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Palin on Global Warming

Filed under: — group @ 5 October 2008 - (Italian)

Here at RealClimate we understandably have an intense interest in the positions of the Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates regarding global warming and carbon emissions. What the stance bodes for future action on climate change is consequential in itself, but beyond that the ability to use sound science in this case serves as a bellweather for the candidates’ whole approach to science. Whatever else you can say about the candidates, it has been encouraging that both John McCain and Barack Obama favor mandatory action to reduce US carbon emissions.

But, enter Gov. Sarah Palin, McCain’s pick for VP. Palin’s position on global warming has been stated quite clearly in this recent interview with the publication Newsmax , where she says “A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I’m not one though who would attribute it to being man-made.” How is this to be reconciled with McCain’s position? Do they just agree to differ? What does this bode for future actions if McCain were to win the election, especially in view of the fact that, in a Cheney-esque way, Palin is likely to be put in charge of energy policy? The recent vice-presidential debate sheds some light on the issue. A full transcript of the debate is here.

Palin seems to be attempting to defuse the whole issue by claiming the cause doesn’t matter. When the moderator asked her ” What is true and what is false about what we have heard, read, discussed, debated about the causes of climate change,” Palin responded as follows:

“PALIN: Yes. Well, as the nation’s only Arctic state and being the governor of that state, Alaska feels and sees impacts of climate change more so than any other state. And we know that it’s real.

I’m not one to attribute every man — activity of man to the changes in the climate. There is something to be said also for man’s activities, but also for the cyclical temperature changes on our planet.”

I’m pretty sure that that last statement is a garbled attempt to reiterate what she said in the Newsmax interview, but you be the judge. Unlike the previous quote, this one at least has a nod in the direction of acknowledging (tentatively) the possibility of a human influence. What’s important is what comes next:

“But there are real changes going on in our climate. And I don’t want to argue about the causes. What I want to argue about is, how are we going to get there to positively affect the impacts?”

Dare we say that it, in fact, very much makes a difference what is causing global warming? If CO2 really weren’t a major part of the cause, what in the world would be the point of John McCain’s (or anybody’s) stated policy of acting to reduce emissions? And even if you were of the school that says adaptation is better than mitigation, knowing the cause is an important part of knowing what kind of climate change you have to adapt to, how long it is likely to last, and how much worse it is likely to get in the future.

Biden’s answer, by comparison, was direct, straightforward, and simple:

“BIDEN: Well, I think it is manmade. I think it’s clearly manmade. And, look, this probably explains the biggest fundamental difference between John McCain and Barack Obama and Sarah Palin and Joe Biden — Governor Palin and Joe Biden.

If you don’t understand what the cause is, it’s virtually impossible to come up with a solution. We know what the cause is. The cause is manmade. That’s the cause. That’s why the polar icecap is melting.”

Well, maybe he left out the kind of caveats and qualifications you’d attach to the attribution of the recent loss of (North) polar sea ice if this were an AGU talk instead of a vice-presidential debate. Overall,though, the statement gets to the heart of the matter.

One can moreover doubt even Palin’s commitment to dealing with the consequences of climate change. Surely, that would include doing something to save the polar bears,yet the State of Alaska (against the advice of its own wildlife biologists) is suing the Interior department over its decision to list the polar bear as “threatened” — and this despite the fact that the Bush administration put so many qualifications on the listing as to make it essentially toothless. What’s even more telling is that the brief submitted to Interior drew heavily on a list of climate skeptics (including the Marshall Institute’s Willie Soon) that could easily have been culled from the infamous Inhofe 400. (see this article). Palin’s role in bringing this case has not been peripheral; she has been very much at the center of the effort, and has consistently questioned the causal link between CO2 and global warming in making the case. As early as Dec. 2006, she wrote to Secretary Kempthorne: “”When a species’ habitat (in this case, sea ice) is declining due to climate change, but there are no discrete human activities that can be regulated or modified to effect change, what do you do?” Further information about Palin’s long fight against the listing, and her view of the scientific issues involved, can be found here.

We will take this occasion to note also that Biden used the debate to reaffirm Obama’s long standing position in favor of “clean coal.” Whether this is a good or bad thing depends on the extent to which the candidates understand what should really be meant by this term. From the point of view of global warming, the only “clean” coal would be coal burned with 100% carbon capture and sequestration — certainly worthy of research and pilot implementation, but not by any means a technology that can be counted on at present to solve the problem. (And of course, the term “clean” is even then relative, since what mountain top removal mining does to the West Virginia hills and rivers is anything but “clean”).

So there you are. We report, you decide.


290 Responses to “Palin on Global Warming”

  1. 201
    Mark says:

    Re #198

    Try to give more than 10% yourself to the understanding.

    Errors you make:

    Appeal to authority: Give English majors a legal document and they are stuck. Give them a program specification and they are stuck. Why would they understand a heavily scientific statement?

    Selective amnesia: Just because your confidence is not 100% doesn’t mean you’re the difference wrong. Mathematics rules here, not English Majors.

    Strawman: adding the knife in the back and then showing that that strawman is silly.

    Ignorance of points you don’t like: 5% of that change is from politicians trying to water it down. Neither you nor Pelke have acceded this point in any discussion, despite being told. So your 90-95 now includes the 100%.

    Ignorance of the discussion: some have decried the “absolutist” of considering things that, being in the future, are not absolutely incontrovertibly true. Yet you come along and say that unless it IS stated in absolutist terms, then the whole thing is wrong.

    Grow up or get out.

  2. 202
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Mark Bahner, Again, you are confusing the concepts of probability, confidence, likelihood, etc. All of these concepts have very distinct meanings in statistics–and in fact, they have different meanings depending on whether you are interpreting probability as Bayesian or Frequentist. The fact that an English major might not appreciate this is a very good reason why English majors shouldn’t be making climate policy.

  3. 203
    Chris Colose says:

    Mark Bahner,

    in the zero-sum game you’re playing with gavin, what kind of confidence do you give to:

    – there has actually been no warming over the 20th century

    – The observed warming is substantially smaller than 0.8 C

    – The observed warming is substantially larger than 0.8 C

    – The magnitude of internal variability (maybe a tenth or two of a degree) is actually quite larger/smaller than we think.

    –Aerosol negative forcing is substantially larger than we think (i.e., bigger cooling efect), so possible-but-unproven natural factors could create a much larger effect even leaving GHG ones alone.

    – Unnatural but non-anthropogenic (e.g., martian rays) are the cause of the observed warming

    – There is a large difference between feedbacks associated with natural and anthropogenic forcings.

    I think firther consideration will reveal that, in fact, 90+10 does NOT equal 100 :-)

  4. 204
    Rod B says:

    Mark (201), et al: O.K. Someone or something else had to do it. Quit trying to pick the fly specks out of the pepper.

    Scientists get a pass because they can’t write in plain English? Nice job if you can get it. It would seem expecting a large-scale sanctioned UN group putting out a report with major global implications to write their report in plain English (or other official language) is not an irresponsible thing to do. You seem to think it is.

    Etc.

  5. 205
    Rod B says:

    Ray, et al: I’ve come to understand your point, but as I chastised Mark, the IPCC absolutely gets no pass for terrible English or syntax. True, English majors should not be making climate policy, but linguists should definitely be reviewing what the, it seems, illiterate IPCC is writing. (“illiterate” is too strong, but what the hey.) This discourse is addressing a highly significant point and so deserves a clear explanation. What do you tell the leaders of State? “Just ignore what you think they said because the cute little buggers can’t write?” Way to sell your case….

  6. 206
    Hank Roberts says:

    Don’t insult English majors. Part of understanding English is recognizing usage varies with context. You’re illustrating PR spin by claiming they’d agree with your notion the words have only the meaning you prefer.

    Ask any broker about risk and probability, say, a year ago.
    Ask the same broker what happened to the economy now.
    An honest broker won’t blame the English majors for what he didn’t understand about risk.

  7. 207
    Hank Roberts says:

    PS, Bahner’s 198 seems answered clearly by Gavin’s inline reply that appears immediately above it (and might have been posted later?). Gavin wrote: “there are always more possibilities: attribution methodologies might not be valid; our knowledge of the natural forcings might be incomplete; the models might be wrong; the data against which we are validating might be wrong …”

    Every area of science has gaps.

    You’re assuming given that gap, some actor could be hiding in the gap — then asserting that hidden actor is causing what we see.

    Imagination works hard to fill in uncertainties. Science works to reduce the uncertainties.

  8. 208
    Former Skeptic says:

    Looks like Pielke Jr.’s confusing statistics with his definition of logic again. Comments, anyone?

    http://climatesci.org/2008/10/09/inside-the-logic-of-the-ipcc-statements-on-attribution-by-roger-a-pielke-jr/

  9. 209
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod, Keep in mind that the IPCC summaries are not really scientific documents as summaries of the science for a lay audience. As someone who has dealt with the difficulties of trying to convey technical concepts to a less technical audience, I appreciate that there is a tension between precision and readability. The IPCC had to discard most of the technical vocabulary (and so precision) so policy makers could make it through at least the first few pages of the executive summary. Note that the IPCC was careful not to use the term probability in their discussions of attribution. This was a correct decision. However, as you can see from the current discussion, conveying the subtleties of concepts like probability, confidence, likelihood, etc. to a nontechnical audience is a fruitless task. What they are really saying to the policy makers is “Hey guys, we’re pretty darned sure we’re not wrong.”

    OK, the oracle of reCaptcha is getting personal: WIFE INDIGNANT

  10. 210

    Re: #197

    Dear Mr. Bahner,

    Gavin gave you very good examples in his reply to your comment #197. Please think them over carefully and do not dismiss them out of hand.

    As to asking what the IPCC thinks… goodness, go to the references and start reading some of the primary-source articles. The more of them that you read, the better you will be able to conjure an informed opinion and the better you will be able to discuss the issues in this forum. The scientists on this blog are almost infinitely patient with those who actually are willing to learn.

    Captcha: rate winning

  11. 211
    Rod B says:

    Ray, good point.

  12. 212
    Jim Eaton says:

    Back to Sarah Palin, here’s what she said on Sunday in Ohio:

    The boisterous crowd–many shaking pom poms–screamed, “I love you Sarah Palin!” and cheered the GOP Vice-Presidential nominee getting especially excited when Palin started talking about clean coal and alternative sources of energy to this coal country crowd.

    Supporters erupted in chants of, “Mine Baby Mine!” like her very popular “Drill Baby Drill” chants that crowds usually greet her with, “Mine, baby, mine. Ok, I’m bringing that all across the U.S. Do you mind if I–May I plagiarize that? Thank you. That is a good one.”

    http://embeds.blogs.foxnews.com/2008/10/12/palin-bad-guys-vs-good-guys/

  13. 213
    WhiteBeard says:

    # 147 John Mashey,

    First some corrections to Klare’s article.

    “[Alaska’s] political system is geared toward the maximization of oil “rents” … to the neglect of all other economic activities” is more than somewhat difficult to swollow. Petroleum exports are the 900 lb gorilla, but other areas of the State’s economy exist, much of it dependent on a minimially degraded environment. Assertions like this, and the one made by Carter’s Iterior Secretary Andres that “Alaskans are just a bunch of boomers” get old.

    Stating “the Petroleum Profits Tax, which had been instituted by her … predecessor, Frank Murkowski” is untrue. The PPT was in place decades prior to Palin’s or Murkowski’s Governorships.

    Klare’s noting that the gas pipeline’s termunis would be in Alberta is disengenous. That’s the nearest connection to the NA Continent’s existing NG distribution system. I’m a little supprised that the more important implication of the proposed gasline route – its proximity to the Alberta tar sands – Klare doesn’t mention. Perhaps his gloating that he’s on to something others seem to have missed arrested his though process.

    I don’t have too much disagreement with the piece as a general description of the situation. Klare’s thesis that Palin’s political experience is only that of a petrostate Governor is correct. To state she “views Alaska as an unlimited source of raw materials to be exploited for maximum economic benefit” without any qualification is over the top, but not vastly so.

    I hadn’t seen the text of her quoted Governors Conference remarks. They were made as the head of a petrostate. For her constituents in Alaska, she seems to understand that renewables are necessary, and has not voiced any objections to subsdizing them. She aggreed to quite substantial money, initially for implementation planning and energy efficency shortly after her February quotes. Alaska’s situation is quite unique with wind, geothermal, and hydro potential in abundance, the money to develop them, and no hope to participate in a broader national plan of implementation.

    The economic consequences of the oil price spike were magnified hugely for residents in much of the State. Alaska consumes as well as supplies. Think $9.00 per gallon for heating oil with delivery, and that made annually in early fall. Wood is often not an option, as it doesn’t exist. Electricty at $1.00/KWH after a large State subsidy. Flight to urban areas seems to be occuring.

    I have no idea what she really thinks. She is a member of the political species.

  14. 214
    Mark says:

    Rod #204

    No, nobody else may be guilty.

    It may be that the person just died of natural causes. Nobody guilty of that (‘cept God, maybe).

    As I put in another post, the 95%+ level should have been what was said but politics got in the science. And so there’s a possibility that something else causes more of the 0.8C change than humans did. Maybe the instruments are more accurate and were under-reading in the past. So maybe more than the human contribution is the instrument accuracy. But then there would still be more than 0.4C change due to human works. It DOESN’T MEAN there’s a small % chance that man’s actions are NOT the cause.

    If you meant to tell me off, you should have actually used something valid.

  15. 215
    RichardC says:

    208 Former Skeptic – LOL!! Roger closed the comments immediately! Didn’t want any logic to interfere with his pontification. Hey, Roger! “Observed warming” does not equal “actual warming.”

    Then Roger claims, “the IPCC does not appear to say anything explicitly in its likelihood findings about the possibility that the temperature increase is all human caused. I would have expected to see a statement like: It is likely that all of the observed temperature increase is due to greenhouse gas emissions. But I can find nothing close”

    Roger, you didn’t look terribly hard. It’s the VERY NEXT SENTENCE after the boxed statement you mangled.. uh, parsed. (Summary for Policymakers pg 10) “It is likely that increases in greenhouse gas concentrations alone would have caused more warming than observed”

    212 Jim, it’s a strange disconnect between production and consumption, with nationalism as the driving force. If you add an oil well or gas head, then fossil consumption must go up. Every barrel of oil the US doesn’t buy from other countries will still be bought and used. Going domestic at this late stage of the game is a recipe for disaster. “Mine, baby, mine.” could only be spouted by someone who is either a denier at heart, or is heartless. Palin seems like the former.

    Since the USA projects itself as a “role model” and “world leader,” and has a large enough market to make the label at least partially stick, increased size of fossil economic base in the USA will increase the size of fossil base elsewhere. Hummers are sold in China because Chinese want to be like Big Shot Americans. If the USA is doing it, why shouldn’t everyone? Chinese speak of per capita parity in fossil fuel use between the US and China as their goal. Can you argue with that egalitarian goal? Heck of a role model, Uncle Sam. “Mine, baby, mine!” It even has the proper selfish ring to it.

    I disagree that this is the most important election since 1932. The most important election was 2000, where a single vote in the US Supreme Court altered the future forever. Imagine where we’d be if Gore’s win had been confirmed. He’d be president instead of making videos. Oil would be under $20 a barrel as Saddam and the rest of the crew would be desperately trying to sell oil on a glutted market. All that money that was burned in Iraq would be powering the USA with wind and solar instead. Right wingnuts screaming about $2.50 a gallon gas and the onerous gas tax that made it so. The budget surplus? Scandalous! Detroit screaming that though they were selling lots of cars, their profits were not as high as they would be if CAFE wasn’t at 45MPG.

    The difference between McCain and Obama isn’t nearly wide enough to make up for Gore/Bush. Since McCain probably won’t seek a second term, he might ignore the right wingnuts from day one. He picked Palin in desperation to try and win. She’s window dressing for election time, hopefully not someone he’d let run diddly squat. Perhaps Palin is going to be put off to the side once the election is over.

  16. 216
    Rod B says:

    RichardC (215), on the whole a fairly decent post IMHO, except for the astounding revisionist history prediction had Gore been elected.

  17. 217
    Mark Bahner says:

    “PS, Bahner’s 198 seems answered clearly by Gavin’s inline reply that appears immediately above it…”

    Sadly, no. Roger Pielke Jr and I have laid out specific numbers for what we think the IPCC is saying (i.e., a 90-95% probability that not all forcing is natural means a 5-10% probability that all warming is natural).

    Gavin Schmidt has given some (glib) generalities. He hasn’t given a similar numerical breakdown for what he thinks the IPCC is saying (e.g., perhaps “a 3.14159 percent chance our attribution methodologies might not be valid,” a “square root of 2 pecent chance our knowledge of natural forcings might be incomplete,” a “0.00000000001 percent chance our models might be wrong,” and so on).

    [Response: I'm not the one imputing statements to the IPCC that they didn't make. - gavin]

  18. 218
    Steve L says:

    I didn’t read the entire string, so sorry if this is a duplication:
    I’m no big fan of ‘clean coal’ because so far it seems like a pipe dream. But is not capture of, say, 90% or 95% or 99% of emissions something to get excited about? Is 100% the only proportion relevant in this discussion? It seems to me that 99.99% carbon capture and sequestration would be good enough — I’m not trying to be silly, but rather I’m trying to learn about what would be considered the lower bound.

    Quoting from the original post: From the point of view of global warming, the only “clean” coal would be coal burned with 100% carbon capture and sequestration

  19. 219
    Mark A. York says:

    I doubt your familiarity with the North Slope, or Alaska in general when you post, “They shoot them from the rigs if they get in the way”. Or, that there is a “typical Alaskan”.

    Whatever. I’ve worked there and lived all over the region. I wrote a book called Alaska Tales. That’s evough to make a judgment on hat I witnessed there.

  20. 220
    John Mashey says:

    re: #213 whitebeard
    Thanks for comments.

    Do you know if she’s actually done anything about renewables? and in particular, the extent to which AK folks are thinking ahead to the time when there is little gettable oil&gas left?

    I ask as I’m interested in different states’ (real) approaches.

  21. 221
    Mark says:

    Steve, #218 even 100% isn’t enough if you’re going to use coal INSTEAD of a non-fossil energy source.

    There’s only so much coal, it’s only in some places and people DIE getting it out. It’s unpleasant and dangerous and hurts the stability of countries with the biggest need and the countries with the greatest deposits (e.g. Middle East).

    Used as a stop-gap while other options are ramped up is OK if you have 90%+ but all talk has been to use coal as the major source.

    NO.

  22. 222
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Mark Bahner, Why do you insist on confusing probabilities, confidence levels, likelihoods and the like. These all have well defined meanings in statistics, and your mixing them up is just flat wrong! I think that the proper interpretation is to say that the data currently available preclude with 90% confidence that natural forces can account for a significant portion of the current warming. Look over my example of drawing colored balls from urns and think about it.

  23. 223
    Bob North says:

    Raypeirre (#131) wrote : “Another thing that most of this discussion is missing is that the main point of our post was the complete fallacy of Palin’s claim that one need not know the cause of climate change in order to fix the problem.”

    Having stepped away from this for a couple of days and going back and looking at Palin’s quote, it seems that you (Raypierre, gavin, etc.) have done the same thing RP Jr did, that is, read more into something than is there. The quote that is cited simply says “And I don’t want to argue about the causes…”. Now let’s try to put that in context, she was in the middle of the only vice-presidential debate attempting to dance around an issue she seems to be fairly shaky on. Maybe she was simply trying to sidestep the issue and saying she didn’t want to argue about it during the debate. Or maybe she doesn’t want to argue about it during the campaign in general. Possibly she doesn’t care so much about the cause of a problem but would rather focus on possible solutions that might work. Actually many effective leaders are more solution-focused and don’t care about the cause. And finally, it is possible that you are right that she thinks the cause doesn’t matter (in which case she’d be wrong). But reading the quote at it’s face value (and having watched the debate), I didn’t get the sense that Palin was saying that the cause didn’t matter but more than she was trying to do a political two-step around a tricky issue (for her).

    jmt,
    Bob North

  24. 224
    Lawrence Brown says:

    Mark Bahner in #197 says:
    “The IPCC wrote, “Attribution studies show that it is very likely that these natural forcing factors alone cannot account for the observed warming.”
    They also wrote (Technical Summary, page 23) that “very likely” means a “likelihood of occurrence/outcome” of 90-95% probability.
    Roger Pielke Jr. has observed that given that statement, it can be concluded that the IPCC is saying that there is a 5-10% probability that natural factors alone CAN account for the observed warming.
    I don’t see how this observation is in any way controversial. If there is a 90-95% probability that natural factors alone CANNOT account for the warming, then there must be a 5-10% chance that natural factors alone CAN account for the warming.”

    There’s room for another interpretation here, since another statement by the IPCC says ” Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperature since the mid-twentieth century is very likely(with a 90 to 95% probability) due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”
    Doesn’t the use of the word “most” leave open the possibility that at least some of the increase, up to half, can be attributed to human activity above 90 to 95% probability? Then natural factors alone would not be the only factor in the 5-10% chance of occurrence as stated by Roger Pielke Jr. The resolution, it seems, would have to be that both human and natural factors are involved with a higher than 95 percent probability. Unless I’m putting the wrong interpretation on “most”.

  25. 225
    Mark says:

    Bob, #223

    Your arm is a little sore.

    So you take a painkiller.

    The heart attack kills you dead.

    You need to know causes before you can treat the symptom.

    That’s what this thread is about.

  26. 226
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Lawrence Brown, Again, you are getting wrapped around the axle when it comes to probabilistic concepts. Yes, probabilities must sum to 1. Likelihoods and confidence levels need not do so. What we are dealing with here is how strongly the available data support one hypothesis. The dataset will always be finite, so you can never get to 100% confidence. What we’re saying here is that we have enough data that we can be 90-95% sure that natural forcers can’t account for it. Note that we have no data that suggest that we CAN explain the warming with only natural forcers, so we can’t say that that hypothesis has ANY support.

    Again, if we draw (with replacement) 22 white balls our of a drum and no black ones, we can conclude with 90% confidence that 10% or fewer of the balls in the drum are black. Does that mean you should take 10:1 odds and bet the next ball will be black, even though you’ve seen zero evidence that there are ANY black balls in the drum?

  27. 227
    JCH says:

    Ray, you should have been with the Texans:

    http://www2.austin.cc.tx.us/lpatrick/his1693/miers.jpg

    It’s a Frederic Remington. The captured Texans are being forced to pick a bean out of a jar. A white bean spared their life. If they drew a black bean, they were shot by firing squad.

  28. 228
    Mark says:

    Ray, #226.
    More pedantically ^W correctly, probabilities must add up to no more than 1.

    A gaussian distribution only sums to 1 when you include a range of + and – infinity.

    That’s lot of ground to cover.

    However, at the five sigma limit, the total is so close to 1 that the difference is irrelevant.

  29. 229
    Ray Ladbury says:

    JCH, Had I been with the Texans at the Alamo, I could have told them exactly how bad their odds were. Thus, they’d have probably asked the Mexicans to shoot me first.

  30. 230
    WhiteBeard says:

    #220 John Mashey,

    Off the top of my head, as the local public meeting occurred while I was still working all available hours in the 4 month window I have to earn the wherewithall for rice and beans. Authorization is for $250 Million over 5 years. Two other programs target home space heat effency. Their total is several hundred millinon more, and program parameters produce a bit of slant towards urban residents.

    I’m reasonably sure that most of what you’re interested in falls under this State agency:

    http://www.akenergyauthority.org/programs.html

    Likely, the most pertinent link for renewables is:

    http://www.akenergyauthority.org/RE_Fund.html

    Renewable Energy Fund, Request for Grant Application:

    http://www.akenergyauthority.org/RenewableEnergyFund/RFA_AEA-09-004.pdf

    The thrust is more cost reduction, and less climate mitigation. Note the inclusion of natural gas projects. There is lots of gas on the slope, much just capped when exploring for oil. The USGS estimate is 200 Trillion CF, against the 30 Trillion CF proven.

    The big issues for local use have been widely scattered and minute markets, and unimaginalbe legal expense facing any land use in Alaska. Gas, useful for space heat, as well as power for 250,000 people whose principal sustinance is from wildlife, and support for commercial fish processing is unacceptible for the professional greens.

    There is a bit of buzz on several possible large mines that would “pay the freight” to provide gas distribution to selected areas.

    My personal renewable favorates are in-stream hydro and geothermal. Both have some problems, and wind is getting most of the initial action, based on a better developed technology in a very, very high maintainenc cost environment.

  31. 231
    Bob North says:

    Mark (#225) Don’t be obtuse. I never said cause doesn’t matter in in the matter of AGW. What I said was that the quote cited in the OP doesn’t necessarily support the conclusion. After some garbled and relatively incoherent statements, Palin said ” And I don’t want to argue about the causes…” The OP and Raypierre interpreted this as Palin claiming that the cause doesn’t matter. Such a conclusion is only one possible interpretation of her garbled statements and, if you take her quote literally, does not logically follow. Quite simply, a statement that “I don’t want to argue the causes…” does not equal a “claim that one need not know the cause of climate change in order to fix the problem” As I said, in my opinion, it is seems much more likely that she was simply trying to dodge the issue rather than making a statement that the cause does not matter.

    Many posters here, as well as the site authors seem to often jump on people for reaching conclusions that do not have adequate supporting evidence. This just seemed to be a case where the authors read more into her garbled speech than was actually there.

  32. 232
    Hank Roberts says:

    > read more … than was actually there.

    What do you make of Drill Drill Drill?
    Think she’s supporting sequestering CO2?
    ___________
    “dismay came”

  33. 233
    RichardC says:

    231 Bob, Palin said she wasn’t one to attribute mankind’s actions as the cause. She states that renewables are fine as long as they have zero financial incentives or support. These statements strongly indicate that she believes that global warming is 100% natural or God’s will. Her publicly expressed mantra, “Drill and Mine, baby, Drill and Mine.” is just too irrefutable. Palin will do everything in her power to increase fossil fuel usage.

    Thus, Raypierre et al are incorrect – she knows the cause and is for taking the appropriate inaction. No solution is needed. Humans can’t cause climate change, so they can’t stop it either. Besides, it’s only a degree or two. Big whup. Let’s go shoot a moose.

  34. 234
    Mark says:

    Bob 231. Right back at you.

    If you don’t know the cause, your actions, though may SEEM to solve the problem are actually hiding it.

    A painkiller WILL stop your arm hurting.

    However, that was due to a heart problem causing bloodflow issues to that arm. Painkillers don’t fix dicky tickers.

    So how would you fix global warming without knowing what caused it? Ice cubes in the middle of the ocean to cool things down and solve the problem forever. I SAID FOREVER!!!

    Really, without knowing what caused it, how would you fix it?

  35. 235
    shane says:

    Simply put if Sarah Palin can’t be decisive on her views then she sure as hell won’t act. Whats called for is action even if it is costly and even if it doesn’t work, its obvious what the global consequences will be under the current climate trend, all we can do is try and intervene.

  36. 236
    Rich Creager says:

    What Pielke Jr. contends that the IPCC says is not completely clear. When I read (89): “The IPCC fairly obviously appears to leave open the possibility than the GHG role in trends since midcentury is 50% or more, leaving a large balance to be explained by natural forcings or variability.” I am simply baffled.

  37. 237
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Bob North, Pailin’s response needs to be viewed in the context of the past 8 years as well. Dubya in 2000 said we needed to do something about climate change, only to demote scientific consensus in 2001 to “the opinions of the bureaucracy”. Given this track record of obfuscation if not outright mendacity, it is important to nail down the condidates opinions on the science. I have to say that I am more than a little concerned about the attitudes toward science expressed by both McCain and Pailin. Pailin refuses to even articulate a coherent sentence regarding her position on climate science, while McCain seems to regard expenditures on science (e.g. Grizzly tracking via DNA, which actually represents a way to save money, or planetarium upgrades to inspire future scientists) as pork.

  38. 238
    Lawrence Brown says:

    Ray in #226:
    “Again, if we draw (with replacement) 22 white balls our of a drum and no black ones, we can conclude with 90% confidence that 10% or fewer of the balls in the drum are black. Does that mean you should take 10:1 odds and bet the next ball will be black, even though you’ve seen zero evidence that there are ANY black balls in the drum?”

    I don’t know, Ray. I think I’d rather have 13.3 to 1 odds.( the ratio of Total net anthroponogenic forcing to the forcing due to solar irradiance, from figure SPM2 in the Summary for Policy Makers in the last IPCC.
    That’s if we take the analogy further and designate white balls as anthropogenic forcings and black balls as natural factors.

  39. 239
    Bob North says:

    Mark, Ray, Hank, RichardC -

    I am no fan of Palin. When it comes to AGW, there is plenty of evidence from sources other than the VP debate that she either doesn’t believe that man is causing climate change or doesn’t think that it is that big a deal such that we need to take action. I don’t disagree with any of that.

    However, I was taking issue with a very specific point regarding the “evidence” put forth in the original post. In the context of the debate, her statement that “I don’t want to argue about the causes” does not equal a claim that the cause doesn’t matter. For Raypierre and others to claim that this statement shows she doesn’t think the cause of the warming matters is not a logical conclusion – — A doesn’t follow B so don’t pretend that it does.

  40. 240
    Hank Roberts says:

    Bob, a debate isn’t an argument; the moderator is there to draw the candidates out on and get them to compare their positions.

    She stated her political position: she doesn’t want to argue about the causes. That’s clear, isn’t it?

  41. 241
    Phillip Shaw says:

    Well, since Obama, Biden, and even McCain have all taken positions that man is causing Global Warming, the only way Palin COULD argue about causes is to hold a contrary position, i.e. the observed warming isn’t being caused by man. Of course, that’s the position she has held for years.

  42. 242
    Mark says:

    Bob, #239

    I’m not interested in whether you like someone or not. I’m not considering it. I am not partisan over it.

    What I’m arguing is that your statements are incorrect.

    They remain incorrect no matter WHO you like.

    That you think so shows up a lot about how you think: people who disagree with someone must hate them.

    That isn’t true.

  43. 243
    Mark says:

    Lawrence: 238:

    But there may well be NO BLACK BALLS AT ALL. All you know so far is that there haven’t been any picked out yet.

    Yet (and this is the important bit you and your pals seem to be missing) is that you can still say “with confidence” there are no more than X black balls in the bag with 90% confidence. And that DOESN’T mean you have a 10% chance there are more than X. ‘Cos that doesn’t mean there are any black balls in the bag.

  44. 244
    Bob North says:

    Hank #240 – Let’s say that I agree with you that Palin was stating her political position and it is that she doesn’t want to argue about the causes. How does that turn into a “claim that causes don’t matter?”

    Mark #242 – Sometimes your responses mystify me. My point regarding not being a fan of Palin was that it appeared to me that some may have felt that I was defending her and/or her position re climate change. That was not the point of my original post. As I have repeatedly stated, the point was that it is not a logical conclusion to go from Palin’s statement that “I don’t want to argue causes..” to Raypierre’s assertion that this statement indicates that Palin claims the cause(s) of climate change don’t matter.

    Similarly, it is not a logical to go from my statement that “I am no fan of Palin” to a conclusion that I think people who disagree with someone must hate them. The evidence (my statement) does not support your conclusion.

    You indicated my statement is incorrect. I am more than willing to read your specifc response as to why you think it is logical to assert that Palin claims the cause doesn’t matter based on her statement in the VP debate.

  45. 245

    The IPCC uncertainty guide distinguishes confidence levels and likelihood, and the latter “refers to a probabilistic assessment”. So how can their statement regarding the likelihood (“very likely”) of greenhouse gases having caused most of the observed global warming refer to a confidence level? It sounds very reasonable, but why didn’t they use a different term in that case, in accordance with their own uncertainty guide?

    Is the statement in error or merely unclear, leading me to still misunderstand it?

    Perhaps Steve Bloom is right in saying that changes in land use and declining aerosol levels (since the 1980’s) could perhaps have contributed more to the warming than expected.

    Or perhaps the IPCC was being (overly?) cautious in assessing it as very likely rather then virtually certain.

  46. 246
    Hank Roberts says:

    > she doesn’t want to argue about the causes.
    > How does that turn into a “claim that causes
    > don’t matter?”

    As a political position, remember:

    not wanting to argue about the causes,
    acknowledging there is a problem, and
    agreeing on doing something about the problem.

    What does logic tell you about this?

    Look, we can also argue about whether agreeing to sit down for a negotiation “without preconditions” means you’d invite someone who insisted on attending bringing preconditions.

    I think not — “without preconditions” means nobody sitting in has brought preconditions.

    Horseburger says most believe otherwise. Seems silly.
    Logic is probably not the best tool for this.

  47. 247
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Bert Verheggen, Likelihood is indeed a probability assessment, but likelihood itself is not a probability. It produces confidence intervals for parametric estimates. See for example:
    http://www.weibull.com/LifeDataWeb/likelihood_ratio_confidence_bounds.htm

    Likelihood is also plays a role in Bayesian probability.

    The IPCC statement says NOTHING about the probability that natural forces could account for warming. In the absence of evidence, you cannot place confidence–for example you cannot put a lower bound on the number of black balls in the bag until you know there’s at least one black ball. If you understand probability, the statement is not unclear.

  48. 248
    Lawrence Brown says:

    Re:243
    What I’m trying to do, Mark, is to expand on the academic example given by Ray and say that white balls represent human factors, and black balls represent natural events. Climate change has to be due to one or the other or both. Natural events comprise axial and orbital changes(Milankovich cycles), volcanic action and changes in solar irradiance.

    Since Milankovich cycles take place on much longer timeperiods than reflected in recent climate change, and we haven’t had significant volcanic action in 15 years or more, than then changes in the Sun represent the black balls in my example. According to Figure in SPM 2 in the latest IPCC report, by taking the ratio between the average forcing due to net anthropogenic action and solar irradiance there 27 white balls to every two black balls in the drum. Ergo the roughly 13.5 to 1 odds.
    BTW- I have no pals on this or any other site. Any errors in math or logic are strictly my own.

  49. 249
    John Mashey says:

    re: #230 whitebeard

    Many thanks, good pointers.

    For everybody else, and akin to what Ray Bradbury wrote:
    regarding detailed parsing of a candidate’s words [equivalent to arguing over noise in time-series rather than statistically significant trends], it’s not what they say, it’s what they do, or as they teach defensive players in high school football:

    Ignore the head-fakes, watch the belt-buckle.

  50. 250
    RichardC says:

    239 Bob, don’t lump me in the crowd. THEY all are blinded by the assumption that everyone believes climate change is both big and bad. Palin’s stance is solid (and wrong). She believes that God and/or nature is responsible for any piddly temperature differences. She believes that said differences are beneficial, and for a resident of Alaska, it would be hard to prove her wrong. Seriously, anyone here think life for humans will degrade in Alaska because of climate change?? She is constrained in her statements by the political environment, and is pissed-off about the constraint.

    As Einstein said, “The rest is details.”


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