Tag: global warming

A climate warming skeptic sees the light

October 21, 2011 | By | Reply More
A climate warming skeptic sees the light

A darling of many climate-change skeptics is a physicist who has done his own analysis and concluded:

The earth is indeed getting warmer. Global average land temperatures have risen 0.91 degrees Celsius over the past 50 years. This is “on the high end of the existing range of reconstructions.”

The rate of increase on land is accelerating. Warming for the entire 20th century clocks in at 0.73 degrees C per century. But over the most recent 40 years, the globe has warmed at a rate of 2.76 degrees C per century.

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The growing global warming gap . . . psychoanalyzed

September 24, 2011 | By | Reply More

MSNBC offers the following on the global warming gap, based on a recent Gallop poll:

On the question of whether they believed the effects of global warming were already happening, the percentage of self-identified Republicans or conservatives answering “yes” plummeted from almost 50 percent in 2007-2008 to 30 percent or less in 2010, while liberals and Democrats remained at 70 percent or more, according to the study in this spring’s Sociological Quarterly.

Notice that the question wasn’t about causation. It did not ask the cause of the warming (human caused versus natural fluctuation), but merely whether the Earth was warming.

Perhaps Gallop should have coupled its question with these just to get at the root of this insanity (and see here):  A) Do you trust thermometers? B) When your mother used a thermometer, did you trust her? and C)   When scientists announce the following data, are these highly credentialed professionals actually acting as conniving scam artists who are out to try to somehow make a bunch of money?

Caveat:  I know that I’ve betrayed my beliefs that the earth is, indeed warming.  This is not to suggest that I ever advocated any sort of cap and trade approach to the problem, which I consider to be a fraud in general and riddled with corruption wherever it has been allegedly implemented (based, for example, on this Harper’s Magazine article titled “Conning the Climate,” (October 2007).

Rather, I believe that we need to have the intelligence and courage to directly regulate our production of CO2.   I’m not confident that we’ll be able to do that.  Why?  Because America has an extremely long track record of failing to do what intelligence and self-restraint would require.   We are a nation steeped in ignorance, as demonstrated by the large numbers of people who refused to believe basic thermometer data.

People don’t engage in climate denialism because they are “stupid.”   Most evidence deniers are quite capable of considering evidence and making rational decisions, but there is a lot more going on in humans than rational thought.  There is also our emotional/social side. To describe human animals, psychologist Jonathan Haidt uses the metaphor of a lawyer riding an elephant.  Public assertions that contradict clear evidence are public displays of group loyalty, and sometimes people are more compelled to display loyalty than to crunch data to a logical conclusion that conflicts with tenets embraced by the group.  For the most part, this decision to choose loyalty over evidence is not a fully conscious one, but it can often result in a compelling display of loyalty to the extent that it is an expensive display.  Amotz Zahavi has written extensively on this topic of expensive and therefore reliable displays.  I discuss this urge to display as a badge of group belonging in my five-part series called “Mending Fences.”  See also, this post on the work of Richard Sosis.

I would describe the process like this: It’s as though the felt compulsion to show loyalty to the ingroup erects an electrified fence in the mind of the group member protecting the group’s creed of beliefs from serious critical inquiry.  If humans were really heating up the planet, it could call for humans (to the extent that they acted as good-hearted moral beings) to make dramatic coordinated changes in the way we run our society.  But if this could be done at all, it could only be done by government fiat.  But modern conservatives hold it as a religious belief that government is feckless and wasteful.  Although it seems pointedly absurd for those of us who trust the readings of thermometers, it is much easier to deny rising temperatures than to admit this evidence but then explain why one is not doing anything meaningful about the problem. Especially given the fact that conservatives tend to live inland (coastal areas tend to have more liberal inhabitants–Jonathan Haidt explains this geographical dispersion).

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Global warming as a market failure

June 9, 2010 | By | Reply More
Global warming as a market failure

At CNN, Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway portray climate change as another victim of free market fundamentalism:

Since the early 1990s, there has been a sustained history of attempts to undermine any science that suggested that contemporary industrial society might be doing irreparable harm to human health and the natural environment. This included the science that demonstrated the harms of DDT, the dangers to children of second-hand smoke, the causes of acid rain, and the reality of the ozone hole. Often the same people were involved in several or even all of these attacks. The common feature in all these cases was a link to think tanks promoting free markets and opposing government regulations.

One doesn’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to see the pattern: People are loath to admit that our free market system has created problems that the free market has proved ineffectual to solve. Nicolas Stern, former chief economist at the World Bank, has called global warming “the greatest and widest-ranging market failure ever seen.”

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Power versus truth

April 29, 2010 | By | Reply More
Power versus truth

This video illustrates the conflict between truth and power. The parody troupe called the “Yes Men” staged a “press conference” presenting themselves to be representatives of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. As part of this conference, they took the position that “clean coal” was a myth and that the Obama Administration should be instead focusing upon proven effective technologies such as solar energy and conservation.

In the middle of these proceedings, in walks the the Executive Director of Communications of the Chamber of Commerce making clear that he, Eric Wohlschlegel, was the true representative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, further announcing that the event was a “fraud” and a “stunt.” Wohlschlegel then twice announced, “If you have any questions, you are welcome to direct them to me.”

After a rather testy yet amusing moment where the two purported representatives questioned each others’ identities, a reporter took up the offer of Wohlschlegel, raising her hand and asking Wohlschlegel to comment on whether the Chamber of Commerce “acknowledges climate change.” Wohlschlegel refused to answer this simple question and, instead, scurried away. His actions aren’t surprising in light of the Chamber’s failure to even admit that the climate is changing. The Chamber and its cheerleaders simply can’t find the courage to admit that the climate is changing.

This stunt illustrates the interplay between truth and power. Scientists are virtually unanimous that climate change is happening as a result of increased greenhouse gases, and that this situation presents huge dangers to our civilization (and thus to our economy). Scientists don’t have enough money to flood Congress with lobbyists, however. “Clean coal” is a joke, technologically and as a public policy (and see here); no such technology exists, and there is nothing feasible on the horizon. It is beyond debate that coal is a terribly dangerous basis for an energy policy, yet the Chamber is married to Coal. In the meantime, conservation, ignored by the Chamber, is a guaranteed way to address energy needs and to minimize risk of further climate change, yet the Chamber would rather promote profits than truth. Here is the kind of company the Chamber coal-trainkeeps and the kinds of tactics it uses to prevent honest dialogue regarding the causes of climate change and meaningful steps that should be taken to address it. Here’s a lot more information from the website of the “Yes Men.” And here’s Rachel Maddow’s report.

If we’ve learned anything in the past 10 years, we’ve learned that you can “swiftboat” any person and any Truth, if you have a lot of money. In modern society, truth, all by itself, doesn’t have legs. A 2009 poll by Pew Research Center found that “[w]hile 84% of scientists say the earth is getting warmer because of human activity such as burning fossil fuels, just 49% of the public agrees.”

According to the March/April edition of Public Citizen News (I have the print edition only), the Chamber’s reactionary position has driven away numerous corporate giants such as Nike, General Electric and Apple. Public Citizen has presented a brochure of various legitimate ways of dealing with climate change. Ironically and sadly, the Chamber is wearing narrow blinders that needlessly drive it into the arms of the fossil fuel industries. Those with open minds know that “protecting the climate is not costly but profitable.”

Wohlschlegel barged into the fake conference to announce that the fake speaker was not “legitimate.” In reality, Wohlschlegel’s (and the Chamber’s) failure to deal with the issue of climate change honestly shows that they are not legitimate. Nonetheless, the Chamber has lots of money, and thus lots of power to load up the halls of Congress and media airwaves with falsehoods. And if you fill up enough airwaves with false statements, it will confuse the public, meaning that nothing gets done on these two critically important issues of energy supply and climate change. But that is exactly the plan of the Chamber.

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Warming to Climate Claims

February 9, 2010 | By | 11 Replies More
Warming to Climate Claims

As Washington D.C. gets record snowfall, climate denialists cackle with glee. It was a cool summer, and now a cold winter. So, they wonder, where is this global warming?

“People,” I want to condescendingly say, “look at the sun.” Weather girls of all genders and persuasions are mentioning that this is the coldest winter in 11 years. Notice that? Are they unaware that there is an 11 year cycle of solar warming and cooling that corresponds to — and can be measured by — sunspots? So it’s like saying with implied importance that this is the coldest month since 12 months ago. The spots are just starting up, much like the days getting longer at the end of December. Here is a nice look at the sunspot phenomenon.

It is intuitively confusing that dark spots mean more heat. But the pair of images here shows visible and ultraviolet views of the same scene. Those dark spots are tunnels into the gamma-hot regions of the sun. Our eyes can only see one octave on the spectrum. Both hotter than blue and cooler than red ranges are invisible. Dark. Red hot is the coldest temperature that gives off light. (Read about Black Body Radiation if you want to know how this is known.)

Another detail that climate denialists get wrong is the meaning of heavy snowfall. If you get heavy precipitation, it implies much moisture aloft. That is, many more megatons of water are evaporated. By heat.

So before you point to a low local current temperature as evidence against global warming, please look at the time scale that climatologists use, like the Temperature record of the past 1000 years, or even for the last century and a half:

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Thinking through global warming

November 2, 2009 | By | 4 Replies More
Thinking through global warming

Greg Craven argues that we should “choose columns” rather than “guess rows” when thinking through global climate change:

This lecture seems to amount to a “Pascal’s Wager” of GCC.

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How to slow global warming: paint all of the roofs white

May 27, 2009 | By | 4 Replies More
How to slow global warming:  paint all of the roofs white

What can we do to slow global warming? Steven Chu suggests that one way would be to paint our roofs white:

Professor Steven Chu, the US Energy Secretary, said the unusual proposal would mean homes in hot countries would save energy and money on air conditioning by deflecting the sun’s rays.

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Republicans idea-less on energy issues

May 6, 2009 | By | Reply More
Republicans idea-less on energy issues

Think Progress has summarized current thinking by the GOP on energy issues:

Throughout the discussion on America’s energy future, Republicans have been notably absent. In March, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) announced the creation of the House GOP American Energy Solutions Group, an effort to “work on crafting Republican solutions to lower energy prices for American families and small businesses.” The man chosen to head the committee — which includes notorious climate change deniers Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and John Shimkus (R-IL) — is none other than House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-IN), who, just last night, refused to even admit that climate change is real. “Well, let me tell you,” he told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, “I think the science is very mixed on the subject of global warming.” “Then why should your party believe you’re going to get serious about it, if you say the science is mixed?” Matthews asked. Pence replied, “Yeah, it’s a fair question.”

And what about the Chamber of Commerce? It MUST be walking in lockstep with the GOP, right? Wrong:

An analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council(NRDC) found that just four of the 122 board members at the Chamber share the group’s questioning of science and stark opposition to federal regulations to reduce global warming pollution.

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Congressman John Shimkus: The Bible says don’t worry about global warming

March 29, 2009 | By | 22 Replies More
Congressman John Shimkus:  The Bible says don’t worry about global warming

Illinois Representative John Shimkus knows all he needs to know about climate change. It’s all in the infallible Bible. Here he is demolishing all of that silly science with a few phrases out of Genesis. Based on his expressions, he’s a hero in his own eyes. He’s got that look that he knows he will go to heaven. Don’t worry. There’s only going to be one worldwide flood and we’ve already had it. Case closed. Proceedings from the March 25, 2009 hearing of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment:

If you want to learn a lot more about the nonsense Shimkus spouts, visit Progress Illinois.

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