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Friday round-up

Filed under: — group @ 25 March 2011

Last week, Nature published another strong statement addressing the political/economic attack on climate science in an editorial titled “Into Ignorance“. It specifically criticized the right wing element of the U.S. Congress that is attempting to initiate legislation that would strip the US EPA of its powers to regulate greenhouse gases as pollutants. In so doing, it cited as an example the charade of a hearing conducted recently, including the Republicans’ disrespectful and ignorant attitude toward the science and scientists. Among many low points, this may have reached its nadir when a House member from Nebraska asked, smirkingly and out of the blue, whether nitrogen should be banned–presumably to make the point that atmospheric gases are all either harmless or outright beneficial, and hence, should not be regulated. Aside from the obvious difference that humans are not altering the nitrogen concentration of the atmosphere, as they are with (several) greenhouse gases, such a question boggles the mind in terms of the mindset that must exist to ask it in a public congressional hearing in the first place. But rarely are the ignorant and ideological bashful about showing it, regardless of who might be listening. In fact an increasing number seem to take it as a badge of honor.

There have been even more strongly worded editorials in the scientific literature recently as well. Trevors and Saier (2011)*, in a journal with a strong tradition of stating exactly where it stands with respect to public policy decisions and their effect on the environment, pull no punches in a recent editorial, describing the numerous societal problems caused when those with the limited perspective and biases born of a narrow economic outlook on the world, get control. These include the losses of critical thinking skills, social/community ethics, and the subsequent wise decision making and planning skills that lead a society to long-term health and stability.

Meanwhile, scientific bodies charged with understanding how the world actually works–instead of how they would imagine and proclaim it to–continue to issue official statements endorsing the consensus view that humans are strongly warming the planet in recent decades, primarily by greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. Three years ago, we wondered whether geologists in general have a different view on climate change to the climate research community. A recent statement from the U.K. Geological Society, however, suggests that our impressions perhaps were not well-founded.

Notwithstanding these choices of ignorance, many other organizations continue apace with many worthwhile and diverse goals of how to deal with the problem. Here are a few links that we have run across in the last week or two that may be of interest to those interested in sustainability and adaptation. Please note the imminent deadlines on some of these.

The Center for Sustainable Development’s online courses related to community-level adaptation to climate change:

The CDKN International Research Call on Climate Compatible Development:

The Climate Frontlines call for abstracts for a July conference in Mexico City on the theme “Indigenous Peoples, Marginalized Populations and Climate Change” [Apologies: the official deadline for abstracts has apparently passed; view this is a conference announcement]

George Mason University’s call for votes on the Climate Change Communicator of the Year

*Trevors, J.T & Saier Jr., M.H. 2011. A vaccine against ignorance? Water, Air and Soil Pollution, DOI 10.1007/s11270-011-0773-1.


200 Responses to “Friday round-up”

  1. 1
    John Mashey says:

    Regarding geologists, about a year ago, The Geological Society of America issued a new position statement, which was certainly fine. Of course, that might have had something to do with the panel that put it together, whose members generally had 100+ publications apiece. People might not recognize Donald Paul, he used to be CTO at Chevron (and at least from one talk he gave, pretty sensible.)

  2. 2
    Ron Manley says:

    I’m surprised that you cite approvingly the Editorial by Trevors and Saier. They say: “…the capitalistic systems of economy follow the one principal rule: the rule of profit making. All else must bow down to this rule… The current USA is an example of a failed capitalistic state in which essential long-term goals such as prevention of climate change and limitation of human population growth are subjugated to the short-term profit motive and the principle of economic growth.”

    In a world where the governments of most major economies are right-of-centre pro-capitalist ignoring the science behind climate change and presenting a strongly worded anti-capitalist diatribe will not advance understanding of the issues.

    [Response: I agree - that part of their argument is not strong. - gavin]

  3. 3
    CM says:

    Congrats to the nominees for the Climate Change Communicator of the Year award. There’s a glaring omission in the list, though…

  4. 4

    Thanks for the v. useful round-up. I went and looked at the Geological Society statement. It ends with this delicious understatement – “In the light of the evidence presented here it is reasonable to conclude that emitting further large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere over time is likely to be unwise, uncomfortable though that fact may be.”

  5. 5
    Edward Greisch says:

    On 6 June I am going to call my Illinois State Board of Elections [1-217-782-4141] [http://www.elections.state.il.us/] and get the information on getting on the ballot for the primary election to get into the US Congress. I suggest that RC leaders should run for the US Senate. It is the next logical step.

  6. 6

    Thanks for a plain-spoken statement on these “choices of ignorance.”

    (Speaking of that phrase, though, the transitional sentence it begins would (IMO) be better off without it, as it’s confusing following directly upon the link to the very thoughtful statement of the UK Geological Society. I read that twice, thinking “Surely they’re not criticizing the UKGS!” And thanks specifically for linking to that useful summary; I’m going to download the PDF and bookmark the URL.)

    It is chilling to see the degree of foolishness and ignorance on exhibit from an assemblage I’ll just call ‘some honorable members’–following the long Parliamentary tradition of avoiding gratuitous insult, no matter how well-founded and richly deserved it may be.

  7. 7
    S. Majumder says:

    give me sumshine, give me some rain … give me another chance, I want to grow up once again ….

  8. 8
    caerbannog says:

    The idiocy truly runs rampant amongst certain ideological groups in the USA, from top to bottom.

    Representing the bottom end, here is a particularly inane comment that was posted to my hometown newspaper’s “climate-change” on-line forum (linky http://forums.signonsandiego.com/showpost.php?p=4340635&postcount=8):


    Do you know what the allowable ppm of CO2 is for submarines?

    Now the only question is, which USA Senator or Representative will be the first to pick up this ball and run with it?

  9. 9
    cwon1 says:

    You know you are on the losing side when you are reduced to an ad hominem method of calling those who dissent from your views “ignorant”. The ancient tactic of depicting yourselves as “science” and “experts” is nothing new in political agendas. It’s just not enough to win.

    [Response: Unfortunately your point is kind of undermined by the fact that you appear to ignorant of what the term 'ad hominem' means. ;-) - gavin]

  10. 10
    cwon1 says:

    On the contrary;

    1. appealing to one’s prejudices, emotions, or special interests rather than to one’s intellect or reason.
    2. attacking an opponent’s character rather than answering his argument.

    The base of people who disagree with you are “ignorant”, that isn’t the message that is nothing new and a constant theme of agw supporters??

    [Response: When someone makes an ignorant statement - let's take a real example, John Boehner's claim that climate scientists think that CO2 is a problem because it is carcinogenic - it is not 'ad hom' to point out that this is wrong, and that he appears to be ignorant of the whole basis for concern. His consequent argument that nothing should be done about CO2 emissions thus arises from a false premise, and so can rightly be dismissed. You go much too far however, if you argue that because some arguments against CO2 emissions are based on ignorance, everyone who argues against CO2 emissions cuts is ignorant. This might be true, or not, but it doesn't follow logically. I have certainly never claimed that everyone who disagrees with me on some topic is ignorant about that topic, and you would be hard pressed to find any evidence that this is what I think. There is however profound ignorance among people who argue about this in the public sphere - confusing climate change via CO2 with the ozone hole, misunderstanding the nature of attribution, whether CO2 is even a greenhouse gas, what a greenhouse gas is, etc. But the most important issue, and one which further undermines your point, is that ignorance is curable, it is not inevitable, and it certainly isn't an insult. Everyone, including you and I, is ignorant about many things - I (like you I hope) aim to reduce that ignorance bit by bit. It would be nice if more people aimed to as well. - gavin]

  11. 11
    Hot Rod says:

    I’m also, like Ron Manley #2, extremely surprised that you cite the T&S editorial.

    “Humanity certainly needs to be immunized with a vaccine for ignorance, and we propose that that vaccine is education. But education would have to be coupled to restrictions on people, agencies, and corporations determined to follow the profit motive, and in so doing, undermine the intelligence of the populace. Just imagine the outcome: ignorance would fade into the background, and discrimination, racism, intolerance, terrorism, crime, and fraud would be countered by the larger more rational segments of the human population.”

    “However, this goal can only be achieved when the inferior ideas and thoughts in ignorant human minds are eliminated from the equation and replaced with superior ideas resulting from a sound education.”

    Pretty terrifying stuff. Will I be held down while my “inferior ideas and thoughts” are eliminated and replaced with “superior” ones?

    Inferior thoughts? Seriously?

    If a nation disagrees, and continues to follow ‘the greedy interests of profiteers’, will they become an “inferior” nation, in need of re-education?

    [Response: Didn't say we agreed with all of it--and that section IMO should have been worded much better--they do go over the top in places. But they make some good points as well.--Jim]

  12. 12

    ‘You know you are on the losing side when you are reduced to an ad hominem method of calling those who dissent from your views “ignorant”.’

    And a former ‘skeptical’ habitue of this site, writing this morning on another forum, challenged me to show him “the source” for the claim that climate models and theory in general both show that greenhouse style warming should be asymmetrical between hemisphere. (The execrable Joseph D’Aleo had presented this as a reason that greenhouse theory ‘must’ be wrong, since a CO2 molecule can’t ‘know’ where it is located.) I gave him 3 sources–of many, many such, from Arrhenius to Hansen 1988 to the TAR (see, for example, p. 719.)

    Was he ignorant? Or “willfully ignorant?”

    Or just a bald-faced liar?

    It’s hard to know, for sure–based upon past history, he won’t even acknowledge the existence of these sources, which seems like willful ignorance–but perhaps he reads them, understands them, then chooses to ignore their existence as “inconvenient.” By my lights, that would make him a liar.

    But *none* of the choices are an ad hominem, since they all proceed from his own words, not a pre-existing assessment of his character and/or knowledge.

  13. 13
    Hot Rod says:

    Jim – comment on my comment #11 – my take, having now read it seven times, is that the bad points outweigh the good ones by a margin.

    The echos it gives off in different places – re-education, inferior, ignorant humans, superior ideas (theirs, no doubt) – and at another point I found myself humming ‘Imagine’ ironically – lose it any underlying meaning.

    The ‘anti-capitalist diatribe’ as commenter #2 described it, is schoolboy 1.01 – I wrote nonsense like that in the seventies at High School.

  14. 14
    seamus says:

    Willful ignorance is not ignorance of the diagnosis so much as rejection of the pre_scription (spam word? argh). In the denialist mindset, the imperative to reduce carbon dioxide emissions means an attack on their lifestyle. And yep, that’s what we hear from the environmentalist side: cutting, conserving, carbon tax, etc, so there is natural resistance from the other side, who fear higher energy costs and draconian regulations.

    So this is an energy issue. But for those who fear their cheap energy will be taken away, it’s all too easy to lump climate science in with the political \greens\ and loath everything equally. Fear isn’t conducive to accepting reality or carefully choosing a target of displeasure.

    If the cure for cutting carbon includes abundant, cheap energy, a lot of ears on the \rejection of science\ side will suddenly perk up. We can more or less bypass the issue of AGW if, well, the greens start embracing a comprehensive, realistic energy policy that includes nuclear as well as renewables.

    If energy is abundant and cheap, that will diminish the effectiveness of the argument that regulations are too costly, and environmental regulations can be broad and strict, and strictly enforced.

  15. 15
    SecularAnimist says:

    Ron Manley wrote: “… anti-capitalist diatribe …”

    It is beyond dispute that the generation-long, organized campaign of global warming denial, deceit, delay and obstruction in the USA was created, and continues to be funded and guided, by fossil fuel corporations driven by a “short-term profit motive” — namely, the one billion dollars PER DAY in profit that those corporations are raking in from business-as-usual consumption of their products.

    That the fossil fuel corporations in particular have promoted denial is not in itself is not an indictment of “capitalism” as a system — obviously the “capitalist” system includes for-profit businesses who not only acknowledge the problem of AGW but seek to profit from providing solutions (e.g. manufacturers of wind and solar technology) and/or seek to protect themselves from AGW-driven losses (e.g. insurance companies).

    However, it does raise some fundamental questions about the power of extreme wealth in the US economic system which allows it to subvert important public discourse in such a way.

  16. 16

    14, SecularAnimist,

    However, it does raise some fundamental questions about the power of extreme wealth in the US economic system which allows it to subvert important public discourse in such a way.

    I don’t blame it on the system, but rather on a temporary cultural weakness in today’s American society. I also expect a backlash to eventually arise, much like the political activism of the sixties and seventies.

    For now, I feel like my own generation burnt out and sold out on ideals, so that certain qualities like duty, honor, and service simply aren’t on anyone’s radar (as opposed to a firm belief in every man for himself, nice guys finish last, and self-service first). The idea that maybe people need to individually sacrifice something for the future, or for the country or perhaps the world as a whole, is completely alien to everyone.

    Extreme wealth hasn’t purchased this fortunate and pliable position. We grew into it all on our own.

    As much as modern conservatives like to throw around the word “values,” it has no real meaning, or depth to it, beyond the idea of trying to make other people change their lifestyles to suit a comic book preconception of how an idealized suburban life should be lived.

    I blame this in part on eliminating the draft (as much as I never wanted to surrender years of my youth, or expose myself to personal risk, for such an enterprise). The whole idea of serving one’s country in some capacity has been completely lost to current generations. Profit is the only apparent motive for doing anything in contemporary U.S. society.

    But as I said, I don’t expect it to stay this way, and maybe climate change will be the issue that tips the scale. When the day comes that people can no longer deny what’s happening, and people realize just how deep of an unnecessary hole has been dug because society lost that balance between individuality and community, then the pendulum will swing back.

    In fact, the sheer vocal stupidity and extremism of the current collection of conservative congressmen, senators and pundits may well be what we need to help push the pendulum too far in the wrong direction, so that that back swing comes that much sooner, and more powerfully… maybe in time to save ourselves from becoming the capitalist grasshopper in a world that will soon be survivable only for society conscious ants.

  17. 17
    Edward Greisch says:

    14 seamus: “So this is an energy issue.” No, it really isn’t. It is a “Who gets to be rich” issue. See 15 SecularAnimist. If the fossil fuel companies win, everybody looses. We can get the energy we need without fossil fuels.

    RC group and “Nature” exactly correct, including all of the words that have been objected to. There is only one truth, and it is the truth of science. Wrong answers have consequences that are bigger than train wrecks. It is long past the time for mincing words. It is time to tell it like it is, no matter who thinks it is impolite. Our very survival as a species depends on taking the correct actions.

  18. 18
    Septic Matthew says:

    pull no punches in a recent editorial, describing the numerous societal problems caused when those with the limited perspective and biases born of a narrow economic outlook on the world, get control. These include the losses of critical thinking skills, social/community ethics, and the subsequent wise decision making and planning skills that lead a society to long-term health and stability.

    I am pretty sure that won’t work. Your general sanctimony and self-righteousness merely make you more vulnerable to the sniping of the skeptical bloggers. This is especially true if your pay comes from the taxes collected from taxpayers by the police power of the state.

    I have said this before, and I’ll try one more time: you can’t defeat the hog by wrestling it in the mud; you’ll just get dirty and exhausted, the hog loves it and weighs 400 lbs with short legs and really strong muscles. He’ll always win. Unless it’s a she, in which case she’ll always win.

    [Response: You seem pretty confused about just what group of people it is that wants to mud wrestle and on what the difference between self-righteousness and knowledge is.–Jim

  19. 19

    #14–Seamus, that hasn’t been my experience.

    To take just the most extreme example, Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” prescribed a very sugar-coated set of remedies indeed. Yet that made no difference to the ferocious attack on the film, Mr. Gore, and on climate science in general.

    The reason, I believe, is simply what Edward Greisch says: it’s really about who gets to be (or stay) rich. At bottom, the denial industry is a spectacularly successful Astroturf operation driven by two things (IMO.) First is vested interest–Exxon, the Koch brothers and the like have been funding and directing a massive PR effort in order to protect their business interests–as much from competition by renewables as from regulation! Second is politics–climate change has emerged as an issue which can reliably energize a certain portion of the Republican base, and which has thus become a reliable source of political capital and/or cash income for certain “merchants of doubt.”

    These guys, quite frankly, don’t give a damn about what we say. (Rhett Butler reference semi-intentional.) Our words must be directed toward the middle–in fact if not always in appearance.

  20. 20
    seamus says:

    I guess I wasn’t clear; my bad, I’ll try again. It’s time to move past the “debate” about whether AGW is real or not. We know it’s real, the denialist knows it’s real too, but doesn’t care. He’ll baldly call the science false because he fears the (imagined or not) consequences. He only cares about cheap, abundant energy. Provide that, and he’ll let go of the AGW debate.

  21. 21
    Edward Greisch says:

    18 Septic Matthew: We understand what you are saying. Being nice hasn’t worked. The situation is getting desperate. We have to try something new. What?

  22. 22
    EOttawa says:

    20 seamus: Cheap relative to what?

    Fossil fuels (and nuclear) appear to be cheap because their market price do not include all of the externalities such as health and environmental costs. Those industries have also been receiving tax breaks and other subsidies for decades.

  23. 23
    Lynn Vincentnatnathan says:

    The so-called “conservatives” of CC-denialist fame have nothing to do with economics (except who’s padded their wallets).

    Excerpts from an email I just got:

    We are very pleased to announce three exciting events happening at Bard College starting next week…

    ————————
    Come learn about “Climate Capitalism” (see: http://natcapsolutions.org/ ), the new book by Hunter Lovins and Boyd Cohen, which shows how innovators, entrepreneurs, and companies are proving that sustainability is profitable. Hunter Lovins is President and founder of the Natural Capitalism Solutions , an organization whose mission is to educate senior decision-makers in business, government and civil society about the principles of sustainability.

    GASLAND: This documentary film covers the controversial issues involved with natural gas drilling in the United States, and the Halliburton-developed drilling technology called “fracking,” or hydraulic fracturing that is currently under intense political debate in New York and elsewhere. See trailer at http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/trailer

    CARBON NATION: …an optimistic, solutions-based, post-partison documentary about climate change that offers solutions to a low-carbon economy, increased national and energy security, better health, and a cleaner environment. Even if you doubt the severity of the impact of climate change, or just don’t buy it at all, this is still a compelling and relevant film. see http://www.carbonnationmovie.com/home

    Those really into $$ green $$ would be going green.

  24. 24
    Harold Pierce Jr says:

    According to the EPA, CO2 is a pollutant that is harmful to humans. If this is true, then why are we permitted to drink hundreds of billions (and billions and billions!) of liters of carbonated beverages?

    I don’t recall any human being harmed by the CO2 pollutant in soda pop and club soda, beer, sparkling wines and in Scotch and soda. Or the residual CO2 in freshly-baked bread. Or the CO2 spewing out of the barbie!

  25. 25
    Septic Matthew says:

    18, Jim in comment: You seem pretty confused about just what group of people it is that wants to mud wrestle and on what the difference between self-righteousness and knowledge is.–Jim

    On that you and I disagree. Both sides want to mud wrestle (read the introduction to this thread), but for one side it is definitely a losing strategy.

    [Response: Well er, actually, no, they don't, and if you were a scientist yourself, instead of a self-appointed critic, you might realize that. Scientists, by and large, want to do their science, and they are tired of being attacked for doing their best at it, by clowns who don't know what they're talking about. Kapish? Sort of like the schoolyard bully who pushes and pushes and then when finally gets pushed back, claims the other is trying to pick a fight. As for reading the intro, thanks, but I wrote it so I think I'm good on that score.--Jim]

    21, Edward Greisch: We have to try something new. What?

    I always recommend the same thing: stick to the science and avoid attributions of corruption, attributions of motive, calling your opponents tools of the corporations, and so on. You have lost the last few rounds because you have gotten away from your strengths and fundamentals. So prepare for a long struggle and focus on your strengths and fundamentals.

    Another winning strategy might be based on something that Brian Dodge wrote a few days ago. Instead of telling your opponents that they are all wrong, ignorant, stupid and corrupt, ask them to comment on each others’ beliefs and elaborate upon them.

    [Response: No need to ask, they already do that in spades at various sites on the internet]

    It is widely reported and I think widely believed that, in Congressional testimony, a highly respected scientist predicted 1C of global warming in the 1990s and an additional 2C-4C of global warming in the 2000s. If true, that person might refrain from calling other people unscientific. No need to dig the hole deeper — at least a humble electrician can fix the electrical wiring in your house, but a mistake of the magnitude I cited (if in fact it occurred, which I have not independently checked yet)

    [Response: So let me get this straight--you are accusing an un-named scientist of wrong statements re global warming during Congressional testimony but you yourself have not checked to see whether what you are saying here in public is in fact correct or not, and then are further stating that this un-named person should not speak any more on the topic. Do I have that right?--Jim]

    really undermines confidence in subsequent warnings from the same scientist, and makes the electrician look like a genius by comparison. It would probably help your cause if John Holdren and Paul Ehrlich would remain silent.

    Lastly, follow the money: lots of people who believe in global warming depend on stipends from governments (this excludes Al gore but includes GE and Siemens), money that is taken by force from the earnings of non-government employees. A lot of voters who are net payers of taxes really do not like being lectured and hectored by people who are net recipients of taxes. I have worked with people who feel morally superior to taxpayers precisely because the taxpayers sell a product or service that customers actually want to purchase, instead of a service that depends on the police power of the state. That is arrogant and unseemly.

    [Response: When all else fails, trot out the old "you scientists are all arrogant siphons of the taxpayers, in it for the money" argument. It's always interesting how it doesn't take too long before those of you with disdain for the government show what motivates you on these issues. You don't have the first idea of who gets what from "the government". But I'm sure you can probably fill me in on what I get and what motivates me in what I do--after all, you're the man in the know on all of this.--Jim ]

  26. 26
    Ray Ladbury says:

    So, Harold, you barbecue on a closed room often, do you?

  27. 27

    #25–You’re trolling, Harold; but the answer, of course, is that pollutants need not be toxic in all amounts or all locations.

    For another example, phosphorus is natural, and in fact is an essential nutrient for human physiology. Yet it, too, can be a pollutant, and is currently causing serious problems in the waters of the lower Great Lakes once again.

  28. 28
    adelady says:

    Bob@16 “qualities like duty, honor, and service”

    There’s always been a bit of suspicion surrounding such notions unless they’re imposed on individuals, as in families, military service, Welsh Methodist church communities. I can remember being accused of doing certain things to help other people to ‘get the rewards’ of the glow of personal satisfaction when I thought it was my duty, because of the circumstances, to do those things. I also believed that my work as a public servant was both honorable and valuable. This is not a popular view. Not even among public servants – those I worked with were scathing about other public servants whose functions they’d never performed themselves.

    We see it all the time in Oz in universal accusations of greed, dishonesty and laziness against public servants and politicians. I doubt many of these people are saints. I also doubt the accusations are true. Most politicians work extremely hard. Most public servants are conscientious.

    Some among these groups may be mistaken or misguided, but it’s up to citizens to vote politicians out to get rid of silly notions and vote in favour of others with reasonable, practical proposals. They will thereby change some functions of public services they disagree with (though I doubt the status of public servants and teachers and the like will rise in the popular mind any time soon.)

  29. 29
    adelady says:

    Seamus “He only cares about cheap, abundant energy.”

    Perhaps he should look up …. at that nuclear reactor in the sky.

    Now that’s what I call cheap and abundant.

  30. 30
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Ah, I see cwon1 is carrying on the long tradition of libertarians not understanding what an ad hominem fallacy is. Allow me to demonstrate:

    “Cwon1, you are an idiot,” is NOT an ad hominem.

    “Cwon1 is an idiot, so you shouldn’t pay attention to anything he says,” IS an ad hominem fallacy.

    It is a fallacy because WHERE informations or arguments come from is irrelevant to their validity. I don’t care if you barbecue babies on the weekend. If you raise a valid point, it needs to be addressed on its merits. Of course, I won’t be holding my breath while we wait for Cwon1 to raise a valid point.

  31. 31
    John E. Pearson says:

    Harold Pierce,

    I offer you the following wager. You spend 1 day breathing an atmosphere that contains 80% CO2 and 20% O2. If you survive I’ll give you my house. If you don’t survive you give me $300K. (Details of the transfer of your money to me will of course need to be worked out in advance.)

  32. 32
    Radge Havers says:

    CO2 pollution @ 24

    Gee whiz, I wonder if it could be a matter of how much CO2, where, and when— not to mention that we’re talking about the harmful effects of polluting the climate not your stomach, hmmm?

    I just love how troll logic magically transforms a debate about reality into a rhetorical fantasy land centered on gluttony.

  33. 33
    Brian Dodge says:

    “We can more or less bypass the issue of AGW if, well, the greens start embracing a comprehensive, realistic energy policy that includes nuclear as well as renewables.”
    It might help if denialists like Ed Whitfield R-KY, member of the House House Energy and Commerce Committee, got on board, instead of bragging “In September of 2008 I was able to help usher through Congress a measure which limits the amount of Russian uranium that can be imported into the United States.” That not only raises the price of nuclear power, but makes it more likely that weapons grade Uranium falls into terrorist hands, in order to protect ~2000 jobs at the Paducah Gas Diffusion Plant. He is kinda between a rock and a hard place on this issue, though – more nukes means less coal, a 3.25 billion dollar Kentucky industry. Which is why he is a strong supporter of subsidies (“incentives”) for CCS, coal to liquids, coal gasification, coal to clean your house, wash your floor, babysit your kids, wipe your – well, I exaggerate. The nuke problems resulting from the tragedy in Japan are a huge disincentive as well.

  34. 34
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    “Pretty terrifying stuff. Will I be held down while my “inferior ideas and thoughts” are eliminated and replaced with “superior” ones?” – 11

    Are you so unwilling to learn that you feel it will be required?

  35. 35
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    “Lastly, follow the money: lots of people who believe in global warming depend on stipends from governments (this excludes Al gore but includes GE and Siemens), money that is taken by force from the earnings of non-government employees.” – 25

    Force? You paid your taxes willingly. And if you didn’t want to pay it is a simple matter for you to avoid paying them. Move to a different country where you aren’t taxed. Go float in a boat in international waters…

    The fact is, you paid your taxes willingly because you recognize that being a member of your chosen society provides you with greater benefits than the price of maintaining that society, which is in part the tax that you willingly pay.

    No force is involved. You benefit, you pay your dues. It is often called the social contract. A contract you can opt out of at any time.

    What is preventing you Randite Tards from leaving and realizing your full free market potential?

  36. 36
    Thomas says:

    @16 Spherica “Extreme wealth hasn’t purchased this fortunate and pliable position. We grew into it all on our own.”
    I strongly disagree with that statement. Not that we haven’t been
    weak on intellectual integrity as a people, and we haven’t demanded
    it of our public politicians and media either. But there has been a
    well funded long term effort to bend the rules, as well as to fund
    market fundamentalist propaganda. A lot of this happens by quietly
    changing rules and proceedures below the radar. We used to have a
    fairness doctrine. And the FCC could threaten to yank the licenses
    of broadcasters who egregiously lie. But all these protections of
    public intellectual integrity have succumed to a sustained attack by
    well funded (and very patient) institutions. So we’ve ended up with media
    that consider the impact of what they broadcast on their rich financial
    contributors above the quest for truth and fairness. The current
    intellectual climate is a direct and deliberate result of this sustained
    activity. Sure we (meaning the general public), have been lax in not
    recognizing the danger, and in caring more about the entertainment
    value than the informational value of news etc. But this hasn’t happened
    because of simple drift.

    @30 Ray:
    If a certain person repeatedly shows himself to be ignorant, or deliberately
    misleading, it is reasonable to step listening to him. Signal to noise
    ratio has already been shown to be small.

  37. 37
    Harold Pierce Jr says:

    John at 31

    You should be more careful making bets with this chemist. I would show up wearing a mask fitted with CO2-absorbing apparatus and a system for upping the pressure of residual the 02.

  38. 38
    Harold Pierce Jr says:

    Radge at 32

    I just love how troll logic magically transforms a debate about reality into a rhetorical fantasy land centered on gluttony.

    I think I start working on a letter to the ed of WSJ entitled: Scotch and Soda

    If this chemist troll can get the Wall Street crowd to come over to my side, Lisa J. is toast!

    BTW Being a good troll is hard work

  39. 39
    adelady says:

    Sorry Harold. You have to breathe the atmosphere.

    (Not your personally modified protection from it.)

  40. 40
    Brian Dodge says:

    cwon1 says: 25 Mar 2011 at 10:40 AM
    “2. attacking an opponent’s character rather than answering his argument.”

    All the following skeptic’s arguments have been answered. What has that got to do with their character? Skeptics may be ignorant of some (or most – cf. statements by Boehner, Inhofe, Palin, most of the Republicans members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce) of the rebuttals, but their ignorance is a fact; it’s not an attack on their character.

    1 “It’s the sun”
    2 “Climate’s changed before”
    3 “There is no consensus”
    4 “It’s cooling”
    5 “Models are unreliable”
    6 “Temp record is unreliable”
    7 “It’s not bad”
    8 “It hasn’t warmed since 1998″
    9 “Ice age predicted in the 70s”
    10 “Antarctica is gaining ice”
    11 “CO2 lags temperature”
    12 “We’re heading into an ice age”
    13 “Al Gore got it wrong”
    14 “1934 – hottest year on record”
    15 “It’s freaking cold!”
    16 “Hockey stick is broken”
    17 “It’s cosmic rays”
    18 “Hurricanes aren’t linked to global warming”
    19 “Climategate CRU emails suggest conspiracy”
    20 “Sea level rise is exaggerated”
    21 “Arctic icemelt is a natural cycle”
    22 “It’s Urban Heat Island effect”
    23 “Climate sensitivity is low”
    24 “Mars is warming”
    25 “It’s a 1500 year cycle”
    26 “Ocean acidification isn’t serious”
    27 “Human CO2 is a tiny % of CO2 emissions”
    28 “CO2 effect is weak”
    29 “Water vapor is the most powerful greenhouse gas”
    30 “Oceans are cooling”
    31 “Extreme weather isn’t caused by global warming”
    32 “Greenland was green”
    33 “Other planets are warming”
    34 “There’s no empirical evidence”
    35 “IPCC is alarmist”
    36 “Glaciers are growing”
    37 “It cooled mid-century”
    38 “We’re coming out of the Little Ice Age”
    39 “Polar bear numbers are increasing”
    40 “Animals and plants can adapt to global warming”
    41 “Greenland is gaining ice”
    42 “There’s no correlation between CO2 and temperature”
    43 “It warmed before 1940 when CO2 was low”
    44 “Satellites show no warming in the troposphere”
    45 “CO2 limits will harm the economy”
    46 “CO2 is not a pollutant”
    47 “Medieval Warm Period was warmer”
    48 “CO2 was higher in the past”
    49 “Mt. Kilimanjaro’s ice loss is due to land use”
    50 “There’s no tropospheric hot spot”
    51 “Arctic sea ice has recovered”
    52 “2009-2010 winter saw record cold spells”
    53 “Scientists can’t even predict weather”
    54 “2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory”
    55 “It’s the ocean”
    56 “CO2 effect is saturated”
    57 “It’s El Niño”
    58 “It’s Pacific Decadal Oscillation”
    59 “Neptune is warming”
    60 “Greenland ice sheet won’t collapse”
    61 “It’s not happening”
    62 “Volcanoes emit more CO2 than humans”
    63 “Jupiter is warming”
    64 “Sea level rise predictions are exaggerated”
    65 “Pluto is warming”
    66 “It’s a natural cycle”
    67 “CO2 measurements are suspect”
    68 “Solar Cycle Length proves its the sun”
    69 “CO2 has a short residence time”
    70 “IPCC were wrong about Himalayan glaciers”
    71 “It’s not us”
    72 “Scientists tried to ‘hide the decline’ in global temperature”
    73 “It’s aerosols”
    74 “Corals are resilient to bleaching”
    75 “500 scientists refute the consensus”
    76 “It’s microsite influences”
    77 “IPCC overestimate temperature rise”
    78 “Humans are too insignificant to affect global climate”
    79 “Greenhouse effect has been falsified”
    80 “The science isn’t settled”
    81 “Dropped stations introduce warming bias”
    82 “Lindzen and Choi find low climate sensitivity”
    83 “Phil Jones says no global warming since 1995″
    84 “Less than half of published scientists endorse global warming”
    85 “It’s a climate regime shift”
    86 “It’s land use”
    87 “Hansen’s 1988 prediction was wrong”
    88 “Record snowfall disproves global warming”
    89 “Peer review process was corrupted”
    90 “Humidity is falling”
    91 “It’s methane”
    92 “Global warming stopped in 1998, 1995, 2002, 2007, 2010, ????”
    93 “Freedom of Information (FOI) requests were ignored”
    94 “CO2 is not increasing”
    95 “They changed the name from global warming to climate change”
    96 “CO2 limits will make little difference”
    97 “Ice isn’t melting”
    98 “Earth hasn’t warmed as much as expected”
    99 “Springs aren’t advancing”
    100 “Over 31,000 scientists signed the OISM Petition Project”
    101 “Naomi Oreskes’ study on consensus was flawed”
    102 “CO2 is coming from the ocean”
    103 “It’s global brightening”
    104 “It’s albedo”
    105 “Trenberth can’t account for the lack of warming”
    106 “It’s too hard”
    107 “Ice Sheet losses are overestimated”
    108 “CO2 is not the only driver of climate”
    109 “Arctic sea ice loss is matched by Antarctic sea ice gain”
    110 “Solar cycles cause global warming”
    111 “IPCC were wrong about Amazon rainforests”
    112 “The IPCC consensus is phoney”
    113 “IPCC ‘disappeared’ the Medieval Warm Period”
    114 “Breathing contributes to CO2 buildup”
    115 “Tree-rings diverge from temperature after 1960″
    116 “A drop in volcanic activity caused warming”
    117 “Climate is chaotic and cannot be predicted”
    118 “Mauna Loa is a volcano”
    119 “It’s waste heat”
    120 “Renewables can’t provide baseload power”
    121 “The sun is getting hotter”
    122 “Clouds provide negative feedback”
    123 “It warmed just as fast in 1860-1880 and 1910-1940″
    124 “Record high snow cover was set in winter 2008/2009″
    125 “Water levels correlate with sunspots”
    126 “CO2 was higher in the late Ordovician”
    127 “CO2 emissions do not correlate with CO2 concentration”
    128 “Water vapor in the stratosphere stopped global warming”
    129 “Southern sea ice is increasing”
    130 “Warming causes CO2 rise”
    131 “An exponential increase in CO2 will result in a linear increase in temperature”
    132 “It’s ozone”
    133 “Scientists retracted claim that sea levels are rising”
    134 “Antarctica is too cold to lose ice”
    135 “DMI show cooling Arctic”
    136 “It’s CFCs”
    137 “Melting ice isn’t warming the Arctic”
    138 “Greenland has only lost a tiny fraction of its ice mass”
    139 “Satellite error inflated Great Lakes temperatures”
    140 “Positive feedback means runaway warming”
    141 “CRU tampered with temperature data”
    142 “It’s not urgent”
    143 “It’s satellite microwave transmissions”
    144 “Royal Society embraces skepticism”
    145 “It’s only a few degrees”
    146 “Skeptics were kept out of the IPCC?”
    147 “Soares finds lack of correlation between CO2 and temperature”
    148 “We didn’t have global warming during the Industrial Revolution”
    149 “CO2 only causes 35% of global warming”
    150 “We’re heading into cooling”
    151 “Hansen predicted the West Side Highway would be underwater”
    152 “Ljungqvist broke the hockey stick”

    Are there any other arguments you need answered?

    Re breathing CO2 – From http://wasg.iinet.net.au/Co2paper.html

    “0.03% Nothing happens as this is the normal carbon dioxide concentration in air.

    0.5% Lung ventilation increases by 5 percent. This is the maximum safe working level recommended for an 8 hour working day in industry (Australian Standard).

    1.0% Symptoms may begin to occur, such as feeling hot and clammy, lack of attention to details, fatigue, anxiety, clumsiness and loss of energy, which is commonly first noticed as a weakness in the knees (jelly legs).

    2.0% Lung ventilation increases by 50 percent, headache after several hours exposure. Accumulation of carbon dioxide in the body after prolonged breathing of air containing around 2% or greater will disturb body function by causing the tissue fluids to become too acidic. This will result in loss of energy and feeling run-down even after leaving the cave. It may take the person up to several days in a good environment for the body metabolism to return to normal.

    3.0% Lung ventilation increases by 100 percent, panting after exertion, Symptoms may include:- headaches, dizziness and possible vision disturbance such as speckled stars.

    5 – 10% Violent panting and fatigue to the point of exhaustion merely from respiration & severe headache. Prolonged exposure at 5% could result in irreversible effects to health. Prolonged exposure at > 6% could result in unconsciousness and death. (More O2 won’t help – 95% O2 and 5% CO2 is hazardous. I participated in some oxidative metabolism experiments done under medical supervision where volunteers breathed this mix for one minute; it’s extremely uncomfortable.- BD)

    10 – 15% Intolerable panting, severe headaches and rapid exhaustion. Exposure for a few minutes will result in unconsciousness and suffocation without warning.

    25% to 30% Extremely high concentrations will cause coma and convulsions within one minute of exposure. Certain Death.”

  41. 41
    john byatt says:

    # 31 there does not seem to be much research carried out in this area

    [PDF] Health effects of increase in concentration of carbon dioxide in …
    File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – Quick View
    by DS Robertson – 2006 – Cited by 7 – Related articles
    25 Jun 2006 … toxic level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere under lifetime exposure is 426 ppm (Figure 1)4. At the present rate of increase of carbon …
    http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/jun252006/1607.pdf

    [Response: Seems rather dubious to me - the data is obscure, the reasoning faulty, and any supporting evidence loose. I think the EPA or others in this case are likely to be far more credible.- gavin]

    .

  42. 42
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Thomas@36,
    Rejecting what a person says after they’ve had a long career of being an idiot may in fact be a rational strategy. It is, however a LOGICAL fallacy–the ad hominem fallacy. Credibility is another thing entirely from logic.

    Unfortunately, a lot of folks think any attack on a person’s creditility is also ad hominem. It isn’t. In fact, credibility of sources should for an important part of any debate. People who don’t understand this fall easy prey to anti-science idjits and anti-reality spin meisters.

    Frankly, I think it is a mistake that basic logic is no longer taught as part of a basic curriculum. It was one of the most important portions of the classical curriculum that ultimately led to the Renaissance. Its absence is leading us back to the Dark Ages.

  43. 43
    Harold Pierce Jr says:

    BD at 40

    RE: What the Russians say about Climate Cycles

    You should check out:

    “Cyclic Climate Changes and Fish Productivity” by K.B. Klashtorin and A.A. Lyubshin, which you can download for free thru this link:

    http://alexeylyubushin.narod.ru/Climate_Changes__and_Fish_Productivity.pdf?

    NB: This mongraph is 224 pages. This book is not about climate science. The Russian edition was published in 2005. The English translation was published in 2007 and was edited by Gary D Sharp.

    By analyzing a number of time series various phenomena influenced by climate, they found that the earth has global climate cycles of 50-70 years with an average of about 60 years and which have cool and warm phases of 30 years each. They summerize most of the fish studies thru early 2005 that show how this cycle influences fish catches in the major fisheries.

    The last warm phase began in ca 1970-75 (aka the Great Shift) and ended in ca 2000. The global warming from ca 1975 is due in part to this warm phase. A cool phase startedinn 2000, and their stochastic model projects that it should last about 30 years. See Fig 2.23 p 54.

    See also Fig. 2.22 (p. 52) and Table 2 (p. 53). They show that increasing world fuel consumption (i.e., increasing CO2 emission) has no effect on the 60 year global climate cycle. That is to say, they show that increasing CO2 concentration in the air does not cause global warming.

  44. 44
    Mike Palin says:

    Please stop with the “geologists are different” meme when it comes to the anthropogenic influence on climate. It came out of left field in the posting above and is as false now as it was three years ago. Yes, some geologists are contrarians, and so are some geophysicists, etc. I hope I don’t need to list the many preeminent geologists who have contributed to the current understanding of how Earth’s climate works.

  45. 45
    Susan Anderson says:

    I’d love to see this conversation return to the subject matter, even though as an amateur of science I rarely have anything to add to the discussion except when it goes in the direction of fake skepticism, promotion of dis/misinformation, and anti-factual-science propaganda. However, I will treasure Brian Dodge’s careful exposition of the vast fact-based information available at #40, borrowed, I believe from Skeptical Science, which provides responses geared to the level, time available, and attention span of the reader, a kind of one-stop shop for recycled/stale talking points. This should not be necessary, and these hardworking, honest, and intelligent scientists have real work to do – but preventing that from happening is part of the intention of trotting out all these old arguments for the many-hundredth time.

    “Skeptic Arguments and What the Science Says … the one line responses are just a starting point – click the response for a more detailed response.”
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

    For a thorough overview of what is known about how heat-trapping/greenhouse gases work, I’d go over to this site’s “start here”:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/05/start-here/

    On what’s going on in Russian science, I’d look over what Snapple has to say as he makes a thorough study of this – his commentary is educational if a bit detailed and can be found in comment sections worthy of study. One isolated article does not make a database. In any case, cycles are part of climate and weather, and no credible scientist ignores them. They are observed and studied but none of them changes the overall trend since increasingly reliable measurements are available (1800-1850) which demonstrates a sharp spike in short recent history, the “hockey stick” metaphor with it’s oft-misrepresented kink at the medieval warming period – how a metaphor with a kink disproves the data eludes me.
    Of course, you are too “smart” to learn the basics, and feel all these guys are in a giant conspiracy to hide the truth (going on for the last two centuries, OMG) but you’d be less naked in public if you did so. Really intelligent people are not unwilling to admit their ignorance.
    If someone studied chemistry, they must have learned something about how atoms interact (my brief career as a biochemistry student at MIT was blessed with this information) which should make it clear that they have effects that are not easily oversimplified by comparison with carbonated beverages.

    There are many sources that explain the way heat is absorbed, emitted, and reflected in the various layers of our atmosphere. I’d suggest a simple straightforward study of this material before presenting simplistic gotchas at a science site populated with people who not only understand the science but have taken it further.

  46. 46
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Harold Pierce: “By analyzing a number of time series various phenomena influenced by climate, they found that the earth has global climate cycles of 50-70 years with an average of about 60 years and which have cool and warm phases of 30 years each.”

    Except they don’t stand up to statistical scrutiny:
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2011/03/02/8000-years-of-amo/

  47. 47
    adelady says:

    Harold@43 “A cool phase started in 2000, and their stochastic model projects that it should last about 30 years. … they show that increasing CO2 concentration in the air does not cause global warming.”

    Given that the decade from 2000 onwards is the hottest ever recorded, I’m not convinced their argument has a lot to offer. If you’d like to encourage others to pursue this further, I’d personally like to see you show something indicating that this signal failure is a mere irrelevance to their larger argument. If it’s a central issue, then they’re just flat-out wrong.

  48. 48
    John E. Pearson says:

    39 Adelady,

    Thanks. I was sure I had said he had to breathe the atmosphere. More to the point, I wonder why he felt he needed protection from the lifegiving gas CO2? I purposely allowed him a full atmosphere’s worth of O2. He had already assured us that CO2 was safe in any concentration. Bah. I am violating Pearson’s First Law. I hate when I do that.

  49. 49
    Susan Anderson says:

    OK, returning to the subject, still a little OT, I came across a superb item from one historian at Wisconsin, who took the trouble to identify what’s wrong with the emerging McCarthy-like persecution there. It is very well written and gave me strength and hope that intelligence is far from dead in our country.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/22/opinion/22cronon.html

    He got an unexpected response: a comprehensive request for emails. Being wise and literate, he penned a lengthy understanding of what is going on and started a blog:
    http://scholarcitizen.williamcronon.net/2011/03/24/open-records-attack-on-academic-freedom/

    I read this with my heart pumping it was so good. I could wish that the likes of Phil Jones had his rhetorical skill. A few extracts:

    “I confess that I’m surprised to find myself in this strange position, since (as I said in my earlier blog post) my professional interest as a historian has always been to research and understand the full spectrum of American political opinion. I often spend as much time defending Republican and conservative points of view to my liberal friends as vice versa. (For what it’s worth, I have never belonged to either party.) But Mr. Thompson obviously read my blog post as an all-out attack on the interests of his party, and his open records request seems designed to give him what he hopes will be ammunition he can use to embarrass, undermine, and ultimately silence me.

    “One obvious conclusion I draw is that my study guide about the role of ALEC in Wisconsin politics must come pretty close to hitting a bull’s-eye. Why else … the need to single out a lone university professor for such uncomfortable attention?”

    I hope that the whole world will read the article in full, so these extracts are only teasers in the hopes that those who appreciate good writing and clear thought will take a look. more:

    “”When should we be more cautious about applying such laws to universities?

    “… When FOIA is used to harass individual faculty members for asking awkward questions, researching unpopular topics, making uncomfortable arguments, or pursuing lines of inquiry that powerful people would prefer to suppress. If that happens, FOIA and the Open Records Law can too easily become tools for silencing legitimate intellectual inquiries and voices of dissent—whether these emanate from the left or the right or (as in my case) the center. It is precisely this fear of intellectual inquiry being stifled by the abuse of state power that has long led scholars and scientists to cherish the phrase “academic freedom” as passionately as most Americans cherish such phrases as “free speech” and “the First Amendment.”

    “It is chilling indeed to think that the Republican Party of my state has asked to have access to the emails of a lone professor in the hope of finding messages they can use to attack and discredit that professor….

    “It also makes me wonder how a party so passionate in its commitment to liberty and to protecting citizens from abuses of state power can justify resorting to this particular exercise of state power with the goal of trying to silence a critic of its own conduct.”

    I was also fascinated to see that Professor Cronon is an environmental historian and wrote this in 2001: “When the GOP Was Green”
    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F06E7DC173AF93BA35752C0A9679C8B63

    So one last thought, joining Ray Ladbury in a request for education. All students need to learn history and geography with a global focus over time. Those who don’t study history are going to repeat it.

  50. 50
    caerbannog says:


    See also Fig. 2.22 (p. 52) and Table 2 (p. 53). They show that increasing world fuel consumption (i.e., increasing CO2 emission) has no effect on the 60 year global climate cycle. That is to say, they show that increasing CO2 concentration in the air does not cause global warming.

    If you really believe this, then how do you explain the Eocene “hothouse” climate of 34-56 million years ago? Back then, the Sun was ever so slightly dimmer than it is now — so that rules out the Sun as a cause. The latitudinal distribution of the continents was similar to what is today — so that rules out forcing related to land/ocean albedo changes.

    If you believe that increasing CO2 concentrations does not cause warming, then what is your explanation for the Eocene Hothouse? Please back up your reasoning with credible scientific sources — i.e. no arm-waving.


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