The Global Climate Coalition and climate change denial

May 2, 2009

in Law, Politics, Science, The environment

Kid with a fake nose and glasses

Some interesting evidence has emerged about the artificial ‘debate’ that has been created about the reality of human-induced climate change. Documents filed in a federal lawsuit reveal that the scientists working for the Global Climate Coalition – a fossil fuel industry front group that sought to prevent action on climate change – were themselves convinced of the reality of the problem. Back in 1995, they advised in an internal paper that: “The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied.”

This contrasts sharply with what the group said in public, and what they probably said to politicians while lobbying. It helps to demonstrate that the tactic here isn’t appropriate scientific skepticism, but simply a rearguard action to delay climate change mitigation policies. They have certainly succeeded in confusing some politicians with an ideological bent that predisposes them to rejecting climate policies. For instance, Republican Representative for Minesota Michele Bachmann has publicly expressed an absurd position on the science of climate change, while also calling for those who are opposed to climate legislation to be “armed and dangerous” and ready to “fight back hard” against legislation like the Waxman-Markey bill.

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{ 84 comments… read them below or add one }

R.K. May 2, 2009 at 5:52 pm

I like the link between the photo and the subject matter of the post.

The Global Climate Coalition now has about the same credibility as a kid wearing a fake nose and mustache.

mek May 3, 2009 at 5:44 am

Rationally criticizing Michelle Bachmann is about as fair as kicking a midget. (But damn if it isn’t entertaining!)

Milan May 3, 2009 at 6:30 pm

She’s hardly the only one:

“We are cooling. We are not warming. The warming you see out there, the supposed warming, and I am using my finger quotation marks here, is part of the cooling process. Greenland, which is now covered in ice, it was once called Greenland for a reason, right? Iceland, which is now green. Oh I love this. Like we know what this planet is all about. How long have we been here? How long? No very long.”

Republican National Committee Chairman, Michael Steele

Milan May 3, 2009 at 6:32 pm

John Boehner (Republican House Minority Leader) denies CO2 linked to climate change:

“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.”

. May 3, 2009 at 6:34 pm

House GOP leader Boehner on ABC: “The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical.”

House Minority Leader John Boehner is a traditional anti-science conservative. His exchange Sunday with George Stephanopoulos (transcript here, reprinted below) is still notable for his utter lack of understanding of even the basics of the climate issue.

. May 4, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Rep. Shimkus: “Man will not destroy this Earth. This Earth will not be destroyed by a flood.” Rep. Barton: “I wish I had another dozen John Shimkuses on the committee.”

April 30th, 2009

Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) is a true champion of the antiscience wing of the conservative movement stagnation (see Rep. Shimkus: Cutting CO2 emissions is “Taking away plant food from the atmosphere”). [Note to self: It isn’t a wing of the right wing that is anti-science, it’s the whole damn conservative bird ostrich.]

Betula May 4, 2009 at 4:43 pm

Since the subject appears to be ignorance, this Democrat gem may come in handy……

http://www.cnsnews.com/public/content/article.aspx?RsrcID=32291

That’s right, CO2 caused the death of the U.S.troops in Mogodishu……and that would be from the same Ed Markey of The Waxman-Markey Bill.

But on a more important note…….I wonder if the Global Climate Coalition was the reason the Clinton / Gore Administration never submitted the Kyoto protocol to the Senate for ratification?

Hmmmm….it seems to be the only logical explanation.

Milan May 4, 2009 at 4:52 pm

There is a case to be made that climate change has contributed to drought in Sudan, and that has exacerbated the conflict. While it’s not particularly credible to claim that it was a direct cause of the Marine incident in Mogadishu in 1992, it is not absurd to consider it as part of the cause of the overall conflict.

As for why the Kyoto Protocol wasn’t submitted to the Senate during the Clinton administration, the most likely explanation is that they had sounded out the option and decided it would not succeed. It is most regrettable that American lawmakers are taking such a long time to get serious on the climate crisis.

Tristan May 4, 2009 at 4:53 pm

““That famine translated to international aid we sent in to Somalia, which then led to the U.S. having to send in forces to separate all the groups that were fighting over the aid, which led to Black Hawk Down.”

So, you’re disagree with the science that says global warming had anything to do with this famine?

This logic isn’t “democrat” or “republican”. It’s just logic.

. May 4, 2009 at 4:55 pm

Second Sudanese Civil War
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Foreign interventions

“In 1991, Sudan faced a 2-year drought and food shortage across the entire country. The US, UN, and other donors attempted to mount a coordinated international relief effort in both north and south Sudan to prevent a catastrophe. However, due to Sudan’s human rights abuses and its pro-Iraqi stance during the Gulf War, many donors cut much of their aid to the Sudan. In a similar drought in 2000-01, the international community again responded to avert mass starvation in the Sudan. International donors continue to provide large amounts of humanitarian aid to all parts of the Sudan.”

. May 4, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report
Summary for Policymakers

From 1900 to 2005, precipitation increased significantly in eastern parts of North and South America, northern Europe and northern and central Asia but declined in the Sahel, the Mediterranean, southern Africa and parts of southern Asia. Globally, the area affected by drought has likely2 increased since the 1970s.

Examples of some projected regional impacts: Africa

* By 2020, between 75 and 250 million of people are projected to be exposed to increased water stress due to
climate change.
* By 2020, in some countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50%. Agricultural
production, including access to food, in many African countries is projected to be severely compromised. This
would further adversely affect food security and exacerbate malnutrition.
* Towards the end of the 21st century, projected sea level rise will affect low-lying coastal areas with large
populations. The cost of adaptation could amount to at least 5 to 10% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
* By 2080, an increase of 5 to 8% of arid and semi-arid land in Africa is projected under a range of climate
scenarios (TS).

. May 4, 2009 at 5:04 pm

IPCC Fourth Assessment Report
Working Group I Report “The Physical Science Basis”

Technical Summary

More intense and longer droughts have been observed over wider areas, particularly in the tropics and subtropics since the 1970s. While there are many different measures of drought, many studies use precipitation changes together with temperature. Increased drying due to higher temperatures and decreased land precipitation have contributed to these changes.

Although precipitation has increased in many areas of the globe, the area under drought has also increased. Drought duration and intensity has also increased. While regional droughts have occurred in the past, the widespread spatial extent of current droughts is broadly consistent with expected changes in the hydrologic cycle under warming. Water vapour increases with increasing global temperature, due to increased evaporation where surface moisture is available, and this tends to increase precipitation. However, increased continental temperatures are expected to lead to greater evaporation and drying, which is particularly important in dry regions where surface moisture is limited. Changes in snowpack, snow cover and in atmospheric circulation patterns and storm tracks can also reduce available seasonal moisture, and contribute to droughts. Changes in SSTs and associated changes in the atmospheric circulation and precipitation have contributed to changes in drought, particularly at low latitudes. The result is that drought has become more
common, especially in the tropics and subtropics, since the 1970s.

The observed largescale pattern of changes in land precipitation over the 20th century is qualitatively consistent with simulations, suggestive of a human infl uence. An observed global trend towards increases in drought in the second half of the 20th century has been reproduced with a model by taking anthropogenic and natural forcing into account. A number of studies have now demonstrated that changes in land use, due for example to overgrazing and conversion of woodland to agriculture, are unlikely to have been the primary cause of Sahelian and Australian droughts. Comparisons between observations and models suggest that changes in monsoons, storm intensities and Sahelian rainfall are related at least in part to changes in observed SSTs.

Robust Findings:

Droughts have become more common, especially in the
tropics and subtropics, since the 1970s.

. May 4, 2009 at 5:38 pm

Heritage Foundation pushes ‘completely untrue’ attack on clean-energy jobs with a panel bought and paid for by dirty energy

The Heritage Foundation held a panel [today] titled “Busting the Myth of Green Jobs” to show that the experience of Spain is “more a cautionary tale than a blueprint for success.” Instead of showcasing the views of unbiased academics and economists, the Heritage Foundation put forth a panel of individuals financially connected to ExxonMobil.

Conservatives hate the notion of green clean energy jobs because their entire anti-science, anti-climate, anti-environment message is built around the (false) notion of a trade-off between reducing pollution and jobs (see “Mything in action: Why conservatives hate green clean energy jobs“). If you don’t care about the health and well-being of future generations, you certainly don’t care if they have good jobs (or any jobs, for that matter).

President Obama has cut through conservative myths better than anyone: “The choice we face is not between saving our environment and saving our economy. The choice we face is between prosperity and decline… We can allow climate change to wreak unnatural havoc across the landscape, or we can create jobs working to prevent its worst effects…. The nation that leads the world in creating new energy sources will be the nation that leads the 21st-century global economy.”

Betula May 5, 2009 at 9:46 am

“There is a case to be made that climate change has contributed to drought in Sudan, and that has exacerbated the conflict.”

A case can be made for anything……..however, it is impossible to directly link the drought in the Sudan to climate change due to CO2, therefore, the attempt to do so is irresponsible at best.

“While it’s not particularly credible to claim that it was a direct cause of the Marine incident in Mogadishu in 1992, it is not absurd to consider it as part of the cause of the overall conflict.”

Unless a Republican were to say something equally ridiculous, then it would be absurd.
In addition, the Marines weren’t involved and the battle took place in 1993.

Markey’s problem is that he doesn’t know the proper way to exaggerate the speculative results of hypotheticals in order to achieve a realistic perception.

Perhaps he needs a little re-education, though I’m sure he has already received it.

Betula May 5, 2009 at 9:49 am

“So, you’re disagree with the science that says global warming had anything to do with this famine?”

I disagree that you can prove AGW had anything to do with this famine.

You can’t.

Betula May 5, 2009 at 9:58 am

The links explaining the events that led to the battle in Mogidishu are not needed, as a former Captain in the Marine Corps, I am somewhat familiar with U.S. military history.

In addition, none of the links provide proof of anything other than the fact that there was a drought in the Sudan in the early 90’s or that there are “projected” droughts in the future.

Fascinating.

I would also add that the link to the IPCC’s Summary For Policy Makers is completely skewed by the biases and agendas of drafters such as Saleemul Huq.
At the same time, I can understand how a chimera could cause some to overlook that.

Betula May 5, 2009 at 10:03 am

“As for why the Kyoto Protocol wasn’t submitted to the Senate during the Clinton administration, the most likely explanation is that they had sounded out the option and decided it would not succeed.”

Of course, it could have had something to do with this:

“On 25 July 1997, before the Kyoto Protocol was finalized (although it had been fully negotiated, and a penultimate draft was finished), the U.S. Senate unanimously passed by a 95–0 vote the Byrd-Hagel Resolution (S. Res. 98),[61][62] which stated the sense of the Senate was that the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol that did not include binding targets and timetables for developing nations as well as industrialized nations or “would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyoto_Protocol#United_States

Milan May 5, 2009 at 11:08 am

A case can be made for anything……..however, it is impossible to directly link the drought in the Sudan to climate change due to CO2, therefore, the attempt to do so is irresponsible at best.

This is a very dubious argument. It’s impossible to prove that any particular case of lung cancer was caused by smoking, but it is hardly irresponsible to suggest that lung cancer in a heavy smoker may have been caused by tobacco. The link is a plausible one, and dramatically more strongly backed than the nonsense spouted above by Bachmann, Boehner, and Steele. You couldn’t find a reputable scientist who would endorse their arguments, and yet the IPCC has declared the connection between climate change and droughts in the Sahel to be a robust finding.

I would also add that the link to the IPCC’s Summary For Policy Makers is completely skewed by the biases and agendas of drafters such as Saleemul Huq.

Actually, the SPM is more conservative than the technical summaries, because it needs to be approved line-by-line by obstructionist governments like that of Saudi Arabia. If anything, the IPCC understates the strength of the evidence for anthropogenic climate change, as well as the likely severity of continuing high greenhouse gas emissions.

Regarding the Kyoto Protocol, I already lamented how slowly American politicians have gravitated towards a sane position on climate change. They have yet to catch up to where most of the developed world was a decade ago. It’s a national embarrassment that people like Bachmann, Boehner, and Steele aren’t laughed out of office.

. May 5, 2009 at 11:14 am

(Part of the How to Talk to a Global Warming Skeptic guide)

‘Climate change mitigation would lead to disaster’ —Not really, but this may be lesser of two evils

Betula May 5, 2009 at 2:30 pm

“It’s impossible to prove that any particular case of lung cancer was caused by smoking, but it is hardly irresponsible to suggest that lung cancer in a heavy smoker may have been caused by tobacco.”

Milan,
This is not a similar analogy.

We went from Markey suggesting the uncertainty of CO2 caused a drought in the Sedan, which led to a lack of food, which led to international aid supplying the nation with food, which led to warlords hording the food, which led to an intervention by U.S. troops, which led to some troops being shot ……therefore , AGW caused U.S. troops to die.

So here we forget about all the actual known causes such as the severe fighting between different coalitions that killed some 20,ooo people in 1991 and destroyed much of the agriculture or the fact that the normal climate of Somalia is one of a “year-round hot climate, seasonal monsoon winds, and irregular rainfall with recurring droughts” and instead, we concentrate on “possible” contributing causes.

Which takes us to talking about the dangers of cigarettes.

So let’s do a similar analogy with cigarettes….

Cigarette smoking may have caused Cancer in a patient, which led to chemotherapy,which led to an outside organization providing financial assistance, which led to someone stealing the financial aid, which led to the police intervening, which led to some police being shot………therefore, the smoking of cigarettes caused policemen to die.

Now let’s try it with peanuts……

CO2 may have influenced certain environmental factors that led to aflatoxin in peanuts , which led to a man in Georgia needing a liver transplant , which led to a liver from an organ donor needing to be transported by helicopter, which led to the pilot driving to the helicopter,which led to a drunk driver hitting and killing the pilot…….therefore, AGW caused the pilot to die.

You see, with a big enough imagination, AGW can be blamed for everything.
In fact, it already has………..

http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/warmlist.htm

Milan May 5, 2009 at 2:42 pm

According to the linked article, Representative Edward Markey said:

“In Somalia back in 1993, climate change, according to 11 three- and four-star generals, resulted in a drought which led to famine,”

“That famine translated to international aid we sent in to Somalia, which then led to the U.S. having to send in forces to separate all the groups that were fighting over the aid, which led to Black Hawk Down. There was this scene where we have all of our American troops under fire because they have been put into the middle of this terrible situation,”

Firstly, it would be interesting to see the report from the generals he makes reference to. Secondly, it seems important to note that Markey was speaking to a group of high school students. It is reasonable to think that he might simplify matters more for such an audience than he would for his colleagues in Congress. Also, he said that drought “led to” famine and conflict – a weaker claim than saying it was the sole and direct cause.

Thirdly, it does seem fair to say that it is plausible that climate change caused or worsened the drought, given the statements in the IPCC Technical Summary and Summary for Policymakers.

Fourthly, the broader point about Republicans saying ignorant things about climate change is not refuted by the statements of any number of Democrats, much less the relatively plausible statement made by Markey here.

Fifthly, nobody is claiming that those who support strong action on climate change always say things that are intelligent or correct. What matters is the truth of the physical characteristics of the climate system, not the unblemished accuracy of statements made by anyone concerned about it.

Milan May 5, 2009 at 2:43 pm

In short, Waxman’s comments are defensible, much more accurate than those made by the Republicans quoted above, and not of importance when evaluating the reality of climate change or how we should respond to it.

Milan May 5, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Not even the most basic elements of these Republican statements are true.

Bachmann:

“Carbon dioxide is perhaps three percent of the total atmosphere that’s in the Earth. If you take a pie chart and you have all of Earth’s atmosphere carbon dioxide is perhaps three percent of that total. What part of human activity creates carbon dioxide? If carbon dioxide is a negligible gas and it’s only three percent of Earth’s atmosphere, what part is human activity? Human activity contributes three percent of the three percent. In other words, human activity may be three percent contributing to the three percent of carbon dioxide that’s in Earth’s atmosphere.”

Actually, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is about 383 parts per million. That’s 0.0383%. Also, we know that concentrations have increased from a level of about 280ppm in pre-industrial times. As such, human activities have increased the atmospheric concentration of CO2 by about 36.8% since the Industrial Revolution. At the present rate of increase (2.5ppm per year), the concentration in 2100 would rise to 646ppm: over twice the pre-industrial level. Of course, the rate of human emissions continues to increase.

Her statement isn’t even internally consistent. She both claims that carbon dioxide is vital for all life on Earth and that it is a “negligible gas.” If it’s a negligible gas, you wouldn’t expect changes in its concentration to have much biological significance, would you?

A decently equipped high-school or university laboratory would be able to verify the current atmospheric concentration of CO2 (though you ideally want to do it far away from sources and sinks, as has been done with the Keeling Curve). Similarly, some basic experiments with exposing greenhouse gasses to different wavelengths of light can prove that they trap outgoing infrared radiation generated by the Earth as the result of incoming shortwave radiation from the sun. This behaviour has been understood for over a hundred years. John Tyndall performed such experiments back in 1859. (And, yes, water vapour is the most important, but this is not an argument against anthropogenic climate change. Water vapour is a feedback effect, not a forcing effect.)

Tristan May 5, 2009 at 4:33 pm

” Cigarette smoking may have caused Cancer in a patient, which led to chemotherapy,which led to an outside organization providing financial assistance, which led to someone stealing the financial aid, which led to the police intervening, which led to some police being shot………therefore, the smoking of cigarettes caused policemen to die.

Now let’s try it with peanuts……

CO2 may have influenced certain environmental factors that led to aflatoxin in peanuts , which led to a man in Georgia needing a liver transplant , which led to a liver from an organ donor needing to be transported by helicopter, which led to the pilot driving to the helicopter,which led to a drunk driver hitting and killing the pilot…….therefore, AGW caused the pilot to die.

In both these cases the first cause, ciggerett smoking and peanuts respectively, are connected to the final event by a series of causes. Nothing new there. However, in both cases, mediate causes are circumstantial random events – not things historians would consider interestingly results of the first cause. They both involve things happening to single people, things which were contingent. However, in the case of the famine – this is not a contingent outcome, if climate change caused the famine then it isn’t random that there was a famine, and civil strife as a response to famine isn’t just something that randomly happened once, it reliably happens – revolution comes from the pits of empty stomachs.

So, sure you can make a case for anything – but if your mediate causes are just random happenings, then the case isn’t strong. But, if the mediate cases are historically graspable causal chains of events, which are structural-societal, then then case is interesting.

. May 5, 2009 at 5:54 pm

5 May 09

U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Takes Heat From Own Membership On Climate Legislation Stance

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is facing intense criticism from some of its most prominent member companies over its staunch advocacy against current Congressional efforts to solve global warming. The Chamber has chosen to represent the extreme views of a small minority of its directors from dirty fuels industries, against the wishes of its constituents who have called for federal action on climate change and member companies who have yet to take a position on the issue.

Politico reports that Johnson & Johnson has asked the Chamber to refrain from making comments on climate change unless they “reflect the full range of views, especially those of Chamber members advocating for congressional action.”

Nike spokeswoman Anne Meyers told Politico that Nike has also been “vocal” with the Chamber’s leaders “about wanting them to take a more progressive stance on the issue of climate change.”

Instead, the Chamber has taken the hardline stance of a handful of its energy industry constituents, including coal industry giants Massey Energy, Peabody Coal and Southern Company, who continue to attack current Congressional proposals to fight rising carbon dioxide emissions.

Betula May 7, 2009 at 9:11 am

Regarding several above comments.

As I said before, a case can be made for anything…….I could have used aluminum foil or Q-tips in my analogies and it wouldn’t matter.

At this point, I would be reading how the use of aluminum foil is contingent upon policies designed to reduce the consumption of meat and how Q-tip related deaths are random events, not related to the reduction of cotton at the end of a stick just because CO2 induced climate change caused a decrease in the yield of cotton crops.

Watch out Canadiens….
http://www.cbc.ca/news/yourview/2008/02/a_cotton_swab_in_the_ear_can_k.html

In addition, just as an attempt is being made to minimize the outrageous comments of Markey, I could easily attempt to minimize the comments made by Republicans.

I could also link the absurd comments of other Democrats, which would then be minimized by someone……….

But to what end?

The difference is, I’m not attempting to defend the absurd in order to justify an ideology.

Ridiculous is ridiculous………..and bipartisan.

Betula May 7, 2009 at 9:19 am

On another note, and completely off track, in my randomly picked cotton example ( no pun intended), I accidently came across some cotton facts that some may find interesting………..

In one year, cotton plants in a typical world cotton field will extract about 10,0003,4 pounds of CO2 per acre to make the fiber, oil, protein and other plant parts.
Of those 10,000 pounds, nearly 1,0005 pounds of CO2 taken from the air is used to produce cotton fibers and about 450 6 pounds is extracted to produce some 170 pounds of vegetable oil. Cottonseed oil, as all vegetable oils are, is a rich source of energy and can be used for food, bio-fuel or industrial products providing a positive energy balance for cotton production.7
On one acre, 7,000 pounds of oxygen8 is released back into the atmosphere, enough to supply the respiratory needs of a family of 5 for two years.9
Other parts of the plant including protein and carbohydrates are fed to dairy cattle and other livestock and used for bedding. The remaining crop residues are left on the soil surface protecting soil particles from wind and water erosion and adding organic matter to the soil. Increasing soil carbon makes nutrients readily available for plants, conserving moisture and allowing roots to reach easily into the soil.
More than 80 billion pounds of CO2 were removed from the atmosphere to form the cellulose in the fiber. (While more than 1 trillion pounds of CO2 were removed by cotton plants during the growing season, most was deposited back as an amendment to the soil. The remaining 80 billion pounds is bound in fibers for a considerable period of time.)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that a typical U.S. passenger vehicle emits 11,09011 pounds of CO2 per year. Carbon sequestered in the world cotton fiber supply is the oil equivalent of taking 7.25 million passenger vehicles from the highways.

http://www.cottoninc.com/Air-Climate-Quality/Cotton-and-Global-Warming-Facts/?CFID=13823015&CFTOKEN=87822579

Milan May 7, 2009 at 10:13 am

Ridiculous is ridiculous………..and bipartisan.

The strategy still being employed by most of the Republican Party is to confuse and obscure the issue, in an attempt to prevent prompt and meaningful action. This position is either based on ignorance or a self-serving desire to avoid necessary change.

Given the risks involved in allowing unmitigated climate change to proceed, and given the urgency of action, this is not something that can be tolerated. It’s vital for weak, misleading, and incoherent arguments to be publicly identified as such. By starting serious carbon mitigation now, we will give ourselves our best chance at solving the problem at a modest cost (far less than the cost associated with ignoring it and letting climate change happen). We can also capture the opportunity to rebuild society with renewable low-carbon energy at the base: a transition that only needs to be achieved once, and which will yield benefits from that point on.

No doubt, there are some Democrats who also fail to understand the issue, and we should rebut their arguments with just as much determination.

Milan May 7, 2009 at 10:16 am

Carbon sequestered in the world cotton fiber supply is the oil equivalent of taking 7.25 million passenger vehicles from the highways.

The trouble is, it isn’t sequestered for long – at least compared with the atmospheric lifetime of CO2.

To genuinely call carbon sequestered, it needs to be in a form that will be stable for at least hundreds of thousands of years, such as when it reacts with CaCO3 or igneous rocks.

. May 7, 2009 at 10:18 am

Major climate change issues >> Carbon sinks

. May 7, 2009 at 10:26 am

How the world can (and will) stabilize at 350 to 450 ppm: The full global warming solution (updated)

In this post I will lay out “the solution” to global warming, focusing primarily on the 12 to 14 “stabilization wedges.” This post is an update to “Is 450 ppm (or less) politically possible? Part 2: The Solution.”

I have argued that stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide at 450 ppm or lower is not politically possible today, but that it is certainly achievable from an economic and technological perspective (see Part 1). I do, however, believe humanity will do it since the alternative is Hell and High Water.

It would require some 12-14 of Princeton’s “stabilization wedges” — strategies and/or technologies that over a period of a few decades each reduce global carbon emissions by one billion metric tons per year from projected levels (see technical paper here, less technical one here). The reason that we need twice as many wedges as Princeton’s Pacala and Socolow have said we need was explained in Part 1. That my analysis is largely correct can be seen here: “IEA report, Part 2: Climate Progress has the 450-ppm solution about right.”

. May 7, 2009 at 10:32 am

Is 450 ppm (or less) politically possible? Part 0: The alternative is humanity’s self-destruction

What happens if we fail to take the following actions to reverse emissions trends starting in 2009?

1. Start a cap-and-trade system that sets a serious price for CO2.

2. Launch most of the 14 to 16 major mitigation strategies (wedges) described here.

3. Begin a global effort to ban new coal plants that do not capture and store their carbon, an effort that quickly brings in China and other developing countries.

Failing to do that, we are headed to 800 to 1000 parts per million (ppm) of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

The idea of stabilizing at, say, 550 or 650 ppm, widely held a decade ago, is becoming increasingly implausible given the likelihood that major carbon cycle feedbacks would go into overdrive, swiftly taking the planet to 800 ppm or more. In particular, the top 11 feet of the tundra would probably not survive 550 ppm (a point I will be blogging about soon) and two other key carbon sinks — land-based vegetation and the oceans — already appear to be saturating. That said, even if stabilizing at 550 ppm were possible, it would probably bring catastrophic impacts and in any case requires implementing some 10 wedges starting now.

Betula May 7, 2009 at 1:55 pm

“The strategy still being employed by most of the Republican Party is to confuse and obscure the issue, in an attempt to prevent prompt and meaningful action. This position is either based on ignorance or a self-serving desire to avoid necessary change.”

And I would argue that the strategy being employed by the Democrats is to exaggerate and falsify the issue, in an attempt to enhance prompt and extreme actions designed to redistribute global wealth under the guise of creating climate consistency.

The position is based on an ideology that Capitalism is evil and Republicans and Christians (only Christians, not Muslims or any other religion) are blocking the road to utopia.

Step back from the skewed scientific predictions for one moment and look at the methods through which AGW is being presented…….

If someone were to be intellecually honest in presenting, not fact, but possibilities, why would they have to resort to using phrases like “the debate is over” , unless they were attempting to portray the possibilities as fact?

If someone were willing to stand on the merits of the evidence alone, why would they have to through the effort of creating a perception that Polar Bears are dropping like flies and put out misleading images of Bears stranded on an iceberg?

Where are the pictures of the blood covered face of an angry Polar Bear sinking it’s nasty teeth into the skull of a cute baby Seal?

If someone were convinced that a “consensus” of scientists were the final word, then why the need to create a false perception that the 2500 members of the IPCC were all scientists?

If someone believed so much in the urgency of a situation, and needed everyones help to solve that situation, would they resort to broadly insulting , labeling and stereotyping anyone who questioned them as a strategy to bring them on board?

If somone were to present an honest, unbiased scenario of futuristic possibitities, would they only concentrate on the negative side of cause and effect without consideration to the positive?

If someone believes that CO2 output has the potential to destroy life as we know it, wouldn’t they be more concerned about policies eliminating all forms of unecessary CO2 output such as those related to leisure, vacations, recreation and entertainment.
Why am I tuning on TV and seeing NASCAR or Motorcross? How can we have the XGames or Baseball or Soccer or Football? Why am I seeing Hollywood award progams ? Why are the Broadway lights on? Why do we have Broadway shows and plays or carnivals or fairs or Disney theme parks or cruise liners or Air shows or snowmobiles or ski lifts or horse races or casinos or movie theaters etc. etc and on and on.
These things serve no purpose except to destroy the poor nations and eventually destroy us all, yet we let them exist even though we are running out of time.

And how about that strategy of creating a social perception with phrases like climate change instead of global warming…….

Or how about the strategy of seeking truth by creating a site that’s purpose is how to talk to someone who may disagree or have other ideas.

Milan, the bottom line is that selling is being done, on both sides, to create a perception to reach a desired result…….it’s has been done since the beginning of man.

The common theme in these science blogs is to lump all the wealthy into the evil catagory, to put the blame of the worlds problems on wretched Capitalism and to increase policies that punish success and reward failure.

That’s why many believe this isn’t about AGW at all, but about the policies that lead to Global fairness and redistribution of wealth.
Why not just be honest and say that ? Because it wouldn’t fly.

So it is assumed most people are ignorant, and can be molded into accepting a manufactured societal perception of feeling guilty for their successes or disdain for those who are successful.
Those that don’t accept it, can only do so out of “ignorance or a self-serving desire to avoid necessary change.” Which is all part of the marketing strategy.

Exaggerating scary hypotheticals works on some but not all. Creating negative perceptions through social pressures, are created, and therefore do not work on all. Assuming only worst case senarios, are assumptions, and therefore do not work on all, and denigrating entire classes of people is denigrating, and therefore is not a good marketing tool.

And after all, the bottom line here is marketing……

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/02/us/politics/02enviro.html?_r=2

R.K. May 7, 2009 at 4:50 pm

Reading comments like the above makes me very depressed. It shows that smart people can apply decent logical practices, yet still end up completely misled about an issue.

The atmosphere doesn’t care about politics, and we have an ever-better understanding of how it responds to greenhouse gasses. The risks are such that we need to stop emitting them. The rest is details.

. May 7, 2009 at 5:02 pm

Republican incoherence on climate change

Posted 11:33 AM on 6 May 2009
by David Roberts

There’s been lots of bashing of Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) here on Grist lately—see Kate here, Brad here—and with good reason. The guy has a good chance of being the next Republican House leader and he is, to put it bluntly, dumb as a box of hair. Guy like this, it’s hard to know if he’s lying, exactly, because you can never really tell whether he understands the situation well enough to distinguish lies from truth. But he certainly says lots of incorrect things.

Anyway, though, this post isn’t mainly about Pence. It’s about Republicans and climate change and how both the media and the Dems should be approaching the subject.

Now, there’s been lots of discussion and ridicule of both these clips, but most of it has focused on the scientific illiteracy. And yes, it’s amazing that after all this time, after all these hearings, neither of these Republican leaders seem to have the faintest understanding of what the problem is even supposed to be. A “carcinogen”? WTF?

But to me the more significant aspect is that Stephanopoulos and Matthews have finally done something that, astonishingly, virtually no mainstream journalists have, which is press Republicans on what their solution to climate change is.

The public largely understands that this is a problem; they largely accept the science. They get nervous when specific solutions are discussed, which is why Republicans want to spend all their time talking about the Dems’ “national energy tax.” But they do believe that this is a problem that needs to be addressed.

And on that terrain, Republicans are completely a mess—a familiar mess, trapped between their increasingly loopy base and the American mainstream. Their base is full of flat-earthers that don’t believe the scientific consensus. Limbaugh, Beck, and the rest will be outraged if a Republican leader acknowledges that it’s a real problem. On the other hand, the public and the establishment accept that it’s a problem and are in the midst of debating solutions. So Republicans have to offer something. That’s where the coal- and nuke-heavy “all of the above” nonsense comes in.

. May 7, 2009 at 5:09 pm

GOP Rep. Pence Says “Science is Very Mixed” on Global Warming, Lies Again Twice About MIT Study on MSNBC

By Kevin Grandia on Waxman-Markey

Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) was on a roll Tuesday with three appearances on MSNBC in which he lied twice about the cost of reducing carbon emissions and asserted that global warming is a liberal myth.

Pence told MSNBC host Chris Matthews that “I think the science is very mixed on the subject of global warming.”

Documenting his grasp of scientific reality, Pence went on to state that creationism is “fundamental truth.” Matthews responded, “Did you take biology in school? … If your party wants to be credible on science, you gotta accept science. Do you?”

Pence ducked the direct question, but told Matthews that “In the mainstream media, there is a denial of the growing skepticism in the scientific community on global warming.”

Matthews put Pence in his place, telling him that “I don’t think your party is passionately committed to science, or to fighting global warming, or to dealing with the scientific facts we live with.”

Milan May 7, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Not only is the debate on the key scientific elements of climate over, it has been over for decades. Furthermore, even organizations like the Global Climate Coalition have been told so by their own scientists.

Now, we need to be thinking about solutions.

Emily May 7, 2009 at 6:10 pm

I agree with Betula!

“Where are the pictures of the blood covered face of an angry Polar Bear sinking it’s nasty teeth into the skull of a cute baby Seal?”

http://weeklythem.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/polarbearseating.jpg

You’re right. We need more bad press for the polar bears, and less cutting down on carbon emissions. We need more free market exploitation of third world countries, and less mamby pambying about the ‘failures’ of capitalism.

Guys, let’s just forget about this lefty ‘science’ hype, and invest in the Slap n’ Chop industry.

What are we Canadian hippie wannabe-Democrats so excited about? It’s not like the Antarctic is falling apart, and it’s not like people in Australia are dying in drought induced wild-fires!

Milan, put away the patchouli, put your investment banker suit on, and for Christ’s sake, eat a steak already.

Your conscientious efforts to relay the seriousness of climate-related science and political issues is really cramping my style.

Why don’t we ever hear about *this* on your commie blog??

http://www.asseenontvvideo.com/511710/Slap-Chop.html

Milan May 7, 2009 at 6:55 pm

The science blog RealClimate put it best in their (entirely serious) final post, on April 1st of this year:

“We would like to apologize to our loyal readers who have provided us so much support since we first went online in December 2004. However, after listening to the compelling arguments of the distinguished speakers who participated in the Heartland Institute’s recent global warming contrarian conference, we have decided that the science is settled — in favor of the contrarians. Indeed, even IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri has now admitted that anthropogenic climate change was a massive hoax after all. Accordingly, RealClimate no longer has a reason for existence. The contrarians have made a convincing case that (a) global warming isn’t happening, (b) even if it is, its entirely natural and within the bounds of natural variability, (c) well, even if its not natural, it is modest in nature and not a threat, (d) even if anthropogenic warming should turn out to be pronounced as projected, it will sure be good for us, leading to abundant crops and a healthy environment, and (e) well, it might actually be really bad, but hey, its unstoppable anyway. (Can we get our check now?)”

Peter May 8, 2009 at 2:33 am

Betula,

“That’s why many believe this isn’t about AGW at all, but about the policies that lead to Global fairness and redistribution of wealth. Why not just be honest and say that ? Because it wouldn’t fly.”

I support a more equal distribution of global wealth, and I am proud to say it. However, I treat it as a separate issue that sometimes coincides with concerns over climate change. (global warming – whatever your preference). I think there is a strong case that these are distinct issues, because manufacturing global warming is a very inefficient way to secure redistribution. (1) As you’ve noted, it isn’t direct. (2) It produces special limitations to limit emissions with no redistributive effects. (3) The connections between distributive justice and global warming are contextual and (4) incidental. To expand on these points:

(1) Why go through the process of an elaborate fabrication to effect redistribution? I understand your point, climate changes has been framed as a moral issues, and moral obligation is useful for affecting a transfer of wealth, etc. However, there are other arguments regarding moral responsibility that attach directly to the issues of distribution. One potential reason you offer is that few people take arguments concerning distributive justice seriously, but few people seem to be taking global warming very seriously either, so it seems like a pretty ineffective strategy.

(2) Your point about how could daily life continue as normal if there is a consensus about a grave threat is well taken, (Although, the argument was about a scientific consensus, rather than popular opinion. However, your point is strongest when considering how people choose to frame the effects) and I think builds on some of the suggestions you’ve made about hypocrisy. You can ask, why does Milan still debate flying at all if human existence is at stake? But I’d like to know, on your account, how does Milan’s agonizing over flying affect redistribution? (1) and (2) are strongly related. This already indirect strategy is made even more so by having to endorse costly, restrictive policies that doesn’t aid redistribution. This suggests there is real concern over emissions.

(3) Issues of distributive justice only tend to arise in the emission reduction discourse within the context of what we owe “developing” states for imposing limitations on them. Even a capitalist can appreciate this. If we don’t let them develop the way we did historically and don’t compensate them, we are (i) interfering in the market, and (ii) hypocritical. If there isn’t actual concern over emissions, then imposing limitations is protectionism, and the wealthy are only justified if it is deserved – i.e. there is unrestrained competition. So most of the talk about what is owed comes in the form of compensation for not using oil and goal to industrialize. I don’t think it is anti-capitalist or anti-Christian to advocate for technology transfers to help cope with the restrictions we put on other people. The other context, which is considerably more suited to your criticism, is discussion about what is owed to others as a result of our development. Generally, this takes the form of an assertion that we owe “undeveloped” states compensation for the harms they suffer as a result of global warming. Here is where I think you run into trouble; you don’t have to be weary about moral obligations to compensate (even if you think they are fictions), if you think that global warming has been fabricated solely to facilitate wealth redistribution, because the logic of those claims entails that if there is no actual harm, there is no need to compensate. So if it warming isn’t really happening, why should any amount of discussion about compensation concern you?

(4) The connections are incidental because the goals can be achieved independently, and the approaches might come in conflict. Reducing poverty and increasing affluence is likely to result in more emissions. Even on topics where there is potential agreement, like Rethinking Abstinence, if one were to believe that development was required to reduce the birthrate, than it runs the risk of increasing emissions. Consequently, there are many arguments for sustainability and emission reductions that aren’t redistributive. Arguments from self-interest – screw the third world, think about what will global warming do to us! Arguments for energy security – lets get off oil because we hate terrorists. Arguments for economic growth – we need to transition to a green economy so we can remain innovators and technological leaders. Since you can make these separate arguments, it is possible to envision a plan that addresses climate change that doesn’t affect redistribution. One could even absurdly argue that climate change is a fabrication from capitalists to restrain the development of “underdeveloped” states and to sell the next wave of products. I don’t believe that, but it illustrates the point that the connections that one doesn’t necessarily have to advocate distributive justice to achieve emissions reductions.

Lastly, I with to briefly state that, whatever else you may think of Milan, he seems very sincere in his concern about climate change. At times he seems like he would be willing to sell out both democracy and concerns of distributive justice if it would reduce emissions. So I think you’re concern over whether he argues in good faith is unfounded.

Milan May 8, 2009 at 3:48 pm

Betula,

The position is based on an ideology that Capitalism is evil and Republicans and Christians (only Christians, not Muslims or any other religion) are blocking the road to utopia.

Firstly, religion has nothing directly to do with dealing with climate change. That being said, ideology does affect how people respond to the challenge it poses. Secondly, nobody is searching for a “road to utopia.” We are trying to avoid the worst consequences climate change could have. As a nice secondary side-effect, achieving that will also require us to transform our energy system into one that is far more sustainable.

If someone were to be intellecually honest in presenting, not fact, but possibilities, why would they have to resort to using phrases like “the debate is over” , unless they were attempting to portray the possibilities as fact?

As I said before, the scientific debate on the key elements of climate change (that it is happening, we are causing it, and that it’s dangerous) has been over for a long time. The debate that continues in politics and the media is largely the product of ignorance and manipulation

If someone were convinced that a “consensus” of scientists were the final word, then why the need to create a false perception that the 2500 members of the IPCC were all scientists?

The analysis conducted by the IPCC is probably the most rigorous and extensive scientific treatment that has ever been devoted to a particular issue. Certainly, not all those involved are scientists. That being said, the conclusions of the IPCC are the product of some of the most scrutinized and verified science that has ever been carried out.

If somone were to present an honest, unbiased scenario of futuristic possibitities, would they only concentrate on the negative side of cause and effect without consideration to the positive?

Many serious climate change studies have taken into consideration positive consequences of climate change. For instance, the Stern Review did so. What they have found is that, for the kind of warming projected to occur as the result of maintaining or increasing current emissions, the harm vastly outweighs the benefit in all regions. I encourage you to have a look at the Stern Review or Stern’s new book for more information.

If someone believes that CO2 output has the potential to destroy life as we know it, wouldn’t they be more concerned about policies eliminating all forms of unecessary CO2 output such as those related to leisure, vacations, recreation and entertainment.

Why am I tuning on TV and seeing NASCAR or Motorcross? How can we have the XGames or Baseball or Soccer or Football? Why am I seeing Hollywood award progams ? Why are the Broadway lights on? Why do we have Broadway shows and plays or carnivals or fairs or Disney theme parks or cruise liners or Air shows or snowmobiles or ski lifts or horse races or casinos or movie theaters etc. etc and on and on.

These things serve no purpose except to destroy the poor nations and eventually destroy us all, yet we let them exist even though we are running out of time.

The idea behind effective climate change policy is to replace high-emission activities with lower- and eventually zero-emission ones. This will require many kinds of policy and many kinds of change. For instance, carbon pricing will affect both the absolute and relative prices of different options, leading to changes being made by firms and consumers. Regulation will affect both how energy is produced and used.

While it sometimes makes sense to target specific activities, dealing with climate change really requires revamping our whole energy system: something that is done at a higher level by replacing fossil fuels with other forms of energy, while protecting and enhancing carbon sinks such as forests.

If someone were willing to stand on the merits of the evidence alone, why would they have to through the effort of creating a perception that Polar Bears are dropping like flies and put out misleading images of Bears stranded on an iceberg?

Where are the pictures of the blood covered face of an angry Polar Bear sinking it’s nasty teeth into the skull of a cute baby Seal?

If someone believed so much in the urgency of a situation, and needed everyones help to solve that situation, would they resort to broadly insulting , labeling and stereotyping anyone who questioned them as a strategy to bring them on board?

And how about that strategy of creating a social perception with phrases like climate change instead of global warming…….

Or how about the strategy of seeking truth by creating a site that’s purpose is how to talk to someone who may disagree or have other ideas.

Milan, the bottom line is that selling is being done, on both sides, to create a perception to reach a desired result…….it’s has been done since the beginning of man.

On your various ‘messaging’ points, I agree that these are issues of tactics and strategy. They have nothing to do with the physical reality of climate change, though they do have an effect on how we will respond to it. Saying that you dislike how someone goes about expressing an idea doesn’t mean you think their idea is wrong.

common theme in these science blogs is to lump all the wealthy into the evil catagory, to put the blame of the worlds problems on wretched Capitalism and to increase policies that punish success and reward failure.

That’s why many believe this isn’t about AGW at all, but about the policies that lead to Global fairness and redistribution of wealth.
Why not just be honest and say that ? Because it wouldn’t fly.

Wealth is not the problem: greenhouse gas emissions are. What is necessary is not to punish wealth or force austerity, but rather to ensure that people living all sorts of lives start doing so in a manner that is compatible with maintaining a stable climate.

On the matter of redistributing wealth, there is a strong case to be made for some of it. For decades, governments have been aware that climate change will cause real harm to current and future generations all around the world. It makes sense that those who willfully continued to emit large quantities of greenhouse gasses should pay some compensation.

Furthermore, there is the basic issue of effectiveness. If India, China, Brazil, South Africa, and others are to decarbonize according to the scale and the timeframe required, they will need technical and financial support from rich states. As pointed out in the Romm pieces linked above, the alternative is not worsened conditions in poor states with no effect in rich ones. The alternative to strong climate action is the serious degrading of the quality of life in all states. By helping developing states reduce emissions, developed states are helping themselves.

Milan May 8, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Peter,

Reading Romm’s post gives a taste of why I think climate change is a pivotal issue. It’s hard to see how democracy or improvements in overall human welfare could possibly endure beyond the end of this century if we follow a business-as-usual timeline, push atmospheric concentrations to around 1000ppm, and experience 5° to 7°C of mean global temperature increase.

If we manage to deal with climate change, we will also have many other concerns to address. If we fail to deal with it, however, most of those other concerns will seem relatively trivial by comparison.

Betula May 8, 2009 at 4:38 pm

R.K. says….

“Reading comments like the above makes me very depressed.”

Perhaps a Democrat can uplift your spirit with these soothing words…… “Global warming will make World War look like Heaven.”
http://hotair.com/archives/2007/03/14/video-edwards-says-global-warming-will-make-world-war-look-like-heaven/

That should cheer you up…….now more people will be scared into taking immediate action.
As a side note, Mr. Edwards will be lecturing about abstinence on the “Rethinking Abstinence” thread at a later time.

“It shows that smart people can apply decent logical practices, yet still end up completely misled about an issue.”

If you think my comments regarding how the AGW strategy is to mislead are logical, then how am I being misled?

“The atmosphere doesn’t care about politics”

You’re right, people care about politics, you know, scientists, politicians, activists,economists and bloggers. Now if we could only get the atmosphere to care about people.

R.K. May 8, 2009 at 4:58 pm

If you think my comments regarding how the AGW strategy is to mislead are logical, then how am I being misled?

You can apply logic and still end up with a false conclusion. Firstly, having logical connections between assumptions and conclusions doesn’t guarantee that your conclusions are correct, since your assumptions could be faulty. Secondly, there is almost always the need to consider the relative strength of different arguments. Failing to do so well can also leave you believing something false.

You have been misled into believing that climate change may not be real, may not be a problem, or may be a cover for nefarious international redistribution.

It is real, it is a problem, and (as was pointed out above) it will only lead to significant redistribution once rich states realize that helping poor states decarbonize their development is the best way to save their own bacon.

Matt May 8, 2009 at 5:31 pm

It’s interesting that the neo-conservative movement (for lack of a better term) is so willing to align itself on the wrong side of history. Past examples of course include women’s rights and the civil rights/desegregation movement. Emerging examples include gay rights and climate change. When people 50 years from now look back on these emerging examples, they will shake their heads as they do now when they think of the past examples.

“As a side note, Mr. Edwards will be lecturing about abstinence on the “Rethinking Abstinence” thread at a later time.”

You’re not as witty as you think. A politician’s marital infidelity is in no way related to the discussion at hand, and neither Democrats nor “wide-stance” Republicans hold a monopoly on indiscretions.

Milan May 8, 2009 at 5:35 pm

It’s interesting that the neo-conservative movement (for lack of a better term) is so willing to align itself on the wrong side of history.

Isn’t this almost definitional? Wherever major societal changes are proposed, conservatives will oppose them. Wherever such changes actually do occur, the conservatives will be defeated.

I suppose one nuance concerns changes that are later seen as almost entirely beneficial, such as abolishing slavery. There, conservatives of the past look especially foolish (or worse) for having defended the practice at the time.

R.K. May 8, 2009 at 5:48 pm

On the other side of the equation, there are instances in which conservatives have resisted bad ideas put forward by liberals and radicals.

In some cases, they were able to block them and people are now generally grateful for it. In others, the ideas went through regardless, turned out to be bad, and got replaced.

For good policy-making, you need a balance between vision and caution.

Incidentally, on climate change, both vision and caution call for strong mitigation action. The former does so because the anticipate the harm it will cause, and the benefits of carbon-neutral renewable energy. The latter also does, because climate change so profoundly threatens our way of life.

Matt May 8, 2009 at 5:50 pm

Isn’t this almost definitional?

It depends on which type of conservatism you’re talking of. I would think that the type that claims to embrace freedom, self-determination, limited government, etc. would be in favour of women’s suffrage, de-segregation and gay rights. The type that endorses capitalism (not mutually exclusive to the above type, and I don’t personally think this is a liberal/conservative issue) should love the big money generating opportunity that addressing climate change presents.

Milan May 8, 2009 at 8:41 pm

I was thinking of the Edmund Burke conservatism: traditions exist for a reason, be wary of attempts to engineer society, etc.

Betula May 9, 2009 at 9:39 am

“You have been misled into believing that climate change may not be real, may not be a problem, or may be a cover for nefarious international redistribution.”

R.K., are you talking about global warming, AGW, climate change or man made climate change? Which one have I been misled about?

I realize there has been a warming trend, so i’m not misled about that.
I realize the climate is always changing so i’m not misled about that.
That would leave AGW or man made climate change, which in this case I assume are one in the same.
So am I being misled that man hasn’t already changed the climate or that man is not going to change the climate in the future?

If I am being misled that man hasn’t already changed the climate, then am I to believe that any current inconsistency in the climate is due to man?

Recent California wildfires are due to global warming…….
http://newsbusters.org/blogs/brent-baker/2007/10/23/without-proof-nbc-presumes-global-warming-blame-wild-fires

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Iy3gTjNrKM

Recent tornados are due to global warming…….
http://www.breitbart.tv/?p=42874&comments=1

And if I am being misled that man will not change the climate in the future, then am I to believe that all possible catastrophic future scenarios are fact?

Betula May 9, 2009 at 9:56 am

Emily,

I love the picture!

The only drawback is it doesn’t show a baby seal crying out for it’s mother. Some people may make the mistake of assuming the Polar Bears just ate an activist that was coming to their rescue.
This could lead to some very unpleasant bumper stickers such as “Save An Activist, Kill A Polar Bear” , and that would be sending the wrong message.
What we really need to do is find an abandoned baby seal and give it a cute name, like Knut or something, and say it’s mother was killed by the Polar Bears. Perhaps we could then sell bumper stickers like “Save A Seal, Feed A Polar Bear”, to help raise money for little Knut. Of course, this may lead to the disappearance of more activists.

The ironic thing is, we would be placing the sticker on the bumper of the very thing that could actually be helping to save the Seals

“We need more bad press for the polar bears, and less cutting down on carbon emissions.”

Emily, I’m not necessarily saying we need more bad press for the Polar Bears, or that we shouldn’t cut back on waste, what I’m saying is we need more misleading press to protect the Seals.

Betula May 9, 2009 at 10:06 am

Emily..
It is understandable how you can only see the failures of capitalism over the past 200 years, I too, am hard pressed to find any successes.

I think where we disagree is in your portrayal of the Slap n’ Chop.

I’ll have you know, Slap n’ Chop is the carbon free answer to the blender. If we could somehow apply this same innovation to other aspects of our lives, we could all save money on carbon offsets.

Imagine placing a similar item on the bottom of your shoes for tilling the soil, or cutting your grass……..we could save up to 5000 lives a year from “carcinogen” causing CO2 alone!
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/1161895.stm

Milan May 9, 2009 at 11:40 am

All energy available on Earth (with the singular exception of the energy in heavy fissionable elements) derives from the sun. The balance between the amount of energy entering the Earth system from space and the amount of energy re-radiating into space determines how much energy remains on the planet. That balance is in turn affected by the composition of the atmosphere – specifically by the concentrations of ‘greenhouse gasses.’ These gasses absorb the long wave radiation emitted by all bodies in the universe. After absorbing some of the energy the Earth is radiating towards space, they redirect some back towards the planet. Naturally occurring greenhouse gasses have been playing this role for as long as the planet has been habitable. At the same time, the introduction of large volumes of additional greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere causes additional warming, with a variety of consequences for the physical and biological systems at work on the planet. Knowledge about the nature of greenhouse gasses has existed since John Tyndall published the results of his experiments in 1859; the first calculations of what effect human greenhouse gas emissions would have on the planetary system were conducted by Svante Arrhenius in 1896.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established in 1988 with a mandate to evaluate all the peer-reviewed scientific work that had been done on climate change and draw conclusions about the nature of the issue for humanity. Like the systemic reviews used in evidence-based medicine, these were not original research. Rather, they were attempts to synthesize all the science that had been done to the point where each report was completed, in order to produce conclusions as authoritative and well-evidenced as possible. Each of the four assessment reports (1990, 1995, 2001 and 2007) has demonstrated progressively greater certainty about climatic science, and each has included the most authoritative scientific conclusions available at the time.

Some gasses are much more effective at stopping outgoing radiation than others, making each tonne of gas contribute more to the greenhouse effect across a particular timespan. The strength of greenhouse gasses is measured relative to the strength of carbon dioxide. Methane is 25 times more powerful, across a 100 year time period. Nitrous oxide is 298 times more powerful, while halocarbons are thousands to tens of thousands of times more powerful. Emissions are frequently expressed in terms of ‘greenhouse gas equivalent.’ One tonne of greenhouse gas equivalent consists of a mass of greenhouse gasses that causes as much warming over 100 years as a tonne of CO2 does. This could be comprised of any mixture of greenhouse gasses.

Our knowledge of the history of the climate derives from a branch of science called paleoclimatology, which uses evidence from ocean and lake sediments, ice cores, tree rings, rocks, and other sources to determine what temperature and atmospheric conditions prevailed in the recent to distant past. By examining that history, the relationships between different parts of the climate system can be uncovered, and the present situation can be compared with those that existed previously. Ice core samples from Antarctica provide evidence about the amount of ice on Earth, the temperature, and the concentrations of greenhouse gasses going back more than 650,000 years. Such records show that the climate system is complex and dynamic. They also show that it includes self-reinforcing ‘feedback’ effects, which can amplify the effect of relatively minor changes in atmospheric composition. Feedback effects are akin to what happens when a microphone is placed too close to a speaker: the energy loops back on itself and becomes progressively more amplified. Paleoclimatic records show us that the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is already significantly higher than at any point in the last 650,000 years. Because of the time it takes for any change to filter through the entire climate system, much of the warming that will eventually occur in response to these emissions has yet to take place.

Every year, human beings emit approximately 29 billion tonnes (gigatonnes) of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. These ongoing emissions increase the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide. It has already risen from approximately 290 parts per million (ppm) prior to the Industrial Revolution to 385 ppm in 2008. This concentration increase was both anticipated and observed by the scientific community. In 1936, Guy Callendar found that the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide was 289 ppm, and that at the present level of emissions it would increase to 314 ppm by 2000. This estimate implied a rate of increase of 0.39 ppm per year. Because of higher annual emissions, the concentration of carbon dioxide is currently rising by 2.0 ppm per year. About half of the uncertainty described in IPCC reports about the extent of future changes derives from uncertainty about the level of future emissions. For example, in 2000 the IPCC made projections based on a range of scenarios – some with lower and some with higher emissions. Actual 2006 global emissions were higher than those in even the most high-carbon scenario.

The ‘Keeling Curve‘ consists of carbon dioxide concentration data recorded by Charles Keeling at the Mauna Loa Observatory, starting in 1957. It demonstrates the unambiguous rise of carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere.

Similar recordings for other gasses also demonstrate unambiguous increases. Methane has risen from 700 parts per billion (ppb) before the Industrial Revolution to over 1,700 ppb now. Nitrous oxide has risen from 270 to 314 ppb. Halocarbons, such as CFCs, are entirely artificial chemicals. As such, they did not exist in the atmosphere prior to their development in the 1920s.

Milan May 9, 2009 at 11:45 am

If you want an excellent account of the history of climatic science, see:

Weart, Spencer. (2003). The discovery of global warming. Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press.

It is also available online: The Discovery of Global Warming

For an equally good discussion of the long-term history of climate and how natural climate variation and human-induced climate change differ, see:

Alley, Richard. The Two Mile Time Machine. Ice Cores, Abrupt Climate Change, and Our Future.

For a very interesting discussion of the carbon cycle from a biological perspective, see:

Morton, Oliver. Eating the Sun: How Plants Power the Planet.

Milan May 9, 2009 at 11:46 am

See also:

Joint science academies’ statement: Global response to climate change
7 Jun 2005

The national science academies of the G8 nations and Brazil, China and India, three of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the developing world, have signed a statement on the global response to climate change.

The statement stresses that the scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action and calls on world leaders, including those meeting at the G8 summit at Gleneagles in July 2005, to do the following.

* Acknowledge that the threat of climate change is clear and increasing

* Launch an international study to explore scientifically-informed targets for atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, and their associated emissions scenarios, that will enable nations to avoid impacts deemed unacceptable.

* Identify cost-effective steps that can be taken now to contribute to substantial and long-term reduction in net global greenhouse gas emissions. Recognise that delayed action will increase the risk of adverse environmental effects and will likely incur a greater cost.

* Work with developing nations to build a scientific and technological capacity best suited to their circumstances, enabling them to develop innovative solutions to mitigate and adapt to the adverse effects of climate change, while explicitly recognising their legitimate development rights.

* Show leadership in developing and deploying clean energy technologies and approaches to energy efficiency, and share this knowledge with all other nations.

* Mobilise the science and technology community to enhance research and development efforts, which can better inform climate change decisions.

Betula May 9, 2009 at 2:21 pm

“I suppose one nuance concerns changes that are later seen as almost entirely beneficial, such as abolishing slavery. There, conservatives of the past look especially foolish (or worse) for having defended the practice at the time.”

And all this time I thought Lincoln was a Republican.

Milan May 9, 2009 at 3:08 pm

This feels less and less like a serious conversation.

Perhaps you can offer an alternative explanation for the observed consequences of climate change, including mean global temperature increase, displacement of species, changes in precipitation, loss of sea ice and glaciers, etc.

Tristan May 9, 2009 at 3:25 pm

Lincoln was a republican. Don’t assume current party lines are two hundred years old – the republicans used to be on the left, and the current democratic party didn’t exist then.

Milan May 11, 2009 at 2:24 pm

And if I am being misled that man will not change the climate in the future, then am I to believe that all possible catastrophic future scenarios are fact?

The catastrophic consequences of continuing on our present course aren’t really a speculative matter. We know that the climate system responds to changes in the concentration of greenhouse gasses, and we know that we are changing those concentrations at a high and ever-increasing rate.

It is worth remembering that estimates of temperature increases of 5.5°C to 7.1°C are the expected outcome of business-as-usual emissions, not some worst-case estimate. A world that much hotter than ours is indeed one that would be profoundly hostile to human life. Averting those outcomes requires that we sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to the point where humanity has no net effect on their concentrations.

Betula May 11, 2009 at 10:28 pm

“This feels less and less like a serious conversation.”

A few observations about serious conversations……

Just because you answer a point doesn’t mean the point is answered.

Example: Regarding my “messaging points”, where I was refering to misleading strategies by alarmists. You stated…

“Saying that you dislike how someone goes about expressing an idea doesn’t mean you think their idea is wrong.”

But it could mean I think the way they go about expressing an idea is misleading. Which is what I was talking about.

I asked why the IPCC would be portrayed as 2500 scientists, which is misleading. Not answered.

I asked why Polar Bears would be portrayed as dying from AGW, which is misleading. Not answered.

I asked why a misleading picture, that has nothing to do with AGW would be used to promote AGW. Not answered.

I could go on…….but it’s getting old.

Yet, I am the one who is being misled.

On another note, we want serious conversation, yet only show outrageous comments from Republicans, then, when shown outrageous comments by Democrats, attempt to stretch the facts to defend them…..

I don’t know if I take that seriously.

You can’t honestly believe linking the deaths in Mogadishu to AGW is good science.

You can’t honestly believe it’s good science to say the California wildfires a few years back were caused by AGW.

You can’t honestly believe linking recent Tornados to AGW without any proof is good science……or wise.

If you don’t believe these comments represent good science, yet defend them for the good of the cause…..then perhaps I’m being “misled” about the seriousness of the conversation.

Just so you realize, I didn’t link outrageous comments by elected Democrats to justify outrageous comments by elected Republicans. I linked them to show there’s more than one side to reality.

For example, if someone were to be upset by the “armed and dangerous”comments of Bachmann, shouldn’t they be equally upset with Al Gore who said….”I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration,”

But they aren’t, because it’s for the good of the cause, besides, it’s Al Gore.

Should I take that seriously, or am I being misled?

Betula May 11, 2009 at 11:25 pm

“Perhaps you can offer an alternative explanation for the observed consequences of climate change, including mean global temperature increase, displacement of species, changes in precipitation, loss of sea ice and glaciers, etc”

I would be more worried if these things weren’t happening.

That would mean the temperatures are always the same, species never adapt or migrate, precipitation is constant and sea ice never fluctuates.

The admitted complexities and uncertainties of the atmosphere would become simple and cetain and there would be a lack of diversification.

Is the need for a global mean temperature a way for us to satisfy our desire for answers? How effective is it?
I suppose if I were to measure the temperature in my attic, my main floor and my basement, I could find the mean temperature of my house. If the temperature in the attic were to rise, the mean temperature of the house would rise, yet it wouldn’t be felt on the main floor or in the basement……

Regarding the dispalcement of species. Are you refering to all species or some specific species like some Butterflies in Europe that moved 30 miles north.

Here on the East Coast of the U.S. we have had an explosion in the Deer population as well as influx of Wild Turkeys which weren’t around a few years back. This has led to Coyotes moving into the area to take advantage of the abundant wildlife.

This wasn’t a result of AGW, but rather from a large supply of rural landscape plants for the Deer to eat and a lack of predators ( including hunters) for the Deer and Turkeys.

Regarding precipitation……are you talking about regionally or globally? The NOAA states………”Globally-averaged land-based precipitation shows a statistically insignificant upward trend with most of the increase occurring in the first half of the 20th century.”

Statistcally insignificant.

As far as ice…….sea ice is melting and glaciers are shrinking, yet sea ice is thickening and some glaciers are growing.

Am I to assume that the only flucuations in ice since the beginning of time have occured in the past 100 years?

Incidently, I’m starting a petition to stop the continued destruction of Gondwana…
“The Red Sea and East African Rift are modern examples of the continuing dismemberment of Gondwana.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gondwana

. May 12, 2009 at 12:13 am

UK Met Office

The big picture

Climate change is a complex subject, with genuine areas of uncertainty and scientific controversy. There are also a number of misunderstandings which are recycled, often by non-climate scientists, and portrayed as scientific fact. As one of the world’s leading centres on climate change we believe it is important to address all the issues. In this section you will find the known facts about climate change.

Fact 1
Climate change is happening and humans are contributing to it.

Fact 2
Temperatures are continuing to rise.

Fact 3
The current climate change is not just part of a natural cycle.

Fact 4
Recent warming cannot be explained by the Sun or natural factors alone.

Fact 5
If we continue emitting greenhouse gases this warming will continue and delaying action will make the problem more difficult to fix.

Fact 6
Climate models predict the main features of future climate.

Milan May 14, 2009 at 11:03 am

Betula,

I asked why the IPCC would be portrayed as 2500 scientists, which is misleading. Not answered.

Who is making the claim and why does it matter? The IPCC represents the most authoritative statement on climate science, and it clearly supports the fact that climate change is real, human-induced, and dangerous.

No organization consists entirely of scientists, but the key evaluative work undertaken by the IPCC was done by experts in a methodologically sound way.

I asked why Polar Bears would be portrayed as dying from AGW, which is misleading. Not answered.

Some are already dying due to loss of sea ice and other climate change effects. The whole species is certainly profoundly threatened by the fact that arctic summer sea ice is set to vanish, probably well before the end of the century.

I could go on…….but it’s getting old.

This is certainly getting old. I don’t think you have presented any valid reasons for doubting the scientific consensus on climate change, and the depth and breadth of scientific agreement on the key questions is astonishing.

I asked why a misleading picture, that has nothing to do with AGW would be used to promote AGW. Not answered.

This is just silly. The way in which any random person uses any random photo has nothing to do with the reality of how greenhouse gasses affect the atmosphere. You are really clutching at straws here.

For example, if someone were to be upset by the “armed and dangerous”comments of Bachmann, shouldn’t they be equally upset with Al Gore who said….”I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration,”

I agree with Gore. The time has arrived for serious political action to prevent new coal, including acts of civil disobedience. New coal plants will be emitting unacceptable levels of carbon dioxide for decades – given what we know about climate, it is simply unacceptable for rich states like Canada and the US to be building them.

. May 14, 2009 at 11:12 am

Polar bears – a species in peril?

There are an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears (Ursus maritimus) worldwide, mostly inhabiting the annual sea ice over the continental shelves and inter-island archipelagos of the circumpolar Arctic, where they may wander for thousands of kilometres per year. They are specialised predators on ice-breeding seals and are therefore dependent on sea ice for survival. Female bears require nourishment after emerging in spring from a 5 to 7 month fast in nursing dens (Ramsay and Stirling, 1988), and are thus very dependent on close proximity between land and sea ice before it breaks up. Continuous access to sea ice allows bears to hunt throughout the year, but in areas where the sea ice melts completely each summer, they are forced to spend several months in tundra fasting on stored fat reserves until freeze-up.

Polar bears face great challenges from the effects of climatic warming (Stirling and Derocher, 1993; Stirling et al., 1999; Derocher et al., 2004), as projected reductions in sea ice will drastically shrink marine habitat for polar bears, ice-inhabiting seals and other animals (Hassol, 2004b). Break-up of the sea ice on the western Hudson Bay, Canada, already occurs about 3 weeks earlier than in the early 1970s, resulting in polar bears in this area coming ashore earlier with reduced fat reserves (a 15% decline in body condition), fasting for longer periods of time and having reduced productivity (Stirling et al., 1999). Preliminary estimates suggest that the Western Hudson Bay population has declined from 1,200 bears in 1987 to fewer than 950 in 2004. Although these changes are specific to one sub-population, similar impacts on other sub-populations of polar bears can be reasonably expected. In 2005, the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group concluded that the IUCN Red List classification of the polar bear should be upgraded from Least Concern to Vulnerable based on the likelihood of an overall decline in the size of the total population of more than 30%within the next 35 to 50 years. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is also considering a petition to list the polar bear as a threatened species based in part on future risks to the species from climate change. If sea ice declines according to some projections (Meehl et al., 2007, Figure 10.13; Figure 4.4, Table 4.1) polar bears will face a high risk of extinction with warming of 2.8°C above pre-industrial (range 2.5-3.0°C, Table 4.1, No. 42). Similar consequences are facing other ice-dependent species, not only in the Arctic but also in the Antarctic (Chapter 1; Barbraud and Weimerskirch, 2001; Croxall et al., 2002).

Milan May 14, 2009 at 11:25 am

That would mean the temperatures are always the same, species never adapt or migrate, precipitation is constant and sea ice never fluctuates.

The admitted complexities and uncertainties of the atmosphere would become simple and cetain and there would be a lack of diversification.

No scientist is claiming that climate is constant. Thanks to paleoclimatic records, we have quite a good understanding of how past climates were, and what factors affect things like temperature and global ice volume. Greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere certainly cause warming, and humanity’s use of fossil fuels and continuing deforestation are very significantly increasing their concentrations.

I suppose if I were to measure the temperature in my attic, my main floor and my basement, I could find the mean temperature of my house. If the temperature in the attic were to rise, the mean temperature of the house would rise, yet it wouldn’t be felt on the main floor or in the basement……

I am not sure what you’re getting at here. Clearly, temperature changes are uneven. They are higher at the poles than in the tropics, for instance. Due to prevailing winds, there has been more warming in the eastern parts of North America than in the western parts. Whether you look at mean global temperatures of local temperatures for most of the world, there is a clear human-induced warming trend.

Regarding the dispalcement of species. Are you refering to all species or some specific species like some Butterflies in Europe that moved 30 miles north.

From the Working Group II technical summary:

“There is more evidence, from a wider range of species and communities in terrestrial ecosystems than reported in the Third Assessment, that recent warming is already strongly affecting natural biological systems. There is substantial new evidence relating changes in marine and freshwater systems to
warming. The evidence suggests that both terrestrial and marine biological systems are now being strongly influenced by observed recent warming.

The overwhelming majority of studies of regional climate effects on terrestrial species reveal consistent responses to warming trends, including poleward and elevational range shifts of flora
and fauna. Responses of terrestrial species to warming across the Northern Hemisphere are well documented by changes in the timing of growth stages (i.e., phenological changes), especially the earlier onset of spring events, migration, and lengthening of the growing season. Based on satellite observations since the early 1980s, there have been trends in many regions towards earlier ‘greening’ of vegetation in the spring8 and increased net primary production linked to longer growing seasons. Changes in abundance of certain species, including limited evidence of a few local disappearances, and changes in community composition over the last few decades have been attributed to climate change (very high confidence)

Regarding precipitation……are you talking about regionally or globally? The NOAA states………”Globally-averaged land-based precipitation shows a statistically insignificant upward trend with most of the increase occurring in the first half of the 20th century.”

Statistcally insignificant.

Precipitation remains an area of greater uncertainty:

“There is some evidence of the impact of external influences on the hydrological cycle. The observed largescale pattern of changes in land precipitation over the 20th century is qualitatively consistent with simulations, suggestive of a human influence. An observed global trend towards increases in drought in the second half of the 20th century has been reproduced with a model by taking anthropogenic and natural forcing into account. A number of studies have now demonstrated that changes in land use, due for example to overgrazing and conversion of woodland to agriculture, are unlikely to have been the primary cause of Sahelian and Australian droughts. Comparisons between observations and models suggest that changes in monsoons, storm intensities and Sahelian rainfall are related at least in part to changes in observed SSTs. Changes in global SSTs are expected to be affected by anthropogenic forcing, but an association of regional SST changes with forcing has not been established. Changes in rainfall depend not just upon SSTs but also upon changes in the spatial and temporal SST patterns and regional changes in atmospheric circulation, making attribution to human influences difficult

As far as ice…….sea ice is melting and glaciers are shrinking, yet sea ice is thickening and some glaciers are growing.

“Snow cover has decreased in most regions, especially in spring. Northern Hemisphere snow cover observed by satellite over the 1966 to 2005 period decreased in every month except November and December, with a stepwise drop of 5% in the annual mean in the late 1980s

Decreases in snowpack have been documented in several regions worldwide based upon annual time series of mountain snow water equivalent and snow depth.

Permafrost and seasonally frozen ground in most regions display large changes in recent decades.

The maximum area covered by seasonally frozen ground decreased by about 7% in the NH over the latter half of the 20th century, with a decrease in spring of up to 15%.

On average, the general trend in NH river and lake ice over the past 150 years indicates that the freeze-up date has become later at an average rate of 5.8 ± 1.9 days per century, while the breakup date has occurred earlier, at a rate of 6.5 ± 1.4 days per century.

Annual average arctic sea ice extent has shrunk by about 2.7 ± 0.6% per decade since 1978 based upon satellite observations. The decline in summer extent is larger than in winter extent, with the summer minimum declining at a rate of about 7.4 ± 2.4% per decade. Other data indicate that the summer decline began around 1970. Similar observations in the Antarctic reveal larger interannual variability but no consistent trends during the period of satellite observations. In contrast to changes in continental ice such as ice sheets and glaciers, changes in sea ice do not directly contribute to sea level change (because this ice is already fl oating), but can contribute to salinity changes through input of freshwater.

During the 20th century, glaciers and ice caps have experienced widespread mass losses and have contributed to sea level rise.”

Am I to assume that the only flucuations in ice since the beginning of time have occured in the past 100 years?

Again, you are not responding to what scientists are saying. Nobody thinks climate has been constant throughout the billions of years during which the Earth has existed. What is being said is that human actions are changing it now.

Tristan May 14, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Climate change denial is probably more like biological determinism than serious skepticism today. It’s motivations for questioning the science are for the most part not scientific, but the fulfillment of a particular political goal.

. May 14, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Report: Climate change will bring big problems for small number of countries

Posted 5:16 PM on 13 May 2009
by Jonathan Hiskes

Here’s one way to break down the effects of fiercer storm surges that will be wrought by climate change:

* Most land lost: Latin America
* Most people displaced: Middle East and North Africa
* Most economic losses: East Asia

World Bank economists reached these conclusions in a new draft report [PDF] that assesses the effects sea-level rise and more intense storms are likely to have if climate change continues unchecked. The report, by the researchers on the World Bank’s Energy and Environment team, combined climate prediction models with information on coastal population, coastal GDP, wetlands, agricultural lands, and other factors.

To be clear, the World Bank report focuses only on sea-level rise and storm surges, not on other effects of climate change like shfits in temperature and overall precipation. It acknowledges there is some scientific uncertainty about whether climate change will cause more intense storms, but it leans heavily on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change findings:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2007) cites a trend since the mid-1970s toward longer duration and greater intensity of storms, and a strong correlation with the upward trend in tropical sea surface temperature. In addition, it notes that hurricanes/cyclones are occurring in places where they have never been experienced before.

. May 22, 2009 at 2:50 pm

The incredible shrinking tent
Republican counter-strategy on climate: Revenge!

Posted 10:47 AM on 20 May 2009
by Miles Grant

Who’s left in the denial tent these days? You can’t just say “Big Oil” – ConocoPhillips and Shell are part of US CAP. You can’t just say “Big Coal” – Duke Energy recently dropped out of the National Association of Manufacturers over Duke’s support for climate legislation. How about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, purportedly the voice of small business? Last, week, 10,000 small business leaders asked the U.S. chamber to shut up and get out of the way on clean energy and climate action.

Even as the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 moves through the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Republican leadership still has no viable alternative to offer. All Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) could do last week was dust off the Cheney energy plan, little more than a big polluter bailout bill.

Since denial has failed, Republican leadership is moving to anger, lashing out at businesses who’ve been allies for generations. And without the claim that they’re protecting business by blocking clean energy legislation, what’s left for the Grand Old Party’s leaders to claim? That they’re protecting polluters? Or that, science and jobs be damned, we’re the captains of this here denial ship and we’re going down with it?

. May 22, 2009 at 4:26 pm

The greatest hits from the greatest roadblocks to a clean energy future

As Congress takes up comprehensive legislation that will transition America to be leaders in a clean energy economy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a vocal minority of legislators have taken it upon themselves to provide a bit of comic relief to this debate of extreme gravity.

Wait, these guys are kidding, right?

Find the comedic stylings of anti-environment legislators and more here as America moves forward on a comprehensive energy solution that will create jobs, improve our national security and protect our planet.

. May 25, 2009 at 3:50 pm

Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air

I Numbers, not adjectives
1 Motivations >> p.20

The over-emotional debate about this topic is getting quite tiresome, isn’t it?

“The science is now settled.” “No it isn’t!” “Yes it is!” I think the most helpful thing I can do here is direct anyone who wants a break from the shouting to a brief report written by Charney et al. (1979). This report’s conclusions carry weight because the National Academy of Sciences (the US equivalent of the Royal Society) commissioned the report and selected its authors on the basis of their expertise, “and with regard for appropriate balance.” The study group was convened “under the auspices of the Climate Research Board of the National Research Council to assess the scientific basis for projection of possible future climatic changes resulting from man-made releases of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.” Specifically, they were asked: “to identify the principal premises on which our current understanding of the question is based, to assess quantitatively the adequacy and uncertainty of our knowledge of these factors and processes, and to summarize in concise and objective terms our best present understanding of the carbon dioxide/climate issue for the benefit of policy-makers.”

The report is just 33 pages long, it is free to download, and I recommend it. It makes clear which bits of the science were already settled in 1979, and which bits still had uncertainty.

. May 26, 2009 at 3:13 pm

There are six unique segments of the American public that each engage with the issue of global warming in their own distinct way:

The Alarmed (18 percent of the U.S. adult population) are the segment most engaged in the issue of global warming. They are very convinced it is happening, human-caused, and a serious and urgent threat. The Alarmed are already making changes in their own lives and support an aggressive national response (see graphs below).

The Concerned (33 percent) are also convinced that global warming is a serious problem and support a vigorous national response. Members of this group have signaled their intention to at least engage in consumer action on global warming in the near term, but they are less personally involved in the issue and have taken fewer actions than the Alarmed.

The Cautious (19 percent) also believe that global warming is a problem, although they are less certain that it is happening than the Alarmed or the Concerned. They do not view it as a personal threat, and do not feel a sense of urgency to deal with it.

The Disengaged (12 percent) do not know and have not thought much about the issue at all and say that they could easily change their minds about global warming.

The Doubtful (11 percent) are evenly split among those who think global warming is happening, those who think it isn’t, and those who do not know. Many within this group believe that if global warming is happening, it is caused by natural changes in the environment. They believe that it won’t harm people for many decades, if at all, and they say that America is already doing enough to respond to the threat.

The Dismissive (7 percent), like the Alarmed, are actively engaged in the issue, but are on the opposite end of the spectrum. Most members of this group believe that global warming is not happening, is not a threat to either people or non-human nature, and strongly believe that it does not warrant a national response.

Paul May 27, 2009 at 11:22 am

What about the dramtic changes in climate this planet has experienced for millions of years. Historically there has been wild swings in temperatures, continents have busted apart, species have been purged, and on and on. The fact is there is still a debate about global warming and the exact effects of greenhouse gases on the planet. Do they have some sort of effect? I think so. Does Al Gore have the answers? No. Anyone seen that cat’s mansion and think they can pay for his power bill? In the movie Inconvenient Truth we get to see Al Gore pondering deep thoughts while flying around in a private jet. Why not ride a bicycle? Why not write his charts on biodegradable paper and hold his lectures on camp grounds? My weatherman can’t even give me an accurate forcast for the next 3 hours but I’m supposed to believe that scientists can take a theory and accurately predict the devestation of the planet.

Anyone can dress up the issue an alternative:

http://www.worldclimatereport.com/index.php/2009/04/30/what-you-cant-do-about-global-warming/#more-376

You’re not going to dethrown the oil companies peacefully. They have bought and paid for Al Gore and every other politician on both sides of the aisle. Just trust BP, they are working hard to find the answers to climate change. None of us on this thread are doing anything that will make a difference.

Take me for example:

I’m currently sitting in an A/C cooled building, wearing clothes shipped to the US made in countries I have no idea where they are by people who are working in brutal conditions. I got here by driving my car and using the A/C. I’ll go home and crank the A/C up and use every electronic device you can possibly list. I’ll take a hot shower and waste tons of water brushing my teeth and doing dishes. I need to wash and dry some clothes so I’ll be doing that and while they are being washed I have to fire up the riding lawn mower. I could keep going with this all day but to summerize: I love gas. I’m addicted to oil. I enjoy comfort. I’ve done nothing to help a single person in a third world country except purchase shirts at Old Navy.

Have any of you looked at the 10K’s for the oil companies?

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/2009/snapshots/387.html

Let’s say Milan has good points. He’s still doing everything I am above except maybe he’s planted a tomato garden in his back yard or rides a bike every once in a while. We all know he really enjoys typing in blogs in a comfortable setting provided by CO2 emissions.

I believe that if you really think CO2 emissions are a problem then you have to commit your life to eliminating the production of them entirely. If one feels smoking causes cancer, which I do, then they don’t go out and smoke 50% of the time or smoke light cigarettes to “reduce their lung-tar footprint” The excuse I always hear is that it’s not convenient. WRONG! Make the changes. Sometimes in life we must make hard decisions to fight for what we believe instead of just pasting links of our point of view from the comfort of a CO2 wasteland.

Milan May 27, 2009 at 12:47 pm

What about the dramtic changes in climate this planet has experienced for millions of years. Historically there has been wild swings in temperatures, continents have busted apart, species have been purged, and on and on.

Climate is Always Changing

The fact is there is still a debate about global warming and the exact effects of greenhouse gases on the planet.

Exact effects, yes, but there is a very strong consensus on the fact that they cause warming, and that the consequences of the warming that would result from unchecked emissions would be severe.

Does Al Gore have the answers? No. Anyone seen that cat’s mansion and think they can pay for his power bill? In the movie Inconvenient Truth we get to see Al Gore pondering deep thoughts while flying around in a private jet. Why not ride a bicycle? Why not write his charts on biodegradable paper and hold his lectures on camp grounds?

How Al Gore behaves has nothing to do with how the atmosphere responds to increased concentrations of greenhouse gasses.

My weatherman can’t even give me an accurate forcast for the next 3 hours but I’m supposed to believe that scientists can take a theory and accurately predict the devestation of the planet.

We can’t even predict the weather next week

I believe that if you really think CO2 emissions are a problem then you have to commit your life to eliminating the production of them entirely.

Not everyone needs to commit their lives to this, but some of us surely do, and the transition definitely needs to happen. We need to move to a low-carbon society during the next few decades, and must reach carbon neutrality sometime around 2100.

Emily May 27, 2009 at 1:36 pm

I got here by driving my car and using the A/C. I’ll go home and crank the A/C up and use every electronic device you can possibly list. I’ll take a hot shower and waste tons of water brushing my teeth and doing dishes.

… How much water can you possibly waste brushing your teeth?

In any case. I like the cut of your jib. Most of all, I like your argumentation style:

You begin by asserting you love oil consumption and are hopelessly addicted, and are proud of it.

And then somehow, after traveling a meandering road of Gore flaying peppered with linkage, you assert that “Sometimes in life we must make hard decisions to fight for what we believe instead of just pasting links of our point of view from the comfort of a CO2 wasteland.”

Your conclusion directly contradicts your original cowboy on an oil-tanker attitude, as well as your methodology!

It’s a total conversion. Hallelujah.

Emily May 27, 2009 at 1:40 pm

The excuse I always hear is that it’s not convenient. WRONG! Make the changes.

Amen, brother.

Milan May 27, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Danke, Emily. It is most welcome to have someone helping out with identifying inconsistencies in denier arguments.

tristan May 27, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Paul,

I don’t like the cut of your jib.

“In the movie Inconvenient Truth we get to see Al Gore pondering deep thoughts while flying around in a private jet. Why not ride a bicycle? Why not write his charts on biodegradable paper and hold his lectures on camp grounds?”

This is the worst kind of argument. I’m almost at the point of refusing to talk to anyone who finds it to be a good one, but I realize there is some confusion about the status of ad-hominum arguments. In some cases, they are valid. For example,

“Frank told me he’d be a great little league coach. But, he does have those child sex abuse convictions.”

The critique of Frank’s character is relevant in this case, because it presumably would affect his motivations in wanting to become a little league coach.

“Frank told me I should buy shares in Exxon because energy is undervalued. But, he does have those child sex abuse convictions.”

The critique of Frank’s character is not relevant in this case.

But, these examples are cheap and obvious. What really is the difference? We really need to discern the different ways an ad hominum argument might be valid. Let’s look at a more difficult case:

“Greenspan thinks the most stable growth in the U.S. economy occured under the gold standard. But, he’s the cause of the current economic crisis.”

An Austrian economics would agree with both of these assertions (and find Greenspan a particularly strange figure for agreeing with a view and then acting in every way opposite to it). But more seriously, we might think that all of Greenspan’s economic knowledge is dubious because of his poor economic reasoning in the last ten years. But, and this is a very important distinction – this doesn’t prove his previous view is incorrect, it offers no evidence that it is incorrect, it simply offers a reason not to take it on authority.

Aha! But now we realize, that even when Greenspan’s economic knowledge was not in question, the mere fact he believed something is not an argument for its truth. This is another fallacy – appeal to authority.

So, when something about a man or woman’s character makes us question their motives, or their knowledge with reference to a particular field, this only reduces the strength of them as an appeal to authority.

But, to say “Climate change is true because Al Gore believes so”, is already a fallacy! It is appeal to authority! Climate change is real whether or not Al Gore thinks anything at all, he could clearly never have been born. Things are not true because we say of them they are true – rather we say of things that they are true because they are true.

So,

“In the movie Inconvenient Truth we get to see Al Gore pondering deep thoughts while flying around in a private jet. Why not ride a bicycle? ”

This kind of argument only appears convincing when we don’t realize that the kind of statements it calls into question are themselves already fallacious.

. May 31, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Now, more than ten years after unfounded doubts about vaccine safety first emerged, scientists and public health officials are still struggling to set the record straight. But as climate scientists know all too well, simply relating the facts of science isn’t enough. No matter that the overwhelming weight of evidence shows that climate change is real, or that vaccines don’t cause autism. When scientists find themselves just one more voice in a sea of “opinions” about a complex scientific issue, misinformation takes on a life of its own.

. June 1, 2009 at 11:39 am

27 January 2005
What If … the “Hockey Stick” Were Wrong?

So let’s assume for argument’s sake that Mann, Bradley and Hughes made some terrible mistake in their statistical analysis, so we need to discard their results altogether. This wouldn’t change our picture of the last millennium (or anything else) very much: independent groups, with different analysis methods, have arrived at similar results for the last millennium. The details differ (mostly within the uncertainty bounds given by Mann et al, so the difference is not significant), but all published reconstructions share the same basic features: they show relatively warm medieval times, a cooling by a few tenths of a degree Celsius after that, and a rapid warming since the 19th Century. Even without Mann et al, we’d still be stuck with a “hockey stick” type of curve – quite boring.

So let’s try some more exciting “what ifs”. In mid-20th Century, medieval temperatures are exceeded in all the reconstructions, hence recent (last 10-15 years, say) temperatures appear to be unprecedented for at least a millennium (that even holds for the alternative histories presented by the “hockey stick” critics). Now what if that were wrong – if all proxy reconstructions as well as model simulations of the past millennium were fundamentally in error?

Let us assume that medieval temperatures after all had been warmer than the present. Even that would tell us nothing about anthropogenic climate change. The famous conclusion of the IPCC, “The balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate”, does not depend on any reconstruction for the past millennium. It depends on a detailed analysis of 20th Century data. In fact, this conclusion is from the 1995 IPCC report, and thus predates the existence of quantitative proxy reconstructions like the “hockey stick”.

. June 1, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Polar bear-climate connection supported by new study

Forecasts of polar bear populations and their likely responses to climate change have been strengthened by a new publication that refutes criticisms of the scientific basis for listing the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act.

The new paper, by a team of scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), University of Alaska, University of Maryland, Canadian Wildlife Service and the US Forest Service, refutes point-by-point a widely publicized critique of polar bear population predictions. The new rebuttal reinforces the reports written by the scientists and accepted by the Department of Interior in its May 2008 decision to list polar bears as a threatened species on the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

. June 9, 2009 at 5:33 pm

However, recently there has been more of a sense that the issues being discussed (in the media or online) have a bit of a groundhog day quality to them. The same nonsense, the same logical fallacies, the same confusions – all seem to be endlessly repeated. The same strawmen are being constructed and demolished as if they were part of a make-work scheme for the building industry attached to the stimulus proposal. Indeed, the enthusiastic recycling of talking points long thought to have been dead and buried has been given a huge boost by the publication of a new book by Ian Plimer who seems to have been collecting them for years. Given the number of simply made-up ‘facts’ in that tome, one soon realises that the concept of an objective reality against which one should measure claims and judge arguments is not something that is universally shared. This is troubling – and although there is certainly a role for some to point out the incoherence of such arguments (which in that case Tim Lambert and Ian Enting are doing very well), it isn’t something that requires much in the way of physical understanding or scientific background. (As an aside this is a good video description of the now-classic Dunning and Kruger papers on how the people who are most wrong are the least able to perceive it).

. June 11, 2009 at 1:38 pm

When I entered the U of T last year, I had the notion there was a scientific debate over global warming and I felt vaguely pleased and maybe even a little proud that Alberta was willing to spend $2 billion to help cut greenhouse gas emissions through a process called carbon capture and sequestration.

I took on law and poetry as fun; I took on environmental classes as work. As an Albertan with a keen interest in fossil fuels, good and bad, I wanted to understand the science, the truth, of global warming.

Ask the typical arts-educated journalist to read a science textbook and he or she will shriek or run from the room. I usually do both.

However, for months I buried my head in textbooks and technical reports in an effort to strip the discussion of global warming down to its nub–deprive it of emotion and hyperbole.

In the end, the hard science of human-created climate change is as convincing as it is unforgiving. You might as well be arguing against the science of evolution. Of course, that hasn’t stopped some people from trying.

Greenpeace members can get a bit strident in their opposition to industrial emissions–but do the science yourself and you’ll be fighting the urge to don a gas mask and hang protest banners from smokestacks.

. June 26, 2009 at 3:14 pm

26 June 2009
Bubkes

— gavin @ 8:00 AM

They don’t even notice the contradictions in their own cites. For instance, they show a figure that demonstrates that galactic cosmic ray and solar trends are non-existent from 1957 on, and yet cheerfully quote Scafetta and West who claim that almost all of the recent trend is solar driven! They claim that climate sensitivity is very small while failing to realise that this implies that solar variability can’t have any effect either. They claim that GCM simulations produced trends over the twentieth century of 1.6 to 3.74ºC – which is simply (and bizarrely) wrong (though with all due respect, that one seems to come directly from Mr. Gregory). Even more curious, Carlin appears to be a big fan of geo-engineering, but how this squares with his apparent belief that we know nothing about what drives climate, is puzzling. A sine qua non of geo-engineering is that we need models to be able to predict what is likely to happen, and if you think they are all wrong, how could you have any faith that you could effectively manage a geo-engineering approach?

Finally, they end up with the oddest claim in the submission: That because human welfare has increased over the twentieth century at a time when CO2 was increasing, this somehow implies that no amount of CO2 increases can ever cause a danger to human society. This is just boneheadly stupid.

So in summary, what we have is a ragbag collection of un-peer reviewed web pages, an unhealthy dose of sunstroke, a dash of astrology and more cherries than you can poke a cocktail stick at. Seriously, if that’s the best they can do, the EPA’s ruling is on pretty safe ground.

. July 14, 2009 at 1:25 pm

George Monbiot’s Troll Problem (and Ours)
10 July 09

George Monbiot has a great article this week citing DeSmog Blog, regarding the vexing issue of “trolls”. Not the kind that live under bridges, but those faceless cyberspace monikers that pop up frequently in comment sections of blogs likes this one, to repetitively froth away against climate science.

Are these real people? Or are they operatives in the employ of Big Oil? “Paul S”? “Phlogiston”? I’m talking to you.

It seems that Monbiot has same problem that we do. On the Guardian website, a small minority of anonymous “skeptics” often dominate the discussion by regurgitating talking points from well-known climate deniers. Sound familiar?

When Monbiot challenged his trolls to reveal their identity, or even confirm or deny whether they are posting from a PR office, he has never got a straight answer.

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