A page for waverers

2009-12-10

in Economics, Politics, Science, The environment

Megan Pini and Dusty

This page is intended for those who (a) don’t believe that climate change is happening, (b) don’t think human beings are causing it, or (c) don’t think it’s something we need to take action on. You may believe that nothing is changing at all, or that the problems associated with adapting to climate change would be a lot more manageable than those associated with stopping it in the first place.

Those in your position should consider a few things. First, there is the matter raised by Greg Craven. In the face of something potentially threatening, we cannot always wait indefinitely to make a decision. Indeed, we are making a decision implicitly in every day when we fail to take action. What we need to do is make the most intelligent choice based on the information we have, not decide definitively who is right: those who think climate change is an enormous problem, or those who think it is a manageable or non-existent one.

Consider the decision to take some precautionary action. While that does leave us facing the risk of taking more action than eventually proves to be justified, we also need to be aware of the risk that climate change is just as serious a problem as those who are most concerned about it have been claiming. If they are right and we do nothing, the future of civilization could be at risk. Precautionary climate policies may also produce other benefits, such as less dependence on imported fossil fuels and reduced emissions of air pollutants.

I recommend that you have a look at some of the high-quality sources of information linked on my climate change briefing page. I also recommend that you give some serious thought to risk management, the credibility of various sources, and the potential consequences of making the wrong choice.

It may be worth noting that, when I first started reading about climate change seriously back in 2005 or so, I was sympathetic to the argument that it might not be all that serious a problem, and perhaps we should aim to adapt to it rather than stop it. The understanding of climate science I have accumulated since then has left me deeply concerned that climate change is an enormous problem, about which we need to take decisive action quickly. I think many fair-minded people who take the time to look through the credible information available will read the same conclusion.

If you take a fair shot at that and still want to argue against climate action, at least you will be doing so from a more nuanced and well-informed perspective.

Last updated: 10 December 2009

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

. December 10, 2009 at 1:43 pm

If we prepare for climate change by building a clean-power economy, but climate change turns out to be a hoax, what would be the result? Well, during a transition period, we would have higher energy prices. But gradually we would be driving battery-powered electric cars and powering more and more of our homes and factories with wind, solar, nuclear and second-generation biofuels. We would be much less dependent on oil dictators who have drawn a bull’s-eye on our backs; our trade deficit would improve; the dollar would strengthen; and the air we breathe would be cleaner. In short, as a country, we would be stronger, more innovative and more energy independent.

But if we don’t prepare, and climate change turns out to be real, life on this planet could become a living hell. And that’s why I’m for doing the Cheney-thing on climate — preparing for 1 percent.”

XUP December 10, 2009 at 2:12 pm

It’s always good sense to plan for and take precautionary measures against possible crises – whether it’s a flu pandemic or a financial crisis or immediate weather issues or long-range issues. Even if any of these things turn out to be not as drastic as the predictions, it’s foolish not to prepare for a worst case scenario — especially when so much is at stake. But I guess with something like climate change, too much is expected of people who do not want to make any inconvenient adjustments to their lifestyles. In the same way that endless information about lifestyle contributing to life threatening diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc. won’t make most people give up the unhealthy lifestyles they enjoy. The answer I think is to just keep getting information out there. It just takes a long, long time. The stop smoking campaign has been going on for decades and has made a big difference in how smoking is viewed, where it’s allowed and how many people smoke. But you’re never going to convince everyone, unfortunately. The whole climate change issue has just recently started getting public attention, so I don’t see being able to convince the majority in a hurry.

Milan December 10, 2009 at 2:32 pm

I am developing my own education strategy, tailored to take into consideration where people stand when they start reading it.

For those with no significant existing beliefs, I recommend going through my climate briefing and examining some of the sources linked there.

For those who are leaning more towards skepticism about the seriousness of climate change, I will be maintaining this page.

For those who are convinced that climate change isn’t happening or isn’t a problem, all I can do is rebut their arguments and add them to my list. Of course, knocking down faulty arguments doesn’t do all that much good when people continue to repeat them anyhow.

R.K. December 10, 2009 at 2:55 pm

It makes sense to have a page link this where ‘soft skeptics’ can be directed.

alena December 10, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Thanks for the beautiful photo and for keeping all of us informed about the latest environmental news. I know that among my friends and students, many are much more informed thanks to you. We are all also more committed to making our own personal contributions. It is discouraging to hear repeatedly in the news how little importance and action our leaders are prepared to take. I had high hopes for Copenhagen.

XUP December 10, 2009 at 5:08 pm

Problem is – the people who don’t care at all aren’t even going to be reading this or anything else that might persuade them

richard pauli December 10, 2009 at 5:52 pm

I salute your tolerance of denialists, but I cannot follow you.

I do not encourage dangerous behavior in others.

I do not respect people who encourage deniers.

Ignoring danger hurts us all.

Those who are demonstrably vocal in their denialism are dangerous, delusional people. They make the job of mitigation far more difficult. And as things get worse, they risk serious anger and disapproval. I know people who are skeptics, but they all have the good sense to be quiet about it.

It is easy to predict that very soon such deniers will be more openly reviled. I would not want to be on a list that is headed by Senator Inhofe.

You seem to be very tolerant and foregiving.

XUP December 11, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Here’s a blog post/blogger you might like to have a discussion with: http://exit78.com/scaling-back-a-bit/

Milan December 11, 2009 at 2:54 pm

I put up a brief comment. While I can’t personally rebut every skeptical blog post out there, I can try to point people towards good sources of information and rebuttals of faulty claims.

R.K. December 11, 2009 at 4:12 pm

More misleading information is on this site.

Tristan December 11, 2009 at 11:47 pm

What would you say to waverers who suggest we purposely increase global dimming so we can put off CO2 reductions until after all the cheap oil is used up, while staying the warming of the planet through increased particular emissions?

Is the dimming effect not quite well modeled at present? And is it not a temporary effect, i.e. the particulates do not stay in the atmosphere indefinitely?

Please don’t anyone interpret this as my personal position.

Milan December 12, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Given all the risks associated, geoengineering should be a desperate last resort – not an alternative to mitigation.

A few of the known problems with sulfate injection into the upper atmosphere are:

1) It would probably change precipitation patterns significantly, with a big effect on global agriculture

2) It would do nothing to stop ocean acidification

3) If it was ever discontinued, we would get a rapid jump in temperature, as the negative radiative forcing effect from the particulate matter vanished over a short timeframe.

Milan December 12, 2009 at 12:15 pm

The safer geoengineering options are those that actually remove greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere:

a) Air capture, combined with carbon capture and storage (CCS)

b) Burning biomass in facilities using CCS

c) Enhanced weathering of rocks

See: Paths to geoengineering

. January 2, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Betsy Kolbert in The New Yorker on Superfreakonomics: “To be skeptical of climate models and credulous about things like carbon-eating trees and cloudmaking machinery and hoses that shoot sulfur into the sky is to replace a faith in science with a belief in science fiction. This is the turn that SuperFreakonomics takes, even as its authors repeatedly extol their hard-headedness.”

. January 13, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Transplanted from Facebook

Responding to a thread about Whole Foods

Milan: They sell an awful lot of meat to really be convincing as environmentalists.

Maddie: Oh I didn’t mean to suggest that they were an environmental organization, just that they tried to portray an ethical approach to the goods that they provided (locally sourced, money back to the community, etc) As for their meat department, I only eat fish, so I haven’t spent time perusing their selection (or comparing it to others)

Ashley: I think this provides an even more compelling reason to purchase their foods – the CEO is not willing to conclude based on emotion that anthropogenic climate change exists – he instead chooses to follow basic principals logic which stipulate that until all scientific research on an issue produces the same results, there can be no conclusive proof … See Morethat anthropogenic climate change exists. I’m sure the CEO is sacrificing Whole Foods revenue in the wake of his comments as those who conclude that anthropogenic climate change does exist (even in light of evidence to the contrary) flock to other retailers. I admire his strength to stay true to his convictions.

Maddie: There’s a long response to your comment, Ash, and several shorter ones. Of the latter, I think the simplest one is just that while there’s any reasonable chance that something I’m doing is going to result in a global change for the worse, it’s worth my time and energy to modify my behaviour. If that means limiting my flights, or purchasing locally-produced food from organizations who share my concern for our future, that’s what I’ll do.

Milan: Saying we should wait forever for scientific certainty is deeply flawed logic.

We only have one planet to experiment on, and as a consequence we will never be able to know perfectly what the consequences of wildly different patterns of development would be. What we need to do is make a decision in the face of risk and uncertainty. Deciding to ‘wait and see’ is a choice that puts the welfare of all future human generations into significant danger.

Milan: To borrow a phrase from William Whewell, there is a ‘consilience of evidence… See More’ when it comes to the science of climate change: multiple, independent lines of evidence converging on a single coherent account. These forms of evidence are both observational (temperature records, ice core samples, etc) and theoretical (thermodynamics, atmospheric physics, etc). Together, these lines of evidence provide a conceptual and scientific backing to the theory of climate change caused by human greenhouse gas emissions that is simply absent for alternative theories, such as that there is no change or that the change is caused by something different.

Milan: Consider the decision to take some precautionary action. While that does leave us facing the risk of taking more action than eventually proves to be justified, we also need to be aware of the risk that climate change is just as serious a problem as those who are most concerned about it have been claiming. If they are right and we do nothing, the … See Morefuture of civilization could be at risk. Precautionary climate policies may also produce other benefits, such as less dependence on imported fossil fuels and reduced emissions of air pollutants.

Ashley: In response Milan – Hi Maddie – while I do believe people should be more conscious about the personal choices they make and the impact their choices have on the environment, I am not a proponent of government regulation to achieve benchmarks that are crippling to the economy in support of research in favour of anthropogenic climate change when … See Morethere is equal amounts of research from experts with comparable credentials concluding the exact opposite. The cost of trying to achieve these benchmarks has a real possibility of diverting much needed funds away from social programs in Canada and third world countries – those funds are used to help people living today. I find it a bit cheeky to say to those in need today, ‘sorry, ordinarily we would have more money to help you, however, because of alleged anthropogenic climate change, we are concerned about generations of people that will be born hundreds, if not thousands of years from now. All the best.’

Milan: “when there is equal amounts of research from experts with comparable credentials concluding the exact opposite”

This is in no way correct.

While there is a public perception that there is a lot of scientific disagreement about the fundamentals of climate science, this really is not the case. Back in 2004, a survey of peer-reviewed work on climate science demonstrated this:

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/306/5702/1686

There is also a notable joint statement from the national science academies of the G8, Brazil, China, and India:

http://royalsociety.org/document.asp?id=3222
Milan: As for the Lomborg ‘spend it on the poor’ stance, see:

http://www.sindark.com/2009/11/30/the-lomborg-delayer-stance/

Maddie: So interesting! Thanks for the links, Milan. Ashley, I was also under the impression that there aren’t “equal amounts of expert research”…do you have a source for that statement?

Ashley: Thank you for the links. I only have time for a short response now as I am at work however will do my best to provide supporting evidence in the coming week for my assertion that there are equal amounts of research on either side of the debate (something published more recently than 2004, to boot). Alternatively, or in addition, I would be happy … See Moreto post articles and research as I come across it in support of my assertion that climate science is not conclusive. As for the blog that was posted by Milan in response to my “spend it on the poor stance,” it was interesting to read James Hoggan’s rebuttal to Lomberg’s prioritization approach, however, I would suggest it is a cop out argument in an attempt to persuade readers that regardless of other causes, we should spend on prevention of climate change (which incidentally, I would argue, that our actions aren’t powerful enough to reverse the forces of nature’s warming or cooling trends). The reality is, when a country is in recession, less overall charitable spending occurs; here is a link (http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/SaveMoney/charities-face-grim-holidays.aspx) (I know MSN news is not an academic journal, I can find one if you wish that supports the same conclusion, this was just the first one I came across on Google evidencing the result the recession has had on charitable spending in the U.S.). Consequently, if countries are to impose regulations to achieve impossible benchmarks (such as those proposed by the Kyoto protocol) there is a very real chance that countries will head in to a recession, the result being, less charitable spending, less aid for the poor. You can argue all you want that I am “picking and choosing” my spending issues to suit my political/economic preferences, however, that does not change the fact that there will be less spending on those who need it now, not 1000 years from now.

Maddie: Thanks for your response Ash. Rather than articles that suggest climate research isn’t conclusive, I’m more interested in your assertion that there are equal amounts of research, which I haven’t found. I was under the impression that although the debate is ongoing, there was a developing consensus on one side of the argument, and that the majority … See Moreof data suggests it does exist and is human-caused. If you’ve got info that suggests that the data isn’t a majority, that’s what I’d be really keen to see as it’s different to my impression. On your second point, it seems that others would argue that, rather than 1000 years from now, climate change will begin adding to the burden of the poor today (if not yesterday), and thus actually that our aid dollars are best invested in preventing the creation of new poor, or the exacerbation of the vulnerability of existing poor.

Milan: “there are equal amounts of research on either side of the debate”

This is a bit like saying there are an equal number of scientists arguing that evolution does and does not occur.

There are no serious scientific institutions that do not agree that the balance of evidence suggests that the climate is changing because of human greenhouse gas emissions, and that continued climate change may well be dangerous for human beings…. See More

We have understood the nature of greenhouse gasses for more than 100 years, and have an increasingly sophisticated understanding of both the climate system and the history of the planet’s climate. None of what we are learning is comforting. In particular, human emissions risk initiating positive feedback loops that then generate far more warming.

Milan: This post and the primer it links to may be useful for appreciating the longstanding scientific understanding of the nature of greenhouse gasses, and their effect on the energy balance of the planet:

http://www.sindark.com/2008/06/27/explaining-greenhouse-gasses/

Ashley: Is this a “serious” scientific institution: Leibniz Institute at Germany’s Kiel University? Is Professor Latif a respectable scientist? What about the Atmospheric Science Department at Colorado State University? What about an emirtus professor at that instution by the name of William Gray, is he respectable? Presumably the former is a “serious” instution, afterall, Prof Latif was asked to speak at the UN’s IPCC.

Does this institution provide reputable data: U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado

How do we explain the earth’s cooling between 1940 and 1970 when you will agree with me, there was an increase in CO2 emissions during the same period?… See More

Should we be concerned about different modeling techniques? What makes one computer model better than another? Why is it that those who believe in anthropogenic climate change believe that the models used that conclude the same are correct and accurate?

Why is it that those who do not believe in anthropogenic climate change believe that the models used by scientists who conclude it is not happening are correct and accurate?

If you ask me, the aforementioned is all evidence to show we cannot say climate change is anthropogenic with any certainty, until there is consensus on what models should be used and what variables should be measured and that all results of measuring such variables, or at least a majority of the results, suggest the same conclusion.

Milan: It seems wasteful to write a detailed response in a location as ephemeral as Facebook. I suggest we move the discussion here:

http://www.sindark.com/2009/12/10/a-page-for-waverers/

Or to another Google-indexed site, where the information will be easily available and potentially useful to others.

Milan: Very briefly, even if all the institutions you mention have excellent scientific records (which I have not yet checked), they are hardly an even match with the national science academies of the G8, Brazil, China, and India, as well as all of the other institutions that support the consensus view on climate change.

Among professional organizations, only the American Association of Petroleum Geologists still has a non-commital public position.

Milan January 13, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Another group of climate change assessments to consider is those that have been carried out by military organizations. These assessments found plenty of cause to be deeply concerned about anthropogenic climate change, and they can hardly be accused of having a left-wing, pro-environmentalist bias.

. January 14, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Maddie I’ve picked up where Milan left off and looked up a couple of the institutes you cited, Ash.

The first, the Liebniz Institute and Prof. Latif:
“Mojib Latif, a climate expert at the Leibniz Institute at Kiel University in Germany, said he “cannot understand” reports that used his research to question the scientific consensus on climate change.
… See More
He told the Guardian: “It comes as a surprise to me that people would try to use my statements to try to dispute the nature of global warming. I believe in manmade global warming. I have said that if my name was not Mojib Latif it would be global warming.”

He added: “There is no doubt within the scientific community that we are affecting the climate, that the climate is changing and responding to our emissions of greenhouse gases.”

No doubt some of the above was along the lines of what he testified in front of the IPCC…

The second, William Grey and his focus on the 1940s to 1970s period. That’s one scientist. Hardly an “equal amount of research”. Ash, you’re going to have to retract the statement or show us the (large number of) goods ;)

Ashley: Perhaps I misspoke when I stated “equal amounts of research” and what I should have said, and do mean, is that there is very compelling research from scientists with comparable credentials whose research brings in to doubt the assertion that climate change is caused by humans. Since the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” came out, I have been reading … See Morearticles whose conclusions support, and do not support anthropogenic climate change. I will say that for every one article in support of anthropogenic climate change, I have read one which denounces the same theory from scientists with comparable credentials. Having a science background, I appreciate the importance of looking at the credentials of the researchers, looking at the mandates of the institutes where the research was conducted, and where possible, identifying where the funding to conduct the research came from. To that end, I will tell you, that if there were numerous studies that made conclusions contrary to the conclusions made in my thesis, I would have seriously questioned the conclusions I made and would have cautioned readers as to their use of my research given that there was no consensus on the issue.

As I have limited time throughout the day (as an articling student, I’ve pretty much had to donate my life to the firm for the year) I will have to send you articles (from reputable sources) that I find that tend to support the conclusion that anthropogenic climate change is not conclusive. I hope one day, in between work and wedding time, I will have the time to search academic databases for the articles I have read in the past. If that isn’t sufficient in the short term, then the debate should probably end.

I will leave you with one question, one that I alluded to in a previous post and that has to do with the partisan nature of the debate on climate change. There are very few other scientific issues that are as partisan in nature as the climate change debate. Why is it that those who lean to the ‘left’ tend to support the models used by scientists who conclude climate change is anthropogenic and why do those that tend to lean to the ‘right’ tend to pay more attention and consider models that aren’t conclusive of anthropogenic climate change. I can think of few other Scientific issues that are so partisan. Surely if the research was conclusive on the issue, there would be no cause for such debate, no?

Milan January 14, 2010 at 2:03 pm

It is very much in the interests of certain individuals and organizations to maintain the impression that there is a scientific debate. An infamous American memo described this strategy:

The memo was written by Frank Luntz, a political consultant who worked to oppose the regulation of greenhouse gasses: http://www.sindark.com/NonBlog/Articles/LuntzResearch_environment.pdf

The leaked memo, entitled “The Environment: A Cleaner, Safer, Healthier America,” provides a glimpse into the strategies of climate delayers that is both informative and chilling:

“The scientific debate is closing [against us] but not yet closed. There is still a window of opportunity to challenge the science…

Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly…

Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate.”

The cynicism of it all is astounding. To see something as vital as climate change treated as a superficial, partisan rhetorical battle is extremely dispiriting.

Milan January 14, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Another major reason why people keep calling the science into question is that climate change fundamentally undermines libertarian philosophy. The idea that one should be free to behave as one wishes – as long as it doesn’t harm others – seems to provide a decent balance between allowing people to pursue their own purposes and stopping that pursuit from harming the general interest. That being said, the degree to which libertarianism can be liberating is diminishing with time. This is basically because of both the growing fact of interconnectedness and because of our growing awareness of it.

Climate change may be the ultimate force diminishing how liberating libertarianism can be. Not only do nearly all of our life and economic choices impact innocent third parties around the world, they also contribute to a problem that will have a huge long-term impact on future generations and the natural world. Arguably, this makes the doctrine of “do what you like but do no harm” impossible to follow in practice.

Those who feel a deep personal affiliation to this sort of political ideology are in a real bind if they acknowledge the reality of climate change. As such, ignoring the strength of the evidence and pretending there is still a scientific debate is one easy way out.

Milan January 15, 2010 at 4:26 pm
Milan February 2, 2010 at 3:24 pm

RealClimate’s April Fools post does a good idea of highlighting the incoherence that exists in denier circles:

“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.”

. February 25, 2010 at 10:40 am

“The revolutionary idea that defines the boundary between modern times and the past is the mastery of risk: the notion that the future is more than a whim of the gods and that men and women are not passive before nature.”

-Peter Bernstein

. March 1, 2010 at 11:55 am

“It would be an enormous relief if the recent attacks on the science of global warming actually indicated that we do not face an unimaginable calamity requiring large-scale, preventive measures to protect human civilization as we know it.

Of course, we would still need to deal with the national security risks of our growing dependence on a global oil market dominated by dwindling reserves in the most unstable region of the world, and the economic risks of sending hundreds of billions of dollars a year overseas in return for that oil. And we would still trail China in the race to develop smart grids, fast trains, solar power, wind, geothermal and other renewable sources of energy — the most important sources of new jobs in the 21st century.

But what a burden would be lifted! We would no longer have to worry that our grandchildren would one day look back on us as a criminal generation that had selfishly and blithely ignored clear warnings that their fate was in our hands. We could instead celebrate the naysayers who had doggedly persisted in proving that every major National Academy of Sciences report on climate change had simply made a huge mistake.

I, for one, genuinely wish that the climate crisis were an illusion. But unfortunately, the reality of the danger we are courting has not been changed by the discovery of at least two mistakes in the thousands of pages of careful scientific work over the last 22 years by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In fact, the crisis is still growing because we are continuing to dump 90 million tons of global-warming pollution every 24 hours into the atmosphere — as if it were an open sewer.

. April 6, 2010 at 3:55 pm

“The most relevant part of that universal what-else is the requirement laid down by thermodynamics that, for a planet at a constant temperature, the amount of energy absorbed as sunlight and the amount emitted back to space in the longer wavelengths of the infra-red must be the same. In the case of the Earth, the amount of sunlight absorbed is 239 watts per square metre. According to the laws of thermodynamics, a simple body emitting energy at that rate should have a temperature of about –18ºC. You do not need a comprehensive set of surface-temperature data to notice that this is not the average temperature at which humanity goes about its business. The discrepancy is due to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which absorb and re-emit infra-red radiation, and thus keep the lower atmosphere, and the surface, warm (see the diagram below). The radiation that gets out to the cosmos comes mostly from above the bulk of the greenhouse gases, where the air temperature is indeed around –18ºC.

Adding to those greenhouse gases in the atmosphere makes it harder still for the energy to get out. As a result, the surface and the lower atmosphere warm up. This changes the average temperature, the way energy moves from the planet’s surface to the atmosphere above it and the way that energy flows from equator to poles, thus changing the patterns of the weather.

No one doubts that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, good at absorbing infra-red radiation. It is also well established that human activity is putting more of it into the atmosphere than natural processes can currently remove. Measurements made since the 1950s show the level of carbon dioxide rising year on year, from 316 parts per million (ppm) in 1959 to 387ppm in 2009. Less direct records show that the rise began about 1750, and that the level was stable at around 280ppm for about 10,000 years before that. This fits with human history: in the middle of the 18th century people started to burn fossil fuels in order to power industrial machinery. Analysis of carbon isotopes, among other things, shows that the carbon dioxide from industry accounts for most of the build-up in the atmosphere.”

. April 13, 2010 at 3:11 pm

“This is an article on climate economics, not climate science. But before we get to the economics, it’s worth establishing three things about the state of the scientific debate.

The first is that the planet is indeed warming. Weather fluctuates, and as a consequence it’s easy enough to point to an unusually warm year in the recent past, note that it’s cooler now and claim, “See, the planet is getting cooler, not warmer!” But if you look at the evidence the right way ­— taking averages over periods long enough to smooth out the fluctuations — the upward trend is unmistakable: each successive decade since the 1970s has been warmer than the one before.

Second, climate models predicted this well in advance, even getting the magnitude of the temperature rise roughly right. While it’s relatively easy to cook up an analysis that matches known data, it is much harder to create a model that accurately forecasts the future. So the fact that climate modelers more than 20 years ago successfully predicted the subsequent global warming gives them enormous credibility.

And this brings me to my third point: models based on this research indicate that if we continue adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere as we have, we will eventually face drastic changes in the climate. Let’s be clear. We’re not talking about a few more hot days in the summer and a bit less snow in the winter; we’re talking about massively disruptive events, like the transformation of the Southwestern United States into a permanent dust bowl over the next few decades.”

. May 10, 2010 at 11:06 am

“Scientific conclusions derive from an understanding of basic laws supported by laboratory experiments, observations of nature, and mathematical and computer modeling. Like all human beings, scientists make mistakes, but the scientific process is designed to find and correct them. This process is inherently adversarial—scientists build reputations and gain recognition not only for supporting conventional wisdom, but even more so for demonstrating that the scientific consensus is wrong and that there is a better explanation. That’s what Galileo, Pasteur, Darwin, and Einstein did. But when some conclusions have been thoroughly and deeply tested, questioned, and examined, they gain the status of “well-established theories” and are often spoken of as “facts.”

For instance, there is compelling scientific evidence that our planet is about 4.5 billion years old (the theory of the origin of Earth), that our universe was born from a single event about 14 billion years ago (the Big Bang theory), and that today’s organisms evolved from ones living in the past (the theory of evolution). Even as these are overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, fame still awaits anyone who could show these theories to be wrong. Climate change now falls into this category: There is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend.

Many recent assaults on climate science and, more disturbingly, on climate scientists by climate change deniers are typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other scientific assessments of climate change, which involve thousands of scientists producing massive and comprehensive reports, have, quite expectedly and normally, made some mistakes. When errors are pointed out, they are corrected. But there is nothing remotely identified in the recent events that changes the fundamental conclusions about climate change:

(i) The planet is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. A snowy winter in Washington does not alter this fact.

(ii) Most of the increase in the concentration of these gases over the last century is due to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

(iii) Natural causes always play a role in changing Earth’s climate, but are now being overwhelmed by human-induced changes.

(iv) Warming the planet will cause many other climatic patterns to change at speeds unprecedented in modern times, including increasing rates of sea-level rise and alterations in the hydrologic cycle. Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are making the oceans more acidic.

(v) The combination of these complex climate changes threatens coastal communities and cities, our food and water supplies, marine and freshwater ecosystems, forests, high mountain environments, and far more.

Much more can be, and has been, said by the world’s scientific societies, national academies, and individuals, but these conclusions should be enough to indicate why scientists are concerned about what future generations will face from business-as-usual practices. We urge our policy-makers and the public to move forward immediately to address the causes of climate change, including the un restrained burning of fossil fuels.”

. May 13, 2010 at 1:19 pm

“For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.”

Richard Feynman

. June 9, 2010 at 10:22 am

“The longer this goes on, the better it will be for all those who take science seriously. Lord Monckton is digging his hole ever deeper, and dragging down into it everyone stupid enough to follow him. Those of us who do battle with climate change deniers can’t inflict one tenth as much damage to their cause that Monckton wreaks every time he opens his mouth.

He has now answered the devastating debunking of his claims published by the professor of mechanical engineering John Abraham with a characteristically bonkers article(2). It conforms to the cast iron rules of climate change denial, which are as follows:

1. Falsely accuse the other person of ad hominem attacks, while making vicious ad hominem attacks of your own.

2. Ignore or gloss over the most substantial criticisms.

3. Never admit that you are wrong. Even when your errors are staring you in the face, do not acknowledge them. Never apologise, never concede. This is the crucial difference between scientists and charlatans. True scientists welcome challenges to their work, admit their mistakes and seek to refine and improve their hypotheses in the light of them. Charlatans raise the volume and denounce the people who expose their errors. Or they quietly drop their claims, without ever acknowledging that they were wrong, and replace them with a new set of implausible assertions.

4. Project your worst characteristics onto your opponent.”

. June 18, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Climate change deniers doing a disservice to legitimate science

By Naomi Oreskes and Richard Littlemore
Special to the Sun June 18, 2010

If you read either of our books ( Merchants of Doubt, by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, or Climate Cover- up, by James Hoggan with Richard Littlemore), you’ll find overwhelming evidence that the “debate” about climate change is neither accidental nor particularly scientific.

Doubt mongering works for three reasons. First, nobody likes bad news. Cancer-scare stories often make the news, but they can’t compete with the reports that drinking a couple of glasses a wine per day might be the cure.

Second, reporters honour the underdog, especially in the U.S., with its tradition of glorifying the heroic individual. If most of the world’s best scientists agree that climate change is real and threatening, reporters feel bound to give air time to outlying “experts” who promote a contrarian argument. The third reason also speaks to journalistic bias: News, almost by definition, tends to consist of the unusual, the unfortunate or the out-of-the-ordinary. Just as they ignore planes that don’t crash or crimes that don’t occur, reporters pay more attention to accusations of wrongdoing than to subsequent reports of acquittal. Innocence isn’t interesting.

. July 6, 2010 at 1:42 pm

“But we’re in danger of forgetting that it concerns a deadly serious matter: a change in the climatic conditions which have made human civilisation and the current human population possible, and, specifically, the degradation of the most wonderful and beautiful of the world’s ecosystems into desert and scrubby grassland. It is hard to overstate the irresponsibility of those who misrepresent the science in order to persuade people that no action needs to be taken.

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