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What George Will should have written

Filed under: — gavin @ 28 February 2009

We’ve avoided piling on to the George Will kerfuffle, partly because this was not a new story for us (we’d commented on very similar distortions in previous columns in 2004 and 2007), but mostly because everyone else seems to be doing a great job in pointing out the problems in his recent columns.

We are actually quite gratified that a much wider group of people than normal have been involved in calling out this latest nonsense, taking the discussion well outside the sometimes-rarefied atmosphere of the scientific blogosphere (summary of links). Maybe RealClimate has succeeded in its original aim of increasing the wider awareness of the scientific context? However, like many, we are profoundly disappointed in the reaction of the Washington Post editors and George Will himself (though the ombudsman’s column today is a step in the right direction). It would have been pleasant to see an example of the conservative punditocracy actually learning something from the real world instead of resorting to ever-more unconvincing pseudo-legalistic justifications and attacks on the messenger to avoid taking their head out of the sand. Nonetheless, in a moment of naive optimism, we have allowed ourselves to indulge in a fantasy for how a more serious columnist might have dealt with the issue:

The scientific method in journalism
Feb 29th, 2009, Washington post

This column recently reported and commented on some developments pertinent to the debate about whether global warming is occurring and what can and should be done.

It is no secret that I am a critic of sensationalism in the coverage of environmental issues and that I have a philosophical preference for reality-based policies over those based on the ideologically-based fantasies of those I critique.

In my last column, I reported on a statistic concerning sea ice extent – that global sea ice extent is unchanged since 1979 – that was trivially shown to be untrue, and for that I apologize. Rather than throw the fact checkers in my office or at the Washington Post under the bus, I take full responsibility for the mistake. However, as with good scientific practice, this provides an example of how journalism too can learn from its mistakes.

The source of the original quote was a Daily Tech blog post published in early January. While that post itself was heavily criticized as being misleading, it did use data from a reliable scientific source which was technically accurate at the time. My error was in assuming that scientific ‘facts’ don’t change over a month or two and thus it was not necessary to revisit the source of the original data before writing my column. What was true in January would still be true in February, right? Wrong.

What I didn’t consider was that in complex and noisy data there are always going to be outliers, and in heavily politicised subjects there will always be people who will want to exploit a chance occurrence for a sound-bite. I should of course have known better since I decry this practice on a regular basis in discussions of economic issues. Through a combination of wishful thinking and time constraints, my failure to recognize a piece of classic cherry-picking lay at the heart of this problem.

However, sometimes old dogs do learn new tricks. The surprising fact (to me at least) that the difference in global sea ice between two single dates 30 years apart can change so radically in such a short space of time, implies that it is not a particularly good measure of long term climate change. It is a bit like looking at a single stock to gauge the health of the economy. Unfortunately (for me at least), it also validates the scientific consensus about the original article. It was indeed a misleading statistic, and I was indeed misled. Next time I will try and be more careful.

There continues to be a pressing need for an informed conservative discussion of the issues of climate change. Voices such as Senator John McCain, and businessman Jim Manzi (writing in the Nation last year National Review in 2007) can perhaps show the way. The distraction of the last week over exact parsings and interpretations of technical data are just a sideshow while real decisions are already being made every day in Washington. In order for conservatives to have a voice at those tables, we need to be seen as serious contributors. Every time we are mislead by amateur bloggers, we lose another chance to influence policy. This may have been useful as a delaying tactic in the past, but now that there is clear leadership in the White House, this serves only to marginalize conservatives even further. Unlikely as it may seem for me to quote President Obama approvingly, it may be time for us to put aside childish things.

If only…..


497 Responses to “What George Will should have written”

  1. 451

    #440 Ray Ladbury

    Another great point!

    I would add that I don’t think a personal consumption reduction of 30- to 40% is a hardship. One can do that just by turning off more lights, and planning car trips to maximize effectiveness while gaining in efficiency of effort (planning).

    One of the misnomers I have noticed is that those saying how terrible it will be to reduce energy use are terribly misguided by their own perceptions of the idea that reduction is disaster, when in reality it is likely an inconvenience at worst, in most cases. And in reality, can increase quality of life both short and long term, i.e actually a positive.

    We need to get this message across. We are in a crisis, but the answer will help us in the long run and there is no time to waste.

  2. 452
    Hank Roberts says:

    Something else that should be widely read, though I doubt Will would ever imagine it:

    http://littlebloginthebigwoods.blogspot.com/2009/03/plumber-parable-diversifies.html

    It starts this way:

    Yesterday much ado was generated by Thomas Friedman; the NYT econ-astrology (trying that out, feonix; thanx…) columnist. Friedman has gotten lots of attention in the past year or so by advocating that we can, basically “grow” our way out of our economic maelstrom by investing in “green” technologies. He’s even written a book about it, the title of which is sometimes parodied as “Flat, Overheated, and Vacuous”. Some of his first toutings were in the NYT, and I responded to what was being called “muscular green” way back then, in some detail.

    Reception by environmental thinkers of his book, and his basic “green industrialization” concept, has not been all that great. Pretty clearly, he still was not “getting” the basic need for some limits here, somewhere. Like all neo-classical economists, buried in his essential assumptions is the one about “perpetual growth” (it’s “good”, and “necessary”, in order to make the models work.)

    Yesterday he printed a column that many folks greeted enthusiastically ….

  3. 453
    David B. Benson says:

    truth (435) — This has been posted before, but demonstarates the certainty.

    Barton Paul Levenson:
    1. CO2 is a greenhouse gas (Tyndall 1859).
    2. CO2 is rising (Keeling et al. 1958).
    3. The new CO2 is mainly from burning fossil fuels (Suess 1955).
    4. Temperature is rising (NASA GISS, Hadley CRU, UAH, RSS, etc.).
    5. The increase in temperature correlates with the increase in CO2 (76% for temp. anomaly and ln CO2 for 1880-2007). See
    http://www.geo-cities.com/bpl1960/Correlation.html

    Be sure to follow the link to read the very high statistical significance of the result. TO do that, copy the URL and remove the dash in geo-cities since WordPress considers tha to be a spam site.

  4. 454
    Glenn Morton says:

    SteveF wrote:
    “Though he may not remember me, I know Burgy from an online fora a number of year ago and found him to be honest and respectful in his dealings. He is most definitely not a troll. Also, I suspect I know who his geophysicist friend is – would I be correct in thinking he has the initials GRM, Burgy!? This particular individual is an agressive (and very effective) opponent of creationism and is well known in such circles and has recently turned his attention to global warming.”

    Yes, it is me. I think this place is hopeless because as a commentor one can’t easily present evidence, making any critic be at a large disadvantage. I have posted a couple of things at http://themigrantmind.blogspot.com/

    The March 11 post was the first on the blog about global warming

  5. 455
    dhogaza says:

    As expected, Glenn Morton’s trotting out the same old stuff regarding the ground temperature record.

    His education appears to have come solely from Anthony Watts.

    Disappointing, but predictable.

  6. 456
    SecularAnimist says:

    Glenn Morton wrote: “I have posted a couple of things at http://themigrantmind.blogspot.com …”

    Intrigued by the suggestions of other commenters here that you had disproved anthropogenic global warming in your spare time, despite having no background in climate science, I started to read your articles there. When I came to this, I stopped:

    Realclimate.org, a site for believers in Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). I don’t say scientists because scientists are skeptical even of what they believe. Those guys are not skeptical of anything concerning the party line on AGW. Sheeple is the term I use for this.

    So the climate scientists who maintain this site — who are, in fact, among the world’s leading climate scientists, and who have, in fact, devoted years of diligent study to the issue of climate change, and who have, in fact, done quite a lot of crucial, original research — are in your view, not really scientists, but “sheep” following a “party line”.

    I don’t think you need to go to the trouble of posting more such commentary here. There is plenty of such stuff already.

  7. 457
    David B. Benson says:

    “Wind Shifts May Stir Carbon Dioxide From Antarctic Depths, Amplifying Global Warming”:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090312140842.htm

    About a recent article in Science, but see the commentary toward the end of the linked piece; maybe not.

  8. 458
  9. 459
  10. 460
  11. 461
    dhogaza says:

    An example of Glenn Morton’s thinking:

    How did the climatologists at NOAA deal with these formerly too hot stations which were on cement and rooftops? They didn’t do what logic would seem to require. They didn’t lower the past erroneous temperatures. The ADDED degrees to the now properly sited stations!!!!! Yes, no MRI’s for Fido and no admission that the temperatures measured by stations sited on hot cement were too hot, even though that cement would burn your feet. The NOAA climatologists RAISED the temperature of the properly sited stations so that they would be hotter and match the old bad data!!!!!!!

    Uh, Glenn, we’re interested in *trends*, not absolute numbers, and when computing the trend it DOES NOT MATTER whether you raise the new temp values, or lower the old temp values, to account for any bias generated by moving the station. This is the same kind of elementary error Watts makes all the time (though he tends to use fewer “!” punctuation marks).

    If you’re going to be capable of overturning the work of a very large number of climate scientists in your spare time, I would think you would know this, among other things.

  12. 462

    #435 Mr T ruth has mis-spoken once again… He (she???) raised not one good point! Sorry to disagree Mr Reissman. Switching to renewable energy will increase living standards everywhere, sunny Africa especially, even oil rich Dubai, aiming to be the best living place in the world, is doing renewables. So before making a dumb statement like renewable energy will impoverish the world! :
    “Which renewables could take up the slack after closure of coal-fired power stations in the next few years without the nuclear option as the base load power provider—and not in the process bring industry to its knees, and standards of living crashing down?”

    Reason a little??? Solar panels are made by people in Michigan , California amongst other places.
    Good admirable jobs. Wind generators can be erected locally anywhere in the world. Oil, Coal, Nuclear are finite resources having dubious side effects (although Glad that EXXON is advertising cracking oil for Hydrogen lately). If 1000 wind generators replace one coal fired power plant, the 1000 generators would be done by countless jobs … Does good jobs reduce living standards? Is anyone out there saying we have to shut any power plant without substitution immediately???

  13. 463
  14. 464
    James says:

    John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) Says (13 March 2009 at 12:47 PM):

    “I would add that I don’t think a personal consumption reduction of 30- to 40% is a hardship.”

    I’d argue that reductions of that level (from typical American use patterns) would be an unmitigated benefit. Driving less in smaller cars, biking or walking, home efficiency improvements, eating more fresh & locally grown foods… All things that keep money in your wallet, increase health, reduce the stress & time wasted in traffic. Hard to think of that sort of thing as hardship :-)

  15. 465

    #435 truth

    As to being sure about the human cause and nothing else, you just need to understand a few simple things, the natural cycle, the fact that greenhouse gases keep earth from being a giant frozen ball in space, the measured increases in those gases since the beginning of the industrial age, the isotopic signature of Co2, the increase in forcing

    Just dig around here:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/05/start-here/
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/index/
    http://www.realclimate.org/wiki/index.php?title=RC_Wiki

    Good list of government sites/links:

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/links

    Try reviewing these:

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/natural-cycle
    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/greenhouse-gases
    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/human-caused
    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/forcing-levels

    We are already past “very certain”.

    ———-

    #462 wayne davidson

    No worries. Actually, I don’t think we are in disagreement. What I wrote to ‘truth’ was he/she had raised ‘important issues’, not ‘good points’. I merely meant that these issues were still important in the debate since so many people don’t have sufficient context on those issues yet.

  16. 466
    truth says:

    Gavin:
    Re [441]:
    I’m sorry you find it so tiresome to have a question answered that you posed yourself…. and to have to suffer any mention or queries about the outcomes and practicalities of the outlawing of coal-fired power starting from now, that the AGW side wants ….. but it’s surely a vital part of the future for all of us, since the whole world is being forced to follow the AGW consensus mandate.
    Is it your contention that the ramifications of the end of coal are unimportant ?
    Are you suggesting the world must just accept the consensus view without any questioning—without discussing the fallout and unintended consequences?
    I have never mentioned Vikings…..nor wine in medieval England ….nor water vapour….so I don’t know what you’re talking about.

  17. 467

    TLE writes:

    I take a stronger stance – when compared to science, all religions and politics are nutty. I accept no exceptions.

    To declare that two major areas of human thought and experience are “nutty” to you says more about you than it says about them.

  18. 468

    Glenn Morton makes the same mistake as surfacestations.org and all those who babble about urban heat islands and badly sited thermometers: namely, if you eliminate the land surface stations, you still have multiple lines of evidence showing global warming:

    1. Sea-surface temperature readings. Are there urban heat islands on the ocean?

    2. Borehole temperature records.

    3. Balloon radiosonde records.

    4. Satellite temperature estimates.

    5. Melting glaciers and ice caps.

    6. Rising sea levels.

    7. Poleward migration of birds, insects, animals, and even plants (a reseeding effect, obviously, rather than motion per se).

    8. Earlier blooming dates for flowers and flowering trees.

    9. Earlier hatching dates for eggs of fish, insects, frogs, and birds.

    10. Movement of tropical diseases into formerly temperate areas.

    But even on its own the Watts-type arguments fail. Compare rural and urban temperature stations and there’s no significant difference. Morton is explaining a problem that doesn’t exist — the “fallacy of subverted support.”

    I invite Mr. Morton to take a hundred “bad” stations and compare them to a hundred “good” stations, with properly randomized samples, and measure the difference in temperature trends. It’s a sure bet for me because several people have already done it.

  19. 469
    Ray Ladbury says:

    BPL and TLE, Why can’t we all just get along. Maybe a compromise position would be that politics and religion are areas that tend to make otherwise rational people act like nutjobs. And I think all of us agree letting politics or religion influence science is nutty.

  20. 470
    Ray Ladbury says:

    BPL, Morton’s argument is even weaker than that, as he is relying for support on the thesis of Balling and Idsos that USHCN temperatures are cooked by systematic upward adjustments. This argument in turn relied on uncorrected MSU measurements, but it’s still much quoted in the denialosphere. I’d be interested in the take of Gavin et al. on the Idsos and Balling argument.

  21. 471

    in 405, dhogaza Says:
    11 March 2009 at 2:25 PM

    Burgy, just to be clear, my comments have been in regard to your denialist friend, not yourself.

    Perhaps he’ll prove to exceed expectations, i.e. after you post his arguments and they’re shown to be flawed, he’ll accept the work of those who work on this stuff full-time, rather in their spare time.

    If so, I’ll apologize. If not, well, I won’t.

    Thanks for the clarification. I appreciate it.

    in 412, Barton Paul Levenson Says:
    11 March 2009 at 3:30 PM
    Dr. Burgeson, I just want to apologized for the knee-jerk hostility of some here, especially the gratuitous anti-Christian comments of T.L.E. I find that if some posters find out you’re a Christian, it will inevitably turn up as a negative remark when they disagree with you. Have to expect it. Meanwhile, there are people here who try to be civil, and I hope you won’t allow yourself to be run off by the others.

    Grace and peace to you through Our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Jim
    Thanks, Jim. It is “Mr Burgeson,” BTW, as I left physics afer getting my MS and entered the computer business with IBM.

  22. 472
    t_p_hamilton says:

    John Burgeson and Glenn Morton,

    Have you read the “elusive absolute surface air temperature” page at the data page for GISS? It may answer many of your concerns, it may not. Give it a read

  23. 473
    truth says:

    John Reisman: [398]:
    You didn’t answer most of my questions, but thank you for your response anyway.
    It seems to me that you and others don’t even want to consider anything but anthropogenic CO2, though.
    It seems strange that those huge forest sinks that have disappeared are considered to have no role in our climate .
    Does their absence not affect that C13/C12 ratio?
    If they’re so inconsequential, then maybe those countries still burning their rainforests and peat lands will decide there’s no reason to stop.
    Are we to destroy all of our forests and replace them , along with other beautiful landscapes, with windmills….. since you’re certain it’s only CO2 that’s of any consequence in this issue?
    Do we welcome further desertification, because it provides sites for solar arrays on land that’s no good for anything else….where no one will complain ?
    Are we not to worry about adding billions more people with all the impacts of that….we can just concrete over more rural land , and add more windmills and solar arrays to the rest, to accommodate them, can we?
    There’s not much imperative to do anything about those issues , is there , if it’s only CO2 that’s causing any warming worth worrying about…..and more forest lands will need to go , in order to grow the food to feed the extra people…… and what other land there is will have to accommodate the windmills.
    You would think that those who claim to be so worried about the earth would be right on side with plans to stop the deforestation and to start huge reforestation programs, but no—the environmentalists sneer at such programs and are prepared to consider nothing but the total upheaval of economies that will come when it happens that ‘electricity prices will soar’, as Obama assured Americans re an emissions trading scheme….and when he also said that his administration’s regulations would bankrupt any new coal-fired power stations that anyone dared to build.
    And why is it that those who are telling all the rest of us that we have to curb our profligate ways , have no problems at all with the hypocrisy of some of the AGW preachers.
    Most conservatively-minded people who question AGW consensus are, in my experience , much less self-indulgent, immoderate and wasteful than the passionate , admonishing AGW believers.
    You speak of the natural cycle, but to hear and read the AGW consensus side , you’d think carbon and CO2 were not part of the natural cycle—but something to be eradicated—-pollution , as the new groupspeak has it in my country and yours.
    Our projected Emissions Trading Scheme morphed [ by government edict] into a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme—-just to embed the notion of the evils of carbon.
    Lately your government is also carefully inserting the word ‘pollution’ in any mention of its plans.
    I hope Gavin notices your statement of absolute certainty.

  24. 474
    Mark says:

    Truth’s truth: “I’m right and if there isn’t any scientific journal proving me right, then this must be a conspiracy to hide the truth!!!”

    At some point, why bother, eh?

  25. 475
    duBois says:

    I read the paper referenced in 460.

    What a gloomy prospect it outlines. It isn’t the projected temps that’s so depressing so much as the calculated increase in the Earth’s energy budget due to the increase in GHGs. Air temps depend upon lots of factors, but the actual energy doesn’t go away. And the number is enormous: we are going to get hammered.

    The only scenario that could save us from that would be a series of unambiguous weather catastrophes that would leave the deniers looking not simply wrong but feckless and culpable. Unfortunately, the most likely scenario would be the frog-in-the-pot one of tiny increments until checkmate.

  26. 476

    #473 truth

    Wow, that’s quite a rant you’ve got there, maybe you should see a doctor ;)

    The questions you asked were not about the science and were/are perspectives based on opinion. Such opinions have little to do with the established scientific method that has developed throughout centuries/millenia, or the resultant scientific understanding that arises from such method. Someone’s opinion about ‘post-normal science’ has little/no relevance to the science itself, it’s just an opinion.

    as to your question

    how can we believe this consensus is based on a firm science foundation, and not on social science and a political agenda?

    Easy, learn more about the science. If you want to see which arguments rely on, or are related to political agenda, look at the history of Fred Singer and Lindzen etc. Many are of course promoting points on a social political basis though, many are promoting contextually relevant science. You need to get to know the basics, and it will become more clear what is relevant science and what is politically motivated. But it does not look like you are looking at the fundamentals of the science.

    Why would we, or anyone, opt for old reactors, thorium reactors are cheaper to build, maintain, and have less expenses in waste handling?

    Regarding the list of points you present in your post, this is information you got somewhere? This the ‘bludgeoning with irrelevance technique’ imo discussed in

    Advice for a young climate blogger
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/03/advice-for-a-young-climate-blogger/langswitch_lang/in#comment-114900

    But if the information/questions are out of context, what is the relevance?

    You bring up many silly (out of context) arguments. I don’t know any scientist (or person for that matter) that has recommended cutting down all the forests to put up windmills.

    The scientists examining climate consider all relevant information. When they do a climate study, they don’t usually do it from a social study perspective, though I’m sure social scientists are examining that. Climate scientists tend to study climate related things like thermal input and radiation, albedo, thermal inertia, GHG forcing, things like that.

    You don’t seem to understand these contexts as indicated in your post. If it helps, try to remember that social scientists study social stuff; climate scientists study climate stuff.

    You also say

    “There’s not much imperative to do anything about those issues”

    meaning population issues,

    This just shows you are completely unaware of the hundreds of organizations around the world that deal with these issues. try http://www.un.org and look around. Just because you don’t know about something(s) does not mean that those things don’t exist.

    You say environmentalists sneer a ideas like forestation. I know some environmentalists and have never heard that notion. Maybe you misunderstood the context?

    Most conservatives I know are willing to stand by their words, but you don’t even post your name? What are you worried about? Are you concerned that you might lose your job if your name shows up on RealClimate or are you concerned maybe you will become known for your words and are concerned with possible blowback? If you are going to say such things, at least have the courage, integrity and honor to stand up and use your real name. I understand if your livelihood or personal safety depends on your anonymity, but otherwise, I find it distressful that you would claim so much but be so weak as to hide your identity. If you are worried about losing your handle, just post your name as ‘truth first last’.

    I am a conservative, in general, and honor and integrity is important to me, that is why I post my name and stand by my words. Will you?

    No good scientists would ever claim that CO2 is not part of the natural cycle

    If you want to understand how silly such an argument is read this

    http://www.uscentrist.org/about/issues/environment/john_coleman/the-amazing-story-behind-the-global-warming-scam

    Pay special attention to the definition of pollution

    By the way, at the end of your post you mention something about absolute certainty, what statement of absolute certainty? I would like to see the context to respond accordingly.

  27. 477

    #473 truth

    btw, when I said “If you want to understand how silly such an argument is read this”, that is because Mr. Coleman’s argument contains many of the same type of logical fallacies, incorrect statements, and out of context remarks, as you have presented, as well as having a link to the definition of pollutant. This was a rebuttal to his article posted on his KUSI site January, 2009. He literally stands on his beliefs via a plethora of incorrect and/or out of context statements but one, imo, which I point out.

    To specifically address the CO2 is not/is a pollutant argument:

    http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/globalghg.html

    Figure 2. shows the Global CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. Since it comes from industrial system growth and use, it is a pollutant.

    You just need to understand that CO2 generated from human industrial process is the CO2 that is being referred to as a pollutant, not the natural cycle CO2.

    It really is important to understand these details, otherwise your arguments will be out of context.

  28. 478

    Ray Ladbury wrote in 440:

    The ironically named “truth” says “…unless it’s that conservation alone on an individual basis will do it—but nothing we’ve seen or heard so far gives any confidence in that.”

    Wrong! First, we can certainly consume less. How much less was illustrated last year when avalanches cut off Juneau, AK from its normal cheap hydroelectric power.

    This was interesting, particularly given the “difficulties” countries in Europe face when it comes reducing their emissions so I decided to look it up. Here are a couple of excerpts from two articles. The second mentions how the country of Brazil rapidly decreased energy consumption by 20 percent when faced with a similar crisis.
    *

    In all, the city, unreachable by road and with a population of 30,000, has managed to cut consumption by 30 per cent in less than a month, a margin some experts had thought impossible….

    It is a phenomenon that was seen before in Brazil, when a drought starved the power grid of hydro-electric power in 2001. On that occasion, consumers were ordered to cut their use of power by 20 per cent or face fines.

    It worked. “In two months, the whole country cut their demand by 20 per cent, and they never really returned to the same level of consumption after that,” said Alan Meier, of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.

    Alaska’s capital goes green after avalanche cuts power lines
    By David Usborne
    Saturday, 17 May 2008
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/alaskas-capital-goes-green-after-avalanche-cuts-power-lines-829931.html

    *

    JUNEAU, Alaska: Conservationists swoon at the possibility of it all. Here in Alaska, where melting arctic ice and eroding coastlines have made global warming an urgent threat, this little city has cut its electricity use by more than 30 percent in a matter of weeks, instantly establishing itself as a role model for how to go green, and fast.

    After avalanche, Alaskan city is quick to go green
    By William Yardley Published: May 14, 2008
    http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/05/14/america/14juneau.php?page=1

  29. 479
    Tim McDeottrm says:

    Timothy Chase: There is a much more compelling example in Japan’s response to the 1973 oil shock. MITI called in leading industrialists and mandated that they get energy efficient. Some energy intensive industries, aluminum smelting is the one I remember, were abandoned altogether. But in the following decade Japan’s energy consumption fell by a third, while their GDP doubled. I don’t have a link, but I did check this out once, and the numbers are right.

    This has not been seen as germane to the US, because we are dedicated to the Market. If you are persuaded that only the Market can do good, you tend to believe that collective action leads to perdition. We all have our blinders.

    The meme that getting efficient will return us all to pre-industrial squalor is demonstrably false. It is also counter-intuitive, that you get poor by ceasing to waste resources.

  30. 480

    To declare that two major areas of human thought and experience are “nutty” to you says more about you than it says about them.

    I don’t claim to speak for any ‘areas of human thought and experience’. I can only relate to you and others my thoughts and experiences, and witness and judge FOR MYSELF, the thoughts and experiences of others. That right there is the fundamental difference between my scientific beliefs, and your nutty religious beliefs.

    I’m not an atheist at all – I admit the existence of superior beings who certainly have the technology to witness, listen to, and/or read some of my thoughts and experiences, and judge them accordingly FOR THEMSELVES.

    But I don’t worship them. I simply acknowledge their existence based upon the evidence now at my disposal. As the body of evidence grows, I reserve the right to modify my beliefs. That’s another area of your obvious failings.
    I suspect you wouldn’t give up your beliefs even if Jesus himself appeared before you and exclaimed he was dead, and never existed. That might just be a clever hologram.

    And as per modern legal judgments, at least in the United States of America I have the right to comment, severely criticize and insult your beliefs, and then offend you.

    In the future I’ll be exercising that right to the limit.

    Captcha : recently however

  31. 481
    SecularAnimist says:

    Thomas Lee Elifritz: “I have the right to comment, severely criticize and insult your beliefs, and then offend you.”

    I suppose you have the “right” to post whatever the moderators of this site will let you get away with.

    I would note, though, that people who post comments on blogs, newsgroups and other such places with the deliberate intent of “offending” others are commonly referred to as “trolls”, and often find themselves unwelcome in polite company.

  32. 482

    unwelcome in polite company.

    I don’t necessarily consider a primate species which willingly causes a global mass extinction through blatant overpopulation of a wonderful planet, supported by the mass combustion of carbon fuels, to be ‘polite company’.

    That they justify these actions with nutty religious reasons makes my meek verbal protests even more piquant.

  33. 483
    David B. Benson says:

    What SecularAnimist wrote in comment #481.

    Moderators — Do we have to have this spat here?

  34. 484
    Hank Roberts says:

    http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/world_avoided_prt.htm

    … the team simulated “what might have been” if chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and similar chemicals were not banned through the treaty known as the Montreal Protocol. The simulation used a comprehensive model that included atmospheric chemical effects, wind changes, and radiation changes. The analysis has been published online in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.
    … “We are at the point where we have to ask: Were we right about ozone? Did the Montreal Protocol work? What kind of world was avoided by phasing out ozone-depleting substances?

    (And maybe the petty bickering could be put into context by considering the story and the answer to the question, eh?)

  35. 485

    TLE writes:

    I have the right to comment, severely criticize and insult your beliefs, and then offend you.

    In the future I’ll be exercising that right to the limit.

    You certainly have the right to free speech, but your speech is also open to question, comment, and refutation. For example, I maintain that your comments (not you) are:

    1) bigoted, because they characterize vast groups of people as being less intelligent than you, something for which there is surely no good evidence,

    2) foolish (i.e., counterproductive), as they alienate potential allies, and

    3) ignorant, since they demonstrate a complete lack of study of the fields (theology and philosophy) under discussion.

    What you are pushing is not science, but scientism — the attempt to make science into a total worldview a la Richard Dawkins or the much more humble Isaac Asimov. It was never designed for that. Science is simply and solely a way to investigate how nature works. It’s not a moral guide and it says nothing about the supernatural whatsoever, either pro or con.

  36. 486

    Science is simply and solely a way to investigate how nature works.

    Says who? You?

    I’m not posting here for you religious nuts, sometimes I post only because I know the moderator will have to read this. There is a big difference between religious nuts like you and scientific nuts like me, and I know this drives you religious nuts nuts. I actively invite you to criticize, insult, demean and overthrow my beliefs, and I am confident that one day someone will indeed will overthrow them and replace them with an entirely new sets of beliefs. I am also confident that person who does that won’t be you.

  37. 487

    It (science) was never designed for that.

    So you believe science was designed and didn’t evolve.

    Sigh. I am not surprised.

    Captcha : complex analysis

  38. 488
    Hank Roberts says:

    Barton, please, use teh Google.

  39. 489
    SecularAnimist says:

    Thomas Lee Elifritz wrote: “I actively invite you to criticize, insult, demean and overthrow my beliefs …”

    With all due respect, Mr. Elifritz, what you do is go around to various websites and try to pick fights with religious believers by posting deliberately belligerent, insulting and inflammatory comments. That’s called “trolling”. It may be an enjoyable exercise in self-righteous indignation for you, but it contributes nothing of value to a discussion of anthropogenic global warming and its impacts.

  40. 490

    a discussion of anthropogenic global warming and its impacts.

    Tell me what is there to discuss? I’m rather more concerned about what the primitive human like primates are doing with the energy the are converting, for instance, causing a global mass extinction through widespread destruction of habitat, creating a massive pollution problem wholly separate and much worse than the relatively simple carbon dioxide problem, and totally ignoring the potential for highly disruptive cosmic impacts which could happen at any time. I haven’t even mentioned the near Earth space pollution problem.

    I have my priorities fairly straight, and global warming is way down on the list, well below total financial ruin, religious wars and widespread enabling of nutty beliefs.

    My so called ‘trolling’ isn’t even on the radar, that’s how out of scale with reality your nutty beliefs are.

    You may now return to polite discussion of the weather.

  41. 491
    Hank Roberts says:

    What say we rule out salvation by deux ex machina of any sort?

    Expect no intervention from higher powers — we have to work it out.

    Forget hidden intervenors of all sorts, regardless of what any individual believes may happen, and talk about climate as our problem?

  42. 492
    David B. Benson says:

    Gavin — I call shennanigans!

  43. 493
    SecularAnimist says:

    Hank Roberts: “Expect no intervention from higher powers — we have to work it out.”

    Dang. I was really counting on the Grays to finally land a saucer on the White House lawn and give us zero-point energy generators.

  44. 494
  45. 495

    TLE writes:

    I have my priorities fairly straight, and global warming is way down on the list, well below total financial ruin, religious wars and widespread enabling of nutty beliefs.

    Then what are you doing on a blog created mainly to discuss the scientific side of global warming?

    Let me guess: Hijacking a completely unrelated thread in order to push your own nutty beliefs?

    It’s not your bridge, and we religious billy goats can go trip-trapping upon it whenever we like. Deal with it.

  46. 496

    The Post has today finally printed a Chris Mooney op-ed that points out the many problems in Will’s original column.

    (Suggestion: Don’t read the comments on the piece. It will just make you crazy.)

  47. 497
    Hank Roberts says:

    Please stop. Whichever you believe in, deity or UFO, there are other places to talk about beliefs that don’t affect climatology. Please.


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