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Palin on Global Warming

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

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. 1
    John Atkeison says:

    Geeze, knock off the quibble about the direct attribution of an effect to the cause, in this case polar sea ice loss and Global Warming. WillYa?

    In addition to being profoundly important engagement on ethical issues, the public debate is one of the most important knife fights of our generation.

    Clear speaking to the essence of the issue is the keen edge in this arena. As you said quite well, an AGU context is one thing, but specific and honest truth is the knife’s sharp edge in this fight. Speak plainly, and don’t hold back on the support for those who carry the banner for our side.

    Thanks for the terrific work y’all do!
    John Atkeison
    New Orleans

  2. 2
    Oxnardprof says:

    Thank you for discussing this issue. I had the same reaction as you upon hearing Sarah Palin’s comments during the debate. It is imperative that control of carbon dioxide emissions be a part of both national energy policy and international diplomacy. I think also that the issue of John McCain’s health is of vital concern, if one is serious about confronting AGW. Sarah Palin said that if she became President, she would pursue her policies and interests. Whatever these are, they clearly do not include any significant action on reducing carbon emissions.

    This is one issue that is vital to consider in the current election, and politics cannot be separated from science here. I think that sound science, in the area of energy and environment should give serious pause to choosing McCain / Palin in the upcoming election, what ever one’s views of other issues.

    Of course, I think that AGW and carbon emissions are a potential creeping crisis that has been ignored by the Federal government for too long. When I look at the potential for growth in China and India that will exacerbate their emissions, we need more than ever a US Presidency that will focus on the issue wholeheartedly.

  3. 3
    Chris Colose says:

    After hearing the comments by Palin in the Katie Couric interview and the VP debate, I think it’s pretty clear that climate change is not a huge issue in her mind.

    As a person in the political arena though, you always want to tell people what they want to hear, and everyone wants to hear things like “stop pollution” and to non-science ears, the middle-ground of “well, it’s probably all not man-made, but let’s so something anyway” sounds good…and you get listeners on all sides.

  4. 4
    Figen Mekik says:

    I realize politicians need to wing it sometimes, but is English a second language for Palin? Maybe she needs courses on speaking grammatically; or maybe she is just terribly confused. It sounds like she is blaming climate for human activities. :) And maybe she just wants Alaska to get warmer! I know some Michiganders feel that way…
    Anyway, I think candidates would get more votes if all of them said more scientifically literate things when speaking of climate change, even Biden. Otherwise it is just I think vs. he/she thinks. Opinions are debatable, facts are not.

  5. 5
    C A Wren says:

    [edit - religion is OT]

  6. 6
    coby says:

    As a young earth creationist, Palin’s view of the issue clearly can not put much stock in the actual science. Plus, one must wonder what exactly she is thinking of in talking about cycle in the earth’s climate as the only established ones are the glacial/interglacial cycles, which are on a time scale much too lengthy for a 6000 year old earth!

    Regardless, the “it’s all cycles” meme is easily refuted

  7. 7
    Hank Roberts says:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/17/magazine/17BUSH.html
    By RON SUSKIND
    Published: October 17, 2004
    ——————————-

    … I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House’s displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn’t fully comprehend — but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

    The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
    ———————————-

  8. 8
    Mark A. York says:

    Excellent assessment as always guys. Gee, ya think by golly? She’s married to a roustabout, and has views, Biblical in nature, that resources are there to use doggone it! Polar bears? Who cares. They shoot them from the rigs if they get in the way; Purely in self-defense of course. Biden gets it. Palin is unfortunately, a typical Alaskan. I’ve been there enough to know.

  9. 9
    Rod B says:

    As an aside, what’s the cause for you (all) to speculate that McCain would turn energy policy over to Palin?

  10. 10
    Hank Roberts says:

    From the same link above, by Ron Suskind, another excerpt, equally cautionary:

    —————-
    … And for those who don’t get it? That was explained to me in late 2002 by Mark McKinnon, a longtime senior media adviser to Bush, who now runs his own consulting firm and helps the president. He started by challenging me. ”You think he’s an idiot, don’t you?” I said, no, I didn’t. “No, you do, all of you do, up and down the West Coast, the East Coast, a few blocks in southern Manhattan called Wall Street. Let me clue you in. We don’t care. You see, you’re outnumbered 2 to 1 by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy working people who don’t read The New York Times or Washington Post or The L.A. Times. And you know what they like? They like the way he walks and the way he points, the way he exudes confidence. They have faith in him. And when you attack him for his malaprops, his jumbled syntax, it’s good for us. Because you know what those folks don’t like? They don’t like you!” In this instance, the final “you,” of course, meant the entire reality-based community.

    ————–

    ReCaptcha, I kid you not, says: Autumn Larning

  11. 11
    Rich Blinne says:

    When Governor Palin said that Alaska is affected most by global warming isn’t she affirming polar amplification? And doesn’t that imply anthropogenic global warming?

    [Response: That's a subtle point, but not really. Polar amplification is dependent on feedbacks (mostly the ice-albedo feedback) and so would be expected to occur regardless of what the force driving warming is. - gavin]

  12. 12
    Andy Gunther says:

    I thought what was truly fascinating about Palin’s statement in the debate (which was followed by her agreement that carbon emissions must be capped, not that she knows what that means) is that she’s no longer a complete denier (“there’s something to be said for man’s activities”). While I doubt her private opinions have changed at all, and she attempted to qualify her statement about cause, it seems to me that it is not tenable for her to maintain her denialist position publicly. To me this shows great progress when compared to how this would have played out in 2004 (when, first of all, the moderator would not have even asked a question about climate change).

    I say congratulations to realclimate and all others who have been waging this fight…we have made progress, although there is so far to go…

  13. 13
    Danny Bloom says:

    In her defense she did create a subcabinet agency on climate change
    in the state govt of alaska. google it. Larry Hartig runs it. He never
    answers his emails, though. He might be a plant.

  14. 14
    Richard Hill says:

    My understanding is that the ‘official’ IPCC
    position as of 2007 is that there is a 10 percent chance that human made CO2 is NOT the primary cause of global warming.
    Is there recent work that changes the 10 percent
    up or down? Would the lead authors modify their
    position today?

  15. 15
    Sam Vilain says:

    Calling Natural Gas “clean, green” was another thing that really irked me. I’m glad someone else picked up on the “activities of humans … caused by climate” gaffe. LOL’d up here

  16. 16
    JCH says:

    “As an aside, what’s the cause for you (all) to speculate that McCain would turn energy policy over to Palin? – Rod B

    Room temperature.

  17. 17
    Richard Giroux says:

    Sarah Palin works with energy companies which means she has a lot of contact with geologists. Gee, where do you think she gets the idea that AGW might not be man made. Honestly, are you guys really that dense? Take a moment and read your own site!

  18. 18

    What I saw on Sarah Palin was too much makeup, too much winking and too much flirting with the audience. Very unstatesmanlike and unbecoming of a VP. She only recited memorized scripts. If she didn’t have the appropriate memorized script, she didn’t answer the question. Ronny Reagan at least read the script well.

    “Clean” Coal contains: URANIUM, ARSENIC, LEAD, MERCURY, Antimony, Cobalt, Nickel, Copper, Selenium, Barium, Fluorine, Silver, Beryllium, Iron, Sulfur, Boron, Titanium, Cadmium, Magnesium, Thorium, Calcium, Manganese, Vanadium, Chlorine, Aluminum, Chromium, Molybdenum and Zinc. There is so much of these elements in coal that cinders and coal smoke are actually valuable ores. We should be able to get all the uranium and thorium we need to fuel nuclear power plants for centuries by using cinders and smoke as ore. Remember that, to get a given amount of energy, you need on the order of 100 MILLION TIMES as much coal as uranium. That means the coal mine has to be 100 million times larger than the uranium mine, not counting the recycling of nuclear fuel. We can keep our mountains and forests and our health by switching from coal to nuclear power.

    Chinese industrial grade coal is sometimes stolen by peasants for cooking. The result is that the whole family dies of arsenic poisoning because Chinese industrial grade coal contains large amounts of arsenic.

    I have zero financial interest in nuclear power, and I never have had a financial interest in nuclear power. My sole motivation in writing this is to avoid extinction by H2S gas due to global warming.

    Carbon Capture and Storage [sequestration] has a fatal flaw: “the capacity to SAFELY trap and store the CO2.” There is no safe way to confine trillions of tons of CO2 at high pressure for ever. For Ever is a lot longer than the 100000 years that people want nuclear “waste” to be stored. The CO2 WILL leak out and suffocate millions of people. CO2 is denser than air and displaces air at ground level. CO2 has caused suffocation in Africa. See:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/1155057.stm

    “Cameroon’s ‘killer lake’ degassed”
    “More than 1,700 people died after deadly gases spewed from Lake Nyos 15 years ago. ”
    “In August 1986, the lake released a cloud of carbon dioxide which hugged the ground and flowed down surrounding valleys to suffocate thousands of local villagers and animals.

    The rare phenomenon also occurred at Lake Monoun in the same volcanic zone two years earlier killing 34 people. ”

    The CO2 storage facilities proposed by Big Coal, besides being prone to leak, will be a target for terrorists. A terrorist has only to cause a leak to kill more people than a nuclear bomb would. Leaks are very easy to cause in high pressure containers. CO2 storage is a silent disaster waiting to happen.

    IF a SAFE way to store CO2 forever is ever proven, it should be used to store CO2 from industrial processes for which we cannot find substitutes. We have a substitute for coal fired power plants, called nuclear power plants. Nuclear power is the safest source of electricity, bar none. Nuclear power is also the cheapest, bar none and the cleanest, bar none. Spent nuclear fuel should be recycled, not wasted. We have spent the last 60 years working on reactor safety. Coal contains uranium. Carbon capture and storage should be reserved for making concrete. The first step in making concrete is to heat limestone [calcium carbonate CaCO3] to drive off the CO2 leaving CaO Calcium Oxide. Carbon Capture and Storage should be reserved for the CO2 produced in this first step in concrete making and other industrial processes for which there are no substitutes. Remember, we have to lower our CO2 output by 90% by 2050 in spite of a growing population and growing prosperity in India and China.

    I have no financial or other interest in nuclear power and no connection with the nuclear power industry.

    Reference: “Power to Save the World; The Truth About Nuclear Energy” by Gwyneth Cravens, 2007 Finally a truthful book about nuclear power. Gwyneth Cravens is a former anti-nuclear activist.

    Reference: “Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy”, by B. Comby
    English edition, 2001, 345 pp. (soft cover), 38 Euros
    TNR Editions, 266 avenue Daumesnil, 75012 Paris, France;
    ISBN 2-914190-02-6
    order from: http://www.comby.org/livres/livresen.htm
    Read a review of this book by the American Health Physics Society at:
    http://www.comby.org/media/
    articles/articles.in.english/
    HealthPhysics-NUC-July2002.htm

    http://www.ecolo.org
    Association of Environmentalists For Nuclear Energy [EFN]

  19. 19

    I like the way she bills herself as an “energy expert” which as far as I can tell means she can say “drill baby drill” without getting tongue-tied.

    Look again at what she said in the debate: “I’m not one to attribute every man — activity of man to the changes in the climate”. I think she meant attributing changes of climate to “man”.

    We had a nice discussion of the debate in Australia where one commentator summed it up: “She’s as thick as a brick.” Not sure if it’s on the video on the ABC web site, but it may be some comfort to American viewwers that Australians are so impressed with your political process …

  20. 20
    JK says:

    I can read posts like this anywhere.

    The unique selling point of your blog is that you do the science better than anyone else.

    For me, half the length popularising a recent climate science paper would be worth a hundred times as much.

    Your work on that is much appreciated!

  21. 21
    Adam says:

    “He might be a plant.”

    He likes CO2 then.

    Captcha: LEAVY no

  22. 22
    Juola (Joe) A. Haga says:

    Perhaps the conversation may fall silent. “Bubbling chimneys if methane” in the Laptev Sea report Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov, visiting researchers at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. It seems that the permafrost pressure-containing the clathrates has succumbed to the warming arctic waters. Abrupt climate change in thirty years, at the outside, seems to me a likely outcome. I hope I will be corrected.

    I hope to be corrected so that I do not increasingly hear the screams of my grandchilddren in the shortening temporal distance.

    Juola (Joe) A. Haga

  23. 23
    Anne van der Bom says:

    What really struck me was the following statement made by Palin:

    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?

    ‘Ich habe es nicht gewußt’ in the making?

  24. 24
    Danny Bloom says:

    Reference: “In 2007,
    the Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, created the Alaska Climate Change Sub-Cabinet
    to implement a climate change strategy for the state. An Immediate
    Action Workgroup – an advisory group to the Sub-Cabinet – was tasked
    with identifying the short-term emergency steps that state government
    needs to take to prevent loss of life and property due to climate
    change in the rural Eskimo communities that must relocate. ”

    new paper by Robin Tonen at http://www.fmreview.org/FMRpdfs/FMR31/30-32.pdf

  25. 25
    Joseph O'Sullivan says:

    Palin seems to be somewhere between delayer and denialist when it comes to climate change. The strategy reminds me of how the Bush administration would publicly ride the fence by openly saying they would act and then saying they would not. Most of the media attention focused on parsing what the Bush administration’s position on climate change was. What was missed was that nothing was done to address climate change.

  26. 26
    dagobert says:

    What politicians say about global warming and what they actually do about it are two entirely different things. When the green party came to power in Germany in 1998, global warming was one of the major arguments they had and for many, including myself, it was one of the major reasons to vote for them. Looking back at what they’ve actually done about it (willingly or unwillingly), I doubt they made any difference at all. If I was a US citizen, I’d look at what the candidates are planning in terms of concrete political decisions and make my vote from there – no matter what they claim to believe in or not.

  27. 27

    dagobert, you have a good point, but isn’t voting not only not about what the candidates say they believe in, but also not about what they say they are going to do, but about whether you would be comfortable with having them in office — in the American case with that little red button within hand reach?

    In this view, it doesn’t matter much if they tell the occasional lie and are dishonest about many things — all politicians do that, because it works. If they have leadership skills, those are warts we must live with. And that’s where Palin’s evolution and climate beliefs come in: if she really, honestly believes that the Earth is 6000 years old and has been heating up without any human assistance over the last half century, then (1) she is incredibly naive, and (2) she lacks the essential skill of using expert knowledge in forming policy.

    Those shortfalls in leadership skill (remember the Cuba crisis?) are fatal and would rule out any position of significant policy-making responsibility. If on the other hand, she accepts both evolution and AGW — or just accepts that she is in no position to know better than the scientists —, but knows what her support group wants to hear from her and speaks accordingly, then, not to worry :-)

    I am worrying. Suddenly John McCain’s age became a huge issue.

  28. 28
    markr says:

    After much thought I’ve made some conclusions about human behavior. Overall, the individual will-to-live predominates over the collective will to live. This should be no surprise, since selfish behavior benefits the individual organism the most. Collectively, human beings do not have the will to overcome their selfish impulses, which means that bargains with the devil will always be made first and foremost over sacrifice for the common good (on the whole, i.e.).
    In regard to the pressing issues of climate change, ecosystem collapse, and overpopulation, the mere admittance of the fact of AGW is no comfort at all, and at such a rate of cultural change essentially nothing will ever be done about it that has any noticeable impact on the matter. Fluorescent light bulb changing is bailing the ocean with a teaspoon, as everyone here knows.
    There is no solution that does not involve a massive reduction in the human population, first of all. One can make a rough calculation of what the human population might have become without the free energy of all fossil fuels, then reduce that by some factor of ten to account for the negative ecological/AGW impact, and arrive at a credible figure on which to base an (unscientific) argument. So, suppose that the earth could temporarily support a maximum human population of 640 million with a wood-based agricultural economy, then reduce that to either 64 million or 6.5 million, depending on how pessimistic (realistic) you feel, given the current and near-future state of the planet. Then, this amount of people needs to survive without the extended technologies made possible only by a large population base (necessary for detailed specialization), with a factor for soil destruction by civilization in a thousand years adding to downward pressures, and you end up with a very low environmental base to sustain a population of human beings with large brains and opposable thumbs which can wreak havoc upon the surrounding life-systems(elephants, while very destructive, remain restricted to their niche, while humans use their two gifts to jump their niche repeatedly) and have already done so to a degree commensurate only with a massive glaciation or an asteroid collision.
    Any solutions posed here or elsewhere which do not admit of the need for massive population reduction–which is in reality the only solution which can be forced upon us humans to resolve this matter–is shortsighted, naive, and intellectually dishonest.

  29. 29
    Alan says:

    I’m a 50-ish Aussie who has been highly entertained by the presidential race (but knew little about Biden), by coincidence I also just finished watching the debate on youtube.

    Discounting people shooting at each other, no other political debate I have ever seen has so clearly pitted reason against emotion. And ironically, Joe Biden became slightly emotional when he concluded by practically begging the American people to listen to reason.

    The reason I watched the full debate was because the media were not really conclusive on who ‘won’. I can only assume the mainstream media came to this ‘consensus’ because they are still interested in promoting a race that sells advertisng to eyeballs like yours and mine. Same thing happened with climate ‘journalisim’ in the mainstream media but over a longer time scale.

    I agree with Joe Biden’s assesment that this is the most important election since the 1930′s and I agree with Sagan who (paraphrasing) said “Science is our only candle in the dark” – Contrary to Palin’s worldview as expressed in the “I don’t want to argue about the causes” quip, understanding the causes (and effects) of these “big issuse” is the first step to preventing their re-occurence or at least minimising their impact.

    We had a similar far-right anti-immigration politician (female, around the same age as Palin, Fish&Chip shop owner). She gained a seat in federal parliment a while back – she also gained a loud group of followers for a short while but ultimately was ridiculed out of politics. She is now mainly famous for the phrase “please explain” – her answer when a fellow MP accused her of xenophobia.

    As many others have pointed out, the political landscape has changed regarding the environment and realclimate has served the role of mythbuster very well. However due to an increase in intense financial storms in the economic climate, whoever takes over in the US is going to open ‘Fort Knox’ and find the world’s largest visa bill.

  30. 30
    dhogaza says:

    As an aside, what’s the cause for you (all) to speculate that McCain would turn energy policy over to Palin?

    McCain and Palin have both made statements that support said “speculation”. Perhaps it’s just a campaign ploy, but I see no reason to not take them at their word.

    You are *listening* to them, aren’t you?

  31. 31
    jhm says:

    Don’t let’s forget that Hon. Sen. McCain, the fact that he proposes a “cap and trade” program, has repeatedly denied that this would impose a “cap” on greenhouse gas emissions.

  32. 32
    Walt Bennett says:

    I watched every minute of the debate. I paid special attention to the question and answers regarding “global warming.”

    I found Gov. Palin’s answer to be more accurate that Sen. Biden’s.

  33. 33

    When scientists come out with statements such as “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 …” surely a hockey mom like Sarah Palin is right to be sceptical about man as a cause. When every scientific statement in wrapped around by wooly caveats, no wonder Joe Public would rather hope for the best, rather than take the action that every one knows will hurt!

    If you scientists are not sure, then why should she be. It is the height of conceit for scientists to believe that they have the right to express their doubts, yet expect politicians to argue that there are none. The politicians are risking their careers, while all you scientists have to lose is face.

    What is needed is a change in the scientific culture. Less of the prevaricating and more of the truth – the polar bears are doomed, and mankind won’t be far behind unless we take action now!

    But will the scientific culture change? No! Will mankind survive?

    Cheers, Alastair.

  34. 34
    Todd says:

    Re #9 : “As an aside, what’s the cause for you (all) to speculate that McCain would turn energy policy over to Palin?” Comment by Rod B — 5 octobre 2008 @ 9:49 PM

    An excerpt of the VP debate:
    Palin: “…John McCain and I have had good conversations about where I would lead with his agenda. That is energy independence in America and reform of government over all…In those arenas, John McCain has already tapped me and said, that’s where I want you, I want you to lead.”

  35. 35
    Anne van der Bom says:

    @markr

    suppose that the earth could temporarily support a maximum human population of 640 million with a wood-based agricultural economy

    Where did you base this estimate on?

  36. 36
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Palin’s statements are, of course, irreconcilable, but they aren’t meant to appeal to reason. They’re meant to appear reasonable. Just as the claim that the warming trend is “mostly natural” because “climate has fluctuated in the past” appears superficially to be a moderate, and thus reasonable, position.

    Only after some study does it become clear that this position in inconsistent with both facts and theory; as the Bush administration learned once they studied the issue, which one wishes they had done before withdrawing from Kyoto.

  37. 37
    SecularAnimist says:

    Sarah Palin said to Newsmax that she is “not one though who would attribute” climate change “to being man-made”. Sarah Palin said during the debate “I’m not one to attribute every man — activity of man to the changes in the climate” by which she presumably meant that she was not one to attribute changes in the climate to the activities of “man”.

    However, Governor Palin did, as she mentioned, sign into law the Alaska Climate Change Sub-Cabinet, which states on its website the following: “The rise in the Earth’s average surface temperature is known as global warming. Scientists attribute the accelerating rate of global warming to manmade greenhouse gas emissions” (emphasis added).

    Had I the opportunity, I would like to ask Governor Palin:

    “You cite your creation of the Alaska Climate Change Sub-Cabinet as evidence that as a public official you are ‘going to get there to positively affect the impacts’ of climate change. However, your own repeated public statements about the cause of climate change are flatly contradicted by the sub-cabinet that you yourself created, which on its own public website clearly agrees with the overwhelming majority of the world’s scientists that accelerating global warming is caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases.

    We have now seen eight years during which the Bush-Cheney administration denied, suppressed, censored and lied about the efforts of the government’s own scientists and scientific agencies to inform the American people about the human causation of climate change, in order to protect the profits of their cronies and financial backers in the fossil fuel industries. Is it your plan, if elected, to continue that policy of deliberate deceit?”

    If you haven’t already seen it, I recommend watching Tina Fey’s brilliant parody of Sara Palin’s debate performance from this weekend’s Saturday Night Live, in which Palin (Fey) says that global warming may just be “a natural part … of the End Times.”

    The scary thing is, that Sarah Palin may actually believe that.

  38. 38
    Ray Ladbury says:

    I actually found the \climate\ portion of the debate–the only point where it touched on science–amusing. Palin was clearly trying–and failing–to parrot some talking points she had been coached on. She has to walk even more of a tightrope on this issue than McCain, since she must avoid trashing both McCain’s acceptance of anthropogenic causation while at the same time appearing not to be inconsistent with the denialists. Anybody who looks to the candidates’ statements for clues about their personal views is in for a futile search. Anybody who thinks the candidates (of either party) will be free to act on those views is naive. Remember, in 2000, even Dubya acknowledged the need to do something about CO2.

  39. 39
    Anne van der Bom says:

    #33, Alastair,

    If the weather forecast says there is a 10% changce of rain for tomorrow, would you be the dad to say to his children: “We won’t be going to the beach tomorrow, because the weather man predicted rain”?

    Who is being dishonest here, the weather man or the dad?

  40. 40
    Jim Roland says:

    The trouble with Obama is he also favours mandatory action to worsen CO2 emissions, hunger and a host of other things, namely the ethanol mandate, which the Republicans are now committed to abolishing.

    Also I don’t see any sign of either candidate using the same definition of clean coal as RC does.

  41. 41
    Richard C says:

    If Sarah Palin is a Hockey Mom, does she support the “Hockey Stick”?

  42. 42
    Jim Bullis says:

    Re Hank Roberts #7 and #10

    The full reference in #7 is important reading for those of us who try to be members of the “reality based community.”

    George Bush correctly states that the reality based community will never defeat the faith based community. Realists need to understand this.

    [edit - religion is OT]

    Sure McCain and Palin will talk about action against global warming, but when such action infringes on the right of Americans to drive muscle cars and mommy wagons, we should anticipate some divine guidance that makes that ok.

    I do not really think that McCain thinks in the same way as Palin, but he holds his views to be of very little importance since he is willing to leave us with her as our leader. Yes, that is what the VP actually does when it becomes necessary.

  43. 43

    Anne,

    If it is raining and Mom says “Stop that racket and go outside. It might stop soon.” who is being dishonest?

    Cheers, Alastair.

  44. 44
    Leonard Evens says:

    Sarah Palin’s statements questioning the cause of climate change and describing natural gas as “clean’ have to be interpreted in the context of how these questions affect policies she has decided to pursue.

    She clearly wants to encourage as much drilling for oil in Alaska as she can get away with. This is popular in Alaska because, whether or not in makes much difference to our dependence on foreign oil, it definitely benefits Alaskans in the short run. To this end, she has opposed declaring polar bears an endangered species, and used a report written by notorious denialists. It is in her interest to dismiss scientific elites and take the side of the `ordinary people’ in her state who want more and larger bonuses from the oil industry. Alaskans have more in common with Saudis in this regard than they do with the rest of us.

    Similarly, she has made much in Alaska of her attempts to resurrect that gas pipeline which seemed to have run into difficulties under the previous administration. Burning natural gas, of course, emits less CO_2 than does oil or coal, but it is still a source of greenhouse gases. But it is to her benefit to ignore that detail.

    It is clear that Palin and her religious right supporters have ambitions beyond this campaign. They hope and expect her to be president some day, perhaps sooner than John McCain would prefer. She is very ambitious, and it is my guess, quite ready to adopt positions that will get her elected. I doubt if she has any really firm beliefs about much of anything, and generally believes what it is convenient for her to do so. But I could be wrong. She could be a strong social conservative who buys the entire hard right agenda, and dissembles to hide the fact. I would rather not find out.

  45. 45
    David B. Benson says:

    Too funny not to share: There is no evidence of human-induced financial crisis

    http://www.crikey.com.au/Business/20081001-Keane-There-is-no-evidence-for-a-human-induced-credit-crisis.html

  46. 46
    Mauri Pelto says:

    Great Question Richard C. in #41. To what reference do you refer in #42 Jim? Given that faith cannot be dissuaded where does that leave us in this era in which faith is crucial to being elected? It is amazing on a topic that Palin has been exposed to her answer is so garbled. Makes one think it is not her true philosophy.

  47. 47
    tharanga says:

    As said by many others, there’s no logical coherence to Palin’s statements, but they work for the intended audience.

    Still, I’d be wary of mission creep at RC. There are other forums for policy and politics. Though if Palin becomes a second Inhofe,it would be appropriate to discuss the testimony of whichever Viscounts she drags up.

    great joke with the hockey stick/mom above.

  48. 48
    Dave Andrews says:

    Hank,

    Palin is a “typical Alaskan” – is that stereotyping or close to ‘racism’?

    Need to be careful on these things and remember that you, along with all of us, can sometimes make statements that others may interpretate in a different way to what was originally intended (OR NOT).

  49. 49
    Hank Roberts says:

    Mauri, Jim’s referring to what I posted (currently #7 with another excerpt in what’s currently #9)
    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/17/magazine/17BUSH.html
    By RON SUSKIND
    Published: October 17, 2004

    It’s a piece of history worth reading in full.

  50. 50
    Cassidy says:

    I am begging the scientific community to speak up before it is too late. I follow realclimate along with other sites and journals. I have never heard these voices speak to the mainstream media with the exception of some sound bites or “specials” that many do not see or hear.

    What will it take before consensus science takes there message to the people – clearly and repeatedly? Please, someone say something to the voters!!!


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