Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The Real Struggle Behind Climate Change - A War on Expertise

ClimateSkepticsThe schism over global climate change (GCC) has become an intellectual chasm, across which everyone perceives the other side as Koolaid-drinkers.  Although I have mixed views of my own about the science of GCC, and have closely grilled a number of colleagues who are front-line atmospheric scientists (some at JPL), I'm afraid all the anecdotes and politics-drenched "questions" flying about right now aren't shedding light. They are, in fact, quite beside the point.

 That is because science itself is the main issue: its relevance and utility as a decision-making tool. 

Let there be no mistake, this is all about power, and the struggle goes way back.  In Britain, the "Boffin Principle" long held that technical people have no business making policy suggestions to their betters. In America, waves of anti-intellectual populism - like the 19th Century Know Nothing Party - were  deliberately stoked by aristocracies who saw the new, mental elites as a threat. 

There have been counter-surges. In the 1930s, propelled by ambitious modernism and depression-era desperation, a briefly popular "Technocracy Movement"  held that knowledge and skill should be paramount criteria for positions of leadership. A milder version of this eagerness for expertise was seen from Sputnik through the 1960s and 1970s, with glimmers during the Internet Boom years. (Notably, these were all lush times for science fiction literature.)

Of course, Technocracy was boneheaded and scary - though not as much as the new know-nothing era that we have endured during the last decade or so, a time when things became dicey even for the Civil Service and the U.S. Officer Corps.  Chris Mooney documents how relentless this agenda has been, in The Republican War on Science.  Though, let's be fair.  If films like Avatar are any indication, a variant of dour anti-scientific fever rages on the left, as well.

This is the context in which we should reconsider the Climate Change Denial Movement.  While murky in its scientific assertions -- (some claim the Earth isn't warming, while others say the ice-free Arctic won't be any of our doing) --  the core contention remains remarkably consistent. It holds that the 99% of atmospheric scientists who believe in GCC are suborned, stupid, incompetent, conspiratorial or untrustworthy hacks.

As part of a more general assault on the very notion of expertise, the narrative starts with a truism that is actually true:

 "Not every smart person is wise..."

only then extrapolates it, implicitly, to a blatant falsehood

"all smartypants are unwise, all the time; and my uninformed opinion is equal to any expert testimony."

Does that sound like a polemical stretch?  But it is precisely the implied subtext - a perverse kind of populism - at all levels of the War on Science.  In the specific case of GCC, since almost all top atmospheric scientists accept human-propelled climate change, they must be all cretins, corrupt, or cowards.

Here's a telling point. This uniformity of craven venality has to include even the ambitious postdocs and recently-tenured junior professors who, in every other field, sift constantly for some flaw in the current paradigm in order to go gunning after the big boys and thus make a reputation.  What, even the Young Guns are sellouts?  Even the paladins of skeptical enquiry are conspiring together in a grand cabal to...

magv14n01_cover...to what?  Ah, now the story gets even better.  All the scientists and post-docs are colluding to foist this scam, in order to win a few ten-thousand dollar grants.  This  loose-change-grubbing, paradigm slavery is cited to explain the GCC imbroglio -- while the oilcos and petroprinces, who operate major propaganda outlets and have TRILLIONS staked in the status quo... they have no agenda at all.

Of course, to typify any lawful profession as across-the-board corrupt or cowardly is absurd, but to so besmirch the one professional cohort that is unambiguously the most brave, individualistic, honest, curious and smart of all, well, there has to be an agenda behind such drivel -- and there is one. The good old Boffin Effect.

My late colleague, Michael Crichton, crystallized it when he claimed "there is no such thing as scientific consensus,"  and thus he deemed it reasonable to ignore measures recommended by 99% of the people who actually know stuff about a problem that might damage our nation and world.

Now, as many of you know, I have my own complaints against expert communities. I'm known for promoting the "Age of Amateurs."  But empowered citizenship should supplement, not replace  the people who actually know the most about a topic. Respect toward professionals is compatible with keeping an eye on them.

Especially since -- and this is the kicker -- all the major recommended actions to deal with Global Climate Change are things we should be doing, anyway.

That's the most bizarre aspect.  I'd listen patiently to GGC Deniers and strive to answer their endlessly refurbished narratives, if they would only say the following first:

"Okay, I'll admit we need more efficiency and sustainability, desperately, in order to regain energy independence, improve productivity, erase the huge leverage of hostile foreign petro-powers, reduce pollution, secure our defense, and ease a vampiric drain on our economy.  Waste-not and a-penny-saved and cleanliness-is-next-to-godliness used to be good conservative attitudes. And so, for those reasons alone, let's join together and make a big (and genuine*) push for efficiency.
merchants-of-doubt1"Oh, and by the way, I don't believe in Global Climate Change, but these measures would also help deal with that too.

"There, are you happy?  Now, as gentlemen, and more in a spirit of curiosity than polemics, can we please corner some atmospheric scientists and force them into an extended teach-in, to answer some inconvenient questions?"


When I meet a conservative who says all that (and I have), I am all kisses and flowers. And so will be all the atmospheres guys I know. That kind of statement is logical, patriotic and worthy of respect. It deserves eye-to-eye answers.

 But that isn't the faux-narrative.  Instead it boils down to "I hate smartypants."  And it is thereupon understandable that (being human) the boffins are losing patience with the new Know Nothings.

David Brin
http://www.davidbrin.com

*PS... the word "genuine" is important.  Paying lip-service to "energy independence," while sabotaging it relentlessly, was something diametrically opposite to patriotism.

==Continue to: Distinguishing Clime "Deniers" from "Skeptics"

116 comments:

TCB said...

What gets up my nose is that the "evidence" the Deniers offer is just plain lies. "Al Gore is making billions on the global warming scam! It's a power grab! Follow the money!"

Wow.

My pet theory is that people without consciences (1% to 4% of the population, depending on which mental health Boffins you consult) are causing 90% of the trouble in the world, and governments have not been engineered to keep these people out of positions of responsibility. That ought to change. A longer treatment of this idea.

I don't know what we can really do. These multinationals really have the whip hand now (I've heard Fox News is more than 10% Saudi owned... maybe I read it here, not sure). Thanks to the Supreme Court (5 to 4 corporate sociopaths) the oil companies will be allowed to spend billions on the next elections if they want.

Robert said...

I've actually gone on the offensive using a different tact. I now state "let's ignore global warming for a moment. Do you like spending $4 per gallon of gas, and having massive profits going to nations that hate our guts and sponsor terrorism to kill us? Do you think that blowing up the tops of mountains to get at a little bit of coal underneath is good for the environment? Do you think that drug residues in our drinking water is beneficial?" Various things like that.

Inevitably, they say no, it's not. They agree that we need to get off of coal (I've been urging nuclear power myself for an alternative) and that we need more efficient cars and fuel alternatives. When I mention each and every point that benefits by doing nothing, they admit that doing nothing is a bad idea.

They just refuse to believe in global warming. Or they enjoy arguing with me about it because they see how frustrated I get that they won't listen. That it's fun to taunt the smart guy and claim that the smart guy doesn't have all the answers.

So we change our tactics. We stop pushing one theme. Instead, we hit multiple weak points in the counterarguments. We mention how being reliant on gasoline and oil benefits our enemies and that it's hurting our economy. We show the damage that coal does in multiple ways - not for carbon dioxide emissions, but in the waste left behind, the toxic spills that occur, the damage caused in mining it. And that the alternatives, that nuclear power, battery-powered cars, natural gas cars, these are viable alternatives that will make us energy independent, and at the same time will reduce our carbon footprint.

If we do that... then we'll have changed the battleground, and the Deniers won't have ground to stand on.

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

P.S. - On a more disturbing note, I saw on the news today that a lot of the money for the "Green Incentive" to put up wind turbines and the like is going to China rather than starting new jobs. Seems there was no stipulation stating the money had to be spent here in the U.S., and yet the Administration refuses to accept there is a problem.

Carrington Ward said...

The point about the 'war on expertise' is well taken. That said, one problem (of many) with the scientists' "messaging" has been their failure to challenge the question "do you believe in climate change?"

The response should probably be: "what I believe doesn't really matter, however, I am convinced that climate change is occurring, much as I am convinced that gravity exists."

The language of belief is a language of faith more than reason.

Tim M. said...

The people that drive me round the bend are the engineers. I know many and almost to a man (and it does seem to be only the men), they believe that global warming is hokum based on crap science.

They put on their Air of Authority and argue (falsely) that all this hubbub is due to Climate Scientists using bogus models instead of real data and real analysis. If you back them into a corner about the actual climate data then they slide over to talking points about short period of measurements, urban heat island effect, or some irrelevancy like "Al Gore's billions".

Most of these guys are my friends. I don't know what it is, but somehow being an engineer seems to make them vulnerable to this kind of fuzzy "I'm more of an expert than these clowns" way of thinking.

And just for the record, I was an engineer for most of my career.

Tony Fisk said...

As Tim Flannery says in 'The Weather Makers', the biggest skeptic of all is another scientist.

What annoys *me* is that the cherry pickers can make assertions as facts, without showing the facts (the whole fact, and nothing but the facts).

Case in point, 'the world is no warmer now than it was in 1998'.

Like most lies it is half-true: the linear trend between two data points (1998 and now) is, if anything, slightly down.

Where such assertions are being 'economical with the facts' is in not providing the interim data, which shows:
1. 1998 was anomalously warm
2. the mean trend from the missing years remains up
3. the mean trend over the last century is accelerating
4. there is a lot of noise in the data

My point, though, is that the data needs to be readily available online, and it isn't. If it were, then any doofus could immediately see that the above assertion is inaccurate to the point of being dishonest.

Robert Leyland said...

David, On your lovely polemic:

"Okay, I'll admit we need more efficiency and sustainability, desperately, in order to regain energy independence, improve productivity, erase the huge leverage of hostile foreign petro-powers, reduce pollution, secure our defense, and ease a vampiric drain on our economy. Waste-not and a-penny-saved and cleanliness-is-next-to-godliness used to be good conservative attitudes. And so, for those reasons alone, let's join together and make a big (and genuine) push for efficiency.

"Oh, and by the way, I don't believe in Global Climate Change, but these measures would also help deal with that too.

"There, are you happy? Now, as gentlemen, and more in a spirit of curiosity than polemics, can we please corner some atmospheric scientists and force them into an extended teach-in, to answer some inconvenient questions?"

I can agree with one minor change. It is not "Global Climate Change", that is a weaselly excuse for moving the goal posts. The term is ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING. That's what is was sold as, and I really have a hard time with that. Why? Because IMHO it hasn't been demonstrated.

Oh sure, there are some lovely climate models that show that only by including man made CO2 can we match the temperature records. And, if we inconveniently leave out clouds, UHI effect, Solar etc. Oh and amplify the feedback role of H2O, well yes, then it all lines up.

Seriously that is the only "evidence" that links warming with human activity.

Cue up all the peeps claiming: but the world is warming, ice is melting, polar bears are dying, things are happening... yes, sure, some of that is undoubtedly true, that's evidence of change, not of causation.


Beyond that there are two issues.

One is the issue of the re-purposing of Science (capital S) for political gain. I am 100% in agreement with you on this, whether to the left AGW, or the right AIDS/Evolution etc.

Two is the opportunity cost. While we are wasting effort trying to solve a non-problem, real issues, which lack the sexiness of Global Warming are lagging.

Also with regards to the consensus strawman. I am of the firm opinion that there really are only a handful of bad-eggs in the climate science community. Sadly for the rest, they got themselves into positions of control and were able to manipulate the system to further their own ends. Sometimes by bullying, sometimes by collusion in peer review, not all of which has been exposed.

After this, most of the science community follows along, simply because peer review is supposed to catch the problems. So they don't do the kind of checking that is really needed for issues that overlap into general policy, and public outcry.

It's also an easy theme for environmental groups to get behind. WWF, Greenpeace etc. are all staunch supporters of AGW. Do you really want to be the maverick grad student who gets shouted down by the panda bear/polar bear cub toting greens in the school quad.

AGW as a theme simply snowballed.

Ask your climate scientist friends if they have replicated the famous hockey stick graph (MBH98) themselves? Are the statistics used in that paper any good? Can they get access to the data used to "compute" the graphs?*

Try it again with Phil Jones CRU temperature series, or James Hansen's NASA GISS temperature data. You can get 'optimized' versions, but the raw data is hard to come by. When it is available, you will find that the optimizations have made the 1930s seem cooler, and the 1990's seem warmer.

It's cargo cult science. (Feynman)


Likely I am tilting at windmills, here. So lets get one thing out there.

I am not denying climate change. Of course climate changes. I am not denying an anthropogenic component of climate change, it's just tiny.




* Remember correlation does not imply causation. Show your work, hiding your data and/or methods is not science.

BCRion said...

"I can agree with one minor change. It is not "Global Climate Change", that is a weaselly excuse for moving the goal posts. The term is ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING."

Except that Global Warming does not accurately describe the phenomenon anymore. You can call this "moving the goalposts" all you want, but I would much rather a term be used that describes what is actually going on. If anything, it's far more honest.

Certainly warming is part of the trend, but it is not global in the sense that every single place on the planet will get warmer on average. Rather, some places may actually get cooler. So yes, it really is "climate change". More appropriate metrics would be greater variability of weather, increased storm frequency and intensity, and systematic trends that are not part of normal cyclic behavior.

"Also with regards to the consensus strawman. I am of the firm opinion that there really are only a handful of bad-eggs in the climate science community."

Name them. Provide solid evidence. Ideally, you should also provide evidence that these people had undue influence on their colleagues as well. You can be of a "firm opinion", and that's fine. Is it a fact though? Only evidence can tell, so please provide.

Also, we've been through the "climategate" emails here. Sure, they were being unprofessional, but that does not invalidate the large volumes of work by others.

So here is a question. How do you feel about ocean acidification?

Stefan Jones said...

"Sadly for the rest, they got themselves into positions of control and were able to manipulate the system to further their own ends. Sometimes by bullying, sometimes by collusion in peer review, not all of which has been exposed."

Oh, my GOSH! Of COURSE! We've all been SUCKERS all this time!

And you're one of those BRAVE, CLEAR-SIGHTED HEROES who can see right through the conspiracy!

Thank you, THANK YOU for tearing the scales from our eyes!

Tony Fisk said...

Correlation is not causation, eh? Even if all derived trends point to an sudden increase at the onset of the industrial revolution? (Unless you have an alternate explanation?)

Still, I agree. It would be nice to have access to the raw data. Graphs are good for summarising and showing trends, but I'd like to see what made the graphs.

(and agree on what is meant by 'Global Surface Temperature')

Stefan Jones said...

TCB: Fox News is "only" 7% owned by that Saudi price.

On the other hand, Rupert Murdoch thought that 7% was important enough that he had the Saudi prince vet his son as a successor.

Ocean acidification:

Bad.

Really, really, really bad.

Death of ecosystem bad. Collapse of fisheries beyond anything we've seen bad.

But heck, I need to start thinking like a level-headed hysteria-proof Republican. Here, I'll try:

Hey, it's just fish, right? There are jobs at stake! The cost of shutting down those coal plants is much too high. Priorities, man, priorities!

Crap, that's much too long.

I know:

Energy!

Tax cuts!

Lifting Americas Spirits!

BCRion said...

Switching gears, I have a related perspective on the war against expertise. You have seen me here as knowledgeable about nuclear energy. It turns out that I am indeed one of these experts holding an advanced degree in the field.

Despite this, I actually have less credibility in certain crowds. I have no problem having an honest debate (like we have here), however, when things sink to character arguments, it becomes difficult to fight back. I have been called "biased" or even a "shill". So yeah, those years I've spent studying the physics and technology of nuclear reactors, quantifying the risks involved, understanding the regulatory processes, etc. are entirely worthless in the eyes of many because my knowledge somehow makes me deluded at best and dishonest at worst.

Don't get me wrong, there are legitimate points of argument against nuclear energy, just as there are with climate change. However, there are interesting parallels between the two:

* There is a strong correlation of agreement with nuclear energy/climate change and knowledge of the science.
* The opposition is largely from organized groups (environmental groups and conservative think tanks respectively) that have large followings whose members are passionate but largely ignorant of the fundamentals of what they are opposing (I only have anecdotes on the last one, but enough of them that see a trend).
* Both groups are great at using a media system that, above all, craves controversy, or at least the appearance of one.
* Credibility stems from the voices of a few incredibly vocal individuals with credentials but their opinions are outside the mainstream.
* They tend to argue with anecdotes rather than statistics. This one incident at a nuclear plant/debunked study proves that nuclear power is dangerous/climate change is a conspiracy.
* They tend to rely on appeals to emotion with blanket statements that often have little basis in fact or are devoid of context. Accepting nuclear power/climate change will lead to disasters of untold proportion/destroy our way of life.

So yeah, different names and groups, but the tactics are frighteningly similar.

Ian Gould said...

"I can agree with one minor change. It is not "Global Climate Change", that is a weaselly excuse for moving the goal posts. The term is ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING. That's what is was sold as, and I really have a hard time with that. Why? Because IMHO it hasn't been demonstrated."

The term climate change has been around since the 1980s - you may notice that that was when the International Panel on climate change was established by those infamous socialists Thatcher, Reagan and Kohl.

The only time there has been a concerted effort to replace the term "global warming" with :climate change" was in the early 2000's - and the people responsible for it were the Bush administration.

We know this because the memos where they discuss promoting "climate change" as a less disturbing alternative have been published under FOI.

Ian Gould said...

Robert Leyland: "Two is the opportunity cost. While we are wasting effort trying to solve a non-problem, real issues, which lack the sexiness of Global Warming are lagging."

Robert can I ask what your academic background in economic is?

I ask because your view on this issue appears to at variance with the majority of professional and academic economists and the results of my own work on economic modeling of responses to climate change.

David Brin said...

Robert L... you are completely missing the point.

What you have done is recite a bunch of talking points, instead of facing the crucial issues that I raised. You talk for instance about "hockey sticks" as if you... or I... or the Fox-propelled spin machine, actually know what you are talking about when you toss off such drivel.

Seriously Robert. YOU ARE NOT AN ATMOSPHERIC SCIENTIST. But you act as if your opinion, gleaned from cherrypicked spun and laundered anecdote-narratives, not only qualifies you to sneer at some of the people who really know the topic... but at ALL of them.

Can I repeat that? You sneer at ALL of the people who know the topic. Robert, I know you are better than falling for that.

There is a reason why the top atmospheres guys aren't answering the AGW-Denial narratives like "hockey-stick". They have TRIED to address questions, for years, and have found themselves mired by endless dervish-spins of vitumen and illogic, from the EXACT same propaganda mills that are also giving us Creationism.

Don't give me the "marginal cost" mumbo jumbo. Dig this. The political "side" that is pushing denial has no credibility anymore. They avowed that "we need energy independence" for 16 years while torpedoing EVERY effort to even research energy efficiency.

Again, you ignore the point. EVERY effort to address AGW would benefit us, even if AGW is untrue... hence the denial movement is as lame as any mass-hypnosis in history has ever been. True, some solutions and efficiency-oriented endeavors are more likely to be helpful than others. But that weighing of options would reach the same conclusions on better measures or worse... AGAIN(!)... whether AGW is true or not!

Face it. This is a put up job. Another culture war scam, foisted on us by our enemies.

Stefan said "And you're one of those BRAVE, CLEAR-SIGHTED HEROES who can see right through the conspiracy!Thank you, THANK YOU for tearing the scales from our eyes!"

Fact is, there is a direct correlation. The smartest and most knowledgeable people are all going one way and an increasingly hypnotized crowd is screeching at them "you smartypants are ALL STUPID!"

Well, it is an hypothesis. Indeed, we all may be stupid. Even wrong. But in this case, if we are wrong, and our advice is followed, the world STILL wins! And only the Saudis are losers.

So -- um -- tell me again why the deniers are so frantic about the need to discredit the smartypants, again?

David Brin said...

Stefan, that 7% is JUST the part owned by ONE prince. There are others, plus holding companies, plus sovereign wealth funds, plus masses of Newscorp debt paper....

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Robert
This is an excellent paper using MEASUREMENTS not models
http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2010/20100127_TemperatureFinal.pdf

This as an analysis of some earlier MODELS against recent temperature measurements
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/12/updates-to-model-data-comparisons/#more-1810

Have a look - what do you think??

d said...

Damn
I forgot
http://www.columbia.edu
/~jeh1/mailings/
2010/20100127
_TemperatureFinal.pdf

and

http://www.realclimate.org/
index.php/archives/2009
/12/updates-to-model-data-
comparisons/#more-1810

CulturalEngineer said...

The underlying issue isn't climate change OR expertise exactly.

The issue is really the growing distrust of the purposes for which expertise is and has been employed.

In connection with my own work I follow various elements of this 'culture war' population... a population with which I have much empathy.

Take a look at the following brief (and entertaining) YouTube video on climate change and 'experts':

WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!

I don't know her but I follow her videos and have come to admire her chutzpah and talent (she's quite a singer.) This is a bright and very caring girl. Not a religious nut, and she clearly uses plenty of technology in her music.

But I also see that she's a follower of Fox news, skeptical of things like vaccination and thinks the government may be building camps for eventual population control.

THIS IS THE AUDIENCE YOU HAVE TO REACH!

And it's not about a hatred of technology or science at root (I believe). A recent tabulation by NY Times showed that Science stories were more popular than political stories. In fact stories dealing with pure science and the awe it inspires were the most popular period.

The decline of positive attitudes towards expertise has to do with feelings of powerlessness.

This is also behind stories like Avatar, Dancing with Wolves, etc.

It's the sense of helplessness in the face of powers they can't control.

NOT a lack of faith in logic.

Any more than Martin Luther's rebellion was a rejection of spirituality.

In each case...

It's a distrust of institutions they've come to believe use a claim to expertise against their own interests.

Good will isn't enough to fix this.

In fact, technology is key to solution.

It requires addressing social/political technologies to restore trust in governing systems at every level.

It's stunning to me that this isn't clearly understood and addressed. I really can't understand it.

It's easy. There are cultural levers ready to go. Then again, I'm an amateur.

Carl M. said...

Climategate was non-trivial. I read some of the memos. And in my email box are some pretty reasonable experts questioning the magnitude of the phenomenon.

OTOH, ocean acidification scares me plenty. Coral die-off...yikes!

----

Now, as for the neener dancing I see here. "Hydrogen economy" was double-plus stupid, no doubt.

Wind energy and electricity superhighway are only slightly less stupid.

Superhighway: I've heard plenty of dismay here regarding overinterdependence. I agree. The electricity superhighway makes it worse.

Wind: It's intermittent. T. Boone Pickens is pushing wind since he owns lots of natural gas -- gotta run the idling backup turbines.

Cap and trade: overcomplicated and corrupt. How about a simple carbon tax? Ramp it up slowly and predictably so the car companies can retool.

CAFE: It's why two of the Big Three went bankrupt.

Public transport: slow, except in the densest localities. Very vulnerable to terrorism. Note England's surveillance state. Note TSA. Don't want it here. Like my car.

---

Put forth some reasonable solutions and the denialists will listen to the data. Use global warming as a foot in the door for destroying America as we know it, and certain people won't trust you.

Carl M. said...

Some reasonable possibilities:

A carbon tax. Al Gore pitched the idea of replacing FICA with a carbon tax. The editor of Forbes agrees that a carbon tax is the most economically efficient incentive.

Liquid Fluoride thorium breeder reactors: worth a few billion to try a pilot project. This is 50 year old technology that we almost put in airplanes!

Nano-antenna solar. Unlike wind, solar is located near population centers for significant human populations, especially in the Third World (Mexico, California). Nano-antenna solar promises to be efficient enough to make getting off the grid realistic, or turning suburban sprawl into a power source.

Cogeneration: if we are going to burn propane and natural gas in the home, why not put a stirling engine in the mix? Generate electricity and use the waste heat for hot water and home heating. Works with biomass too.

Carrington Ward said...

On one hand, I recall talking with a climate scientist about his work in the early '90s, back when the science was a good deal newer and more questionable. His response to my skepticism: we *know* there is more carbon in the atmosphere, we need to know how the increase impacts our environment. Broken into the small chunks these scientists actually work in, the science is pretty much incontrovertible. The problem is composing this normal science to form the basis for policy and political action.

On the other hand, I had an interesting chat with my (fairly conservative) farming cousins a couple years ago... the only question they had about climate change was whether it was a result of 'God's plan' or human action -- they knew very well that the growing season had gotten longer, Signs of Spring came earlier, and that things had been warming over the past decades (even if they may get a bit of a 'windfall' from plowing snow this winter.). Similarly, my grandmother has been watching pussy-willows and tree buds and listening for Robins for nearly all of her 60-70 odd years in Southern Vermont: for her, climate change is an accepted fact... and she is not one to speculate on -- or meddle with -- God's plans.

One interesting point about the contrast between American and European acceptance of climate change. In a way, my cousins and my grandmother are exceptions to the American rule of geographic mobility. In general, it's hard to find people here who have much deep and personal knowledge of the climate -- my cousins' family has been working that land since the 1850s, if not earlier. They can still dig their great-great grandfather's diaries out of the attic to see when the crops went in in the 1870s -- they have an 'expertise' that is increasingly rare in the American context.

It may be that some of the greater European concern about climate change stems from the greater likelihood that they've stayed in the same place most of their lives.

DJ said...

Where's today's Carl Sagan? Hint: It's not Al Gore. Nor is it Sean Hannity.

Self-proclaimed spokespersons for both sides have polluted the discussion.

There is pretty good evidence that human activities have contributed to the rate at which the mean temperature of the globe is increasing.

However, there are good questions that can be raised about climate change including: how MUCH human activities have contributed to that change; what the impacts (negative and positive) of such change are; the role of CO2; and possible solutions.

There's also a need for discussion on the philosophy of science and the factors that influence the scientific industry.

But those are things that can be discussed, civilly, and need to be.

The right is bringing some of those questions up, but not as points of honest discussion, but just to say, "These questions exists, so you're wrong!"

And the left is simply ignoring those questions.

The solutions proposed to what may not be a dramatic problem (impact of global warming) and that may not address the problem (water vapor is a bigger driver than CO2) are, in the end, solutions that I support for other reasons than AGW.

Sure I'd love it if people did what the should for the right reasons, but I'll take the wrong reasons (or the possibility of the wrong reason).

Robert said...

The problem with a Carbon Tax is that last word: Tax. The Republicans will fight tooth and nail against any form of taxation because they see it as the greatest form of evil ever to exist. Unless, of course, you're taxing the little people and let their buddies off the hook. Sorry, cynicism took hold there for a second. Though when you look at the "Flat Tax" that some Republicans push, you get the feeling that they want "everyone to pay their fair share" despite the fact that the Rich got rich off of the hard work and effort of the poor, and that without the poor buying products and such from the Rich, they (the Rich) would have nothing. Thus graduated taxation is in fact fair because it accounts for the extra infrastructure that the Rich used in getting rich.

Trust me. The Democrats would love to do a Carbon Tax. They went with Cap-and-Trade because you can build a private industry business behind it, which is something the Republicans are into. Except that the Republicans are against it because the Democrats came up with it first. It's this weird case of tit-for-tat that they have going on with their counterparts and that I honestly don't see going away anytime soon.

-----------

The "Energy Superhighway" is not actually a bad idea. One reason is that it's always windy somewhere. Thus with new superconducting transmission wires that are coming out to decrease energy loss, you end up with an energy infrastructure that can cope with the unreliability of wind and solar. Considering the lower cost of natural gas (and lower pollution from it), I don't see what the problem with using gas power until we have sufficient nuclear power to compensate would be. (For that matter, I'd love to see more emphasis toward natural gas vehicles for city vehicles (such as buses, taxis, and other such vehicles), and perhaps with privately-owned vehicles as well.)

While battery-powered vehicles cost more than gas-powered vehicles at this time, once large-scale construction of these vehicles begins, you'll see costs drop. That will take one of the largest arguments against electric vehicles out of the equation. While gasoline cars will never totally go away (cross-country trips don't work well with electric vehicles), a push toward electric cars will significantly reduce emissions from cars, as will more gas-efficient vehicles.

-----------

And off on a tangential note, I've been watching the recent brouhaha between Amazon and the publishers with some interest. It appears rather likely Amazon is going to lose this round with their $9.99 best seller specials; this is despite the fact that publishers have significantly lower costs for e-books compared to print books (where you have to pay for paper, ink, and printing, distribution, and storage). Considering the undo power publishers have over what gets published "officially" these days, I have to wonder if the stage is being set for a revolt of the Amateur Writer, using e-books to bypass the increasingly arbitary barriers publishers are setting for new writers.

If you think of it, Amazon is situated for an effective coup here. By hiring their own editorial staff, they can open the door to amateur writers by creating their own purely electronic publishing company. New writers could send in their works to this theoretical Amazon Publishing Co. and be printed under a specific category (for amateur writers). These books would cost less than more "traditional" publications, but Amazon could then garner a larger chunk of the profits as a result. The more "popular" e-books from these amateurs could then be considered as new and proven talent.

It'll be interesting to see what happens next with the e-books. Once the cost of the e-book platform drops below $100, I suspect they'll really take off and the fight over content and cost will truly begin.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

CulturalEngineer, I agree that the solution is to make the Know Nothing Party small enough that it can no longer self-reinforce and must start withering, the way the Klan did, in the 1920s. There are several levels to doing this that go beyond simply politics and winning elections.

1) As you say, the forces of enlightenment have to learn to speak to the interests and psychology of Red America. Um, what do you think I have tried to do endlessly, with my "suggestions" on how to proceed and win Culture War, by winning over those decent conservatives who are still approachable by sanity? http://www.davidbrin.com/suggestions.htm

...and by embracing the Blue Dog Movement, rather than spurning it. Recruiting hundreds of retired military men to hurl themselves into gerrymandered GOP districts.

2) Going after the propaganda machine.
http://foxnewsboycott.com/
(Seriously start spreading the news...)

3) Following the source. Opening every encounter with dittoheads with this statement:
"Okay, given that you are parroting the party line that comes straight out of Riyadh...."

====
Ocean acidification doesn't scare me that much... it is relatively linear. And thus ought to be reversible.

What frightens me are the vast stores of methane locked in permafrost or hydrate ices, in arctic seas. Those might see a sudden tipping point, as the planet heats up, abruptly releasing megatons of the stuff into the atmosphere, causing yet faster, accelerated warming. This kind of runaway effect is nonlinear and cannot be reversed by any conceivable kind of geoengineering.

I want to make an additional point, polemically useful toward deniers. Since they have chosen to spurn ALL qualified expert advice, their efforts to slow down energy research and efforts to achieve energy efficiency can be legally looked upon as knowing and open-eyed obstruction of efforts, by the majority, to avert a well-seen disaster. In other words, they can, according to common law and tort law, be held accountable for financial and civil damages, should that disaster come about

This point has (to my knowledge) never been openly stated. But it can really rock back your conservative neighbor. He tends to assume that, in the world to come, he will be one of the winners, regardless of what happens. Conservatives are used to suffering no consequences for being wrong -- about civil rights, womens' rights, Supply Side Economics...

...but here is a case where, if they prove wrong, those who suffer the worst effects of preventable GCC will have legal recourse to attach the assets of those who vigorously and knowingly thwarted measures to palliate the harm. Indeed, in the bitter angry world that ensues, the resources of such people will be politically and emotionally vulnerable, as well. No one will pity them.

I am not saying this in some hysterical threat-mode. It is parsed as a simple legal matter of cause and effect. And they have now been warned.

===
Oh, the northern climes might get a longer growing season. But they will still have onlyu ONE growing season. That is a poor tradeoff for sub-tropical climes that have several seasons, but turn into deserts or swamps. People who tout such should try living in Alaska. Summers there are already plenty fine. But Winter... and the mucky spring thaw... will NEVER be pleasant, even if the Earth as a whole bakes.

Abilard said...

"When I meet a conservative who says all that (and I have), I am all kisses and flowers."

You are indeed, as one who is in that category and has had such exchanges with you on this blog. In contrarian spirit, however, I will take issue with what I see has your main point here, that the hoi polloi should defer to the accredited minority on this issue, even though there are political and economic implications.

Let's take a hypothetical individual, a middle-aged woman willfully ignorant to a degree that would shame a male galago into giving up throwing poo. Make her from Alaska. Should she be allowed to voice an opinion on this issue or vote on how it should be handled as a citizen?

If you believe in democracy, the answer is yes. She has a right to make up her own mind, by whatever criteria she sees fit, and to act (and vote) accordingly. Her vote on this matter counts as much as that of someone like me who never needed to crib notes to pass tests.

Now assume that benighted folks like her are 40% of the population, and half the rest are skeptical. In a democracy every one of those individuals has a sovereign right to make up his or her own mind, by whatever criteria. Pieces of paper do not change this.

If the credentialed classes wish to win this, they will need to realize that 1) they enter the debate as equals and 2) that the debate will be decided by politics/populism/demagoguery. Such is the nature of democracy. And of our republic.

Abilard said...

Brin stated:

"I want to make an additional point, polemically useful toward deniers. Since they have chosen to spurn ALL qualified expert advice, their efforts to slow down energy research and efforts to achieve energy efficiency can be legally looked upon as knowing and open-eyed obstruction of efforts, by the majority, to avert a well-seen disaster. In other words, they can, according to common law and tort law, be held accountable for financial and civil damages, should that disaster come about"

Actually, arguing from the denier side, I made this point in the comments of one of your earlier posts:

"Deferring on climate change is a different matter. We all have much more invested. If industrialized nations are responsible for this then we owe a great deal to the rest of the world, especially the billion or so that may soon be displaced by rising sea levels.

If I, my children, and every other citizen of industrialized nations are to be expected to shoulder the trillions, the burdens, and the guilt then you can be very sure that my standard of evidence is going to be much higher."

Carrington Ward said...

Actually, there are beginning to be lawsuits out there modeled after the eventually successful series of suits against the tobacco companies.

As I understand it, the plaintiffs' argument is that a range of corporations have acted -- knowingly -- to downplay and distort established science, and therefore take on liability for damage caused by climate change.

It's a potentially powerful and dangerous suit because the plaintiff's need not prove that Exxon, et. al. directly caused a town/village (e.g. Kivalina, Alaska) to fall into the sea, but rather that they knowingly conspired to conceal any potential culpability.

At this point, the suit is generally considered a nuisance lawsuit... but these things change over time.

Nb. property insurers form an industrial block with a deep and abiding interest in the mechanics and prospects of climate change.

David Brin said...

To mark the SETI anniversary, as well as the publication of Paul Davies's The Eerie Silence, a new book about our search for extraterrestrial life, Penguin UK and National Science and Engineering Week will be firing off up to 5,000 messages into space via a radio telescope. The messages can be up to 40 words, and can say anything you like – greetings, warnings, confessions, jokes. The 50 best will be revealed in The Daily Telegraph in March, with each of the winners receiving a copy of Davies's book. To enter the competition, submit your message of no more than 40 words at www.penguin.co.uk/eeriesilence Entries will be accepted until February 28.

Personally, I think a message should be: "Know that humans are exuberant and impatient. No international consultations have discussed how best to make wise contact. Until our most-sage human thinkers have pondered and discussed this with the Earth's citizens, rash "messages" like this one should be taken as informal bursts, from individuals, that don't speak for humanity."

Carl M. said...

Coral die-off is happening NOW. Meanwhile, Virginia is having more snow than ever in my memory. So I worry more about the coral, and deforestation, and shrinking animal gene pools than I do about warming.

As Carl Sagan pointed out, we can reverse that methane bubble thingy by lighting up a few nukes. Since Israel, Pakistan and India are nuclear and Iran working on it, we might need that methane bubble going off to offset nuclear winter 8-0

Carrington Ward said...

"I can't have the fever, I feel chills."

Corey said...

I think part of the fundamental problem faced here is that it's hard to convince people when they don't feel vested in the topic.

The fact that the majority of the right-wing is so diametrically opposed to the idea that there might be something to the AGW theory (a topic we discussed at length in response to a previous entry on this subject) and the means to combat it suggests that we're met with a problem bigger than just an inherent distrust of science by the Sarah Palins of the world. Instead, I think that the lack of even a willingness to consider such science suggests that the real problem is that this group doesn't consider the potential impacts of climate change serious enough to warrant consideration when compared to their perception of the solutions, and that that is where the real disconnect begins.

Living here in Charlotte, NC, I observe that many of the same people who would quickly scoff at weather/climate related science when asked about GCC have no problem preemptively having schools closed to keep their kids safe from a threat predicted by almost the same exact branch of science. Clearly it's not the perception of competence of the scientists that compels a willingness to alter one's daily routine, but rather an instant investment in the issue.


I think what really needs to be done is that more education needs to be put out on the actual PRESENT effects of environmental degradation, and of our general addiction to fossil fuel. It's always a hard message when you're part of a group summarily judged as alarmist or extremist, but until people realize things like just what the consequences of the biodiversity crisis are, even in the here and now, or the fact that the very oil we guzzle down in our Hummer 2s is the same petroleum we use to subsidize the nitrogen content of our growing land in order to keep the planet fed, I think the reasons to reject fundamental changes in our way of life will remain so frightening, that the rejection will come before the science is even considered.

I won't pretend to have an instant solution to this problem, but I think it's a big part of the issue that creates the disconnect between scientists, environmentalists, green-energy activists, etc, and a significant portion of the population at large, which is inclined to listen to well-funded voices who simply tell them not to worry, and that cheap gas and low taxes will simply make all the world's problems better. Simple facts, in an of themselves, will have limited impact when competing with a message like that.

TwinBeam said...

Gee, David - did you run out of "kisses and flowers" so soon?

Maybe you really meant to say that you'd be all "Sneers and accusations"?

What, was Robert just supposed to agree with you, then shut up about his beliefs?

By all means, argue with him - but you showed bad faith in personally attacking him after luring him in.

BTW - since every effort to combat global warming will benefit us in other ways - can you explain how Carbon Credits are beneficial in other ways? (Especially with the corruption that is *already* starting - e.g. reports of them being used to launder money) Even if they could (somehow) work to reduce CO2 better than a domestic carbon tax on fossil fuels and a carbon-offset tariff on goods from nations without a carbon tax?

Corey said...

TwinBeam, Robert wasn't debating, he was just bringing up strawman arguments and red herrings to try to divert the discussion away from a useful direction, and wasn't even using valid points to do so, given that everything he's brought up has been thoroughly explained multiple times.

I, myself, already previously refuted more or less everything he was saying with hard data in the discussion surrounding a previous post, and yet, despite already having things like the 'UHI theory' explained, he just re-brings them up. Since when does the constant re-introduction of already-refuted points that are not even relevant to the discussion constitute debate?


Secondly, you second points seems to be a bit of a non-sequitur, though in your defense it is a legitimate issue with Brin's phrasing. That said, you're taking what he's saying too literally. Technically, a giant nuclear war that wipes out most or all of humanity would probably stop global climate change, but clearly he's not saying that that would benefit humanity. What he's implying is that after steps are taken to evaluate the best method to proceed in combating rapid GCC, that the ultimate results of what is achieved will, in every area of effort, be of benefit.

Do you realize that a means to increase the price of carbon would eventually lead to an abandonment of a destructive and extremely finite source of fuel being bought from maniacal governments who are using that money to fund the enemies of the Western World? I think the benefits of fundamentally changing that situation would outweigh the short-term burden of an increase in the price of fuel/industry from taxing carbon, especially because something like a predictably progressive carbon tax would spur the kind of investment in new technologies that our economy is desperate for right now ANYWAYS.

Ian Gould said...

"Cap and trade: overcomplicated and corrupt. How about a simple carbon tax? Ramp it up slowly and predictably so the car companies can retool."

I suggest you go and read up on the US Sulphur Dioxide emissions rights scheme which inspired cap and trade.

It's been running 20-odd years and has been a fabulous success by an standard - it has cost far less than originally expected; produced a far greater reduction in emissions and there's a cue of small emitters not legally required to take part lining up to join voluntarily.

You might also want to take a look at the EU carbon trading market which contrary to claims in the US media actually works quite well.

As a former professional economist, I'd have to say that the war on expertise is waged just as much in the economic field as in other fields.

MOST and I mean MOST of what the average layperson believes about economics is just flat-out wrong.

Ian Gould said...

"The solutions proposed to what may not be a dramatic problem (impact of global warming) and that may not address the problem (water vapor is a bigger driver than CO2) are, in the end, solutions that I support for other reasons than AGW."

Yes but so far as we know there hasn't been a dramatic increase in water vapor levels.

Additionally, because there's already so much water vapor in the atmosphere, it's already absorbing almost all IR radiation re-emitted by the Earth at those frequencies, therefore an increase in water vapor produces a far lesser increase in temperature.

Pat Mathews said...

David, you said "3) Following the source. Opening every encounter with dittoheads with this statement:
"Okay, given that you are parroting the party line that comes straight out of Riyadh...."

But --- how many dittoheads could find Riyadh on a map? Let alone know what or where you're referring to? Now, if you said "Saudi Arabia" -- I think they've heard of that.

Ian Gould said...

"If I, my children, and every other citizen of industrialized nations are to be expected to shoulder the trillions, the burdens, and the guilt then you can be very sure that my standard of evidence is going to be much higher."

Tell me, do you make a habit of deciding questions of objective fact based on the possible answers emotional impact?

"It'll make me feel bad" is not a valid argument in this context.

Corey said...

"Yes but so far as we know there hasn't been a dramatic increase in water vapor levels.

Additionally, because there's already so much water vapor in the atmosphere, it's already absorbing almost all IR radiation re-emitted by the Earth at those frequencies, therefore an increase in water vapor produces a far lesser increase in temperature."

There's a few things here. First, it should be realized that water vapor is a VERY, VERY powerful greenhouse-effect-inducing substance (sorry, didn't want to call it a 'gas' :D). It constitutes a very powerful feedback within climate, and does enhance either warming or cooling because its concentration in the atmosphere correlates to temperature (the warmer the air, the more water vapor, and vice versa). Recent research has also shown that stratospheric water vapor has actually been decreasing, which is a large part of what's been temporarily blunting the warming trend -likely- caused largely by anthropogenic influences.

What should be realized, however, is that water is different from most greenhouse substances because it has an obscenely short residence time (days to weeks, as opposed to years for most substances). This means that while increased water vapor concentrations might, in fact, catch more long-wave radiation than we're seeing now, water can't be increased or decreased as easily as other substances because it's a feedback, not a forcing (due to the residence time).

Abilard said...

@Corey

There in lies opportunity, but it requires the abandonment of the airy clouds of AGW theory. Florescent bulbs, improved insulation, Sun Frost refrigerators, Staber washing machines, and other energy-efficient technologies have strong practical merit. Hockey-stick graphs are not required.

Briefly consider the problems of AGW:

1. Demonstrate the thermal impact of CO2.
2. Adjust for other gases.
3. Adjust for particulates.
4. Adjust for currents (air, ocean).
5. Adjust for reflective properties of clouds, ice, etc.
6. Adjust for heat sinks (concrete cities vs green zones vs water etc)
7. Adjust for secondary factors (carbon-fixing from algae blooms in formerly frozen seas).
8. Adjust for random events (volcanic eruptions, fires, etc).
9. Model all of the above on a planetary scale, getting each iteration perfectly right, since every subsequent iteration depends on the temperatures, ocean levels, gas levels, albedo, currents and so forth of the iteration before.
10. Hope you haven't forgotten anything.
11. Convince voters with the attention spans of a gnat that every step above is SO 100% ACCURATE that they have to part with their hard earned money.

Now try to do this when your models do not even agree.

OR

Say "Gee, did you know this bulb can save you money?"

Of course, the problem with the latter approach is that you can only argue for tech that is demonstrably practical or for policies that are (e.g. tax oil because dependency is a security vulnerability).

What mystifies me is why this approach is not taken by all those who are convinced that our contradictory climate models contain a kernel of truth. If you can get 80% there, or even 40%, by taking strategy two, isn't that better than, say, Copenhagen?

Ian Gould said...

"Coral die-off is happening NOW. Meanwhile, Virginia is having more snow than ever in my memory. So I worry more about the coral, and deforestation, and shrinking animal gene pools than I do about warming."

Yes and coral die-off is caused primarily by rising water temperatures.

Trust me on this - I used to be an environmental economist working for the Queensland EPA. Queensland's economy is heavily based on tourism - and a major part of that is dependant on the Great Barrier Reef.

1998 was the hottest year on record (barely) it was also the eyar of the Great Indian Ocean coral die-off.

And while Virgnia experiences near-record snow Australia's experiencing near-record heat.

You might also want to look up the term "circum-polar vortex" and take note of predictions that climate scientists have been making for decades that global warming will lead to greater winter cold in your region.

Here's the mechanism: during the arctic winter, it gets very cold. cold air sinks and there's a low-pressure zone pulling in air from lower latitudes. These winds keep the extremely cold arctic air pooled aroudn the pole.

Increase temperatures at the pole and the gradient that drives the vortex ceases to operate - the circumpolar vortex breaks down and the polar air - which is still colder than the air at lower latitudes can move down from the pole.

Like I said, this was predicted decades ago.

Abilard said...

@Ian

"'It'll make me feel bad' is not a valid argument in this context."

It is also, quite obviously, not my argument.

Corey said...

Abilard, I realize you probably weren't around for the last round of this particular debate, but models already do that within an acceptable margin of error.

Your requirement for "100% accuracy" is a nirvana fallacy, because it compares science, which NEVER deals in absolute and immutable truths, to a idealized but nonexistent alternative. All science does is examine phenomenon, evaluate theories which can potentially explain said phenomenon, and determine which theory has the greatest probability of being correct.

Thus far, the AGW theory is supported quite well at every level, albeit as imperfectly as theories in any branch of science, and models have furthered that understanding notably. The models don't completely disagree as you imply; in fact they don't tend to disagree, period, outside of the margin of error within those models, and, for the level of understanding and predictive power available (one can only tell the future so well), have also agreed with the temperatures that they have predicted rather well, even going back to Hansel's 1988 predictions, which only fell off in accuracy after the aforementioned stratospheric water-vapor-loss (a feature of climate that was not understood at that point) started to kick in in the latter half of this decade.

The hindsight prediction is, of course, even better, because the scientists already know about all of the major forcings and feedbacks that have occured (being past features of climate), and when those features of climate are inputted, the agreement with features of observed temperature, from the 1991 Mt Pinatubo eruption and subsequent aerosol increase, to the mid-century cooling period, are all modelled remarkably well.

Ian Gould said...

"BTW - since every effort to combat global warming will benefit us in other ways - can you explain how Carbon Credits are beneficial in other ways? (Especially with the corruption that is *already* starting - e.g. reports of them being used to launder money) Even if they could (somehow) work to reduce CO2 better than a domestic carbon tax on fossil fuels and a carbon-offset tariff on goods from nations without a carbon tax?"

Where to start:

Carbon credits are used fro money laundering? Show me a financial instrument that isn't.

Next you'll be telling us some of the traders in the market use their salaries to buy drugs and hire prostitutes.

A carbon market differs fro ma carbon tax in only one important regard - the price of carbon is set by the market rather than by government fiat.

If you believe the government is better than the market at setting prices, then by all means you should support a carbon tax. (You should probably also act on that belief by moving to North Korea or Cuba.)

Carbon credits have provided millions of people in the developing world with access to electricity and have probably already saved millions of lives (not an exaggeration) by providing African and Indian women with gas-heated or solar stoves to reapcle the use of dung as a fuel. (Cancer from dung smoke is a major killer in the developing world.)

Abilard said...

@Corey

100% accuracy was not my requirement when I looked at what the Canadian and Hadley models predicted for our property. Accurate enough to plant tree species was my need. And they aren't. One has us dry, the other has us wetter. Bit of a problem.

But that is not germane to my point, which is that in a democracy it is necessary to convince the voters you are right, not just to be right.

Corey said...

Alibard, no model can predict what a localized area will do perfectly, and as climate is still only a partially-understood phenomenon, models do not get everything rights, especially as you seem to be criticizing the Hadley models for an inability to model very short-term trends, which these models do not do. With the level of understanding we have, models should correctly forecast *most* features of climate on the ***multi-decadal*** scale; they will not, however, tell you whether or not next year will be rainier than last year.

What these models are sufficiently good for is giving us a potential look at the general trends that will likely result in climate over a multi-decadal period for a given set of conditions (conditions, which I remind you, are inherently only possible to predict with limited accuracy). Because they can do that, particularly with temperature, which is more understood than, say, how precipitation will react (radiation balance is just a simpler thing to figure out), what CAN BE SAID, and this is the crux of the matter here, is that the models accurately deal with temperature well enough that one can claim a high degree of liklihood of proper attribution of forcings and feedbacks to said temperature, thereby corroborating the AGW theory (which already fits the available facts better than competing theories regardless).


Of course, in the point of convincing the public, I don't think we're in any kind of disagreement. I think we're just paraphrasing each other, as the ultimate problem is still convincing the public. Scientists are driven by a search for understanding, but the public at large is driven by other concerns, and will only be receptive to changes in energy-related policy if they clearly understand how this issue affects them.

lc said...

Rob H. said:

"While gasoline cars will never totally go away (cross-country trips don't work well with electric vehicles), a push toward electric cars will significantly reduce emissions from cars, as will more gas-efficient vehicles."

What will happen when the electric infrastructure takes over and the gas/gasoline infrastructure fades away? Gas stations along freeways only? Or loss of cross-country trips by motor vehicle? Will we become more insular? (David -- sf story idea?)

Abilard said...

@Corey

The land in question has been in the family for a century (nearby parcels since just after the American Revolution), and I expect/hope will be held by us a century from now. The species I am considering live that long and that is the time period (100 years out) that I wanted projections for. So, it is the multi-decadal scale I was hoping for agreement on, not next year out.

You see, I am more skeptical of politics than I am of AGW. I went into it giving climate scientists enough credence that I was going to base some of my spending on their projections. But, they don't agree. Therefore I can't.

I then looked at an environment and economic impact study for my state. Double-checked some of the numbers. Found discrepancies.

So, AGW? Plausible. Climate change? A given. Getting off fossil fuels ASAP, even at a high cost? All for it (oil first please).

But do I think climate scientists have made their case? No. And I think they are ill-equipped to make that case politically, which is where it needs to be made.

David Brin said...

Abilard's paraphrasing of my Skeptics' Statement shows him to be a Skeptic and not a Denier.

Oh, Was I rude to Robert L?

I apologize. Sincerely.

OTOH, fact is, he was not discussing the topic at hand. Which is why one cohort with zero residual credibility, propelled by an agenda that does come directly from propaganda organs staked by trilion-dollar stakes in one side of the argument...

...should be accepted as unbiased, while the other side of the argument - represented by 100% of an extremely diverse community of competitive and inherently honest-curious individuals who happen to be the people who KNOW the most... why THOSe people are assumed to be the biased and corrupt ones. Uniformly and across the board.

I guess I was a bit steamed (and I do NOT want to lose Robert L from this community!) that he did not understand the core point. That this strange hypothesis BEARS THE STEEP BURDEN OF PROOF.

All this blather about cap'n trade vs carbon taxes is like GOP tactics over health reform. They talk as if the devil is in the details, then refuse to negotiate an outcomes-oriented set of NEW details!

I will happily put a republican in charge of the commission to design BOTH a new health care system AND the new big push for energy efficiency... providing he first declare that the outcome sought (and his personal wealth is staked on it being achieved) is the insurance of all americans, the flattening of health care cost rise and the tripling of energy efficiency and decline in dependence on foreign fossil fuels.

Niggling details and anecdotes may work with the red folks, but we are sick of it. Because we know it's insincere.

Carl M. said...

Ian: an excise tax to push up a price is not communist.

Imposing a tax and demanding that the price stay the same or demanding that consumption stay up despite the higher prices is communist.

CAFE is communist. The government demanded that car companies make cars more fuel efficient on average even though such action was not justified by the price of gasoline. Result: bankruptcy of two of the big 3.

Richard Nixon was communist on oil prices. When the Arab nations cut us off, Nixon demanded that domestic producers continue to pump at pre-embargo prices. Throw in price controls on retail gasoline and the result was gas lines.

Ian Gould said...

"CAFE is communist. The government demanded that car companies make cars more fuel efficient on average even though such action was not justified by the price of gasoline. Result: bankruptcy of two of the big 3."

Cafe was introduced in the 1970's, it is therefore rather difficult to accept a direct causal link with something that happened 30+ years later.

Especially since the same regulations applied to Ford nd to the various transplant operatiosn and import cars.

BCRion said...

"CAFE is communist. The government demanded that car companies make cars more fuel efficient on average even though such action was not justified by the price of gasoline."

I'm not sure if communist is the right word. Beyond paternalistic economy management (which is socialism), there are definite national security reasons for increased fuel efficiency. Buying less oil from people who hate us and fund terrorists intent on blowing us up is probably a good thing.

Now, whether fuel efficiency standards would solve the problem is quite another matter, i.e. Jevon's Paradox. However, I do think there are legitimate justifications related to common defense, a widely agreed upon role of even the most capitalistic government. Free markets are a great tool, but they do not take into account many things that society as a whole must.

TwinBeam said...

Ian Gould:

"A carbon market differs from a carbon tax in only one important regard - the price of carbon is set by the market rather than by government fiat."

It's government fiat either way - just much more poorly done with carbon credits.

A hugely expensive degree of diverse and globally diffuse monitoring is going to be required to keep the CC system honest - of both CO2 producers, and CC producers. Starting a CC system on the cheap, without adequate monitoring, is a "bait and switch" tactic.

We already have mechanisms in place to continuously monitor and tax imports. Taxing domestic fossil fuel production is also pretty reliable - it's hard to hide a coal mine.

Carbon Credits won't do much about countries that refuse to take part. A carbon-offset import tariff on products from such nations *would* apply pressure.

But the BIGGEST difference with a carbon tax, is that the money stays in the country. Consumers will be paying higher prices either way - don't you suppose it might be easier to convince them to support it, if the tax revenues reduce their other taxes?

BCRion said...

The problem with the free market and pollution in general is that it does not take into account the effects downstream and in the future. There is no mechanism in place to raise the cost of carbon emissions if the impacts will be felt only after decades have passed. Likewise, the costs of respiratory ailments from air pollution are not felt by the producer of the pollution but by the health care customer.

In this respect, the free market fails at appropriately assigning cost because of there exists loose if any financial connection between the action and the added cost. This is a case where the state, acting on behalf of the people, should intervene and artificially raise cost of the action to discourage it so to reduce the loosely connected added cost.

Mainly, I support a progressive carbon tax because there is less rent seeking possible. Right now the major players are trying to set up a system where they hold the carbon credits and can profit. Not that profit is inherently bad, but manipulating the system to produce profit and secure market share without adding a product to the system is.

Jacob said...

It would be nice if the government made companies realize their externalities like pollution.

TCB said...

Actually, the best approach to generating power in a carbon-neutral, green and reliable way is to generate it on site as much as you can. Use solar to heat your water and generate electricity, insulate your house well and design it so that it almost heats and cools itself... and grow as much of your own food as possible right there (it's called permaculture). We've hardly begun to try, and if the government had spent a trillion dollars on stimulating a massive changeover of US homes toward this sort of design philosophy, there'd be so much less worry about where we'd get energy.

For example, there's a well-understood and almost primitive solar space heating technology known as a thermosiphon which needs no moving parts. Hot air rises from the top, cold air goes in the bottom to be heated on black-painted aluminum or bug mesh; hence the name thermo-siphon. Why don't we have homeless people building them?

That's just one example of the sort of practical thinking that we so seldom find in the climate-change discussion. We have lots of feasible answers in hand... but our rulers prefer to spend the money on foreign occupations and bank bonuses.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Abilard,

Two things
(1)Did you read the papers I linked?

(2)I have no problems with your Alaskan having a vote,
What I do have problems with is her having much more than one vote through political speech (money)

Ian Gould said...

"It's government fiat either way - just much more poorly done with carbon credits."

No it isn't because carbon credits are tradable and the price is determined by the market.


"A hugely expensive degree of diverse and globally diffuse monitoring is going to be required to keep the CC system honest - of both CO2 producers, and CC producers. Starting a CC system on the cheap, without adequate monitoring, is a "bait and switch" tactic."

And a carbon tax has exactly the same problems.

I will repeat my earlier question - have you looked at all at the US Sulphur Dioxide trading scheme?

Do you thin ka tax or direct regulation would produce superior results?

Why specifically do you think the results of a carbon dioxide trading scheme would differ?

Abilard said...

@Duncan

The more interesting URL threw a 404, so I went to its parent directory and pulled out what I assume is the paper you were recommending:

Hansen, Ruedy, Sato, & Lo - If It’s That Warm, How Come It’s So Darned Cold? [PDF 1.2MB]

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to
fool.” - Richard Feynman

"Cases of deliberate fudging of data, of scientific fraud, are so rare that these infrequent episodes live in infamy for decades and even centuries."

This is true. Deliberate fraud is also not what I am worried about. I spent a little more than a decade of my adult life in academia, during which time I logged a couple thousand hours working with data collections. I also read a fair number of papers based on the collections with which I worked, written over prior decades. The data presented in the papers were clean, elegant, and worthy of number crunching. The collections... not so much.

Dr. Brin seems to have a very noble idea of grad students, professors, and the free-for-all competition in the search for truth that they partake in. First, in my experience, grad students are sloppy, and they tend to be the ones doing the data collection. In Brin's world competition would check this. In my experience it does not.

Second, the competition is not between individuals, it is between factions in a department (the factions are local representations of schisms in the discipline). Grad students spend their first year sorting themselves into factions. Once in a faction they get farmed data collection jobs by their mentors who are looking for results that forward their standing within their faction, and secondarily that of their faction vis a vis the others. Miraculously the grad students produce such data, and keep their jobs, get references, and move on.

Papers are then produced, citing all the politically important members in the given faction, locally and in the discipline at large. Status is measured by the number of citations one receives so this is a tool of ingratiation. I leafed through one such paper, a very brief thing with a very large bibliography, while its author was present and asked him if such a large bibliography on such a small paper bespoke a certain lack of originality. He replied that it simply meant it was well-founded.

So, I would like to see data collections and the data collection process made more public to remove academia as much as possible from the process. To some extent I am willing to give Hansen's paper above the benefit of the doubt, since he was willing to get himself arrested by making being a nuisance a couple of miles from where I am typing this. I doubt the games academics play are his primary concern. But even idealistic professors are made vulnerable by the quality of the data collection process going on beneath them.

Tacitus2 said...

Regards climate change, I don't think I even qualify as a skeptic. I have seen places in Alaska where the glaciers used to be.

But lets be pragmatic.
In the depths of a recession, expensive fixes are impossible to sell.
And a purely local (US) solution that does not deal with the developing world will not work.
The controversy over the science has gotten lots more press in England than it has here, in particular the info on Himylayan glacier non-melt seems fishy.

If this is a crisis that is going to go past tipping point in the next couple of years, we are likely screwed, as a political solution is not yet possible due to the above.

If the crisis point is down the road a ways, there is time to go back, re-examine the data and make the case. With open data and open computer codes.

As in so many areas, our best hope is technology. Somewhere, in a garage in North Dakota, some nerd is hopefully putting the finshing touches on the Mr Fusion home reactor.

If we had her address we could send over a 12 pack of Mt. Dew and some Skittles to help the cause.

Tacitus2

Abilard said...

@Tacitus2

I'd even chip in some Doritos.

Tacitus2 said...

Back to a previous topic.

Rumors, or perhaps just trial balloons, today suggest reconciliation for health care reform.

This has been suggested here as well.

This is polical courage, of a sort.

But it is not "doubling down", it is essentially, "Pickett's Charge".

The current bill on the table is a lousy slab of legislation, disliked on the left, loathed on the right, and by significant margains, not wanted by the public. Polls, btw, should always be regarded with lots of salt, but they are consistent regards the latter.

President Obama has opined that once people "get to know it" they will like the new system. Perhaps, but that seems unlikely given the low degree of trust in the Federal government right now, and the fact that the bill is designed to put the taxes front loaded so as to make the OBM conjurations appear less diaphenous.

And whatever lurches out of sidecar fixes (oh, the cartoonists are prayin' for that one), will be worse than the current krep. No small achievment there.

Democrats, and moderate Republicans are like ANV captains and colonels, looking out across that wide open field that lies between them and Cemetary Ridge. Or between the safety of November.

They know they won't all make it.

And when they look over their shoulders, do they see a calm, confident Bobby Lee, victor over the Yanks on every occasion? (leave Antietam out of it for now).

No, they see an inexperienced general, 0-3 in his last three political battles, who issues ambiguous communiques and is surrounded by toadying staff officers.

When the bugle sounds, will it be Charge they can believe in?

Tacitus2

Jacob said...

Hi Tacitus2,

There will always be reasons why times are tough right now. We can show leadership by coming up with plans even if we implement them immediately. Suppose we come up with "the answer" we could always just create a program which brings it into being over the next twenty years through very small steps.

Something small like a 1/4 of a percent tax on Carbon which can ONLY go towards promoting research and education. It could increase every year by that amount to give Business time to innovate and diversify. This is just an idea and I don't mind if people dismiss it as inferior to others. But I would like to see action taken. Slow and deliberate to prevent economic hardship and course corrections as we better understand the problem.

We don't need a government solution, but we do need a force which makes companies/others realize the indirect negative effects of their actions. Consumer choice would be better, but most consumers don't have the time to properly evaluate the products and services they buy.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Well, wasn't medicare/social security rather poorly designed upon it's introduction? The original medicare bill has undergone many, many changes and revolutions since its introduction, the same with welfare.

If we can just get the healthcare bill passed, made a reality that both sides have to work with, if past, similar programs are any measure, changes and improvements to the system will come with time.

David Smelser said...

"It's government fiat either way - just much more poorly done with carbon credits."

"No it isn't because carbon credits are tradable and the price is determined by the market."

David S: Isn't is the case that with an carbon exchange market, the government determine the total amount of carbon credits available (which the market then determines the price)? So in either method, the government is adjusting a dial that ultimately determine the amount of CO2 produced and the cost to the consumer.

I personally prefer the tax model because I think it more easily generalizes to cover other external factors that aren't currently being included in the market. So if one were concerned about the waste issues with nuclear power plants, all one would have to do is amend the tax tables so that the cost of nuclear power includes the cost of disposal. This seems more pragmatic than creating 'nuclear waste markets' and exchange rates between CO2 and nuclear waste.

David Brin said...

Abilard said: "Dr. Brin seems to have a very noble idea of grad students, professors, and the free-for-all competition..."


No, Abilard, you are being obdurate.

True, I think that the AVERAGE levels of competitive drive, curiosity, intellectual honesty and indifference to fear or greed are far higher in science, I will willingly avow that many scientists are obtuse, obstinate or corrupt. Or sloppy.

Your problem though is that you ill-comprehend the logic here. Among thousands of postdocs and junior tenured professors, all it takes is a few, scattered all over the world and in dozens of sub-fields... thus NOT POSSIBLY subject to the same corrupting influences... to notice chinks in the Standard Model, see a rep-building opportunity, and go after it.

Not one of the patterns you describe are pervasively compulsory enough to blanket an entire scientific field. Or if they do, then it is the first time, ever, that such a BIG model, subject to such huge international interest, had been so uniformly cowed, suborned and perfectly corrupted.

You are offering a hypothesis that stands next to the alternative... that openly corrupt petro interests are stoking anti-science fever in their own, venial interests.

Dang, but the koolaid must taste sweet.

Tacitus, I agree that solutions may bloom suddenly. Delicious tissue-culture meat may reduce the farting herds!

But here's the point. That research was deliberately and pervasively and treasonously sabotaged for decades, by the very same petro-backed "side" that brought us economic collapse and Fox News.

They called it Culture War, I didn't. But it is.

Sorry though. They should pass the senate bill, then let the Republicans and liberals eagerly negotiate changes from that status quo.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Abilard,
I agree with Dr Brin, even if by some evil conspiracy the American post-docs have all had a spine removal operation there are all of the Dutch, German, Australian, Chinese, Scandinavian........ post-docs.
Some of these are funded on entirely different models and all will be hungry for the paper that overturns the model and makes their names

Abilard said...

"You are offering a hypothesis that stands next to the alternative... that openly corrupt petro interests are stoking anti-science fever in their own, venial interests. Dang, but the koolaid must taste sweet."

No, just relaying my own experiences. And it is normal for institutions to develop such blinkered insularity (religions and governments provide plenty of examples). You are arguing that science is immune to this by its nature. I think rather that its normal state, because scientists are human, is to operate like all the rest of our institutions but that occasionally, as Kuhn suggested, a paradigm shift slips through. The lone individual who changes everything is the rare exception.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Isn't the whole point of scientific institutions that they follow the scientific method? Aren't they designed to operate on facts and data above all else? Not that that prevents preconceptions, etc. from forming (it is run by humans, after all), but it should be a very strong deterrent to said preconceptions, etc. from overriding the data and facts as a general rule.

I should think that a system designed to operate scientifically, run by people trained to operate scientifically, would be above (relatively speaking) biases and preconceptions as the general rule, instead of as an exception.

Abilard said...

Isn't the whole point of the Church that they follow the moral principles? Aren't they designed to operate on love and the Word of God above all else? Not that that prevents sin from occurring (it is run by humans, after all), but it should be a very strong deterrent to such sins from distorting God's word as a general rule.

----

:-)

I prefer the separation of powers approach. Assume humans will be what humans are and design systems around that. In the case of science, separating data collection from those with vested interests in analyzing said data would be a nice start.

David Brin said...

Abilard, Kuhn has been refuted relentlessly, but his ghost lingers. Only non-scientists cite him anymore.

Here is a response I made to a guy who raised your similar shiboleth.
I appreciate your courteous response. But there is something a bit desperate about these attempts to justify the totally illogical. For example, Andrew speaks of all sorts of monetary and psychological factors that may sway this or that researcher to toe the party line... and I fully agree, such things may happen. They are far more rare in science, where corruption and herd mentality occurs less often than in any other realm of human life. But yes, they happen.

And Andrew is using the narrative method long pushed by a conservatism that has lost all logic, sending great conservatives like Barry Goldwater spinning in their graves. For Andrew's narrative requires that the SPECIFIC be made GENERAL... No, in fact, his reasoning insists that the mere possibility of a specific failure mode means that it will be UNIVERSAL!

He can cite no specific case of corruption-subornation or herd-intimidation of important scientists, yet he suggests it has happened to ALL of them in a large and diverse field, with highly competitive researchers scattered all over the globe, working for a vast variety of institutions. He does this, despite the fact that atmospheric science has been clearly one of the most dynamic, competitive, vigorous and successful fields in all of history, changing our entire view of what it means to "check the weather report." From mere hours to 14 day forecasts in just two decades.


What makes it weird is the glaring opposing hypothesis. That a major industry filled with already hugely-corrupt forces, with trillions at stake, might finance propaganda mills filled with same-voice shills foisting a message "leave the status quo alone!"

Ilithi Dragon said...

Actually, no, the Church is designed to provide and promote the structured worship of whatever deity(s) it is dedicated to, along with the doctrine and principles espoused by said deity(s). Religion is, in and of itself, no more associated with peace/love/etc. than anything else. The Church/Religion is also not designed from the ground up to question and revise itself, and to not only allow, but encourage its constituent members/followers question and revise it. "Sin" and "morality" are also arbitrary principles, which can be contradicted by another Church/Religion's definition of 'sin' and 'morality', and even by the definitions of one Church/Religion/belief system. Observed data and facts, however, are not arbitrary, and while they can be doctored and presented arbitrarily, the hard data itself is not arbitrary, and cannot be so without some falsification (either intentional or unintentional).

Abilard said...

"leave the status quo alone!"

The last thing I would argue for. I think corporations operate according to the same institutional logic. Further, I think our marketplace is in need of Elizabeth Warren style reforms, but that is a different topic. So, wrong shibboleth, wrong tribe.

There is a difference between how science should ideally work and how I have seen it work. That difference could be addressed by reform. The data collection reform I suggest could also help slightly with the political argument.

Like the Census Bureau we could have a bureau tasked with collecting environmental data and publishing it online. Nothing else. Scientists could then argue interpretations and make cases for numerical adjustments as Hansen et al. were in the paper Duncan referenced earlier. But the public could see the raw data and, amateurs or not, enter the fray.

I suspect, like others here, that it is too late, however, and the political argument has been lost. Tactically, though, emphasizing the nobility of science is not going to win many points. Emphasizing peer review at a global scale can, and you'll notice that the hoi oligoi have gone to criminal lengths to fight scientists there (climategate).

Hoi polloi won't care that this is unfair to you. They also won't believe that the majority of scientists are a superior sort of human; smarter, wiser, or more purely motivated (even if by some chance that is true). They might, however, accept that science is more meritocratic, but that has to be marketed. Greater openness, willingness to admit mistakes (like the institutionalism climategate revealed), and willingness to reform would help this.

Robert said...

As I said, we need to shift the battleground. We need to use the weaknesses of the groups aligned against the activists and scientists who are warning of the need to stop global warming against them. We've stated our argument. We've shown the proof. And we're being ignored or smeared so that our warnings fall on deaf ears.

So let's go after them. Let's point out the massive ecological and health damage that coal power does. Let's reveal the economic and political damage that the oil industry has inflicted. Let's show that the alternatives (nuclear, solar, and wind energy) are viable and indeed will help stabilize our economy and not damage the environment (at least, not to the same extent). Let's emphasize how importing oil is helping the enemies of America become more powerful at our expense, and that by pushing hard to get alternatives running now we can make our nation safer. Let's point out that trying to keep us on oil is unpatriotic and unamerican because it's helping our enemies. And that even if we managed to add dozens of oil rigs off the coast in the next year and started pumping immediately, we'd still be importing a lot of oil, so "drill drill drill" just ain't the solution.

Let's point out the rising levels of asthma and related respiratory ailments that are caused by oil and coal pollution, and how this costs us more and more money for increased insurance rates and what we have to pay out-of-pocket.

If we show how much oil and coal costs people... they'll get behind the "green" technologies... and in doing so we'll do the very thing we need to: significantly reduce carbon emissions.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Abilard, it comes down to diversity of participants. 5,000 diverse and dispersed scientists constitute a market. 50 top oilco execs, Russian oligarchs and petro-princes constitute a cartel.

"There is a difference between how science should ideally work and how I have seen it work."

You keep saying stuff like this, as a mantra, while avoiding the issue. ARE you contending that the corrupting forces you describe are so fierce that they are effectively compulsory, enforcing memic uniformity on an inherently diverse community of normally ballsy individualists? If so SAY SO!

Because you are. The next posting is addressed to you.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Abilard

The data IS available on-line,
(I will try and find the links) so anybody with the expertise can repeat the analysis

A couple of months ago I followed the links and downloaded a pile of measurements but I didn't have enough time to do my own analysis

If I can do that so can anybody!

Dwight Williams said...

Maybe we need another bit of truth in advertising here. Call it "human-made climate derangement". That's what we're all really scared of here, right?

Corey said...

You know Rob H, you're absolutely right. Again, the issue isn't one of winning on a scientific or factual basis; Despite Alibard's assertion to the contrary, the case for AGW has been made far past the point that would be required for widespread acceptance in any other field of science (and yes, that includes models, which have historically predicted MANY features of climate very accurately).

The case has been made, the proof offered for the examination of a candid world, only to find that such a world did not exist to receive said evidence, and not just for AGW, but for a number of other issues that have been discussed here.

People need to understand that these are real problems, and that, above all else, they are being hurt RIGHT NOW by a refusal to work towards the resolution of these problems, specifically due to the extreme right wing in this nation.

Still, painting people who wear a cloak of patriotism as unpatriotic and harmful to America is somewhat difficult. As a favorite science fiction character of mine once said, "Villains who twirl their mustaches are easy to spot, but those who clothe themselves in good deeds are well-camouflaged". He might have been speaking of us, here and now :)

Stefan Jones said...

From the New York Times:

Room for Debate: Global Warming and Weather Psychology

Four essays about the perceptions of weather vis-a-vis climate change.

Corey said...

Very interesting Stephan (and largely correct to some extent for both sides, especially when you look at certain PACs on the environmental side), though I will say that I felt that Jonathan Rose' essay didn't really belong.

I didn't necessarily disagree with what he was saying, at least for the most part (a lot of weather can't presently be attributed to climate change; there's too little information and too much localized variability), but it wasn't really about how the perception of weather is used as part of a psychological war for public opinion, and so was very off-topic because it basically just said "all extreme weather IS caused by climate change, get over it and act". Again, the intention there is admirable, but it's curious that the Times included it.

Abilard said...

"ARE you contending that the corrupting forces you describe are so fierce that they are effectively compulsory, enforcing memic uniformity on an inherently diverse community of normally ballsy individualists?"

There is nothing compulsory about it. One can leave academia (as I did). One can conform to a faction. The choice of factions is great. You don't even have to acknowledge that you exist in reality or that knowledge is real.

But it is between the factions that the competition occurs, and within factions there are social and economic mechanisms to enforce memetic conformity.

I'm also not describing this as corrupt. I consider it the norm.

David Brin said...

Argh!!!!

Slippery as an eel.

Dig it. By compulsory I mean universally and irresistably compelling. I am going after you till you admit that your premise is based upon there being a mechanism that forces there to be NO EXCEPTIONS to your scenario -- that 100% of the bright people in a very smart field fall prey to dismal mental traps of the kind your describe...

...with ALL of them, universally, falling in exactly the same way to exactly the same party line...

a party line that YOU and your fellow "skeptics" are somehow universally immune to!

THAT is the inherent reasoning. And it is absurd.

Abilard said...

@Brin

Ah, but I have no interest in keeping company with your strawman!

As I said earlier there are exceptions. Paradigm shifts occur. But, by definition, such events are not the norm.

I do think that a strong case can be made that academia is much more meritocratic, and therefore more competent, than Wall Street with its Bailout Bonuses. Peer review and factional competition have done this much. That is a relative statement, however. I have contempt for Wall Street. Academia could be more meritocratic if it made some structural changes like I suggest above.

Robert said...

Off on a tangent here (as I am wont to do ^^), Dr. Brin, I thought you'd be amused to learn you've got your own entry over at TV Tropes (which is one of the greatest timesinks around, and may be responsible for increased entropy in the universe - I mean it, TV Tropes sucks days if not years out of your schedule!). Here's the page on the tropes you're most likely to use, and here's the page on the tropes used in the Uplift War series of books. In fact, you're the Trope Namer for Uplifted Animals (interestingly enough, the science fiction webcomic Schlock Mercenary utilizes uplifted elephants and gorillas as ongoing characters in the comic).

My apologies for the several hours you're about to lose there. =^-^=

Rob H., who knows he's evil

TCB said...

Rob, TV Tropes is one helluva deliciously addictive box of hexed Turkish delight .

Dwight Williams said... "Maybe we need another bit of truth in advertising here. Call it "human-made climate derangement". That's what we're all really scared of here, right?" Interesting point... the terminology has been in a bit of flux and the naming of names is politically loaded. However.

Even if we could solve the global warming/climate weirding threat overnight, we would still be faced with an array of human-caused environmental disruptions. Let me throw out an idea:

SHEOL. An acronym for Systemic Human Environmental Over Load.
For that is the real problem. We overload the environment.
We overload the environment with our numbers and religious fanatics oppose the obvious solutions.
We overload the environment with unsustainable harvests of trees, fish, coal, you name it.
We overload the environment with an irrational corporate-globalization philosophy of endless economic growth.
With ever smarter and ever more powerful weapons.
With chemical pollution that mimics sex hormones.
With sprawl and habitat destruction.
With change so rapid that the only life forms that can keep up are the ones we don't want.
With "smart pollution": invasive species and genetically engineered crops that won't stay confined.
With spreading deserts in the land and in the sea.
With trash.

The Wikipedia definition: "In Judaism She'ol is the place of spiritual purification or punishment for the wicked dead in Judaism, a site at the greatest possible distance from heaven."

That is where we are putting the Earth: the greatest possible distance from Heaven. And, even if we solved the global warming problem today, it is not entirely clear that we could go on much longer living in SHEOL.

Tony Fisk said...

@ Rob H:
And off on a tangential note, I've been watching the recent brouhaha between Amazon and the publishers with some interest.

So was Tim Bray, who makes passing reference to EPUB in commenting on publishing formats (take away message: proprietary formats are *evil*)

... SHEOL is also one of the ravers in the Thomas Covenant novels (the others being Moksha and Jehannum: nice chaps, every one)

On climate change: scientists have been discussing this for decades (centuries, if you go back to Arrhenius' experiments with CO2), and have been ignored.

For years, they have been trying to get the policy makers in government to listen to them, and have been laughed at.

Now, they are trying to refine what policies are needed to mitigate the effects of climate change (or introduce efficiencies into infrastructure, if you prefer), and are being fought.

What happens next, remains to be seen (personally, I hope we all win)

As a matter of interest, Abilard, which field of academia were you in?

Corey said...

Heh, I like that TCB, and yet it's sad just how true it is.

Ultimately, the problem boils down to biodiversity, and unfortunately, loss of habitat (which is by far the largest cause of extinction), caused by fragmentation or just mass destruction in many cases, is driving species to extinction at such a rate that many biologists are referring to our present period as the Sixth of the world's mass extinctions, a description that is not in exaggeration if one considers the more than 26,000 species that go extinct every year (keep in mind, there are 1.4 million known species, 900,000 of which are insects incidentally). That's three species that go extinct every hour. When David Brin first published this post, the world was home to 150 more forms of life than now exist.

The implications of this should be obvious, from irrecoverable the loss of natural beauty, to the moral implications of the mass murder of billions of feeling, sentient life forms (many "higher-order" animal species are far more intelligent than once given credit for), to the simple loss of the planet's ability to maintain biomass, 6.5 billion and rising humans included. Sadly, the ignorance of the average person on the subject of conservation biology is astounding.

Of course, the news isn't all bad. We've learned a lot about re-introduction of species and have success stories like the black-footed ferret, bald eagle and gray wolf to our credit, robust laws now protect many species and habitats, public awareness for the state of wildlife is increasing, if slower than I'd like, preservation of natural land and beauty is become a culturally significant endeavor, eco-tourism and general value/appreciation of wild areas is increasing. In all, it's my hope that some day, perhaps even sooner than later, the trend towards extinction on Earth will level off before we lose everything, though that will require addressing some very big and very difficult problems (from climate change to decisions on what a sustainable human population is).

David Brin said...

Abilard, it is no strawman. Ask Heloise, she'll tell you.

My point is that a field of study as diverse and rambunctious as atmospheric studies would have big pockets of DISSENT, if any of the widely-touted GCC doubter "gotcha" points were true. Thousands of researchers, scattered all over the globe and in a wide variety of institutions, tenure levels and competing groups...

Your premise DOES boil down to stating that ALL of them have fallen for the mental traps that you described. Yes, all. Because NONE of them have given in to the blandishments and open offers of rich financial rewards from Exxon and Fox, to come over and give the deniers support.

You insist that the lack of any defectors doesn't mean anything, because they ALL are...

...are what? We're still waiting, Which of your scenarios could do such a thing, to so many different smart people?

David Brin said...

Never mind... I answer all in my next posting. READ DON'T SKIM!

Corey said...

"Abilard, it is no strawman. Ask Heloise, she'll tell you.

My point is that a field of study as diverse and rambunctious as atmospheric studies would have big pockets of DISSENT, if any of the widely-touted GCC doubter "gotcha" points were true. Thousands of researchers, scattered all over the globe and in a wide variety of institutions, tenure levels and competing groups...

Your premise DOES boil down to stating that ALL of them have fallen for the mental traps that you described. Yes, all. Because NONE of them have given in to the blandishments and open offers of rich financial rewards from Exxon and Fox, to come over and give the deniers support.

You insist that the lack of any defectors doesn't mean anything, because they ALL are...

...are what? We're still waiting, Which of your scenarios could do such a thing, to so many different smart people?"

While I wouldn't mind explanation, does the answer even really matter?

No matter what he might give as a response to that (by which I mean a real response that doesn't dance around the question), isn't it still just ad hominem reasoning used in lieu of any ability to refute the science itself?

The reason the "'gotcha' points", aren't given scientific attention is because there's nothing too them, and that isn't just apparent because the experts don't point them out, but rather also because Alibard himself has failed to point them out. His one claim about precipitation is a red herring on whether or not climate change can be attributed to anthropogenic CO2 contributions based on the available information, followed by nothing but the opinion statement that "the scientists have not made their case".

I mean, I realize the point you're trying to make here is part of what your entire post is about, but isn't the whole reason behind an ad hominem attack the very fact that you don't have to justify it?

You pointed out Micheal Crichton in your post, which I really liked, because from all that I read from him, the one point he never seemed to grasp (or at least admit) in his rantings on "consensus science" was that it was science that made the consensus, not the other way around as he proposed. I guess all I'm trying to say is, If Alibard can't actually show where a factual piece of information was ignored, then doesn't it kind of take away any substance to the accusations against the scientists?

TCB said...

"The lack of any defectors doesn't mean anything, because they ALL are..."

EXACT DUPLICATES!

The scientists have all been replaced by shapeshifting magmapod people from COROT-7b, a planet where average temperatures exceed 3300 Fahrenheit. Their nefarious plot to Corotaform Earth into a sleazy lava-pooled tourist trap is making great strides, great strides indeed.

I'll bet you thought Abilard was its real name. It's probably Blblugblghlug.

(I keed, I keed.)

Abilard said...

@Brin

My Heloise corrects me quite often, but that is the way I like it.

"You insist that the lack of any defectors doesn't mean anything, because they ALL are..."

Loyal to their factions.

"My point is that a field of study as diverse and rambunctious as atmospheric studies would have big pockets of DISSENT, if any of the widely-touted GCC doubter "gotcha" points were true."

Well, that is where your case is the strongest, as I have said on previous threads. It's also the only reason I've taken AGW seriously enough to investigate. This does not mean I will not double check the levels for Lake Erie, or wind classes for nearby mountain ranges, when scientists make arguments based on them. Or that I won't say something when I see discrepancies.

"Your premise DOES boil down to stating that ALL of them have fallen for the mental traps that you described."

Actually, no. I think there is sufficient evidence that they have all gotten behind AGW, and that AGW is plausible. I just think that they have been sloppy making their case and that conformism is strong enough that they do not see that they have been sloppy.

Abilard said...

@Tony

"As a matter of interest, Abilard, which field of academia were you in?"

Cultural Anthropology. Stuck with it through the MA. Then developed a severe allergic reaction to post-modernists and fled in terror.

Corey said...

So tell me, Alibard, exactly where is this sloppy work done?

Again, you're just making opinion statements, and not showing any actual facts that contradict the "sloppy" AGW theory.

There is solid attribution of atmospheric CO2 to temperature, both in physical experimentation dating back more than a century, and in all of climate data, from paleoclimate data dating back half a million years, to modern climate data. There is the unprecedented nature of present atmospheric CO2 concentrations, as well as both chemical features to the C02 and accounting of carbon emitted/absorbed by natural sources showing a profound human influence on these long-unprecedented levels of CO2. There is a complete lack of a competing theory that works on any significant level. There are climate models that have been ACCURATELY predicting not just temperature, but many features of climate, from sensitivity to aerosol forcings, to the response of the atmosphere to surface-level warming.

I could spend three or four full posts going into specifics and showing data, but I think the point is made.

By the standard of science in any other area, this is a case that is sufficiently strong to warrant strong consideration and widespread adoption, and CERTAINLY action on the issue. Thus far, you have presented nothing but opinion statements and a single red-herring point on climate modeling to attempt to condemn an entire branch of science, and the conclusion reached by all those involved (an area of science for which you have shown no particular expertise).

Of course, I've already pointed out this lack of substance in your posts, but thus far, it has gone un-responded to. If the case is so full of holes as to not be made, then show these holes. Show where these scientists are wrong in their assertion that the information presently available constitutes enough information for a high probability that humans are significantly affecting climate.

Abilard said...

@Corey

Oh dear. I seem to have deviated from the One True Faith.

"His one claim about precipitation is a red herring on whether or not climate change can be attributed to anthropogenic CO2 contributions based on the available information, followed by nothing but the opinion statement that 'the scientists have not made their case.'"

1. If the Hadley and Canadian models aren't sharp enough for tree planting, what are they good for?

2. When Wind4Coal River and all their buddies (Hansen, Daryl Hannah, et al.) come here and argue for windmills, why don't they bother to address the fact that the govt. classifies the area as a class one wind resource zone (i.e. not suitable for power generation). Challenged the activists on this and they said they had a private study. No thought given to publishing this with their argument. No notion that the discrepancy between what they were suggesting and what the govt. data said was viable would need to be explained from the get-go. No thought that even if the mountain in question does have slightly better wind, it won't be as nice a deal for our tax dollars as the plains.

3. State of Ohio commissioned an economic model based on AGW. I read it. Lots of gloom and doom, including comments about Lake Erie drying up. Surprised, I went online and checked Army Corp data on the lake: the levels were normal for the last decade. Again, perhaps the modelers had private studies, like Wind4CoalRiver, but due diligence would require that they mention the Army data and explain why theirs differed.

Sloppy. Now, I only have so much time, but whenever I take some of that time to dig a little deeper to see if I can USE some of this stuff I find discrepancies like the above.

Corey said...

Alibard, that's impressive skill in red herrings, but doesn't answer the question on the soundness of the science regarding the attribution of anthropogenic CO2 contributions to recent observed rising temperatures.

"1. If the Hadley and Canadian models aren't sharp enough for tree planting, what are they good for?"

As it turns out, they're good for attributing anthropogenic CO2 contributions to climate change! Who knew?! /sarcasm

An exerpt from a often-quoted blog on the subject:

"But putting global surface temperatures aside, there are some other significant predictions of enhanced greenhouse gas warming that have been made and confirmed:
the warming at the surface should be accompanied by cooling of the stratosphere and this has indeed been observed
as well as surface temperatures warming, models have long predicted warming of the lower, mid and upper troposphere even while satellite readings seemed to disagree. But it turns out the satellite analysis was full of errors and on correction, this warming has been observed
models expect warming of ocean surface waters as is now observed
models predict an energy imbalance between incoming sunlight and outgoing infrared radiation. This has been detected
models predict sharp and short lived cooling of a few tenths of a degree in the event of large volcanic eruptions and Mount Pinatubo confirmed this.
models predict an amplification of warming trends in the Arctic region and this is happening"



That sounds awfully good for “useless models”, wouldn't you agree?



"2. When Wind4Coal River and all their buddies (Hansen, Daryl Hannah, et al.) come here and argue for windmills, why don't they bother to address the fact that the govt. classifies the area as a class one wind resource zone (i.e. not suitable for power generation). Challenged the activists on this and they said they had a private study. No thought given to publishing this with their argument. No notion that the discrepancy between what they were suggesting and what the govt. data said was viable would need to be explained from the get-go. No thought that even if the mountain in question does have slightly better wind, it won't be as nice a deal for our tax dollars as the plains.

3. State of Ohio commissioned an economic model based on AGW. I read it. Lots of gloom and doom, including comments about Lake Erie drying up. Surprised, I went online and checked Army Corp data on the lake: the levels were normal for the last decade. Again, perhaps the modelers had private studies, like Wind4CoalRiver, but due diligence would require that they mention the Army data and explain why theirs differed.

Sloppy. Now, I only have so much time, but whenever I take some of that time to dig a little deeper to see if I can USE some of this stuff I find discrepancies like the above."

You know, maybe being a simple biology student without your apparent knowledge of climatology has rendered me obtuse in this matter, but I'm not actually sure as to what either of those has to do with the attribution of anthropogenic CO2 contributions to recent observed temperature change, commonly known as the "anthropogenic global warming theory", at least not beyond being a general ad hominem attack against the scientists.

Corey said...

It would appear that I forgot an intended citation there.

http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2006/03/models-are-unproven.php

There we go.

Corey said...

It's not my intention to be rude or adversarial here, but like Dr Brin, I don't feel I'm asking an unreasonable question here, and I'm getting quite the runaround in seeking an answer.

Abilard said...

@Corey

Yeah, if you read my posts you might realize I am not disputing AGW. Probably why I am not debating those points. Maybe. Yep. I think that's it.

Corey said...

So in other words, no, you can't show evidence of a lack of solidity in the case made by scientists for the attribution of anthropogenic CO2 (and other GHG) contributions to recent observed temperature change, despite stating earlier that you did not feel the scientists had made their case for this very point (which you now claim you don't dispute? I'm confused).

In any case, I have my answer, the science behind this simple theory is clearly not in question, and so, I see no cause to seek further debate on this point.

Corey said...

Perhaps the problem was in a misinterpretation on my part about a statement of not believing the case for AGW had been made, if so, then I apologize.

In any case, there appears to be no issue on that point.

Abilard said...

@Corey

"So in other words, no, you can't show evidence of a lack of solidity in the case made by scientists for the attribution of anthropogenic CO2 (and other GHG) contributions to recent observed temperature change, despite stating earlier that you did not feel the scientists had made their case for this very point (which you now claim you don't dispute?"

I also did not show evidence that Thor flies around the earth on a chariot pulled by goats, but that was not the topic. Scientists have a credibility problem because of the way they have presented their arguments to the public. I just gave you three examples from my own experience as to why I am skeptical, since you asked.

Given your reaction, perhaps I should have added superciliousness to the critique.

Saying someone has not made a case to the public or has handled the public sloppily is distinct from saying 1) that the case cannot be made or 2) that they are wrong. You should learn that subtlety if you are going to compete in the scientific arena.

Mr-Ed said...

The Problem has to do with the scientific community itself.

Science is for sale -- you might object to this statement -- but it is true -- look at all the scientists who said that health issues and smoking were not related and this is not the only case -- lets not even go to the whole creationist group -- full of PhD's who have chosen a belief system over science fact

Then there is the whole medical argument that -- We are doctor's and are infallible until you find out that the guy just killed you -- or that the whole premise is wrong on what they were looking at -- as in the good bad fat and cholesterol argument

The fact is that when " Science " comes out with one of these " Profound Statements " they are usually half the time wrong or Biased to their own research or belief's

Look at the Cretaceous boundary dispute and what actually killed off the Dino's that community is still split and the naysayers are abundant !

So now we have a debate about climate change and causes and they say that man is solely to blame -- and yet Volcanism is on a huge rise and so is earthquakes and the sun is acting up too -- yet none of that counts and we should just shut up and not ask questions and listen to the " experts " tell us -- until they find out new stuff or choose to hide things that don't agree with their scenario

This is the innate problem with the whole global warming thing

I agree that we live like slobs and our society should and could live better and cleaner and greener and we do need to get off fossil fuels !! I am also a pro-technology and pro-science guy -- Butt you guys are your own worst enemies half the time --

Robert said...

That's because we're not just mindless Republicans marching to the beat of a Neocon drum and exiling anyone who dares oppose the Party Line. Dissent and different ideas is a part of what it means to be human. Neocons? I don't know what they are, but they gave up their humanity for protection and stability... and didn't even get that much.

Rob H.

Corey said...

Ah, but you see Alibard, that's just another strawman (accusing me of a strawman, ironically), because I never said you claimed that the AGW case can't be made.

You are, in fact, claiming that the case has not been made to the public, and yet, when I ask you to show the inadequacy of the case MADE TO THE PUBLIC, this is all I'm asking you to show weakness in on the subject of the case for AGW, you completely fail to provide any compelling evidence.


You have used anecdotal tangents to try to paint the scientific community at large as "sloppy", as part of a thesis that the case made by them TO THE PUBLIC (again, that all we're discussing) is not considered strong enough by you to be a solid case, but the fact that you can't show anything of substance against the case made TO THE PUBLIC (as in, already made, I'm not sure how many ways I have to say it), shows that contrary to your thesis, the scientists have done a robust job making a robust case for AGW, ergo, the scientists have not been sloppy, and your points are coming off as ad hominem tactics to discredit them.

Now do you see the problem I have with your statements? It's just simple application of the transitive property. If sloppy scientists equal sloppy work, and sloppy work equal a sloppy case, then sloppy scientists equal a sloppy case, and therefore, if you cannot provide evidence of a sloppy case, you are without evidence of sloppy scientists. You can point out one or two anedotal instances of an individual here or there, but that is not ground to make a general statement about the scientific community at large.

Corey said...

I'm not opposed to the idea of healthy skepticism, and indeed, I was not convinced of the AGW case for a long time, but if someone is going to make a claim to stake skepticism on, then I want to see evidence in the case made for AGW.

Slinging mud at individual scientists, does, indeed, make them less credible in the eye of the public as a community, but that's a dishonest tactic, one that is best countered by showing the robustness of the overall case made for AGW, because, to re-apply what I said before, if sloppy scientists make for a sloppy case (and vice versa), then a robust case makes for robust scientists, at least in the overall community.

Abilard said...

@Corey

Bloomberg - Yale Finds Climate-Change Concern Wanes in U.S.

Chemistry World - Belief in climate change plunges

The Australian - World Wide Web of Doubt

Ergo, scientists are not making their case. For my personal take as to why, see above.

Corey said...

Okay, so what you're saying is that scientists are not making the public buy their case. You see, I thought you were saying that the scientists had not presented sufficient evidence, but then, you did say political case, so I suppose that was my misunderstanding.

I suppose I can see the reasoning in what you're saying, and I can't argue that the public is woefully unaware of the science behind this issue, and yet, if you really look at what's being said between the two sides, the reason so much doubt is out there is really because of the war in science being conducted by the powerful status quo interests, and I'm not just talking about the GOP.

The whole slew of nonsense surrounding "climategate", with people like Patrick Micheals (the same guy who used doctored data to lie about James Hansen's 1988 model right to Congress's face) going into prominent magazines like the Wallstreet Journal and saying "look at this phrase I picked out of an email that says that the CRU scientists admitted to doctoring all their data!" (though, refusing to show the context of the email, which when made public, shot down all the denialist claims).

Let me put it another way: last year I read an article in the journal Natural History in which author Stephan Reebs described a survey taken by a university (I forget which one), that showed that out of the 3,000 scientists surveyed (10,000 were contacted, 3,000 responded), 85% agreed with the AGW theory, and ***97%*** of climate scientists agreed. Reebs also noted, however, that the public is not even aware of this, because less than 60% of the US public thinks that a majority of scientists are behind the AGW theory.

I wouldn't call that a failure to present the case by scientists so much as I would call that the public just not being on the same page as the scientists, and yet, in the face of well-funded people and organizations will to say ANYTHING to keep the status quo, what are these scientists to do but continually re-iterate the truth? I agree that the public isn't being convinced, but I'm not sure exactly what more can be done but to slowly just try to get them to understand to truth.

In the end, the political battle hasn't exactly gone that poorly. Climate laws aren't as robust as it could for the world, but progress is being made, and supported by a lot of politicians in many places, and yet, there is still a big PR problem that's hard to fix. Maybe Robert is right, maybe the thing to do is to go out and attack the denialist movement head-on and paint them as the unpatriotic and harmful people that they are; maybe the biggest flaw of the scientists is placing themselves above that kind of fight.

I really don't know. Those are answers I don't have.

Abilard said...

@Corey

Yes, the majority of areas you have engaged me on are areas where we have either no or no substantial disagreement. And, nevertheless, the temperature of the communication has risen inexorably.

Where I see us parting company is the area you are getting to now, which has to do with the role of scientists in their failure to make their case politically with the public. As I state above, from my personal experience, the way academics gather data (or more particularly grad students gather data) can be sloppy, and the presentation of climate science data and arguments where I have looked at them (the Ohio report I read, the windmill project some local activists want, etc) have struck me as sloppy. I say why above.

These are my observations are drawn from my personal experiences, and I do not claim otherwise. Make of them what you will. But those experiences are the basis of my opinions, which I have shared here.

Corey said...

"Yes, the majority of areas you have engaged me on are areas where we have either no or no substantial disagreement. And, nevertheless, the temperature of the communication has risen inexorably."

Perhaps 'had' would be a better word :). I think a better understanding on our relative positions has resolved finally that problem.

"Where I see us parting company is the area you are getting to now, which has to do with the role of scientists in their failure to make their case politically with the public. As I state above, from my personal experience, the way academics gather data (or more particularly grad students gather data) can be sloppy, and the presentation of climate science data and arguments where I have looked at them (the Ohio report I read, the windmill project some local activists want, etc) have struck me as sloppy. I say why above."

I am not so unsympathetic to these cases as you might imagine, and, indeed, I'm sure if one looks around they will find cases of "sloppy science" that needs to be corrected, as that's an important part of science, and revising research, theories, etc, to fit both new information, and from the simple and ongoing process of review of work by anyone and everyone is not just a way of increasing the credibility of such work, but also a way of increasing understanding of the issue.


That said, I guess I'd just ask that you consider the real big work that has really been the pillars of the public AGW case- the GISTEMP data, the HADCRU data, the NCDC ice core data, the major GCM projections that have accurately predicted countless features of climate, the whole of the IPCC Assessment Reports (which, while far from perfect, do compile a lot of good research with an overall tendency that leans overwhelming towards very solid and sound data), and even the work done to present this information in scientific outlets like Discovery, or Nat Geo, or even Real Climate.

I think when you looks at a lot of this, you'll find that while imperfect, a lot (and dare I saw most) of the work is very solid, and worth the examination of the public, but is not understood by said public because that work is constantly being twisted and distorted for combination with scare-and-confuse tactics by the status-quo group, who try very hard to paint AGW as an obscure theory backed by a group of eco-socialist elites that if acted on, is going to be massively taxing on the global economy, and will further the so-called "Global Socialist Agenda" (a term I first saw seriously presented BY an AGW denialist claiming exactly what I'm saying).

So while there is always work to be done in improving the robustness of science, I still think that the high-profile work that has really defined the AGW case IS SOLID, and that the presentation of it has been good, but obfuscated by very powerful interests who don't want the public to understand this information.

Abilard said...

@Corey

Yeah, plan to. But, new baby, two school age step-sons, full-time job, etc. Haven't been able to look at it in that depth yet, which is why I merely say AGW sounds plausible, that all the factions in science seem to accept it is compelling, and I am suspending judgment till I know more.

Looks like I might get something like what I suggested above though:

NPR TOTN - Government Plans National Climate Service

I will have to give this a listen. I hope that they publish their data online, keep their collection processes open, and clearly differentiate between analysis and data. Campaign-Obama would have been for such things. Perhaps President Obama will do it that way.

Robert Synnott said...

Ah, but you miss the point. You see, recently, it was cold. THOSE FANCY SCIENTISTS PROMISED IT WOULD NEVER BE COLD AGAIN, AND THEY LIED, DAMNIT.

This seriously seems to be a common attitude; a bit of snow demonstrates that human-assisted climate change is obviously nonsense.

Michael Meadon said...

Apologies for the self-promotion, but this really is relevant: "In Praise of Deference".

Anonymous said...

I hate to say it but follow the money. The BIG money backing anti global warming are, Oil, big business, power companies, Nuclear power, auto industry, world banking.

Who is for global warming? Universities, NO they are bank rolled by the big corporations. Scientists No they are bank rolled by the big corporations. It is the small guy the non profit organizations Greenpeace etc.They have little to gain.

The solar companies, Geothermal, wind power electric car makers have much to win but have little say in the White house including this one. Is there global warming. Yes that has been monitored for 40 years. The average surface temperature of the ocean is 1 deg higher. Is it all caused by humans, no not likely. The antarctic and green land have hot spots under them and are getting active! But what humans have done in the last 5,000 or so years (removed 90 of the trees in the world) has made it worse. I have no doubt if 50% of the trees were still here the millions of tons of CO2 and pollution humans put in the air would be "taken care of by the trees!.

Again look at the money. Getting off oil is possible in 10 years or less, geothermal could supply 80% or our energy needs alone! But big oil and the auto companies and banks would not have it and will do ANYTHING to stop it.

If you believe their propaganda, I wonder what is your motivation to ignore the worlds experts and listening to only the people that are the ones that have dirtied up the air for the last 200 years. It is much like the tobacco companies trying to convince that smoking is not bad for you,(and the still are).

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