Where climate myths come from

Discuss

165 Responses to “Where climate myths come from”

  1. Ugly Canuck says:

    The “status quo” is that American emissions just keep on rising. 5% of the world’s population, 25% of the greenhouse gas emissions.

    America is doing NOTHING to help counter climate change.

    In fact, a big chunk of your media, and all of your Republicans, seem to want to speed it up – apparently out of spite.

  2. Ugly Canuck says:

    Don’t get me wrong: it matters little to me whether we change our ways now, voluntarily, or just wait until such change is forced upon us by events.

    But that change is coming, whatever you say…the facts keep on keepin’ on.

  3. lesbianjesus says:

    I wonder what NASA has to say ?

    http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

  4. lesbianjesus says:

    I live in the Yukon, people keep thinking people in the Yukon say, gee it sure is warmer and that this can be attributed to solar cycles. Up here even if you live in the city you are very aware of the landscape around and people living off it. The changes are for the first time in the history of man.

    This shows up in mining, in the Tundra, Glaciology and archaeology.

  5. ADavies says:

    Nice graph. And, oh look! You cited the source right there in the link.

  6. Ugly Canuck says:

    But we Canucks are scarcely blameless in this matter!

    Which is to say, that speaking as an experienced pot, I’ve never seen blacker kettles!

  7. Ugly Canuck says:

    Don’t trust other people’s evidence, eh?

    Fool.

  8. Shroomy says:

    This is also a pretty funny video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UNXv6IUhC4

    Pardon the terrible music.

  9. Bengoshi says:

    One must of course agree that human CO2 emissions area terrible thing: that they are polluting this planet and likely causing warming.

    With that said, to say we understand all of this beyond question, and how it all fits together, is hubris beyond belief. During long periods the earth was covered with glaciers — where I am sitting now, on the 14th floor of a building in Manhattan, was under ice. No one can truly explain, with absolute precision, the cycles that caused those ice ages and no one, it is clear, can predict when we will see one again.

    That is to say: There is nothing inconsistent in accepting the science of global warming, on the one hand, yet being skeptical of its more alarmist predictions, on the other. Bengoshi

    • Shift says:

      Exactly. When people ask me what I think about climate change, I tell them that I’m not a climatologist, or even someone predisposed to taking the time to try to understand vague scientific theories, but my understanding is that most climatologists seem to agree that its happening. So, it seems reasonable to me to believe them.

      But I’m not going to advocate destroying the economies of the western world based on something that we may or may not be able to change.

      Other than that, I think its reasonable to encourage moderate change in industry, and advocate for reasonably ‘green’ behaviour (GFY, I’m not giving up my car).

      • Nadreck says:

        But I’m not going to advocate destroying the economies of the western world based on something that we may or may not be able to change.

        Citation please for the extremely radical idea that any economy other than Saudia Arabia’s will undergo anything more than a minor readjustment of that sort that they do all the time during an energy source switch anyway. The petroleum energy monopoly has only been in place for a very short amount of time and only encompasses a small portion of the globe’s population.

        The fallacy of the excluded middle. Either we do nothing or we do so much that we destroy everything?! The adjustments needed could probably be effected for a fraction of the cost that we now spend on bailing out gamblers on Wall Street or the constant massive petro-dollar fuelled wars.

      • Anonymous says:

        Not willing to destroy/risk western economies but willing to risk the lives of *millions* of potential climate-change refugees?

    • Anonymous says:

      I dunno, if you know anything about the carbon cycle, it’s length and how delicate it is; you’d have to be pretty ignorant to think our CO2 emissions over the past 100 odd years will have anything other than a disastrous effect on the planet.

      Also – in any kind of media it works pretty much the same way (unless it’s a truly trusted media source). Journo calls 100 scientists, 1 says that climate change doesn’t exist and was made up by Zebra’s, the other 99 either tell him to get lost or confirm the realities they see as a basic understanding of biology and chemistry. Guess what gets printed?

      I think I made the same sentiments on another post recently in a different context, but I’m afraid this is exactly how it works; especially if that story is something someone can make money from. The quicker people get into the habit of finishing every newspaper article with a shrug and a “meh, might not be true” the better.

    • Anonymous says:

      The only problem with this sentiment is that it can turn into a train of thought that says something along the lines of “so lets not be too hasty [in upsetting the economy, etc, for the sake of "climate change"]. I’ve seen/heard it done. Since I’m now momentarily on the podium I would argue that we flip that “too hasty” argument on its head and suggest that *perhaps* we shouldn’t be so hasty to continue polluting a system that, as you say, we can’t possibly know that much about. Hubris is always going to be a risk for humanity, but I think this can be balanced out by following the precautionary principle (which in this case would look at the choice between: ecological collapse or a depressed economy. Hmmm….choices, choices…)

      J

  10. Maggie Koerth-Baker says:

    Bengoshi,

    I absolutely agree. And so does Hadfield. Watch is video series.

    Of course, it’s also important to point out that you don’t need the crazy, alarmist predictions to make global climate change something we need to mitigate. There’s plenty of more-easily-provable impacts that are much less summer blockbuster-ready, but are still a very bad thing for people.

    • Wally Ballou says:

      The question that people are entitled to ask when presented with something like the “cap-and-trade” plan (which seems to me like a way for the usual folks to make a whole lot of money in the usual way) is….

      “Okay, how many of those negative impacts will be mitigated by doing this??”

      The science of how and how much the climate is changing seems to me to be increasingly sound.

      But the science of what could/should be done about it still seems to have a lot of “We must do something. X is something. Therefore we must do X.”

  11. Ugly Canuck says:

    From where I sit, the data looks to be pretty clear. And the science really is not controversial…but the conclusions it draws sure seem to be.

    Time will tell, all right.
    And as change always does, some will be affected more by it than others, for a while.

    The fact that the changes in some climatic systems are not as insensible as they once were through the revolution of the generations is singular enough!

  12. TooGoodToCheck says:

    I haven’t generally had good experiences trying to talk to people about climate change. It’s a complicated topic, and confirmation bias really makes it difficult to discuss rationally.

    If someone has in mind that global warming is a myth, then it doesn’t really matter that the evidence against it is weak sauce. I’ve seen people willing to ignore vast problems with anti-climate change science, while pouncing on the “sexing up the data” micro scandal as evidence that even global warming proponents don’t believe their own lies.

  13. Colorado Bob says:

    NOAA reports 2010 hottest year on record so far*
    Zambia hits 108.3°F, 18th nation to set record high this year

    http://climateprogress.org/2010/10/18/noaa-2010-hottest-year-on-record-zambia-national-all-time-record/

  14. Ugly Canuck says:

    The science of chemistry compels us to recognize the true extent of the effects of our activities – before that science, we could continue on in ignorance of those “invisible” effects, happily insensible to their existence.

    Were CO2 a visible gas to our eyes, rather than the transparent one that it is, we’d have noticed that the “fog” had been markedly thickening up for some decades already.

  15. Dr.Evo says:

    The sun does not emit heat.

  16. VagabondAstronomer says:

    A couple of weeks back (to those of you reading this in the future, that’d be mid October 2010), P.J. O’Rourke was on Real Time with Bill Maher. The topic came up, and O’Rourke segues into the subject. Maher informs him that China is actually doing something about it, but O’Rourke insists that, to paraphrase, there are over one billion Chinese who all want Buicks. The bottom line of his argument was, basically, that global warming is probably real, probably human-made, and there is nothing we can do about it.
    I’m going to hazard a prediction and say that as evidence mounts (as if it hasn’t been) pointing to AGW, that the skeptics will change their tune from denial to one of acceptance, and that there is nothing that can be done about it anyway, so business as usual.
    I mean, it’s not like Oklahoma is going to be that impacted, right?

  17. Mister44 says:

    I guess we can call me a skeptic for man-made climate change. I have to question these conclusions based mainly on computer models using tiny slices of data of an ill understood process.

    I am an amateur geologist who sees earth’s history in millions of years, vs the last few hundred (where we have hard data), or the last 400,000 years (where we have some data from arctic ice). Looking back – way back – we can see the earth is in constant flux with the ice age cycle. Sea levels have risen and fallen, and animals have faced mass extinction – most recently with the Holocene extinction that wiped out the North American Mega Fauna with out the help of man or man-made climate change.

    I admit the CO2 levels do give me pause, but I have to wonder if there have been other spikes in past histories. Having a spike in the last 50 or 100 years is less than a blink in time at the geological level. The data from the bubbles in ice is not a complete set of data. One can’t expect it to show the levels accurately at 50 or 100 year increments.

    With that said, I think the whole concern over if it is mad-made or not is more or less a moot point. Climate change is coming, with our with out our help. I would like to see more efforts focused on how we are going to adapt large populations to these changes, than pie-in-the-sky ideas on how to reverse them.

    I think ‘green’ technology is fine and well. But even if the US and Europe stopped all of its C02 output tomorrow, China, India, and others are just getting started. I do think we should try to be more efficient and ‘greener’, but not at the expense of arguably more important problems that will affect billions of people directly.

    I think wind power for a majority is unpractical. Solar power needs to be more efficient to be a power player. Nuclear is our best option now, and the US is woefully behind on that curve. I think geothermal and hydro-something (ocean currents and/or winds) might be worth while. Some of the C02 reclamation ideas have merit. The ideas such as using giant disks in orbit scare the living shit out of me.

    While not directly related, our fresh water is running out. I would like to see more efforts on conservation and exploring cheaper, faster means of desalination.

    So like many things, we focus too much on the “nuh-uh” vs “uh-huh” battle, rather than focus on ideas that everyone can get behind, climate change or not.

    And hey – buck up – in ~15,000 years Canada will literally be scraped of the map (eh!), and everything south of North Dakota will be under a mile of ice. Start investing in land in the Sahara, it is prime for making a come back!

    • Nadreck says:

      conclusions based mainly on computer models using tiny slices of data of an ill understood process.

      The idea that a single proponent of the man-made climate change theory the has ever at any time proposed anything based on statistical computer models is a “Straw Man” argument: making up an easily overturned argument that you pretend your opponent has made in order to discredit him and to turn attention away from the argument that he’s actually making. The latter is often done because, as is the case here, you don’t have any counters to the actual argument.

      Climate change arguments are based on physical chemistry. We know that increases in CO2 atmospheric content, like the very large ones we’ve been experiencing lately, cause increases in heat retention. We know that other factors could also cause similar increases but we also know that none of these factors are changing nor are they likely to. In fact one of the major ones, the recent drop in solar output, has been working to cool us off: so we’ve lucked out for as long as that wobble continues.

      To test that theory you get us it to predict something and then test for that something. The “something” should be a “yes or no” kind of thing in order to provide a “falsifiability ” test. Something that can’t be proven false, if only via a thought experiment, is not a scientific theory. Climate change denials fall into this category because the proponents never provide any test by which the denials could be disproved. In the case of Climate Change the prediction is of monotonic increases in global temperature moving averages. This has been observed and nothing has been credibly proposed to otherwise explain this. The degree of change that has been observed immediately threatens the lives of hundreds of millions of people. No mechanism has been proposed by which the rate of increase of temperature will decrease if we don’t act to decrease CO2 levels. All computer models of climate change have predicted lower rates of climate change than what has been already observed: a failure in these models true – but not in a reassuring way.

      You don’t need much accuracy to determine trends in stochastic systems. There’s little difference between approximately dead and precisely dead.

      CO2 levels do give me pause, but I have to wonder if there have been other spikes in past histories.

      Except for the brief period when the Martians colonised Antarctica there have been no previous spikes in CO2 molecules tightly bound to industrial solvent molecules such as car engine anti-knock additives.

      I would like to see more efforts focused on how we are going to adapt large populations to these changes

      An excellent idea! The first thing to deal with is the imminent collapse of both the world’s rice and wheat crops. In the case of rice every degree by which the minimum overnight temperate increases past about 25 C causes an exponentially decreasing crop yield. We are already seeing the start of this. 2 billion people get over 60% of their, already inadequate, caloric input from rice. Replacing that should be a snap compared to dealing with lower quarterly profits for oil companies – which is about all that’s economically at stake in this issue. We have at least a couple of years to do this in.

      • Colorado Bob says:

        Nice work Nad ….

        Some “winners” are already showing up though :
        Pine Bark Beetles (Big winners)
        Spruce bud worms
        Poison Ivy
        Cheat grass
        Kudzu
        Jelly Fish

      • Ugly Canuck says:

        “Climate change arguments are based on physical chemistry.”

        Indeed they are: and all of it is based upon a foundation of empirical observation of quantifiable properties – observations which have already been made.

        Climate change is not a mere “theory”: it seeks to explain observed facts.

        And those facts just keep on keepin’ on.

      • Mister44 says:

        re: “The idea that a single proponent of the man-made climate change theory the has ever at any time proposed anything based on statistical computer models is a “Straw Man” argument:”

        I would disagree. Yes the hard data for the past ~200 years is just that, and one can chart it out and one can’t really refute it. But to predict what will happen from here requires computer models. While you have read computer models being to conservative, I have read about them over estimating (never mind the ones from the 70′s predicting an ice age. Either way I still contend that with out computer analysis and models, no one can make a good guess as to what is going to happen. (And even with these models, we don’t have all the pieces to accurately map it out. It isn’t as simple as just C02).

        Yes there is a physical chemistry element to it, but that isn’t the only cause of climate change. As you pointed out the sun plays a role (arguably the most important one). When it comes to the ice age cycle, CO2 has little to do with the cause.

        So while you can chart all the key indicators, as NASA here has done: http://climate.nasa.gov/keyIndicators/ – it is harder to explain how all the factors interact or how they will interact in the future.

        re: “In the case of rice every degree by which the minimum overnight temperate increases past about 25 C causes an exponentially decreasing crop yield.”

        You realize you sound like a Soylent Green eating doomsayer before the first ‘green revolution’ who thought we would all be starving from the inability to produce enough food. Genetically tweaked crops could be made to grow better in the heat.

        re: “lower quarterly profits for oil companies – which is about all that’s economically at stake in this issue.”

        Yes, “oil companies bad! ggrrrr!” I am all for nuclear power to eclipse our oil use.

        • Colorado Bob says:

          ” Genetically tweaked crops could be made to grow better in the heat. ”

          Right up until 6 feet of rain washes it all down stream.

        • Anonymous says:

          never mind the ones from the 70′s predicting an ice age.

          You’re ignoring modern, accepted computer models by comparing them to an old wild guess that was never backed by detailed simulation nor seriously accepted by the scientific community? Are you familiar with selection bias?

        • Anonymous says:

          never mind the ones from the 70′s predicting an ice age.

          Just check http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php
          Your slur about ’70s ice age prediction’ is No 8 on the thermometer.

          The deniers have no arguments. They repeat their simplistic misconception and hope they stay on the wall.

    • recoiled says:

      “Sea levels have risen and fallen, and animals have faced mass extinction – most recently with the Holocene extinction that wiped out the North American Mega Fauna with out the help of man or man-made climate change.”

      Sorry about the repost, but I wanted to reply to a specific quote from a pretty big paragraph. Evidence is becoming more and more clear that man’s evolution out of our primordial ape soup is pretty much dead on target with the death of Mega Fauna. This probably had little to do with our impact on CO2, but more on the impact of our spears.

      Here’s an article on north american extinction

      http://www.esf.edu/efb/lomolino/courses/MammalDiversity/Disc1/All1.pdf

      There seems to be a lot more study on Australian megafauna human relations, here’s an article from down under

      http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/292/5523/1888?ijkey=u9xG2xlxDplKM&keytype=ref&siteid=sci

      And here is an older article about all of it.

      http://www.jstor.org/stable/1830397

      This continues on to this day in age as we found a home, where the buffalo roamed…

      • Mister44 says:

        Re: mega fauna extinction

        I have read a lot of articles too. But they are long on theory and short on evidence. Last months National Geographic had an article on the Australian Mega Fauna as well. Unlike in North America, they don’t even have evidence like cuts on bone and bone piles to show humans hunting these creatures. But that doesn’t stop them from surmising that humans were the leading factor (even though in the next breath they admit not having the data for it).

        It seems a lot of scientific writing, especially for laymen, has this “grrr, humans bad” vibe. This self depreciating outlook get tedious fast.

        I guess my three biggest problems with this are:

        1) Thin evidence. We have none in some areas, and some in others – but nothing that could be considered remotely conclusive.

        2) Some how other slow, stupid animals like the Bison weren’t wiped out by the Indians. Nor dangerous creatures like bears. It took modern fire power and a wanton disregard for life to hurt their numbers. A civilization that eats the damn balls of an animal it kills, respects and understands their value and are killing for necessity not sport or trophy.

        3) North America is HUGE. High estimates are around 50 million Indians were around pre-Colombian. This number would be a faction of that during the time the mega-fauna went extinct. Simply put, there would be huge tracts of land that no human had set foot on the mega fauna could have thrived in.

        No – something else – probably climate change – killed them off. The very last one might have been for BBQ, but only after their numbers were already decimated by nature. Correlation <> Causation.

        • recoiled says:

          I agree with the idea that “grrrr, humans bad” because we use the earth like nothing else, that we know of. We dig, cut, drill, suck and use resources at a surprising rate while often times, unsuspectedly, contaminating our resources. Its a mass balance equation, only one in which we take more than we give back.

          I would also like to argue your three points, while asking for resources outside of national geographic. While it’s a great magazine, with wonderful stories, it is not a scientific journal. So here goes.

          1) Thin evidence is still evidence. Now, I understand this can be seen as shaky ground but all history has to be studied from what evidence we have. If we threw out all thin evidence, then almost all fossils and archiological finds are useless. Only hard parts are generally left behind with little real information being presserved.
          2) Some how other slow, stupid animals like the Bison weren’t wiped out by the Indians. This is a two parter. A) bison are intelligent creatures that evolved to survive. Calling them dumb is like calling dolphins stupid because they don’t have thumbs. B) Native Americans didn’t kill them possibly because they are hardy animals that outlasted the rest and filled the niche that is hard to kill land tank that survives off everything.
          3) “North America is HUGE. High estimates are around 50 million Indians were around pre-Colombian.” so your argument is that 50 million “indians” couldn’t possibly get to all of america. This is going back to your orriginal “thin evidence” arguement. We know that there were people, a lot of people, why wouldn’t they effect resources such as meaty food sources that can be easily hunted.

          I want to say, your reply is great and I do agree, and think that climate change can effect life, and I believe that the earth is capable of these changes without our help. I would like to submit in a bit a paper on how mega volcanos release co2 to create climate change but I’m on my phone and can’t pull it from my library of sources. Also, allow this as an excuse for misspelling and awful grammar.

          • Mister44 says:

            re: “I agree with the idea that “grrrr, humans bad” because we use the earth like nothing else”

            I get your point, and I agree that we have done some really stupid, irresponsible things in the past – usually out of ignorance or short sightedness.

            As for the rest, this debate is vigorous between paleontologists. I do not have a fringe opinion. Forgive me if I don’t have links to journal references. I retain information well, but not always remember where I found it.

            1) Well as I said, the Australian paleontologists hadn’t found any evidence except for one notched bone. In North America they are several examples of this, and it is clear that these animals were butchered. So at least for Australia, the evidence is even less than the Americas.

            2) I’m sorry if some of your best friends are Bison and I hurt their feelings (I kid), but yeah, Bison are dumb animals. Deer even more so. Herd animals don’t have to be especially, as they rely on their numbers, rather than cunning. Smart animals would include dolphins, pigs, and wolves. My point wasn’t to demean them, but as the white man showed them, senseless slaughter of them was not a hard task.

            3) “Why wouldn’t they effect resources such as meaty food sources that can be easily hunted.”

            I still contend they wouldn’t hunt something to extinction even if they could because of the culture and reverence for animals – who also played the roles of gods. But that is complete conjecture on my part. There is no way to tell what the culture was back then.

            But let us still look at the numbers here. Granted we don’t have hard numbers, but by best estimations the number of humans in North America during the extinction event was small. Could they have been a factor in areas they co-mingled? Yes. But I still contend there were huge… tracts of land that no human had laid eyes on. Hell, the north central area of the US is still that way for the most part.

            Second, mans expansion into the Americas was slow, making some blitzkrieg-esque extinction unlikely. Let us not forget this was before we had horses. Man could travel as fast as he could run in a day, and carry as much stuff as he could drag behind him or his dog. They still had rudimentary spears and arrows. All of them were stone and wood.

            Finally, why would other mega fauna survive, but not others if man was the primary cause? Even if they did survive the original extinction event, they had thousands of years to decimate bison, pronghorns, bears, moose, elk, etc before the white man came over. It was only after their expansion and increased numbers and firepower that animals were pushed out of some habitats.

            Yes, I don’t have all the answers, and some of this is conjecture (as the pro-man side has), but the idea that climate change had the most to do with it I think is a very valid one. Man could have been the nail in the coffin for some species in some areas that were already hurting.

          • Mister44 says:

            ARRGH – some how I had a whole paragraph disappear on me. I meant to say:

            Mister44 in reply to recoiled

            re: “I agree with the idea that “grrrr, humans bad” because we use the earth like nothing else”

            I get your point, and I agree that we have done some really stupid, irresponsible things in the past – usually out of ignorance or short sightedness.

            ——————–New stuff below

            I guess I am an optimist when I look at all of the good things we have done. Our advancements technologically, philosophically, musically and through art have produced many wonders and helped us understand our little corner of the universe better. Yes there are horrors and problems and strife both in the past and today. But that *IS* what makes us human and one of the reasons we are so resilient as a species. We couldn’t achieve what we have with out using the resources at hand. Are we supposed to give up our conquest and return to the Savannah to be at one with nature?

  18. Pag says:

    Probably a bad idea to throw that out there, but here’s why I’m skeptical about the whole anthropomorphic global warming thing (it doesn’t involve any conspiracy). (Splitting this up in multiple comments since I think it’s too big for the system — sorry if there are multiple posts but I keep getting error messages)

    The gist of it is that the science of global warming is attempting to predict the future decades in advance, something that nobody has ever been able to do with any kind of reliability, in any field, as far as I know. What’s worse, the whole thing is two parts politics for one part science, which doesn’t help its reliability.

    The global warming predictions are based on scientists creating a model based on past data to predict the future of a chaotic system. How reliable is this process? Let’s look at each part.

    • Owen says:

      Pag,

      You mean Anthropogenic Global Warming. Anthropomorphic Global Warming is the Republican bogeyman.

      And, to briefly address your points:

      1) Nobody is ever unbiased. But the scientists in question have done a lot of peer-reviewed research. You should judge the scientists by their data, rather than judging the data based on your opinion of the scientists.

      2) The model is not terribly precise, and I think that the scientists doing the research have been the first to admit that. But broadly speaking, their predictions have lined up with reality so far. They’ve been predicting rising temperatures for a long time, and we’ve had a lot of hot years recently.

      3) We seem to have enough past data to make broad predictions about the future. There’s data like atmospheric CO2, which we can calculate with decent accuracy, and which is currently higher than it’s been in hundreds of thousands of years.

      • Pag says:

        You’re right about Anthropogenic/anthropomorphic Owen. I will simply hide behind the lame excuse that English isn’t my first language ;) To reply to your replies:

        1) Of course nobody is ever unbiased, by climate science has been so politicized that bias has become much more present than in other sciences IMHO. Peer review helps, but I’m at the point where I wonder what happens if all the peers are biased in the same way.

        2) If we’re not looking for terribly precise models, we could’ve saved money and just looked at the graphs and said “Well, it’s going to continue pretty much in the same direction for a while.” The question is whether the trend will continue like that or if it will change unpredictably eventually (like it did in the 40s and 50s). I’m not convinced that the models can predict that.

        3) How do we know those broad predictions are accurate? Just look at predictions from the 50s about what year 2000 would be like to see that predictions often don’t come true ;) Can you name one field that’s been able to make accurate predictions of 50 to 100 years in the future? I really can’t think of any. Why do we trust climate scientist to be so much better than everybody else?

        • Anonymous says:

          If a near-universal agreement isn’t enough because the reviewers could be part of the conspiracy, what on earth would you accept as evidence of expert analysis?

        • Anonymous says:

          Can you name one field that’s been able to make accurate predictions of 50 to 100 years in the future?

          Astronomy, which incidentally has much more to do with climate science than social sciences do.

  19. Pag says:

    First, the scientists themselves. Are they unbiased? I’m unconvinced. On one side, some scientists are paid by the oil industry who gains by having oil be perceived as safe. On the other side, some scientists are paid by environmental organizations who get their money from people who believe that the environment is in great peril (let’s face it, if people stopped believing in global warming, Green Peace and others like them would lose a huge amount of donations). Neither side is particularly neutral or trustworthy.

    Let’s give scientists the benefit of the doubt and assume that they aren’t influenced by their parent organization. Are they individually unbiased? In my experience, climate scientists are very passionate about the environment. They didn’t join this branch of science because of the money, they joined it because they genuinely want to save the earth. This introduces a big chance of bias because this implies that the earth needs saving in the first place. These scientists are more likely to believe results that confirm their bias (that the environment is in trouble) and to be highly skeptical of results that go into the opposite direction. This happens in every science, of course, but I think it’s worse in environmental science because of its emotional component — physicists don’t generally become as attached to the cause of subatomic particles for example. Even if the climate scientists try to be as objective as possible, bias will tend to creep in.

    • Nadreck says:

      WHAT! Individuals can be biased in their observations!! Why has no one noticed this before!!! The entire structure of Scientific Investigation is imperilled!!!! How will we tell whether it’s the trillion dollar incentives to lie for the oil industry or the shoe-string budget incentives to lie for the environmental studies departments which are tilting the debate?

      But all is not lost!!!!! I have thought of a solution!!!!!! We could have all theories published in widely available forums and then give fame and fortune to people who can poke holes in those theories. Only the theories which survive the poking will be accepted. Sort of like the way that Open Source coding works only with more tangible rewards than the boasting rights given there.

      I shall call it “The Scientific Method” ™ and make a fortune off of it. Setting up the forums, putting together adjudication panels… It’s a gold min….

      Oh, wait. Someone already did this about 200 years ago. Oh well, back to the day job.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      That’s right, Pag: we need biographies of the writers before we can judge, or even read, what they’ve written.

      LOL.

      Temperatures are going up: the changes in data were why any people whatsoever noticed this climate change matter, at all.

      The climates changing.
      Get used to it.

      The end of the petroleum burning internal combustion engine as the motive force for personal transport has already dawned.

      • Wally Ballou says:

        Re “the end has dawned”

        If the industrialized nations are going to cut their carbon emissions by half, or even a fifth, it’s going to cost. In dollars, in reduced mobility, and in jobs that will go to the rogue nations who opt out.

        We’d do better to be honest about that fact, rather than trying to sell the dubious idea that “green jobs” are going to somehow bring about a new Augustan Age of prosperity.

    • bob d says:

      I’m afraid you’ve swallowed the anti-global warming crowd’s propaganda: the idea that researchers who confirm anthropocentric global warming somehow have a financial incentive to do so. It’s nonsense, spread by global warming deniers because the only researchers they have on their side do have a clear bias. I’m not even aware of any climate research scientists who “work for” environmental organizations. All the credible researchers I’m familiar with work at universities or governmental organizations. (What bias are they supposed to have? No government wants global warming to be man made, as they’d really like to avoid the responsibility of dealing with it. If anything, their bias should be the other direction.) There are a few who work for oil companies and are suspect, as they clearly do have an incentive to take a particular stance. The (credible) researchers I’ve read interviews with avoid getting involved in the politics as much as they can; if they were politically motivated that wouldn’t be the case. Why did they get involved with science? Because they’re interested in science, period. Ascribing other motivations to them is unwarranted. The whole idea that climate scientists are somehow inherently biased is damn silly, and anyone making that argument can’t be taken seriously, I’m afraid.

      • bob d says:

        Of course, I meant anthropogenic. D’oh!

      • Pag says:

        Bob d, I see regularly people complaining that anything that comes from industry or government sources is inherently biased. Right after, those people often cite some Green organization as being far more credible (Greenpeace, realclimate, etc.) Why are they seen as less biased if they get their funds from Green organizations?

        I’m not saying that you shouldn’t listen to climate scientists because they’ve been paid off. But if you’re a climate scientist who finds something that would contradict the global warming ideas, who would publish and publicize those results? Green organizations? That would be contrary to their interests. Big Oil? Nobody would trust the results. What I’m saying is that the whole thing is so politicized that it’s FUBAR.

        And seriously, you’re telling me that climate scientists do it purely for the love of science and that they’re not emotionally involved in the whole thing? Everybody I’ve ever heard that works in the environmental field seem to do it with the desire to save the planet. I have a hard time believing they are, in fact, all coolly detached and Cartesian about the whole thing when that’s an attitude that’s completely different from everybody else’s.

        • Gloster says:

          I personally highly distrust Greenpeace for various reasons, however most of the organizations and individuals promoting the theory of global warming are not funded by “the green companies.”
          I would also, as a test, like to hear you name 5 large “green companies” handing out big PR money off the top of your head. What companies are those? Are they on par in financial leverage with BP, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, Conoco or Gazprom? (To name but a few, from but one of the segments.)

          I agree that once renewables will be producing a significant percentage of world energy, the companies will form an identically self-serving and greedy corporate pressure group. But we are not there yet.

        • Anonymous says:

          How is realclimate a green organization, other than that they happen to support the conclusion that anthropogenic global warming is a real problem? You’re judging institutions by their conclusions, not funding.

        • Owen says:

          Pag,

          No worries about the -morphic/-genic thing. I was being a bit of a smartass; thanks for being a good sport about it.

          Colleges and Universities perform, fund, and support a lot of research, and do not have the obvious biases of the oil companies or the environmentalist groups. They get their funding from the government, their students, and their endowments, none of which would dry up if they supported a controversial finding. If there were data that contradicted our current climate models, I would expect them to publish it.

          AGW is not the only threat the world faces. If scientists are biased in favor of saving the earth, why would they focus on a threat they didn’t believe in, instead of the hundreds of inarguable threats (habitat loss, overuse, etc.)?

          Our fuzzy models have showed that the Earth’s temperature will continue to rise by some degree. They’ve been predicting this for a while, and by and large they’ve been right so far. How long do they have to continue being right before you start to consider them?

          • Pag says:

            There’s a lot of pressure against any kind of skepticism toward global warming. If a scientist doubts in any way, a lot of people will analyze that scientist’s past for any hint of Big Oil influence. I’ve seen a scientist be called a shill because 10 years earlier somebody else in the same laboratory had done some research unrelated to climate science paid by an oil company. The field has become heavily politicized — calling anybody who doubts a “denier” is a sign of that — and I have a hard time believing that scientists are somehow immune from politics.

            You’re right that a scientist who wants to save the earth but doesn’t believe in AGW could work on another threat. This may very well happen. But then, the only people left working on AGW are those who believe strongly in AGW. That was sort of my point, really: the field doesn’t accept skeptics very well at all. But I might be misunderstanding your argument…

            Well, as was pointed earlier in this thread, temperature hasn’t risen in a statistically significant way in the last 15 years (I don’t think statisticians lend much weight to “almost statistically significant”). The models I’ve seen in the past didn’t predict this flattening of the temperature curve. It’s not hard to just claim that a 100 years trend will keep on going in the same direction for the next decade — that doesn’t prove that a model is right.

            What will it take for me to trust the climate scientists? More openness (with data and such), less politics and fewer call to authority (when somebody says something along the line of “trust the scientists, you’re less smart than they are so don’t try to analyze the data yourself”, my BS meter starts ringing).

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            You’ve not traveled much in the Arctic, have you?

            Perhaps the experience of a journey to that region would serve to shake the solid foundations which you seem to have dug in for your skepticism.

          • Pag says:

            “You’ve not traveled much in the Arctic, have you?

            Perhaps the experience of a journey to that region would serve to shake the solid foundations which you seem to have dug in for your skepticism.”

            Why would it? Temperature has risen globally in the last hundred years and that has caused ice to melt at the North pole. That doesn’t contradict a single thing I’ve said so far. Have you traveled in the Arctic, or was that just a cheap shot?

            Nadrek: if I understand you correctly, you mean that the only thing that can bias the opinion of a scientist is money? And that the scientific community and the scientific process is impervious to politics?

            Please don’t reduce my opinion to the ridiculous notion that climate scientists are bought off. I don’t believe that. There is no conspiracy. But that doesn’t mean there is no source of bias. Look at the anger I’m receiving by just saying “the data may not be that reliable”. There’s a lot of pressure to just go with the flow and avoid being controversial.

            I find it funny that I’m given a course on the scientific method at the same time that I’m being slammed for my skepticism. “There is no place for skepticism in science!” ;)

            And why is everybody arguing my first point? Even if we assume that climate science is impeccably politics-free, unlikely as that sounds, are the computer models reliable? Is the data they’re based on valid and complete? They may be as good as we can get them, but is that good enough? I don’t want to bet billions on a computer model that ends up completely wrong.

          • Anonymous says:

            The evidence for HIV causing AIDS is just not reliable. Nobody get upset please, that would just show that you’re biased. I mean, why else would casually dismissing the life work of many people and ignoring concerns of great importance to the lives of others be upsetting?

          • Anonymous says:

            There’s a lot of pressure against any kind of skepticism toward global warming. If a scientist doubts in any way, a lot of people will analyze that scientist’s past for any hint of Big Oil influence.

            A lot of people, but in truth, there is very little to show this plays so much role in the actual scientific community. Meanwhile, the results have withstood a great deal of scrutiny by very motivated skeptics. You’re saying you don’t trust them because of potential biases, whereas the reason people are called ‘deniers’ is because of demonstrated biases. Presenting them as equivalent is a half-truth at best.

            (I don’t think statisticians lend much weight to “almost statistically significant”).

            Statical significance is a number. Scientists like to aim for 95%; here they’ve only gotten around 90%, so it isn’t up to their standards. At the same time, it is still suggestive, and I don’t think it deserves that kind of sneer.

            What will it take for me to trust the climate scientists? More openness (with data and such), less politics and fewer call to authority (when somebody says something along the line of “trust the scientists, you’re less smart than they are so don’t try to analyze the data yourself”, my BS meter starts ringing).

            Then maybe you should look at what the scientists have actually published – do a search on scholar.google.com. A lot is behind paywalls, but the same is true for any other science; if you work for a university you should be able to get a lot of good source data and analysis.

            Nobody wants you to simply trust the scientists if you know enough to form your own opinion. Those calls are only for people who can’t analyze the data themselves, but somehow feel they know better than the people who can, or somehow decide to trust industry spokesmen who give half-truths. Seriously, whoever told you not to learn details deserves your scorn, but they are not representative.

  20. Pag says:

    Second, is the model reliable? I’m sure scientists are doing their best to make it as reliable as possible, but is it good enough? We’re talking about simulating the whole earth for 100 years — no small challenge. If you look at the result of old simulations and compare to what actually happened, they don’t match that well. We can presume that models have improved since then, but that’s all it is: presuming. Simulating a chaotic system as gigantic as the whole earth’s climate is very very hard and I’m really not convinced that we’re doing it that well. We’re doing it as well as we can, but that may not be good enough. I’m a programmer and I have some knowledge of how complex systems like that are created and, frankly, I wouldn’t trust them as a basis for multi-billion dollars decisions (same goes for the financial models that failed to predict the recent economic crash).

    There’s also all the things that the model can’t possibly take into account because they’re future events. Maybe 10 years from now people will start changing massively to electrical vehicles. Maybe 20 years from now we’ll start using fusion reactors as a major source of energy. Maybe 30 years for now a huge world war will kill a third of the earth’s population. Who knows? Not the creators of the simulations. I’m well aware that various scenarios are considered for global warming simulations, but they’re very limited.

    Also notice that we never see the uncertainty in the results of simulations. Assuming everything goes exactly as anticipated in the scenario, what’s the range of temperatures we can expect? The results are always presented as one specific temperature, not as a range — this goes contrary to what I was taught in my science classes. With a system this complex, I would expect the uncertainty to be huge — but that defeats the whole purpose of those predictions, doesn’t it?

    • Nadreck says:

      There’s also all the things that the model can’t possibly take into account because they’re future events. Various SF speculations follow.

      But what about the eventuality that we have to take on a large Alien refugee fleet? Or that we discover immortality so that the death rate drops to zero? Or that a virus kills off the algae CO2 sinks?

      Clearly these scenarios mean that we should accelerate our CO2 reduction schemes before things get worse!

      Introducing such speculations when we don’t have a clue of how to calculate the probability of their occurrence is a (n often deliberate) waste of time. It’s like the Canadian governments’ decision to build more prisons to deal with the increase in unreported crimes: only in this case we’re talking about a course of inaction rather than action.

      • Pag says:

        My point about the future scenarios is that they don’t predict the future accurately. That could go both ways, I’m not doing some wishful thinking (but I probably should have included “More CO2″ examples in my list).

        We’re basing billion dollar decisions on incomplete predictions of the future and that doesn’t bother you? We could spend those billions to cure diseases, feed the hungry, build school and save endangered animals. It’s not a decision to take lightly.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          We don’t actually know that disease kills people. I mean it could be sunspot activity. Why waste money on preventing and curing disease?

  21. Pag says:

    Third, is the data that’s fed into those simulations reliable? It certainly is for the last 30 years, since we have satellites evaluating the whole earth. But to predict 100 years into the future reliably, we need a lot more than 30 years of data. Beyond 30 years, temperature records are less reliable in hard to reach areas. What was the temperature in the middle of the Pacific ocean or in the middle of Africa in 1933? We don’t have daily records of every location on earth. Earlier than 1900, there’s practically no data available outside of large cities and the data we have isn’t very precise (thermometers have improved since then).

    Still, we’re just talking about 100 years of data to predict 100 years into the future — not much. For climate data dating from a long time ago (ie. the middle ages and before), we have to base the data on limited and indirect sources like tree rings and arctic ice cores. By their nature, they’re very limited geographically (ice cores are only available at the poles) and imprecise (tree growth is affected by many factors outside of temperature). Better than nothing of course, but not exactly great.

    So, as I see it, global warming predictions come from biased scientists using flawed models based on partial and imprecise data to predict the future. And they ask us to trust them with billion-dollar decisions based on these predictions. I’m sorry, but I remain skeptical.

    To fend off some typical criticisms: I’m not an oil industry shill. I don’t own a car (I bike or take the subway around town). My house is powered by hydroelectricity. I don’t care about it, but my carbon footprint is probably extremely low. And no, I don’t believe in any kind of conspiracy behind climate science.

  22. Colorado Bob says:

    Poison Ivy Growing Faster, More Virulent
    Lewis Ziska, plant physiologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s agricultural research service, says rising carbon dioxide levels and forest disruption are making poison ivy spread faster, grow larger, show up in new places and become more toxic.
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128650169&ft=1&f=128650169

  23. Ada B says:

    My partner did a PhD in applied maths that looked at climate change and ocean currents, so I’ve been a “believer” since before it was news. As a social scientist myself, I like to look into who says what and why.

    It seems to me that the androgenic climate change ‘believers’ have little to gain from promoting their views (most are not currently in receipt of relevant research grants): the massed lobbies of the ‘deniers’ on the other hand, such as the petroleum companies and energy companies, have everything to gain from their position. In the short term, at least.

    Psychologically speaking, people have two strategies to cope with worrying news: face up to it or deny it. Of the two, denial is often our first instinct, especially when we feel powerless to do anything about it. In that respect, I feel environmentalists have shot ourselves in the foot – we have scared people so much, they can’t even contemplate the possibility that we may be right.

    I feel a couple of things need to happen before we (humankind) take real action to cope with climate change. Firstly, the data needs to become irrefutable. With each year that passes we are collecting more data that supports the theory, unfortunately. Secondly, we need to feel that we can actually do something about it, otherwise we might as well eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die.

    As for where the myths come from, I think that is an irrelevant question. The myths are out there, wherever they came from. But tackling them is about more than scientific data – it is about explaining the data so that everyone can understand it, and giving people hope that the problem can be solved.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I just wanted to thank you for the impeccable timing of this post. I have a relative who was recently bragging about having their climate-change-is-just-an-example-of-Goebbels’s-Big-Lie-Theory letter to the editor published in their local paper. As a youngish, insecure, less informed person, I now have something that reassures me that I’m not stupid for thinking this “letter” was a steaming pile of Glenn Beck.
    Thanks, Maggie!

  25. spool32 says:

    lololol “peer reviewed”.

  26. Jason Rizos says:

    Man, instead of saying “Global warming is a hoax,” why don’t these people just get it over with and say, “Global warming is real, but fuck it, we don’t care.”

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      Adopting that latter attitude would prevent them from actively opposing any measures which others, not so uncaring, may wish to take.

  27. Colorado Bob says:

    Arab world faces worsening water crisis: report

    Climate change will aggravate matters. By the end of this century, Arab countries may experience a 25 percent drop in precipitation and a 25 percent increase in evaporation rates, according to climate change models cited in the report.

    “As a result, rain-fed agriculture will be threatened, with average yields estimated to decline by 20 percent,” it says.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6A33IK20101104?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+reuters%2Fenvironment+%28News+%2F+US+%2F+Environment%29

    • Nadreck says:

      Arab world faces worsening water crisis

      Big deal. Google around “rice crop yields climate” if you really want to get scared.

      • Colorado Bob says:

        Nad -
        I saw this when it came out in August :


        According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the research team found evidence that the net impact of projected temperature increases will be to slow the growth of rice production in Asia. Rising temperatures during the past 25 years have already cut the yield growth rate by 10-20 percent in several locations. ”

        http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2010/08/study-climate-change-threatens-worlds-rice-production/

        ——-
        This study is real world observations, over a large area , done more many years. For those who may have missed it it is indeed very sobering.

  28. Ugly Canuck says:

    “The end has dawned.”

    I should be writing speeches!

  29. tubacat says:

    Ok, I realize nerds (and I include myself) really really care about being correct. But the real question here is: What are the consequences of being wrong, in either direction? If the (legitimate) climate scientists are wrong, the worst that will happen is that we might have made more strides toward renewable energy than would otherwise be the case. If the deniers are wrong, then our collective goose (and everything else) is cooked…

  30. rebdav says:

    The status quo in science is always the enemy, people get lazy and entrenched. I generally accept the current hard science status quo but it is very unscientific and improper to accept it in an orthodox religious sense. I just want people to do their own research, actually read the papers and when the chance arises actually dig into scientists and researchers to see what is going on in their field.
    I hardly think anyone I know trying to survive on grants is buying sports cars and mansions, most can barely afford a bicycle and an apartment, they will do nearly ANYTHING to shake more funding.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      Climate change was not an issue prior to 1982 – a mere 25 years ago – the prior status quo was and continues to be that “part of the scientific community” which is denying the changes, or the mechanism, which the science has described.

      “Status quo” in this case is not the climate change guys – they in fact are the “new kids on the block” – rather, the “old guard”, the champions of the “staus quo ante”, are the deniers, who do not want any changes. The deniers are the “conservative” – just not of the climate we’ve had for the past few millennia – but rather of their personal habits relating to petroleum consumption.

  31. Colorado Bob says:

    Another climate change “winner” coffee beetles -

    Global Warming-Loving Beetle Threatens World’s Coffee Supply

    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/08/global-warming-loving-beetle-threatens-worlds-coffee-supply.php

  32. Anonymous says:

    Urban mythology also has it that there is a zero sector flaw on your hard drive, that Mars is really going to appear to be as large as the Moon, and that there was a worker at the Hawaii Health Department at the time that Obama was born, and never saw his birth certificate.

    So in keeping with the tradition of urban mythology, I would like to encourage everyone to spread mine:

    Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck are in fact long separated half-brother and sister individually adopted from a Tijuana woman whose illegitimate children were borne from different white Americans as anchor babies. Jan Brewer, governor of Arizona, having long known about this truth, holds actual photos of Esmeralda Rodriguez and her babies, taken at the (formerly) El Dorado Hospital in Tuscon, kept safely as a tool for extorting the support of Beck and Palin on the subject of illegal immigration. It’s true!

  33. Dr Slop says:

    > Has Earth been getting cooler since 1998?

    The answer is probably no. On the other hand, according to Prof Phil Jones of UEA, there hasn’t been statistically significant warming either. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8511670.stm (“Q&A: Professor Phil Jones”) where, in response to

    B – Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming

    he says:

    Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.

    (Note that this period contains 1998, likeliest the hottest year in the record, so the trend 1998-2010 will be flatter.) So, if it’s a myth that it’s gotten cooler, is it also a myth that it’s got warmer?

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      From the same source:

      “E – How confident are you that warming has taken place and that humans are mainly responsible?

      I’m 100% confident that the climate has warmed. As to the second question, I would go along with IPCC Chapter 9 – there’s evidence that most of the warming since the 1950s is due to human activity. ”

      • Dr Slop says:

        I hear some goalposts moving. Prof Jones agrees that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming. For the period under discussion (1998-2010), any trend must be less significant because of the reasons Jones mentions and also because 1998 was likeliest the hottest in the record.

    • Camp Freddie says:

      The point Phil Jones was making is about statistical significance. It’s a basic point about scientific findings that people have a hard time understanding.

      Over the short term (from ’95 or ’98 or whatever) you cannot be sure of global warming or cooling.
      The natural variation in climate from year-to-year is far higher than the average yearly increase (or decrease).

      If you look at long-term data, then the overall warming trend becomes much more obvious.

      As an analogy (always remember that climate and weather are not the same thing), if I gave you 15 days of temperature readings, you couldn’t tell if it was from a northern hemisphere country in autumn or a southern hemisphere country in spring. But if I gave you 100 days of temperature readings, you would be able to spot the underlying warming or cooling trend.

  34. Colorado Bob says:

    Missing rains in Brazil follow model forecast for climate change

    The government’s geological service said on Monday that the Rio Negro was measured at a depth of 13.63m the previous day near the jungle city of Manaus, the lowest since a measuring system was implemented in 1902.

    http://climatesignals.org/2010/10/missing-rains-in-brazil-follow-model-forecast-for-climate-change/

  35. Anonymous says:

    Well this is what the most likely future Speaker of the House for the USA’s House of Representatives thinks of CO2.

    BOEHNER: George, the idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical. Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know, when they do what they do, you’ve got more carbon dioxide. And so I think it’s clear…

  36. Flying_Monkey says:

    Have any of the people posting the usual denialist crap actually watched the video that Maggie posted? You know the thing that this discussion is all about? I do wonder because you are all (those particular people) doing exactly what the video is about, which is presenting unsourced myths that have circulated around the net as if they were facts. Almost none of them have any factual basis. Please watch the video (and some of his others) – it’s the least you can do to educate yourself when the opportunity is put right in front of you.

  37. Colorado Bob says:

    Record High Temperatures Far Outpace Record Lows Across U.S.

    #
    The study also found that the two-to-one ratio across the country as
    a whole could be attributed more to a comparatively small
    number of record lows than to a large number of record highs. This indicates
    that much of the nation’s warming is occurring at night, when temperatures
    are dipping less often to record lows. This finding is consistent with
    years of climate model research showing that higher overnight lows should
    be expected with climate change.
    #
    “If the climate weren’t changing, you would expect the number of
    temperature records to diminish significantly over time,”
    says Claudia Tebaldi, a statistician with Climate Central
    who is one of the paper’s co-authors. “As you measure the high and
    low daily temperatures each year, it normally becomes more
    difficult to break a record after a number of years. But
    as the average temperatures continue to rise this century,
    we will keep setting more record highs.”
    http://climatesignals.org/2010/06/record-high-temperatures-far-outpace-record-lows-across-u-s/

  38. sic transit gloria C.F.A. says:

    One thing I’ve wondered about. There’s a lot of talk about the average temperature of the Earth, but heat content can be manifested in other ways. If there’s a net change of X million tons of ice into water in a given year, doesn’t that mean the Earth has gained the heat of fusion of all that ice? Are climate scientists tracking such things?

  39. Nadreck says:

    Third, is the data that’s fed into those simulations reliable?

    Maybe; maybe not. Who cares? It’s not as if the models are used for anything other than as a check on the changes predicted by the physical chemistry of adding billions of tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere. See my response to Mister44 about how quibbling about the difference between “approximately dead” and “precisely dead” is just dealing with a Straw Man argument saying that the models are the source of the Global Warming theory.

    If you don’t think that we can deal with trends in stochastic systems then here’s some fun activities for you to try:

    - Start chain smoking: many other factors could affect your health and who can predict (or even show!) precisely what portion of the population will die of cigarette-induced cancer? We have no good simulations of human physiology.

    - If your weight is fairly stable (calories in ~= calories out) eat an extra chocolate bar every day. The caloric input will be dwarfed by what you normally eat. Since you can’t predict exactly when you’ll weigh 400 pounds what’s the harm?

    It’s like you have an abandoned, tarp covered pool in your back yard. It’s full of discarded bathtubs, bicycles and other rubbish. There’s a pump pouring water in and another pouring it out. You know the capacity of neither nor where the drain or the input valve are located. There may or may not be cracks in the walls letting water leak out or leak in. All you know is that it hasn’t overflowed since you got here although the neighbours tell of a time 40 years ago when someone crashed a water truck nearby and the pool overflowed all over the lawn. You run the garden hose under the tarp and turn it on. Dip sticks pushed through the tarp come back damp where they never came back damp before. There are no crashed water trucks in evidence.

    Your prognosis?

    • Pag says:

      Nadrek: “Your prognosis?”

      You seriously need to work on your metaphors ;)

      Mister44: “The problem is the most vocal people are the “all or nothing” people on both sides. Like many things, the more rational, common sense middle ground doesn’t make for good headlines.”

      You are very right. I think there are very good reasons to reduce our dependency on oil: international politics, air quality problems, oil rigs exploding, etc. That doesn’t mean we should panic and destroy our economy trying to make a fast switch we’re not ready for.

      Ugly Canuck: “Indeed I have.”

      Good for you! I respect somebody willing to go the extra mile (literally) to see problems with their own eyes.

      Anon: “the results have withstood a great deal of scrutiny by very motivated skeptics.”

      Have they? It seems like being skeptical automatically brands you as biased and unreliable. Arguments seems to go like this: bad science shouldn’t be considered for AGW, and you know that science is bad if it doesn’t back AGW up. There is no real room for skepticism.

      On the other hand, look at the hockey stick scandal of a few years back. It took years before anyone noticed that the science was, in fact, bad. That doesn’t sound like great success for the peer review process. How many similar errors are still out there?

      “Nobody wants you to simply trust the scientists”

      I think you’d be surprised about that ;)

      Have any of you even considered that you could be wrong? I’ve stated what would change my mind. What would make _you_ change your mind?

      • Ugly Canuck says:

        I meant, of course, that the evidence of climate change is impossible to ignore.

        As I said, what to do about it
        … if it does turn out to be the case, I think that all the then-living descendants of today’s wealthy oil families, and who yet at that time continue to hold their wealth, ought to be the first to pay, by the taxation of their wealth, for the costs of whatever change then needs to be instituted.

        • Ugly Canuck says:

          Assuming, that is, we do nothing…and it does get as bad as they predict.

          Sometimes it is good to remember precisely whose rotten advice or leadership directed the course to disaster.

      • Gloster says:

        “On the other hand, look at the hockey stick scandal of a few years back. It took years before anyone noticed that the science was, in fact, bad.”

        Except it wasn’t:
        http://live.psu.edu/fullimg/userpics/10026/Final_Investigation_Report.pdf
        http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/06/national-academies-synthesis-report/

        It seems to me you are basing your conclusions on invalid assumptions.

      • Anonymous says:

        Have any of you even considered that you could be wrong? I’ve stated what would change my mind. What would make _you_ change your mind?

        A good model predicting no global warming, explaining how this is possible with added carbon dioxide, and some peer-reviewed literature supporting it, would be enough to make me seriously consider it.

        That’s how science works. Right now all the skepticism is taking shots at little uncertainties and insignificant errors – like the problem in the hockey stick paper, which was subsequently corrected with no substantial change in results. Well, that’s how science denial like creationism works, not real science. Real skeptics look for alternate explanations.

        Is that fair enough? An alternative model for the results of anthropogenic carbon dioxide, with its own evidence, and then we can try to find out which works better. But so far, nobody has been willing or able to present one, which I find far more condemning than speculation about politics.

        • Ugly Canuck says:

          Anon #119: Yes, me too: What chemical mechanism does/would/will prevent the usual physical consequences – that is, increased heat retention – which ordinarily results from any increase in the concentration of CO2 in any given amount of gases?

      • Ugly Canuck says:

        I did not go just to see about global warming, but they are very tough to ignore – impossible, actually.

        Although you seem to be making a good fist of it.

  40. Mister44 says:

    re: “The fallacy of the excluded middle. Either we do nothing or we do so much that we destroy everything?! ”

    The problem is the most vocal people are the “all or nothing” people on both sides. Like many things, the more rational, common sense middle ground doesn’t make for good headlines.

  41. Mister44 says:

    Anon in reply to Mister44

    “never mind the ones from the 70′s predicting an ice age.”

    “Just check http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php
    Your slur about ’70s ice age prediction’ is No 8 on the thermometer.

    The deniers have no arguments. They repeat their simplistic misconception and hope they stay on the wall.”

    You have rendered all of my arguments moot. SLAM DUNK! Good job, Captain Internet. Another poster put in his place!

    • Ada B says:

      As I understand it, climate change (misnomer: global warming) could theoretically cause localised cooling, for instance, if it disrupted ocean currents like the Gulf Stream and its associated weather systems. Just because the *average* global temperatures have increased doesn’t mean that local temperatures will increase – they could even decrease.

      However, the models predict climate instability rather than consistent rises or decreases in temperature, so what could well happen is a mini ice-age in some regions, for a couple of years, followed by a drought, followed by heatwaves… in a less and less predictable fashion.

      Ironically, as the data comes in and we are more able to model climate change, our ability to predict the *weather* will vanish out the window.

      P.S. I suspect many climate sceptics are going to be like King Canute as the sea levels rise and water laps around their ankles.

    • Ada B says:

      As I understand it, climate change (misnomer: global warming) could theoretically cause localised cooling, for instance, if it disrupted ocean currents like the Gulf Stream and its associated weather systems. Just because the *average* global temperatures have increased doesn’t mean that local temperatures will increase – they could even decrease.

      However, the models predict climate instability rather than consistent rises or decreases in temperature, so what could well happen is a mini ice-age in some regions, for a couple of years, followed by a drought, followed by heatwaves… in a less and less predictable fashion.

      Ironically, as the data comes in and we are more able to model climate change, our ability to predict the *weather* will vanish out the window.

      P.S. I suspect many climate sceptics are going to be like King Canute as the sea levels rise and water laps around their ankles.

  42. Colorado Bob says:

    18 nations have set their All Time High temperature records this year , zero nations have set All Time Low temperature records.

    —————–

    How to beat the media in the climate street fight
    Forest scientist Simon Lewis in Nature: “Researchers must take a more aggressive approach to counter shoddy journalism and set the scientific record straight”

    http://climateprogress.org/2010/11/04/simon-lewis-beat-the-media-in-climate-street-fight/#comment-304591

  43. Colorado Bob says:

    The record event report out of So. Cal. yesterday -

    THIS 100 DEGREE READING WAS A RECORD FOR THE DATE AND
    FOR ANY DATE IN NOVEMBER.

    http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/ total_forecast/ getprod.php?wfo=sgx&sid=SGX&pil=PNS

    • Mister44 says:

      o_0 Really? You’re going to pull anecdotal data to bolster your cause? It is as absurd as people who point out to record snow levels or low temps as proof against warming.

      re: “Were CO2 a visible gas to our eyes, rather than the transparent one that it is, we’d have noticed that the “fog” had been markedly thickening up for some decades already. ”

      Well – I assume you are still speaking metaphorically, as our elevated levels are ~380 parts per MILLION. A very small slice of air. I’m not saying that this can’t effect temperature, just that even with the giant increase it is a very small amount. The C02 charts by themselves look dramatic, but if you charted its overall percentage of air, it would basically be a straight line at the bottom.

      Chemistry is only one aspect of what is going on. This leads to one of my other gripes that to get a true picture of what is going on, you have to cross several disciplines, and I think that some of the fact presenters fail to do this.

      I would also like to note that people who are skeptical of man made change aren’t scientifically ignorant oil company shills. Of the three friends of mine I have talked about this at length, one has a degree in Astronomy, one in Geology, and one is a Paleontologist/Engineer (true renaissance guy.) All three of these men are better educated than most everyone here.

      Now – I am not making the fallacy that because these men are smart, they are right. But I want to point out the fallacy that disagreeing with your position doesn’t makes one ignorant, etc.

      • Anonymous says:

        o_0 Really? You’re going to pull anecdotal data to bolster your cause? It is as absurd as people who point out to record snow levels or low temps as proof against warming.

        I agree, but I understand why they get brought up – there is a serious problem of shifting standards. It’s fair to reject single data points as anecdotal, but then you find people who insist models require too many assumptions and won’t trust the statistical analysis.

        Then some people complain about how individual studies are just one perspective, and when they’re corrected they complain about how science doesn’t run by majority opinion.

        These sorts of scattered objections are why things are brought up that by themselves really aren’t good evidence. But of course, by complaining about this I’m proving that I’m biased against deniers, and so everything I say can be ignored as mere politics.

        Well – I assume you are still speaking metaphorically, as our elevated levels are ~380 parts per MILLION. A very small slice of air. I’m not saying that this can’t effect temperature, just that even with the giant increase it is a very small amount.

        This is hardly a metaphor. Nitrogen oxides rarely reach hundreds of parts per million, but still obviously discolor air. And in fact the absorption from carbon dioxide is easily comparable, just not in the visible part of the spectrum. If we could see infrared we wouldn’t notice much, but I think we’d notice.

        This is of course why global warming happens in the first place. With our small amounts of water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane, the Earth is about 15 degrees warmer than the equilibrium temperature for a planet with our albedo. I have yet to see anyone explain how changing those amounts could not change the climate by a degree or two.

      • Ugly Canuck says:

        You ever look to see how many ppm of water vapour it takes to make for a foggy day?

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/Measuring-CO2-levels-from-the-volcano-at-Mauna-Loa.html

        A song for deniers: )

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

        OK others too!

        • Mister44 says:

          UC and Anon – re: water vapor

          Touche.

          RE: anecdotal data

          They get brought up because it is what the average person can relate to. As one looks at the data the numbers go up and down, and it is only after a large enough data set can you determine if the average temperature has increased or not.

          As for not trusting statistics, it is because statistics are useless if the data set isn’t large enough and to have proper analysis and interpretation. Shoving a C02 chart into someones face and scream “ZOMG – global warming!” doesn’t really prove anything to anyone, nor encompass the full spectrum of the cause of climate change.

          If your opinion on the matter comes strictly from these sorts of charts, then you really aren’t informed on the issue. Let’s be honest – that is about as far of an exposure most people get on this issue, which they feel is enough to say “yep” or “nope”.

          But I guess the Geology lover in me sees all of this more or less moot in ~15,000 years or so when everything north of South Dakota is under a mile of ice.

          (I’d like to take this time to mention Freakonomics by Steven Levitt, a book I really enjoyed on the matter of statistics and their use.)

      • Brainspore says:

        I would also like to note that people who are skeptical of man made change aren’t scientifically ignorant oil company shills.

        With only the tiniest handful of exceptions, they also aren’t the scientists who have spent their entire careers studying the climate.

  44. Thebes says:

    The Earth has ONLY been getting warmer since 98 if you are looking at the “value added data”. Looking at raw station logs from stations without equipment or location changes it is NOT.

    Figures don’t lie, but liars often figure. Everyone needs to look into this him or herself.

  45. Ugly Canuck says:

    Indeed I have.

    For more on this – up until 1997, that is:

    http://archives.cbc.ca/environment/climate_change/topics/2636/

    And for the latest, released just days ago:

    http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/

    Science is based upon empirical observations.

  46. Colorado Bob says:

    Must-see: Rachel Maddow on right-wing media
    “Things that would have been disprovable myths in times past in America now become conservative truths.”

    http://climateprogress.org/2010/11/05/rachel-maddow-on-right-wing-media/

  47. recoiled says:

    Lets look at consumption of natural carbon sources at a very basic level.

    Matter is neither created nor destroyed. This is a fairly well known phenomena, but should be stated.

    Organic hydrocarbons are buried under lots of pressure, and generally do not interact with the atmosphere. They are, therefore, inert to atmospheric interaction unless a geologic event brings them to the surface.

    When we produce an oil or gas well, we take organic carbons, volatile nasty stuff (something that people maybe agree on? If you felt that BP’s recent oil spill was gross – you probably agree with this statement), and bring it to surface as solids, liquids and gasses.

    The next step is to process, and generally, burn the organic carbons. There is NO LOSS OF MATTER! This last statement is important. Where does this highly toxic and generally “gross” material go? Into the atmosphere.

    So whether you believe in global warming or not, you should probably consider that we are constantly releasing matter into the atmosphere that is highly toxic. If you would like to test this hypothesis on toxicity of burnt hydrocarbons, place a pet into your garage and turn on you car engine*1*2.

    My conclusion is, whether you do or don’t see conclusive evidence that global warming is happening, what you can hopefully agree with is, we constantly are putting a toxic material into our atmosphere – and we should probably, at some point, account for it.

    *1 battery, hydrogen, solar etc… exempt. See recent venture brothers cartoon for example of why electric cars don’t kill in this scenario.

    *2 Please don’t do this to your pet.

  48. Ugly Canuck says:

    …and did not the USA experience the most intense storm in history, barely a week ago?

    http://www.universetoday.com/76724/most-intense-storm-in-history-cuts-across-the-us-as-seen-from-space/

    Why, it did!

  49. bob d says:

    There’s an issue here of “deniers” versus “skeptics.” Skeptics will change their position based on being exposed to evidence. Deniers take a position and stick with it, evidence be damned. I’m not sure what percentage of people fall into each camp, but if we’re dealing primarily with deniers, evidence-based arguments are pretty useless.

    • sloverlord says:

      Don’t forget the third category: deniers who call themselves skeptics, and claim to base their skepticism on global warming on real scientific data when they haven’t read a peer-reviewed paper in their lives.

  50. Colorado Bob says:

    Software developer Nigel Leck grew tired of arguing about global warming. According to Popular Science, he made a computer program do it for him. His program scans the Twitter social network for statements that seem to deny climate change. It generates a response with links to scientific research. It isn’t perfect — many messages go to people who simply comment on the weather. So the program’s creator now spends time writing little apologies.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=131061410

  51. JeffF says:

    Rarely I get one of these right wing emails from my father, who I think gets them very frequently from his friends.

    It isn’t just that they don’t go back to the original research to see if it is valid, they continue circulating these emails for years even after their original authors have retracted them and multiple people have debunked them. And they don’t just get circulated as emails they show up in major media through right wing commentators.

    The “a prius is worse for the environment than a hummer” one is a great example. If you read it with an ounce of skepticism you would quickly notice that the conclusion assumed that a prius on average lasts something like 100k miles (less than the warranty in many states), and a hummer something like 350k, that denominator basically created the result. But what was interesting was that most of the information about where the article came from had been stripped off. Turns out it was an article in a college newspaper. That article was based off of a report from an automotive market research firm. The college newspaper article was then retracted by its author a couple months later. Then a year or two after that the college newspaper article was referenced by George Will in a major newspaper (I forget which one). Years after that it was still circulating as an email among right wing commoners. Pretty sure my gutting of the email didn’t circulate at all.

    I wonder if part of it might be that these things circulate among older americans. People who get that you can use email to spread around worldview reinforcing material, but never got that you can use it to quickly reject a lot of bullshit.

    A nearly unbelievable example was another email I was forwarded from him claiming snopes.com was hideously biased liberal propaganda (he had looked up snopes on wikipedia, and was dubious of the claim). In this email another fact check website was recommended (which is run by someone on the political right). That winger-approved fact check website had an article debunking the email I was reading and saying snopes did excellent work. Its a recursive hell of willful ignorance.

  52. Anonymous says:

    A lot of people mention uncertainty in models that show the Earth is warming. I wonder why nobody’s brought up alternative models that show it is not warming, and give details of where the heat from increased CO2 goes instead.

    Informed questioning is good for science. Evidence-free skepticism, not so much.

  53. angusm says:

    Q: Where do climate change myths come from?
    A: British Petroleum and the Koch brothers.

    You’re welcome.

  54. Anonymous says:

    Something people wondering about the accuracy of predictions don’t understand is that they already have error bars on them. Scientists say things like “2 degrees plus or minus 1 degree” to incorporate their uncertainty into their prediction. Scientists know, and report, how reliable their work is.

    Another thing they don’t seem to understand is that these uncertainties go both ways. Basic physics tells us what CO2 does, and the rest depends on feedback loops. There is a chance there will be less warming than expected because of unexpected negative feedback, but there is the same chance there will be more because of unexpected positive feedback.

    Concerns about whether the scientists themselves can be trusted are dubious at best and slanderous at worst. Sure, you can invent reasons for them to bend the truth, but there is little indication of such a conspiracy. Why you would trust industry-sponsored think-tanks, journalists who are used to reporting what they say, and governments that cater to them more is beyond me.

  55. Anonymous says:

    It is all but impossible to find a scientist who has published something questioning anthropogenic global warming who is not in the direct pay of the Cato, Heartland, or Frasier Institute. You’d think that would be enough to settle what financial incentives have to do with things.

  56. Colorado Bob says:

    Nov. 3 (Bloomberg) — Thai rice prices, the benchmark for Asia, advanced 3.6 percent to a seven-month high after flooding disrupted supplies, according to the Thai Rice Exporters Association.

    ——–
    Last week -

    “Rice production will become an issue next year,” Prasert Gosalvitra, head of Thailand’s state-run Rice Department, said in a phone interview from Bangkok. “Supply will become tight, driving prices higher.”

    Potential crop losses in Thailand and floods in central Vietnam came after harvests in Pakistan were devastated by flooding earlier this year and Typhoon Megi lashed the Philippines, the world’s biggest rice buyer, widening the country’s production deficit.

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-10-27/rice-may-extend-rally-as-floods-decimate-asian-crops.html

  57. Colorado Bob says:

    The largest re-insurance company in the world last week -

    2010 has been an “exceptional” year for weather disasters with the highest number of weather-related events since records began being kept, German reinsurance company Munich Re said Thursday.

    “This year really has been a year of weather records,” Peter Hoeppe, an expert from Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research department, told AFP. “The first nine months of the year have seen the highest number of weather-related events since Munich Re started keeping records,” he added.

    http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1940327/2010_and_exceptional_year_for_wild_weather/

  58. Ugly Canuck says:

    When this coming winter’s cold snap hits in North America, remember these words, taken from the Arctic Report Card which I linked to above:

    “With future loss of sea ice, such conditions as winter 2009-2010 could happen more often. Thus we have a potential climate change paradox. Rather than a general warming everywhere, the loss of sea ice and a warmer Arctic can increase the impact of the Arctic on lower latitudes, bringing colder weather to southern locations.”

    Not all impacts from climate change are negative, of course, at least in a local sense:

    http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2010/10/25/arctic-climate-change-baffin-fisheries.html

    Adapt we must. To adapt means to change, does it not?

  59. Ugly Canuck says:

    Pag has friends in high places-Republicans to hold hearings on “climate change fraud science”:

    http://news.firedoglake.com/2010/11/03/sign-of-the-times-hearings-on-scientific-fraud-of-global-warming-expected/

    So, IMHO this new Congress will work to increase greenhouse gas emissions.

    Thanks to

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/

    for the link!

  60. Colorado Bob says:

    A hypothesis is a proposed explanation for an observable phenomenon.

    For a hypothesis to be proved, it makes predictions which can be measured & observed .
    One of the predictions made years ago about AGW was that the world would see an increase in extreme rainfall events . The list this year of such events is rather stunning. And we’re talking rain measured in feet, not merely inches.
    For the past month Indochina has been suffering from this . Vietnam being a case in point , central Vietnam received over 6 feet of rain in the middle of Oct. The past week the rains have moved south where 39 inches have fallen in the last week.

    Oct 18 -
    http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/news/349160,vietnam-storms-summary.html

    Nov 3 -
    http://www.newsvine.com/_news/2010/11/04/5405870-death-toll-from-new-floods-in-vietnam-rises-to-16

  61. Pag says:

    “Thus we have a potential climate change paradox.”

    So both warmer and colder weather are signs of global warming? You’re right, it’s impossible to doubt in front of such inescapable evidence! (and yes, I am just kidding)

    • latsot says:

      Pag,

      Your ignorance about how science actually works is getting in the way of your understanding. Very few scientific papers are revolutionary in any sense. They present a bit of data or a new way to analyse it or a meta-analysis of various other studies. ‘Controversy’ in scientific papers is therefore pretty rare, unless it is controversy within a very narrow field. Experts in every field do sometimes disagree on technical points and disputes can last lifetimes, but in almost no cases do these disagreements have the magnitude of – say – whether or not humans are causing climate change. Generally, they agree on that level because that’s where the data points, but they might argue about whether a particular set of data happens to support that hypothesis. It gets published without difficulty providing the science is sound. Politics doesn’t really get a foothold because there is little or no political impact of the vast majority of papers. Similarly, peer review isn’t a test for whether a paper’s conclusions fit the status quo. It’s a test to see whether the conclusions are supported by the evidence presented. Is there bias? Sure. But unsupported conclusions are usually noticed in peer review (and if not, later) and papers will and do get rejected for that reason, accepted if they are sound.

      In conclusion, papers usually present some small amount of evidence that is not in itself politically charged and peer review is done by people who want to find holes in the arguments, regardless of the conclusions. Your view of what’s going on in science is just plain wrong.

  62. Sunday Artist says:

    Thanks Mr. Hatfield, for this clear remainder of the necessity of checking our sources. The problem is, not many people can find the free time to check and countering the false arguments. I did once spent a three-four hours to scrape counter a false arguments, but whatever I produce is drowned in a sea of simplistic assumptions.

    Here is a new tack on this subject: whether the people believe in AGW or not.

    We have, since 1960, witnessed and documented various signs of environmental damage, destruction of natural habitats, loss of biodiversity, smog-related health problems, etc. Since at least 50 years, the fossil fuel and auto companies responsible for a big part of carbon emissions were warned, told of those consequences by the scientific community.

    Did they lift a finger? Did they put accessible electric cars on the road in the 70s? The 80s? Nooo. For an obvious rea$on.

    When they agree to some mitigating measures, it was only when pushed to the wall by the consumers and the governments.

    So, their past behavior about man-made pollution being a clue, the major companies and carbon emitters will continue to finance “skeptic” sites, propagate rumors, for as long as the oil runs.

    And there is a logic stance in doing nothing: when the consequences of global warming – along with good ol’pollution- will be un-deniable, with the political turmoil, the available land area regressing (and not only from the sea advance; from the desertification processes) with millions of refugees bounced around, etc. (a BIG etc!), the very powerful can always get their exit ticket to their few gated paradises. And there, they will sadly shake their heads. “Why, if the Earth dies, it is from natural causes”.

    Fhew. Another hour I was not writing science-fiction for you, folks! :^)

  63. Anonymous says:

    When researchers studying a disease are passionate about helping people suffering from it, does it throw their results into question? If not, what makes this case different?

  64. nutbastard says:

    I’m skeptical of ANYTHING that becomes a hot button issue virtually overnight, that people whose intellects I do not respect accept at face value, who then parrot whatever has been rammed down their throats and ridiculing anyone who questions what, in their minds, is as proven as the existence of the sun.

    The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

    I liken “An Inconvenient Truth” with “Reefer Madness”. Both films depict radical, frightening consequences as givens in response to a situation about which the public at large, including the scientific community, is alarmingly ignorant. It raises a red flag, because it reeks of deceptive indoctrination.

    Another red flag: Will actions taken in attempts to rectify the issue at hand (as it is perceived) involve further control over the lives of the people? Rarely does one of these kinds of situations result in less control and more freedom. I’m skeptical of the official version of how 9/11 went down simply because 9/11 has been a huge fulcrum for increasing control and surveillance of the population, and that’s *quite* the convenient coincidence, wouldn’t you say? Or take second hand smoke – the ‘science’ behind that trope was clearly exaggerated as a tool of social engineering. Result: higher taxes on cigarettes, smoking bans, and increasing passive and active stigma towards smokers.

    Lets compare that to climate change: Higher taxes on energy, bans on certain engine configurations, and a huge stigma for SUV drivers.

    Marijuana: Higher taxes to fund drug war, bans on non-harmful consensual adult activity, and a stigma for marijuana smokers.

    Alcohol Prohibition: Higher taxes to enforce prohibition/fight bootleggers, bans on allowing fruit to ferment, and a stigma towards drunks.

    Health care: Higher taxes to subsidize benefits, banning you from declining to carry insurance, and a stigma for anyone who opposes the new plan or is happy with their current plan as selfish pricks who obviously want babies to die of AIDS.

    I cannot dismiss this trend as coincidence while I still have this many functioning brain cells.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m skeptical of ANYTHING that becomes a hot button issue virtually overnight, that people whose intellects I do not respect accept at face value, who then parrot whatever has been rammed down their throats and ridiculing anyone who questions what, in their minds, is as proven as the existence of the sun.

      Even when overnight means gradually since the 1970s and at face value means following a huge and constantly quantity of peer-reviewed research? Your call. Enjoy your cigarettes.

    • Anonymous says:

      Nobody ever seems to address the important question: if global warming is a conspiracy for government control, why do governments fight so hard against doing anything about it?

      Most conservative governments are actively opposed to the very concept, and most progessive governments have been anything but eager. That makes for a very strange conspiracy: it’s as if the Bush administration planned 9/11 but then decided the Patriot Act was too intrusive to implement.

      • nutbastard says:

        I’m not saying ANY of these are conspiracies for more government control – I’m saying that no matter who initiates the pressing of an issue, that seems to be the end result every single time.

        @Brainspore

        The hat stays on: Unless harm can be irrefutably demonstrated, there is no impetus (and no legitimate authorization) for increasing controls. I can’t personally argue the reality of the phenomenon because I am wise enough to know that I cannot possibly have enough relevant, reliable data to take a position. I am also wise enough to know that nobody else really can at this point either. My take on it is that efficiency is something we should always strive for regardless of whether or not failing to do so harms the environment. It’s just common sense – if we *can* have 100mpg cars, why shouldn’t we pursue such endeavors?

        Part of me suspects that a lot of the hype surrounding the ambiguous science behind it is just a fire lit under the asses of industry as a countermeasure against stagnation in efficiency.

        back to anon:

        “if global warming is a conspiracy for government control, why do governments fight so hard against doing anything about it? ”

        … all i see are HOV lane stickers, tax breaks for ZEVs and hybrids, higher energy taxes, carbon credits, and government and media going on about a million ways to be greener. I’m not sure where you get the idea that the government is against the green movement.

        @anon #147

        “In 1993, the EPA announced that second-hand smoke was “responsible for approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths each year in nonsmoking adults,” and that it ” impairs the respiratory health of hundreds of thousands of people.” In a 1994 pamphlet the EPA said that the eleven studies it based its decision on were not by themselves conclusive, and that they collectively assigned second-hand smoke a risk factor of 1.19. (For reference, a risk factor below 3.0 is too small for action by the EPA. or for publication in the New England Journal of Medicine, for example.)

        Furthermore, since there was no statistical association at the 95% confidence limits, the EPA lowered the limit to 90%. They then classified second-hand smoke as a Group-A Carcinogen.

        This was openly fraudulent science, but it formed the basis for bans on smoking in restaurants, offices, and airports. California banned public smoking in 1995. Soon, no claim was too extreme. By 1998, the Christian Science Monitor was saying that “Second-hand smoke is the nation’s third-leading preventable cause of death.” The American Cancer Society announced that 53,000 people died each year of second-hand smoke. The evidence for this claim is nonexistent.

        In 1998, a Federal judge held that the EPA had acted improperly, had “committed to a conclusion before research had begun”, and had “disregarded information and made findings on selective information.”

        …Meanwhile, ever-larger studies failed to confirm any association. A large, seven-country WHO study in 1998 found no association. Nor have well-controlled subsequent studies, to my knowledge. Yet we now read, for example, that second-hand smoke is a cause of breast cancer. At this point you can say pretty much anything you want about second-hand smoke.” -Michael Crichton

        • Brainspore says:

          I can’t personally argue the reality of the phenomenon because I am wise enough to know that I cannot possibly have enough relevant, reliable data to take a position. I am also wise enough to know that nobody else really can at this point either.

          Humility to denialism in one short sentence.

        • Anonymous says:

          You won’t find any of comparable problems in the science behind global warming, where even proposed laws have lagged way behind what studies recommend. But if you’re willing to trust Michael Chriton’s very slanted accounts over the actual research, you can probably find very tiny problems and pretend they’re mountains.

        • Anonymous says:

          I’m not saying ANY of these are conspiracies for more government control…

          And Fox News never “says” anything, it just brings up some interesting coincidences.

    • Brainspore says:

      Using ideology to argue about the appropriate response to human-caused climate change is valid, but if you want to argue the reality of the phenomenon then please take off your libertarian hat for a moment and argue the evidence, not the politics.

      • Ugly Canuck says:

        Bingo.

        Whatever and whenever the response, it will be dictated by what the environment does.

        Maybe this should go in the “stoic” thread…but…if people do not govern yourselves, they will be governed by others – or by events.

  65. EstimatedProphet says:

    “The only problem with this sentiment is that it can turn into a train of thought that says something along the lines of “so lets not be too hasty [in upsetting the economy, etc, for the sake of "climate change"].”

    Which is, after all, the exact point of the climate change denying efforts, so you do exactly what Big Oil is trying to get you to do by using this argument.

  66. Pag says:

    “anyone making that argument can’t be taken seriously, I’m afraid.”

    You don’t listen to those who say global warming is false and you don’t listen to those who doubt the climate scientists. How could you discover that you were wrong if that was the case?

  67. Ugly Canuck says:

    For an example of “scientific fraud”:

    http://climate.nasa.gov/images/evidence_CO2.jpg

    I hope they start with that graph, when the hearings open.

  68. Colorado Bob says:

    Swat Valley Pakistan -

    In more than 60 hours of non-stop torrential rainfall, the floods washed all that away. The north-west normally receives 500mm (20in) of rain in the month of July; over one five-day period 5,000mm fell. “It was incredible,” said Sameenullah Afridi, a local United Nations official.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/01/pakistan-floods-us-military

    This is 16 feet of rain.

    What Shah and the citizens of Nowshera and Charsadda witnessed in those days was a perfect storm event never before seen in Pakistan’s history. Government officials say that from July 28 to Aug. 3, parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recorded almost 12 feet of rainfall in one week. The province normally averages slightly above 3 feet for an entire year.

    http://www.eenews.net/public/climatewire/2010/10/12/1

  69. ToMajorTom says:

    I think it’s asking too much from the general public, which trends towards stupid, to understand scientific peer-reviews and jargon-filled research notes.

    Maw and Paw, sitting in their cabin in the Kentucky mountains, are capable of understanding “Jesus is cooling the Earth” and, frankly, that’s about it. (No offense to Kentuckians, but they *did* just elect nutbar Rand.)

    • ToMajorTom,

      You have a very different perspective on the American public at large … and rural Americans in particular … than I do.

      I’ve met people who changed their minds when presented clear, unbiased evidence. I’ve met rural Americans who recognized immediately the connection between climate changes they’d seen themselves, and the science.

      I’m not from Kentucky, specifically, but, in general, this is my family you’re insulting. I think we can talk about climate change without resorting to stereotypes and “my people are better than your people” ridiculousness. In fact, we should. Because, frankly, these kind of attitudes are one of the reasons why otherwise reasonable people choose to ignore scientific evidence. Would you want to join forces with the folks calling you a stupid yokel?

      • ToMajorTom says:

        Maggie, I’m sure you’re more adept in conveying to anti-intellectuals (my words, not yours) the value of scientific data and peer reviews than I am.

        In my experience, there’s a certain segment (seemingly large segment) of the U.S. population that cannot (or will not) differentiate fact from fiction. (Look at Fox News’ ratings.)

        Sure, I used the old Kentucky stereotype in my comment, but I could have just as easily used “my people”, rural Georgia. These folks (my family included) can be some of the nicest, helpful people you’ll ever meet, but (from my viewpoint) there’s no cracking the shell of a lifetime of church-going, where (in many cases in rural Georgia) science = bad / lies / deceit. (Satan put dinosaur bones in the ground to confuse and tempt us.)

        I certainly didn’t intend in my original post to over-generalize and offend.

        (As for me, I can’t shake the southern accent and sound a lot like Gomer Pyle, so I’m my own walking stereotype.)

        • Wally Ballou says:

          A lot of those rural folks are living on pretty tight budgets. And if they are involved in agriculture, a lot of their budget goes to energy costs.

          Which is why they may not come down firmly on either side of the climate change issue, but they will vote against anyone who tells them that cheap energy is the problem.

        • pinehead says:

          My family comes from rural Georgia, too. Some from the northeastern mountains, some from the southwestern farm country.

          I agree that most of them are friendly, amicable people. Their decision to live in a manner apparently different from your lifestyle is perfectly acceptable, church attendance and all. My rural family members are not only active in their church, but also try to stay on top of developments in popsci circles, including the matter of climate change. To dismiss them as backwards religious nuts does more to reveal your own abrasiveness and ignorance than any intellectual shortcomings of anybody else.

          You sound like you need to travel more and maybe learn how other people really think and really live, because all you’ve done in this thread is bitch about people for being different from you.

          • ToMajorTom says:

            I’m not sure how many times and different ways I can say, “I’m generalizing” based on what tends to be my experience.

            Meaning, I don’t claim all people are such-and-such, nor do I claim that my every experience has been such-and-such.

            I caveat-ed my last post so much I thought I’d run out of parentheses before I finished.

            Global warming is obviously Jesus’ doing…he likes to wear sandals.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            Oh yeah? Where does Jesus say that?

            Or are you just putting words into His mouth?

  70. oxrs says:

    And yet this changes nothing. Anybody who already believed the information laid out here has confirmation. Anybody who is willing to believe a certain agenda without any actual information or verification isn’t going to suddenly change their mind.

    • Anonymous says:

      This little video helped change my mind, to some degree :)

      I’ve been a skeptic regarding both sides of this argument, and I rarely have the time to chase down references like he does. And in this one example, its nice to see where some of these myths are coming from. Although the real message is to keep on being skeptical, even about his own video, right?

  71. hpavc says:

    This horizon episode is pretty epic related to the “cooling” “heating” issue. The “is up down” non-sense seems to really just be a science literacy issue.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/horizon/dimming_prog_summary.shtml

  72. mdh says:

    Only fools speak of chemistry and physics as though they were as malleable and user-defined as economics.

  73. lewis stoole says:

    i thought the “solar system is cooling as well ” meme was based on the photos of the martian ice caps shrinking that appeared several years back.

  74. Ugly Canuck says:

    I am tired of re-inventing the wheel, so I no longer take part in “climate change debate”…I just refer them to my indefatigable “friend” discussed at the link, and let the guy do his job:

    http://mashable.com/2010/11/03/ai-science-twitter-bot/

    Thanx to

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/

    …for the link!

  75. Ugly Canuck says:

    “Yes. But I still contend there were huge… tracts of land that no human had laid eyes on.”

    Complete and utter hogwash.

  76. Ugly Canuck says:

    Bah…”themselves” , for “yourselves”…my age is showing.

  77. rebdav says:

    When applying for grants and trying to get published it is much easier to stick to what is well accepted. Until I own and run my own worldwide weather stations and keep my own data I will have a healthy piece of skepticism on climate change and any other scientific ‘fact’ that has a high profit upside. Even if I have my imaginary global stations and publish my data you should suspect me, at least a little bit.
    What I am saying is global warming is probably true, we likely cause it with CO2, but look at who gains money or power by keeping with the status quo.

    • sloverlord says:

      “but look at who gains money or power by keeping with the status quo.”

      Hmmm, you’re right, I should think about this.

      Ah yes, it’s the oil and electricity companies who make hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue every quarter from our consumption of nonrenewable energy, and who stand to lose all this if we transition to something else.

      I would like these guys to investigate the, “money and power is fueling the climate change lies!” myth. Do people like rebdav honestly think that scientists get to spend their grant money on Porsches? Do they honestly think that whatever “shadowy cartel” wants climate change to be real is more powerful than the energy industries who want things to stay as they are? It’s fucking ridiculous.

    • Maggie Koerth-Baker says:

      Out of curiosity, why does this status quo bother you, distinct from all other science status quos? Are you skeptical of everything that is backed up by the majority of peer-reviewed research results? Or just this?

      Also: Plenty of people get money and power from backing the position of the oil lobbyists. Far more (if you’re familiar at all with the pay grades and power bases of research scientists) than the scientists involved in studying climate change.

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