Geology, and the fact it was passed for publication.

    There are claims in these arguments that I think even my 10 year old daughter could refute, so why do these well qualified people make these claims? Consider the following possibilities:

    1. These arguments are actually far sounder than I realize
    2. These scientists are far stupider than I realize
    3. They are lying when they say they believe in these arguments
    4. Some other factor, surely something very powerful, has destroyed their ability to examine the evidence with any objectivity.

    I think we can accept that peoples political position influences their views on AGW, there seems to be a high correlation between conservative politics and having a denialist perspective, and also between liberal politics and having an alarmist perspective, but why?

  43. 93
    Stephen Berg says:

    An interesting “new” blog:

    http://www.blueclimate.com/

  44. 94
    Stephen Berg says:

    And as Chris Mooney points out, there were 19-21 Category 4 to 5 tropical cyclones worldwide in 2006, none of which occurred over the Atlantic Ocean.

    http://scienceblogs.com/intersection/2007/01/21_cats_45.php

    Very interesting reading.

  45. 95
    Sally says:

    Re: 92.

    I think it comes down to that well known ‘follow the money’ thing.

  46. 96
    andrew worth says:

    Re# 95
    It seems whichever side you’re on in the AGW debate your opponents want to attribute your motives to money, infact my observation is that just about everyone has a strong and genuine belief in the legitimacy of their own position, and people from all sides are prepared to put in considerable amounts of their own time promoting their views.

  47. 97
    Doug Watts says:

    RE: 96.

    Respectfully disagree. Certain industries and allied industries, based upon their own methods of accounting, believe they have an enormous financial stake in the direction of public policy on this issue, which in turn is greatly affected by the way in which the public and policymakers apprehend the underlying scientific evidence on this issue as it continues to unfold.

    For many of the corporate players in the climate change arena, it is a demonstrable fact that their primary interest is money and they admit this fact. For them to not have this interest would be to fail to respect and defend the fiduciary interests of their shareholders as they perceive them.

  48. 98
    andrew worth says:

    I agree with your comment, but oil executives are not the people I was referring to. Iâ??m talking about the Bob Carterâ??s, and Lord Monktonâ??s of this world, who have a passion for fighting AGW arguments quite independent of oil industry interests. They use oil industry money to promote their cause if they can get hold of it, but generally this money goes into promoting the cause, not their own pockets, the number of denialist sites on the web attest to how far this money is made to go.

    There is extraordinary passion displayed by both alarmists and denialists in the AGW debate, it’s a topic that I think can be traced back to how our instincts affect the way we interact in society.

    Did you know that chimpanzees practice politics? Even a relatively weak male can climb to be head of state by grooming (literally) the electorate, if he can win enough support, he can bring about a popular uprising to remove the current leader, so I suggest that politics is in our genes.

    The conservatives (denialists) in a society see themselves as being near the top of the heap, mechanisms that bring about major social changes are likely to be bad for their position, in comparison the liberals (alarmists) see such mechanisms as an opportunity to bring about social change to their advantage, examples of how conservatives fight against such changes can be seen all over the place, from giving women the vote, to civil rights legislation, to gay marriage, etc.
    To denialists the proposed changes to address AGW (Kyoto) can be seen as such a mechanism.

    If we accept that these ancient instincts still govern much of our action, it is not hard to see how our more immediate social concerns can be more important to us and affect our attitudes to a much greater extent than less immediate, less tangible concerns. The result is that we believe that others overstate or understate these environmental concerns for political reasons, and we instinctively respond in kind.

  49. 99
    Doug Watts says:

    RE: 98. A short endnote, if the moderators allow it:

    Perhaps your explanation describes some folks, but certainly not myself and many others.

    I view climate change strictly as a matter of science, primarily physical science. The human response to this science is an entirely separate matter that indeed pivots to some degree on the factors you describe.

    I believe it is very dangerous to discuss climate change as a social issue or a social cause or to associate it with the purely human, social issues you describe above. One cannot abolish or amend the laws of physics the way one can, to use your example, amend the laws which state who can vote and who cannot vote.

    Conflating the scientific study of climate change with being an “alarmist” is wrong at a profound level, ie. that a person who expects the physical world to behave in the manner predicted by physical laws is an “alarmist.”

  50. 100
    Hank Roberts says:

    “… Monckton … passion … independent of …”

    Hey, the man’s in business, he’s dependent on his customers. Consider what he sells:

    http://members.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewUserPage&userid=bikerbikerbiker
    “Christopher Monckton Limited, business consultants”
    “Europe’s leading business consultancy, specialising in solving problems caused by over-mighty State bureaucracy….”


Switch to our mobile site