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Consensus as the New Heresy

Filed under: — group @ 3 January 2007

Gavin Schmidt, Michael Mann, David Archer, Stefan Rahmstorf, William Connolley, and Raymond Bradley

Andy Revkin, who’s one of the best journalists on the climate beat, wrote a curious piece in the NY Times discussing the ‘middle stance’ of the climate debate. It’s nice to see news pieces on climate that aren’t breathless accounts of a new breakthough and that take the time to point out that the vast majority of relevant scientists take climate change extremely seriously. To that extent, the message of this piece was a welcome one. The curious part, however, was the thread running through the piece that this middle ground is only now emerging, and even curiouser, that this middle ground can be characterized as representing some sort of ‘heresy’.

Heresy, is commonly defined as ‘an opinion or doctrine at variance with the official or orthodox position’. So where does this idea come from, and why is it now ‘emerging’?

It has often been remarked upon that scientists and academics make their reputations by breaking down orthodoxies and by challenging previously widespread assumptions (but it will only work out well if they’re right of course!). Nobody makes much of a name for themselves by agreeing with all previous thinking. Indeed, to be thought of as a radical new thinker, one must assume the role of the heretic, challenging the stale orthodoxies of the past. And given some of the scientific iconoclasts in our pantheon (Galileo, Einstein, Wegner etc.), we see this as a completely natural state of affairs.

However, there is a big difference between really challenging the majority opinion and simply stating that you are. We are all often ‘contrary’, but here at RC we also generally find ourselves firmly in the mainstream on many of the central scientific points: e.g., our views on the most probable value of the climate sensitivity (around 3C), the likelihood of the imminent Gulf Stream reversal (zero), or the possibility of Venusian-style runaway greenhouse effect happening this side of a billion years (extremely small). That these positions are in line with conclusions drawn by IPCC is no surprise, because those reports result from intense discussion and peer-review involving a large fraction of the community, thus they reflect the views of the climate science community very well. Most scientists present these widely shared conclusions when speaking to the public, and where their own views diverge from it, they make it clear that these are their own conclusions rather than a generally accepted view.

In reading about the new ‘heretics’ then, one might have expected that associated with them would be statements that would contradict IPCC or that we (as mainstream scientists who do not claim to be heretics) would otherwise find objectionable. So let’s consider the specific tenets of the ‘new heresy’ mentioned in the article:

  • From Carl Wunsch: ‘It seems worth a very large premium to insure ourselves against the most catastrophic scenarios. Denying the risk seems utterly stupid. Claiming we can calculate the probabilities with any degree of skill seems equally stupid’. Agreed.
  • “Many in this camp seek a policy of reducing vulnerability to all climate extremes while building public support for a sustained shift to nonpolluting energy sources”. Sensible.
  • There is “no firm evidence of a heat-triggered strengthening in storms in recent years” (our emphasis). Well, what the WMO statement to which this assertion is attributed actually said was (first bullet point): “Though there is evidence both for and against the existence of a detectable anthropogenic signal in the tropical cyclone climate record to date, no firm conclusion can be made on this point.” We agree with that statement – this particular subject is definitely in a state of flux.
  • “Recent increase[s] in the impact of storms was because of more people getting in harm’s way, not stronger storms”. Again, the WMO report did not state this. What it stated was (third bullet point of statement; emphasis added): “The recent increase in societal impact from tropical cyclones has largely been caused by rising concentrations of population and infrastructure in coastal regions”. These are not quite the same. Once again, we agree with what the WMO actually said. Interestingly, the second bullet point of the WMO statement, not mentioned in the article, “No individual tropical cyclone can be directly attributed to climate change” was voiced by us more than a year ago.
  • “Global warming is real, it’s serious, but it’s just one of many global challenges that we’re facing,”. Of course.
  • From Mike Hulme: “I have found myself increasingly chastised by climate change campaigners when my public statements and lectures on climate change have not satisfied their thirst for environmental drama,” he wrote. “I believe climate change is real, must be faced and action taken. But the discourse of catastrophe is in danger of tipping society onto a negative, depressive and reactionary trajectory.” Agreed. And we said much the same thing when commenting on the ‘Climate Porn’ report.
  • “It is best not to gloss over uncertainties”. Duh!
  • “efforts to attribute recent weather extremes to the climate trend, though they may generate headlines in the short run, distract from the real reasons to act”. We couldn’t agree more, and have stated as much before.
  • “‘An Inconvenient Truth’ may push too hard”. Perhaps at last, there is a (moderate) difference of opinion. We agree with Eric’s review of the movie earlier this year, i.e. while there were a few things to quibble with, Gore got the science basically right.

The only substantial disagreement, then, is over a movie review. On all other points of substance the ‘heresy’ and the old orthodoxy are the same.

We’ve emphasised over and over that the science that should inform policy should come from thorough assessment processes like the IPCC and the National Academies. The views of individual scientists (including us) should carry less weight – partly because of our specific biases (due to the field we work in or our personalities), and partly because a thorough discussion and peer review process (like that leading to IPCC reports) will lead to more considered, informed and balanced statements than any individual could muster. Media representations of what individual scientists supposedly said should not be used for policy at all!

Much of the sensationalist talk in the public discourse (and to which the scientists in the piece, and we, rightly take exception) are not the pronoucements of serious scientists in the field, but distorted and often out-of-context quotes that can be further mangled upon frequent repetition. We have often criticised such pieces (here, or here for instance) and it is important to note that the ‘shrill voices of doom’ referred to by Mike Hulme were not scientists, but campaigners.

John Fleck suggests that Revkin’s point was that the middle stance is only now being reflected in the media coverage, which for the highly polarised US discussion could be a valid point – although Revkin’s own work in the New York Times argues against it. So does the fact that all of the scientists discussed in this piece are veterans in media coverage of the issue; their view of things can hardly be called “just emerging”.

Perhaps the real background to Revkin’s piece simply is that some like to use the age-old debating tactic of labelling other views as “extreme” in order to position themselves in the “middle”. If you divide the world into ‘alarmists’ and ‘deniers’, you can then nicely present yourself as the ‘heretic’ who wants to break the mold. But this is a false distinction.

The plain fact is that the vast majority of scientific judgement on this issue – as outlined in the IPCC documents including the AR4 coming up in February- does indeed cover the ‘middle stance’, which we would state as being in agreement with the statement of the National Academies of the G8 last year that ‘the scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action’. As Jim Hansen states in his quote – it’s still surprising that there are some people who don’t know this yet.

Further discussion on this piece is available: Matthew Nesbit, John Fleck, Roger Pielke Jr, David Roberts and Andrew Dessler. Also Joseph Romm.


259 Responses to “Consensus as the New Heresy”

  1. 101
    cat black says:

    #94 (reducing emissions) SA, in fairness RC has tried to stay OUT of policy questions and instead provide a forum for the discussion and evaluation of climate science. The latter is still an extremely important mission, and I’ll propose that this is a mission that would be dilluted, not strengthened, by a great deal of policy-mongering.

    I too get frustrated. Sometimes, terrified; I have small children, and wonder what sort of world they will inherit. But I am also a scientist, and protecting the purity of the data, climate models and resulting theories that emerge from field work is *my* professional responsibility. As a *voter* I can help shape policy, by electing people who get it and placing them in office (or accepting that task myself!)

    Yes, we have no time left to waste. But we have a job right here that needs doing and I’m proud to be doing it to the limited degree that I can. In the coming years I think we’ll look back and appreciate how vital was this exercise, though now it may seem like Ivory Tower nonsense.

    catblack

  2. 102
    mzed says:

    #57–very nice. I think the problem is that while some skeptics are still at 1, but most have moved to 2 or 3–and yet they are still treated as though they are at 1 by their opponents. Likewise, very few are at 7, and most scientists and policymakers are at 5 or 6, but are treated like they’re at 7 by their opponents.

    A more interesting question is, if you’re at 4, are you a skeptic or an alarmist? I think it’s inaccurate and unfair to treat someone at 4 like a skeptic–but they often are, and that definitely contributes to the polarization of the debate.

    [Response:Whatever you call it, #4 is where the Bush administration is on a good day. David]

    #75, wayne: Yes, but what I’m saying is stepping outside and noticing its warm today is *not* evidence of global warming. That’s why the science is important. Also, as you yourself say, “a true description of what is going on needs no hyperbola or exagerrations”. So, scientists shouldn’t resort to hyperbole and exaggeration when describing global warming (and actually mostly they don’t). I’m suggesting, however, that nobody else should, either. Global warming will be a problem. How big a problem? That’s actually not very well determined yet.

    I also think language like Hansen’s doesn’t help. What the heck does “different planet” mean?? Some coastlines could be different, some weather will be different, some crop distributions will be different…but how does that add up to a “different planet”? The phrase is inaccurate and practically meaningless. Besides, what if there were not acw? Guess what–we’d end up with a “different planet” eventually anyway, since, as any climate scientist can tell you, climate fluctuates naturally. It’s language like Hansen’s that confuses people and allows the polemics to continue. Yes, some very odd things _could_ happen, but to talk about them as though they _will_ happen is wrong.

  3. 103
    mzed says:

    Just to clarify about Hansen’s comments: he is actually rather careful about what he says, but my point is just that there are lots of _possible_ scenarios, but few that we can predict with even relative certainty (let’s say >50%). Not that this means they should be ignored, but the public needs to be given the facts with excruciating accuracy. Snappy sound bytes just won’t do the trick. (I am speaking more to politicians than I am to scientists like Hansen.)

  4. 104
    Hank Roberts says:

    Dr. Pielke, you asked the RC Contributors to address “dubious and extreme claims” in the science about “global warming theory” –Google Scholar finds only about 213 papers mentioning that. Which are problems, in your opinion?

  5. 105
    Jim Dukelow says:

    Re #46, Craig Gaydos writes of the Y2K effort:

    “The moral of the story? Well, unfortunately, maybe the potential crisis has to be exaggerated in order to get attention of humans — and that humans will invariably overreact. But, the good news is the crisis gets addressed.

    By the way, Y2K was an example used by Michael Crichton of a failed prediction of disaster. What Crichton and others missed was that were it not for all the overblown media coverage of Y2K it *would* have been a disaster.”

    Y2K is an interesting example of historical revisionism and myth-making that, as close as I can tell, is being propagated by both the right and the left.

    In the run up to Y2K, I worked on a DOE project that was reviewing the scope and effectiveness of Y2K efforts at commercial and research nuclear reactors in the US and around the world. It is true that lots of money was being spent in a comprehensive review of software and associated hardware. It is also the case that numerous problems were identified and fixed prior to Y2K.

    A couple of programs I used frequently died on January 1, 2000. Absent the massive Y2K effort around the world, we would have seen significant societal disruption around the world because of software failures.

    MC’s take on Y2K is one more example of how he has morphed into a very tall buffoon.

    Best regards.

    Jim Dukelow

  6. 106
    SecularAnimist says:

    mzed wrote in #102: “I also think language like Hansen’s doesn’t help. What the heck does ‘different planet’ mean?? Some coastlines could be different, some weather will be different, some crop distributions will be different…but how does that add up to a ‘different planet’? The phrase is inaccurate and practically meaningless.”

    A “different planet” would be an Earth without any arctic ice, an Earth on which ancient mountain glaciers which provide the only fresh water supplies for hundreds of millions of people have vanished, an Earth on which vast tropical rainforests have been replaced by savannah, an Earth on which the most productive agricultural regions of the world have become deserts, an Earth on which “coastline changes” have rendered many of the largest cities in the world uninhabitable, an Earth on which there has been a large-scale die-off of the phytoplankton that are the basis of oceanic food webs, and yes, an Earth on which a substantial portion of all existing species have become extinct. These are all mainstream projections of the consequences of continued anthropogenic GHG emissions at the levels forecast by the International Energy Agency.

    mzed: “Besides, what if there were not acw? Guess what–we’d end up with a ‘different planet’ eventually anyway”

    Perhaps on time scales of many thousands of years, or millions of years. Not on time scales of decades, or at most centuries.

    mzed: “Yes, some very odd things _could_ happen, but to talk about them as though they _will_ happen is wrong.”

    Some “very odd things” are already happening. If we continue business as usual, and if as the IEA projects, GHG emissions continue to increase every year and by 2030 are 52 percent greater than they are today, then some very much “odder” things will happen.

  7. 107
    Steve Sadlov says:

    RE: #76 – I think you may be in the UK or Europe. Things here in the US are a bit different than Europe in terms of our R&D system. Government industrial R&D tends to be focussed on defense. For other areas, R&D generally is a consortium of private business and academia. The US government, other than during the early space exploration era, has never been a leader in photovoltaic R&D. The private / university sector has consistently led in this regard. Government funding (or lack of it) will have almost zero impact on photovoltaic research, because the true skill and knowledge regarding it is outside governement orgs.

  8. 108
    Ike Solem says:

    Readers might be interested to know that Roger Pielke Jr. did respond to my request for his view on when the current trend of record-setting temperatures will come to an end, (over at his Prometheus blog), and to quote:

    “We don’t do temperature predictions here. Try IPCC or the British Met Office!”

    Now, how can you pretend to be an ‘expert’ on climate change and refuse to discuss temperature trends? Discussing the general direction of a trend is a bit different from making a definitive prediction about future temperatures, something that the IPCC itself doesn’t do, in contrast to Roger’s insinuation – they just work on the basis of different scenarios.

    So let me rephrase the question for Roger: with respect to the fact that the warmest years since accurate records began have all been in the last decade, does this represent an anomalous spike in the natural climate variability, or are we looking at a generally increasing temperature trend that is due to the increased concentration of atmospheric CO2 brought on by buring fossil fuels? (A generally increasing temperature trend would be expected to set new temperature records on a continual basis, wouldn’t it?)

    Even if humans do stop emitting CO2 from fossil fuels (a difficult proposition by any measure, but certainly desirable), there is the possibility of causing reserves of carbon stored in methane clathrates and permafrost to be converted to atmospheric CO2… and modelling the natural carbon cycle is more difficult then the geophysical land-ocean-ice sheet approach based on given concentrations of atmospheric CO2, because you have to include the biological activity, as well as things like the influence of the nitrogen cycle. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth studying!

    I did get a response from one Jim Clarke, who said this: “We will likely see global cooling set in around 2015, although it will probably take another 5 to 10 years for the trend to become undeniable. This will take place regardless of what humans do about CO2 emissions.”

    This was based on an unnamed ‘computer model’ that also correctly predicted the fall of the Soviet Union back in 1976. Well…that’s one I hadn’t heard before. Denial of basic physics… amazing.

  9. 109
    Dan says:

    re: 103. I think that is an excellent point about the “snappy sound bytes”. The fact is that, with rare exceptions, comments presented in the media are short sound (or even print) bytes. Often they are out of context such that they sound more extreme than the speaker intended. I speak with the print and TV media frequently and I often find a sentence or two is all that is presented, with important qualifying statements edited out. Yes, it may be simpler for the reader/viewer to comprehend the edited version but accuracy and perspective is often lost.

    In Hansen’s case, it would have be interesting to hear what he said to Brokaw that was not included on the final, edited video.

  10. 110
    Hank Roberts says:

    >anomalous spike

    Spikes may be normal during rapid warming; an increase in the extremes or amount of variability over short terms has long been among the predictions for the next few centuries, assuming warming continues.

    And there’s new research — looking for short term variations, they’re found.

    See the link in Jim Eaton’s post above — the clickability of his link to the latimes appears broken at the comma in my browser, but dragging or copying the whole string works.

  11. 111
    Sashka says:

    Re: 99

    I wonder what is the limit of human gullibility? I can sort of understand why people believe climate models but to believe biological models?! How do they model the mobility and adaptability? They cannot even explain exactly how we evolved from monkeys. The known examples of speciation are but a few. And these people dare to predict the future?! Unbelievable. Do they have any record of accurately predicting anything? Why would anyone take these results seriously?

  12. 112
    Steve says:

    when the current trend of record-setting temperatures will come to an end

    Perhaps another question, contrary to consensus, is when the last five
    years’ trend of falling temperatures will come to an end:

    Surface and MSU

  13. 113
    Steve Sadlov says:

    RE: “Now, how can you pretend to be an ‘expert’ on climate change and refuse to discuss temperature trends? ”

    Given the error terms involved in past reconstructions and the historical surface record, let alone, in the GCMs, I would not be comfortable either making any specific climate predictions of the sort you had asked him to make. At this point, the sort of statement I’d make would be something like:

    There is significant current momentum from both the macro cycle of the current interglacial as well as the micro cycle of the exit from the LIA. On top of that, GHG concentrations, as well as anthropogenic energy flux in the first 300 metres above local surfaces, as well as direct land modifications, are possibly resulting in additional additive terms to the aforementioned warming. Based on current knowledge, it would be possible that warming may continue, may level off, or, may be reversed. The most used GCMs indicate warming will continue, but there are concerns about what that output really means.

  14. 114
    SecularAnimist says:

    Sashka wrote: “Why would anyone take these results seriously?”

    Why don’t you read the original paper in Conservation Biology by Lee Malcolm et al, analyze their methods, identify the flaws, and then explain to us why their conclusions should not be taken seriously, and why complacency about the likely effects of continuing, accelerating anthropogenic global warming on biodiversity is a more appropriate attitude than deep concern?

  15. 115
    Sashka says:

    Re: 90,92

    Thanks, John.

    You see, unlike Pielke I am a true heretic. It’s very rare that anyone finds my views agreeable.

  16. 116
    Sashka says:

    RE: 114

    I’ll tell you why. Because I don’t have enough time to read all nonsense that is being produced under the name of science. In fact, I often don’t have enough time to read what could be a good and relevant science. So, it’s just a matter of keeping priorities straight.

  17. 117
    Steve Sadlov says:

    RE: #98 – Why did make an erroneous statment about the weather conditions in Davis yesterday? How could your low have been 54 deg F? You are further inland than me and more subject to the norther which came in as the cold front came through. I believe your low yesterday had to be, max, in the upper 30s. My low (near the coast) was 40 F (boringly normal) just prior to midnight. Was your “low” reading based on a thermometer mounted to your house or something? Or did you forget that the low may actually be at the end of the day?

    [Response: The Weather Channel's hourly temperatures for Davis supports Jim's numbers (low of 53F at 7:45 AM), assuming we're talking about the previous night's low. Last night's low appears to have been lower, about 44F, though still warmer than your "30s" figure. - mike]

  18. 118
    Steve Sadlov says:

    RE: #98 (again) – Here is the best I could find from the NWS, unfortunately, this station is impacted by UHI (UCD campus buildings, nearby strip development along I-80, etc). At this rather poor measurement location the low yesterday was 46 Deg F, as I suspected just before midnight:

    http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/mesowest/getobext.php?wfo=sto&sid=CQ007&num=48

    You will have a hard freeze tonight unless the wind picks back up. There is a current freeze warning SSE of you, in the San Joaquin Valley. You may not break 50 F today at your own location.

  19. 119
    Steve Sadlov says:

    Final comment, RE: Davis. If you look at the actual time series of measurements in the table toward the bottom of the NWS web page linked in #118, you will see the big picture. On the 3rd of Jan, a typical day starting out in the 30s. Then, a cold front started to approach from the NNW. Of course, the winds shifted to Southerly to Southwesterly, and as has been the case for every cold front I’ve observed in my 40 plus years, (and can be reasonably assumed to be the case for every cold front during the Holocene) there was a day or so of “above normal” temperature (50s). By mid day yesterday, the front’s passage, the norther, and back into the 40s. Tonight, the cold pool settles, and into the 30s is the NWS’ projection. Absolutely nothing abnormal in any of this, utterly typical January conditions for Davis, CA, USA.

    [Response: The 'big picture' reveals a fairly warm winter so far for the U.S. on the whole. December numbers not in from NOAA yet, but here's what November anomalies looked like. - mike]

  20. 120
    Jim Eaton says:

    Don’t want to get too off topic, but if you really are interested in the warm low we had two nights ago, check out NOAA’s current temperatures (this is automatically updated, so Wednesday’s temperatures will disappear in 24 hours or so):

    http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/mesowest/getobext.php?sid=SMTC1&table=1&banner=off

  21. 121
    SecularAnimist says:

    mike replied to #119: The ‘big picture’ reveals a fairly warm winter so far for the U.S. on the whole.

    In the “small picture”, the famous Cherry Blossom trees in Washington DC are blooming. In January. The NOAA forecast for tomorrow (Saturday 1/6) is 72 degrees.

    [Response: Here in State College PA our bulbs are coming up, some trees are budding, and the grass is quite green . The unfolding El Nino event is almost certainly playing some role in the anomalous warmth. - mike]

  22. 122
    Hank Roberts says:

    But it’s not all about Cali …… oh, never mind. Nice weather we’re having today, huh?

    Wait, a real point about checking beliefs —

    >They cannot even explain exactly how we evolved from monkeys.

    Sashka, the scientists can explain that we did not evolve from monkeys.

    You’ve read a creationist argument. Why do you believe it?

    You can check this easily.

    The scientists don’t say we evolved from monkeys.

    The creationists make two bogus statements. Check them, don’t believe this stuff.

    ” the scientists say that we evolved from monkeys” (this part is wrong)
    and
    ” the scientists can’t prove we evolved from monkeys” (this part is not even wrong).

    We and the monkeys are both modern, living species.

    The scientists can show evidence about the last common ancestor — a long time ago — and how its descendants became either us or monkeys, or any of our other near relations.

    Size, brain size, jawbones, age, habitat — you can look at the differences and dates.

  23. 123
    Dan says:

    re: 121. Apparently the cherry blossoms blooming in DC are not the famous ones along the Tidal Basin. They are a variety that bloom in the winter/spring during warm outbreaks: http://www.usatoday.com/weather/news/2007-01-04-dc-warmth_x.htm?csp=34

  24. 124
    Ike Solem says:

    RE#112,
    Steve, go ahead and tell me if I’m wrong, but that graph you link to is a graph of anomalies, not temperatures. For some reason NOAA is using the averaged time period 1971-2000 as the basis for calculating temperature anomalies – which seems just ridiculous, but if someone can justify it I’d be happy to hear about it. The graph gives one the impression that the period 1980-1995 was ‘anomalously cool’. Regardless, according to that graph, the anomaly is positive and temperatures continue to increase. It’s a rather deceptive graph, and it’s no surprise that a quick glance would be misleading – you’d think a government science agency would do better – email them at ncdc.info@noaa.gov and ask what they’re thinking?

    [Response: This does seem somewhat odd, given that the industry standard (e.g. the UK Met Office) is still to use a 1961-1990 base period. Use of a 1971-2000 base period does have the impact of sharply decreasing the positiveness of the anomalies, since much of the large-scale warming has occured since the late 1970s. - mike]

    RE#113,
    Do you see a logical contradiction in first claiming that Roger shouldn’t answer my question about temperature trends and new records because of “the error terms involved in past reconstructions and the historical surface record”, and then going on to talk about “significant current momentum from both the macro cycle of the current interglacial as well as the micro cycle of the exit from the Little Ice Age”? The microcycle of the exit from the LIA? Cycles of hand-waving, perhaps…

    Someone who is quoted in the New York Times as a climate expert should at least be able to address the question of steadily increasing temperature trends, and offer their expert opinion on the matter. Claiming that the issue can’t be addressed – that’s just bizarre.

    RE#111
    While looking for the current state-of-the-art in climate modelling, I came across this page: http://www.physorg.com/news5312.html – I’d imagine Gavin knows far more about this:

    “Researchers from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) and several other government and academic institutions have created four new supercomputer simulations that for the first time combine their mathematical computer models of the atmosphere, ocean, land surface and sea ice. These simulations are the first field tests of the new Earth System Modeling Framework (ESMF), an innovative software system that promises to improve and accelerate U.S. predictive capability ranging from short-term weather forecasts to century-long climate change projections.”

    So, let’s say these models predict the expansion of deserts or continued warming trends in the American Midwest. If there is a patch of green between two deserts, and the deserts expand, you can guess that the species that aren’t adapted to the desert will die out. See also the relic ice age plants of Effigy Mounds National Monument.

    Similarly, if ocean productivity is diminished due to reduced thermohaline circulation, you can expect that the species at the top of the food web will be vastly reduced in abundance. Too few breeding members and a species goes extinct. Of course, life has adapted to all sorts of climate regimes in the past – but often massive extinction and millions of years of new radiative evolution were the result. When you add in things like habitat loss and the removal of migratory corridors for wildlife, then ecological catastrophe doesn’t sound like an overstatement of the problem.

    By the way, the “CO2: We call it life” campaign and predictions of a “CO2 fertilization effect” are nonsense. Terrestrial plant growth is far more dependent on water, temperature and nitrogen then on CO2. In the ocean, nitrogen and sometimes iron are limiting – and changes in ocean circulation may very well play havoc with planktonic communities that for the base of the food web. This is why more monitoring programs should be put in place – field data collection – something I don’t see you calling for.

  25. 125
    Randy Ross says:

    re: 121. I live in Canandaigua, NY in the Finger Lakes region. This morning, the temperature on my porch was 50 degrees F. Our normal low temp is about 18 degrees for this time of year.
    Our cumulative heating degree days for this winter is about 600 lower than the thirty year average. The most extreme deficit in this measure that I can remember was about 600 for the entire heating season.
    My wood pile is also diminishing far more slowly than usual.
    I agree that the El Nino is keeping the area warmer than it would be otherwise, but even in the extreme El Nino at the end of the 80′s, we had snow on the ground in January, and I certainly was not able to sit out in my yard wearing sandals, shorts, and a t-shirt while reading the paper. I did that today.
    For now, this is delightful, but where does it re-stabilize?

    [Response: Indeed. Its the fact that this latest El Nino sits on top of the longer-term anthropogenic warming trend that lead the Univ. of East Anglia folks to predict '07 to be the warmest year on record for the globe. - mike]

  26. 126
    Mark A. York says:

    What Hank Roberts said. I say that as a biologist, after having the evolutionary pathways hammered into my head for years in the classroom and field. Right now it’s polar bears that are on point, taking the heat if you will. Even that is a denialist’s aqua-dream.

  27. 127
    Eli Rabett says:

    Eli had an interesting discussion with the local cynic today. He pointed out that the current strategy of the fossil fuel companies is to dominate any replacement technologies and thus maintain their stranglehold on energy. This accounts for their recent more friendly attitude towards the existence of anthropic driven climate change.

  28. 128
    Mark A. York says:

    Speak of the proverbial Devil.

    http://www.usatoday.com/weather/climate/2007-01-05-warm_x.htm?csp=24

    Did n’t Lubos have a formula I looked at recently that said 6th coldest? Up really is down in some camps.

  29. 129
    Grant says:

    Re: Response to #125

    Its the fact that this latest El Nino sits on top of the longer-term anthropogenic warming trend that lead the Univ. of East Anglia folks to predict ’07 to be the warmest year on record for the globe. – mike

    I saw another news story on the “prediction” from HadCRU, which is not actually a prediction at all. P.D. Jones stated that 2007 “should” be warmer than 2006, and “may” even be warmer than 1998, while the news story reported it as a sure-fire bet. Likewise, the story you link to quotes HadCRU as estimating “60% probability” that 2007 will set a new record.

    My impression is, that it depends on whether the developing el Nino turns into the full-blown article.

  30. 130
    P. Lewis says:

    Re #111
    Sashka said: They cannot even explain exactly how we evolved from monkeys. The known examples of speciation are but a few.

    I’ve no desire to hijack this thread and send it off into a discussion of evolution and biological modelling’s perceived inadequacies, but perpetuation of myth should be avoided in science and challenged/corrected.

    Humans did not evolve from monkeys. We are but one member of a family of about 300 extant primates and untold numbers of extinct primates. And all primates have common ancestors that were not human and not monkey. Speciation of those common ancestors led to the various prosimians, monkeys, lesser apes and great apes.

    So, one would hope that a biological model does not spit out the answer that humans evolved from monkeys! Of course, if such a model did spit out such an answer then we’d be left with the choice of whether the model was telling us something important about our understanding of evolution theory or whether the coders had screwed up somewhere. That is the case with all models. Some tell us something important, some don’t and some are plain wrong. Then one tries to use one’s evolved brain to help decide which is the case at hand and how things can be improved. Again, that is the case with all models.

  31. 131
    Sashka says:

    RE: 121

    A question to Mike due to his comment. Correct me if I’m wrong but first EOF of El-Nino is very weak in N-E of USA. So why are you making this attribution?

    Even in the regions where El-Nino effects are pronounced the amplitude of temperature perturbation is probably on the order of 2-3 degrees. Here we have an anomaly an order of magnitude greater. How can you possibly relate it to El-Nino?

    [Response: Not sure what you mean by "first EOF of El Nino". El Nino has a prominent influence on the pattern of the Northern Hemisphere winter jet stream over North America (which in turn exerts a profound influence on regional winter surface temperature and precipitation patterns over the U.S). Its certainly not the only influence however. So no one El Nino winter looks quite the same as any other in terms of e.g. the pattern of winter surface temperature anomalies over the U.S. That having been said, winter (DJF) warming in the Northeastern U.S. is actually one of the most robust responses. Note that it is present in each of the El Nino winters shown in this plot from NOAA. One other thing that stands out in this plot, incidentally, is that the winter warmth over the U.S. becomes increasingly prominent with each subsequent El Nino event during the late 20th century. So there is a 'climate change signal' present as well. It is therefore incorrect to argue (as some already have, e.g. one NOAA official on NBC Nightly News this evening) that ENSO is the only factor that might contribute to anomalous winter warmth over large parts of the U.S. this winter. - mike]

  32. 132
    Dano says:

    RE: 118,119 (Sadlov):

    I lived in Davis, did my undergrad there and collected much data around there. Look at the CIMIS station in Davis for 7-day temps and archives, which will reflect pre-frontal ridging’s effect on min temps. You’ll see it’s obviously not affected by UHI. Nor is Davis in the GHCN.

    One of the official reporting HCN stations is way out in the rice fields, unaffected by UHI.

    BTW, your common use of anecdotal wx evidence is cute, but the rest of us will look at the official data for our trends.

    HTH,

    D

  33. 133
    Sashka says:

    You ignored the last part of my question: the current anomaly has a wrong order of magnitude.

    [Response: You seem to be confused on the timescales in question. What do you mean by 'current anomaly'? Obviously, the discussion here refers to a seasonal (e.g. DJF) mean anomaly that might be expected this winter. That anomaly will be comprised of an average of many synoptic scale events, some which will be of the same sign but much larger than the mean expected anomaly (e.g. as in the last few weeks), others that may even be of opposite sign. -mike]

    Also, the plots that you show are for the El-Nino years which we are technically not in yet, right? I thought it was for the year after New Year to which the nino refers, no?

    [Response: Again, you seem to be confused. What is shown in the plot is the temperature anomaly pattern associated with an El Nino winter, that is, the winter that coincides with peak ENSO conditions (as measured by e.g. the DFJ Nino3 tropical Pacific SST anomaly). This is when the extratropical planetary wave perturbations influencing North American winter climate conditions are greatest. We are in such a winter right now. -mike]

    I know you do a lot of statistics so you’ll probably agree that it’s dangerous to draw conclusions based on the sample of seven.

    [Response: Huh? The signal is present in every single event in that composite. Indeed, if you look at a composite of all 25 El Nino events recorded in the instrumental record (since 1877), though with greater uncertainties in the past, rather than just the large recent events which is what the previous graphic showed, the winter warming over the Northern U.S. and southern Canada is seen to be a remarkably robust signal. It is well known to scientists in this field that this warming signal associated with El Nino events is a robust one, and its tied to a well understood perturbation in the extratropical planetary wave structure which we understand quite well, and can reproduce in atmospheric models with specified tropical Pacific SST anomalies. mike]

    Alas, later events are missing.

    [Response:Actually, including the most recent events only strengthens the picture. Try this NOAA DJF composite of all recent events up to present. -mike]

    I’d even disagree with your observation on substance.

    [Response:These are not my observations, they are NOAA's. If you don't like them, why don't you write NOAA a letter. -mike]

    To me, the warmth of 86-87 is weaker than that of 82-83 so the progression is not monotonic.

    [Response: Who was talking about a monotonic progression? Why don't you re-read what I've written. - mike]

    If you ignore the 91-92 event, it would be hard to conclude that there’s much of a signal in N-E.

    [Response: Huh? I think you may need new glasses. The signal is present in every single event in that composite, and in the other composites linked above . -mike]

    By “first EOF of El Nino” I meant a study of variability of global atmosphere forced by an El-Nino event.

    [Response: These are not (remotely) the same thing. As this discussion has gotten quite off topic now, I think we'll have to leave it here. If you are interested in learning more about the ENSO phenomenon and its impacts, I suggest you turn to NOAA's El Nino page. - mike]

  34. 134

    Greetings Dr Mann There is also the current state of the atmosphere, its total heat content, which is at a higher level, by the combination of many warm recent years slowly but surely having a cumulative effect, given that there has not been bitterly cold pan continental winters resuming a balance so to speak. El Nino is over rated in comparison, the real heat giant is already in place, it is just not found in one place, measuring atmospheric total heat content would be revealing.

  35. 135
    Dano says:

    Followup to 119, 120:

    RAWS stations also display 7 days worth of data.

    Best,

    D

  36. 136
    Royce Fontenot says:

    RE: 124 NOAA (NCDC) and the UK Met Office update the 30-year normals every 10 years on the decade. In the US, as the new normals are produced, products are shifted to use the new data. As far as I know, this has been a practice for around 30 years at least. I am not sure why the UK Met Office has produced, but does not use, the updated normals for its routine products (I suspect it is WMO related).

    http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/normals/usnormals.html

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/averages/index.html

    Regardless of AGW…climate is dynamic. In doing research on climate change it makes perfect sense to use a static set of normals (the 1961-1990 period) as a baseline to determine change. However…for most folks who use weather/climate data routinely in industry (commodities, agriculture, etc), it would be illogical to use “outdated” data. The reason the 30 year normal was created was to give a period of “average” conditions to which a user can establish a baseline reference to the current climate. A 30 year period was deemed long enough to create a long trend but keep it “in phase” with the current climate.

    To put in context of a user- â��I donâ��t want to know how much above the average the temperature was last month compared to 50-60 years agoâ�¦I want to know how much above average the temperature was compared to the current climateâ��. For those of us with backgrounds in climate services (my case…a RCC and a SCO), this was/is an almost everyday question.

    IMHO, I think when we talk about �normals� as operational and research scientists, it needs to be put in context. When discussing overall change, it should be related and explained that the change is related to the baseline period (1961-1990). When we talk about how warm last month was in a specific place, it should be related to the current 30 year normals.

    Hope this helps!

    Cheers!

  37. 137
    mzed says:

    #106: Well, alright, these would indeed be drastic changes, but would they really make it a “different planet”? For example, as I understand it the complete dry-out (as opposed to a partial dry-out) of the Amazon is a worst-case scenario, that also relies on continued deforestation for plausibility. I guess it’s just your point of view, so alright, we can call it a different planet…and I’m not trying to downplay the real dangers at stake here. What I’m trying to say is, climate change just happens. With or without humans. Sometimes abruptly. And humans have also changed their environment, sometimes radically, even without ghg emissions. (Deforestation is a notable example.) We can certainly try to manage our contribution to climate change…but climate change is not a man-made phenomenon. It is a natural phenomenon, which we have the capability to contribute to. (Having said that, it does seem the past few millennia have been rather stable in terms of climate. AGW would be a significant change to that.)

  38. 138
    William Astley says:

    RE: “It has often been remarked upon that scientists and academics make their reputations by breaking down orthodoxies and by challenging previously widespread assumptions (but it will only work out well if they’re right of course!). Nobody makes much of a name for themselves by agreeing with all previous thinking. Indeed, to be thought of as a radical new thinker, one must assume the role of the heretic, challenging the stale orthodoxies of the past.”

    Questioning to understand the orthodoxies, particularly based on new data is an essential part of the scientific process. It is suggested that polite, well reasoned questioning should be supported.

    GCR Cloud Hypothesis
    There have been a number of papers published in the last 7 years to provide support for the hypothesis that past climate changes could in part be due to changes in low level cloud cover. Increases in low level cloud cover in most locations (except the Antarctic) results in cooling. It is known that changes to the earth’s magnetic field and the solar cycle (long and short solar cycle changes) modulate the magnitude of galactic cosmic ray flux that strikes the earth’s atmosphere. It has been shown that an increase in the GCR flux results in an increase in clouds and visa versa.

    Earths’ Magnetic Field
    Recent data indicates that the geodynamo process may not stable. It appears based on the new data and associated analysis that the geomagnetic field can drop in magnitude by as much as 1/5 to 1/10 of its current level, before gradually recovering back to current levels. This finding is important as a sudden reduction in the earth’s magnetic field could result in cooling if the GCR cloud hypothesis is correct.

    The following is an excerpt from Zang and Gubbins’s paper “Is the geodynamo process intrinsically unstable”. (see attached for details):

    “Recent studies suggest that the Earth’s magnetic field has fallen dramatically in magnitude and changed direction repeatedly since the last 700,000 years ago (Langereis et al. 1997; Lund et al. 1998). These important results paint a rather different picture of the long term behavior of the field from the conventional one of a steady dipole reversing at random intervals; instead the field appears to spend up to 20% of its time in a weak non-dipole state (Lund et al. 1998).”

    http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/archive/00000416/01/gubbinsd4.pdf

    I thought past interglacial periods ended abruptly and there is evidence of other significant rapid climate changes in the paleoclimatic proxy data.

  39. 139
    Ike Solem says:

    RE#135,

    For the general reader, the notion of ‘anomaly’ can be misleading. It does depend on what you want to see – for example, to calculate a baseline for El Nino events, you might subtract all the El Nino years from the dataset and use that for the baseline curve. Looking at long-term climate changes…why not use a 100-year baseline? It would probably look something like the 1951-1980 baseline.

    If you look at the chart posted in #112, you’ll see that years prior to the mid-90′s are all assigned negative anomalies. The early 90′s are around -0.1 C (here’s the link)

    Compare that to this 1999 graph of temperature anomaly trends stretching back to 1890: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Study/GlobalWarm1999/Images/1999_fig1.gif

    Here, the early 90′s are given a +0.4 C anomaly – and what you also see see is a series of new maximum temperature records, beginning in 1972 and stretching right up to the end of the century; note that 2005 was also a new temperature record. This graph uses the 1951-1980 period as the baseline.

    So, for the purposes of long term climate and temperature trends, the 30-year baseline has increased by about 0.5C from 1980 to 2000. The new baseline period (1981-2010) will be higher then the previous ones. When will this long term trend come to an end?

    The model predictions are that this won’t happen until atmospheric CO2 is stabilized, and there will be about a hundred-year lag time – see the output using the 1961-1990 period as the baseline at http://www.usgcrp.gov/usgcrp/nacc/background/scenarios/gcm/tmppt.html Note that the lower lines on those graphs represent scenarios where atmospheric CO2 is stabilized at 550 ppm, while the others represent a 1% growth per year in atmospheric CO2 content. Currently, CO2 is at ~380 ppm. Ice age glacial/interglacial concentrations were around 260-290 ppm.

    Current growth rates in CO2 emissions have increased to 2.5% per year, according to several reports; see the story at this link. This article shows the Keeling curve next to the human emissions curve – very nice, since it shows how atmospheric CO2 is tracking human emissions using several different graphs.

    Quote: “…from 2000 to 2005 the growth rate of carbon dioxide emissions was more than 2.5% per year, whereas in the 1990s it was less than 1% per year.” The jump in emissions from 2002 to 2003 was 4.5%.

    There’s nothing ‘alarmist’ about being extremely concerned – that would be the rational response. Ignoring the issue – that could be called the nihilistic response.

  40. 140
    pete best says:

    dear RC

    Is consenus in science particular to climate science or is this consensus stance used to put down the unbelievers by telling them that they vast majority of climate scientists beleve that the current warming is human made via fossil fuel burning. Its seems that a lot of the non believers are using individuals (the USA likes the role of the individual it would seem above that of the group) to beat down the group which can never be right can it ?

    I would suggest to US politicians and member of congress and the senate etc that Science has always been by consensus and only in the early days did individuals really take the scientific floor and show the rest of them how to do it. Copernicus, Gallileo, Einstein, Newton etc aside there have been thousands of scientists in service to humankind over the last 400 years and only a few individuals really progressed science, the rest was done by consensus it would seem to me.

    [Response:About 100 years ago, there was a debate about whether atoms existed or not. Now, there is a scientific consensus on that topic (i.e. atoms are real). There is also a scientific on the theory of general relativity (and the possibility of extracting energy by splitting atoms). Now there is a conscensus (at least outside the US) on the adaption through evolution (Darwin), too. And there is a concensus on the idea that the Earth orbits the Sun. There is a scientific conscensus on the notion that the Earth is spherical (more or less). There is a conscensus on that it is important to wash you hands before carrying out a medical operation (Bacterias and infections). So, I guess, scientific concensus is not uncommon within the scientific circles. A different way of putting it is to call it the 'established truth'. -rasmus]

  41. 141
    Mark A. York says:

    On the contrary, much of the current escalation of change is indeed spurred by man-made activities. That’s the point in all of this. A different planet is one where birds don’t migrate south to escape natural seasonal cold, and plants expand their home ranges north. Pests go with that, like the pine bark bettle, which has devastated coniferous forests all over North America. That is different, and one could argue not beneficial. And it’s happening now.

  42. 142
    Alan says:

    I don’t have a clue as to how people come up with a 60% chance of El-Nino, but i do understand a bit about the consequenses and one of those consequences is increased rainfall in Eastern Australia. Here in SE Australia we are “betting the farm” on those odds and everyone is commenting on the bizzare weather extremes that have occured over the last 6 months or so, such as heatwaves followed by crop crippling frost and unseasonal snow falling on the extreme bushfires that have arrived 2 months too early early.

    2007 has started with an Antartic blast of cold air colliding with TC Isobel over Western Australia causing what the media has termed “a perfect storm” over the town of Esperence on the south coast, the remaining moisture is being dumped onto Tasmania as I type. The irony of this increasingly lobsided continent is that over Australia as a whole we have had pretty much spot on average rainfall.

    Australia’s BOM drought statement and maps for Aug to Dec 2006.

    Archived statements, notice the liberal use of the term “rainfall deficiencies”. The first statement from 2000 also metions a smaller portion of the SE has been experiencing these conditions since 1996.

  43. 143
    Leonard Evens says:

    There has always been a spectrum of opinions about both the science of global warming and about what that means for policy. There is no easy way to separate the two completely because your estimate of the risk of unfavorable outcomes will certainly color your feeling of urgency to act. But today the basic science seems essentially settled, although there is certainly a lot more to be learned. When I first read Revkin’s article in the Times, I was puzzled by just what this “middle ground” was saying. The best I could glean from it was the suggestion that action could be delayed for some unspecified period of time or that quite modest measures alone will suffice, at least for the present. I don’t think the potential risks of waiting or proceding slowly justify such a position. Even if there were universal agreement about what should be done, actually doing it will be difficult in any event. There is no danger we are going to move too quicly.

    I’ve always been convinced by the no-regrets argument. We should certainly have started by doing the obvious things which make sense anyway. The problem is that someone will always have regrets about any proposed policy and if they have sufficient influence on policy, such measures won’t be adopted. For example, the US has long needed to reduce its dependence on imported oil, and we should have instituted measures to do that. Thomas Friedman, in the Times, pointed out that fuel economy standards were first introduced under Gerald Ford and that he also imposed an import duty on foriegn oil, which was later dropped. Since then such measures have lagged largely due to the influence of oil companies and auto manufacturers allied with free market ideologues who have never met a limitation on private activity they can live with. The result is that we are now in a position where such relatively modest methods will sffuice. It seems clear to me that the longer we wait, the more intrusive, on the lives of ordinary people, will be the measures necessary to deal with the consequences.

  44. 144
    baal says:

    Re 136 mzed: Global warming itself is a worst case scenario.
    And every mentioning of a diffrent planet is a negative, because species cant adopt fast enough this means everything will colapse.
    And your deforstation example is just wrong,as your complete reasoning is total off the road. If you post here your own noobish guessing please provide a source aswell, doc.
    And you obviously dont follow the context or havening problems at last. Its the speed of Co2 emission which NEVER HAPPEN BEFORE and is accelerating.

  45. 145
    cthulhu says:

    Offtopic, but today I read the 2004 Damon and Laut paper (http://www.realclimate.org/damon&laut_2004.pdf) and on searching for followup papers and references to it I came across co2science.org’s summary of it: co2science.org’s summary of the Damon&Laut 2004

    Read them both and find out just how misleading co2science.org are willing to be.

  46. 146

    Re “Realistically, would anyone care to make a prediction about what will be the first year in which global CO2 emissions are lower than the year before?”

    2051, because there’s a massive economic collapse starting in 2050 (in my SF and horror novels). :)

  47. 147

    Re “Having read Pielke’s blog for some time, it seems that he is often guilty of rather childish attacks on leading scientist to gather attention to himself and pique the interests of the media. Makes one think of a clever grad student who can’t do create anything important, yet struts around with a false confidence borne from poking holes in the ideas of others.
    At the same time, he quite obviously ignores the obvious distortions of climate change denialists and other contrarians, which gains him subtle approval from Fox News and an apparent invitation to write for Cato’s Regulation Magazine.
    If this makes Pielke a “third way” guy, then we need to think about a fourth. There’s just not much in the way of substance other than a biased attempt to define oneself as a “centrist” and continuous self-promotion to journalists who should know better.”

    Whether he’s a third way guy or not, this kind of ad hominem really doesn’t belong here. I’m surprised the moderators even allowed this to be posted. If Pielke makes bad arguments, attack those. That’s legitimate. But attacking his character is a logical fallacy.

    [Response: Fair point. Keep to the argument, not the man. Thanks. -gavin]

  48. 148
    Steve says:

    #143 But today the basic science seems essentially settled

    Which science?

    CO2->Forcing->Climate Change->Impacts->Alternatives->Policy

    CO2 – the chemistry and radiative properties are settled.
    However, the balance models of CO2 don’t indicate
    where the “soaked up” CO2 is going – this science isn’t settled.

    Forcing – that CO2 is emissive in the longwave is settled.
    However, forcing is dependent on temperature profiles.
    Processes which reduce temperature inversions also reduce
    the effectiveness of surface radiative warming. That is
    why the radiative forcing estimates are modeled
    rather than measured.
    While this problem may be bounded, the science is not settled.

    Climate Change – The IPCC range of projections, 1.5C to 4.5C
    is large. It is larger than the last thirty years
    observed century warming rate of just under 1.5C.
    If this is settled, the settling should indicate a warming
    around the observed.

    Further, the last thirty years observations do validate
    some important aspects of the GISS models –
    cooling stratosphere, warming maxima in the Arctic.
    However, observations invalidate the tropical tropospheric
    warming maxima modeled by GISS. Also, when one examines
    the stratospheric temperatures for the last thirty five
    years, the decade before El Chichon indicates a warming
    stratosphere, the period after El Chichon’s impact but
    before Pinatubo indicates a warming stratosphere,and
    the period since the impacts of Pinatubo indicates a
    stable if not slightly warming stratosphere.

    This science is not settled.

    Impacts – this science is entirely dependent on the
    science of climate change and so any uncertainty in
    the preceeding estimates are multiplied here.
    Impacts include beneficial and detrimental impacts.
    There is an absence of real analysis of beneficial impacts.
    This science is not settled.

    Alternatives – this science hasn’t really even been
    considered yet. There was the one paper, you recall,
    from the Princeton fellow who modeled that there would
    be significant climate change if the US got even
    ten percent of its electricity from wind turbines due to
    turbulent forcing. What would happen if we got all our
    motor fuel from Ethanol? Or all our electricity
    from solar? These things do have climate and ecosystem
    impacts. Ultimately, it may be that this issue
    is about population more than anything else.
    The science here is not settled.

    Policy – this is entirely out of the realm of science,
    but has the factorial of the cascade of uncertainties
    above.

  49. 149
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Actually this idea of “consensus” being a heresy (or in the minority) is perhaps how it should be & should have been all along. Maybe this is a positive sign.

    I take “consensus” in the broad sense here to mean climate science in general. And that’s because non-scientists (those living in the world & concerned about it) should be on the “lower standard of proof re some great harm” side of science. They should be more concerned about avoiding false negatives (claiming there’s no problem when in fact there is) than false positives (you’d think). And these false-negative-avoiders should be in the vast majority yelling with shrill voices, with the scientists as a much smaller coterie of moderate voices crying in wilderness, “We’re not yet 95% certain that runaway warming or other extreme climate catastrophes will actually happen; we’re working on it night and day, but we’re just not 95% sure yet.”

    Unfortunately, the debate has been largely between the scientists versus the industry-government complex saying, “We need 99% or 101% certainty to accept it (and even if we get that we’re not going to do anything about it).”

    Now the media (at least here in the U.S.), aside from its tactic of keeping fairly silent over the past 16 years (“the silent treatment”), when it has spoken, has mainly used the “balanced coverage” format, but not between the public v. scientists, but between the industry people and the scientists (afterall many media are funded by oil, just as Republican and Democrat politicians are). Environmentalists and people living in the world have been squeezed out of the debate entirely — at least here in the U.S. Environmentalism even became a dirty word, something to be ashamed of and keep secret. Now at last the people are waking up, and many are becoming more aware of global warming (a person I know actually thought GW had been disproven when I spoke to her about it 2 years ago, because she had heard nothing about it in the media).

    The media’s real job is to be a bridge between the scientists and the false-negative avoiding public (rather than between industry and science). I think they are finally coming around to this, and they’re hearing our shrill voices. I credit Andy Revkin with being one of the very few media persons to keep GW an issue, and thanks also to the NYT. For many years he was out on the limb writing about GW, when hardly anyone else in the U.S. did (I don’t think the rest of the world really understands how meager the coverage on GW has been here in the U.S., and still is). And now at last the common people, the false-negative-avoiders are beginning to speak up, putting Andy himself in a more middling position. Perhaps he’s being assailed by these false-negative-avoiders. And that’s perhaps as it should be.

    At last the false-negative-avoiders are coming out of the woodwork and being heard here in the U.S., pushing the scientists, industrial denialists, and the non-skeptical heretics about which Andy refers into a more minority position. And you’d think that’s how it should have always been. (No offense against the scientists; we understand why you have to be false-positive-avoiders and are fine with that.)

  50. 150

    Re “Human population has increased tangentially since around 1870, the rate of population can go no higher than what it is now. It only makes sense that any change in the climate, whether human or not, will affect this rate negatively. While this is probably a good thing, it stands to reason that humans population rates will drop dramatically with a rapid climate change. With all due respect for the folly of predicting what will happen, I do believe the human population will drop by 50 per cent by 2100. It only makes sense.”

    Are you or your descendants going to be in the 50% that survives?


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