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Cockburn’s form

Filed under: — gavin @ 7 June 2007

Alexander Cockburn (writing in the Nation) has become the latest contrarian-de-jour, sallying forth with some rather novel arithmetic to show that human-caused global warming is nothing to be concerned about. This would be unworthy of comment in most cases, but Cockburn stands out as one of only a few left-wing contrarians, as opposed to the more usual right-wing variety. Casual readers may have thought this is a relatively recent obsession of his (3 articles and responses over the last month), however, Cockburn has significant form* and has a fairly long history of ill-informed commentary on the subject of global warming.

There may be more elsewhere, but while he was writing for New York Press he had at least two articles on the subject: Global Warming: The Great Delusion (March 15, 2001) and Return to Global Warming (June 21, 2001). After both articles, I wrote letters to the editor (here and here) gently pointing out the misconceptions and incorrect statements (though obviously to little avail). To whit, the deliberate confusion of weather and climate, guilt by association (he linked climate modelling to biological warfare research!), the complete mis-understanding of the Harries et al (2001) paper showing satellite evidence for the increased trapping of long wave radiation by greenhouse gases etc.

Rather than simply rehashing the obvious mistakes in his current ‘science’, it’s worth taking a step back and looking at all of the pieces together. The first thing one notices is that Cockburn always tries to shy away from giving the impression he came up with any of his anti-global warming theories himself. In each case, there is a trusted ‘advisor’ or acquaintance who is available to inform Cockburn of the latest foolishness. In 2001 it was Pierre Sprey “a man knowledgeable about the often disastrous interface between environmental prediction and computer models” and now it is Dr. Martin Hertzberg “a meteorologist for three years in the U.S. Navy”. Neither of whom appear to have any peer reviewed work in the field.

In common with the right-wing contrarians, Cockburn’s opinions are not formed from a dispassionate look at the evidence, but come from a post hoc reasoning given his dislike of the purported implications. This line from the Mar 2001 piece discussing the fact that sulphate aerosols have a cooling effect on climate, is a great example:

‘You really want to live by a model that installs the coal industry as the savior of “global warming”?’

That is, since any model that shows that aerosols have a cooling impact (which is all of them) apparently encourages the coal industry to pollute, the model physics must be flawed. The same theme is apparent in the more recent articles. Because carbon offsetting and credits have not worked as well as expected (see this excellent Financial Times report), it is clearly the scientists who raised the issue who are at fault. Bad consequences clearly imply bad science.

This backward logic is clear from reading his articles. At first it was the models that were uncertain, the water vapour that was ignored, and it was the ‘speculative’ nature of the IPCC that he found unconvincing. Then it was the uncertainty associated with aerosols that nailed it for him. Now it is that the CO2 increase itself that is self-evidently bogus. He drifts from one pseudo-factoid to another, hoping to land upon the one thing that will mean he doesn’t need to deal seriously with the issue.

It is probably inevitable that, as dealing with climate change becomes an established concern, those who make a habit of reflexively being anti-establishment will start to deny there is a problem at all, coincidentally just as the original contrarians are mostly moving in the other direction (i.e. there is a problem but it’s too expensive to do anything about it). It is a shame, because as some oil companies and their friends are finding, it is difficult to get a place at the table where solutions are being discussed if you have claimed for years the whole thing was a hoax. As some left-wingers start to follow in the footsteps of these unlikely bedfellows, they too will find their association with specious arguments and simple nonsense reduces their credibility – and along with that lost credibility goes the opportunity to shape policy in ways that might be more to their liking.

Denial of a problem – perfectly exemplified by Cockburn’s articles – is fundamentally a short-term delaying tactic, but as a long term strategy, especially once policies start to be put in place, it is simply short-sighted.

Back in 2001, I invited Cockburn to visit our lab to discuss the science. Even though it was never responded too, that invitation remains open. A truly open-minded journalist would take me up on it… So how about it Alex?

Apparently the English usage of ‘to have form’ in this context is not widespread – it means to have a record or past habit, probably derived from horse racing but often used as slang in referring to past misdeeds…


214 Responses to “Cockburn’s form”

  1. 51
    Ike Solem says:

    SkepticalAnimist,

    I though Freeman Dyson’s comments were important because they showed how all political agendas lead to attempts to influence scientific inquiry. However, scientific inquiry was never intended to be a political football for various interests, regardless of their nobility or lack thereof.

    The only real substance in my comment was a) NOAA’s use of a 1971-2000 baseline for anomaly calculations, which was done for highly dubious reasons, and b) NASA’s refusal to fund an important climate satellite for the relatively small sum of $100 million, while also delivering a 5.6 billion contract to HP. I have no problem with HP (they make great printers) but why couldn’t that have been a 5.5 billion contract, and $100 million for the Deep Space Climate Observatory?

    Those were really the only two issues that I was hoping to see a response to. Why would NASA and NOAA behave in this manner? It looks like Lysenkoism to me – any disagreements?

  2. 52

    The key is to reduce two things: 1) population and 2) average resource use per person per year. These are the fundamental facts, and the rest depends on this foundation. Other measures are only helpful in that they delay the deep need for a change in population and consumption. In addition, we will at some point need to reduce global population to about one billion, from six billion, unless adequate replacements for carbon fuels appear (and even then some drop seems like a good idea as we are currently living on or over the edge). We should try to do that by population limits rather than by starvation, war, and disease. This will require major philosophical changes. We have our work cut out for us. Should we ask the next generation to deal with it, when the difficulty is greatly increased due to the delay?

  3. 53
    Philippe Chantreau says:

    It is sad that the idea of aerosols to control global temp is actually making some progress as a “solution” to GW. Edward Teller is dead but his legacy seems alive and well.

    Dr. J, do not dismiss research papers as a way to advance human knowledge and understanding of reality, because that’s where it happens, and scientific peer-review is part of that process. Although it is not a guarantee (as in the Legates/Soon/Baliunas and others), it is still the best tool we have. Dr. Griffin’s lack of relevant research papers in the subject in which he voiced (loudly) his opinion does not speak in his favor. Would you consider the opinion of a biomedical engineer with a specialty in electromechanics relevant for a discussion of the risks of intervening on a particular metabolic pathway in certain disorders? Few MDs would. In fact, there would probably be no consultation of someone with such a background.

    It does not mean that this engineer couldn’t have his opinion, but that’s just what it would be: an opinion. As you know, everybody has one. Granted, his is certainly better than Joe Blow’s, but going on TV and giving undue weight to that opinion because you’re in a position to do so IS underhanded.

    You shouldn’t be so concerned abouth this blog anyway. I read a lot of comments on blogs here and there. The mind manipulating campaigns and dsinformation spread by Crichton and the like of his has been successful beyond a lobbyist’s wildest dreams. Whatever is said about Griffin here is not going to be as widely heard as the utter nonsense spread by CO2science and other bogus sites. I see it all out there, scientists predicted an ice age in the 70′s, it’s all for grant money, science is business, it’s all politics, models are worthless, the list goes on and on, all debunked but alive and well. The denialists’ hard work has created a much more favorable environment for skeptics than the evidence warrants. Don’t worry about Griffin, he will have no shortage of supporters.

  4. 54
    El Cid says:

    Re: 39 by Timothy Chase

    I believe that given the severity of climate change and the threat that it poses, our first priority should be that of addressing it in the most effective way possible, and I would prefer to avoid individuals attempting to use the issue of climate change as a vehicle for one version or another of ideologically-motivated syndicalist or socialist “social justice.”

    This is certainly a reasonable response, but it also may be one which presumes a great deal: for example, it presumes that I have not also considered this point, and it presumes that there is a simple, controversy-free, and objectively obtainable “most effective way” to respond to global climate change.

    It is, for example, possible that some of the most effective ways to address the causes of global warming would be to aim to do so in the most just and democratic ways possible.

    That would actually be a scientific question, one similar to studies which look at other types of environmental problems and note that often social programs which carry out innovative changes for certain poor populations may be more effective than simply working with high government officials and heads of major corporations.

    That’s not just some set of pie in the sky and naive ideological concern. Those are real, actual questions asked by a lot of real, working on the ground scientists.

    It may also be dangerously socially naive to presume that the incredibly concentrated economic and governmental powers which do exist will choose the “most effective” solutions to global climate change over those most pleasing to those same powerful interests.

    The response that “we don’t have time” to ask important questions seems to be entirely wrong as well, as we have no problem asking other important scientific questions more focused on the hard science end of the question.

    And certainly at no point would one choose to pursue due to ignorance a more stupid solution if there had been the possibility of choosing a less stupid solution if one had investigated other possibilities.

    Regardless, I’ll re-phrase my suggestion in the form of a prediction:

    Very soon, the major controversy in the subject of the global response to the global climate change crisis will not be on its need, but on on how to respond to it, how it will be paid for, and who will be paid to do it.

    This is an objectively testable prediction, but one which seems fairly close to some basic social intuitions.

  5. 55

    Yes, it is Lysenkoism, but the Michael Griffin thing goes well beyond merely his global warming views. He is widely seen as being a completely incompetent engineer just from his ESAS (Exploration Systems Architecture Study) implementation of the VSE (Vision for Space Exploration), and most credible space architects are literally horrified that his engineering expertise may actually reach fruition (the so called stick). This is not even bringing up other unsavory problems (the big bang – it’s just a theory) and the inspector general scandal, which have occurred on his watch. Most analysts recognize now that laws were literally broken during the ESAS process.

    http://cosmic.lifeform.org/?p=302

  6. 56
    Timothy Chase says:

    Eric (skeptic) (#43) wrote:

    #23 Timothy, the glacier melt articles are perfect examples of cherry picking with no consideration of opposite effects like increased snowfall. The methane release only has quantitative analysis in the amount (doubling the current CO2). No analysis of time period or models of CO2 sequestration to go with it. To counter your “seem to have underestimated”, we seem to have underestimated some negative feedbacks as many articles here have shown.

    You write, “Timothy, the glacier melt articles are perfect examples of cherry picking…”

    … but I was offering them as an example of positive feedback, a tipping point – which we will not be able to control. And if you wish to claim that this is a problem with only some glaciers, I would remind you that this is a global problem (see for example “The State of the Cryosphere: Glaciers”, in particular, the chart near the bottom of the page) which will affect hundreds of millions of people – simply in terms of the loss of glaciers as a source water and the consequent water scarcity (see for example Ice-capped roof of world turns to desert, Global warming: Tibet’s lofty glaciers melt away). That isn’t cherry-picking – what I in fact offered were representative examples.

    You write, “… with no consideration of opposite effects like increased snowfall.”

    … and that is a red herring.

    Here are some points for you to consider – beginning with the point you have just brought up, and moving out:

    1. Snowfall is what creates glaciers — but it doesn’t seem to be working terribly well at this point.
    2. Snowfall won’t help with summer crops if it all melts in the spring.
    3. Snowfall won’t help downstream if its melt soaks into parched ground before it has the chance to go downstream.
    4. A fair amount of snow will fall in some deserts (as it used to in the region around Santa Fe) but the deserts remain deserts.
    5. Increased rain won’t help much if it tends to fall over the ocean.
    6. Rain won’t help much if it rarely falls over land, and then only in torrents.
    7. Rain won’t help much if due to higher ground temperatures it evaporates before it can feed the plants.
    8. Increased carbon dioxide won’t help plants much if they are drought-stressed and heat-stressed.
    9. And the drying out of the soil will itself result in positive feedback.
    10. The probability of the Amazon river valley becoming a desert is now estimated at being 10-40%.
    11. CO2 increases ocean acidity, but this diminishes the ability of marine life to sequester carbon.
    12. CO2 is destroying the ability of diatoms, forams, coccolithphores and coral to use calcium, sequester carbon, and support the rest the rest of the oceanic biosphere.
    13. Higher temperatures are dimishing the ability of the ocean to absorb carbon dioxide and oxygen and threaten to turn the ocean hypoxic.
    14. If fish harvests and agricultural harvests are both predictably and seriously reduced, a still growing human population is threatened with starvation.

    You write, “No analysis of time period or models of CO2 sequestration to go with it.”

    No, I didn’t respond to this point as it was something you never brought up.

    You write, “… we seem to have underestimated some negative feedbacks.”

    Nearly all of the feedbacks which scientists are seeing are positive feedbacks at this point – and they have this odd tendency of feeding into one-another. Something about moving outside a stable attractor, I suppose.

  7. 57
    Timothy Chase says:

    SecularAnimist (#46) wrote:

    Timothy Chase wrote: “With respect to those who have genuine concern for the poor, I would remind them that it is the poor that will be disproportionally affected by climate change”

    It is also the poor who are most desperately in need of more energy — a situation completely unlike the USA which is a profligate waster of unbelievably vast amounts of energy, and where I would argue our quality of life could actually be improved by dramatically reducing our energy use.

    I am beginning to think that you are more concerned with power than the poor…

    Look – I have no problem with photovoltaics and the like. What I do have a problem with is someone insisting on everyone buying into their personal ideology before anything gets done. For one thing, it suggests that such an individual lacks all comprehension of serious things are – or else all genuine concern for those who will be affected.

    This addresses the very real needs of the poor for more energy without increasing GHG emissions, promotes social and economic justice, and — guess what? — there’s a lot of money to be made from doing it, as the world’s major PV-exporting countries (Japan, Germany and increasingly China) are well aware.

    If there is a great deal of money to be made selling advanced technology to the poorest of the poor, then I shouldn’t think you will even need to advocate it – or try and convince the United States to pay for it.

  8. 58
    Edward Greisch says:

    REFERENCE: “Building Red America: the New Conservative Coalition and the Drive for Permanent Power” by Thomas B. Edsall, 2006 Basic Books N.Y. N.Y.
    George W. Bush’s politics of polarization has caused average Americans to ignore facts and only care about which side of the polarization you are on. Average Americans are not hearing you. They are just parsing you as noise from the other side. Most people know nothing about science. Now they are seeing science as the immoral enemy/liberal.
    Reference: “The Republican War on Science” by Chris Mooney, 2005, Basic Books. Mooney’s book has the following URLs:
    http://www.waronscience.com/home.php
    http://www.chriscmooney.com/
    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05268/576883.stm
    See also:
    “Undermining Science, suppression and distortion in the Bush Administration” by Seth Shulman, 2006. Shulman’s book has the following URL:
    http://www.ropercenter.uconn.edu
    See also:
    http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/51150/
    http://www.alternet.org/stories/52801/
    It may be necessary to stop talking about climate long enough to reclaim Science’s natural moral high ground. Teach the basic idea that Science is more a moral commitment than anything else. Reference:
    “Science and Immortality” by Charles B. Paul 1980 University of California Press. In this book on the Eloges of the Paris Academy of Sciences (1699-1791) page 99 says: “Science is not so much a natural as a moral philosophy”. [That means drylabbing [fudging data] will get you fired.]
    Page 106 says: “Nature isn’t just the final authority, Nature is the Only authority.”
    Nature isn’t just the final authority on truth, Nature is the Only authority. There are zero human authorities. Scientists do not vote on what is the truth. There is only one vote and Nature owns it. We find out what Nature’s vote is by doing Scientific [public and replicable] experiments. Scientific [public and replicable] experiments are the only source of truth. [To be public, it has to be visible to other people in the room. What goes on inside one person's head isn't public unless it can be seen on an X-ray or with another instrument.]
    Science is a simple faith in Scientific experiments and a simple absolute lack of faith in everything else.
    We are not acting like lawyers, preachers or politicians. We are telling the truth. Those lawyers, preachers, politicians and other innumerate humanitologists don’t know what truth is. We have to teach everybody to do very simple science for themselves so that they will be able to understand this.
    Or, we have to find a place to hide that is very far away, like Mars. Remember Giordano Bruno.

  9. 59
    Kroganchor says:

    #52
    Population growth is unlikely to decline sufficiently to actually cause a significant decline in population. Great progress is being made in medicine, agriculture, and the natural efficiency of economic freedom is spreading around the globe. All these factors contribute to the support of large healthy populations. At least reproduction rates are leveling off in most westernized societies, including I believe-China!

  10. 60
    Edward Greisch says:

    Answer to Comment # 32: Did you know that enough URANIUM goes up the smokestack of a coal-fired power plant to Fully fuel a nuclear power plant with the same output? See: http://www.ornl.gov/ORNLReview/rev26-34/text/coalmain.html
    If breeding of thorium into uranium and using plutonium as fuel are allowed, enough uranium and thorium go up the smokestack of one coal-fired power plant to fully fuel 500 nuclear power plants of the same size. That isn’t all that goes up the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants. Arsenic and lead are also among the 73 elements in coal smoke, and the quantities are worthy of commercial production. Did you know that you get 100 times as much radiation from a coal-fired power plant as from a nuclear power plant?
    Have you ever heard of background radiation? The natural background radiation that has been there since the beginning of time is 1000 times what you get from a nuclear power plant or 10 times what you get from a coal-fired power plant. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Background_radiation
    or http://www.unscear.org/unscear/en/publications/2000_1.html
    If the safety level of nuclear power plants were LOWERED to the same level as coal-fired power plants, the resulting [nuclear] electricity would be very cheap indeed and nuclear power would be very efficient.

  11. 61
    Timothy Chase says:

    David Alexander (#52) wrote:

    In addition, we will at some point need to reduce global population to about one billion, from six billion, unless adequate replacements for carbon fuels appear (and even then some drop seems like a good idea as we are currently living on or over the edge).

    I think it would be possible to support eleven billion, perhaps even at current US standards – with the right technology, and I would quite obviously focus on power first. New approaches to solar power – perhaps photovoltaics which achieve the 95% efficiency of plants, or harvesting some of the energy of the thermohaline or even the jet stream. Tidal power – even if it doesn’t look especially pretty to some people. Geothermal. But chances are it will require major investment – and the more ambitious projects will probably require major international cooperation.

    However, at this point, I am not sure that any of the governments are all that serious about tackling climate change, least of all the United States and China. From what I understand, only two countries in the EU which stand a chance of meeting their obligations under the original Kyoto Protocol: Sweden and (presumably) the UK. Time appears short, perhaps too short to achieve the level of cooperation which is needed – even assuming we have a decade in which to get our act together before this thing takes on a life of its own.

  12. 62
    Daniel C. Goodwin says:

    Re 40 by Sean O:

    What law of nature decrees that every problem must have a solution? It’s entirely possible, perhaps probable, that there is no solution in the context of the limited capacity of human beings to adapt – morally, economically, intellectually – but most crucial: very quickly. Our species is quite capable of destroying itself, dragging down countless other species with us, one way or another. Get used to it.

  13. 63
    John Mashey says:

    Since this thread seems more on journalism than science, I couldn’t resist the sad irony of the following, even if it isn’t about Cockburn:

    Wall Street Journal, Thursday, June 7, 2007:
    WSJ editorial and reporting are of course quite distinct: one does report the news.

    WSJ Editorial has a well-known position (100% denialism) on AGW (Murdoch might be an improvement!!)

    One of my newspaper friends claimed that Letters to the Editor are selected by the news staff.

    BUT, I have my doubts…

    1)The Letters to the Editor section’s prominent (top-of-page) heading was:

    “Global Warming: Irrational Assumptions and Speculation as Dogma”

    were printed two long letters (>50% of total L-t-t-E) supporting that view, by:
    Charles Battig, M.D. of Charlottesville, VA, (retired)
    David L, Wood, M.D. of Long Beach, CA. [both Google-able, with interesting results]

    One described WSJ commentaries by Richard Lindzen and Holman Jenkins as “offer a scientific analysis rather than the politically correct media line”.

    2) On the other hand, the most prominent *news article*, starting in top-right corner of first page, with largest point-size headline, was a nice article by reporter Liam Pleven:

    “As Insurers Flee Coast, States Face new Threat”

    This straightforwardly discussed the upsurge in all coastal states from Texas to Massachusetts, of insurance policies by “insurers of last resort” for coastal areas. Such insurers give lower rates, are not necessarily completely funded, and will need big government bailouts if bad things happen. There’s at least $800B of liability ($426B in FL alone).

    Why the surge in this type of insurance?

    Regular private insurers, who must make fact-based risk assessments to stay in business, are “fleeing the coasts.”

  14. 64
    Mike Donald says:

    #20
    Griffin’s a Bush appointee and he hasn’t retracted his remarks apparently. Nuff said.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_D._Griffin

  15. 65
    Steve D says:

    Guilt by association?

    Oh, you mean like associating ‘skeptics’ with cigarette companies…

  16. 66
    nicolas L. says:

    re 52 David Alexander

    I’m sorry I’m gonna be a little harsh with that, but an argument like the one you use, meaning reducing population from 6 billion to 1 billion during the next century (because for this to have an impact on mitigating GW, weâ??d have to do it fast) is the typical argument denialists love to hear and then use to point fingers at those “dreaded GW alarmists”.
    Reducing a population by more than 80% in a hundred years is not called a population control, it’s called a near extinction with tremendous impacts on the survivors (and it’s much more than just a philosophical change; I recommend you to read about psychological impacts of catastrophes on surviving populations). The “better” examples of population control we can see to this day are in China and Indiaâ?¦ The Chinese “one child policy” is a very drastic one, which should lead, one can imagine, to a relatively strict control of population. But if you look at Chinese demography, you’ll see this:
    1950 chinese population: 562 000 000
    2000 chinese population: 1 264 000 000
    2050 chinese population: nearly 1 500 000 000
    (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demography_of_the_People’s_Republic_of_China)
    That means that even with this kind of “one child policy”, the chinese population won’t stabilize even in the next 50 years.
    That means, to reach this goal of 1 billion inhabitants in the whole world in 2100, you have two solutions:
    _ A global sterilization of the large majority of the population of this planet. I’m not sure people would accept such things, do you?
    _ A global atomic war. A global conventional war wouldn’t be enough. See the example of WW2, the country who lost the most population was Belarus, and it lost “only” the fourth of it.

    So we need new and realistic solutions in order to be taken seriously. Energy Efficiency, alternative energies, Energy use control… No one says it will be easy, or even cheap, and most of the work is still to do. But going back to the old Malthusian theory of population control is useless and dangerous, and can only lead to the total denial and inaction of political and economical authorities concerning GW.

  17. 67
    Nick Harvey says:

    I went to a debate last night on free market solutions with a couple good speakers including Mark Lynas and the chairman of Shell UK that made it clear that skeptics just aren’t taken seriously here in the UK. One guy from the audience at the end decided to reguritate a lot of the swindle arguments and was absolutely shut down by both sides of the panel AND the rest of the audience- do people like Cockburn actually hold and sway over there?

  18. 68

    [[No, Dr. Griffin (who is a distinguished scientist and educator with more degrees and experience than any on this blog) ]]

    Not in climatology he isn’t. His degrees are in engineering; he is not a scientist at all. On the other hand, the people who write this blog — Gavin Schmidt, Raymond Pierrehumbert, Michael Mann, etc. — are all Ph.D. climatologists.

  19. 69
    Eric (skeptic) says:

    #50, Timothy, “unwise” is a general statement. Unwise under what conditions? The way we do today and the types of aerosols is unwise. But perhaps there are better ways and better aerosols that would achieve cooling without negative side effects. Again it boils down to models, if warming is a problem because the models predict it, then they can also predict the most cost effective solution. Hank, as usual you read my question and answered it. The best reason not to put up sunshades is that CO2 will cause other problems, many of which are uncertain as your papers point out.

  20. 70
    pat n says:

    Re Response in #9:

    Widely read national articles reach different audiences than local TV and newspapers.

    Many local meteorologists, news and weather casters rely on local National Weather Service (NWS) staff for advise which is then passed along to the public in various forms.

    Dr. Heidi Cullen, Climate Expert said Dec. 21, 2006 in a blog article at The Weather Channel Blog, JUNK CONTROVERSY NOT JUNK SCIENCE…

    Meteorologists are among the few people trained in the sciences who are permitted regular access to our living rooms. And in that sense, they owe it to their audience to distinguish between solid, peer-reviewed science and junk political controversy. If a meteorologist can’t speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS shouldn’t give them a Seal of Approval.

    http://www.weather.com/blog/weather/archive/200612.html?from=blog_nav_archiveindex&ref=/blog/weather/archive/

    Michael Tobis said on his website yesterday:

    Refusing to advise constitutes advice that a problem is not serious.

    What does the public think when NOAA’s NWS Climate Prediction Center (CPC) puts out products in a manner that suggests there is no evidence that climate change in the US and global warming is happening while air temperatures at NWS climate stations for the last 100 years are showing rapid upward trends in recent decades withing the Upper Midwest and Alaska? NWS CPC should be saying something about climate change (or change its name?).

    NWS downplayed global warming since Al Gore published his first book on global warming in 1992-1993. NWS has told the public over many years that global warming was not a problem.

    When the NASA administrator said that global warming is not a problem, even though he may retract and apologize for his statement, the damage takes a long time, if possible, to reverse.

  21. 71
    fredrik says:

    “Dr. J., Michael Griffin does not have a scientific opinion for the simple reason that the is not a scientist, but an engineer.”

    No, because he is not an expert on climate not because he is an engineer.

    There have been a lot of posts about engineers on here lately. Do people understand what courses people in ingineering take at the university? My quess is that more than 50 % of the proffessors at a univeristy is consider as engineers by the people here. Do you also dismiss all these people? Experts in aerodymaics, numerical solutions of pdf:s etc.

    “I would trust his engineering judgement on whether a particular thermal, structural or electrical risk was sufficiently low to fly a rocket. I might even trust him on whether we can get back to the Moon (though this is really more politics than engineering).”

    My “quess” is that he also knows something about research and have the ability to learn stuff in other areas even though he is an engineer.

    “I would not trust his opinion in a matter where he has no specialized knowledge–such as climate change, string theory, superconductivity and so on.”

    Yes, we shouldn’t trust anyone.

    How many contributors here has any specialized knowledge about climate science, not including gavin et al? My quess is actually 0 but I am not sure about a couple.

  22. 72

    Re #32 and #40 –

    First, it’s important to understand that some of the time scales are sufficiently long that many of the technical obstacles have more than sufficient time to work themselves out, while other obstacles exist only in the minds of the industries (and their customers) who cry the loudest.

    There are already sufficient kinds of vehicles in the automobile manufacturing portfolio of makes and models to make a dramatic dent in the amount of liquid fuels consumed and their associated CO2 emissions (and for anyone who hasn’t read my posts on the subject of AGW, I’m more concerned about the economic impacts of running out of non-renewable fuels, because I think we hit a brick wall there before the oceans boil …). The problem with automobiles, for example, isn’t that there isn’t enough battery manufacturing capacity, but rather that people can afford to drive cars and SUVs that get horrendous gasoline milage, so they do. The large auto makers could make a profit selling higher milage vehicles if that was all they were allowed to sell, they simply choose not to sell vehicles that consumers don’t want to buy, and consumers want to buy them because they can still afford to operate them. I say, government needs to take away that choice by immediately raising CAFE and slapping a fatter gas guzzler tax on those models that waste the most.

    In areas of conservation, such as residential lighting, the obstacles are again more personal prefences than technologically insurmountable. The problem with conversion from incandescent to fluorescent isn’t technical — visit WalMart some day, they have bazillions of those little corkscrew-shaped bulbs for sale — it’s that consumers don’t like the light, don’t like the shape of the bulb, want to use their dimmer switches, or something else utterly non-technical. Commercial users, such as retailers, don’t want to turn off their lights at night, not because they can’t find the “Off” switch or whatever, but because “advertising” requires that they spew light into the sky in order to get someone, somewhere, driving down the highway at 2AM to know they can return between 10AM and 8PM and shop for the latest sales. The prestige associated with having a giant building, all lit up in the middle of the night, is a reason commercial highrise buildings can’t seem to quit spewing light into the night sky. Over and over again, the reasons for wasteage aren’t technical, they are some manner of personal or business preference.

    Some of the comments in #32 reflect a bit of ignorance about what can be done fairly near term that won’t result in landscape blight — farmers are already leasing land for wind farms and deriving a nice revenue stream from it. There’s nothing stopping farmers from leasing their land for wind production, nor is there anything stopping commercial buildings from leasing roof space for solar. I can scarcely imagine that people will complain that buildings have solar panels on their roofs, or that farms and grazing land have a few dozens or hundreds of wind turbines out in the middle of nowhere, providing revenue to the owners of that land.

  23. 73
    Nick Gotts says:

    Re #39 [I believe that given the severity of climate change and the threat that it poses, our first priority should be that of addressing it in the most effective way possible, and I would prefer to avoid individuals attempting to use the issue of climate change as a vehicle for one version or another of ideologically-motivated syndicalist or socialist "social justice."]

    The most effective way possible might well be to develop and release a genetically engineered pathogen that would kill a large proportion of the world’s population. A medium-sized nuclear war might also suffice, by a combination of soot in the stratosphere blocking sunlight, and derailing the global economy. I use these extreme examples to make the point that our choice of ways to address climate change inevitably depends on moral and political beliefs that are not directly related to that issue, not just on what is “most effective”. I make absolutely no apologies for preferring ways which I believe will also help the poor, decrease inequality, and bring nearer the kind of democratic socialist world I want to see – but I try to avoid fooling myself into believing that the approaches I prefer for those reasons are necessarily the most effective.

  24. 74
    Terry Miesle says:

    Ya know what bothers me most about these statements from Cockburn, Griffin and others? They’re not even up-to-date with research. All they have to do is look at the press releases from Science, and they’d know that warmer climates are not good. Within the past several weeks – too recent to have been forgotten – we’ve had articles modeling the US Southwest as warming to a climate which has never been observed in the past. Longer-term studies show increased CO2 in the atmosphere does not help crops or trees, but does wonders for plants like Poison Ivy and Kudzu. That increased level of CO2, initially seen as a boost to early-stage growth actually inhibits later productive stages of plant life.

    And all anyone has to do is open an issue of that obscure journal Science, and you’ll see new information every week. It’s not hard to stay atop the situation. Of course it’s easier to ignore it…

    James Hansen is rightly incensed that the NASA Cheif would make statements of opinion not supported by his own agency’s research.

    There’s an old saying we need to remind these individuals – it’s better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

  25. 75
    ParticleWoman says:

    We simply do NOT know enough about the role of aerosols in climate to start “saving ourselves” by pumping them into the atmosphere.

    While many are enamored of “global dimming”, few understand that the potential for cooling or WARMING due to aerosols depends on factors we have yet to work out.

    The Asian Brown Cloud is now been seen to WARM the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean as the altitude and darkness of the carbon particles conspire to ABSORB heat into the atmosphere. This, in turn, adds heat and power to Pacific storm systems. Warming – not dimming – from particulate ejection.

    In short, we could just end up messing around with yet another system which we don’t understand based on despiration and fairy tale innocence. This is new knowledge since the release of IPCC WGI earler this year. Add in the pollution cost to public health – heart disease and PM2.5, sulfate pollution, lung function deficits – when these particles come down into lower levels or are generated at the surface, and you have a disaster waiting to happen.

    The only certain way to slow or stop global climate change is to curb CO2 emissions. Period.

  26. 76

    [[George W. Bush's politics of polarization has caused average Americans to ignore facts and only care about which side of the polarization you are on. Average Americans are not hearing you. They are just parsing you as noise from the other side.]]

    Not so much President Bush as Rush Limbaugh, George Will and other right-wing propagandists. I think it’s important to avoid bashing Republicans on this issue, since half the country is Republican and we need them on our side. Bush’s current plan for dealing with AGW may be insufficient, but at least he’s not denying it exists any more. Any move in a positive direction is a good thing. (BTW, I’m a liberal Democrat.)

  27. 77

    [[ Did you know that you get 100 times as much radiation from a coal-fired power plant as from a nuclear power plant?
    Have you ever heard of background radiation? The natural background radiation that has been there since the beginning of time is 1000 times what you get from a nuclear power plant or 10 times what you get from a coal-fired power plant.
    ]]

    Both these figures assume the nuclear plant is undergoing “normal operation.” In real life, every damn one of the things has “unplanned releases” from time to time. In any case, who here favors coal as a power source? I certainly don’t. The coal-versus-nuclear thing is a fallacy of bifurcation.

  28. 78

    [[Guilt by association?
    Oh, you mean like associating 'skeptics' with cigarette companies...
    ]]

    Steve, how many threads do you intend to post this same message in?

  29. 79

    [[ But going back to the old Malthusian theory of population control is useless and dangerous,]]

    There is nothing essentially incorrect about Malthus’s thesis. Populations do expand to the limit of the food supply, and if birth control (or Malthus’s “moral restraint”) of some kind isn’t used, numbers will be reduced by starvation and plagues. There’s no organism in the world that keeps on increasing its population endlessly. Only humanity, with our half-bright way of doing things.

  30. 80
    J.S. McIntyre says:

    Dr J, you do understand the difference between a peer-reviewed scientist and an engineer, right? (And this is not a knock on engineers, only an attempt to point out the specific difference.)

    Griffin’s accomplishments are specific to the field of engineering. While there is no question that he is trained in disciplines scientists are likewise trained in, what we’re really discussing is a difference of application.

    Let’s look at it another way: would you ask an X-ray technician – who is qualified to take pictures of something and can even recognize medical problems a subject might have – to give you an expert opinion regarding brain surgery?

    In essence, that is what you are suggesting we do here.

    But let’s take it a step further. Consider your own ad hominem remarks regarding the peer review process. To anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the scientific process, it is understood that peer review is the little engine that makes the progress and refinement of scientific inquiry possible. Yet you seek to dismiss it with what amounts to a hand wave, characterizing it as something that occurs in obscure journals.

    The problem, it strikes me, is you are confusing someone’s titles and position – his label of “Authority” – for expertise. This is not the case, as the late Carl Sagan pointed out in his essay on Baloney Detection (“There are no authorities, only experts.”).

    Bottom line: you have provided absolutely nothing to suggest that Dr. Griffin is a qualified expert on the subject of climatology, and failing that, criticism of his very public remarks as the head of NASA – not to mention the controversial history of his tenure as alluded to in other posts – remain valid.

    Regards.

  31. 81
    Lawrence Brown says:

    Guys And Gals,’engineer’ is not a dirty word, in fact as the saying goes ‘four years ago, I couldn’t even spell engineer, now I are one’. Whether we’re a butcher a baker or candlesticker maker, we’re all entitled to our opinion on issues that affect us as a society. The problem is that when you’re speaking publically and especially from a position of power,like Mr. Griffin, you oughtta have the good sense to temper your remarks and try to limit them to conclusions based on fact.
    Back to Mr. Cockburn and his diatribes against global warming advocates and his vendetta like approach to modellers. He seems to think that computer modellers and scientists are two different species, and doesn’t understand that modelling is a tool used in many disciplines,science included, to project possible future outcomes, based on initial assumptions. I had to learn fortran some years ago to simulate and to extend data records for civil engineering purposes. Though civil engineering is my discipline, the models were a useful tool in analyzing the data and drawing conclusions.
    There are uncertainties and models are far from perfect but because something isn’t perfectly efficient doesn’t mean that it’s not necessary or useful.

  32. 82
    John L. McCormick says:

    RE # 62, Daniel, your personal opinion has been duly recorded:

    [Our species is quite capable of destroying itself, dragging down countless other species with us, one way or another. Get used to it.]

    Now, with that out of the way, the concerned RC contributors can bring more enlightement (even comments pointing towards solutions) to us and to our children.

  33. 83
    Kroganchor says:

    #79
    “Populations” might, but humans do not. Malthus hasn’t been right since people learned to grow more food than they needed.

  34. 84
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Fredrik, My criticism on engineers was not meant to denigrate the profession or the practitioners thereof. My criticism was directed against the tendency of some engineers to think that because they have had a course in thermodynamics, they are experts in any system where energy is conserved. I do not care how smart you are: to think that your intelligence places you on an equal footing in a scientific matter with someone who has studied that matter for >20 years is the height of arrogance and foolhardiness. William Shockley was a brilliant physicist, but when he ventured into eugenics, he was just another racist moron who didn’t understand what he was talking about. Mike Griffin is a brilliant engineer, but he does not understand squat about climate–it’s not what he’s focused on, and his comments betray the fact that he hasn’t given the matter much thought.

  35. 85
    J.S. McIntyre says:

    re 80

    I wrote:

    “To anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the scientific process, it is understood that peer review is the little engine that makes the progress and refinement of scientific inquiry possible. ”

    I should qualify what I said by stating that I am incorrect in saying peer review makes scientific inquiry possible”.

    That is obviously incorrect in that scientific inquiry does not depend upon peer review to occur.

    What I should have said is “that peer review is the little engine that assists in the progress and refinement of scientific inquiry, and does so in a fashion no other method I am aware of can match.”

    My apologies for my imprecision.

    Regards.

  36. 86
    Timothy Chase says:

    Kroganchor (#83) wrote with respect to the view that the growth of human populations is limited only by starvation and disease:

    #79

    “Populations” might, but humans do not. Malthus hasn’t been right since people learned to grow more food than they needed.

    I would also add that there is the “Wealth effect.”

    The greater the wealth, the greater the tendency of families to limit the number of children they have. In poorer countries, less investment in children is required in terms of their education before they can be put to work and result in a net increase in the family’s income. For example, the young may work alongside their parents in the fields. But in richer countries, more investment is required. For example, in the richer countries, such as Japan, children become a luxury since they will often have to go through college before they are able to make a substantial income – and by that time they are generally living on their own.

    Expressed in 1964 dollars, the rate of population increase begins to drop once the annual per capita income rises above 300 dollars. However, part of the cause of the population explosion in third world countries was the result of modern medicine becoming available before birth control. This made it far more likely that more children would survive childhood – while potential mothers were largely unable to avoid pregnancy. But given rising living standards and the availability of birth control, the population explosion itself is being brought under control – except in a few especially poor countries like Haiti and Uganda.

    As such, we are now projecting that the population of the earth will level out at around eleven billion.

  37. 87
    James says:

    Re #83: [Malthus hasn't been right since people learned to grow more food than they needed.]

    Sorry, but Malthus is still right, it’s just that food supply has become variable rather than constant, as (IIRC) it was in his original formulation. So now you’re inserting the assumption that humans will always be able to grow more food than they need. Suppose that assumption fails due to the effects of AGW (or just from eventual exhaustion of resources): humans grow less food than they need, and Malthus is vindicated.

  38. 88
    Timothy Chase says:

    James (#87) wrote:

    Sorry, but Malthus is still right, it’s just that food supply has become variable rather than constant, as (IIRC) it was in his original formulation. So now you’re inserting the assumption that humans will always be able to grow more food than they need. Suppose that assumption fails due to the effects of AGW (or just from eventual exhaustion of resources): humans grow less food than they need, and Malthus is vindicated.

    If Malthus is right, then where food is plentiful, such as Japan and Europe, we are currently experiencing the worse population explosion imaginable. However, the population in those areas has either leveled out or is actually declining. As such Malthus was wrong – for the reasons I gave in #86.

  39. 89
    Julian Flood says:

    Re 56:”12. CO2 is destroying the ability of diatoms, forams, coccolithphores and coral to use calcium, sequester carbon, and support the rest the rest of the oceanic biosphere”

    Diatoms use silica for their shells, not calcium carbonate. They make up nearly half the pelagic plant population.

    I see, googling, that they rely on ocean turbulence to keep up in the light — they are thus prime candidates to be effected by surface pollution which disengages wind from the surface — that’s how the oil on troubled waters effect happens. I wonder if anyone has details on how this has altered oceanic populations of diatoms and calciferous phytoplankton populations. Anyone? Have we altered (by increasing dust) the silica levels in the oceans, thus giving diatoms an advantage over the other sorts of floating plants. If so we may have reduced the oceanic pull down of carbon by stopping the carbonate shells raining out into the deep ocean sink.

    Another prediction for my theory. I hope the science (wet welly science, not modelling) is there to prove me wrong.

    You know people are arguing about someone being an engineer and thus not qualified to discuss global warming? If I had to bet on who was qualified it wouldn’t be computer modellers either. My money would be on marine biologists and I wish we heard more from them.

    JF

  40. 90
    Taylor says:

    After reading the set of three Cockburn articles (and George Monbiot’s measured and reasonable responses) (cited in comment #1), I am stunned when I realize this is the same person I heard speak in c. 1987 so passionately in defense of the Amazon rainforest and the need for conservation measures. I would have thought such a stance would carry over to concern about AGW. Evidently not…

  41. 91
    Edward Greisch says:

    Reply to Barton Paul Levenson, #77: WRONG! Those releases fron nuclear power plants are much less than a teaspoon full.
    By the way, The Chernobyl accident released only 200 tons of radioactive material, as much as an average coal-fired power plant of the same capacity would release in 7 years and 5 months. Average coal contains 1 or 2 parts per million uranium. Some Illinois coal contains up to 103 parts per million uranium. Since coal varies, so does the uranium output of the coal-fired power plant’s smokestack. The amount of thorium contained in coal is about 2.5 times greater than the amount of uranium.
    Releases in 1982 from worldwide combustion of 2800 million tons of coal totaled 3640 tons of uranium (containing 51,700 pounds of uranium-235) and 8960 tons of thorium. That is only one year.

  42. 92
    Mark A. York says:

    “There’s no organism in the world that keeps on increasing its population endlessly. Only humanity, with our half-bright way of doing things.”

    Author Author!

  43. 93
    Ike Solem says:

    On the ‘engineers vs. scientists’ issue – it’s a false dichotomy. In renewable energy technology issues, it is often the case that basic research is done by academic scientists, and successful basic research leads to private sector engineers picking up the technology and doing a lot of process optimization aimed at increasing efficiency and reducing costs – this has been the standard approach to all technological development for quite some time, and usually there is mutual respect and interest between the two groups. Basic science research depends on well-engineered instruments, and so on.

    The problem with Griffin isn’t that he’s an engineer, it’s that he’s a bad engineer with a political agenda – see http://www.tombodett.com/storyarchive/homeplanet.htm (on the removal of the phrase ” To understand and protect our home planet” from NASA’s mission statement)

    As far as who is and who isn’t ‘qualified’ to discuss climate science, it all falls under the heading ‘Earth systems science’ (or ‘Planetary systems science’), and thus involves contributions from physics, chemistry, and biology – as well as from astronomy, meteorology, ecology, geology, computer science, etc. There isn’t any one source to go to, and the overall problem is one of synthesis between disciplines – also called the ‘overall system perspective’. Even a single issue, such as carbon cycling within the oceans, involves input from many areas – there have been a lot of articles on this issue in Science lately, from modelers, from sediment-trap people, and so on.

    Currently, it looks like long-standing worries about weakening carbon sinks on land and in the oceans are not ‘alarmist fears’ – see http://news.mongabay.com/2007/0517-southern_ocean.html

  44. 94
    Jim Dukelow says:

    A few comments on this thread.

    In #80, J. S. McIntyre wrote: “Dr J, you do understand the difference between a peer-reviewed scientist and an engineer, right? (And this is not a knock on engineers, only an attempt to point out the specific difference.)”

    This suggests a substantial misunderstanding of what engineers do and how they do it. No engineering design that has a impact on public health and safety can be delivered without the seal of a professional engineer. More specifically, almost every engineering organization will have a formalized process for quality control, which, in practice, is precisely a mechanism for “peer review”. In some cases the requirement for quality assurance is embedded in law or regulation and the effort is very substantial, representing perhaps a quarter or third of the cost of a project. There are failures of quality assurance, but the same is true of “scientific” peer review. An uncle who did engineering consulting after he retired, made sure that each of his contracts included the clients’ recognition that he would be providing best effort, but was, like all humans, fallible, and that they had the responsibilty of due diligence and review of his consulting product.

    In #68, Barton Paul Levenson wrote: “[[No, Dr. Griffin (who is a distinguished scientist and educator with more degrees and experience than any on this blog) ]]

    Not in climatology he isn’t. His degrees are in engineering; he is not a scientist at all. On the other hand, the people who write this blog — Gavin Schmidt, Raymond Pierrehumbert, Michael Mann, etc. — are all Ph.D. climatologists.”

    Levenson should hustle over to the American Association for the Advancement of Science and tell them to get rid of their Engineering Division and quit printing articles and news on engineering issues and to Sigma Xi and tell them to stop inducting engineers and including columns, article, and book reviews on engineering in the American Scientist magazine.

    Like McIntyre, Levenson misunderstands what engineers do and how they do it. Their primary goal is not discovery of new scientific knowledge, although that is sometimes a byproduct of engineering activity, but rather the use of existing knowledge to meet the needs of society in a cost-effective fashion. The ways in which they do this use many of the resources and methods of science, including research, experimentation, and peer review.

    In #77, Levenson writes:

    “[[ Did you know that you get 100 times as much radiation from a coal-fired power plant as from a nuclear power plant?
    Have you ever heard of background radiation? The natural background radiation that has been there since the beginning of time is 1000 times what you get from a nuclear power plant or 10 times what you get from a coal-fired power plant.]]

    Both these figures assume the nuclear plant is undergoing “normal operation.” In real life, every damn one of the things has “unplanned releases” from time to time.”

    I don’t have a pointer to the literature, but would be willing to bet Levenson that, even taking unplanned releases into account, which exist primarily in the imaginations of anti-nuclear activists, the release of radionuclides to the environment from coal-, oil-, and gas-fired electricity generation and transportation will far outweigh releases from commercial nuclear plants.

    In #65, Steve D writes: “Guilt by association?

    Oh, you mean like associating ‘skeptics’ with cigarette companies…”

    In several cases — Frederick Seitz, Steve Milloy, Jim Tozzi, etc. — , you don’t need to “associcate” global warming denialists with tobacco denialists, they’re the same people. Further, the fossil-fuel industry adopted the same strategies as the tobacco industry and used many of the same political and propaganda resources.

    Best regards.

  45. 95
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Again, let me clarify my meaning. I did not say the Dr. Griffin made his remarks because he is an engineer. I said that because he is an engineer, he has not been trained as a scientist, and therefore on matters of science was probably not competent to pass judgement. FYI, I work as both a scientist and and engineer. Both disciplines bring valuable skills to the table, but just as I would not want to drive over a bridge designed by a scientist, I would not want to rely on an engineer to tell me how science works.
    I also disagree that Griffin is a bad engineer. He’s actually got a pretty good track record of bringing projects in. He drew rather strong conclusions based on his limited knowledge of the subject. We should all remember the words of St. Patrick: “Oh Lord, let my words be sweet and tender today; for tomorrow, I may have to eat them.”

  46. 96
    Neil B. says:

    It may be that Cockburn is latching on to a significant claim out there that Margaret Thatcher “engineered” the global warming crisis claims in order to promote the nuclear industry. Check out this UseNet thread (to which I provided some rebuttals) and its links:

    Xref: sn-us sci.physics.foundations:535
    Path: sn-us!sn-feed-sjc-02!sn-xt-sjc-11!sn-xt-sjc-08!sn-xt-sjc-12!supernews.com!pd7cy1no!shaw.ca!news.alt.net!spf.stump.algebra.com!robomod!not-for-mail
    From: Oh No
    Newsgroups: sci.physics.foundations
    Subject: The green house effect – one of Thatcher’s lies?
    Date: Sun, 11 Mar 2007 05:05:08 CST
    http://groups.google.com/group/sci.physics.foundations/browse_frm/thread/7bb1c857334f9011/a1f90f44ec199984?lnk=gst&q=thatcher&rnum=1#a1f90f44ec199984

    Quote:
    (Poster handle: “Oh No”)
    Of course it is known that Thatcher was probably the most dishonest and corrupt leader this country has ever had in modern times, up to and including the present one. Now it is claimed that the “science” behind
    global warming was a story she put about to damage the miners and support nuclear power, while at the same time, no doubt, putting money into Dennis’s pocket through his commercial interests in the power industry.

    http://www.channel4.com/science/microsites/G/great_global_warming_swindl
    e

    One might think that this is just another bunch of lies from a different commercial quarter. I had always thought there was some science behind the greenhouse effect, but one has to question whether there actually is any, or whether people are just making calculations on the basis of an accepted wisdom with no fundamental scientific basis. As I know that string theorists and CDM cosmologists do exactly that, I have to question other areas of science too.

    Regards


    Charles Francis
    moderator sci.physics.foundations.

    substitute charles for NotI to email
    ~~~~~
    Of course, even if Thatcher did try to use GW to help the nuclear industry (and BTW, is that so damn bad?), that wouldn’t be a reason to disbelieve the scientific claims (ad hominem fallacy.)

  47. 97
    John Mashey says:

    re: #65, #95
    Jim: yes.
    Also, one cannot forget Fred Singer.

    Steve D: it’s NOT guilt by association. Any rational skeptic should assess the weight behind someone’s opinions, especially in the Web era.

    Consider people like Seitz & Singer (two physicists, not physicians)
    - took money from tobacco companies (RJ Reynolds)
    - fought recognition of smoking/cancer link

    If someone takes money from tobacco companies, to help keep getting teenagers addicted to tobacco, to assure future tobacco profits, what, exactly, do you think they won’t do?

    Steve D: do you defend these guys? Do you believe anything they say? Why? Do you have any knowledge at all about the lobbying industry?

    There are some interesting websites around that can sometimes help sort out the maze of interconnected people and entities, although of course, one must always be careful to assess them as well.

    Wikipedia

    http://www.sourcewatch.org

    Political Friendster
    http://www.politicalfriendster.com/
    Click on “search” button at left. Put in Fred Singer, TASSC, Milloy or Cato.

    DeSMogBlog’s “Who are the deniers” is interesting:
    http://www.desmogblog.com/node/1272

    Denialism Blog has a page with a nice shortlist:
    http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/2007/05/who_are_the_denialists_part_ii_1.php

  48. 98
    J.S. McIntyre says:

    re 94.

    I have no argument with your response re quality control in engineering, but in relation to my response to Dr J it is a non-sequitur, an apples and oranges argument.

    The subject was not whether or not there are standards in place within engineering that parallel the peer review process in science that might lend credibility to Griffin’s comments (they wouldn’t), but instead that of a fundamental difference of application. Dr J presented Griffin’s resume, which clearly shows him to have a rather exclusive engineering background that has no apparent relation to climatology, as a rebuttal to the argument that Griffin is not credible as a climatologist, and therefore his public comments as the head of NASA were, in essence, egregious. His reason for doing so was to suggest Griffin did have credibility as a scientist.

    I addressed a fundamentally flawed premise, and my attempt was only to demonstrate why it was flawed, not to suggest that engineers do not also engage in their own form of peer review.

    Regards

  49. 99
    J.S. McIntyre says:

    More re 94

    “I don’t have a pointer to the literature, but would be willing to bet Levenson that, even taking unplanned releases into account, which exist primarily in the imaginations of anti-nuclear activists, the release of radionuclides to the environment from coal-, oil-, and gas-fired electricity generation and transportation will far outweigh releases from commercial nuclear plants.”
    And I’m sure the former residents of Chernobyl look at this issue in similar fashion. *smallest of smiles*

    The problem – potential problem – with nuclear power is not comparisons of the steady emissions you are referring to. Odds are that if all nuclear plants were able to run as were designed and built we would have nothing to worry about. Yes, I understand Chernobyl was far from the best design, that it was, on reflection, a disaster waiting to happen. That’s really not the point, though. It happened, and its effects were long-lasting and far reaching, as anyone living in Europe in that time could probably tell you. The area around the site remains unfriendly to human life, and the Russians are now building a second containment structure to replace the older one, which is rotting away.

    The real problem is that there exists in our lives and in the course of events the element of the unexpected. (I’m sure the fathers of the Industrial Revolution ever dreamed of the long-term consequences to our climate they would inadvertently bring about, for example.) Again, in relation to human disasters, this might not be a cause for worry. When Iraq left Kuwait at the end of the first Gulf War they sabotaged the oil fields, and the region is still recovering from the effects on its environment. But that recovery is relatively short-term when you consider it in relation to what happened at Chernobyl.

    I am a reluctant advocate of nuclear power, if only because of the trade-offs associated with it are preferable to what will happen if we keep on as we are with a carbon-based energy economy. But that does not blind me to concerns regarding the long-term implications of the dangers associated with nuclear power that rightfully concern people. It is only with the greatest of hubris that we can discount that worry.

    Plans are what we make. Life is what we get. And sometimes life turns out to be one wicked mother.

    Regards.

  50. 100
    Richard Ordway says:

    re 33 Mr. J wrote: [[So, unless he (Griffin-RO) has published hundreds of climatology papers in peer-reviewed obscure journals he is not qualified to speak?]]

    Mr. J. You do not understand science and seem to be trying to muddy the issue.

    There is either peer review and then there is not peer review, Griffin is in the non-peer review category on Climate Change.

    Griffin does not publish climate peer review (no one checks his work for facts) and does not quote real climate peer review.

    So therefore he is not qualified to speak on it (he *does* however have a right to his own *opinion* but not to state that his views are factual{because no one can check his facts for accuracy).

    Peer review is the only(err major) way science has to vet (check) itself.

    Griffin, or Lindzen or Singer or Gavin can say whatever they want about anything they want. How do you know whether they are corrupt or lying or not…a PHD means s _ _ t for their morale values or truthfulness. Some PHDs are still peddling that tobacco is still good for you.

    Now, if one of these people tries to peddle false science without evidence in the peer review system…they will be crucified because their evidence will not stand up to the world…even African scientists.

    So I believe PHDs who tell me that smoking is good for me, abestos won’t hurt me, global warming is not happening and that humans are not causing it, etc…but you *won’t* find that in the peer review reviewed literature….because evidence does not exist for it.

    Choose your own poison…just don’t say that Griffin has or insinuates he or NASA has provable evidence that GW is not ocurring or that humans are not causing most of it. If he does, he is *liar*…period.


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