Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Navy, Russians, Shipping & Insurance Companies...and Climate Change

I regularly consult with various branches of our “protector caste”... from the military services and homeland security to several unnamed “agencies.” Naturally, I am encouraged by the fact that some of the most serious-minded men and women on the planet are very interested in well-grounded projections of diverse possible futures - not only mine, but those of several other "science & sci-fi guys."

I can’t tell you about some of these “future studies.”  But I am free to share this one observation:

Absolutely all of the top-elite officers of these services appear to be convinced, without a shadow of a doubt, about Human Generated Climate Change (HGCC). All of those I have met consider it to be both real and one of the greatest challenges of our time.

Ponder this: the US Navy is striving with great intensity to prepare for an Arctic Ocean that is nearly ice-free for large parts of the year. Canada is shifting most of its military budget northward.

The Russians have moved an entire division to the Siberian northern coast.  And dig this.  The Russian Navy’s top priority? Their pride-and-joy?  SIX brand new, double-hulled, nuclear powered icebreakers they recently put in service. (The U.S. has one large, single-hulled, obsolete oil-powered breaker, soon to be retired. The U.S. Coast Guard operates three smaller, conventional ice breakers out of Seattle.)

A year or so ago, the Northwest passage opened so wide that a flood of cargo vessels raced through it from China to Europe. And prospectors are sifting for treasures on the sea floor, where Peary once spent a summer dragging sledges over ice-continents in search of the Pole.

What do all of these groups share in common? They cannot afford to let their view of reality be warped by willful delusion, just-so stories, Beckian rants and dogma, They don't have the time for denialism. Want another example?

==  Insurers Confirm Growing Risks, Costs ==

Stakeholders from the insurance industry met with members of the U.S. Senate to acknowledge the role global warming plays in extreme weather-related losses, and to issue a call for action.  "At a Capital Hill a press conference on the cost of climate change, debate was not on the agenda. Pointing to a year of history-making, $1 billion-plus natural disasters, representatives of Tier 1 insurance companies took a definitive stance with members of the U.S. Senate to confirm that costs to taxpayers and businesses from extreme weather will continue to soar because of climate change.

merchants-of-doubt1"From our industry's perspective, the footprints of climate change are around us and the trend of increasing damage to property and threat to lives is clear," said Franklin Nutter, president of the Reinsurance Association of America. "We need a national policy related to climate and weather." Perhaps no industry better understands the impact of global warming than the insurance industry whose job it is to analyze risk. See the video of the March 1st press conference. Marsh & McLennan, one of the world’s largest insurance brokers, called climate change "one of the most significant emerging risks facing the world today.” As Jules Boykoff put it in The Guardian, "Let's be clear: insurance firms aren't altruists; they're capitalists. A rise in extreme weather means a fall in their profits. This is hardball economics based on risk analysis, not save-the-polar-bears stuff."

Read more in: What Insurance Companies already know about Climate Change.

So, if all the men and women who must combine brains, education and professionalism with harsh practicality can see the desperate need to prepare, how do 40% of the citizens of a great nation enter denial so severe they'll demean and ignore not only scientists and the insurance industry... but even the U.S. Navy?

stormsofmygrandchildrenAre all of these groups (and a myriad more) absolutely convinced that absolutely every single aspect of current climate theory is absolutely proved in all levels, in all ways?  Of course not. There is always room for sincere skepticism that aims at finding flaws and improving our models of the world.

What they can’t afford is prim dogmatism. They have to pragmatically prepare for the world that appears 95% likely (by preponderance of evidence and expert calculations) to be coming.

On the other hand, there is a word for people who refuse to take reasonable precautions, or even negotiate in good faith the cheapest and most efficient just-in-case precautions, demanding instead (at the behest of a couple of coal-billionaire brothers)  that climate theory be absolutely proved in all levels, in all ways, before we take prudent, moderate measures to protect ourselves.

That word is imbeciles.

== Consistency: A Litmus of Madness ==

Here is a distilled essence showing just how bad it's gotten.  How thoroughly Murdoch-Limbaugh-Norquist-Waleed, the four horsemen of America's collapse, control the Republican Party. Two years ago, 100% of the GOP Senators voted the party line 100% of the time, all votes, for every issue, all year long.

Hell, a single dumb light switch could have done that job. What's the point in being a "statesman" or delegate of the people to the world's greatest deliberative body? As Mark Anderson put it: "This is the opposite of informed, rational decision-making. If that's all they are going to do, why not save a few billion dollars and just put hats in their empty seats, and let them stay home? In other words, Newt's party discipline has poisoned American politics.

 == Moral Decline? ==

All right, I am almost done with this political blog-trilogy. So let me just add a couple more thoughts.
Many - even most - "red" voters proclaim they are motivated in large part by anger over America's "moral decline." Rick Santorum says it is Satan's work, undermining the moral foundations of the nation that is his biggest obstacle on Earth.  But is this assertion subject to any kind of test or comparison with facts?

In a fascinating article, The Economist explores measurable things like divorce rates, abortion, violent crime, high school dropout rates and teen pregnancy... all of which have declined... most of them steeply... in the last couple of decades. (Unmentioned by the article: rates for these things, as well as domestic violence, STDs and teen sex, have all declined much less in purportedly "more moral" Red America than they have in Blue states and cities.)

Teen pregnancy is at its lowest level in 40 years.  Shouldn't that indicate something?

There is one contrary statistic, so read the original article. But this would seem to be yet another case of looking for a mythical reason to rationalize a fuming, volcanic anger that has other, much more psychological causes.  The truth is often bitterly inconvenient to dogmatists

(And you lefties... you have some of your own!)

== Political Miscellany ==

Here is a quickie interview on my local NPR station in which I did some rapid blather about taxes and pyramids and diamonds and oligarchy and historical perspective.  Stuff you’ve all heard from me before, but redolent and relevant this year.

An interesting piece of film-polemic. Biased but very telling. Asking anti-abortion demonstrators if making it illegal should then send women to jail.

A fascinating story about re-shoring or in-sourcing of manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.  - claimed to be a growing and significant trend.

Courts ruled that GPS trackers on cars require a warrant. FBI turned off 3000 GPS trackers currently in use, and now has to apply for permission to turn them back on, in order to find them, in order to remove them.

AND FINALLY: More on high frequency trading (HFT). In recent postings I gave five different reasons why they infernal mutation of capitalism threatens to destroy the very same capital markets that brought it into being. Now here’s another: "Sometimes high-frequency traders don't even profit from the trade itself. They buy and sell shares at the same price and make money by sending large orders through the exchanges. NYSE, Nasdaq and others want to attract the most traders. So they offer rebates of 20 to 32 cents per 100 shares to traders who send in large orders. On the electronic exchange NYSE Arca, traders who can move 35 million shares pocket a quick $112,000".

Yeesh. If there were one tax we desperately need, it is this one.

83 comments:

LarryHart said...

From the main post:

Stakeholders from the insurance industry met with members of the U.S. Senate to acknowledge the role global warming plays in extreme weather-related losses, and to issue a call for action. "At a Capital Hill a press conference on the cost of climate change, debate was not on the agenda. Pointing to a year of history-making, $1 billion-plus natural disasters, representatives of Tier 1 insurance companies took a definitive stance with members of the U.S. Senate to confirm that costs to taxpayers and businesses from extreme weather will continue to soar because of climate change.


This is actually our best hope for breaking through the logjam of denialism.

When the interests line up as "corporations vs envrionmentalists", corporations will always get their way. However, when it's one set of corporate interests pitted against another, some accomodation will have to be made.

Robert said...

The cynic in me wonders what Republicans are offering Insurance Companies to keep sending funds their way. Maybe the ability to cancel policies on a whim after a catastrophic event has happened? And maybe even laws protecting insurance companies that do such things? After all, why finance a Democrat who might call for accountability when his opponent (who I consider a RINO, even as they consider "moderate" Republicans to be RINOs) is all for deregulating the industry so they can rape customers without fear of retribution?

But that's the cynic in me speaking.

Rob H.

locumranch said...

Although I'm new to this site, I do love a good argument, so I've taken the liberty of preparing a critique of human-generated climate change as the Devil's Advocate. I hope my rhetorical style amuses you. Let me know what you think. I may have come up with some argument that you haven't seen before.



I have no problem accepting the reality of climate change. The data is conclusive in this regard. The climate is changing. This is what the climate does. Yet, I have yet to hear a well-reasoned, scrupulously supported or empirically confirmed argument about what all this data means. Specifically, I believe that many climate change arguments are flawed by problems of reference, context, assumption, fallacy, morality and passion.

First, all climate change arguments suffer from ideas of reference since we arrogate center-stage for ourselves. When we analyze our data, we assume that human action or inaction is the central issue in this debate even though paleoclimatological data does not support this conclusion. What we known is this. The global environment has undergone dramatic shifts in the distant pre-human past; the global environment has undergone dramatic shifts in the less distant pre-industrial human past; and the global environment has undergone fairly minor shifts during this very brief period of ongoing human industrialisation. Therefore, we can only conclude that the global environment will most likely continue to undergo dramatic shifts in the pending human or post-human periods.

Second, all climate change arguments suffer from ideas of context. Although we possess accurate and dependable historical data in regard to climate and temperature change, we make too many assumptions about context. We know that average global temperatures have gradually increased over the last 100 years or so. We know about the "Mini-Ice Age" that occurred during the Middle Ages; we know about the Wisconsin Stage that ended about 12,000 years ago; and we know about the greater Glacial and Interglacial periods that occurred hundreds of thousands or thousands of thousands of years ago. Unfortunately, we can only guess about a 'normal temperature range' or representative climatological baseline when we graph our data points, so we don't know if our climatological temperature projections represent a net temperature gain or loss. In other words, our long-term climate predictions are shit.

locumranch said...

Third, all climate change arguments suffer from presumption. We assume that humanity plays a central role in climate change; we assume that temperature data collected during this geologically insignificant period of human industrialisation is somehow significant; we assume that this small data cluster represents a legitimate long-term temperature trend when only time will tell; and we presume 'a priori' knowledge about the aberrant nature of these data trends. I made the following temperature observations this very morning. It was 30 F at 06:00 and 70 F at 12:00, representing an increase of 40 F in 6 hours. Assuming that this trend continues unabated, I can only conclude that the outside temperature will exceed 200 F in one 24 hour period, proving once again that good science cannot be based on false presumptions.

Fourth, all climate change arguments are flawed by logical fallacy. While we can prove that high levels of greenhouse gases like C02 and methane are historically associated with global warming and interglacial periods, we cannot prove causation because there are many confounding variables like sunspots, solar cycles, S02, ozone and atmospherically-suspended particulate matter. Now, I'm not denying the potential climatological influence of greenhouse gases like C02, I just remain skeptical that this association necessitates causation as other possible explanations exist, including the possibility that C02 and climate change may be related by yet a third unknown variable, much in the way that ice cream use and death by drowning are mere associations connected by causal human attempts to cool off during a long hot summer by swimming.

Fifth, all climate change arguments suffer from assumptions of morality. Just as we 'know' that the current temperature trends represent aberrancy, we know that humans are prone to aberrancy. We squander our natural resources; we exploit; we consume; we pollute; we sin; and we transgress. We must repent, make amends, confess or face 'Enviro-geddon', 'The End of Days' and 'The Fossilfuels of the Apocalypse'. Excuse me if I disagree with such theology. Wasteful, unwise and short-sighted, we are everything you say. But we are not aberrant, sinful or unnatural because most creatures 'despoil the environment' and behave as we do, albeit to a lesser degree. So, if we choose to squander our resources, then we will suffer natural rather than divine consequences. We will die back and our numbers will lessen until we arrive at a new equilibrium. With or without us, the world will go on and, sooner or later, the climate will change.

Sixth, all climate change arguments are flawed by passion. Among supporters and deniers, emotions run high. Perched on soap-boxes like mad prophets in sackcloth and ashes, both the supporters and deniers preach fire and seek converts, but this is not the scientific way. We cannot incite others to reason. While it is acceptable for the scientist to be passionate about scientific process or possibility, he must view his results with dispassion, acceptance, objectivity, indifference and apathy. He cannot afford to play favorites; he cannot presume to know an outcome in advance; he must distance himself from his conclusions; and he must be prepared to reject his hypothesis as flawed. The zealous scientist is not a scientist. Pure and simple, the man in love with his conclusions is a man of faith.

I accept that climate change is real, but I will not engage in zealotry on its behalf. Zealotry is a fool's errand that leads only to Jihad. It has no place in scientific argument. I therefore plead, exercise and counsel dispassion, hoping that you (the reader) will do the same. We cannot use our passion to force others to accept our beliefs. We can only lead them to reason, but we cannot make them drink.

Best,
Matt

bobsandiego said...

I'm going side step the climate change portion of the debate. I doubt any new ground will be plowed there. I do want to address the 100% voting with your party comment.
I think we are in for a very rough ride in our country. Our political system wasn't designed with this sort of strong party in mind. ( I seem to remember that our founding father actually thought that they had a system without parties (factions) but I don't have sources at my finger tips.) Our parties have always been coalition parties, and as such either side could pick off votes here and there and the system worked. Now we seem to moving a very heavy party loyalty system and that is not going to work with our House and Senate. (If in the next presidential term the White House and Senate are in different hands I expect to see the filibuster blown up.) The republicans are more homogenous now, but the Democrats are moving in that direction as well. I think there are two primary drivers of this. First if one party does it the other must or they will simply always lose to the greater disciplined party, and two the cost of organizing has become so low that control of the parties is no longer assured by the wise old rich head as they used to be. Practically anyone now can start a witch-hunt for heretics to the party orthodoxy.
We are all living in interesting times.

Robert said...

You raise some valid arguments, Matt. I counter your arguments with a recent study by NASA concerning the effect CFCs are having on the ozone layer and the ozone hole in the Antarctic region. These simulations show what would have happened if CFC use had continued unabated. It also reports that the hole is now starting to diminish in size, showing that humanity can and does have an effect on the global atmosphere and climate.

Now, the climactic changes you are commenting on happened over thousands of years. The ones currently happening are going off over decades to two centuries. This is a significant factor of increased speed for climate change. And seeing the one outlier between past and present changes is human industrial activity, there is probable cause to believe humans are driving climate change now.

Claims that we can't stop this have been debunked by the fact we stopped the uncontrolled increase of the ozone hole by regulating and ceasing the use of CFCs. And if you think that the economy can't handle a shift to low-carbon energy? There are people who disagree.

In fact, here is an in-depth article from a Moderate Republican meteorologist who states global warming is real, the politicians know this, and we need to act.

So. What do you have

Rob H.

Robert said...

Oh, and Matt, your argument that carbon dioxide is not proven to be able to be causatively shown to influence the environment due to factors such as sunspots, atmospheric particulate matter, and the like is flat-out wrong. This is in fact something that can be tested by anyone with the simple tools of two airtight containers with thermometers, a hot light source, and the means to increase carbon dioxide in one but not the other. This test has been performed time and time again. The end result shows those containers with higher carbon dioxide levels have higher temperatures.

The "low" level of carbon dioxide currently in the atmosphere can still have a significant effect, and is responsible for the Earth not being colder than it is (as in if there was no carbon dioxide I think we'd be seeing increased glaciation at the very least).

(And as an aside, I'd love to take Michelle Bachman, who claims carbon dioxide isn't dangerous, and offer her to partake of an experiment. She signs off on a waiver stating anything that happens to her is her own fault and she and her family/friends/cohorts cannot sue, and then she can enter into a chamber that has 50% oxygen and 50% carbon dioxide to show us that carbon dioxide is not dangerous. She will get sick in said chamber and possibly die. Just ask NASA, who was quite concerned about carbon dioxide levels in the Apollo 13 spacecraft due to overtaxed CO2 filters.

But then, I freely admit to not being a nice person when it comes to this level of stupidity. Though personally? I bet she's not that dumb and would refuse the bet. (I also would be willing to do another experiment: put a plant in a large chamber with a 50% carbon dioxide atmosphere and 50% nitrogen. I'd be willing to bet money the plant will die.

Rob H.

sidd said...

Mr. Matt Locumranch writes at 11:59 am on the 29th of March 2012:

"When we analyze our data, we assume that human action or inaction is the central issue in this debate even though paleoclimatological data does not support this conclusion."

Why in the world would any climatologist argue that human action influences paleo data while humans were not present ?

"...we don't know if our climatological temperature projections represent a net temperature gain or loss."

this is incomprehensible. Out of curiosity, how much math have you studied ?

" In other words, our long-term climate predictions are shit."

Your long term climate predictions might be, but not perhaps those of the more qualified in the field. What do you define as "long term ?" I define it in this context as the quilibration time for the radiative imbalance to disappear, which will be a few thousand years if we put all accessible fossil carbon into the atmosphere over the next century. As you will discover if you read the literature, this will probably suppress not just the next one but the next two glacial stages.

"other possible explanations exist"

Perhaps you can come up with a single one that has not been ruled out ?

sidd

atomicsmith said...

While we can prove that high levels of greenhouse gases like C02 and methane are historically associated with global warming and interglacial periods, we cannot prove causation because there are many confounding variables like sunspots, solar cycles, S02, ozone and atmospherically-suspended particulate matter

Methods of removing the effects of confounders like these has been known to statistics for decades.

Hypnos said...

Would it be aberrant if I said that sometimes I wish for a military coup in the USA?

Matt, assuming you're not being facetious:

1) Paleoclimate data confirms that the climate suffers dramatic shifts when CO2 levels are altered, be it because of sudden methane releases, volcaninc eruption, or massive fossil fuel borning. Ergo, CO2 is a problem.

2) We don't guess at any baseline, we establish one and rank anomalies against that. This is a really senseless objection.

3)Actually, we predicted the warming effect of CO2 a century before any warming was ever measured. See also Svante, Arrhenius, or why science doesn't do "trend projections".

4) We have a pretty clear idea of the Earth's energy balance through radiative physics and measurements, ergo we now precisely how much of the effect is attributable to CO2 and how much to solar activity. We know how much more solar energy the extra CO2 is retaining. What we are trying to find out is what feedback cycles that creates, and where the energy will go first (the deep ocean? Ice sheets? Extreme weather?).

5) No morality. Preservation. We know rapid climate shifts are associated with mass extinctions. We'd much rather not be the subjects of one.

6) Any social psychologist that is worth anything will be able to tell you that the very last thing human beings are swayed by is rational argument and reason. There is a tiny subset of humanity that actually works through reason - it's called scientists, and as you might have noticed they are already on board. For the rest of humanity it's powerful narratives, motivating symbols, and preferably someone else to blame.

rewinn said...

@Mark
"...Perched on soap-boxes like mad prophets in sackcloth and ashes..."
...is a rather silly way to describe OP.

Since you asked for feedback, I'll give it. Your essay blends unsupportable assertions with nonsequiturs in a completely nonpersuasive way but, of greater import, it doesn't address the original post at all. Why not pick one of the points @Dr. Brin introduced and comment on that?

Tony Fisk said...

@Locumranch:

A good rebuttal list to answering your points, and many others, is to be found here (The actual rebuttals are provided by John Cook, and have a lot of backing material. But I think Romm's observations are worth including as well)

I will just take your 4th argument which, I think, questions whether we can assign human causation.

It is an observed fact that atmospheric CO2 levels are increasing, just as it is an experimentally observed fact that CO2 retains incident light as heat to a degree that is quite disproportionate to its relatively low concentrations.

CO2 is generated by a lot of natural processes.Do we know that the increased CO2 levels now seen are due to human activity?

Yes.

Carbon has several isotopes. The ratios observed in the atmosphere over time indicates that the concentration is due to the burning of fossil fuels. (link)

Scientists actually have a pretty good set of handles to paleo-climate, although the interpretation techniques can be a bit technical (and inevitably leads to a chorus of 'AHA!'s from the less technically minded.

Ian Gould said...

"A fascinating story about re-shoring or in-sourcing of manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. - claimed to be a growing and significant trend."

This is exactly what I've been predicting here for the past couple of years.

I need a prediction register of my own.

Ian Gould said...

"(And as an aside, I'd love to take Michelle Bachman, who claims carbon dioxide isn't dangerous, and offer her to partake of an experiment. She signs off on a waiver stating anything that happens to her is her own fault and she and her family/friends/cohorts cannot sue, and then she can enter into a chamber that has 50% oxygen and 50% carbon dioxide to show us that carbon dioxide is not dangerous. She will get sick in said chamber and possibly die. Just ask NASA, who was quite concerned about carbon dioxide levels in the Apollo 13 spacecraft due to overtaxed CO2 filters."

As I understand it, Carbon dioxide concentrations above about 8,000 parts per million are acutely toxic and long-term exposure to levels as low as 4,000 PPM can cause lesser effects.

elevated Carbon dioxide levels are a contributor to "sick building" syndrome.

While the general atmosphere is unlikely to reach anything like those levels due to the burning of fossil fuels, if you start with ambient levels of 800 pm rather than 400 PPM it's that much easier to reach harmful levels inside buildings.

Anonymous said...

Whenever someone says that GCC is caused by sunspots, they will lose me; it's a trigger for my buit-in baloney detector to start bending towards 11.
However, they do play a role. And we're coming out of a minimum, which appears to tie in with a slow down of the warming.
Wonder how the next few years are going to be...
Link To A Handy Dandy Chart

- Robert L

rewinn said...

A few posts back, we had an extended discussion on the laws of war in modern counterinsurgency. The Armed Forces Journal just published expert commentary well worth reading: "Honor, not law: Rules of engagement are only a small part of battlefield discipline" By LT Gabriel Bradley.

Chris Hutchings said...

@ locumranch - Your fallacy is in focusing your argument on the symptom, rather than the cause. Humans have increasingly made a habit of extracting carbon from trapped sources underground and converting it into CO2 that goes into our atmosphere. No other known natural process has ever produced this volume of C02 as efficiently (in the same span of time). The actual limits of the Earth's natural ability to re-trap or convert CO2 from our atmosphere is still unknown. Until the net Human production can be compared to net Natural consumption, it is safest to assume we should make every effort to curb Human production.

Ian Gould said...

The AGW argument

1. Carbon Dioxide is a greenhouse gas

2. Atmospheric concentrations of Carbon Dioxide are increasing.

3. Global temperatures are increasing.

4. The increase in Carbon Dioxide is causing the increase in global temperatures.

The "skeptic" argument

1. Carbon Dioxide is a greenhouse gas

2. Atmospheric concentrations of Carbon Dioxide are increasing.

3. Global temperatures are increasing.

4. an unidentified feedback is preventing Carbon Dioxide levels from raising global temperatures.

5. Another unidentified factor is causing an increase in global temperatures.

Apply Occam's Razor.

marc said...

There is a simple solution to the problem of the impact of global warming on Insurance companies. It is as simple as the solution to massive document forgery by banks in foreclosures. Just change the law so they don't have to pay.

Problem solved.

Ian Gould said...

No offense to my American friends but I'm increasingly reminded of this clip from Babylon 5 when discussing politics, economics and world affairs with them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUYpUMaEI88

KWillow said...

The truth is often bitterly inconvenient to dogmatists

(And you lefties... you have some of your own!)


Could you provide examples, links, please?

Ian said...

I'll provide one: genetically modified organisms.

We now have at least 20 years evidence of massive cultivation of GMOs in the US, in Latin america and in China (for starters).

There's essentially ZERO evidence of any serious harm to the environment or human health as a result.

That's just one example of a tendency to massively exaggerate the potential risks of technological innovations.

David Brin said...

Back from the NASA conference. So many cool innovative (some groundbreaking) concepts I was asked to help judge!

Here's one that's more mundane but still way cool. "Printing" a concrete building!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFh8gbZu_xQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yv-IWdSdns

David Brin said...

locumranch, I appreciate your courtesy, but your blithe and outrageously overconfident exegesis was really rather insulting to science... and to yourself. Go over your paragraphs and notice how lecturey they are... with pat-confident phrases like "we can only conclude"... as if science bends to your will.

In fact, a reasonable fellow who is ignorant of science (and you clearly are) would set these points out as QUESTIONS! But you, rather, arrogate to lecture nearly all of the men and women who actually know something about this topic, who changed the weather report from a 4 day joke to a 10 day miracle, and who study climates on ten planets... soon to be fifty.

As it happens, there are really good reasons why the Earth is very fragile re perturbations of greenhouse gas. If you had been curious, I might have told you about how the Sun's increasing output has gradually pushed the inner edge of our "goldilocks zone" farther out, till Earth now skates along the very inner boundary. Our planet must eliminate EVERY bit of heat that it takes in. The method - radiative transfer - has some very basic equations. Rich yellow-white insolation heats air and ground and sea and must escape either as reflection or as Infrared.

We can only afford the most transparent atmosphere now. I have seen these equations and understood them. Have you?

Or does Glen Beck suffice as a scientific advisor, these days? Anyone else watching all this understands why 20 years ago 40% of scientists were Republican, but it is only 5% today.

Sorry. I am sure you perceived your recitation as logical and calmly reasoned. Let me look you in the eye and tell you now that it was not.

David Brin said...

Bobsandiego said: "The republicans are more homogenous now, but the Democrats are moving in that direction as well."

Thanks bob. You are welcome here. And yet I demand now that you prove that nonsensical and diametrically opposite to true statement.

Many republicans are saying such things... because the sane ones now can see their party has gone crazy, and they can only cling to their loyalty by claiming "democrats are worse!"

Prove it. It is nonsense. Not only are dems so diverse it is like herding cats.... they are the only pragmatists and negotiators left in American life.

I HATE THAT fact! The only can-do pragmatists? I wish it weren't true. But it is.

Obama came to the health care debate table and plopped onto it the REPUBLICAN plan of 1995 and then said "let's hear your suggestions to tweak it."

Whatever your current opinion... even if you changed your mind and reject the 1995 plan as wrong now... the fact is, that gesture of Obama's was CONCILIATORY and flexible and willing to negotiate.

The raving screeches of "socialism!" and bile-spitting RAGE at that watery, eager negotiator pragmatist are straight out of a psychiatric ward.

David Brin said...

Ian I love your comparison of the GW and skeptic arguments.

And thanks for answering KWillow. And while the left is vastly less dangerous than the right AT THIS POINT, I remember Stalin and the Red Guards and the outright bullies who turned the counterculture into a blugeon to suppress any imperfect recitation of an absolute lefty party line.

I hated those guys then... and I despise the campus crypto-marxists who dominate most lit-departments... and who fear and loathe science fiction.

No, the reason to prefer Democrats and liberals is because they AREN'T "lefties". They are the last - the very last - corner of American life still ruled by pragmatic problem solving can-do spirit.

At the recent NASA conference I attended, even the most conservative engineers were flat out planning to vote for Obama.

I know lots of these guys. Many of them were Reaganites! But they aren't fools. They recognize which side still wants to actually DO STUFF! And which side has gone stark... jibbering... insane.

Rob said...

ANYONE who can point me to a reference to experiments done with experimental atmosphere tests under different partial pressures of CO2, with the correlation to the historical partial pressures in the Earth's atmosphere, would have my appreciation. One of my relatives has a degree in conservation biology, and simultaneously denies AGW and that the role the various polar navies of the world are playing in Who Believes.

Hypnos said...

Ian,

I can put some reasons behind opposition to GMOs, while agreeing with you that in some left-circles it's overstated and conflated with New Age anti-scientific prejudice.

1) Pesticide resistant GMO crops (e.g. Round Up ready) encourage excessive use of pesticides, which has negative effects on biodiversity, soil pollution, etc etc.

2) More productive GMO varieties encourage more intensive use of the soil, leading again to a reduction of biodiversity and a weakening of the resilience of our food system.

3) Economics issues connected to the risk of monopolists (e.g. Monsanto) controlling the market, never a good thing and a particularly bad one for developing countries.

Now re-reading this it sounds more like opposition to industrial agriculture than to GMOs, which I guess it is, especially if you interpret GMOs as the culmination of the industrialization of food production.

I think this is negative because it is based on the faulty premise that we can continue to substitute the soil destroyed by intensive mono-cropping with artificial fertilizers ad infinitum, but actually we are already running into scarcity issues with phosphorus, and natural gas (for nitrogen fixing) is also going to hit a production wall pretty soon, shale notwithstanding.

I see industrial mono-cropping as one of the shakiest foundations of our society, and one that is inflicting irreparable damage to our agricultural land. Insofar as GMOs perpetuate this systems, they are a problem.

TwinBeam said...

Got a question for people here:

Would you rather see Obama win this year - but then see Santorum win in 2016?

Or see Romney this year and maybe even 2016, then probably a Dem (Hillary?) beating Santorum?

No guarantee that's how it'd work out - but as Brin has pointed out, the Republicans tend to give candidates "their turn". If Santorum lost to a stronger Dem candidate a few elections from now, he'd lose his turn.

Love him or hate him, Obama is at risk of being "Carter-ized" in this election, and I'm wondering if that might not be such a bad thing in the long term. (Heck, we've even got a tense situation with Iran again - talk about history rhyming...)

From I can see, Santorum really is a man who believes in all the things he says - but he believes ugly and dangerous things.

Romney? Not quite so much.

sociotard said...

GOP Attorney General Suing Over Obamacare Supports Single-Payer: ‘I Trust The Government More’

Anonymous said...

Re: CO2 experiments

From the invaluable Ari Jokamaki:
agwobserver.wordpress.com/2009/09/25/papers-on-laboratory-measurements-of-co2-absorption-properties/

sidd

RandyB said...

David,

"No, the reason to prefer Democrats and liberals is because they AREN'T "lefties". They are the last - the very last - corner of American life still ruled by pragmatic problem solving can-do spirit."

Democrats and liberals in the Senate quite properly rejected ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. They can be pragmatic when it's in their political interest.

There is a pragmatic approach to GW taken by Bjorn Lomborg but you've criticized him before. He believes in global warming, probably always has, and uses the IPCC stats to make his arguments for his own approach in dealing with the problem.

The Navy's plans work regardless whether or not GW is man-made. It could be argued that they might as well be following Lomborg's ideas.




Rewinn,

That's an excellent article but it's about going *beyond* the laws of war, which is what the military has been doing since the war began.

Since you're probably thinking of applying this to the discussion over harsh interrogation, forget it. It's not the same thing.

We already have rules of engagement that go beyond the laws of war. This writer is not saying we can't do things for a legitimate military purpose. He's not even saying we need to tighten the rules of engagement. His point is that he wants soldiers to be better indoctrinated in the principles behind those rules of engagement.

David Brin said...

Ian I do not disagree with you about monopolistic-bullying agri business. In fact...

If you haven't reached your full quota of depression and outrage yet, have a look at accumulating evidence that pesticides and plastics have saturated us with artificial hormones that are affecting the next generation in countless ways. e.g. the age of puberty in girls has been plummeting to around ten years old. I do not know enough to be certain that the alarmists on this issue are right in the intensity of their warnings. (In fact, I would bet good money they exaggerate by a lurif degree!) But suppose they exaggerate by even a factor of ten. Even then, isn't it time to boost and unleash science, and not squelch it? http://www.ourstolenfuture.org/

Twinbeam, you talk as if there's two options: (1) Obama barely beats Romney and Santorum wins in 2016... or Romney gets in as a one-termer.

Sorry. I don't see that.

1) Our one chance to end Phase Three of the American Civil War is not just to defeat Romney but to pound the GOP so hard that it fractures. The oligarchs and the crazies get marginalized and sane conservatives either take back their party or form a new one. (I'd help!) It is the only thing that will break Rupert Murdoch's grip around our throats.

2) The Supreme Court The Supreme Court The Supreme Court The Supreme Court The Supreme Court The Supreme Court The Supreme Court The Supreme Court The Supreme Court The Supreme Court The Supreme Court The Supreme Court The Supreme Court The Supreme Court The Supreme Court The Supreme Court

3) If it is Santorum nominated in '16 then so be it. Our souls will be on the line. Bring it on.

David Brin said...

RandyB you slide past the issue. Should we be locked in rigor mortis over WHETHER to take action about AGW?

Or should we be sitting at the table, weighing all possible ways to learn more and start melioration efforts, and starting with those that have the least economic cost and max econ benefis (of course) by improving efficiency?

THAT is what the debate should be about.

Are there Things We Ought To Be DOing Anyway - TWODA - to improve efficiency and reduce dependence and create new industries and help our payments balance? Even if AGW turned out to be a TOTAL mistake?

That is why this is not about science at all, but about raw, pure, manichean level conflict between good and adult - on one side - and absolute, unadulterated, purely malevolent EVIL on the other.

Come toward the light.

Ian Gould said...

I think there is a real possibility that Santorum (despite his hints that he'd accept the Veep slot)will run as a third party candidate when he loses the Republican nomination.

If that happens, it could be the best thing that's happened for both American democracy and the Republican Party in a long time.

A Republican Party shorn of the far right would be forced to court independents and moderates and candidates in Republican primaries would no longer need to pander to the extreme elements in American political life.

sociotard said...

Huh, I hadn't heard about the coup in Mali. Had you?

http://www.polity.org.za/article/mali-rebels-advance-in-north-mutineers-seek-president-2012-03-23

David Brin said...

Aw gee Ian. I wish stuff like that could actually happen.

But Fox is already rallying behind Romney and the GOP personality is to rationalize party loyalty, whatever it takes,

Ian Gould said...

Sociotard, I had,

The encouraging thing is that ECOWAS and the African Union are refusing to accept it - they're imposing sanctions on Mali and demanding the restoration of the elected government.

Meanwhile Senegal managed its second successful multiple party election and its second peaceful transfer of power.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Twinbeam, you talk as if there's two options: (1) Obama barely beats Romney and Santorum wins in 2016... or Romney gets in as a one-termer.

Sorry. I don't see that.


That was my first reaction to TwinBeam's question too, but on second reading, I wasn't clear that he meant those to be exhaustive choices. Just two examples to choose from.

The gist of the question for liberals, I think, was "Would you rather have Obama win in 2012 if it hurts the Democratic party long term, or would you rather lose in 2012 if it helps long term?"

And my answer is that so much damage has ALREADY been done by the Republicans in the past twelve years that we can't afford the damage they would inflict even in the next TWO years if they held the White House and congress. It would be a nuclear-armed version of Wisconsin's Scott Walker on steorids, and without the recall option.

Sure, by 2014 and 2016 the GOP would be held in the same esteem as Holnists were in "The Postman", but the economic, social, and environmental damage would be irreperable.

Therefore, at a bare minimum, I have to wish for an Obama victory and either re-taking the House or holding onto the Senate. In 2012. Later than that will be too late. It may in fact already BE too late, but that doesn't factor into the answer to the question.

LarryHart said...

While I'm here...a theoretical health-insurance question that maybe Dr. Tactitus can answer...

Backing off from the specifics of ObamaCare and getting to a basic theoretical question, the point of the federal mandate is that it would not be feasable to require insurers to cover everybody while letting individuals wait until an expensive condition arises before buying insurance. But the way the system works now, "pre-existing condidtion" does not refer to a condition not previously insured, but a condition not previously insured under a particular policy. So once someone has a long-term condition (such as diabetes), they are locked into the policy they currently have, unable to purchase a new policy. If they become ineligible for their current employer-based policy, they are completely screwed.

Wouln't it be a good compromise to start with if the definition of "pre-existing condition" was changed to NOT include conditions that are already covered under a present insurance policy? So, for instance, if I've been insured in some form or another my entire life, and I was diagonosed with diabetes at age 40, and I lose my job at age 51 and therefore need private insurance, this does NOT represent an attempt at tricking or defrauding an insurance company?

Just a thought from a concerned amateur.

LarryHart said...

Oh, and one more insurance question...

Under the same theory that prevents an individual from waiting for an expensive procedure and then purchasing insurance, sholdn't insurance companies be prevented from waiting until an individual shows signs of becoming expensive and then dropping him from their rolls?

I can't understand the theory behind preventing the former while allowing the latter.

Abdul kalam said...

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locumranch said...

Thanks all. Sorry about the "lecturey" tone, I tend to do that.

As some of you have guessed, my post was at least partway facetious. I do have a strong scientific (biochemical) background. I also believe that HGCC is a reality; I know that C02, as evidenced by its in vitro infrared absorption spectrum, is a potent greenhouse gas; and I realise that human actions have changed the global environment in an undesirable fashion even though I believe that the threat of an HGCC-mediated 'Silent Spring' is over-rated.

To borrow some climate change terms from Norman Spinrad, most of the participants on this site, esp Dr. Brin, appear to be True Blues, possessing an unwavering belief in interventional technology, whereas I fall further down toward the Grateful Green end of the spectrum.

I do take a longer view than most of you, defining 'long-term' in terms of hundreds of years rather than John Cook's long-term '50 year' trends. I embrace a less species-specific, esp a less nationalistic, perspective in an attempt to see the bigger picture. Also, I take exception to indiscriminate use of value-loaded terms like 'good' and 'bad'.

Of course, excessively high levels of environmental C02 are 'bad'. Bad for mammals & humans, that is. Bad for human industrial business as usual. Excessive levels of most active atmospheric chemicals, including 'good' ozone, have potentially adverse or toxic biological effects. Warmer weather means increased desertification which could (and will) lead to decreased land-based food production; warmer oceans mean fewer fish because of lower oceanic oxygen carrying capacity; and fewer fish & less food mean leaner times for more than 8 billion humans.

That said, I think you underestimate the global environment's capacity for regeneration. Other species, esp plants, respond well to higher C02 levels. Higher C02 levels mean warmer oceans; warmer oceans mean algae blooms and more bivalves; more bivalves mean increased C02 fixation in the form of calcium carbonate, leading to lower atmospheric C02 and global cooling; and millions of years of algae lead to petroleum replenishment.

While the True Blues want a short-term fix, up to and including terraforming technology, the Grateful Greens try to adapt the new natural cycle as well as they can since a warmer climate and higher C02 mean a longer agricultural growing season and easier access to mineral resources, esp in a subarctic or boreal distribution. Unfortunately, most humans don't belong to either Blue or Green parties. They simply proceed with business as usual, assuming or insisting that they are (or should be) immune to all of these natural cycles.

So, when the civilian or military industrial complex shifts its emphasis toward thawing arctic regions, there is nothing necessarily 'True Blue' about it. It is not a call for human behavioral change. It simply represents a slightly 'grateful green' adaption to a changing climate and -- most probably -- business, industry and environmental exploitation as usual.

In other words, we may as well pollute because most of us don't give a hoot.

BTW, I'd love to hear more about this inferred astrophysical Goldilocks Zone (HZ).

Best

Tim H. said...

Dr. Brin, excellent point on TWODA, a better environment for the great-grandchildren is not the easiest sell in a depressed economy, lower energy bills now, fairly immune to controversy. After all, if the stated goal is to help people be comfortable without bankrupting them, it might be difficult to bring accusations of alarmist researchers stacking the deck into the discussion.

bobsandiego said...

And yet I demand now that you prove that nonsensical and diametrically opposite to true statement.

Many republicans are saying such things... because the sane ones now can see their party has gone crazy, and they can only cling to their loyalty by claiming, "democrats are worse!"

Thank you for welcoming me. It seems you have mis-understood part of my sentiment. I in no way meant that to be taken, as "oh the Democrats are worse." It's an argument I get all the time from my conservative buddies as an attempt to change the subject. I do see that the two parties are becoming less coalition parities, two points to support this statement.
1) Pro-life/pro-choice. Each party used to tolerate members that took stands against the main line party views on this; now these views are used as bludgeon to chase members from the party by way of primary challengers and such.
2) Here is an excellent chart from The Atlantic showing how, in the Senate, the number of party member willing to vote with the other side has changed with time. (http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2012/03/us-senate-now-completely-polarized/49641/)


Prove it. It is nonsense. Not only are dems so diverse it is like herding cats.... they are the only pragmatists and negotiators left in American life.

I HATE THAT fact! The only can-do pragmatists? I wish it weren't true. But it is.

You're not engaging with a partisan republican here. I walked away from the party when GOP ceased meaning Grand Old Party and became God's Own Party. It is true that the Democrats are less homogenous that the republicans, but I did not say they were the same or worse. I said that the republican were further along the purification route. I see the trend on the Democratic side, but it is more pronounced and more solidified on the conservative side. (I feel this is because of the internet and the see with which the base can rattle the party. I think the Tea Party is force that the establishment is discovering that they cannot control, hence truly dangerous candidates like Mr. Santorum continue to get support.)


Obama came to the health care debate table and plopped onto it the REPUBLICAN plan of 1995 and then said "let's hear your suggestions to tweak it."
Agreed, on my own blog I fight with my conservative friends (I have very low readership) when I stated that the ACA was the most conservative friendly solution to Healthcare reform. I feel the ACA did not go far enough, getting healthcare fixed is vital to keeping our economy strong, growing, and competitive. Healthcare reform to essential and the conservatives by their blind partisan obstructionism are endangering this country.


The raving screeches of "socialism!" and bile-spitting RAGE at that watery, eager negotiator pragmatist are straight out of a psychiatric ward. Gods how I hate it when some on the right screams socialism at this administration. It is idiocy, lunacy, or lies there is no other option. But those people use 'socials' as an insult to anything to their left. It's why I cannot be a good partisan for any side, I insist on definitions and sticking with them.

Rob said...

Thank you, sidd, for the links to Air Jokamaki.

locumranch, there's no doubt in my mind that a warmer global climate could mean all the beneficial things you state... as long as the biosphere can keep up with the change, since it's happening at a pace faster than any other geological trend.

That means rapid changes in the survival mechanisms of all the life on earth. The trouble with being a "grateful Green" in such a scenario is twofold.

First, that we're all still struggling to get smart relatives and friends to believe in CC (let alone AGCC) in the first place. *I* still have people in my circles who equate record-breaking or unseasonal snow levels as a definitive refutation of the idea.

Second, the regenerative capacity of the biosphere proceeds in geologic time. It's hard to be grateful and green when the only green left in the medium term to be grateful about is algae blooms, and what you eat is wheat, rice, pork, and chicken.

As David rightly pointed out, we all ought to do what we're not doing anyway, as a human race, because it's better for piles of other reasons. Individually, as you rightly point out, you can't buy an EV or telecommute if your society won't let you do it.

David Brin said...

Locumranch, yes, some of us caught that you had at least a little tongue-planted-in-cheek. Still, had to answer you as if you were serious. "Poking" is welcome at "Contrary Brin..." But expect to be poked back.

Still, I take umbrage with your claim that you look farther into the future than I do! Ahem. Double ahem.

In fact, I believe you are using verbiage to cover up an "opposite." You claim to see a big picture and relentlessly do not. I explained to you that the Earth skates the inner edge of our sun's continuously habitable zone... a zone that is creeping outward... requiring an almost utterly transparent atmosphere in order to remain stable

Your response is NOT to engage that issue (which refuted your "how could it possibly matter?" shrug.) No, instead you simply ignore it.

Or try this: "That said, I think you underestimate the global environment's capacity for regeneration."

Dammit do you even listen to yourself? You blithely shrug off the concerns of 95% of all scientists who actually know about this stuff... with a shrug-line from FOX?

Please listen closely... I just had in my own home, day before yesterday, Dr. David Crisp of the Jet Propulsion Lab, who is planning to launch the Carbon Explorer next year that will be able to peer past the Troposphere to the ocean surface and try to solve the biggest riddle of AGW... and that is where is the missing carbon?"

Somehow, HALF of the CO2 we have emitted across the last 50 years has vanished. Apparently, the seas have been sucking it in at a higher rate than we can measure down at the ground. (The GOP sabotaged funds for satellites to study this for 15 years.)

This is very serious stuff, because we have experienced far lower rates of warming because the CO2 we've been spewing has only had HALF of the effect it ought to have had... and STILL the Arctic is melting and deserts are spreading.

What happens when you keep squeezing CO2 into a jar of soda? Eventually it stops absorbing any more. (And it belches much of the earlier stuff back out!) That not only is likely, it must happen.

But you are willing to just shrug shrug shrug with Fox-aphorisms, instead of showing any curiosity about the science that deeply worries brilliant people who actually know shit like Dave Crisp.

Shrug shrug shrug -- what a great replacement for curiosity, humility, thoughtful concern or old-fashioned conservative respect for brilliant folks who know a lot more than you do

shrug shrug shrug

David Brin said...

Locumranch, the typical human thing when faced with words you don't like is to SKIM, get a quick impression and then type away! I invite you to break that habit here. Please re-read my earlier posting to you... and this one... with the honor and respect for the time that I spent on you. Because you really need to listen. And I believe you are an intelligent enough fellow to be worth my time. DO NOT SKIM!

I am telling you now that your labels "Grateful Green" and all that are utter bullshit. You are willing to "don't give a hoot" and help plunge our children into misery because of personality and nothing else. Your contempt for science is something you have learned.

Be an adult and rise above it.

sociotard said...

A Quantum Theory of Mitt Romney

David Brin said...

Bob Sandiego, thanks for explaining and sorry if I over-reacted.

But please understand... I hate increasing partisanship on the Democratic side too. In today's LA times there was an article about conservative complaints about campus lefties... and those complaints are correct! That is, regarding the lefties themselves who are often campus bullies,

But the SCALE of the problem on the two sides is not remotely comparable.

Moreover, you must expect some liberals to sidle closer to the lefties when they sense there is no longer anyone to talk to... anyone at all... on the right. Murdoch has plunged us into genuine civil war. Polemic rigidifies during war.

Even so, I do not see the dems becoming unreasonable. They are still negotiators. What I fear is what they will become if this goes on.

rewinn said...

@RandyB wrote
"...Since you're probably thinking of applying this to the discussion over harsh interrogation....
..."


Nope. I don't give a tinker's d@mn about "winning" a debate with such as you.

You've already made your position in favor of abusing prisoners quite clear and so what? The professionals in the field disagree with you both as to what is effective and what is legal.

I posted this link for the majority who are interested in (A) law (B) morality and (C) effectiveness. Ya know, it's not always about you.

rewinn said...

@bobsandiego said...
"...Our political system wasn't designed with this sort of strong party in mind. .... Now we seem to moving a very heavy party loyalty system and that is not going to work with our House and Senate...."

This is a thoughtful comment. While I'm pretty sure it's basic history that our federal system was not designed with parties at all in mind (IIRC the Electoral College was supposed to be composed of wise men who would debate among themselves who would be president; the so-called "Faithless Elector" is actually closer to our Founder's design than the robots usually in play), but the greater point is that our fixed-term Congress doesn't work well with parties that are less coalitions and more issue-centered.

Nearly all other democracies are parliamentary, which does two things which I'm sure everyone here knows (1) small parties can actually have functions in the system of picking the Executive, (2) if ruling party becomes sufficiently unpopular, a Vote of Confidence can lead to an early election. That we have neither feature may not matter so much when the major parties are functionally coalitions of what would be (in Canada or Italy) smaller parties, but when the parties are purified the system jams up, as we are seeing today.

If we had a parliamentary system, we might have the following Senate:
Tea Party 5
Corporatist GOP 44
Corporatist Dem 40
Progressive Dem 10
Socialist Bernie Sanders 1
... you can change with the numbers if you disagree with them, but the point is, this would be a functioning legislative body. We may or may not approve of the policies they would pass, but at least something would happen and We The People could then reward or punish on the basis of performance.

Instead, what we got is a body in which any single angry Senator can block any vote and a small bloc of angry extremists can block anything ... and when this happens, we can't get early elections to demand change. This is a problem that may require a constitutional amendment or at least serious changes in Senate rules, but that's not gonna work either both have to get through the Senate!

(Just because I said @bobsandiego's a thoughtful comment doesn't mean I have a solution to the problem it poses!)

RandyB said...

David,

I'm not sliding past anything. I just don't think the action is worth the cost. TWODA is nice but not everyone agrees on which things those are. Does every TWODA just happen to have an Obama campaign-bundler associated with it?

Improving real efficiency doesn't ordinarily require legislation. People like efficiency. Kurzweil thinks we could have everything running on solar power within 20 years. I can believe it'll happen. I don't believe the government can speed that up significantly at this point in time.

Lomborg's idea was to list all the major problems in the world (of which global warming is only one item), together with proposed solutions. Then figure out the costs and benefits, and have experts prioritize them. It's pro-science. There's nothing ostrichy about it.

This works even if AGW is 100% true -- which is what Lomborg believes. If we cut all our emissions overnight, which we can't, much of the damage continues for decades anyway. It will cost resources to endure that damage. It would be a real bummer if we already wasted all our money on green projects that we always knew can't stop AGW, and have nothing left for the extra carpenters and air conditioners that we'd need.

Melioration efforts can be good. But if it can't stop AGW, will those melioration efforts at least be worth the cost? Lomborg's group agrees that some of them are. For the rest, they'd rather spend that money on some of the world's other problems.

As for me, I'm a skeptic but mostly a GW agnostic. I could believe global warming is absolutely true. I won't believe that Al Gore, the DNC, or the U.N. cares about it (curiously, it's the same group that claims to oppose torture whenever the Bush administration is accused of it).

Ian Gould said...

Locumranch:

"I do take a longer view than most of you, defining 'long-term' in terms of hundreds of years rather than John Cook's long-term '50 year' trends. I embrace a less species-specific, esp a less nationalistic, perspective in an attempt to see the bigger picture. Also, I take exception to indiscriminate use of value-loaded terms like 'good' and 'bad'.

Of course, excessively high levels of environmental C02 are 'bad'. Bad for mammals & humans, that is. Bad for human industrial business as usual. Excessive levels of most active atmospheric chemicals, including 'good' ozone, have potentially adverse or toxic biological effects. Warmer weather means increased desertification which could (and will) lead to decreased land-based food production; warmer oceans mean fewer fish because of lower oceanic oxygen carrying capacity; and fewer fish & less food mean leaner times for more than 8 billion humans.

"That said, I think you underestimate the global environment's capacity for regeneration. Other species, esp plants, respond well to higher C02 levels. Higher C02 levels mean warmer oceans; warmer oceans mean algae blooms and more bivalves; more bivalves mean increased C02 fixation in the form of calcium carbonate, leading to lower atmospheric C02 and global cooling; and millions of years of algae lead to petroleum replenishment."

Yes, yes, a million years from now the Earth will be largely restored to normal.

Or maybe it'll take 20 million - that's about how long biodiversity has taken to recover after past mass extinction events.

Even so who cares - in a billion years or to the sun will expand and absorb the Earth.

In about 10 to the 50th years, most of the protons in the universe will have decayed and matter as we know it will have largely ceased to exist.

So let's take the long view, right?

Sorry, Locum but some of us actually want this particular civilization to survive and prosper.

The thought that naked mole rats might evolve sentience 50 million years into the future isn't a great consolation.

Ian Gould said...

"Lomborg's idea was to list all the major problems in the world (of which global warming is only one item), together with proposed solutions. Then figure out the costs and benefits, and have experts prioritize them. It's pro-science. There's nothing ostrichy about it."

Except for the bit where he lied and distorted the facts and presented the issues (with a "skeptic" writing the case FOR action to address climate change) and then handpicked a panel of fellow "skeptics" to set the priorities.

Ian Gould said...

"This works even if AGW is 100% true -- which is what Lomborg believes. If we cut all our emissions overnight, which we can't, much of the damage continues for decades anyway. It will cost resources to endure that damage. It would be a real bummer if we already wasted all our money on green projects that we always knew can't stop AGW, and have nothing left for the extra carpenters and air conditioners that we'd need."

The cost impacts of global warming are not linear, they increase on an exponential basis with the level of warming.

Hence even a small decrease in total warming can have adisproportionately high economic return.

Just as Lomborg is not a physical scientist, he is also not an economist and he is woefully ignorant in both areas.

Also, where ever you live Randy, there's likely national, state and local government climate change strategy.

Go find them and read them.

Actually read them or at least the executive summaries.

What I'm betting you'll find is that in each case about 90% of the content is devoted to adaptation and to no-regrets measures (what David calls TWOTDA).

The American right and their fellow travelers pull out the elements that sound scary (or that they think they can make sound scary) ignore the other 90% and then say "why aren't we doing this other stuff?".

Ian Gould said...

Finally, does it bother anyone that the people who are telling Locum and Randy that there's plenty of time to respond and that the threat of global warming may have been overstated are the same people who said that America had to invade Iraq because of the imminent threat of WMDs?

THESE are the people whose expertise in risk assessment you defer to?

David Brin said...

RandyB says: "I'm not sliding past anything. I just don't think the action is worth the cost. TWODA is nice but not everyone agrees on which things those are. Does every TWODA just happen to have an Obama campaign-bundler associated with it?"

Bullshit and then bullshit squared. Then bullshit to the bullshit power.

The thing that has us steamed is the refusal of your side to even discuss TWODA. The whole and entire agenda of the right is to prevent discussion of TWODA. No negotiation, compromise or mixed solutions. No talk of market tweakings that might gently ease in important new technologies. No $$%#@#! RESEARCH into new methods.

So don't you even try to act all-reasonable here. Obama and the dems have come to the table offering everything under the sun, including market-based TWODAs and boosts in R&D.

Lomberg's role was not as unalloyedly reasonable as you make it out to be. He has migrated considerably, because he is smart enough to see his old positions were fast turning into lunacy. And that prominent denialists will probably be sued someday, for tort damages by their victims. (The class action suits may go down as far as YOU RandyB. Think about it.)

And even so, Lomberg comes across as all: "Both sides are crazy vehement and look at this new thing what I invented called NEGOTIATION!"

BULLSHIT to the uttergoogleshit. This is just another delaying tactic. The right has used every tobacco and cars-don't-make-smog tactic to delay the inevitable. Delaying (and profiting) so long that our children are grievously harmed. Okay. Now a FEW of them are saying "let's start being willing to negotiate, you liberal fanatics you." But that's still stalling. There's still no sitting down at the table!

Ian said: "The cost impacts of global warming are not linear, they increase on an exponential basis with the level of warming."

Exactly. Especially if some level of warming is the tipping point for releasing the methane locked in arctic sub-ocean and tundra hydrates. Below that point, we might eke by. Above it, a shitstorm...

... whereupon we hunt every denialist and take every last bit of property they own and give it all to victims of their horrific tobaccanist "cars-don't-cause-smog" imbecility.

(I hope the Koch boys don't expect their heirs to actually own stuff, at this rate. Geez, show these guys 1789 France.)

LarryHart said...

Ian Gould:

In about 10 to the 50th years, most of the protons in the universe will have decayed and matter as we know it will have largely ceased to exist.

So let's take the long view, right?

Sorry, Locum but some of us actually want this particular civilization to survive and prosper.


Paul Krugman continually addresses this sort of thing in the sphere of economics. He often has to remind us that the science of economics doesn't go much good if, during a metaphorical storm at sea, the best it can do is to predict that the sea will be calm again in a week's time. To be of any use at all, it has to be able to provide guidance for the immediate problem, not to successfully predict that "All things end, so who cares what happens twixt now and then."

Paul451 said...

Here's a scenario for you all:

Have a look at this temp graph...

http://www.aip.org/history/climate/images/WMOtemp2008.gif

...and ignore the general warming trend, instead look at the other apparent cycle. A local high around 1875, a low at 1910, another high at 1940, a low... well, there's a bubble in the middle, but say 1960. And another high just after 2000. So 35, 30, 20, 40+ years between respective peaks/troughs. Say the 1960 low is actually a 1970 low, hidden by late-20th Century AGW/HGCC. So you're looking at an approximately 60 year cycle, imposed over (or under) the more general warming. (Note: This "cycle" almost certainly doesn't exist.)

Now if 2000-and-a-bit is the last peak, then the next trough is around 2030-ish. The next peak around 2060.

So if the current down-cycle is enough balance or overwhelm AGW, the next 30 years will see flat or even declining temperatures. Then around the 2030s, the warming phase of the cycle will kick in. The next 30 years (2030-2060) would be (like 1970-2000) cyclic-warming on top of Global-Warming.

Think about what the next 30 years will do to climate change politics. Deniers have proof, Proof!, PROOF! that climate change is a myth, for 30 years. The fact that the global average temperature doesn't drop below mid-1990's levels, that the 2030 minima is higher than the 1940 maxima, is all irrelevant; clearly warming has stopped, and keeps on stopping, year after year, decade after decade... until it doesn't again.

Given the difficulty in getting any serious progress on carbon emissions, this plateau/decline will delay any action of climate change until well after 2030 - and probably after 2060 given how long it will take to re-acquire political acceptance of AGW after 30 years of denier victory. And right then, there'll be another local down-turn. Political cycle next repeats around 2110.

--

1938 Royal Society of Meteorology paper by English engineer, Guy Stewart Callendar, attempting to estimate the role of CO2 in global warming.

http://www.aip.org/history/climate/xCallendar.htm

Plus ├ža freakin' change, bitches.

Paul451 said...

"the 2030 minima is higher than the 1940 maxima"

I used the plural terms because it made me sound smarter... <sigh>

Tony Fisk said...

Using economics to tackle issues of climate change, while not unwelcome, is a bit lame to me.

The problem with economics is that it's traditionally assumed to exist in isolation to the ecology. A simple anecdote shows how embedded this idea is. A paper was being drafted for the IMF which included a simple diagram describing economic theory. The reviewer suggested putting a box around the model marked 'Environment'. This, he thought, would succinctly indicate where the raw materials came from and where all the waste went.

The next draft showed the diagram, enclosed in an unlabelled box. The missing label was noted.

The next draft had removed the diagram completely. Dangerous knowledge, it seems...

That insular view *is* changing slowly, but not in conservative territory. More effort needed.

Paul451, sure, there's a lot of other drivers that can mask an inexorable increase in global temperatures (although despite some much ballyhooed steadiness/cooling, we are still in a decidedly warmer phase than we were 50 years ago) Raised CO2 levels are having other effects as well, though.

Tony Fisk said...

Looking ahead: As an issue, I'd say AGW has a horizon of a few hundred years. Things will have stabilised after time, one way or another:

A. we'll have got out shit together, eliminated emissions, be patching up the environmental damage, and be a generally sadder but wiser society.

B. we'll have tossed those damn watermelon greenies aside, got on with business as usual, and fallen flat on our faces. Emissions will collapse along with us. Welcome to Earrth.

(David, you keep mentioning the Goldilocks zone. As a rough guide, how much closer to the sun is the inner limit? Are there any studies indicated what level of CO2 etc. would lead to a Venusian Earth?)

Jumper said...

Increasing ocean acidification indicates that more CO2 will not increase any biofixing of carbonates; the energy barrier to do so steepens.

BT genes in corn are decimating pollinators and threatening many species.

Tony Fisk said...

... bottom line, we have what looks like a substantial threat to civilisation and, possibly, our very existence in the next century or two. As that is the period my immediate offspring will be inhabiting, I think I know where I'll be concentrating my prescience.

bobsandiego said...

Dr Bring: Oh I agree that the scale is vastly different; The Conservatives are achieving a homogenous party much faster than the liberals. I don;t see that as a value statement much an observation. And I agree that once the republican's started this purification process the Democrats had to follow suit. To do anything else would be to surrender the field and always lose. So this traps us in a vicious cycle leading to rigid parties unbending to each other in a system that expect compromise. It is madness. I wish I knew how to break the cycle. I can be reasonable and I can try to promote reasonable leaders, but until we have greater numbers, the system will become more locked. the worst element is the stupid cycles of culture wars, that depresses me so much.

bobsandiego said...

LarryHart said "But the way the system works now, "pre-existing condidtion" does not refer to a condition not previously insured, but a condition not previously insured under a particular policy. So once someone has a long-term condition (such as diabetes), they are locked into the policy they currently have, unable to purchase a new policy. If they become ineligible for their current employer-based policy, they are completely screwed."
This is not quite correct. Before ACA, If you were covered by a policy and developed an issue, when you lost that policy, for whatever reason, the former policy would issue to you a letter of 'Credible Coverage", and if you went in a fairly shorty period of time and applied for a new policy (I don;t remember the exact period but it was like 60-90 days) then the new policy could not consider any condition covered by the previous policy as 'preexisting.' However, if you went beyond that window and then applied, they could consider any existing condition as preexisting. If you were low income and lost your insurance you generally could not afford an individual policy and often these people would end up uninsurable except for high risk pools that existed in *some* states. Now with the provisions of the ACA in place, a payer (insurance company) cannot exclude you for a preexisting condition. I hope that helps.

Jumper said...

I may have been too brief: I wanted to mention that the statement about gene mod being a lefty bugbear only may not be true; food crops depending on wild pollinators (and crops formerly depending on domesticated honeybees may need wild alternates) are suffering in yields due to (in part) BT corn, as well as "regular" pesticide use. Humans are affected. As an aside I should note I think there are no problems EATING GM food, that may indeed be a "left" or moonbat myth..

Different topic noted elsewhere: Climate engineering proposals to fix even more carbon into ocean calcium carbonates are now going to need to raise the pH in order to make that happen. Iron additions, also proposed, (but not here) would also lower pH. I don't know if any calcium deposits are available on earth that are not already saturated with carbonate, else ocean additions of calcium might be just such engineering which would fix carbon. As we all know usable calcium for cement etc. is produced by driving off CO2 from it with heat prior to further use. So standard production would be CO2 neutral, unfortunately.

Jumper said...

Sigh. (i.e., standard production of CaO to immediately put in the ocean would be CO2 neutral; CaO production at present for cement is indeed a net CO2 producer.)

LarryHart said...

bobsandiego:

Before ACA, If you were covered by a policy and developed an issue, when you lost that policy, for whatever reason, the former policy would issue to you a letter of 'Credible Coverage", and if you went in a fairly shorty period of time and applied for a new policy (I don;t remember the exact period but it was like 60-90 days) then the new policy could not consider any condition covered by the previous policy as 'preexisting.'


Hmmmm, I knew about the "credible coverage" thing, but I thought that just testified to the fact that you were insured at all. Did not realize it affected pre-existing conditions that had come to light during that previous coverage.


Now with the provisions of the ACA in place, a payer (insurance company) cannot exclude you for a preexisting condition. I hope that helps.


It helps as long as the ACA (also known as ObamaCare) isn't overturned by the Supreme Court or by the next congress. Which is one reason my answer to TwinBeam was that I'm not willing to see Democratic losses in 2012 even if it makes them stronger in 2016 and beyond.

But thanks for the info. Maybe it is better than I had thought.

John said...

This is a very beautiful and interesting research
The most educating one i have read today!




GED Online

Rob said...

What the "creditable coverage" letter does is waive all the waiting periods after the policy was issued.

I would have to look at the details of all my old policies to see whether pre-existing conditions ever had an outright denial, as compared to a waiting period for coverage. But health care policies are so tedious and self-referential that I'm not going to do that.

Robert said...

Let's put it this way. My friend is currently trapped in his job, which has an over three hours round-trip commute, because he has severe asthma and high blood pressure, and his son has severe asthma. Even if he could get onto a new health insurance with his medical issues, the 90 day period before getting insurance would be too long for his children (and his ex would probably sue him and force him to purchase insurance out-of-pocket to support them, along with child support, despite his being unable to support both in that period of time).

Meanwhile, the company he works for has declared bankruptcy and is doing everything in its power to weasel out of its responsibilities concerning the pension. This after it previously went into bankruptcy and weaseled out of previous labor union contracts and reduced what it had to shill out for health insurance and reduce its pension responsibilities.

And yet this is a good thing. The business is doing the proper thing by ensuring the stakeholders get a maximum benefit at the expense of its employees. Republicans would applaud its efforts and say that the union is responsible for the woes of the company (despite having agreed to a freeze in pay raises for several years - the company now wants to slash salaries).

There is a certain irony that the company that produces Twinkies is behaving like a Twink (to use a gamer term).

Tim H. said...

Another angle to help folks ignore long-term problems like climate change, make their lives so difficult, there's no time to think about the day after tomorrow, for example:
http://motherjones.com/politics/2012/02/mac-mcclelland-free-online-shipping-warehouses-labor
I'll likely be accused (Again!) of "compassion-trolling" for posting the link, but the swamp ain't gonna' be drained if folks are up to their backsides in alligators.

bobsandiego said...

Robert: concerning your example;
Under current law, there would be no pre-existing issue. Once the perosn lost his employer supplied policy he woudl have the optiont to continue coverage under COBRA. The effect is he gets to pay for the policy at the same rate and premiums as the employers paid, for up to 18 months. (If you are a professional with good savings tis is greatif you were a wage slave living paycheck to paycheck COBRA is out fo your reach and you become unemployed.) Pre-ACA if you didn;t get the COBRA then you were liekly screwed as far as healthcare was concerned and would start turing to Patient Assistance Program for your medication needs, if you and your doctor knew about them.

Robert said...

He's a wage slave, working constant overtime to try and make ends meet. He also doesn't have a college degree, meaning that he's not going to find a decent job with the benefits he'd need, especially in this job market. (He also is an ostrich Republican and refuses to listen to me about things political, though he has become cynical enough that he now admits the Republicans are corrupt. He just can't accept that Democrats aren't as bad, especially seeing he also lives in the People's Republic of Massachusetts.)

So Cobra's out of reach. Getting a college education is probably out of reach (though both his fiancee and myself urge him to take Saturday courses or online courses). His one hope is that his job ends up laying him off so he can collect unemployment while taking college courses and working toward an actual usable degree. I look at this... and then listen to claims that we can be anything we want if we work hard enough... and realize it's a lie. Hard work doesn't do a thing if you don't have the connections... and sometimes a dose of luck.

Rob H.

bobsandiego said...

Robert:

you might want to poitn your friend towars this web address as a starting poitn for research to help him out.
http://www.healthcare.gov/law/features/choices/pre-existing-condition-insurance-plan/ma.html

LarryHart said...

Robert:

I look at this... and then listen to claims that we can be anything we want if we work hard enough... and realize it's a lie. Hard work doesn't do a thing if you don't have the connections... and sometimes a dose of luck.


The notion that you can be anything you're willing to work for presumes that there is a vast virgin continent at hand full of all the resources one requires for survival and for comfort and for one's means of production. It might have been plausible in 1789. It isn't now.

Once everything worth owning is already owned, then the aphorism becomes a cruel joke. How can you work to get ahead if the stuff you require to do so is already someone eles's private property, and they're not selling?

Unless "willing to work" is taken to mean "willing to kiss the asses of the lawful owners," making them like you enough to trickle some of their wealth down onto you.

Dr Brin is correct that we are heading for either a new 1776 or a new 1789. And the oligarchs seem bound and determined to foreclose the former option and therefore insure the latter.

LarryHart said...

Heh. I used 1789 for two different historical references. That was undoubtably confusing.

The reference to the virgin continent available in 1789 was meant to refer to the adoption of the Constitution of the United States.

The reference to the oligarchs pushing us toward 1789 meant the French Revolution.

That must have been an interesting year.

sociotard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sociotard said...

Lets try this cartoon link again (citokate for american journalism)

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/532800_3587853025310_1542848808_33096151_1976735317_n.jpg

Lamont Cranston said...

The hate and anger and easily swayed by charismatic personalities comes from the collapse thats been going on since the dismantling of American industry and shift of the tax structure
People left struggling and destitute, having always been told they were the good and right people, and with no answers or explanation

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