Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA): on climate change, makes wrong even wronger

By Phil Plait | May 31, 2011 9:30 am

Sadly, I am not surprised when I hear a Republican congressman make some sort of grotesquely antiscience statement. It’s all too common now, and seems hardly worth noting except to throw it on the ever-growing pile of political distortions of reality the GOP is now known for.

But sometimes, one comes along that is so outrageous and ridiculous it must be noted. Enter Dana Rohrabacher.

He is a far-right Republican in California, and toes the GOP stance of climate change denial. Recently, he made a statement that’s pretty bizarre, and it’s making the rounds on the internet. There was a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee (which he chairs) about UN climate policies and the US contributions to it. On the stand as a witness was the "top U.S. climate diplomat" Todd Stern… and Rohrabacher asked him this:

"Is there some thought being given to subsidizing the clearing of rainforests in order for some countries to eliminate that production of greenhouse gases? … Or would people be supportive of cutting down older trees in order to plant younger trees as a means to prevent this disaster from happening?"

Say WHAT? The idea here is that decaying matter in rainforests is emitting a lot of carbon dioxide, contributing to global warming. Rohrabacher seems to be saying that if we cut down old trees in rain forests there will be less decay, and therefore less CO2 emission.

This is such a bizarre statement it’s hard to know where to start. But first, yes, decaying matter does make CO2, and as rainforest leaves and such fall to the ground they do rot. But the far more important fact is that while they live these trees absorb CO2, and in fact absorb far more over their lifetime than they emit when they die. They are what scientists would call a net sink of CO2, not a source. So cutting them down would in reality increase CO2 emission.

Not to mention that there might be other problems with cutting thousands of square kilometers of rainforest.

Unsurprisingly, Representative Rohrabacher’s statements are getting him lambasted across the web, so I decided to go to his site and see if he had a followup to it. He does, and oh my, it’s a beaut:

Once again those with a global agenda have created a straw man by misrepresenting the position of their critics. I do not believe that CO2 is a cause of global warming, nor have I ever advocated the reduction of CO2 through the clearing of rainforests or cutting down older trees to prevent global warming. But that is how my question to a witness during my subcommittee hearing on May 25th is being reported. I simply asked the witness, Dr. Todd Stern, who is a supporter of a global climate treaty that would dramatically hurt the standard of living for millions of human beings, if he was considering a policy that would address naturally emitted carbon dioxide, which makes up over 90% of emissions.

To suggest that I’m advocating such a radical approach instead of simply questioning the policy is a total misrepresentation of my position.

OK, let me do this: I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, and agree that he might have been taken out of context. It’s happened before.

But that hardly matters, because he says simply and clearly he doesn’t think CO2 is a cause of global warming. That’s not out of context, or a misquote of any kind. Those are his own words, and they dwarf any statement about rainforests, whether it was out of context or straight.

That’s because his denial of the contribution of carbon dioxide to global warming tosses out the window the careful and meticulous results of thousands of climate scientists across the world and across the decades. It’s breathtaking in its hubris and arrogance.

But it’s not surprising. Rep. Rohrabacher’s web page about climate change is almost a textbook case of global warming denialism, right down to his linking to a thoroughly trashed petition against climate change. And he joins in lockstep many of his Republican congressmen in such antireality beliefs.

The transparency of this denial is amazing. The vast majority of climate scientists on Earth say that climate change is real, it’s caused by greenhouse gases, and the human contribution to both is important.

I’d say this was an undeniable conclusion, but clearly denial can be a force far stronger than logic.


Related posts:

- Climate change: the evidence
- Next up for Congress: repeal the law of gravity
- Comic takedown of global warming denial
- A firehose of global warming news, both good and bad

Comments (104)

Links to this Post

  1. Dana Rohrbacher is an embaressment | Whatever Works | June 28, 2011
  1. Gus Snarp

    It’s strange to me that they can’t get that it’s not the “natural” emissions that are the problem. It’s the additional carbon that we dig up and emit. There’s this thing called the carbon cycle, carbon is continuously released and absorbed. The problem is that we’re digging up sequestered fossil carbon and adding on top of the “normal” carbon load of the atmosphere. It works with a lot of other environmental issues too. Like the water cycle. Many people don’t see how water shortages can be a problem since water is constantly cycling. Except that it takes many human lifetimes to fill an underground aquifer and very little time to pump it dry. Combine that with impervious surfaces and you get waste water dumped predominately in oceans where it’s mixed with salt and made very energy intensive to get clean drinking (let alone irrigation) water out of. Everything in nature cycles. The problem is always that we have the ability to interfere with that cycle.

  2. Lee Woodmansee

    You may have missed perhaps a more amazing statement that Rohrabacher made in the original question and in his clarification. I believe he is saying that he thinks that trees emit Carbon Dioxide! If that were true, there would be a twisted logic to cutting down trees to reduce naturally occurring Carbon Dioxide emissions. As it is, Rohrabacher may have slept through ALL his science classes — even those in elementary school.

  3. who is a supporter of a global climate treaty that would dramatically hurt the standard of living for millions of human beings

    Of course Rohrabacher conveniently doesn’t mention that doing nothing against global warming also would dramatically hurt the standard of living for millions of human beings. But I suppose that most of those people don’t vote for him, nor do they finance his campaigns.

  4. Michel

    Ok, since I ruined caterday with this dumb*ss… I´ll post a nice video of a gambling (and winning) cat.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EppdVuV0z8I

  5. Timmy

    I am going to teach my kids to sculpt so that before the world crumbles and sinks they can create a last monument to a dying planet. Something that beings from other planets may someday see as a testiment to our human folly.

  6. Stan9fromouterspace

    Welcome to the Idiocracy.
    Where’s my interplanetary passport again?

  7. Messier Tidy Upper

    Slightly off-topic but when it comes to Republican statements that are just gob-smackingly wrong and appalling this recent one :

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/05/women_its_your_job_to_prepare.php

    by Kansas representative Pete DeGraaf is a new low.

    Also when it comes to deliberate failure to teach some things that are considered controversial, well, that can literally put people’s lives in very serious danger as this real-life horror story :

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/05/abortion_needs_to_be_taught_in.php

    again via the Pharyngula blog or directly via Mikki Kendall’s own word’s here :

    http://www.salon.com/life/feature/2011/05/26/abortion_saved_my_life/index.html

    shows.

    Sorry, if this breeches “netiquette” – I hope its okay with you to link these here BA & my apologies & please let me know if not – but this is something I think people need to know and think about. Because no one should go through what Mikki Kendall went through and lives are at stake.

  8. Messier Tidy Upper

    More relevantly to the topic in question – here’s how Carl Sagan put things :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9oMff5p5Rk&feature=player_embedded

    Here’s what Isaac Asimov was saying back in May 1977 – 34 years ago – so its not as if this hasn’t been known for ages.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iz1g55H6XgA

    Oh & here’s :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g093lhtpEFo&list=PL029130BFDC78FA33

    what happens regarding plants in a world where Anthropogenic Global Warming is really kicking in. Co2 may be “plant food” but plants includes weeds & extreme weather disasters, eg. floods, droughts, storms etc .. are NOT good for agriculture. :-(

  9. Scott Hurst

    “and in fact absorb far more over their lifetime than they emit when they die.” I’m not so sure on that. By the time the tree rots completely away it should have returned exactly 100% of its carbon to the environment.

    Conceivably, we *could* sequester carbon by cutting down and replanting rain forests (or any forest), if every thing that was cut down is buried such that carbon remains forever under ground. (That’s how we got our coal and oil in the first place)

  10. @Deen,

    Also, global climate change will hurt the standard of living for millions of human beings but this is in the long term so it can be safely ignored*.

    * Where “safely ignored” is a political term meaning “by the time the real harm is discovered, I’ll be out of office and in some cushy lobbyist position so why should I do anything about it.”

  11. Marina Stern

    It’s not news that Rohrabacher is an idiot. He has been an idiot since at least the early ’70s.

  12. Sou

    Is it past time to have, as a prerequisite to nomination, a week’s schooling on basic science including climate change.

    It’s astounding there is a person who has higher degrees who is as ignorant as he. And more astounding that he would be allowed to sit on a House Committee on Science, as if to tell the outside world – the USA has completely gone to the dogs.

  13. JR

    The “grotesquely antiscience statements” come from BOTH sides of the aisle. Congressman Hank Johnson comes to mind…

    During a House Armed Services Committee hearing in March 2010 concerning the U.S. military installation on the island of Guam, Johnson said to Admiral Robert F. Willard, Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, “My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize,” to which Admiral Willard replied, “We don’t anticipate that.”

  14. By the time the tree rots completely away it should have returned exactly 100% of its carbon to the environment.

    Except that if there’s still a forest around, other plants or even new plants will use the compost and lock up a lot of that carbon in new cells.

  15. kevbo

    @9. Scott Hurst

    You kinda answered your own question there. True, there is a net-zero carbon balance for a tree, but the ‘in’ (CO2) does get sequestered as plant matter, which does not all go back to CO2 when it rots away. Note that much of it is in turn eaten by other organisms (i.e. as leaves, etc) and further ‘sequestered’…

  16. Messier Tidy Upper

    @9. Scott Hurst : “By the time the tree rots completely away it should have returned exactly 100% of its carbon to the environment.”

    Assuming that it does completely rot away – ever heard of petrified forests? Dead trees get consumed by everything from mushrooms and bugs to beavers. What happens to their carbon? Then too there’s the original source of coal, peat and other fossil fuels – as you mentioned – but how long between the Carboniferous Era and today’s Holocene geological era? (Answer : 360 – 300 million years according to Wikipedia.) Other trees of course, get burned or turned into chairs, tables, the Wright brothers plane and all sorts of other things. Not that that means the carbon in such trees doesn’t return to the atmosphere / biosphere eventually but the timescale is often much longer.

    PS. Typo spotted in your ‘Tags” section above BA : “deinal” for denial. Please don’t be in denial and fix it. Yeah, sorry, I know that I can’t talk when it comes to typos! ;-)

  17. Chris Winter

    Given the number of Republican candidates who have recanted belief in AGW recently, I think it’s become an unwritten requirement for elected officials in that party, and for candidates running under its banner.

    How much this affects Rohrabacher is unclear. He’s been spouting such nonsense for some years now.

  18. @Scott Hurst: rotting trees can emit up to 100% of the carbon they stored, however, any matter, branch or leaves, that get buried in the foliage get sequestered away. There may be other ways the carbon is sequestered, but 100% is a limit, not an average.

  19. Scott Hurst @9, in most trees roughly half of the tree’s biomass is underground, in the form of its roots. When the tree gets cut down and “rots completely away”, a good deal is left buried beneath the ground, even assuming the above-ground portion evaporates into the air.

    Arguably, this is still “returned … to the environment”, but it is not floating around in the air and that is what matters. In many many situations, the root system of the dead tree *is* “buried such that [that] carbon remains forever under ground”. (Nothing is truly forever, mind you.)

    As you point out, this is how we got coal and oil in the first place.

  20. Brett

    Meh, when I read comments like this, particularly given the recent announcement that global CO2 emissions have risen steadily over the past decade, it’s pretty clear to me that global warming due to anthropogenic CO2 emissions is utterly inevitable.

    Western political systems are essentially designed to resist dramatic change, even in the face of major calamity. And the efforts required to curb CO2 emissions are dramatic indeed. Couple that with widespread “skepticism” regarding climate science, a view encouraged by many large entities with a great deal of political influence, and good luck trying to build the consensus that would be required to actually get anything done.

    Meanwhile, the BRIC nations are ramping up emissions steadily with no signs of slowing, which only gives the western world a greater excuse not to do anything, while simultaneously offsetting any kind of minor improvements that might be made.

    In short, frankly, I think we’re hosed. We’re simply going to have to adapt to the realities of a warming planet, with all the consequences that implies. *shrug*

  21. Charles

    @ Brett

    Agreed. Unless we find it as economically advantageous to store C02, rather than release it, we will be unable to reverse what’s immediately being done within any of our lifetimes.

  22. Sometimes, I think it helps to think of politicians not as humans, but rather as vending machines. This guy probably knows that he’s spewing hogwash, but, likely, he’s going to continue because he believes that this is what his largest campaign donors want to hear. Unfortunately, that’s probably his same methodology for making policy decisions. Just like a vending machine he spits out “treats” based on who has put in money and pushed his buttons.

  23. a global climate treaty that would dramatically hurt the standard of living for millions of human beings

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    Climate denialists like to pass themselves off as skeptics, yet when it comes to economics, they are either credulous alarmists, or mendacious ones.

  24. Quiet Desperation

    Trees reach their peak carbon absorbing stage at about 10 years old. Younger trees are better. That’s the whole idea behind the managed forests concept.

    Even better is to plant trees where none currently exist. You’d think this would be easier. We had a “million tree” plan here in the Los Angeles area. They handed out a lot of saplings. No one knows how many got planted or survived. We’re not allowed to water them anyway. Maybe a desert wasn’t the best location for this plan, hmm?

  25. Quiet Desperation

    Sometimes, I think it helps to think of politicians not as humans

    That will be your undoing. They are very human. To a fault.

    Look, people in office have to be sociopaths to even survive the process of getting there. Read a book on serial criminal profiling. Then look at how politicians act.

    If I was producing a political commentary show, I’d hire ex-FBI investigators.

  26. Ian

    Burt if, as Rep. Rohrbacher clearly states, he doesn’t believe that CO2 is a cause of global warming, then there is no reason to cut down trees because what the emit is not a part of the problem in his view. I’m tempted to look up “denialism” on Wikipedia and see if there’s a link to his website for examples. Face palm!

  27. Richard

    So, Rep. Rohrabacher doesn’t think CO2 can cause global warming. I’ve got one word for him: Venus

  28. GrogInOhio

    It should be noted that Congressman Rohrabacher’s feedback facility on his website only allows messages from ZIP codes that he represents. I wonder if he restricts contributions to that same extent.

  29. Mapnut

    So what are former rain forest countries going to raise on the cleared land? Farting cows, I’ll bet.

  30. Schenck

    Forget about Sagan or Assimov, Svante Arrhenius (you know, of Acid-Base fame?) demonstrated that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and how it works in the 1800s! We’ve known about this property from /practically/ (well not really) the time we started burning the stuff!

    As far as Rohrabacher’s comments, some people seem to be confused, from what I gather, he is saying ‘Oh ok Mr. TreeHugger Hippy, so if this “see-owwwh-tuho” is so bad and needs to be reduced, why are you so quick to find ‘solutions’ that hurt people, why not fix the problem at the expense of the rest of the environment’. If you really think about it, its sorta like thinking that biofuels is going to save the environment. But Rohrbacher, anyway, is suggesting that t these hippies just want to hurt industry, they’d never cut down a tree, even if it did result in net decrease of CO2.

    All of this shows why it doesn’t pay to remain willfully ignorant on this science. We already know that the environment 0f-itself puts out WAY more CO2 than we could ever hope, the problem is that we are tapping and releasing the ‘stored’ geologic reserves of CO2. THe normal system is like a balanced checking account, money goes in, money goes out, the balance can remain the same, tapping the geological reserves is like spending from your savings account, or retirement account also.

  31. HP

    In a sane world, AGW would be a natural issue for conservatives to embrace, given (a) the looming specter of mass human migrations as regional climates are no longer able to sustain their current population, and (b) the massive profits to be made off of amelioration efforts.

    I mean, if Fear and Money aren’t enough to motivate conservatives, what is?

  32. M

    “But the far more important fact is that while they live these trees absorb CO2, and in fact absorb far more over their lifetime than they emit when they die. They are what scientists would call a net sink of CO2, not a source. So cutting them down would in reality increase CO2 emission.”

    As several posters noted, this is not quite correct. Here are more key details:

    1) A mature, undisturbed forest will neither emit nor store excess carbon.
    1a) No forest today counts as undisturbed: increased CO2 concentrations by themselves mean that forests will suck down some of that excess. (this is the “CO2 fertilization effect” and contributes to a part of the land-carbon sink). So, a tree in a mature forest today will absorb somewhat more (I would still not say “far more”) CO2 over their lifetime than it emits.
    2) Clearing a mature, undisturbed forest will lead to a large emission of CO2. A lot of carbon is stored in the soil in a mature forest. See http://www.esd.ornl.gov/projects/qen/carbon3.html for a list of carbon storage by ecosystem. A major disturbance (such as clearing) often leads to carbon release. Replenishing the carbon stock in the soil would probably take centuries after such a disturbance.
    3) Hypothetically, one could do better than a mature forest in terms of carbon storage: grow fast-growing trees, harvest them at maturity and bury them at sea. However, this would likely be rather impractical as a large-scale solution, and would have none of the other ecosystem benefits that a mature forest provides.

    -M

  33. Prax

    CO2 is harmlesss. You’ll get more vegetation/general plant growth, but ‘cap n’ trade’ will cause fuel prices to skyrocket and kill jobs.

    I have a solution to both sides…industrialize hemp.. rapid CO2 absorption and plenty of practical uses. There, problem solved.

  34. truthspeaker

    GrogInOhio Says:
    May 31st, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    It should be noted that Congressman Rohrabacher’s feedback facility on his website only allows messages from ZIP codes that he represent

    In his defense, most Representatives’ websites work that way.

  35. amphiox

    By the time the tree rots completely away it should have returned exactly 100% of its carbon to the environment.

    This is theoretically true. It’s one of the reasons that trying to seed the oceans with Fe to promote algal blooms didn’t work – the algae, tiny, short-lived and fragile, returned all the CO2 back to the atmosphere after they died and decayed.

    But trees are not tiny, short-lived, or fragile. Almost no tree ever, ever, rots away “completely”. Some of it is buried, and some of it is recycled into other organisms which themselves do not rot away “completely”.

  36. Daffy

    This is not new—in the 1980s, GOP saint Ronald Reagan made a big thing about trees being the main cause of air pollution. One of many idiotic comments that was pretty much ignored because of his immense (and mysterious, as far as I was concerned) popularity.

  37. Quiet Desperation

    So, Rep. Rohrabacher doesn’t think CO2 can cause global warming. I’ve got one word for him: Venus

    Actually, Venus was probably covered with oceans in it’s distant past. It’s proximity to the Sun generated a lot of water vapor which is an even better greenhouse gas than CO2. The process feeds on itself, and eventually CO2 is sublimating directly from the rocks and into the atmosphere. There’s no life to reabsorb the CO@, so that led to what we have today: a CO2 atmosphere at 90+ times denser than the Earth’s. I think the water vapor eventually broke up and the hydrogen was lost to space. So, the CO2 on Venus is more of an effect of the original greenhouse than the cause.

    They keep going on about more Mars rovers, but a tough little Venus rover would be more interesting. I think you can count on one hand the actual photos of the surface of Venus. It would be something new. Some people have said that you can should see the Sun through the clouds sometimes, and the thick atmosphere would create lots of weird optical effects with it. I’d like to see that.

  38. JohnDoe

    Actually, the tropical rainforest are so efficient at recycling the dead plant matter (including entire trees) into new plants, fungi, animal etc, that there’s only a rather thin layer of top soil. The entire Rainforest is in a kind of steady state, it binds about as much CO2 as is emits.

    The thin top soil shows whenever larger parts of the forest are clear cut and the soil is washed away after a short time, leaving behind bare sand, clay or similar infertile ground that is useless for cultivation.

  39. Terry

    @HP

    That’s what makes it all so maniacal. Especially for economic conservatives. From a purely business POV, generating an economy from the new technologies and techniques of renewable energy should be a no-brainer. And it is a conservative friendly approach – after all didn’t the the US grow to dominance by generating new markets for technological innovation – from weapons to computers to aero-space to the internet. This is just the same old stuff and a real conservative would recognize that. These aren’t conservatives speaking, they are elected lobbyists.

    As any small to medium business owner will tell you, these people are not business-friendly, they are only executive-friendly.

  40. drow

    at issue is that the careful and meticulous results of thousands of climate scientists across the world and across the decades is pitted squarely against the coffers of thousands of oil companies and dependents thereof across the world and across the decades. money wins.

  41. As noted above, trees are not a CO2 sink, they are a sequestering device. Trees are machines that convert CO2 into trees. So, cutting down the existing trees just converts them all back into CO2. Unfortunately, the CO2 in the compost is not absorbed by the surrounding trees as Deen@19 suggests, except as it absorbed after being converted back to CO2 first. Nor are petrified forests a method of sequestering, since in petrified forests that CO2 has all been released and replaced by minerals. Things like the Burgess Shale, peat bogs, etc. do hold CO2 indefinitely.

    Of course, the whole problem is made worse by the fact that we are reducing the amount of CO2 sequestered in trees, not increasing it.

    I just don’t get why this is so difficult to get across. There is carbon tied up in the active carbon cycle (including that sequestered in current biomass) and carbon sequestered for the long term in oil, shale, coal, etc. Burning those things moves the carbon from the long term storage and puts it back into the cycle, increasing the amount in the active cycle. Period, end of story. The biomass has a limited amount of storage for the new carbon, while the atmosphere can absorb an unlimited amount. Thus the most of the new carbon ends up in the atmosphere. What is so hard to understand here?

  42. Quiet Desperation

    This is not new—in the 1980s, GOP saint Ronald Reagan made a big thing about trees being the main cause of air pollution.

    Not to defend or attack the guy, but it was more just another case of a political speech poorly interpreting early scientific study results. Trees do have a vastly more complex relationship with the atmosphere than the CO2/O2 exchange, and they do produce more hydrocarbons than, say, cars. Isoprene is the big one from plants which interacts to generate ozone along with the nitrogen oxides from tailpipes. So, traffic + tree lined, shruby suburbs + sunlight = high ozone levels.

    More recent studies, especially one done by Princeton university if you wish to look it up, actually back up the assertion that trees can add to pollution. It explains why reductions in ozone levels in some areas have lagged despite clean air legislation. The EPA is quietly studying this as well.

    So, you know, we can begin to really treat the biosphere like a mind bogglingly complex thing with many as yet hidden variables, or we can toss out of context zingers from our little ideological camps for the rest of our days. Your choice.

  43. noen

    Quiet Desperation said:
    “Actually, Venus was probably covered with oceans in it’s distant past. It’s proximity to the Sun generated a lot of water vapor which is an even better greenhouse gas than CO2.”

    I have heard differently. I’ve heard that Venus’ proximity to the sun shouldn’t have been the cause for it’s present condition. That there could have been some other precess at work. It would be insteresting to know for sure.

    Also, heads up for Phill, in the press today is a UN report claiming that cell phones could indeed cause cancer. This has been a topic of some debate here in that past. Previous commentors have claimed that not only do cell phones not cause cancer, it is physically *impossible*.

    This kind of flip flopping is why people lose faith in authorities who claim this or that CANNOT EVER do what people fear they do. Then months later it turns out that yes, they can. Is it little wonder then that people just don’t trust what is said?

  44. Quiet Desperation

    I’ve heard that Venus’ proximity to the sun shouldn’t have been the cause for it’s present condition. That there could have been some other precess at work.

    Yes, the water vapor. We’re talking geologic time scales here.

    It would be interesting to know for sure.

    Not sure that’s possible in this case. There’s still much of the Earth’s early history that’s still being studied, and we *live* here. You’d need to send something that could take core samples and check historical CO2 levels, and if Venus gets a regular (again, geologic time) resurfacing, well, good luck on that one. ;-)

    This kind of flip flopping is why people lose faith in authorities who claim this or that CANNOT EVER do what people fear they do.

    I cringe when they make predictions for the hurricane season. Folks, I sympathize, but you have not yet assembled the raw computing power to effectively model the world. I doubt the NSA has that much.

    I work in R&D. I know it’s easy to start thinking computer models are precision instruments with all the IEEE quadruple precision floating point numbers and Matlab and eleven dimensional charting packages. Just try to remember that chemistry professor back in college who took off half credit on each test problem where you carried through too many significant digits.

  45. Quiet Desperation

    So, cutting down the existing trees just converts them all back into CO2.

    Or, you know, chairs. ;-)

  46. Quatguy

    Oil companies, lobbyists, their global warming denier minions are holding back the changes in our economy and lifestyle that are needed to avoid ecological and economic disaster through which will cause untold human suffering. The solution is to act on a personal level to change your own lifestyle and on a municipal government level to begin making the needed changes now. This is already happening in Canada, where our municipalities are light years ahead of our provincial and federal governments in fostering and supporting sustainable and carbon neutral infrastructure. It is a slow process but it is at least going in the right direction and will hopefully make the transition to the new carbon free economy more managable. The alternative is to either bury your head in the sand as the environment around us changes to a point where it can no longer support our current lifestyle in the carbon-based economy, or face a last minute dramatic shift (when we hit the brick wall) that will put us well behind other countries that saw the light and started making economic changes much earlier. To contiue to deny reality and delay action is to condem several generations of people to abject poverty and suffering. History will not look kindly on people like Rohrabacher who had the chance to do something but instead got in the way of progress.

  47. USNA Ancient

    dana rohrbacker, friend and supporter and regular recipient of largess from jack abramoff among many other failings much too numerous to enumerate, has long been known as “the dumbest man on Capitol Hill” by annual vote of Congressional staffers. That illustrious standing could well be in jeopardy given the advent of such contenders as michele bachmann, louie gomert, eric can’t-or, john bohner, and oh so many others … so, I imagine dana will be doing everything in his power to retain the title … and this is ONE HELL OF A START … at least he didn’t say “god” told him to do it, so today’s Forrest Gump “STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES” Award is leaning to michele bachmann for her “god told me to run” announcement !

  48. J. Rich

    6CO2 + 6H2O -> C6H12O6 + 6O2

    Shouldn’t plants that undergo photosynthesis not simply be STORING all of the carbon dioxide that they respirate but actually converting it into Sugar & Oxygen?

    Did I miss something about photosynthesis?

  49. DonQ

    Did I miss something about photosynthesis?

    Yes, that it is a two-way reaction.

    As long as the tree is a tree, the Carbon is in a non-Carbon-dioxide form. The problem comes when it is cut down. Yes, some of it turns into “a chair”, but most of it (eventually) gets burned, digested, or rots, much of it sooner rather than later. Even the “chair” from the example above, since most of them eventually return their carbon to CO2. How many hundred (or thousand) year old chairs do you see? I’d bet not very many.

    To get a good idea of how much carbon is locked up in a mature tree, versus the two saplings planted to replace it, simply weigh them. Carbon is roughly proportional to the overall weight of the tree. Let’s see now, a two-hundred ton tree versus two 4 ounce saplings… you do the math. The next (and the next and the next) big tree will be cut long before the saplings will replace the Carbon returned to the air of the mature tree, now existing largely as burned plywood, landfill newspapers, termite food, and just general rot, all of which reverse the photosynthesis equation.

    The real ‘tree’ issue is how many parking-lots, supermarkets, and suburbias used to be forests. The Carbon from these areas are now released, and will not be returned from whence it came.

  50. truthspeaker

    noen Says:
    May 31st, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    This kind of flip flopping is why people lose faith in authorities who claim this or that CANNOT EVER do what people fear they do. Then months later it turns out that yes, they can. Is it little wonder then that people just don’t trust what is said?

    And that’s why it’s critically important for people to think for themselves instead of having faith in authorities. Having faith in authority figures is incompatible with a free society.

  51. jess tauber

    Since the Sun is getting hotter and hotter (and brighter) every year, trying to stop global warming is a losing proposition. I say we move to Europa while we still have the chance (leave the Republicans here to face their hoped for end times), wipe out the indigenes, and settle in. Eventually the ice will melt and Kevin Kostner can catamaran to his heart’s content. We can mine the other Jovian moons for raw materials, using the excess population who will get fried by the radiation, so solving two problems at once. And when the earth becomes a french fry and the Republicans remaining beg for our help, we can remind them of who it is that is supposedly really large and in charge, and that they should ask HIM for mercy.

  52. Ray

    @Grog

    “It should be noted that Congressman Rohrabacher’s feedback facility on his website only allows messages from ZIP codes that he represents. ”

    It should be also be noted that every Congressman’s feedback form only allows for ZIP codes that he or she represents. The whole point to the feedback is that he’s *your* Representative.

  53. artbot

    i dunno…if we cut down those old trees, we could make plenty of thneeds, which is something that everyone needs.

  54. katwagner

    24 Quiet Desperation. Hey, when’s the last time you talked to an arborist? I mean, someone who plants, prunes, waters and otherwise cares for trees for a living. Of course saplings need water! So how about a drip line, soaker hose or some other xeriscaping for your desert places? Totally ridiculous to say a tree is at its carbon dioxide sucking peak at age ten. Look at it another way – s spruce tree produces enough oxygen for a family of four. Period.

    How about the California Redwoods? How old are they? Thousands of years? How about the Sequoias? How about the junipers in the great basin, thousands of years old – being studied to see how they react to global warming. It is thought they grow so slowly at altitude and in such harsh conditions that if things were easier for them they would die sooner. The Methuselah tree, the oldest tree in the world, is there. Scientists won’t say which one it is. A Bristlecone Pine over 4000 years old.

    And if you have a black thumb and can’t grow anything, plant a tree.

  55. James H.

    Won’t all this weird weather caused by global warming eventually eradicate most of the South? I still don’t think it will change their minds down there.

  56. Jamey

    Of course, plants actually *DO* release a minor amount of CO2 during the night.

    And as pointed out, it wouldn’t be *THAT* hard to cut down a huge number of trees and dumping them down abandoned mines, there-by sequestering the carbon for a good long time (note: CO2 is heavier than air, so even the CO2 from the limited decay of the trees would tend to pool down into the mine).

    Plant new trees to suck more of the CO2 out of the air, and cut them down and dump them down some more mines, and guess what – the Rep’s suggestion isn’t quite so wacky.

    Oh, well, both sides have their flavors of kool-aid. “Stop the World, I want to get off!”

  57. Don Q

    Censored? Really?

    Bye.

  58. Old Rockin' Dave

    @JR, #13:
    “The “grotesquely antiscience statements” come from BOTH sides of the aisle. Congressman Hank Johnson comes to mind…
    During a House Armed Services Committee hearing in March 2010 concerning the U.S. military installation on the island of Guam, Johnson said to Admiral Robert F. Willard, Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, “My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize,” to which Admiral Willard replied, “We don’t anticipate that.” ”
    During the massive buildup of American troops and equipment in Britain before the Normandy invasion, the running joke was that the barrage balloons were the only thing keeping the island from sinking. It was widely said; somehow I doubt that anyone over the age of six or so actually believed it. Most likely, Rep. Johnson’s comment was meant metaphorically and has been taken a little too literally.

  59. Messier Tidy Upper

    @20. Brett Says:

    Meh, when I read comments like this, particularly given the recent announcement that global CO2 emissions have risen steadily over the past decade, it’s pretty clear to me that global warming due to anthropogenic CO2 emissions is utterly inevitable. … [SNIP] … In short, frankly, I think we’re hosed. We’re simply going to have to adapt to the realities of a warming planet, with all the consequences that implies. *shrug*</i.

    You may well be correct.

    However, does that make Congressman Dana Rohrabacher’s comment’s any less wrong or silly or excuse them in any way?

    Yes, a certain amount of climate change and warming is now inevitable. There’s a time lag factor at play here too because the Co2 in the air builds up and the warming has escalating feedbacks (eg. albedo changes as ice melts, methane bubbling out from warming tundra, struggling forests storing less carbon etc ..) that take time to happen so we’re already committed to a warming planet with the consequences that entails.

    But, well, let me put it this way :

    Imagine you’re in a speeding car heading for the wall.

    You’re going to hit the wall – you cannot avoid the accident & you are bound to take some damage. But how much?

    Do you do nothing and hit at the speed you are currently travelling – or even faster as you’re foot is currently on the accelerator? Do you elect to hit that wall at say 155 mph – and get wiped out and the car totally written off – and the driver critically injured or killed?

    Or do you hit the brakes and slow down so you only hit the wall at say 30 mph or so and reduce the impact to where there’ll be less damage to the car and yourself?

    That’s what we can do – we can take action to hit the brakes on the warming and slow ourselves down to a reasonable speed of impact, a reasonable rise in temperatures where it’ll still hurt but it will hurt *less.* The sooner we apply the brakes – measures to reduce the rate of warming and amount of Co2 emitted – the slower the impact will be and the less damage and injuries to the driver there’ll be. The later we choose to apply those brakes, the worse the consequences. :-(

    ***

    @57. Don Q : The BA has a few reasonable rules for commenting here – no swearing and basically don’t be a dick. he is actually pretty tolerant and allows commenters a good degree of latitude. His blog, his rules. I’m sure they are posted here somewhere …

    ***

    @ 30. Schenck :

    “Forget about Sagan or Assimov, Svante Arrhenius (you know, of Acid-Base fame?) demonstrated that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and how it works in the 1800s!”

    1896 according to Wikipedia. Venus could well be described as “Svante’s inferno” – and yeah , it likely started off earth-like when our Sun was dimmer and developed much as (#37.) Quiet Desperation said. Fourier and Tyndall were other early pioneers helping develop our understanding of global warming and the greenhouse effect. Our understadning that theclimate changes goes even further back to at leats Agassiz and the discovery of past ice ages. Good point – but I’m NEVER going to forget Isaac Asimov or Carl Sagan! They are far too memorable and remarkable. ;-)

  60. Messier Tidy Upper

    To take the car crash- AGW analogy above one step further & debunk another Climate Contrarian talking point :

    The car has now crashed and the driver has been pulled out and is bleeding to death on the side of the road. A crowd has gathered round the driver, composed mostly of poor peasants (the Third / Developing world eg. China, Africa, India) and also one rich businessman. (Us in the West – the USA and Australia among others.)

    “Do something!” Everyone is saying. “Use something to bandage the wounds that are bleeding so badly or the driver will die.”

    “You businessman”, one of the peasants says, “why don’t you use that tie you’re wearing and wrap it around the drivers wounds to stop them bleeding?”

    “No! That’s my best tie – it cost a fortune and has sentimental value and I’m not going to sacrifice that for this driver.” The businessman replies then continues : “You peasants you’ve got great big robes on, their much larger and much poorer quality, it doesn’t matter if you tear up some of them and use those instead!”

    “”But these clothes are all we’ve got – we’re not going to sacrifice them when you who can afford to lose a tie are just standing back doing nothing!”

    So the crowd argues and everyone refuses to do anything for reasons they think are perfectly valid but the diver lies up there dying when it could”ve been avoided.

    She looks up at everyone and pleads : “It doesn’t matter who helps, just somebody please, stop arguing and do something to help!”

    Remember in this analogy we are both the business man in the crowd – and the driver, herself.

    Okay, this may not be the best analogy and I’ve got to head off now but that’s something to think about, AGW~wise perhaps?

  61. Nigel Depledge

    Send him to Venus, where the almost-entirely-CO2 atmosphere obviously hasn’t caused global warming.
    /snark

  62. Nigel Depledge

    Lee Woodmansee (2) said:

    I believe he is saying that he thinks that trees emit Carbon Dioxide!

    Well, they do. At night.

    But, quite obviously, the amount they absorb during the day substantially outweighs the amount they emit at night. Otherwise they would not grow.

    All plants, trees included, use cellulose as a major structural component. Cellulose is a carbohydrate, derived from photosynthetic use of CO2.

  63. Nigel Depledge

    Scott Hurst (9) said:

    “and in fact absorb far more over their lifetime than they emit when they die.” I’m not so sure on that. By the time the tree rots completely away it should have returned exactly 100% of its carbon to the environment.

    Probably a good deal of the CO2 absorbed by a tree during its life does not return to CO2 but remains as carbohydrate or oils. Animals use carbon for structural components too.

  64. Nigel Depledge

    Sou (12) said:

    Is it past time to have, as a prerequisite to nomination, a week’s schooling on basic science including climate change.

    It’s astounding there is a person who has higher degrees who is as ignorant as he. And more astounding that he would be allowed to sit on a House Committee on Science, as if to tell the outside world – the USA has completely gone to the dogs.

    What? Next thing, you’ll be suggesting that the decision-makers should accept the advice of people who know what they’re talking about!

    Crazy person!
    ;-)

  65. Nigel Depledge

    Brett (20) said:

    Meh, when I read comments like this, particularly given the recent announcement that global CO2 emissions have risen steadily over the past decade, it’s pretty clear to me that global warming due to anthropogenic CO2 emissions is utterly inevitable.

    It’s not only inevitable, it is already happening.

    The only question remaining is how much warming.

    And how rapidly. Two. Two questions remaining.

    And what the exact impact of such warming will be. Three. Three questions.

    Amongst the questions remaining are such elements as . . .

    I’ll come in again.

  66. Nigel Depledge

    Daniel (22) said:

    Sometimes, I think it helps to think of politicians not as humans, but rather as vending machines.

    Hmmm … this puts me in mind of a line from a movie.

    “He’s more machine, now, than man : Twisted and evil.”

  67. Nigel Depledge

    Quiet Desperation (37) said:

    They keep going on about more Mars rovers, but a tough little Venus rover would be more interesting.

    Wow, there’s an engineering challenge.

    Temperatures in the vicinity of 450 °C, atmospheric pressure of 90+ bar, sulphuric acid rain, and a surface of unknown consistency.

    And, unless I miss my mark, there’ve been only 2 successful soft-landings of spacecraft on Venus.

  68. Nigel Depledge

    Noen (43) said:

    Also, heads up for Phill, in the press today is a UN report claiming that cell phones could indeed cause cancer. This has been a topic of some debate here in that past. Previous commentors have claimed that not only do cell phones not cause cancer, it is physically *impossible*.

    My memory of that thread was that :
    (a) The evidence available indicates cell phone use does not cause cancer;
    (b) There is no known mechanism by which cellphones might cause cancer;
    (c) The proponents of a cellphone-cancer link could come up with neither data to demonstrate the link nor a plausible mechanism.
    Ergo, the only rational conclusion was that cellphones don’t cause cancer.

    Perhaps you can link to the comment where someone claimed that such a causal relationship is impossible?

  69. Nigel Depledge

    J Rich (48) said:

    Did I miss something about photosynthesis?

    Don Q (49) said:

    Yes, that it is a two-way reaction.

    I can see what you’re getting at, but this is, strictly speaking, wrong. When plants consume sugar and excrete CO2, they do not shine. Therefore, the process is not the reverse of photosynthesis.

    In fact, plants use the same processes as animals and fungi to obtain energy from sugars:
    Glycolysis;
    The TCA (or Krebs) cycle;
    Oxidative Phosphorylation.

    Glycolysis breaks sugars down to produce acetyl groups (as acetyl-coenzyme A), a little ATP and some reducing equivalents. The TCA cycle breaks acetyl groups down to CO2 and more reducing equivalents. Ox-phos combines reducing equivalents with molecular oxygen to produce water and to drive ATP synthesis.

  70. Nigel Depledge

    Katwagner (54) said:

    Totally ridiculous to say a tree is at its carbon dioxide sucking peak at age ten. Look at it another way – s spruce tree produces enough oxygen for a family of four. Period.

    But how much more CO2 does it absorb than it emits?

    I think you missed QD’s point.

    Young trees grow faster than old trees. Therefore, the rate at which a given tree sequesters CO2 changes during its lifetime. Mature trees sequester additional CO2 only slowly because they grow only slowly. Therefore, there will be an optimum point in a tree’s lifetime at which you get the best balance between the tree acting as a carbon sink (i.e. removing more CO2 from the atmosphere) and the tree acting as a carbon store (i.e. simply storing what carbon it has already sequestered).

    Obviously, the optimum age will depend on the species of tree.

    If the tree is then converted into (say) chairs and the space is used for a new sapling, then you are returning only a small amount of CO2 to the atmosphere and renewing a potential carbon sink. (At least, until those chairs are subsequently converted back into CO2, but they’ll still have acted as a carbon store for a few decades.)

    Personally, I do not believe this will work on a sufficiently large scale to be a major contributor to carbon sequestration.

  71. Nigel Depledge

    James H (55) said:

    Won’t all this weird weather caused by global warming eventually eradicate most of the South? I still don’t think it will change their minds down there.

    No, but the rising sea levels might. Certainly, I would expect Louisiana and Florida both to be getting smaller over the coming 50 years. Maybe bits of Alabama and Texas too.

  72. Nigel Depledge

    Jamey (56) said:

    And as pointed out, it wouldn’t be *THAT* hard to cut down a huge number of trees and dumping them down abandoned mines, there-by sequestering the carbon for a good long time (note: CO2 is heavier than air, so even the CO2 from the limited decay of the trees would tend to pool down into the mine).

    And would such a scheme sequester more CO2 than the machines that would do this task emit?

    Plant new trees to suck more of the CO2 out of the air, and cut them down and dump them down some more mines, and guess what – the Rep’s suggestion isn’t quite so wacky.

    Apart from the fact that, in the absence of oxygen, the trees would decay into methane, which is lighter than air and about 25 times as potent a greenhouse gas as CO2.

  73. mag10

    @ Jess Tauber:
    What a hoot!
    Thanks for that wonderful scenario! After getting a bellyful of Republican lobbyspeak, waving bye-bye from Europa made my day. (Just one thing: A Republican Earth would never be french fried, it would be freedom fried!)

    If Rohrabacher and his ilk we’nt so tragic, they’d be comedic geniuses.

  74. Chuck P.

    Rohrabacher may be wronger than wrong on climate change but he has called for more support of nuclear energy, our only real chance of curbing CO2 emissions. Which is worse, being dead wrong about the problem but supporting the solution, or recognizing the problem while opposing the most powerful tool to fight it?

  75. Nigel Depledge

    Chuck P (73) said:

    Which is worse, being dead wrong about the problem but supporting the solution, or recognizing the problem while opposing the most powerful tool to fight it?

    Erm … assuming (without good evidence) that your favourite form of power generation is the best solution to the problem?

    While I’m sure that fission power has a place, you simply can’t beat not wasting so much energy as a starting point for solving the problem.

    Subsequently, a whole range of technologies – new and existing – will be needed to address our power-generation needs.

  76. Goodness me. What was it that P.J. O’Rourke said? “Conservatives think that government is the problem and we have the candidates to prove it”. I mean – good grief.

    For the record, though, he is right that the whole “lungs of the planet” thing is a crock. But still… How did we get to this point?

    Switching tacks for a second, I was just wondering if anyone had a good resource for the different contributions CO2, Methane, CFCs and so on make to global warming.

  77. Chuck P.

    In 1970, fossil fuels provided 94% of the US total energy supply. Nuclear provided less than .5%. In 2009, nuclear was up to 9.2% of US total energy while FF had dropped to 86%. The percentage contribution of other energy sources was roughly unchanged. In other words, nuclear energy is the only power generation technology that has EVER taken significant market share away from fossil fuels.
    Regarding “not wasting so much energy,” this ignores both growth in our energy supply and Jevon’s Paradox; increasing efficiency tends to increase the consumption of a resource rather than decrease it.
    http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/

  78. Quiet Desperation

    Totally ridiculous to say a tree is at its carbon dioxide sucking peak at age ten.

    No, I said it reaches it’s peak stage at 10 years old. That stage lasts until age 55 or so after which it begins to decline. I probably could have worded that better.

    http://www.carbon-info.org/pressrelease/_documents/100%20year%20absorption.pdf

    What trips up many people is “young” versus “old” is on a slightly different timescale than humans. Young for a tree could be 40 years old. No one is arguing that saplings absorb more CO2.

  79. Quiet Desperation

    Wow, there’s an engineering challenge.

    Well, yeah. Most things worth doing are.

  80. Daffy

    QD: “So, you know, we can begin to really treat the biosphere like a mind bogglingly complex thing with many as yet hidden variables, or we can toss out of context zingers from our little ideological camps for the rest of our days. Your choice.”

    Ronald Reagan, 1981: “Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do.”

    Careful, QD, your ideology is showing.

  81. Brett

    @Nigel Depledge:

    “It’s not only inevitable, it is already happening.

    The only question remaining is how much warming.

    And how rapidly. Two. Two questions remaining.

    And what the exact impact of such warming will be. Three. Three questions.”

    Agreed, on all points. But the simple reality is this: those are fantastically interesting questions, but seeking out the answers has about as much relevance to the way our nations and society’s operate as does the search for the Higg’s boson. ie, it’s an entirely intellectual exercise.

    Suppose the answer is “5C in 50 years, leading to massive melting of landlocked ice as well as ocean water expansion, resulting in coastal destruction, ocean acidification wiping out coral, the destruction of the food chains that provide much of the seafood we eat, drought, flooding, etc, etc”… we will *still do nothing*. No one wants to hear that (it’s inconvenient, after all), and many simply don’t believe it (darn liberal conspiracies trying to socially engineer us into the stone age, darn it!).

    So in the end, it’s just too damned exhausting to worry about, and pointless to argue about. All we can really do is sit back and see what happens… because that’s all we’re *going* to do. *shrug*

  82. Quiet Desperation

    @Daffy

    Well that’s the typical response, isn’t it? I disagree with you on something involving Reagan, so therefore I’m some right wing ideologue.

    You’re the one constantly trafficking in ideological smog, Daffster, whereas I constantly preach against it. I did not defend Reagan. In fact, the tree pollution quote is one of the reasons I never bought the whole Great Communicator nonsense. It is educational, though. Directly, it shows you don’t go to political speeches for your science. Less directly, it demonstrates that just because someone you hate makes a claim does not mean there can’t be a grain of truth there.

    Did you even look up the Princeton study I mentioned? It concludes by saying that while there is a contribution, it is incorrect to shift full blame from humans to trees. Wow. That’s really running to the defense of Reagan, isn’t it?

    I even added the caveat that its the trees *and* auto emissions that do a tango to create ozone, but you seem to have ignored that. I’m guessing you are voicing your vote loud and proud for “toss out of context zingers from our little ideological camps for the rest of our days.” Yeah, good luck with that.

    PS: [Stewie Griffin voice] Oh, and thank you Discovery Web Site for initially deleting my post as spam without warning or giving me a reason why. Did you hire monkeys to code your web page or something? Hmm? Doing your thing to promote monkey employment? Hmm? Hmm? Some sort of simian outreach program? National Take A Monkey To Work Day? Hmm? Am I getting close here?

  83. Steve Metzler

    It’s not only inevitable, it is already happening.

    The only question remaining is how much warming.

    And how rapidly. Two. Two questions remaining.

    And what the exact impact of such warming will be. Three. Three questions.

    Amongst the questions remaining are such elements as…

    I’ll come in again.

    No one expects the… Spanish Inqusition!

  84. Joe R.

    Is it just me, or is Steve Metzler actually The Count in disguise?

  85. Daniel J. Andrews

    “Those with a global agenda…”? Sounds like he’s a conspiracy theorist…but of course nowadays you pretty much have to be if you want to reject all the science, including physics. As Dr. Richard Alley testified to him (paraphrase) , CO2 is a greenhouse gas, it is basic physics, you just can’t get away from that.

    Guess you can get away from it if you believe in global conspiracies.

  86. The real problem is so many logical, informed people (including myself!!) tend to dismiss and ignore right wing crackpots such as Palin and Rohrabacher… perhaps even having a laugh at their antics. I have much time for Obama, a better president many times over, but being honest, who doesn’t miss the entertainment and ignorance that was George W Bush?

    However, it’s serious and not just a laugh…. these individuals receive the votes of millions and have the support of powerful people in low places….

  87. brett

    Has been two studies of old growth eucalypt forests done here in Australia in the last decade pointing to the fact that old growth forests are net -emitters of carbon dioxide (ie; they are returning more Co2 to the atmosphere than they are absorbing). I have come across a similar study done in Canada , I think, that pointed to the same conclusion.Not surprising when you think about it

  88. Nigel Depledge

    Chuck P (77) said:

    Regarding “not wasting so much energy,” this ignores both growth in our energy supply and Jevon’s Paradox; increasing efficiency tends to increase the consumption of a resource rather than decrease it.

    True.

    Unless, at the same time the cost of that resource is substantially increased.

  89. Nigel Depledge

    @ Brett (81) -

    Mostly, I agree.

    There is, however, a slim chance that a grass-roots-level movement will emerge and tell the governments what they need to do about the problem.

    After all, the scenario we might be facing in 50 years’ time would make Silent Spring seem idyllic.

  90. Nigel Depledge

    @ Steve Metzler (83) -
    Well done. You win one (1) Internets!

  91. Nigel Depledge

    @ Joe R (84) -
    Steve was quoting my comment #65.

  92. Quiet Desperation

    who doesn’t miss the entertainment and ignorance that was George W Bush?

    (raises hand)

    I’m NOT happy with Obama (and before Daffy calls me a Tea Bagger Birther Sara Palin flunkie, I voted for Obama), but I can do without those wacky hi-jink antics perpetrated by Bush #2. Oh, yeah, my sides were just splitting with laughter from 2000 to 2008. No, wait, that was an ulcer.

    After all, as the great man (Bush) said, “Fool me once, shame on — [pauses] — shame on you. Fool me — [pauses] — You can’t get fooled again.”

    Seriously, how do you even mess that one up? +0.01 for falling back to quoting The Who, if I’m feeling charitable.

  93. Undeniable

    89. Nigel Depledge:

    After all, the scenario we might be facing in 50 years’ time would make Silent Spring seem idyllic.

    Like a 0.5 degree temperature increase and a few inches of sea level rise. However will we cope?

  94. Daffy

    QD, glad to hear it. Now stop putting words in my mouth.

  95. Damon

    “Like a 0.5 degree temperature increase and a few inches of sea level rise. However will we cope?”

    probably just what your crowd is known for, more lies and deception

  96. Messier Tidy Upper

    @59. & # 60 MTU :

    Thinking of analogies and metaphors for climate change & melting ice this :

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/06/03/3235093.htm

    is kinda neat and evocative. An artwork designed to engage the public and get folks thinking on this topic being carved in Sydney.

    As thislink notes :

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/05/30/3230188.htm

    The Climate change debate and especially the Gillard governemnt’s proposed Carbon tax is a huge issue in Aussie politics too at present :

  97. Messier Tidy Upper

    @87. brett :

    Has been two studies of old growth eucalypt forests done here in Australia in the last decade pointing to the fact that old growth forests are net -emitters of carbon dioxide (ie; they are returning more Co2 to the atmosphere than they are absorbing). I have come across a similar study done in Canada , I think, that pointed to the same conclusion. Not surprising when you think about it.

    Which studies may I ask please?

    Yes, that is interesting – & it surprises & confounds my expectations since I’d have assumed the tree’s would absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen in net terms – but I’d really like to know more and have sources to check for that.

    Please can you (or anyone else who knows & cares to enlighten us) provide
    the studies author(s) and the paper title(s) and, best of all, a link or two? That would be much appreciated if you can.

  98. Nigel Depledge

    Undeniable (93) said:

    Like a 0.5 degree temperature increase and a few inches of sea level rise. However will we cope?

    This amount of change is (approximately) what has happened already.

    Some additional temperature increase and concomitant rise in sea level is inevitable. The real question is how much. Most of the credible models have a few °C of temp increase (call it around 2 – 5 °C) and several tens of cm of sea level rise (call it around 50 – 100 cm).

    To put this into some kind of perspective, a good deal of London is not much more than a metre above the average high water level. Add a storm surge (or just some damn’ big waves) and a high tide to the rise in sea level and you’ll have water coming over the Thames Barrier on a routine basis. Similarly, New Orleans could quite easily become uninhabitable in 50 years’ time.

    The fact is that we don’t know. We can only model what is a very complex set of interactions. The consensus between the various models (each model being based on a seperate set of assumptions about such parameters as the thermal expansion of the oceans) is that the increase in average annual temperatures over the next 50 years will lead to consequences that directly impact on us in a substantial way.

    And while we don’t know exactly what will happen, we can say what is likely to happen. With a reasonable degree of confidence.

    BTW, I like the self-referential post-modern irony of your handle.

  99. Messier Tidy Upper

    Ran out of time to add this link to comment #96 :

    ***

    The Climate change debate and especially the Gillard government’s proposed Carbon Tax is a huge issue in Aussie politics too at present.

    However, as this study shows :

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/06/03/3234342.htm

    Most Aussies *do* accept the scientific consensus that Global Warming is real and caused by Human Greenhouse gas emissions and only 6% of Australians are “true climate change sceptics.” Although other polls say that on the slightly different topic of the Carbon Tax most Aussies (around 60% or so if memory serves?) oppose that particular measure.

    ***

    Meanwhile global carbon dioxide emissions are hitting record levels :

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/05/30/3230793.htm

    which co-incides not so co-incidentally with this :

    http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2010-warmest-year.html

    now getting old~ish news from NASA regarding which year was the hottest on record globally.

  100. Messier Tidy Upper

    While this item from today’s online news :

    http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/8257374/climate-scientsts-receive-death-threats

    notes that the climate scientists working on this issue are getting death threats here in Oz just as they are in the USA too. :-(

  101. brett

    Hi Messier@97-sorry I can’t provide a link as they were just things I randomly came across and didnt save – just thought they were interesting at the time. General gist of the eucalypt studies was that aged eucalypts lose a lot of canopy cover and hence much lower photosynthesis rates.Growth virtually stops. Aged Eucalypts rot up through the trunk and return co2, shed branches (which rot and are not replaced). There was some other stuff but cant quite recall. Was surprised at first read but on considering sort of made sense–cheers brett

  102. QuietDesperation

    Now stop putting words in my mouth.

    Yeah, sucks when that happens, doesn’t it?

  103. Herbert Scavetta

    Interesting. I’m not one to normally read anything about entertainment though.

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