Climate Change is Real, and it’s Heating Up

Climate Change is Real, and it’s Heating Up

Despite what many GOP contenders for the 2012 presidential nomination say, the Earth really is heating up, and the costs of global warming may be drastically higher than previous estimates suggested. Meanwhile, investigators in the so-called ‘Climategate’ scandal have now once again cleared climate scientist Michael Mann of all charges of misconduct. It turns out the East Anglia scandal was largely a manufactured one. The political implications of all of this are serious.

Rather than face the overwhelming scientific consensus, one of the two major political parties in the United States is determined to discredit, through whatever means, the fact of anthropogenic global warming. The conservative media machine is only too happy to lead the charge, even if that means muddying the name of a respected climate scientist in the process. It’s all preposterous of course. As Elizabeth Kolbert notes in the New Yorker, “No one has ever offered a plausible account of why thousands of scientists at hundreds of universities in dozens of countries would bother to engineer a climate hoax.”

Such is the nature of conspiracy theories. Fox News and the conservative talk radio circuit push fake scandals like ‘Climategate’ to score political points. Like the shoddy faux-science used to link autism to vaccines, critics of global warming pick the one scientist in a thousand who backs their views and ignore the vast consensus.

Even conservatives who admit that climate change exists often take the position that there is nothing we can do about it without severely harming global GDP growth. This is a reasonable enough position to take – policy, after all, is anything but hard science. Surveying the scientific facts on the ground is one thing – crafting sensible policies to deal with something as complicated and dire as global climate change is something else entirely.

Still, the complexity and seriousness of the problem of climate change simply underscores how important it is that both major political parties are at least on the same page when it comes to the science. If we can’t agree on the science, in spite of the overwhelming and ever-growing bulk of research pointing to global temperatures rising, how can we hope to craft a policy that will effectively tackle the problem?

The fact is, we can’t. So long as policymakers either deny climate science or simply don’t care enough about the implications of climate change, no good policy will pass in Washington. It’s possible that even with a Republican party not hostile to science that consensus would never be reached, or that any consensus hammered out and labeled bipartisan would be so watered-down and full of loopholes that it would barely scratch the surface to begin with. The political realities of the Senate make comprehensive climate change legislation as unlikely as single-payer healthcare, but especially if an entire major political party denies the problem to begin with.

Then again, there are reasonable compromises to be had.

Cap-and-Trade. Cap-and-Trade was initially an idea designed to appeal to market proponents, and harness the power of markets to control carbon dioxide emissions. Republicans have since labeled the idea ‘cap-and-tax’ and its old proponents on the right have since distanced themselves from the proposal. Still, despite rumors to the contrary, Europe’s cap-and-trade scheme has worked admirably to curb carbon emissions.

Replace the payroll tax with a carbon tax. With the GOP suddenly against cutting payroll taxes, this idea may not have as much traction as it once did. Still, during a stilted economic recovery there may be no better time than now to ditch the payroll tax in favor of a carbon tax. The idea is simple: replace a tax on something we want more of – productivity and jobs – with a tax on something we want less of – carbon emissions. It makes a lot of sense from an economic perspective, but it makes even more sense if you accept climate change as a scientific fact. A repeal of the payroll tax could stimulate the economy and create new jobs, while at the same time the new carbon tax could help curb carbon outputs. This is a buy-one-get-one-free policy that should appeal to both conservatives and liberals alike.

Straight carbon tax and carbon tariffs. One criticism of any carbon reduction plan is that it will hurt America’s global competitiveness. This is a fair critique. After all, global warming is not limited to the United States – the solution should also be global. As failed climate treaties and agreements have shown, this is a lot easier said than done. America could, however, implement a straightforward tax on carbon and couple that with a carbon tax on imports from countries with high carbon emissions. This would place pressure on other economies to implement carbon reduction programs of their own, while limiting the impact of US policies on global competitiveness.

Finance clean energy research. With just about every government program outside of defense facing a potential cut, government investment in green energy and technology may be a pipedream. Still, policy analysts on the right and left have suggested increasing government spending on clean energy research. This approach can either take the shape of direct government grants for research, or as tax credits for people who purchase green technology or energy like electric cars or solar panels. While tax subsidies are a quicker way to incentivize people to go green, direct funding of research can help push forward major breakthroughs. Then again, whenever government funds one project over another it’s taking a risk of picking favorites, and those favorites may not always practice the best science.

End existing fossil fuel and road subsidies. There are many other ways we could tackle climate change, from increased investment in mass transportation to a gas tax to the manufacturing of lighter cars, but one way government can put green energy on a more level playing field with fossil fuels is to end the many ways it subsidizes everything from coal to oil to car manufacturing. Between 2002 and 2008 the US Federal government subsidized the fossil fuel industry to the tune of $72 billion dollars. All that government spending leads directly to increased carbon emissions. After all, if you want more of something you subsidize it, if you want less of something you tax it. At this point, just not subsidizing carbon emissions would be a good start. The Obama administration’s efforts to curb federal subsidies have so far been met with fierce bipartisan opposition.

The politics of climate change is a messy enough business without science denialism in the mix. The 2012 Republican presidential primary is a good testing ground for how climate change would fare under a Republican administration. So far the results are neither hopeful nor surprising. With the exception of the little-known Jon Hunstman, the leading contenders for the Republican nod are all either solidly against global warming science, or too wishy-washy to tell.

Unless our elected officials are willing to accept the vast bulk of scientific evidence and consensus on anthropogenic climate change, we won’t be able to come up with any reasonable policy compromise. Even ending government subsidies and tax breaks for fossil fuel producers is bound to run up against too much opposition from the anti-tax crusaders. Many sensible policy proposals exist that could help begin to curb carbon emissions and usher in clean energy, but none of them will work overnight and all of them will take political will to move forward.

So long as the Republican party remains the party of science denialism, from climate change to evolution, efforts to prevent global warming will be stymied at every turn. Enough Democrats remain closely aligned with energy producers to make any climate change bill a tough pass even with team blue in control. That’s great if you happen to be an oil executive with short-term profits as your number one priority. If you happen to be worried about drastic changes in weather patterns, increased intensity of hurricanes, massive droughts, food shortages and famine, and the enormous economic cost of these disasters, you should probably be a little bit more worried.

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173 thoughts on “Climate Change is Real, and it’s Heating Up

  1. So i’m guessing you were trying to find a topic to blog about that would create less heat and barking made comments section then the recent unpleasantness.

    This is a good summation of where we are at and why were are boned. One of the key parts of a conspiracy theory is it can never be disproved; any info that supports the conspiracy is treasured and any evidence that shows the conspiracy to be bull is just part of the conspiracy and further evidence for the conspiracy. Trying to get people to believe in scientific data that don’t want it is a mugs game.

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    • Yeah right? Nothing controversial here, people, move along…

      Seriously, though, climate change is one of those things that effects everyone. If liberty ends when my fist hits your face, then it surely ends when our carbon outputs result in all sorts of horrible weather changes, floods, droughts, etc. A fist takes all sorts of shapes.

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      • It seems to me many, although not all, libertarians and conservatives don’t seem to take enviro damage as much of an issue. Its not one person polluting community property but always ends up being turned into a debate, or accusation, about gov control over individuals. I’ve heard more then one person say there is no such thing as a collective action problem.

        I’m 45, i figure i’ll spend my retirement years needling my fellow retirees about all that heat and how screwed all their kids are. In 30 years i’m betting a lot people won’t admit they bought into the conspiracy theory crap.

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    • … have you seen exxon secrets? that’s a conspiracy theory (that exxon was funding the climate deniers) with real research behind it.

      The problem with most conspiracy theories are they are needlessly complex and ignore the obvious.

      The Mob didn’t kill JFK (… you got Spector to kowtow to the mob? please…), but it’s fairly obvious who did, and it relates to his policies and not his pop.

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  2. I don’t entirely understand the US debate over payroll taxes. As far as I’m aware, payroll taxes are the money that goes into social security and medicare. So if you cut payroll taxes, where does the funding from those programs come from? I hear that proposal quite often from conservatives, which makes me suspect that at least some of them view it as a backdoor way of eliminating entitlement programs.

    But aside from that, I think that a carbon tax would be a good idea. The one in BC is well-designed because it’s balanced by income tax cuts that make it revenue-neutral, and it’s working fairly well. There was strong opposition when it first came in, but most people seem to have gotten used to it by now.

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      • Do you have any numbers that demonstrate the revenue from a carbon tax would be enough to fund those programs?

        And you might have written about this before, but what about the tensions in shifting from an income tax to a more regressive consumption tax? How would the tax burden on the poor change?

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        • Oh I have no idea how that trade-off would work. You wouldn’t even have to make a complete trade-off. You could lower the payroll tax and replace that portion of it with a carbon tax for instance.

          Shifting payroll to carbon is not switching from progressive to regressive taxation as they are both regressive. But if you were to do something like that, tax refunds or a negative income tax or any number of other mechanisms could be used to offset the regressive nature of the tax.

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          • so long as we aren’t gonna go broke (somehow!) and we’re not going to make it more regressive, I’m willing to think about it. This is the advantage of having people with similar values — you reassure me, at least in this idea-space, that we’re trying to find something I find good.

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        • “Do you have any numbers that demonstrate the revenue from a carbon tax would be enough to fund those programs?”

          Indeed, if the intent of the tax is to discourage the behavior, then it’ll wind up being like cigarettes–where the tax revenues were used to fund certain programs, and now that nobody smokes anymore those programs are running short of funds…

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          • I think the idea that nobody smokes anymore is akin to all those people who couldn’t have voted for Nixon. About 1/5 or 1/6 of American adults are active smokers. That’s 45 or 50 million people.

            To say that nobody smokes is like saying there are no Hispanic people in America. (There are about 50 million.) Or that there is nobody in California. (There are just under 40 million.)

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        • In BC we’ve dealt with the latter point: the tax cuts that made the carbon tax revenue neutral incorporated substantial tax rebates to low-income people, on a graduated scale so that the amount of the rebate declines with rising income. As it’s set up, the carbon tax has probably made the tax system moderately more progressive.

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        • Well right…hence we’d need to change the policy somehow to create that link. It’s not like people pay directly into their own social security – it’s paid by current workers for current retirees. No reason we can’t fund benefits from a carbon tax or combination of a carbon and payroll tax.

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          • Are yo at all concerned that the basic concept of taxing things people don’t like open ourselves up to a lot of abuse? Taxes as social engineering really kind of creep me out. If something is really that odious, ban it. Of announce a future ban so as to induce a phase out. Or limit production in some way so as to raise prices. Etc.

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          • As I recall, while FDR understood that Social Security was a pay-as-you-go public pension, he also understood that the American voters would not support such a beast, and insisted that it be described in terms that allowed the voters to delude themselves about its nature. Almost 50 years later, the Greenspan Commission again made it sound like prepaid savings rather than PAYG because the majority of American voters would not support the public pension that it was. Almost another 30 years past that, and it still remains unlikely that a majority of American voters would support a system that was accurately described as a PAYG public pension system.

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  3. A couple scattered thoughts:

    -Carbon tariffs could possibly work in conjunction with a carbon tax but the legal implications of them is significant. Unless I’m completely off base here carbon tarrifs would pretty much be illegal with any country we currently have a free trade agreement with (correct me if I’m wrong). Of course there’s a not insignificant danger that we’d end up with a trade war as well.

    -Along with ending fossil fuel subsidies and subsidizing popular but nonfunctional renewable energy I think we should lump Nuclear in here as well both by investigating funding nuclear startups and tech as well as reviewing the regulations that are slathered over that entire industry. A lot of the nuclear regulation was written in a time and era when nuclear power was seen as having nothing but downsides.

    Great post overall.

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    • I think the tariff would have to be worked out in some sort of free trade agreement. You can join the free trade agreement if you tax steps X, Y and Z to combat carbon emissions. If not you can’t join, ergo you hit the tariff. I’m not a protectionist at all, so the idea is not to bolster American business, but rather to incentivize global involvement – which is necessary to combat a global problem. Really I’m just working through an idea to get to get more than just the US involved in this, since it’s pretty useless if we go it alone.

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    • Depending on who you listen to, carbon tariffs may be legal under WTO rules (link). Disclosure: I know very little about international law. And there’s the separate question of whether e.g. China would actually be willing to accept such a tariff without retaliation even if it was ruled legal by the WTO. OTOH, if it led to serious carbon reductions it would probably be worth it anyway–the status quo is simply unsustainable.

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      • WTO rules regarding environmentally-based trade barriers permit such restrictions provided that scientific evidence of an environmental threat is presented and the restriction do not discriminate against foreign goods.

        So, as long as you:
        1) Present evidence of anthropogenic global warming (I would have thought the IPCC report would do)
        2) Don’t tariff foreign carbon more strongly than domestic.
        3) Have some kind of credit system where carbon taxes in the exporting country count against the carbon tariff in your country.

        Your carbon tariff should get through the WTO no problem. That doesn’t necessarily help you with retaliation though.

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  4. “[I]nvestigators in the so-called ‘Climategate’ scandal have now once again cleared climate scientist Michael Mann of all charges of misconduct.”

    hah, yeah. “Penn State investigation board finds that famous Penn State professor didn’t do anything wrong, reports Penn State.”

    …oh, what, we can only disparage study funding when the conclusions are contra-AGW?

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      • The NSF did NOT do an investigation from scratch. What they did instead was REVIEW the investigation previously done by Penn State and ONLY examined the information Penn St. gave them. Penn State by NO MEANS did a thorough investigation, which has been documented elsewhere.

        The real question is whether PSU engaged in a competent investigation?

        People outside the law profession likewise imagine that a legal appeal process actually reopens the case. No such thing happens. In fact my poor son had the misfortune to get selected for jury duty wherein the entire court record of a previous case was read out loud to the jury. No the jury was NOT allowed to read the record for themselves. NO there was NOT any new information brought to light. Most jurors slept through the entire thing, then they got to vote yea or nay. This is the way our supposed justice system works.

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          • Knapp, I read every word of it, didn’t you? They didn’t go back to the source emails, they didn’t interview ONE SINGLE PERSON. If they had for instance interviewed Wahl they’d have had damning evidence. But they didn’t WANT to find damaging evidence. Furthermore they constrained their ‘search’ to only those dates when they had provided funding.

            Now it also happens that prior to Penn, Mann was at University of Virginia and the Attorney General of Virginia /attempted/ to investigate Mann’s doings there but UV has fought him tooth and nail (vs for instance Harvard. The question is why? Does UV fear that an AG office will run a more competent investigation, given that they are professionals at that?

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            • They didn’t go back to the source emails

              *sigh*

              “As a part of our investigation, we again fully reviewed all the reports and documentation the University
              provided to us, as well as a substantial amount of publically available documentation concerning both
              the Subject’s research and parallel research conducted by his collaborators and other scientists in that
              particular field of research.

              Nice try, that.

              Additionally, I suppose that the international panel that the UEA convened is also mysteriously biased, despite being unaffiliated with the university. (http://www.uea.ac.uk/mac/comm/media/press/CRUstatements/SAP)

              As for UVa, I can think of several reasons why a University would fight a politically motivated investigation of one of their employees where there’s no allegation of a crime, even if their professor is completely blameless. Especially when the attorney general in question is already on the record as disbelieving in climate change and evolution….

              And finally, let me just ask you one question: What is the mechanism whereby carbon dioxide loses its heat trapping capabilities in a planet’s atmosphere? I ask this because it’s been empirically demonstrated in labs thousands of times that increase the concentration of CO2 in a gaseous mixture leads to heat trapping. What’s your alternate hypothesis?

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              • , I know you’re supposed to be proficient in English or you have a ghost typist, but please find the word, EMAIL in this phrase: as well as a substantial amount of publically available documentation concerning both the Subject’s research and parallel research conducted by his collaborators and other scientists in that particular field of research. Notice also that the word RESEARCH occurred twice in that phrase. Does RESEARCH read like EMAIL to you? Or Climategate? Whitewash. That would be game-set-match for me. Let’s play again sometime. :)

                To your second statement. Completely irrelevant. Don’t assume I’m carrying someone else’s water. CO2 DOES retain SOME heat in SOME infrared wavelengths. The IPCC claims that based on models the CO2 will be SUPERSIZED (my word not theirs) by something they call a forcing effect. The FORCING comes from the REAL “greenhouse gas” which is called WATER VAPOR. I’ve read the reports, I’ve read the science and I’ve read in the SOURCE CODE which was part of the Climategate emails how they are “forcing” the system to give the output they want.

                Patrick doesn’t believe groupthink can operate outside a small group. What he doesn’t realize is how the Internet itself has created multiple hive-minds (look it up) and they can have 60K members and still be entirely cohesive. That is groupthink writ large. Researchers who regularly collaborate, regularly cite each other’s papers and regularly benefit from the hysteria they are purposely creating are disinclined to rock their own personal gravy train. The fiscal operators, of whom Al Gore is a prime culprit have every intention of enhancing this gravy train with a tax system on the largest (by far) industry in the world, which is the fossil fuel industry. So far (and fortunately for the world’s economy) they have failed in this. They are not ready to quit, they just need more useful idiots.

                Just because you CHOOSE to be blind doesn’t mean I have to follow you off your lemming cliff. They did NOT read the fishing emails and any idiot can see that.

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                • > Patrick doesn’t believe groupthink
                  > can operate outside a small group.
                  > What he doesn’t realize is how the
                  > Internet itself has created multiple
                  > hive-minds (look it up) and they
                  > can have 60K members and still
                  > be entirely cohesive.

                  That’s a fair point, Ward.

                  > That is groupthink writ large.

                  Not exactly. Groupthink, as a phenomena, concerns decision-making, not general belief systems. Sorry if I wasn’t clear.

                  In that context, it still depends upon a small group.

                  > Researchers who regularly
                  > collaborate, regularly cite each
                  > other’s papers and regularly
                  > benefit from the hysteria they
                  > are purposely creating are
                  > disinclined to rock their own
                  > personal gravy train.

                  There are several things happening in this chunk, so I’ll try to address it all.

                  One: there is a difference between collaboration and decision-making.

                  Two: the power structure of a collaborating researcher and a fellow is not typically prone to the failure you’re talking about except when one researcher is directly subordinate to another. This does occasionally occur with graduate students and faculty members. It does not occur with frequency between two peers. It certainly doesn’t work pervasively when it needs to spread pairwise, either.

                  Finally:

                  > hysteria they are purposely creating

                  I need to ask for a point of clarification, Ward.

                  Is it your honest belief that the 1,000+ researchers referenced elsewhere on this thread are all “purposely creating” this hysteria?

                  You have leveled accusations of bias, malfeasance, fraudulent research, misrepresentation of data, collusion, and a half-dozen others. But I’m honestly not certain who is covered by your charge(s).

                  Is it everybody at CRU? Is it (almost) everybody at IPCC? Is it everybody at Penn State? Is it everybody at the UEA? Royal Academy of Sciences?

                  Do you actually realize how much money is in this “personal gravy train”? And how little of it actually goes out to the PIs, in the form of income?

                  A tenured professor typically makes much less money than a lawyer who has passed the bar. In my experience, professors who make more than even a moderately compensated lawyer sit on a corporate board or have a significant patent. To the best of my knowledge, no climate scientist sits on a corporate board, and none of them hold title to a significant patent. Are these the dumbest criminal masterminds in history?

                  Do you have any credible evidence, whatsoever, that anyone you list above as being “in on it” supplements their income via investment in these green energy companies that are so lucrative they don’t even crack the Fortune 100?

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                  • Pat, First thanks for fixing the italics. I had switched the /i for an i/ by mistake and the whole webpage turned to italics including all subsequent posts. Weird that.

                    In climate science there is a group which has self-identified as “the team”. The “team” exists across multiple organizations. We do not know every member of the “team” but know many of the more vocal members. That “team” by your definition is absolutely involved in groupthink and is absolutely involved in the shenanigans I’ve identified as evidenced in the Climategate emails and other behavior such as at Realclimate. The “team” also has adherents in the IPCC political organization and of course in local politics as well.

                    The polarization which we’ve already seen occur has placed the Democrats squarely in defense of the team’s agenda so the Republicans are now in opposition. Meanwhile as I’ll show below, public funds are being squandered to ensure that the coming generations are already mindless zombies to “the team’s” cause.

                    The cudgel of “consensus” is a chimera because as I’ve already proved, the original “consensus” was fabricated by virtue of a mass email to anyone with a pulse so they could “claim” consensus. The rest of the science societies who piled on such as the APS put out a “statement” of agreement with the “consensus” that was by no means indicative of a vote nor in fact of any kind of consensus of members (WHO WERE NEVER ASKED FOR THEIR OPINION!) That kind of political gamesmanship happened elsewhere too.

                    So is it groupthink, mind meld, Machiavellian maneuvering, Alinsky Delta method or some new unnamed phenomenon? Pointing back to your own link. That grant example has NOTHING to do with science and EVERYTHING to do with indoctrination! (Hoping here the damn italics works properly): I am currently listed as a co-investigator (co-I) on a NASA grant proposal that is to be submitted this month. The principal investigator (PI) is a colleague of mine who I will call Prof. X and the grant budget is requesting $437,232.67 over a three year period. Funding from the proposal will be used to create a learning institute to educate secondary education teachers about climate change. These teachers will be trained to use climate data from NASA in order to incorporate the latest climate change science and data into their curricula. Essentially, NASA will be using some of its funds so that our children will become more informed.

                    The BS continues all around you and you don’t want to see it. Indoctrinating ‘children’ is right out of the Nazi playbook. NASA, esp Hansen (a proud member of “the team”) is already subverted. Lindzen uses the NASA data but is being marginalized via Alinsky methods daily. They are just waiting for him to give up.

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          • Nor paid the overhead rate for their administrative support out of a grant, either.

            Not that I have directly myself, but I’ve seen the numbers plenty of times.

            Working in a research university is a pale reflection of the amount of money you can make in private industry.

            People work here largely because they love research. Which is why the “pervasive malfeasance” charge just seems astronomically unlikely on the face of it.

            You might as well say 90% of the members of every other fire department in the city of Los Angeles (~1,750) are out lighting fires to keep their jobs.

            One firefighter at one fire station? Sure, I can see that. Maybe two.

            Certainly not 1,300 of ’em. They might be willing to soak the county for overtime pay, but they’re not so ethically and morally bankrupt that they’ll go pyromaniac.

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            • Not with you on this one, PatC. Groupthink doesn’t require conspiracy. It’s like birds flying in formation, each taking its cue from the next.

              God save the academic who defies the prevailing orthodoxy. Ask Harvey Mansfield, who is worth more than the lot of them.

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              • TVD,
                Citing Irene as a counterexample. One model right, all the rest wrong. Guy who wrote that model? Also models climatology and global warming.
                Groupthink’s all well and good, but not all the scientists work full-time as scientists, let alone have time to read everyone else’s papers.

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        • From the previous AGW discussion it’s clear to me that passing judgement is worthless without a clear standard of what does/doesn’t satisfy the criteria of bias for both sides. It usually ends up taking a few hundred comments before both sides realize they haven’t even chosen the same language to discuss in and skulk away.

          In this particular case, you have AGW skeptics getting together on blogs and at industry-sponsored institutes to bemoan the use of grey-literature and internal investigations. With no hint of irony.

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          • > From the previous AGW discussion it’s
            > clear to me that passing judgement is
            > worthless without a clear standard of
            > what does/doesn’t satisfy the criteria
            > of bias for both sides.

            I have yet to have anyone answer my umpteeth-repeated question from the previous AGW thread: What would it take to convince you that you are wrong?

            I think that’s indicative of something.

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            • Pat, you don’t recognize your intellectual bias in your question so I’ll simply rephrase it for you.

              What Patrick will it take for me to convince YOU that YOU are WRONG WRONG WRONG in your thinking?

              How does that grab you? Do you like the implied insult?

              I’ve shown you tainted research, tainted methods, tainted results, tainted models, tainted politics, tainted science and you’re not convinced there’s anything going on. Did you get hit by a stupid stick?

              The other posters here don’t concern me, they aren’t as smart as you are. You’re the smart one, you’re the one who works at a major research university with a sterling reputation. I’ve rebutted every point you’ve sent my way unlike those you claim can’t or won’t. You pretend I don’t answer your question when I HAVE answered your question. Your question has inherent bias in it of course and I think I’ve just hammered that point home.

              What will it take for you to think for yourself and stop being a sheeple?

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              • > What Patrick will it take for me to
                > convince YOU that YOU are WRONG
                > WRONG WRONG in your thinking?

                I’ve said that, on previous threads. Like, here.

                Give me a better explanatory model, and I’m on board.

                > How does that grab you? Do you
                > like the implied insult?

                There is no insult implied, Ward. What you infer is seriously your own problem.

                Look, I’m well familiar with lots of different frameworks of thought, aiight? If you’re going to have a scientific debate, you’d better be prepared to have some idea of what your falsification standard is. If you don’t have one (e.g., string theory), you get to take lumps from people that think that this is a necessary facet of the gig.

                The whole reason psychoanalysis is not considered scientific isn’t because Freud was considered an idiot. It was because there is no way to refute any particular psychoanalytic diagnosis. That doesn’t mean it can’t be valuable. It doesn’t mean that Freud didn’t have something to say.

                In this particular case, I need to know where your fucking goal posts are. “Good science” is not a goalpost, and that’s the closest you’ve come to giving me one, unless I missed a comment somewhere.

                > I’ve shown you tainted research,
                > tainted methods, tainted results,
                > tainted models, tainted politics,
                > tainted science and you’re not
                > convinced there’s anything going
                > on.

                You’ve alleged quite a bit. Again, unless I’ve missed a comment here or there, I’m pretty sure I’ve responded to almost all of them.

                In a couple of cases, I’ve asked very specific questions which you haven’t answered.

                There’s also the interesting side note that you’ve never acknowledged the possibility that your accusation of “tainted (foo)” also comes with some necessary causal theories.

                Some research may appear to be tainted. And yet, clearly, it has popular support. The conclusion is that either the popular support is misguided, or you’ve got a conspiracy. But Occam steps in: what explains the conspiracy?

                Let’s take the forcing factors question: on that previous thread, you said:

                > The other forcing factor is present
                > in the models trying to explain
                > away why they don’t jibe with the
                > past known temperatures and
                > know CO2 levels. The “plugin”
                > forcing factor they are all using
                > is the aerosol effect, which magically
                > disappears as they attempt to
                > predict the future. They literally
                > have used this aerosol effect to
                > match the past trends.

                Assuming you agree with the temperature record (and I’m not sure if you do or NOT, because you’ve never come out and actually said which of the anti-AGW arguments are on your list of theory-killers)… you’ve still not indicated that this question can be answered to your satisfaction.

                Again, if you’ll agree to give me some standard of evidence, I’ll go out and find out why the models are the way they are, on this specific question. Because every other time I’ve gone looking for a theory-killer counterfactual, I’ve found one. But I’m hugely unconvinced that you’ll even agree with what I find, so that seems to be a lot of frickin’ work for nothing.

                > Did you get hit by a stupid stick?

                From your perspective, I suppose that’s the only rational explanation.

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                • Have you watched the video yet? Do you (or all the other minion sheeple on this website) even KNOW what the IPCC is claiming? I’ve been too busy with actual work to stay involved in this discussion on this OP. These are just flyby’s but AGW is full of holes and the fact that is that outfits like the WWF (world wildlife fund) stand to make $60 BILLION by reselling Indulgences er, I mean feel good carbon credits. This is still just science when it suits them. Gore is screaming BS because Gore is losing money. Gore’s friends are losing money. The gravy train hasn’t left the station like it was supposed to. It is not YOUR gravy train, it is a gravy train nonetheless.

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            • Nothing short of a super nova of our sun would convince me that AGW is real. Even then, I’d have to see the data. Probably be living on Jupiter as well.

              It’s very well understood that this man-made global warming nonsense is a total complete hoax and fraud. You will find very few atmospheric scientists signing on to such transparent rubbish—the “scientists” are usually Bertrand Russell type cranks and nuts with social agendas and $$$ up their sleeves.

              Remember the Mt. Kilimanjaro hoax? Just a total complete lie. Temperature sensors that were placed around this mountain recorded below freezing year round–this was for several years. Get it, gentlemen, ice can melt without warm air—drum roll please, it can also melt through EVAPORATION!! Which is precisely why glaciers are shrinking and retreating from the mountain. There has also been a substantial lack of precipation–a lack great enough that not enough precipation exists to replace the evaporating ice. And you all know from high school earth science, that sublimation turns ice into immediate water vapor.

              This case is closed. Finished. If you want to be Jim Jones kool aid drinking cultists, be my guest. Hard science and scientists have and will have beaten you every step of the way. We really to stop dicking around with this subject–the flat earth warmers most decidely do not have the facts and science on their side.

              Next on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is whether little, red-headed Irish men in green suits living undeground hide their pots of gold at the end of rainbows. Finally, a bit of sense on this subject!

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  5. From Jeffrey Kuhner at Washington Times:

    “In fact, the opposite is true: Earth’s atmospheric temperatures have cooled during the past decade; the polar bear population is growing; the Arctic ice caps are not melting; sea levels have remained relatively stable; and hundreds of millions in countries such as India, China and Brazil have been lifted from grinding poverty. The greenhouse-gas theory is evaporating into thin air. Climate change has been the greatest hoax of our time.”

    How can we have such diametrically opposed accounts? Is this guy and other skeptics making stuff up? Does anyone have a valid source one way or the other? I’ve read respected scientists who are skeptics — the number of adherents to either side can’t be the deciding factor, only the facts matter, so how is it resolved when claims are so contradictory? I’m not taking sides — I just don’t know enough about climate change to decide who’s right and who’s wrong. With this much disagreement, though, I hardly think the issue is settled.

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  6. Emissions fell from 2008-2009 because there was kind of this whole recession thing going on…which the EU report does note.

    Much of the actual reduction came from the two biggest emitters, Germany and the UK. Germany used the statistical cheat of including East Germany in its 1990 statistics, so the emissions reductions resulting from modernization of the Soviet-era infrastructure counted in the report. And in the UK, the reductions came from “liberalizing” energy production. Turns out that when you don’t slap huge tariffs on fuels from non-domestic producers, people happily buy cheap natural gas from overseas. I guess you can claim that emissions caps inspired the liberalization, but it’s not like the original high emissions were the result of free-market choices and taxes were necessary to alter people’s preferences.

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  7. I’m confused about why this is in there:Even conservatives who admit that climate change exists often take the position that there is nothing we can do about it without severely harming global GDP growth. This is a reasonable enough position to take – policy, after all, is anything but hard science. Surveying the scientific facts on the ground is one thing – crafting sensible policies to deal with something as complicated and dire as global climate change is something else entirely.Given that a) the politicians you single out concede that the phenomenon exists and requires a public policy solution, and b) many of them are willing to entertain the very public policy proposals you throw out, it hardly seems fair to lump them in with the flat earthers climate change deniers.

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    • … soem are still blackmailed/bribed by the oil companies, and may not be acting in good faith. the running like hell from cap&trade may be indicative of this, provided it happened before the Dems shat all over the principle of “free market” involved.

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      • To be fair, not all objections to policies intended to reverse or mitigate the effects of AGW are about GDP growth. The most frequent, and most correct, counter-argument I’ve seen is that anything the U.S. does is meaningless unless China, India, and Brazil are on board.

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        • see, I doubt this. if we modernize faster, we’ll create tech that we can sell to the rest of the world. and if non-coal/gas/oil tech becomes cheaper, then we’re ahead of the game with infrastructure investments.

          … the price of oil will keep increasing. We are past peak oil.

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          • The tech investment angle is a valid one. This argument is usually used against broad-based solutions intended to curb U.S. emissions like a carbon tax or cap & trade, where I think it’s more persuasive.

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            • slightly. the idea of cap&trade is that it will create investment. I find the idea of an established American company investing in something that will give it profit more than 6 months in the future rather funny at the moment.

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            • IIRC there are an estimated 10 trillion barrels of oil in the Earth’s crust, of which 3 trillion were deemed retrievable and we’ve used somewhere on the order of 1.5 trillion (I’m waving my hands here, this is fuzzy recollection).

              Yes, we can make more of the 7 “non-retrievable” into retrievable, through technology improvements in oil exploration.

              I don’t think that we can do so and sustain growth rates, though. We can’t unlock more oil faster than we’re using it up; significantly curtailing petroleum supply for base power generation (largely by making it prohibitively expensive) is probably coming relatively soon.

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            • The definition of Peak Oil: it’s a “our supply per year” has peaked. Yes, there’s still tons of oil left (and we need it for fertilizer, medicine, and a lot of useful fucking shit — chemists continue to think we’re INSANE for burning oil).

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    • On the policy changes needed: The problem is first that no one can agree on a discount rate (the value of $1 in the future) Different discount rates can make the present value of a future disaster huge or so small as not to be seen over 100 years. the policy discussion is given the net present value of the take no action case, compare this with the net present value of mitigating the problem. In other words do the dreaded cost benefit analysis. After all mitigation of AGW is a form of Insurance, pay a premium now to avoid costs in the future. But we don’t have either an agreed measure of the potential loss or agreement on the premium to be paid, since economists are totally politicized on most issues. I believe the policy argument could be stated that they believe that the premium to be paid is greater than the risk assumed. We all make that call in real life in terms of things we choose not to insure for.

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      • … I’m conservative about the environment. I under NO circumstances want our response to Global Warming to be “fire nuclear weapons until we get Colder again” — because, although that would WORK, we might get the number wrong (and cool off too much).
        We’re on the outer edge of ClassM planets (that means we’re nearly as warm as a planet can be, and sustain human life). I think that should factor into cost/benefit analysis, and I don’t think most economists think about that.

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  8. Unlike the anti-vaxxers, I suspect most of the politicians, pundits, and media who’ve jumped on board with the “climate change is a hoax” conspiracy aren’t, in fact, true believers.

    The Upton Sinclair quote “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it” comes to mind whenever I hear idiots like Inhofe or Perry repeating the canard.

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      • … this argument doesn’t make sense. Unlike the Justice department[under bush], you can’t point to someone being excluded for being an republican. And the pattern of funding reasonable projects has been invariant over presidents.

        … this really isn’t political.

        Dietary studies, pharmacology studies have severe conflict-of-interest problems.

        But if you’re trying to say that all science is bad because it comes from the government… that’s just loony.

        In other news, let’s start quoting some research that isn’t from teh government! Oh, wait, it’s all corporate and thus not published..

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        • The funding objection also misses some key facts about climate research:

          – Not all climate research is done in the U.S. Australia, Japan, and several European institutions and agencies are involved.

          – Not all climate research is funded by government grants. The work done by NOAA, NASA, and other governments’ science agencies often comes out of their regular operating budget (and if you think the Bush appointees running NOAA and NASA from 2001-2008 were in the tank on the pro-AGW side, I’ve got a bridge to sell you…)

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          • DarrenG,
            bear in mind that the Military also has a wing that runs studies about global warming (they started it after the dust bowl).
            There’s a reason Clarke said “global warming is the biggest national security issue of the upcoming century”

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    • We can update that quotation any number of ways.

      “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his entertainments depend upon his not understanding it.”

      “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his party’s re-election depends upon his not understanding it.”

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      • Exactly. I wasn’t intending the Sinclair quote as a strong attack on the funding behind climate change denialists (although this probably does cover guys like Inhofe and Barton and probably Perry), but rather to point out that it’s become a shibboleth within the GOP.

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  9. The thing that I can’t get past with the “global warming” arguments is that it’s so often turned into a moral crusade; an opportunity for neo-Puritans to tell us that it’s a scientifically proven fact that we should do all the things they’ve wanted us to do since they got kicked out of England 500 years ago. We weren’t put on this Earth to be comfortable, Man is fate’s servant and not its master, animals are superior because they lack the capacity for sin, it’s virtuous to starve in the cold dirty darkness.

    If we think that carbon emissions are causing harm then it should be a simple matter to show it. Nobody suggests that leaded gasoline or lead paint didn’t result in harmful levels of environmental lead, or that excessive sulfur emissions didn’t result in acid rain.

    And if we think that reducing those emissions is the best way to reduce that harm, it should be simple to show that–and to show that any other proposed solution is more expensive. Maybe we should solve global warming by taxing fossil fuels out of existence; or maybe the proper response to severe weather is better building codes, bigger drainage ditches, and a more locally-focused disaster-response method.

    But it’s easier to fight against evil, and vastly more fulfilling. After all, who wants to hear that the solution to beach houses washing out to sea is to not build beach houses? Better to imagine that the house was destroyed by Big Oil, like some kind of Captain Planet villain who hates beach houses is intentionally causing hurricanes.

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        • Jaybird,

          I suspect if the convestation became rational and objective, that innovation in the private sector would be much easier to inspire, not that there isn’t already innovation and solution-finding going on. The old Union Camp papermill in a town I lived in used to make the town smell like a rotten egg, but now International Paper operates the plant and the technological advances have been incredible. I think we can keep up with the climate changes if industry is included in solution-finding rather than demonized and regulated to death.

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          • …MFarmer, I do agree. However, I see “industry” as being small caps, not large caps. We may very well need to shoo the large caps out of their current business models, and let the angel investors do their thing with the small caps.

            The idea of cap&trade is that you create an economic incentive to do better. And lo, it worked for Bush!

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    • You seem to be arguing against some a cartoon version of bearded, tree-hugging hippies rather than the largest portion of people who believe AGW is real.

      It’s worth remembering that the American GOP is the only political party in the world who denies climate change is both real and a problem. While there is vigorous and worthwhile debate over the correct policy prescriptions for it (again, contra your argument above) very, very few people outside the Fox News bubble deny it exists.

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      • “It’s worth remembering that the American GOP is the only political party in the world who denies climate change is both real and a problem.”

        So you’re arguing in favor of the Tyrrany Of The Majority?

        “You seem to be arguing against some a cartoon version of bearded, tree-hugging hippies rather than the largest portion of people who believe AGW is real.”

        It used to be that Global Cooling was real, and it was already killing us, and the way to fix it was to reduce emissions and cut power production and make everything more expensive to discourage consumption.

        Then Global Warming was real, and it was already killing us, and the way to fix it was to reduce emissions and cut power production and make everything more expensive to discourage consumption.

        And now Global Climate Change is real, and it’s already killing us, and the way to fix it is to reduce emissions and cut power production and make everything more expensive to discourage consumption.

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        • Except of course that global cooling was never real and indeed, during the time of hype of global cooling (the 70’s), more peer-reviewed studies came out about global warming than global cooling and global warming was always global climate change, it was just named badly.

          So, it’s always been global climate change since at least the late-70’s.

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          • Also, “global cooling” was only real in that a lot of people over-reacted to a poorly-written, poorly-sourced Newsweek cover article in the 70s that completely misstated the relevant climate science of the time.

            The science has been remarkably consistent for the last 40 years, even if the politics and policies haven’t.

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        • “So you’re arguing in favor of the Tyrrany Of The Majority?”

          No, I’m pointing out that this isn’t some widespread controversy with crazed hippies on one side and stalwart industrialists on the other as you’d seemingly have it, but is instead about the dogmas of one particular political party of one nation that’s become increasingly anti-science even as the science hasn’t changed (see below re: global cooling, etc.).

          This isn’t a left vs. right issue. It’s a reality vs. Republican politics issue.

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          • Would it be worth me doing a lengthy search of what little material from the 1970s is available on the internet?

            Because I doubt that you’re at all willing to be convinced that people were as excited and upset about global cooling as they were about global warming, and are now about global climate change.

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            • “People” is an important term, here.

              Science reporting to the general public is really, really bad. There are websites dedicated to taking the mass media to task for just this problem.

              If you want to argue that scientists are bad at policing this on your end, and at marketing good science to the public, I’m on board with that discussion. It’s certainly not a core competency.

              I have no doubt you can find me a ton of references from reputable newspapers telling me how scary this was. Sensationalism isn’t a new phenomenon, D.D.

              Still, in the actual atmospheric research community, there never was much in the way of a body of literature supporting a formal “global cooling” theory.

              Public understanding of science is very low, even accounting for bad science reporting. People still believe in reading tea leaves, for eff’s sake.

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              • “Still, in the actual atmospheric research community…”

                :sigh: you just can’t get away from that No True Scot argument, can you? You keep on saying “everyone says this!” (or, in this case, “nobody says this!”) And then it’s pointed out that this isn’t true. And then we go on a journey of winnowing down the overwhelming consensus, recategorizing and redefining and relabeling, until finally we’re left with a “consensus” of about six people.

                And somewhere along the line the attitude switches from “everyone on earth agrees, why don’t you?” to “there is only a very small group that has the specialized knowledge to understand this and they all agree”. So first I’m supposed to go along with the consensus because it’s huge, but then I’m supposed to ignore the consensus because it’s wrong.

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                • Dude, seriously.

                  If you can’t understand the difference between people with expertise… actual expertise… and public perception… the impression of the untrained… you have really fallen for the idea that anybody can be smart, special, and knowledgeable about everything.

                  And that’s just b.s.

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                • Nice try, but you should examine this:

                  http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/06/04/1003187107.full.pdf+html

                  “Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the ?eld support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scienti?c prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.”

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                  • Yes, Mr. Knapp: The “study” definitely proves that non-Warmers are suppressed by the academy’s control of the peer-review process.

                    ;-)

                    http://www.american.com/archive/2010/july/the-national-academy-of-blacklists

                    This latest NAS slide into politicization should send a serious wakeup call. This disease’s progression has become clear. A few years ago, the NAS shamelessly defended the thoroughly demolished “hockey stick” graph which claimed to show that current temperatures lack a historical precedent. Early this year, the NAS issued a blatant call for a specific climate policy, going far beyond serving as an objective voice of scientific explication. And now it has allowed a badly flawed study in its flagship publication that effectively creates a blacklist, in order to delegitimize scientists who might disagree with a vague “consensus” position on climate-change science. With such antics, the NAS risks losing its credibility, which is really all it has to offer. Someone needs to publicly clean house at the NAS, washing the institution’s hands of public policy pronouncements and renouncing efforts to turn them into a propaganda organ for climate alarmists. The alternative will be declining trust in the NAS, and the further erosion of the public’s belief in scientific pronouncements in general.

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                    • I don’t mean to be a dick, but that review of the PNAS paper is a joke, as is the idea that “the academy” has control of the peer-review process (do you know how many NAS members there are compared to the number of journal reviewers?). Green’s concerns are as follows:

                      1. The study is over-conservative in placing researchers into the “unconvinced” group. Including scientists who object to policy positions but not the science of AGW.
                      2. Google Scholar is not the ideal measure of expertise.

                      For the first critique, it should be obvious that such an approach would actually dampen the findings of the paper by blurring the distinction between the two groups (adding statistical noise); so the fact that the findings were still significant is even more striking.

                      For the second critique, let’s look at the quote: “Does Google Scholar really limit itself to scholars? No. Search “Al Gore” on Google Scholar and you will find some 33,200 Scholar hits, almost 10 times as many as obtained by searching “James Hansen,” a true scientist and easily the best known of those endorsed by Prall as a bona fide believer…“. Actually, following the (admittedly primitive) methodology of the paper, A-Gore returns 124 hits and J-Hansen returns 1,220 hits. With Hansen’s top four papers (again, going by the methodology) significantly outweighing those of Gore. In fact, the PNAS paper specifically addressed this issue, finding that Scholar citations correspond well to those of Web of Science but aggregate additional sources and that general parameter tuning didn’t have much of an effect.

                      So … this is basically an own goal. And if two professional skeptics can’t dissect a trivial 2pg letter, I dare to imagine what they would do with a serious climate analysis.

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                    • While there are problems with peer-review, Tom, it is very difficult for decentralized authentication mechanisms (and yes, a dozen or more journals qualifies as “decentralized”, for the purpose of this discussion) to fail this way.

                      It also requires a number of directed malicious actions that would be difficult to execute.

                      Finally, that wouldn’t likely explain a 98% percentile return on 1300+ people.

                      That’s an awful lot of groupthink. Now certainly groupthink occurs, but as I’ve mentioned elsewhere it is very difficult for really bad groupthink to occur outside the bounds of a relatively cohesive small group.

                      The incentives, in science, are for positive results, not negative ones (which, as an aside, is a big drawback to the process as it leads to a lot of inefficient replication of negative results, but that’s not precisely germane to this point).

                      Generally, when doing science, it is vastly easier to have positive results when attacking an unlikely theory than it is to have positive results when supporting a demonstrably false theory.

                      There’s just too many incoming disconfirmations.

                      So you’re talking about maintaining a very difficult charade for a very murky purpose for a very long time, which is fooling a very large number of very smart people who aren’t in on the gag but are close enough to get fooled by the chaff.

                      Again, why would anyone do this when you can run a grant application for a likely theory that has good evidence in support of it and not have to cook your results and worry about getting caught? How does this explain how so few people in the actual field haven’t actually realized while studying this stuff for years that it’s all mucked up?

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                    • To add to the pile:

                      “The “study” definitely proves that non-Warmers are suppressed by the academy’s control of the peer-review process.”

                      Cutesy emoticons aside, what in that article “definitely proves” that non-Warmers are “suppressed” by the peer-review process? Where in that article does he even talk about control of the peer-review process being used as a tool of denial-ist suppression?

                      Also, just because I can’t not mention it: ugh. Someone in the employ of a propaganda organ who writes about science for public consumption is worried that the public’s trust in science will decline if people write about science for propaganda purposes.

                      I guess it makes sense that I can’t find the “definite proof” that’s somewhere in this postmodern masterpiece.

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                    • How about Salon saying it’s a cheesy study? Salon is on the “approved” list with you sort of fellows, ain’t it?

                      http://www.slate.com/id/2258088/

                      The problem remains one of epistemology. And yes, Mr. Cahalan,

                      It also requires a number of directed malicious actions that would be difficult to execute.

                      Difficult, but not even unlikely.

                      Further, the study’s methodology is rather ham-handed, and doesn’t get to the core questions that are of real concern. As Cato says,

                      Unlike other skeptics, senior fellow Patrick J. Michaels admits that there has been a small amount of warming due to man-made emissions, but argues that climate change legislation won’t have any impact on future rates of warming, and represents a vast misallocation of resources. Cato senior fellow Jerry Taylor frequently takes aim at those who make the case for “revenue-neutral” carbon taxes, reminding economists who support such taxes of the public choice considerations that suggest such taxes will not be revenue-neutral at all.

                      I’m not interested in the religious aspects of the debate as much as opposed to radical “solutions” that may do little good and lotsa harm.

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                    • tvd,
                      That seems like a logical position to take.
                      and we liberals damn well need some fucking conservatives around to tell us when we’re trying to do too much.

                      Because there’s always someone to save, and you can leave it to a liberal to craft a solution to save thousands when only twenty people actually need the solution.

                      Liberals dream big ( and that’s a good thing). But we need some bubble-poppers to.

                      Now sit down and help! solutions need craftin’ ;-)

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                    • And Kim, I happen to agree that we need our liberals. The air in LA was pretty bad when I moved here, and I suspect the right would not have fixed it as well as the left did.

                      The air ain’t too bad these days: we have a handful of bad-air days a year where it used to be more the rule than the exception.

                      [I usually make a distinction between liberal and left, but I’ll let this stand for the sake of simplicity. The liberal wants to help the poor; the left wants to cure poverty, two different things.]

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                    • > I’m not interested in the religious
                      > aspects of the debate as much as
                      > opposed to radical “solutions”
                      > that may do little good and lotsa
                      > harm.

                      Oh, Tom, I’m very onboard with you there.

                      This little Tom-Kim exchange warms my nonpartisan heart. Would that the two sides regarded themselves as complimentary instead of enemy combatants.

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                • … knew someone who reviewed that literature. it mostly said “if this continues, and we keep on releasing more aerosols (aka scaling up), then we might get global cooling.”

                  … bear in mind, these arguments are like the ones about “we’ll run out of tin and copper” common around the time. We didn’t, because we changed.

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              • When I see “global warming can’t be true because the scientists once thought the earth was cooling” I know the denialists have run out of logical things to say. As far as I am concerned the cooling argument ranks below the theory of relativity can’t be true because Einstein made a D in third grade math argument.

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        • “It’s worth remembering that the American GOP is the only political party in the world who denies climate change is both real and a problem.”

          I find this statement to be utter fiction. Can anyone name for me the dominant party in Australia (which denies climate change) and Czechoslovakia (whose president Vaclav Klaus is a noted anti AGW author and speaker)? I could name more political parties who agree with me that AGW is utter crap but am heading outside to enjoy the last bit of sunshine before the weather here turns to crap – of the very cold kind.

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  10. The “it’s too expensive to do anything” bit is not based in fact. There are a lot of changes we can make that actually pay for themselves. In the US, for example, home energy efficiency could be vastly improved and result in substantial savings. The technologies are known and reliable; it just takes the doing.

    Even when we run out of free improvements, there are plenty that are cheap. If somebody is objecting to the expensive ones but isn’t promoting the cheap and free ones, then I think they’re just wasting people’s time.

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    • Recycling pays for garbage collection around here, and my lack of car is certainly financial in nature (who wants such a depreciating asset?)

      Cheap: switching to Compact Flourescents.
      Equally Cheap: the propaganda by power companies to keep incandescents around.

      Does anyone remember when we had it rigged so that power companies wanted to produce less power, rather than more??

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      • I think the CFL’s have done a lot set back the environmental movement, at least in the public’s eye. I remember when they came out. OK, so they cost $13, but don’t worry; they last five years! This seemed like a good trade to me and other folks responsible for changing lightbulbs.

        So I switched, and now I know that they don’t last anything close to five years. Do they last longer than traditional bulbs? Maybe on the margins. All I can tell you, though, is that this has finally supplanted “low flow toilets” as the topic of choice at the local hardware store. And people are mad about it. Mad at whom? Lying liar environmentalist liars. Now I am hearing that everyone dies if one of them breaks. Joe down the street has already lost three cats and a gerbil.

        Fair? Probably not. But never, never over-promise. Five years? Not even close.

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        • … mine last 7 years [I bought when they actually cost $15 apiece and were made to STANDARDS]. Do you flick your lights on and off? If so, you’re better off with LED lightbulbs, which run about 3-5W. I also own those, since they’re still made to standards. If you’re willing to pay $20 for a lightbulb, they’re a good choice.

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        • I have exactly one CFL that has ‘failed’ over the three years or so I’ve been using them. And that failure seems to because the base is loose…I can tap it a few times it and it comes back on. This seems to be some sort of manufacturing defect, unless this is how CFLs ‘burn out’. (I’ve been assuming they fail like normal florescent tubes…having weird flickers and light only at the ends. But I admit I don’t know this for a fact.)

          Meanwhile, I’ve replaced multiple incandescent bulbs over those three years, some of them multiple times. (I didn’t replace them all with CFL at once because a) money, and b) I wanted use up all the old bulbs I had…which I am doing. It’s about time for another bulk CFL purchase, though, I’m out of incandescent 60 watts, and had to stick a 45 in for one of them a few weeks ago.)

          I have no idea if I’m saying money on the cost of the bulbs _alone_, but I’m pretty certain that once you factor in reduced power consumption and reduced air conditioning, I am.

          And if CFLs are going out at your house, you probably have crappy power. Possibly you’re having slight brownouts and under- or over-voltages. Do you also have problems with computers crashing? (Although note that the less crappy the power supply of a computer is, the less that will happen. Good power supplies can coast through those. And laptops obviously have no problem at all.)

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            • Ah, I don’t use them there, because I had a limited amount, so I first replaced them in places I have on for hours at a time, like the kitchen and office and hall. I will make a note that short term lights need to be LEDs, which I’ve been planning on looking into anyway.

              Incandescents, while we’re talking about places you shouldn’t use types of lights, are crap in enclosed fixtures. Incandescents get killed by heat, and it’s amazing how poorly designed many lighting fixtures are.

              I have some ‘flower’ looking fixtures in the kitchen, where the bare bulb points downwardish and is surrounded by fancy glass, and those just ate incandescent bulbs. The glass had holes that in theory would let the heat out, but that clearly didn’t work.

              Same with the desk lamps with the enclosed metal ‘head’ that you point downward. Even if you follow the rules and only use 45 watt, they only last so long before they cook themselves. (Table lamps, OTOH, have hole at the top the heat can escape out, so don’t do that.)

              If you have any of those, replace them with CFLs right now. (I don’t actually know CFLs last longer if placed in the ‘same’ heat…but as they generate much less heat to start with, it’s moot.) Although if you turn them on and off a lot, you might want LED.

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      • “Does anyone remember when we had it rigged so that power companies wanted to produce less power, rather than more??”

        It’s still rigged like that. Power companies make sweet profits when total consumption is less than their baseload generation. During times of peak demand, they have to buy their power from variable load plants (typical Nat Gas) at a higher price but sell it at the same regulated rate. And it’s a lengthy and expensive process to build new generating capacity (esp a sizable baseload providing one) so they are definitely in the business of getting their customers to use less.

        (oh and on “the propaganda by power companies to keep incandescents around.” They’re either being really really subtle about it, or just doing a piss-poor job of advocacy http://www.pge-cfl.com/)

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  11. Excellent post by Kain, as usual. The incrementalist suggestions that lead toward a solution all seem solid and reasonable.

    Problem is, climate science currently shows that AGW is proceeding much faster than even the most pessimistic current models predict. If we get methane clathrate deposits at the pole thawing and releasing their greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, the rate of global warming will accelerate even faster, since methane clathrate has roughly 20 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide.

    So one simple additional incrementalist suggestion would involve focusing on methane emissions rather than CO2 emissions. Methane emission reductions have 20x the bang-per-buck of CO2 emissions reductions.

    In the long run, though, we need to stop thinking small and move beyond incremental changes in our greenhouse gas emissions.

    [1] We need to redesign our cities to eliminate single-passenger commuter cars and get rid of freeways. This is eminently possible: many places, including Europe, use cities where long single-passenger car commutes to remote suburbs aren’t past of the transportation infrastructure. The bicycle and the electric moped should be our dominant mode of transportation, not 3000 pounds of glass and steel and aluminum and rubber.

    [2] We need to get rid of the automobile in America, including diesel trucks, particularly for long-haul shipping. This can be done, and without undue disruption. Light rail powered by nuclear or solar electric power (not solar cells, since they require too much indium and other rare earths: the entire global supply of indium would be needed to manufacture enough solar cells to supply electricity for America’s electrical grid) offers one option. Diesel locomotives remain startlingly efficient, so diesel passenger trains and expanded local rail lines for delivery of b-to-b shipments offer another option. We should immediately shut down most of the lanes of our highways and set up moped-only lanes for commuters.

    Larger problems loom when we think about how to replace our current truck-based commercial shipping system with a rail-based system. It’s doable, though. But we need to start now.

    [3] We need to start building a second parallel rail system for passenger trains only. America’s current commercial rail system is one of the best in the world but it gets forced to share its tracks with passenger trains. This hurts both systems. We need a modern completely separate nationwide passenger rail system, with bullet trains for the most heavily-traveled urban corridors. Insofar as possible, we need to replace jet transportation (JP-6 jet fuel is a much more greenhouse gas generator than diesel or gasoline) with bullet train transportation.

    [4] We need a crash program to build nuclear power plants, and lots of ’em. We would need roughly 700 nuclear power plants to supply enough electricity to wean ourselves completely off the natural gas and coal-fired power plants. Wind power isn’t practical because of problems with storing the power off-cycle (wind is highly intermittant); solar voltaic or solar electric aren’t practical because of problems with storing power for usage at night.

    [5] We can and should start critical crash programs to radically enhance the energy efficiency of houses, apartments and office buildings. There’s a vast amount of energy savings there and this can be accomplished relatively simply. Using high R-value insulation as in straw bale housing and simply changing building codes to require viz., capture of solar heat by water tanks which then get used for hot water, or other very simple tweaks, can produce startling increases in energy efficiency in houses.

    [6] Zero-emissions and fully recyclable construction should be a federal mandate starting yesterday. If China can do this, why can’t we?

    [7] State and federal initiatives to encourage telecommuting should be front-and-center. Many jobs simply don’t require a constant commute to a central office.

    The dismal state of American response to AGW gets summed up by the flailing and thrashing with which U.S. policymakers have approached the effort to increase nationwide fuel efficiency in cars. Obama’s proposal to increase nationwide fuel efficiency to 54.5 mpg by 2025 is far too little far too late, and got greeted with borderline hysteria.

    In fact, we already have vehicles with 125 mpg fuel efficiency. They’re called “mopeds.” Shutting down most of the single-passenger commuter lanes on freeways in major cities and changing ’em to MOPED ONLY lanes would produce a significantly greater nationwide fuel efficiency figure within 18 months, rather than 15 years.

    The mania for electric cars gives us a good idea of the dysfunctions and pathologies of American culture. The Happy Motoring Culture of the 1950s is gone. We cannot resurrect it. Automobiles are going to have to go away. This will require some changes in America’s infrastructure (fast food restaurants: gone, big box retailers like WalMart: gone, etc.) and some changes in Americans’ mental landscape and living habits (kiss NASCAR goodbye, forget about piling into the family car for a summer vacation). But it’s hardly catastrophic.

    The good news?

    We in the developed world will suffer only slightly inconvenience as a result of the rapid global warming that’s racing toward us. People in the third world will die by the billions. When the Himalayan snow pack melts (as it is now doing) and two of the world’s great rivers (the Ganges and the Yangtze) dry up, well over a billion of the world’s poorest peasants will starve to death.

    The next 50 years will see massive migrations of hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest people across national borders as droughts and floods destroy their livelihood and rendering them starving and homeless. The great task of the U.S. military over the next several generations will involve humanitarian disaster relief, not the defeat of imaginary super-empowered enemies.

    We need to start preparing for all this now. If we wait until the crises pile up and hit, we’ll flail and thrash incoherently, as America has to all too many global crises over the past century.

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