Symphony of Science: climate change

By Phil Plait | September 14, 2012 10:00 am

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a new Symphony of Science – videos autotuning scientists and science popularizers to promote critical thinking – and I’m pleased not only that a fresh one went up, but that it’s about a topic near and dear to me (and should be to everyone): climate change.

It’s nice to see Asimov included in the video. And I like the message: we can fix this if we take it seriously and try. I wind up spending a lot of my time and effort debunking the shills of the oil industry, and it’s good to remember we also need positive messages, too.


Related Posts:

-A new Symphony of Science: Wave of Reason
Symphony of Science: Onward to the Edge
A quantum Symphony of Science
Symphonic Symphony of Science
Symphony of Science: Children of Africa

Comments (36)

  1. Luis Dias

    “we can fix this if we take it seriously and try”

    It’s always heartbreaking watching people who don’t know anything they are talking about trying to be all patronizing about it.

    Brings me a tear, and though I really like Symphony of Science, I cannot bring myself to hit “play”. It’s just too much embarrassing to see these guys entering that bandwagon. As all “skeptic” groups guys n girls have to, apparently.

  2. thetentman

    Luis,

    Sorry your heart is broken. Did not know you had one.

    cheers,

  3. Wzrd1

    Now, now. We can’t get into a discussion about expensive fixes for any climate change. It’s bad for business and besides, one other nation doesn’t bother, so we’ll not.

    Though, I wonder what those people’s thoughts will be when the NYSE is under water…

  4. Francisco Cubillos

    Luis, it’s heartbreaking for me to see people like you, who doesn’t seem to see the evidence or consensus that there already is. I wish you were right, but unfortunately it is not so.

    Besides, how is the message patronizing? It’s saying that if we work together we can do amazing things.

  5. Daffy

    “Though, I wonder what those people’s thoughts will be when the NYSE is under water…”

    They’ll blame Obama.

  6. Daniel J. Andrews

    Shorter Luis: We can’t fix it so why bother even trying.

    Since you haven’t watched the video, your opinion of the video is really rather worthless, isn’t it?

    That’s a rhetorical question, we all know the answer. When you’re not commenting on videos you haven’t watched, do you write Amazon reviews for books you haven’t read? (another rhetorical question).

    Incidentally, if you had watched the video, you would know who is saying “we can do this”, and you would know that if anyone knows what they’re talking about, this guy does (his biography is online and also outlined in his companion book to the PBS series Earth: The Operators’ Manual–I’m guessing you didn’t see the series or read that book, but apparently you don’t need to in order to have an opinion on it).

  7. Zathras

    Sadly, as usual, cue the climate change denial trolls……
    You guys get paid by the oil companies per post or something??

  8. itzac

    Luis probably doesn’t get paid. They just feed into his persecution complex.

  9. Zeff

    The truly heartbreaking thing is that a lot of people voluntarily channel denialist agitprop because they take their opinion leaders’ words at face value, and carry the message forth, honestly believing that they’re fighting the good fight. A pity.

    Now, the people who generate the propaganda in the first place…frankly, they deserve to rot in solitary confinement for crying, “There is no fire!” in a burning theater. It probably can’t happen that way, and for good reason, but yeesh.

  10. Jannercide

    That was really awful.

  11. Derek

    @ Luis –

    “It’s always heartbreaking watching people who don’t know anything they are talking about trying to be all patronizing about it.”

    I know exactly what you mean. It breaks my heart to see you posting patronizing things like this…especially when you don’t seem to be aware of what the science really has to say on the issue. :(

  12. Luis Dias

    Since you haven’t watched the video, your opinion of the video is really rather worthless, isn’t it?

    Are you really gonna say that the video is original?

    That it will surprise me?

    Ah. Please.

  13. Luis Dias

    The truly heartbreaking thing is that a lot of people voluntarily channel denialist agitprop because they take their opinion leaders’ words at face value, and carry the message forth, honestly believing that they’re fighting the good fight. A pity.

    God forbid some people actually end up thinking differently than you do. How can that possibly happen when you are so damned smart? Clearly, some brainwashing has taken place. Those damned propagandists! And how fool people are for not protecting their brains with tin foil hats!

  14. Luis Dias

    You guys get paid by the oil companies per post or something??

    Damn, I so wished that was true! Being paid by saying what I think. Damn.

  15. copernicus34

    everything there is to know about climate science has already been learned. there is nothing left to learn, it is all understood. the hundreds of variables that participate in the magic of this planets atmospheric duties have all been discovered and accounted for. the climate can now be predicted with 100% accuracy centuries out. lets move on to completely understand the cosmos. we are almost there. humans can do anything if they set their minds to it.

  16. The autotuning on this is a lot less annoying than on some of their other videos and I like the more more positive message. One of the things I dislike about most of the climate change message we see in the media is the almost constant claim that we are all doomed. Many folks come off sounding, to me, as bad as some of the other doomsayers we always here from.

    And of course including Asimov in anything is always a plus.

  17. Eric TF Bat

    Luis, please hush. The grown-ups are talking.

  18. Jess Tauber

    Venting fumes- every time I see one of those ‘We Agree’ Chevron ads on TV I want to explode. A paid employee paired with some bumpkin who only gets his views and ‘news’ from Limbaugh and Fox. And then the ‘we agree’ plastered on the screen as if the company just heard something they hadn’t already ordered said. And all this paid for by US taxpayer subsidies??? AAAAARRRGGGGHHH!

  19. mikel

    copernicus34:

    everything there is to know about climate science has already been learned. there is nothing left to learn, it is all understood. the hundreds of variables…etc.

    Some questions c34: Can you quote Phil or anyone else on this thread saying anything remotely like your comment? Can you find an instance of Phil or any halfway prominent climate scientist saying anything like it anywhere? (Hint; “the science is settled” remark does not meet this standard.) Citations definitely needed. Do you know the difference between knowing everything and knowing enough to act? Do you know what a strawman is?

  20. Fizz

    Here are a couple questions: What is a “denialist”? What is a “skeptic”? These terms seems to get tossed about at will, but i suspect different people have different meanings.

    For example, if one believes Earth is warming up, but doesn’t believe humans are responsible, are they considered a “denialist”, or a “skeptic”, or something else?

    Or what about someone who thinks humans have a role, but are not necessarily the primary forcing? Are they “denialists” or “skeptics”?

    I think it’s ok to be a “skeptic”. In my mind, a skeptic asks questions. And questions lead to knowledge. Climate science is an incredibly complicated endeavour, and even today still evolving. If you don’t ask questions, then it’s faith. It’s ok to challenge evidence, to debate and discuss and propose alternatives. That’s what the scientific process is about.

    A “denialist”, to me, is one who is presented with irrefutable evidence and chooses to ignore it. They’re tougher to deal with because they won’t be part of the scientific process or debate.

    So, don’t bash people if they posit questions or express doubts. You’ll just alienate them and leave them in darkness. Instead, engage them, educate them. You may not convince them right away, but you’ll give them something to think about, and thinking is what will ultimately lead to what’s true.

  21. Rogert

    I think it is great scientists are getting involved in this way. Gees some comments like they do not know what they are talking about without even watching the video, umm Richard Alley (PBS network) certainly knows what he is talking about, try looking him up. Then listen to Richard Alley’s lecture on why CO2 is the thermostat for the worlds climate. Only being out since 2009, it is at the AGU website. Would provide the link but don’t think I am allowed.
    Also Phil love the site and the beautiful images you keep providing with the explanations of what they are. They make great wallpapers for the computer. Just brilliant.

  22. Lars

    If you refuse to take statements at face value until you’ve done some fact checking, and then proceed to do some fact checking, you’re a skeptic. If you deny evidence, and refuse to check the facts, you’re a denialist. Simple, really. Of course there’s all sorts of gray zones too, but that’s how the world mostly works.

  23. Jess Tauber

    Actually so far as I can tell, I’m the one that came up with the line ‘In space no one can hear you scream’, Phil. I was in college at the time, and had a friend who was a student photographer interested in a Hollywood career named Richard Greenberg- we lived in northern New Jersey at the time. He had literature about the Alien movie being developed, showing models being made, etc. We used to have lots of debates about the science (or lack thereof) in movies. At some point we were discussing Alien and I maintained that in space you couldn’t hear any sound (remember that at the time we had Star Wars space battles with zooms and other noises). When Alien came out I saw the ads and thought, gee that’s an interesting coincidence. Only years later did I learn that the makers of the film had been contacted by a fellow of the same name as above from New Jersey who suggested the line in question.

    By the way, not to toot my own horn or anything, I seem to be the source of the germ of the idea for the game show ‘Smush’ as well, with me foolishly telling everyone in the late ’90’s (without intellectual protection), including at the Santa Barbara Linguistic Institute in 2001 (I’d come up with it two years earlier) about my new word game (I mostly do linguistics) where you overlap the first part of one word with the last part of the preceding word and then, preferably inebriated, see how big a string of such words you can memorize. The makers of the TV version added some interesting features I hadn’t thought of, but otherwise destroyed the ambiance by setting the game in a juice bar, when it would have been far better on a regular game show stage.

  24. Steve Metzler

    20. Fizz Says:

    A “denialist”, to me, is one who is presented with irrefutable evidence and chooses to ignore it.

    Well, then you’ve just managed to self-describe yourself as a denialist. Some simple facts:

    1. Since pre-industrial times, the atmospheric CO2 concentration has gone from ~280ppm to ~390ppm.

    2. Mankind is currently putting about 30 billion metric tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. Less than half of that can be absorbed by nature, the rest becomes well-mixed throughout the atmosphere, contributing to the greenhouse effect, thus causing the planet to warm (because the average altitude at which Earth can radiate excess heat to space keeps moving up to colder regions of the atmosphere, so not as much heat can be radiated).

    3. The C13/C12 isotope ratio of the carbon in the atmosphere has a signature consistent with that of fossil fuels. We don’t see hordes of chipmunks or the like burning fossil fuels, so we know mankind put the extra CO2 mentioned in fact #1 there.

    You apparently deny those facts.

  25. Fizz

    @24 Steve Metzler-
    What the hell are you talking about? I have denied nothing. Where do i say that? Where do i even imply that?
    My post is about about methods to deal with deniers- to engage and educate them. I never made any comment about my own views.
    But thank you for illustrating my point exactly. Because i propose a new tactic, try to define some terms, you immediately slap me with the “denier” label, instead of understanding what i was saying. It is exactly that kind tactic that causes the fight to be lost, because you immediately alienate the person and lose their attention.

  26. Steve Metzler

    So, would you self-describe as an AGW “skeptic” then? It sure seems as if you were paving the way there.

  27. Fizz

    I would now describe myself as “convinced”. In the past, i was a skeptic over humanity’s relative impact. But over the last few years, I have read a -lot-, investigated alternative theories, etc, and i am now convinced. That said, if another plausible alternative theory comes along, i will scrutinize it too.

    And it’s not just me, it was only a few months ago that Dr. Richard Muller, a physicist who had been a long time skeptic, who after 3+ years of his own research (checking the quality of the data, trying to fit alternatives, etc), has said he’s convinced.

    When i discuss dealing with skeptics and deniers, i speak from experience. I was labelled as a “denier” or “major oil stockholder”, etc, when all i wanted to do is ask questions. There are people out there who genuinely don’t understand, or have been fed false data that seems true, but are open to understanding. So don’t villainize them, teach them.

    A few years ago at a Beyond Belief Conference, Neil deGrasse Tyson criticized Richard Dawkins’s methods on teaching evolution. His point was that it takes facts PLUS sensitivity to create impact. I think that notion applies here too. (You can find it on youtube- Dawkins has a funny followup. :) )

  28. Messier Tidy Upper

    Great clip – never expected the ‘Symphony of Science’ to do a climate change one, not sure why now I think of it.

    Great to see Isaac Asimov combined with Sir David Attenborough and Richard Alley among others.

    Works well and a good reminder that real scientists were worried about the HIRGO issue long before a certain former Vice president made a movie.

  29. Steve Metzler

    Fizz, profound apologies. There are a lot of commenters out there that those of us who have been hanging out on climate-related blogs for the past few years would consider to be tone trolls, or concern trolls, or… whatever. Unfortunately, that is the slant I perceived from the way your original post was worded.

    Happy to hear that you were one of those who was sitting on the fence, and fell off the right side of it :-)

  30. @1. Luis Dias :

    “we can fix this if we take it seriously and try”
    It’s always heartbreaking watching people who don’t know anything they are talking about trying to be all patronizing about it. Brings me a tear, and though I really like Symphony of Science, I cannot bring myself to hit “play”. It’s just too much embarrassing to see these guys entering that bandwagon. As all “skeptic” groups guys n girls have to, apparently.

    If you really find this positive and reasonable clip made by quoting some actual scientists so heart breakingly sad, then, Luis Dias, I think you must be living a very fortunate and sheltered life. ;-)

    As for the “bandwagon” scientists and science popularisers such as Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan – not to mention the practicing climatologists were talking about the dangers of HIRGO* many decades before it became “popular” – see the clip linked to my name here. (Climate Science 1956: A Blast from the Past’ Peter Sinclair.) As early as the 1950’s scientists were getting concerned and there’s another youtube clip or two of Isaac Asimov discussing the Greenhouse effect in 1977 and 1989.

    I think, if anything the “bandwagon” being jumped on has been the reverse one of bashing the scientists based on Fox news “reportage” of things like the non-scandal that was the multiply debunked “climategate” CRU emails leak and there still being cold days in wintertime.

    You’ve been commenting here long enough to know this too, Luis Dias.
    ——————————-

    ( Human Induced Rapid Global Overheating)

  31. See on youtube :

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

    ‘Isaac Asimov on the Greenhouse Effect: 1977′

    Plus :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6tSYRY90PA&feature=plcp

    ‘Isaac Asimov on the Greenhouse Effect: 1989.’

    So three and more decades ago, my alltime favourite SF author was already well aware of and discussing this problem.

    In addition check out :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmpiuuBy-4s&feature=plcp

    ‘Global Warming: What We Knew in 82.’

    As well as the clip linked to my name here : Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan on the Greenhouse Effect – as the info box there notes :

    The thousands of expert climate scientists whose work forms the consensus have no celebrity, no street cred with the average person. But for a lot of people, the archetypes of scientific expertise, are more popular media figures like Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan. I offer this to, once again, make clear again how wide and deep the consensus on this issue is.

    – Peter Sinclair a.k.a. Greenman3610

    Bandwagon? Recent trendy political cause? I don’t think so.

  32. Fizz

    @29 Steve Metzler
    Thanks for that. An apology on the interwebs? Whoa! j/k :)

    It occurred to me that there is a third type of “skeptic” or “denialist”. These would be the types that accept that human induced global warming is real, but don’t think it’s a problem.

    There seems to be a wide range of predictions as to just how bad it will be. I am not convinced we’re going to get 100-foot sea rise in the next 100 years, for example, as the direst of predictions seem to say. Does that make me a “skeptic”? I don’t think so.

    The internet is a great source for information and misinformation. I have a scientific background (physics), and i continue to find it tricky to parse through it all. One article claims to debunk another, which in turn is debunked by yet another. And then who to trust? No wonder if can take some time to convince people, moreso for people without a scientific background.

  33. Mark Schaffer

    Fizz,
    This part of your first post:
    “For example, if one believes Earth is warming up, but doesn’t believe humans are responsible, are they considered a “denialist”, or a “skeptic”, or something else?” would lead me to answer that such person is merely uninformed or uneducated on the subject.

  34. I think it’s ok to be a “skeptic”. In my mind, a skeptic asks questions.

    Deniers also ask questions.
    It’s called JAQ’ing off.
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/JAQing_off

  35. Gunnar

    It appears to me that public consensus, due to the efforts of out spoken scientists with appropriate expertise and websites like this one, is beginning to slowly change to recognizing the reality of AGW and the need to do something about it. I hope that perception is correct! I predict that within the next 10-15 years or so, even conservative Republicans will (grudgingly, perhaps) acknowledge that fact.

  36. ^ Let’s hope that Republicans recognising the reality of climate change goes better than them recognising the reality of the Theory of Evolution or that the Earth is a tad older than only 6000 years.
    :(

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