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Thank you for emitting

A recent movie, ‘Thank You for Smoking‘, amusingly highlighted the lengths that PR reps for the tobacco companies would go to distort the public discourse on the health effects of smoking. Lest you thought that was of merely historical relevance, we would like to draw your attention to two of the funniest videos around. Lifting a page straight out of the Nick Naylor playbook, the CEI (an industry-funded lobby group) has launched a new ad campaign that is supposed to counteract all those pesky scientific facts about global warming.

The first ad (both available here) deserves to become a classic of the genre. It contains the immortal lines ‘CO2: they call it pollution, we call it Life!’ – it is beyond parody and without content – and so you should definitely see it. The second ad has a little more substance – but is as misleading as you might expect.

They only discuss one scientific point which relates to whether ‘glaciers are melting’. Unsurprisingly, they don’t discuss the dramatic evidence of tropical glacier melting, the almost worldwide retreat of other mountain glaciers, the rapid acceleration of fringing glaciers on Greenland or the Antarctic peninsula. Neither do they mention that the preliminary gravity measurements imply that both Antarctica and Greenland appear to be net contributors to sea level rise. No. The only studies that they highlight are ones which demonstrate that in the interior of the ice shelves, there is actually some accumulation of snow (which clearly balances some of the fringing loss). These studies actually confirm climate model predictions that as the poles warm, water vapour there will increase and so, in general, will precipitation. In the extreme environments of the central ice sheets, it will not get warm enough to rain and so snowfall and accumulation are expected to increase.

To be sure, calculating the net balance of the ice sheets is difficult and given the uncertainties of different techniques (altimeters, gravity measurements, interferometers etc.) and the shortness of many of the records, it’s difficult to make very definitive statements about the present day situation. Our sense of the data is that Greenland is probably losing mass – the rapid wasting around the edge is larger than the accumulation in the center, whereas Antarctica in toto is a more difficult call.

However, one should step back a bit from what has been going on in recent years, and consider what is likely to happen in the future. The last time the planet may have been a degree or so warmer than today (about 120,000 years ago), sea level was around 5 to 6 meters higher – and that water must have come from Greenland and (probably) the West Antarctic ice sheet. With projected future rises in emissions of ‘Life!‘ (though we like to call it ‘carbon dioxide’), these sorts of temperature rises are clearly possible, and the danger that would eventually pose to the continued existence of some ice sheets is clearly cause for concern.

To summarise, while CEI clearly demonstrate that their job (paraphrasing Nick Naylor again) “requires a certain …. moral flexibility”, the rest of us can be grateful for the amusement they appear to have accidentally bestowed on the world.

Update 21 May: Engineering Professor Curt Davis says TV Spots are Misrepresenting His Research

135 Responses to “Thank you for emitting”

  1. 101
    Doug H says:

    The controversy that triggered these silly ads relates to EPA’s denial of a petition asking it to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions as “pollutants.” Several States and conservation groups appealed the rejection of the petition and were denied by an Appeals Court. In March 2006, a coalition of 12 states, three major cities, one island government and several environmental groups petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review the appeal court ruling that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not have to regulate greenhouse gases as pollutants.


  2. 102
    rasmus says:


    If I understood you correctly, then you agree that there is little evidence suggesting that the recent trend in the global mean temperature (gmT) is due to a change in the solar activity, as there is no trend in the [lower-energy] galactic cosmic rays (GCR), 10.7 cm flux (thought to be a reliable indicator of solar acitity level), and the aa-index since 1950s. Hence, you should change the title of your web-site (present title is ‘Carbon Dioxide or Solar Forcing?’). You base your claims on the high-energy cosmic ray counts (HECRC) from Ahluwalia, H.S. (1997).:

    We have created an extended cosmic ray data string (1937–1994) by combining data obtained with ion chambers at Cheltenham/Fredericksburg (1937–1972) and Yakutsk (1953–1994). Both represent high-latitude, sea level sites, with an atmospheric cutoff of about 4 GV. Their common median rigidity of response to galactic cosmic ray spectrum is 67 GV…

    It’s interesting to note the divergence between the GCR and HECRC, and one should perhaps worry a bit about how the HECRC affects the production of cosmogenic isotopes, such as 10Be. Does it mean that 10Be is contaminated by other factors than the solar activity level and the variations in the geomagnetic field? Isn’t it really interesting that these two curves diverge? Note that merging two different series often may result in inhomogeneities, and yield spurious trends. Thus, how well can the trend really be trusted? Can you rally trust [apparent] trend in the HECRC that is not seen in GCR and the other solar activity proxies? You also say that the gmT is ’embedded’ in your HECRC-curve, but I’d disagree – for starters, there are pronounced ~11-yr variations in the HECRC and not in the mgT. You only get a vague resemblance after low-pass filtering the HECRC (oceans may smooth the response), but even then, the similarities are not convincing if you look at the curves in detail. The smoothed gmT dips between 1940 and 1950, and then more or less levels off (small peak in ~1960; your Fig. 3). The smoothed HECRC, on the other hand, starts to increase (remember, the y-axix is reversed…) after 1950 (your Fig. 6). The increase in gmT since 1970 is much more prominent than the decrease in HERCR. By smoothing the two curves, you increase the risk that they will look similar just by chance.

    Your story of how you ended up in believing in cosmic rays affecting our climate is fascinating, but I do not understading your saying:

    Everything else I checked afterwards agreed as well. So as you see, I have my own very good reasons to believe cosmic rays affect climate.

    Surely, you must have read a number of critical papers arguing against it: Kristjansson & Kristjansen (2002), Kristjansson et al. (2004), Wagner et al (2001), Sun & Bradley (2002), Laut (2003), Farrar (2000) and Rahmstorf? Furthermore, Lockwood (2002) found greatest correlation between GCR and cloudiness when the cloud cover lagged the GCR by 4 months – but the effect is believed to be pretty instantaneous… Although there nevertheless is some evidence of a weak GCR-effect in clouds (which height, is not resolved), it is doubful that this can explain much of the recent trends. In fact, there are to my knowledge no confirmed trend in the cloudiness. One has to be careful not to neglect evidence and papers not supporting the hypothesis, or one becomes dogmatic. You though that IPCC TAR was not convincing, but I’d say that the paper by Usoskin et al. that you referred to didn’t sway me: the map in their Fig. 3 of correlations only indicated a few spots with signf. levels above 68% (whatever that means – an remember, the bins are not independent of each other due to spatial correlation structures). Surprisingly, the zonal-means of the correlations are much higher (their Fig. 2).

    could see with the unaided eye that the cosmic ray flux is periodic with a 145 Million year period and the right phase. When I saw that, my jaw simply fell.

    If you look for patterns, you’ll probably find some. Rembember, people have even made systems of star clusters and associated them to earthly things (constellations). I think that your work has made many assumptions and puts a great deal of faith in too simplistic idealised models – eg how to estimate the return periodicity of the Galaxy spiral arms, etc. These estimates are so far fetched and speculative, that an AGW is rock solid in comparison. Funny that you then think that AGW is not that important and that you think that climate models are weak and AGW not as important – you do have some sense of humour!

  3. 103
    Hank Roberts says:

    Speaking of looking for patterns, would there be any predicted cloud/insolation event associated with the known extreme neutron events in the recent record? Anyone looked?

  4. 104
    Dano says:

    RE discussion about public awareness upthread:

    Here is a paper out of Yale entitled “Americans and Climate Change: Closing the Gap Between Science and Action – A Synthesis of Insights and Recommendations from the 2005 Yale F&ES Conference on Climate Change” By Daniel Abbasi. This arose out of a conference last year.

    The teaser for the report reads: A gathering of extraordinary Americans were asked why the robust and compelling body of climate change science has not had a greater impact on action. This report details their findings and recommendations.



  5. 105
    Mark A. York says:

    Humans are pattern-seeking creatures. But a picture does not a trend make. The latter requires blazed trail.

  6. 106
    Margiekins says:

    From Andrew Sullivan’s blog, the Daily Dish:

    I Call It Funny
    18 May 2006 04:30 pm

    Yep: the Competitive Enterprise Institute has decided to launch a p.r. campaign in defense of carbon dioxide. Money quote:

    “Carbon Dioxide: They Call It Pollution. We Call It Life.”

    I’m not making this up. Now, I’m not going to knock CO2. And when you watch the ad, you’ll find it comes out of your lungs in short, sharp bursts of laughter.

  7. 107
    Hank Roberts says:

    Here’s a prediction confirmed, has this been discussed earlier?
    Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 8, 02925, 2006
    SRef-ID: 1607-7962/gra/EGU06-A-02925 European Geosciences Union 2006

    The greenhouse-induced radiative forcing at the
    surface as projected in GCMs and observed.

    M.Wild and A. Ohmura
    Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science ETH, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Universitaetsstr. 16, CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland (

    The most immediate consequence of an increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases experienced at the earth’s surface is an enhanced emission of thermal radiation from the atmosphere back to the surface (longwave downward radiation, LWD).

    Projections of the evolution of LWD as simulated in transient climate change scenarios with a coupled atmosphere-ocean GCM suggest that the LWD change signal emerges earlier from the background noise than the surface temperature.

    The LWD is therefore a valuable candidate for the detection of the greenhouse signal and its evolution of particular interest in the context of greenhouse gas induced climate change. The monitoring of the LWD is a central objective of the Baseline Surface Radiation Network (BSRN/WCRP) centered at the authors’ institute.

    In this study, projections of LWD as simulated in transient climate change scenarios with a coupled atmosphere-ocean model are analyzed and put in relation to the evolution of LWD as observed at worldwide BSRN sites.

    The overall trend averaged over all observation sites is in quantitative agreement with the GCM-predicted increase in LWD of currently 2.5 Wm-2 per decade.

  8. 108
  9. 109
    Steve Bloom says:

    Re #108 (MY): My favorite quote from the du Pont piece: “As for sea ice, it is not melting excessively.” Nothing excessive about record levels, I suppose.

  10. 110
    Nir Shaviv says:


    The point you make about the lower energy and higher energies diverging is a valid one. As long as there is no satisfactory explanation to the divergence of the lower energy indicators from the higher ones, I wouldn’t sign on the exact increase in the troposphere ionizing cosmic rays. I should note however that a notable decrease in the Huancayo/Haleakala cosmic ray neutron monitor can be seen from the solar maximum of 1970 to 1990. These monitors are sensitive to intermediate energies between CLIMAX and ion chambers (because of the higher magnetic rigidity cutoff as compared with CLIMAX) – the decrease in the CRF at the 1970 solar maximum is about 97% of the maximum flux at solar minima (i.e., a 3% solar cycle modulation) to about 92-93% in the 1990 solar maximum (i.e., a 6% solar modulation). Thus, you can see a decreased average flux in additional indicators. (which, under the cosmic ray flux/cloud picture implies less clouds and higher temperatures).

    The bottom line is that there is a decrease in cosmic rays from the 1970’s to 1990’s though it is not clear whether it returned to 1940’s values, or whether the decrease was larger. (The neutron monitors are from the early 50’s). If the decrease is modest, it would leave more room to anthropogenic warming (I never said that there is none). But it would not notably change my estimate for the climate sensitivity, since they are based on 6 more temperature/radiadive forcing comparisons, nor would it be in any contradiction, since the total 20th century anthropogenic forcing has a large error with the unknown indirect aerosol effects.

    Interestingly, solar activity appeared to decrease in the last solar maximum (~2000). Thus, we should start seeing a slowing down in the temperature increase (because of the large thermal inertia, it could take another cycle until we see a decreasing temperature, assuming the next cycle is “inactive” as that of 2000, that cosmic rays affect climate, etc.).

    As for the various critiques you mentioned and raise. I’ll write more tomorrow evening (~ 22:00 GMT), once I have more time. Most likely I’ll dig into referee reports I had to answer, by referees which mentioned these papers… Now I have to prepare a course lecture for tomorrow.

  11. 111
    Joel Shore says:

    Re #108: Looks like DuPont’s column is just summarizing the latest “report” by the wacko libertarian think-tank NCPA that he is chairman of, with a few facts from the equally wacko libertarian Pacific Research Institute.

    By the way, did anyone notice the curious claim that the globe will warm by 2.5 F over the next hundred years but the U.S. by only about 1 F? (Apparently, NCPA…like many denialists…has much more high-precision knowledge about the future of our emissions and the earth’s climate sensitivity than the rest of the world’s scientists do.) I thought that in general, middle latitude land areas like the U.S. were expected to warm at least the average amount that the globe warms if not a bit more.

  12. 112
    raypierre says:

    Today’s NYT (23 May, 2006) had a commentary on Al Gore’s movie by conservative columnist John Tierney (“Gore pulls his punches”, — subscription required). Aside from some gratuitous comments on how likeable or unlikeable Gore is in the film, the comments show an interesting shift in the pushback from the conservative wing. Tierney says “Scientists recognized the greenhouse effect long ago, but the question was how much difference it would make. And until fairly recently, when evidence of global warming accumulated, many non-evil economists doubted that the risks justified the costs of the proposed remedies.” As if we didn’t have basic physics to tell us what was likely to happen? As if the Global Climate Coalition didn’t spend a decade trying to convince people that all the scientists were wrong, using bogus claims about water vapor, solar forcing, what have you? It’s clear the shift in the playbook is happening: now the denialists are going to move away from a denial of the warming, and towards a denial of harms. Apropos of this, Tierney offers the immensely reassuring words “… civilization may just survive after all.”

    What’s actually more interesting in Tierney’s commentary is that what he really calls Gore on the carpet for is avoiding mention of concrete actions that might be effective but be (or appear) painful: notably, carbon taxes. It’s unclear whether Tierney is actually supporting carbon taxes, but it appears he is at least toying with the idea. If the debate starts to shift into the question of the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions, that would be progress indeed. Tierney suggests that this (plus the possible benefits of more nuclear power) are “inconvenient truths” that belonged in the movie along with Gore’s main point.

  13. 113
  14. 114
    Dano says:

    RE 113 (York):

    All so predictable, Mark: Loose the SwiftBoats!

    Just point out how they do the same thing every time.



  15. 115
    Steve Bloom says:

    RE #111: I think these numbers are based on straight-line extrapolations (an approach of which Pat Michaels has been a primary promoter). Until recently at least, I think the continental U.S. trend was lower than the global average, which would explain the difference in the extrapolated trend.

  16. 116
    C. W. Magee says:

    Does the accuracy of an attack add really matter if legeslators have no basic knowledge of science? Dunno about congressmembers in the states, but here in Australia some of them don’t even seem to understand the conservation of energy. How do you explain global warming without that?
    The member from Whoop Whoop and his perpetual motion.

  17. 117
    john mann says:

    In Britain, there is another convert.

    David Attenborough, the doyen of Natural history programmes (to the British,
    he *is* the voice of natural history), has finally accepted the reality
    of AGW.

    Consistently voted the most trusted celebrity in the country, he is presenting
    two programmes on the subject this wednesday and next week.

    Things may just have got harder for the sceptics over here.

  18. 118
    Steven T. Corneliussen says:

    On today’s (May 24) New York Times op-ed page, Gregg Easterbrook’s “Finally Feeling the Heat” elaborates on this statement: “As an environmental commentator, I have a long record of opposing alarmism. But based on the data I’m now switching sides regarding global warming, from skeptic to convert.” In line with comments like Raypierre’s 112, I’d be interested to read comments about this piece too. Thanks.

  19. 119
    Alan says:

    RE #112

    I tend to think “the money” has been stalling for time since the late 90’s, specifically because of the time required to shift “the money” away from dead dinosours and into yellowcake. Not just in the US but also in Australia, India, UK, China, Indonesia,…dare I say Iran? I belive we are now at the start of a concerted push for nuclear as a “clean” solution, considering the peak oil thing and the life span of power plants it is the most viable option for keeping “the money” in the same hands and saving civilization at the same time. Also “the money” cannot manipulate the wind for political gain in the same way it can with oil (or yellowcake). I figure fast expansion of nuclear power is a “done deal” and listening to Lovelace it seems to be a good idea to apply the nuclear band-aid for the next 50yrs or so.

    As an example: “The Australian” today had a front page headline that read, “Labour declares nuclear war”. No prizes for guessing who owns the newspaper.

  20. 120
    Brian Jackson says:

    To add to #117 and #118:

    There’s another relevant article by Michael Shermer in the latest issue of Scientific American.

    “Nevertheless, data trump politics, and a convergence of evidence from numerous sources has led me to make a cognitive switch on the subject of anthropogenic global warming…Because of the complexity of the problem, environmental skepticism was once tenable. No longer. It is time to flip from skepticism to activism.”

  21. 121
    Joel Shore says:

    Re #118: Easterbrook, like Tierney, seems to be trying to justify being a Johnny-come-lately by saying that it is only in the last few years that the evidence has really become compelling. Hmmm…

    Well, better late than never I guess. After all, I believe that Fred Singer is to this day denying the connection between CFCs and the ozone layer.

  22. 122
    Hank Roberts says:

    Next in political news: the fossil fuel industry realizes that, because they weren’t considering the extra added global warming provided by each unit of energy sold, they’ve been under-billing customers for purchases of fuel used for heating. Watch for a government-mandated cost recovery surcharge to make them whole and level the playing field.

  23. 123

    Is it just me, or is it completely ridiculous that “ads” about climate is sent on national TV?
    You can’t do commercial on something like this. Nothing is for sale. This is purely propaganda, and I can’t believe this kind of information is taken seriously by anyone. Of course the scientific society must respond to this, and to my opinion whoever doing this should kick as much ass as they can towards the CEI. But please respond with a more serious context and a more sane language, so that climate science will be taken seriously. We can not fall into the same dumpster as the CEI.

  24. 124

    Astounding, the weighing in on multiple sides of this subject. I wonder why politics plays so with our minds? Can it really be all about money and power? Here’s a colleague’s studious examination of the issue, complete with plentiful footnotes and graphs of a thousand years of historical temperatures.

  25. 125
    Nir Shaviv says:


    Continuing yesterday’s reply, here are my thoughts about the critiques you mention. You raise several references which are supposedly against the cosmic-ray-climate link. Here is what I understood from them.

    * Lockwood (2002): He indeed finds that cosmic ray flux / cloud cover data is best fitted with a lag of 4 months in the cloud data, with a very high statistical significance. If you look carefully at his data, you will see that this is a correlation with the Moscow neutron monitor which is low rigidity cutoff like CLIMAX. If you look at the correlation with the Huancayo/Haleakala monitors (which are closer in energies to those doing the ionization) you get an even better correlation, which is best fitted with a -1 month delay, i.e., one bin point away from no lag as expected. So in fact, this work just shows how the correlation is consistent with the theory! (For comparison, the correlation with a direct solar proxy is best if there is a 14 month lag. This is expected because it takes time for the solar wind to propagate outwards and thus to the cosmic ray flux to adjust to changes in the solar activity). So all and all, Lockwood may personally be in favor of a direct solar climate link, but his results in fact are totally consistent with a cosmic-ray mediated link.

    * Kristhansson & Kristhansen (2002): In their latest paper from 2004, they correlate low altitude cloud cover with solar irradiance and with cosmic rays, and find that he correlation with the former is a little higher, that would favor an irradiance/climate link (which incidentally would imply a large climate sensitivity). However, they find that the correlation is mainly through liquid marine clouds, which is exactly where the cosmic ray flux climate link is supposed to be most effective. So again, the results are consistent with a cosmic ray mediated link.

    * Farrar (2000): performs a study on the total cloud cover and concludes that the variations are a result of el Niño, and finds little evidence of a role for GCR. A more careful study of this paper reveals however that the author did not actually dismiss the correlation between GCRs and cloud cover (â��…, so Figure 2a can also be taken to indicate the correlation between local cloud anomaly and cosmic ray fluxâ��). The reason Farrar dismissed the link was mainly because “The resulting patterns are difficult to reconcile with a cosmic ray effect, which should not have preferences based on ocean basins”, however, the fact that most of the correlation is over oceans is expected in the GCR – ionization – CN – CCN – cloud cover scenario, because the effect is expected to be largest where seed aerosols are least abundant – over the oceans. Farrar also uses argument that the GCR/cloud cover correlation should be largest over the poles where the GCR flux is highest. This argument he uses is wrong because at energies of 10 or more GeV, which are required to reach the lower troposphere, the effect of the terrestrial magnetic field on the low troposphere ionization is only of order 10% or less.

    * Sun and Bradley (2002) basically generalize the lack of correlations over small local regions (much less than 10%) to the whole globe. For example they find a lack of correlation between certain cloud constructions over the US and GCR. If one studies the correlation map of Marsh & Svensmark (2003) then there is even a small negative correlation between cloud cover over the US and GCR. However there are nice correlations if one looks globally. It would be the same as stating that global warming can be measured from the temperature variations over the US, which they can’t, since there is large variability from location to location.

    As for not finding a correlation between clouds and GCR going back to the 50’s, it is necessary to go to the source of their data: Norris (1999) pointed out the possibility of numerous inhomogeneities both temporally and spatially that may be present in the ship-based observations of clouds. In fact, he stated that it “remains uncertain whether the observed increases in global mean ocean total and low cloud cover between 1952 and 1995 are spurious. Corroboration by related meteorological parameters and satellite-based cloud datasets should be required before the trends are accepted as real.”

    * Wagner 2001: The essence of their critique of the cosmic ray climate link is the fact that (a) They don’t see a correlation between 10Be (or 14C) and climate during terrestrial magnetic field drops (B) they don’t see cloud cover variations in switzerland in sync with CRF variations. The reason for (a) is the fact that the magnetic field decrease in the Laschamp event they looked at is only responsible for about a 10% increase in the atmospheric ionization. This should cause a ~1deg climate effect which sits in stronger climatic noise (i.e., intrinsic climate variations). So in fact, they are not supposed to get the large climatic peak they expect (though you could in principle see an effect if you look at several such events and statistically find a correlation). As for point (b), the effect is expected and observed to be mostly over large ocean basins. So no wonder they don’t see it over switzerland.

    I’ll continue with the other critiques you raised tomorrow, once I have more time.

    [Response:Thanks, Nir,

    One thing I’m wondering about regarding the detectors – are they more sensitive to primary or secondar particles? Even one month is a long time in terms of cloud respons. The cloud’s life time is in hours, not days and not months. I think that believing there is a strong link requires a great deal of faith when the physical mechanisms are not well understood, and I see that you manage to interpret those papers your way by waving arms a little. While it is true that local temperature may not correlate well with the global mean and the a climate change signal may be difficult to detect due to lower signal-to-noise ratio (the signal strength increases by averaging all contributions so that uncorrelated noise cancels and coherent signals stand out), there is an essential difference here between AGW and a solar signal – Whereas the former concerns long-term trends with few degrees of freedom, the latter involves an ~11-year signal. Since a direct and local effect is proposed, then there should be a discenible signal even locally. To explain this, I’l use the analogy of the diurnal cycle (variations between day and night) – you don’t have to resort to a global mean in order to detect it (actually that would not work very well). I don’t think that we have sufficient empirical data to falsify or bolster the notion of GCR modulating clouds. History has shown a flurry of hypotheses proposing a link between solar and Earth’s climate, most of which have ended up on the scientific dust heap. However, a link between GCR and clouds is one thing, a proposition that the recent global warming being caused by solar activity is another. It’s the latter that we are most concerned with in this thread (which incidentally is about CEI’s propaganda Ads… :-))

    There are several solar activity indices, none of which I’m aware that show a trend in the activity level since 1950s, when the instrumental measurements started. Ther are no solid evidence for trendiness in the global cloud cover. Agree? What do you trust most: (i) somewhat exotic hypotheses of galactic spiral arms influencing climate though GCR, based on proxies thought to be susceptible to the cosmic environment 100s of million years ago and unknown micrphysical mechanisms (however, the GCRs produce trails in cloud chamber!) or (ii) inferences based on our understanding of the radiative balance, modern climate models (cousins of our ‘well-tested’ numerical weather forecast models, that have been validated against past trends), direct modern measurements made with instruments (eg long-wave radiation spectra measured by satellites)?

    Another hurdle is explainging how the sensitivity to (GCR) forcing can change several-fold over the time scales of a few years-decades – why do we not see stronger 11-year cycles (oceans play a role, but I don’t reckon that we know how the response varies with time scale – after all, ENSO, the annual cycle, and the diurnal cycle are the strongest signals that we see, and they all have a fairly short time scale because a warming of the ocean makes it more stable as warmer water on top tends to stratify, sea-ice contains some 11-year signature, but not very prominent…)? See also here and here. Then, I’d like to repeat, I don’t find your two curves (gmT and HECRC) convincingly similar… Sorry if I hang up on this debate for now, Nir, but I really have many deadlines and a lot of other things to do the next weeks. We can take this up another time, so I say good bye for now… -rasmus]

  26. 126
    S Molnar says:

    To answer Sigrid Lind Johansen, no it’s not just you. The level of public discourse in this country is truly appalling, even after you take into account that the level of public discourse in this country is truly appalling. Someone once famously said that it’s a good thing the United States doesn’t have a culture minister, because if we did, it would be Clint Eastwood; things have only gone downhill from there. And there is probably no point in trying to respond to these people through advertising – they have more money to spend.

  27. 127
    Richard Simons says:

    With reference to the problem of getting information out to a wider public:
    A few months ago I had an hour or two to spend in a bus station and noticed some gospel tracts. One was about the dreadful concept of evolution so I read it then wrote a letter to the authors refuting it point by point. However, it got me thinking. Perhaps as scientists we should be doing something similar, writing simple three-fold leaflets on aspects of science to be left in bus stations, cafes, doctors’ waiting rooms and other places where people have time on their hands. They would need to look attractive, be as straightforward as possible and give the author’s name and address plus sources for further information. Climate change was an issue that immediately came to mind, together with evolution and bird flu.

    My wife suggested we go the whole hog and go around in pairs, from house to house, clutching a handy reference book but I think she was joking.

  28. 128
    Steve Latham says:

    The Al Gore Movie thread is shut down. This is a review of that movie for those who are interested. Sorry for being off topic, but this thread is also based on a movie title and was hopefully related enough.

  29. 129

    I don’t think the authors of the adverts are implying that co2 is only ever good. Instead, I think they’re trying to stop people from believing that co2 is only ever bad. Like water — it can be good or bad. However, unlike water, the general impression that a casual observer has is that co2 is only bad. Hence the adverts giving an alternative view of co2.

    If they misquoted scientists that is bad. But the general idea of the adverts seems reasonable to me.

  30. 130
    Joel Shore says:

    Re #129: I don’t really see the point of telling people CO2 isn’t only bad. It is not like anyone is proposing a ban on all breathing and other production of CO2. People are just proposing to stabilize and then hopefully eventually start cutting CO2 emissions. The fact is that CEI is fighting against any steps whatsoever that don’t involve allowing people to continue emitting CO2 from fossil fuels into the atmosphere at zero cost.

  31. 131
    Timothy says:

    #93 – Positive feedbacks increasing CO2 concentrations.

    It is true that there are a couple of years [2003 + 2004 I think] that are *very* anomalous in terms of the rise in CO2 levels. For all other years the variation in CO2 levels can be explained by the rising trend in emissions and a link to the ENSO cycle [CO2 level rise faster in EL-Nino years].

    I think some of the Hadley scientits wrote a paper on this recently, where they point the finger of blame mainly at widespread forest fires in Russia. This can be thought of as a positive feedback from the Biosphere, responding to increased temperatures and drier summers over the vast Boreal forest region.

    I’m not sure what the detail is of GCM predictions for Arctic sea-ice melting. I should probably have a good read…

  32. 132
  33. 133
    John L. McCormick says:


    If you think the CEI’s “We call it life” ad set a new standard for distortion, and disinformation, it has only just begun. Do yourself a favor and read the May 28 Washington Post Magazine article by Joel Achenbach titled “Inside the minds of climate change skeptics”.

    You might have your own opinion of Bill Gray and this article will not improve his image.

    But, the more valuable interview featured Fred Smith, President, founder of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Please read some of his “original solutions” to such disparate issues as rescuing the (quadraped) gorilla population trapped between the fighting factions in the Congo; and his plan to save endangered species —- sell them as pets. I kid you not.

    Fred Smith has actually become our ally by casting himself (the self appointed king of the skeptics) as a pathetic, moronic and deranged spokesman for the denialists. With leaders like him, how long will the skeptic community survive?

    We are witnessing an intellectual meltdown among the denialists and it won’t be long before the reporters will not dare quote Smith or Ebel for fear of their editor’s rebuke. Truth still has value on the printed page and Fred has come clean; he is a crackpot in black and white.

  34. 134

    […] ideonexus Science Cyberspace Speculation « Science Etcetera Mercuryday, 20071226 2007 Science Yearbook: Politics December 26, 2007 “Carbon Dioxide. They call it pollution. We call it life.“ – ExxonMobil Advertisement […]

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    Deltoid says:

    “CO2: We call it life”…

    RealClimate informs us of two ads being put out by the Onion Competitive Enterprise Institute. Punchline: “CO2: they call it pollution, we call it Life!”. If the CEI staff was locked in an airtight room, would they still call CO2……