The Neroes of global warming

By Phil Plait | November 2, 2012 7:00 am

Nero was an emperor of Rome, and not looked upon kindly by history. A great fire swept through Rome, rumored to have been started by Nero himself to clear more land for his own estate. Nero supposedly did little to stop it, which is why we have the phrase "Nero fiddled while Rome burned".

The analogy to climate change is glaringly obvious. The burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil has dumped vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the air – far more than the total from all volcanoes combined, for example. This greenhouse gas essentially traps heat*, preventing natural physical processes from letting the Earth maintain its temperature. The end result: the Earth is heating up.

The vast, overwhelming majority of real climate scientists agree with this assessment. Oddly, the fossil fuel industry doesn’t. They sponsor a lot of very loud and very wrong "think tanks" who deny the very existence of the problem the industry itself created. So the Earth heats up, and they fiddle with the truth.

As I wrote recently, global warming is in the news because it’s very likely that the hurricane Sandy was influenced by our changing climate. I’m not the only one to think so. Climate scientist Randy Horton says, for example, that melting sea ice and a declining jet stream may have been in part responsible for steering Sandy into the east coast, instead of over the open ocean as late-season hurricanes usually do.

The deniers, of course, are spinning this faster than the hurricane itself.

Those of us on the side of reality in this issue want it to be about science, but we must see that it’s about politics. When a large number of sitting members of the US House of Representatives science committee are avid and avowed global warming deniers, this is about politics. When we see the fossil fuel industry funding those very people, it’s about politics.

Perhaps that stranglehold of political denial is loosening up a tiny bit. Business Week, not usually known for leftist leanings, just published a story called "It’s Global Warming, Stupid" and put it on their front page. The two presidential candidates have hardly talked about it, and not at all in the debates, despite this being the biggest medium-term crisis the world is facing. President Obama did finally speak out, on MTV of all places (which is actually pretty good; hopefully a younger audience will listen), but could’ve put in a lot more details of what he actually plans to do.

Of course, Governor Romney is wearing his past statements like an albatross around his neck. He has mocked global warming, and said many times he would dismantle FEMA. He flip-flopped on that just this week, kindof, saying FEMA does an important job. However, given that he said it was "immoral" – his word – to fund FEMA, I have a difficult time believing he’s being entirely honest now.

Because the issue was ignored in the debates, Science Debate put on a mock 4th Presidential debate dealing with global warming, with candidate stand-ins talking about the issue. If only that had been real. If only.

So we still have a long way to go. Things in the Senate aren’t much better, with people like James Inhofe (R-OK) still sticking by his claim that the very idea of global warming is a hoax. Happily, some people are willing to hang that one around his neck, too. But it’s not enough. Not nearly.

And there’s more bad news. One of the biggest weapons we have against hurricanes like Sandy is our fleet of weather satellites, tracking the storms and allowing scientists to predict the path and ferocity of storms, sometimes days in advance. Sandy’s track was predicted amazingly well due to this. But our very ability to do this is in jeopardy: the New York Times is reporting that we may be facing a weather satellite crisis, with an aging fleet of satellites breaking down and no replacements ready for launch for quite some time. There may be a years-long gap in our coverage of storms from space because of this.

And during all of this, the deniers fiddle. They argue and spin about statistics, misleadingly plotting data. They talk about sunspots, they talk about cycles, they talk about other planets, and all the while they are desperately trying to distract you from the real issue. The Earth is warming up, the change is real, it’s dangerous, it’s already affecting us noticeably, and we’re not doing anything to stop it.

The public is catching on to this. Recent polls show that Americans are more accepting that global warming is real. That’s good news, and an excellent start.

But it must be translated into action. We have an election coming up in a few days. Many of these climate change deniers are up for re-election, while others are seeking office. If you are an American, I urge you to do your research and vote accordingly. Literally, our future is in our hands.

<em<Image credit: NOAA/NASA GOES Project


* Technically, CO2 is transparent to visible light, but opaque to far infrared. Sunlight gets through, warms up the ground, which then radiates that heat as infrared. The CO2 won’t let that radiate away into space, so the heat stays on Earth, warming the ground (and oceans!) further. But saying "it traps heat" is close enough.


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When does weather become climate
New study clinches it: the Earth is warming up

Comments (171)

  1. Dan I.

    Phil;

    While I get what you’re saying, in the interest of accuracy I feel it necessary to point out that the idea that Nero either set the Great Fire of Rome or that he “did nothing” while it raged is now considered an inaccurate rumor.

    Nero was away from Rome during the fire and when he heard about it he immediately returned to the city, organized a relief effort that he paid for our of his own funds, opened several of his palaces as shelters.

    The idea that he “fiddled while Rome burned” is wholly inaccurate. He wasn’t even in Rome and couldn’t have heard about the fire for quite a while afterward (communication and travel time being what it was at the time).

    The rumors that he “did nothing” largely stem from his political enemies (and there were plenty of people who disliked Nero with very good cause) using the fact that he was out of Rome (not something the bulk of the general population would know) plus the fact that he DID, rather callously, build a new palace in are cleared by the fire.

    However, he also used the fire as an excuse to establish new laws regarding the construction of buildings (increased space between structures, more use of stone as opposed to wood) in an attempt to prevent another fire from getting so out of control.

  2. Luis Dias

    Yeah, everyone agrees climate change made Sandy, except for science itself.

    OH SNAP

    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.pt/2012/11/normalized-us-hurricane-damage-1900.html

  3. saphroneth

    There’s one very worrying statistic that I recently saw a talk on, which is that the CO2 level spike going on today is a similar scale to the one from the PETM (the last climate maximum)… and it’s being generated ten times faster… and, last time, it was methane-related. Which hasn’t triggered yet in the current warming event.

  4. Skydaddy

    What shall we do, Phil? Even if the US shut down all coal and gas-fired plants and outlawed the use of internal combustion engines (good luck with that), India and China would be burning merrily away.

    Let’s just assume that we’ve passed the tipping point and that there is nothing we can do to stop or even slow the trend. Instead of making cheap and abundant fossil energy artificially expensive – a move that will only impoverish people and ruin economies – let’s focus our energies on figuring out how to adapt to a changing world.

  5. Chris

    The only thing that makes sense is that the Republican establishment is controlled by Reptilian humanoids who are trying to make the Earth warmer so they can colonize our planet.

  6. ctj

    saphroneth @2:

    and, last time, it was methane-related. Which hasn’t triggered yet in the current warming event

    just wait until all the methane trapped in the permafrost is released…

  7. Ray

    OK, Phil, the Earth is warming. We all know that.

    So what are you gonna do? Turn off civilization? Live in a mud hut? How will you post on your blog?

  8. Oh boy. These comments won’t disappoint I’m sure. It will be like reading the MDC forum at JREF with the hand-waving and assertions of no substance…

  9. peakoil42

    @Skydaddy,

    Good luck with moving New York and all the other coastal habitations.

    Of course we have to do both – we have potentially massive changes dialed in already which will have to be adapted to, but that doesn’t mean we still haven’t got to drastically reduce our emissions, and the sooner the better. Come on do you really really really need the new Surface RT, or iPad mini? Think before you consume!

  10. Luis Dias (#2) Pielke?

    You mean this Pielke?

    This guy?

    Him?

    By the way, “normalized damage” isn’t nearly as important as the fact that this hurricane happened at all and behaved the way it did. But thanks for precisely proving my point about deniers trying to distract from the real issues.

  11. wintermute

    “let’s focus our energies on figuring out how to adapt to a changing world.”

    Right. So, evacuate New York, Los Angeles, London, etc before they’re under water (not to mention entire island nations – we need to work out how to handle all those refugees), move all of our farmlands hundreds of miles north, often across national boundaries…

    These are massive projects that will take huge chunks of our global GDP to attempt, and massive international consensus on the best way to solve these problems. And yet there’s no attempt to even define what would need to happen. Dealing with global warming is almost certainly going to be easier than dealing with the effects of global warming.

    When people say “we need to focus on figuring out how to adapt”, it’s very hard not to hear “I don’t want to do anything, so let’s just let billions of people die”.

  12. The best quote I’ve heard about Hurricane Sandy and climate change came from Eric Pooley who is the senior vice president of the Environmental Defense Fund.

    He said: “We can’t say that steroids caused any one home run by Barry Bonds, but steroids sure helped him hit more and hit them farther. Now we have weather on steroids.”

    So, was Hurricane Sandy caused by global warming? Impossible to say exactly. However, we’ll have more Hurricane Sandys (as well as other forms of extreme weather) more often if we continue to ignore global warming.

    The deniers who try to wait for “all the science to be in” are, in the above baseball analogy, refusing the punish Barry Bonds for taking steroids until it is conclusively proved that steroids caused each individual home run.

  13. Bob

    People quibble over whether or not a particular weather event is attributable to climate change, but this week a NOAA rep made the interesting point that the rise in sea levels of 1 foot over the last century due to global warming certainly contributed to the extent of the flood damage this week, regardless of whether or not the storm itself was a direct result of climate change.

  14. F16 guy

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I wish I had a nickle for every word typed on this blog about global warming.

    OK Phil, we get it.

    Global warming….BAD

    Mankind…………..BAD

    However, continued discourse without solutions, as SKYDADDY and others points out, is simply a waste of space.

  15. Hunter Shoptaw

    Luis Dias (#2)

    How is that science and even more, how does that show that global warming wasn’t a factor in the hurricane/superstorm? Not only are your facts shaky, but your opinions aren’t even founded.

  16. DanVeteran

    I heard the erratic movement of Sandy was caused by the Jet Stream’s deep dip into the Southern US, which is normal this time of year. Is this more junk science or truth?

    Dan

  17. Daffy

    F16 guy Says: So you want everyone to stop talking about it until they come up with a solution. Yeah, that’ll work.

    I suppose that’s the next step of the deniers. First it was “It’s not happening.”

    Then it was “It may be happening but mankind didn’t cause it.”

    Then we got “It’s happening and maybe mankind caused it, but it doesn’t matter because it’s actually good for us.”

    Now it seems we have, “It’s happening, mankind caused it, and it’s bad for us; but let’s stop talking about it until the problem is solved.”

  18. Chris

    @2 Luis Diaz

    Perhaps you should look at this graph put out by the insurance company Munich Re. They have actual money in the game. The graph shows the number of events attributed to geophysical events like earthquakes, tsunamis and other things which humans should have no effect on. That doesn’t really change over the 30 year period. However, the climate and weather related disasters are going way up.
    http://amateurearthling.org/files/2012/10/LossFrequency-640×297.png

  19. J Cortez

    I don’t think what’s being said in your blog post changes much of anything.

    Another commenter posted,” ok warming is happening, but it’s impossible to turn off civilization.” This is very true and something most GW commentators take for granted.

    The people of the world generally have no interest in limiting their standard of living and use of technology. Even if you could find replacement materials, the power needs alone make everything impossible. Solar, geothermal, and wind are at minimum a decade or two away from being economically on par with petrofuels.

    What I find hilarious is that somehow the notion that legislation would solve the problem. Even assuming that any legislation could get through DC, it’s likely to create a 1920’s prohibition like environment, where there’s an illegal underground economy and corrupt officials willing to sponge off of it. The overwhelming majority of people want their SUVs, new earrings, electric lights, snack food, and smartphones, all of which are not environmentally friendly in the least.

  20. wintermute

    “However, continued discourse without solutions, as SKYDADDY and others points out, is simply a waste of space.”

    How do you expect people to construct solutions without engaging in continued discourse? Even if the discourse isn’t directly focused on finding a solution, surely we need to keep the problem (and its magnitude) in the public conciousness, so that people are thinking about solutions, instead of just forgetting about it?

  21. Ray (#7): Well, we could find a better way of moving around than burning liquid fossils…

    — Steve

  22. Diederick

    @F16 Guy:

    You’ve got it completely reversed. There are plenty of solutions, but as long as people aren’t educated about this, they won’t take off. I wish more Americans would reiterate this as Phil does.

  23. James

    Please tell me this post is a spoof, a send-up of hysterical global warming activism?

  24. dessy

    @ #4 Skydaddy

    Interested to hear more about your claim referring to the artificial increase in fuel prices. At the moment fuel prices are artificially decreased to the tune of $70+ billion per annum in subsidies. For an economy that prides itself on its free market nature, these subsidies are astounding and laughable.

    How about removing the $70+ billion per annum in subsidies and have the market pay realistic prices instead of artificially depressed ones. The $70+ billion per annum can then be spent on more important things like alternative energy research, better wind/solar/wave technologies and (even more vital imo) Fusion Power Technology.

    Other areas the $70+ billion per annum needs to be spent is fixing the embarrassingly inefficient power grid where so much energy is wasted just to keep it running.

    These steps don’t embeggar the economy. They help it by removing the ridiculous market warping effects that the current slew of subsidies cause and help it by driving new innovations and technologies and removing the inefficiencies built into national infrastructure from 19th century technology.

    The only economies that will survive into the 22nd century will be the ones that do not rely on fossil fuels. Any other option is ‘fiddling’.

  25. Cory

    @ Luis
    You funny! Trying to impress us with your lack of intrinsic logic and then handing over a meaningless chart. You couldn’t have done any thing more to prove Phil’s point. Well done!

  26. litesong

    Luis Dias quoting Pielke as the voice of science, is a post filled with jokes.

  27. Not that I want to defend Romney here, but he wasn’t saying it was immoral to fund FEMA, but that he believes that will lead to even greater debt in the US which would create more hardship for our children and that is immoral. He thinks things like FEMA should be run by the state (not federal) or even better by private companies. He’s completely wrong, of course, and there are decades of examples showing why he is wrong, but we don’t need to slightly twist the meaning of this one to make him look bad. He does that all by himself with his straight-up, not-out-of-context comments.

    Luis, way back at the beginning, is hilarious. He says everyone is saying climate change made Sandy, except science itself…and then he links to a non-scientist, and a Pielke at that(!!).

    As an aside, Luis’ original claim isn’t even right (strawman argument). No-one is saying climate change made Sandy, but it did contribute to its impact in some way (warmer seas, for example, more moisture/rain; possibly even missing ice in the Arctic influenced the path westward). The analogy (see TechyDad(?) of a baseball player on steroids is a good one.

  28. Gaebolga

    F16 guy wrote:

    OK Phil, we get it.

    Global warming….BAD

    Mankind…………..BAD

    And here we see one of the problems with the denier crowd. While Phil has certainly said “Global warming….BAD” (though probably not using that exact phrasing), I doubt you can point to any place that he’s said — or even implied — “Mankind…………..BAD.”

    He’s made the point that humanity is responsible for the bulk of the global warming we’re seeing, but that’s not a condemnation of our species; it’s simply a fact. Humanity isn’t “bad,” but we are a bit apathetic, and that’s starting to bite us in the butt pretty hard.

    If you get all huffy every time someone points out your flaws (or assume that those flaws make you “bad”), how the hell are you ever going to improve yourself? Rather than get all bent out of shape because you’re not already perfect, get up and actually do the work necessary to get a little closer to perfection. Otherwise, you’re just being a whiner.

    Which, no doubt, you will assume is “bad” (as opposed to just “unhelpful”).

  29. The Captain

    Ahh this should bring out the evolution deniers..er um I mean the global warming deniers. Sorry folks, I always get those two groups confused since they are pretty much doing the same thing. Both refuse to believe a scientific consensus and base their arguments for why on the exact same fallacies. They both think that they are smarter than all the scientist in the field they criticize because they think they have found out some obvious concern that in reality scientist have addressed years ago. Both use straw man, and both move the goal post. The list of similarities goes on and on.

    They also both are doing so for almost the exact same reasons, a religious belief. One because science contradicts their religious belief that an invisible man in the sky made them. The other because science contradicts their religious belief that an invisible hand that should never be interfered with always does what’s best. And many times these people hold both of these views.

    You can see how I sometimes confuse the two.

  30. Nigel Depledge

    Skydaddy (4) said:

    Even if the US shut down all coal and gas-fired plants and outlawed the use of internal combustion engines (good luck with that), India and China would be burning merrily away.

    This comment disgusts me.

    If the USA had ratified the Kyoto Protocol in ’97 – or proposed a sensible alternative – India and China would have had no excuse to develop their industry in the way they have, with little regard for CO2 emissions, over the last 15 years. Face up, USAians, you are – in part at least – responsible for the rate at which India and China are guzzling fossil fuels now.

  31. Chuck Currie

    The sky is falling, the sky is falling! Oh, sheesh.

    I’ve lived through the coming ice age – those who disagreed with the “science” were just stupid, you know. The population bomb, where we were all supposed to starve to death – instead we got an obesity epidemic – and, once again, if you disagreed, you were stupid.

    This too will pass. But, be assured the “I want to control your live” crowd will come up with something new to try to scare us all into obedience.

    Evolution is adaptation. Civilization moves forward (boy, that sounds downright progressive).

    Funny how the Dutch figured out how to adapt to the changing of the tide without jetting all over the world to taxpayer funded vacations…I mead conferences.

    Al Gore just got paid $257,000 for a “climate change” speech in Gibraltar – very impressed at his rowing ability…he did row his boat there, didn’t he? Maybe he sailed his skiff.

    If these people weren’t so dangerous, this would all be funny.

    Cheers

  32. carey

    This is a self-limiting problem. If we fail to rapidly reduce our CO2 production, then rapid temperature rise will lead to drought and famine, and the human population will be reduced rather quickly and painfully.
    We may postpone some effects via geoengineering, but high CO2 levels will take centuries to come down, and I suspect that humanity will have a difficult time coordinating such efforts over spans of hundreds or thousands of years.

  33. truthspeaker

    Ray Says:
    November 2nd, 2012 at 7:43 am

    OK, Phil, the Earth is warming. We all know that.

    So what are you gonna do? Turn off civilization? Live in a mud hut? How will you post on your blog?

    Because of course that’s the only way of dealing with it.

  34. Nigel Depledge

    F16 guy (14) said:

    However, continued discourse without solutions, as SKYDADDY and others points out, is simply a waste of space.

    As has been pointed out by others, Skydaddy’s comment is a waste of electrons.

    The USA is in an extraordinary position globally. It is – AFAICT – the only major developed nation where more politicians than not insist that GW is either not real or nothing to worry about. Face it, nothing is going to happen until a larger proportion of the electorate – and hence of the powermongers themselves – accepts that GW is real and something that needs to be addressed.

    When you guys are ready to face reality, just look across the pond at Europe, and you’ll see plenty of options about how to address GW. Some of them are trivial, some of them could not exist without subsidies, but others are working.

    You’ve made this complaint before on this blog, and I’ve answered it before, and you’ve quite blithely ignored the 20-odd options I have occasionally listed. None of these were secret. Most of them I read about in New Scientist. The information is available to you should you care to look for it. But no, you cannot be bothered even to do a few google searches, you must have it handed to you on a plate.

    Even so, is the fact that Phil does not present solutions at all relevant to the point of his post, which is that AGW is real and the denial of its existence or seriousness is analogous to the story about Nero?

  35. Nigel Depledge

    @ Chuck Currie (29)-

    Please stop posting, your ignorance is showing.

  36. It gets better: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/11/01/fox-business-reporter-mars-wobbles-could-be-causing-climate-change/#.UJPNo2t5mxo.facebook

    Seriously.

    (Related: WHY ARE YOU ASKING A BUSINESS EDITOR ABOUT A SCIENCE ISSUE?? I mean, have you given up even pretending to be a journalist?)

  37. Nigel Depledge

    J Cortez (19) said:

    Solar, geothermal, and wind are at minimum a decade or two away from being economically on par with petrofuels.

    Only if pollution costs the polluter nothing. As soon as you put a dollar value on environmental damage – and maybe stop subsidising the fossil-fuel industries – then you get much closer to parity, probably with the renewables being slightly more attractive.

  38. DanVeteran

    @#23
    Oil companies are not subsidized by US taxpayers, they are given the same tax credits as other companies for putting profits back into their companies. Saying oil companies are subsidized is like saying I am subsidized because I take a tax credit for my two daughters.

  39. Wzrd1

    Right after power was restored during Sandy, this topic came up on G+ with people asking some of the scientists present on G+ if the hurricane, its severity and “perfect storm” characteristics could be due to global warming.
    I had chimed in quite like TechyDad had quoted. The scientists all agreed. A single data point is not a trend. The hurricane cannot be reliably pinned to global warming.
    But, Arctic and Antarctic ice melting trends CAN be linked firmly to global warming and should be of far greater concern.

    As for the satellite crisis, it’s not only weather satellites that are aging and soon to be gone, our GPS constellation has no replacements and are approaching their end of life. It all comes down to funding, which is being refused by congress.
    As for Romney waffling, he waffles more than the House of Waffles. As his campaign manager already said he’d not permit the campaign to be “run by the fact checkers”, the fiction and daily position reversals will continue.

  40. AliCali

    @34 Dan Veteran:

    “Oil companies are not subsidized by US taxpayers”

    Well, actually, they are. For instance, Internal Revenue Code Section 43 gives a credit for enhanced oil recovery performed in the US. There are also rules on depletion that majorily go towards oil and gas companies, and the manufacturing deduction gives pretty massive deductions to oil and gas industry in the US. I’d have to look up more, as oil and gas is not my specialty.

  41. corhen

    @Luis Dias you realize that a) noone says global warming caused hurricane sandy, it simply increased the odds of a storm like that
    b) that chart shows NOTHING about bad weather.. at best it shows we have gotten better at building better sturctures, and that in the last half of the century there were more/larger storms than i the first half… which is what global warming predicts…

  42. Ray

    @36, AliCali

    Tax credits and subsidies are two different things.

  43. amphiox

    If the US pioneers green energy and increased efficiency, those technologies will be rapidly adopted by India and China. Pollution from coal burning and vehicle emissions are already making the big Chinese and Indian cities barely livable in the hottest summer months. The Chinese and Indians are desperate for cost effective green solutions and are already investing what resources they have into researching these.

    So don’t go with this stupid “but China and India are still going to be doing it” canard. If current political trajectories continue in 20 years China and India (and Europe and California and New York) will have greened themselves, and the remainder of the US will be the archaic economy reliant on dirty obsolescent energy sources.

    The only question for the US is do they want to be leaders in the next great energy revolution, as they were for oil and electricity, or do they want to be the followers doomed to play catchup with the rest of the world.

  44. amphiox

    @38;

    For all practical purposes tax credits and subsidies ARE the same thing. Just two slightly different approaches to achieving the exact same end.

    The only real difference is in the name. Tax credits are the right wing’s preferred name for government run socialism that they support. Subsidies are the right wing’s preferred name for government run socialism that they oppose.

  45. Illumined

    Phil,

    There is nothing that we can do to stop global warming. I can give you three reasons global warming is inevitable:

    1.) China
    2.) India
    3.) Germany

    China and India each have hundreds of millions of desperately poor people who are trapped in dire poverty, and dire energy poverty at that. They don’t want to be poor, and so they are going to develop and that means dramatically increasing their CO2 emissions.

    Germany is a very interesting case. In their rush to embrace the Church of Gaia’s Anointed Saviors, wind and solar, and shun the Designated Devil, nuclear they’ve ended up having to depend on……coal? They have plans to build 29 coal fired and 17 natural gas fired power plants because of the shortfalls. They say its a stop gap, but in reality these things have service lives measured in decades, we are going to be with them for upwards of 50 years. It shows the extent to which modern environmentalism is not really about protecting the environment or even making a dent in global warming but rather about making all of us poorer by artificially starving our civilization of power.

    In reality, even if we cut our CO2 emissions to nothing, which would completely destroy our economy, it wouldn’t make any difference because the savings on emissions will be swamped by the increases by just those three. And that doesn’t even count the increases from the rest of the third world. Global warming isn’t the end of the world, but some effort needs to be made to adapt ourselves to it. Let’s ignore the doomsaying and the hype and focus on real solutions.

  46. DanVeteran

    @ 38, Ray.

    Thank you.

    @36, AliCali

    A subsidy is “a grant or contribution of money” The US Government does not write a check to oil companies, it gives them tax credits (deductions) for doing certain things. When my daughter starts college next year I will get a tax credit for interest I pay on her college loans the same way the oil companies get tax credits. Neither one of us is receiving a check from the government.

  47. Fizz

    Consider the issue from the perspective of Joe Average. Joe Average encounters two scientists, one telling him human-induced global warming is real, and the other saying global warming is natural. Both sides accuse the other of politicizing the issue, both sides accuse the other of misrepresenting the data.

    Unlike an issue like evolution vs creationism (which is basically science vs magic), the global warming debate is science vs science, at least from the perspective of Joe Average. How does Joe Average know who to believe? And to Joe Average, it is belief, because he has no scientific background or ability to parse through dozens of papers and properly assess them.

    I think this is the fundamental issues that needs to be dealt with- we need more scientificly literate people.

  48. shunt1

    I am honestly trying to understand….

    Sadly, articles like this is why you have lost all credibility. The majority of people no longer trust what you have to say.

    Last week, there was a strong excursion of cold polar air that descended upon the United States. That cold air caused it to snow in Colorado and I received over four inches at my home.

    A perfectly normal (and weak) category 1 hurricane formed in the gulf of Mexico and traveled north, just like so many others just like it. Most people expected it to move towards the East after it passed a latitude of 35 degrees North.

    How that polar cold air was able to interact with hurricane Sandy and cause a deviation of the trajectory to the West was surprising. I am still studying the upper air charts, in an effort to understand how those two air masses interacted that way.

    But seriously, the only thing unusual was the merging of a hurricane with an polar cold air mass. I am absolutely stumped as to how this could be linked to an increase of trace gasses like CO2.

    Question: Did “global warming” cause the polar cold air mass to descend upon the United States that week? Is that what you are actually claiming?

  49. Cory

    @Shunt1 –

    You aren’t trying very hard. Snowed at your house and that makes the whole global warming thing confusing? Pretty impressive grasp of the mechanics of planetary weather, for sure.

  50. Dr. Plait – you need to find better quality trolls. The ones you have now aren’t even trying.

  51. Bob

    Sorry, this is a bit of a rant.

    I see so many people commenting that we cannot make a difference to GW so we should even try. Nonsense!

    Around 10 years ago, I made a wallet driven effort to clean up my act. I now grow almost all my own vegetables, recycle and reuse 95% of my waste, use every power saving trick I can come up with, cycle for all transportation, even collect my own water and either trade or gather my own meat.

    Overall, it has reduced my monthly spend on power, food and other consumables significantly (my monthly utility bill is around $50US and my monthly grocery bill is around $70US) and has not reduced my quality of life at all. So it was good for me and good for the environment. I’m even able to sell a fair proportion of my produce.

    This gives me more discretionary spending too, which I spend in local markets for the most part, helping keep local people employed.

    Now, I live in a small town where all this is possible and I recognise that in large urban areas and cities not all of this is even possible, but even just some of the things I do would save a lot. Money and emissions.

    My point is this: people should stop making excuses for them not wanting to change. If you actually do want to make a change, its easy and economical to make a few small changes and if everyone in the world does it, so much the better.

    It starts with us, the consumers. We can argue until we’re blue in the face that its big oil or big coal or whatever, but the simple fact is that it comes down to what we want and what we are prepared to do.

  52. Jeff J

    @7 Ray Says:
    November 2nd, 2012 at 7:43 am

    “OK, Phil, the Earth is warming. We all know that.

    So what are you gonna do? Turn off civilization? Live in a mud hut? How will you post on your blog? ”

    False dichotomy alert. It is really, really easy to reduce your carbon footprint to a sustainable level and still post on one’s blog. Our household’s is a quarter of the national average. *And the neighbours have no idea!* Once the kids are older we’ll be able to punt the car and then we’ll be under the global target of 2.4 tonnes/yr.

  53. shunt1

    I do not give a darn about your politics!

    What were the physical processes that cause hurricane Sandy to move West when it interacted with the cold polar air?

    I keep studying the computer models which were amazingly accurate, but I am stumped as to why those air masses moved like that.

    This is a link to the computer model:
    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/ecmwf_sandy.jpg

    Look at the pressure contours and explain to me what was so strong, that it was able to alter the trajectory of hurricane Sandy. I am still stumped.

    I was watching the GOES Water Vapor images until 4:00 AM, since I could not believe what that computer model was showing. But by 4:00 AM, there was a small movement to the West and I was then convinced that the projection was correct.

  54. Jeff J

    @34. DanVeteran Says:
    November 2nd, 2012 at 10:07 am

    “Oil companies are not subsidized by US taxpayers”

    Resource extraction permits are the ultimate subsidy.

  55. shunt1

    @@44. Cory Says:

    Pay attention! That cold polar air mass is what caused hurricane Sandy to move inland…

    That same cold polar air mass caused three feet of snow to fall upon West Virgina because of the hurricane.

    Darn, that link above only has a static image. I saved the animated model on my computer and they should have remained the same. However, it does show the pressure contours that I am talking about.

    If you honestly want to watch the animation, then I will post it on a location that can be linked.

  56. Cory

    @shunt1 – I am going to assume you are aware that one of the effects of global warming will be the change of airstreams and currents that will cause the weather chaos? Or does the cold air still stymie you?

  57. Gaebolga

    shunty! Do you still stand by your claim that:

    The single most important factor in Earth’s climate, [sic] is the change in it’s [sic] albedo over time. Period.

    Would that be:

    YES, DEAR!

    C’mon, dude; your idiocy is getting ever more tepid and dull. Where are you keeping the good stuff?

  58. Cory

    He has an animation of cold weather in the US during late October! Wow. That, right there, is a stunning scientific…..miss.

  59. shunt1

    “The single most important factor in Earth’s climate, is the change in its albedo over time. Period. ”

    ABSOLUTELY!

    Every change in Earth’s climate will alter the albedo of the planet and ultimately will control the balance between the solar isolation and the emission of IR heat energy back into space. Any alteration of the planet’s temperature is a direct measurement of an imbalance between the two radiative transfers.

    You do realize that an increase of CO2 will alter the albedo of the planet at the IR CO2 wavelengths?

    Very basic science.

  60. Wzrd1

    @shunt1, it IS possible that warming caused the polar air mass to move southward. A fraction of a degree of thousands of square miles is a LOT of energy and can trivially move large masses of air around.

    As for oil subsidies, a two second Google search for “petroleum subsidies in the United States” yielded many articles, including a Forbes article that gives some accurate and quality data.
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/energysource/2012/04/25/the-surprising-reason-that-oil-subsidies-persist-even-liberals-love-them/

  61. PeterC

    @7 Ray Says:
    November 2nd, 2012 at 7:43 am

    “OK, Phil, the Earth is warming. We all know that.

    So what are you gonna do? Turn off civilization? Live in a mud hut? How will you post on your blog? ”

    Along with others, I have to object – this is along the lines of “We’re going to die at some point, so don’t bother with sanitation, clean water or taking your medicines.”

    OK, let me give you a possible option which makes a huge difference.

    We build many more fission plants, modern ones without all the flaws of the 1950’s and 60’s. We use these to make lots of electricity. We use that electricity to split seawater into hydrogen and oxygen. We release the oxygen into the atmosphere (except for anything we use industrially) and run all our road vehicles on hydrogen. When we burn that hydrogen in cars, we get water vapour. Round and round we go, with the only decay being in radioactive materials. Hydrocarbons can then be reserved for pharmaceuticals and plastics.
    Phase two – after thirty years the fission plants are replaced by fusion plants. Where it has proven economically sensible, large solar arrays in deserts etc can be used as well.

    OK, this all takes a switch in the current public panic-perception of anything nuclear – and any new plants would have to be built really well, and waste storage needs to be done carefully until the fusion technology is working – but just switching over to hydrogen fuelled vehicles and electrical power means that life remains the same or better. You can still fill your car at the hydrogen gas station. No need for long charges. Cleaner air, especially in cities. And a massive impact on global warming.

  62. Cory

    Ah, Shunty, “Basic science” is at the heart of the global warming issue, so why the struggle to understand? Myopic much?

  63. It is encouraging that former Republican Michael Bloomberg endorsed Obama, citing climate change as the reason!

  64. shunt1

    @53. Cory Says:

    I have the animated computer models that were able to accurately predict the path of hurricane Sandy. Trying to upload that animated GIF.

    What is your problem?

    If you do not act like a child, I will not treat you like one.

    I am asking a very valid scientific question and hoping that someone may know the answer.

  65. Gaebolga

    Earth’s albedo: ~0.3
    Venus’ albedo: ~0.9

    Earth’s average temp: ~ 15 C
    Venus’ average temp: ~ 462 C

    Oh, yeah. It’s all about the albedo….

    shunt1 wrote:
    You do realize that an increase of CO2 will alter the albedo of the planet at the IR CO2 wavelengths?

    Yep, as a matter of fact, I do. Which is why CO2 is a much more important factor in Earth’s climate than its albedo.

    What’s more important to a car’s velocity: the engine (albedo) or the amount of gas (solar radiation) the foot on the pedal (CO2) is channeling into it?

    …and what, no “YES, DEAR!” ?

  66. Cory

    @shunty1
    What, exactly, is the “valid scientific question” you are asking? Because nothing you have presented here rubs anything in a scientific way.

  67. shunt1

    “What, exactly, is the “valid scientific question” you are asking? Because nothing you have presented here rubs anything in a scientific way.”

    Simple:

    How was the interaction of cold polar air with hurricane Sandy caused by “global warming” and how did the historical increase of a trace gas like CO2 alter the trajectory of that storm?

    Darn, that computer model is too large to upload. Still trying to upload to somewhere that can be linked.

  68. AliCali

    @ 41 DanVeteran

    “A subsidy is ‘a grant or contribution of money’ The US Government does not write a check to oil companies, it gives them tax credits (deductions) for doing certain things. When my daughter starts college next year I will get a tax credit for interest I pay on her college loans the same way the oil companies get tax credits. Neither one of us is receiving a check from the government.”

    That’s a little bit of splitting hairs. A tax credit is a type of subsidy, just administered in a different way. Also, you are getting a check from the government in the form of higher refund or less tax due. Assuming you can get the full credit, what’s the difference between a lower tax bill or getting a check from the government?

    Some of these incentives are performed through the tax code because a certain targeted segment is desired. In the case of tuition credits, only those with income below a certain level get the credit. If the lawmakers wanted everyone to benefit regardless of income level, then a payment to the college happens, and that should lower tuition (and this subsidy also happens).

    In the case of oil companies, my example noted that the Federal government will offset some of the cost of drilling for tertiary recovery methods performed in the US (with several other qualifications). Instead of writing a check to the company, the government will just lower the tax bill.

    You’ll have to show me how a subsidy is different than a tax break, assuming that the company can take advantage of both. What’s the substantive difference between $1 million subsidy and $1 million off the tax bill?

  69. shunt1

    @59. Gaebolga Says:

    Question:

    If the albedo of the planet Venus decreased by a small amount, would the temperature increase or decrease?

    Remember, any molecule with three or more atoms will absorb and emit in the IR wavelengths.

  70. Gaebolga

    shunt1 wrote:
    Question:

    If the albedo of the planet Venus decreased by a small amount, would the temperature increase or decrease?

    Question:

    If the concentration of CO2 in Venus’ atmosphere decreased by a small amount, would the temperature increase or decrease by a comparable amount?

    shunt1 wrote:
    Remember, any molecule with three or more atoms will absorb and emit in the IR wavelengths.

    But few are as broadly efficient at it as CO2. And, of course, CO2 makes up ~ 95% of Venus’ atmosphere….

    …crap. This was actually starting to get good, shunt1; you clarified your statement to the point that it wasn’t complete drivel, and I appreciate it a lot. Unfortunately, RL has cropped up, so I won’t be able to respond to any more posts until after the weekend. I hope you have a good one, and I look forward to seeing any response on Monday.

  71. Cory

    Shunty – wait, what you’re really asking here: “What evidence is there that global warming is real, causes radical changes in weather patterns, and what evidence is there that CO2 is helping cause this?”, right?

  72. itzac

    The sun dumps plenty of energy on the planet every day. In fact that’s part of the problem. But we can find better ways to harvest that energy and reduce our use of fossil fuels. It’s going to be expensive in the short term, but it will pay off. The problem right now is that the market doesn’t have the price signals to properly tackle the challenge. Whether you want to tackle that with a straight-up carbon tax, or cap-and-trade, you’re not going ruin any economies, you’re just going to change them, and it’s change that can be managed.

    Current proven fossil fuel reserves have an estimated value of $27 trillion. In the face of any meaningful action on climate change, the value of those reserves plummets effectively to zero. The people who hold those leases are going to protect them however they can. That includes smearing scientists, outright lying, and anything else that can distract from the problem or delay action just a little longer.

  73. shunt1

    @62. AliCali Says:

    I honestly want to keep this topic as a scientific discussion about a specific hurricane.

    However, the simple answer to your question is: They are both wrong.

    The federal government was not authorized to influence free trade, other than setting standard tariffs among the States

  74. shunt1

    @65. Cory Says:

    No Cory, I am asking how “global warming” altered the trajectory of a very specific hurricane called Sandy.

    I could care less what your personal politics are. I want to understand the actual scientific evidence that this specific hurricane altered its course because of “global warming.”

  75. Cory

    @shunty1 – I’m going to break this down for you – if you have to ask how global warming may have affected the intensity/path of the hurricane, you don’t understand the science behind global warming, period. So, if you want “to understand the actual scientific evidence..”, there is gobs and gobs of it out there. Do yourself a favor, if you are so concerned, and do some research. That’s how scientific discussions become more effective.

  76. shunt1

    @64. Gaebolga Says:

    “…crap. This was actually starting to get good, shunt1; you clarified your statement to the point that it wasn’t complete drivel, and I appreciate it a lot.”

    If you would take the time and ask me, then I will be more than happy to explain. I have been doing this for almost 40 years now.

    Correct answer:

    If the albedo of Venus (or any other planet) decreased, then there would be a large increase of atmospheric temperature.

  77. Grisha

    I’m no fan of Romney, but I am a fan of accuracy. Romney did not say it was immoral to fund FEMA, he said it was immoral to fund ALL Federal programs the way we do.. through borrowing from China and increasing the debt load. The full context of the quote is critical. As a former governor, and a federalist (as is Obama) He preferred to fund disaster relief through the states (who are funded through taxes, not international borrowing or currency-printing) and private agencies like the Red Cross.

    If one wants to paint a candidate as a mustache twirler, just draw horns on his picture. We get it, you don’t like Romney. I don’t either. But Romney’s presented a federalist approach to disaster relief, much as Obama presents a federalist approach to gay marriage. You can argue with federalism, but that’s a far cry from the implication that somehow Mitt Romney finds disaster relief or FEMA immoral. Grammar requires that the adjective modify the right noun. Romney was not explicitly referring to FEMA in his talk, he was referring to any federal program that is funded through borrowing. The immoral quote had to do with the immorality of paying for things by borrowing from our children or becoming beholden to foreign countries.

    It’s easy to make caricatures, it’s harder to deal with facts. Making caricatures is fun at the county fair, but a disservice to critical thinkers.

    Phil, I will follow you to Slate, but I hope you’ll resist partisan caricature building and take the time to research your quotes. It even turns off a Romney-hater like me. Ick.

  78. DanVeteran

    @61 AliCali

    There is a huge difference between a subsidy and a tax credit. A tax credit allows me to keep money that I earned with my own sweat. A subsidy is money taken from another tax payer that earned that money with his/her sweat. An oil tax credit does not take any money out of the coffers of the US Treasury, it keeps if from going there in the first place. I agree the outcome is the same but the stigma of a subsidy is different from a tax break. Words have power and we should strive to use proper terms. For example: Global warming has a certain stimga attached to it that gets “deniers” up in arms. (trying to get back on subject :)

  79. shunt1

    @69. Cory Says:

    True, I am still baffled on the pressure dynamics of this specific hurricane and how a cold polar air mass was able to divert the trajectory towards the west with a landfall around New Jersey.

    What you are talking about is — perhaps my dog can explain that to me. I am sure that it had something to do with cats. LOL

  80. Cory

    My dog has a better grip on it than you do, no question.

  81. @1 Dan: The idea that he “fiddled while Rome burned” is wholly inaccurate. He wasn’t even in Rome and couldn’t have heard about the fire for quite a while afterward (communication and travel time being what it was at the time).

    To say nothing of the fact that fiddles (and bows) hadn’t been invented yet. I suppose “Nero lyred while Rome burned” doesn’t have the same ring to it, though.

  82. Grisha

    Global Warming is a classic example of an economic “externality” that affects everyone but no one specifically is to blame, so no one specifically feels obliged morally or legally to address it. It requires novel approaches to fight, not just the boring old “The government will fix it!” vs. “It isn’t real.” Seriously, neither of those approaches will work. The government WON’T fix it and it IS real. Stop your bickering and let’s figure this mother out. :-)

  83. shunt1

    @74. Cory Says:

    Ask your dog to explain to us why the hurricane had landfall in New Jersey, instead of Cape Cod like most of us had expected?

    Darn CATS!

    Actual scientific reasons that were published and documented prior to the event!

    Otherwise, perhaps your explanations are doggerel?

  84. Cory

    @shunty1
    Shall I repeat? In order to understand the science behind the hurricane and dynamics that global warming may have included, you will need to understand the science behind global warming. See that period at the end of the sentence?

  85. Your blog entry notes, “Because the issue was ignored in the debates, Science Debate put on a mock 4th Presidential debate dealing with global warming, with candidate stand-ins talking about the issue. If only that had been real. If only.” Did they bother to include Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who has been talking about global warming from the start? Perhaps of those seeking change would look further than the sound-bite culture they decry, they might find the voices of reason they’ve been missing.

  86. shunt1

    @78. Cory Says: :
    @76. Grisha Says:

    What was unusual about hurricane Sandy that is linked to “global warming?”

    Simple question….

    Question: Have large hurricanes increased or decreased in frequency since 2005?

  87. Wzrd1

    I think that PeterC is on to something. Build thorium reactors of modern design, they’ll “burn” our current nuclear waste quite nicely and efficiently.
    Crack the seawater for hydrogen and use it for vehicular fuel.
    At our ever increasing fuel consumption rate, that should take care of sea level rising quite nicely. ;)

    OK, that last sentence is a joke. The rest is practical and workable. Especially as thorium plants have minimal waste and that waste much shorter lived radioisotopes than uranium based reactors produce.
    An increase in electric cars will also help mitigate our consumption issues. Leave petrochemicals for plastics, industrial use, lubrication and fertilizer production.
    Leave coal for use in purifying water.

  88. shunt1

    @78: Cory Says:

    “In order to understand the science behind the hurricane and dynamics that global warming may have included,…”

    Oh, I do fully understand. You make it us as you go along. But when questioned, you have absolutely no answers.

    We have a low pressure center forming and it should follow Sandy’s track next week. Now is the time for you to put your butt on the line and tell us what track that storm will travel. Use all of your “global warming” concepts.

    Where will that storm next week track?

    Show your documented evidence of the “global warming” predictions of hurricane Sandy prior to its landfall.

  89. shunt1

    @80 Wzrd1 Says:

    “Build thorium reactors of modern design, they’ll “burn” our current nuclear waste quite nicely and efficiently. Crack the seawater for hydrogen and use it for vehicular fuel.”

    Dang, Wzrd1 and I actually agree?

    Now that is a scientific technology that I do support.

  90. Cory

    @shunty1
    Just to counter your deliberate obtuseness-
    As to the global warming causing the dip in the blocking high during the hurricane:
    The atmospheric pattern that sent the Jet Stream south is colloquially known as a “blocking high”—a big pressure center stuck over the very northern Atlantic Ocean and southern Arctic Ocean. And what led to that? A climate phenomenon called the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)—essentially, the state of atmospheric pressure in that region. This state can be positive or negative, and it had changed from positive to negative two weeks before Sandy arrived. The climate kicker? Recent research by Charles Greene at Cornell University and other climate scientists has shown that as more Arctic sea ice melts in the summer—because of global warming—the NAO is more likely to be negative during the autumn and winter. A negative NAO makes the Jet Stream more likely to move in a big, wavy pattern across the U.S., Canada and the Atlantic, causing the kind of big southward dip that occurred during Sandy.
    Get it? Or did I use words that were too big/confusing?

  91. @75 Grisha: Global Warming is a classic example of an economic “externality” that affects everyone but no one specifically is to blame, so no one specifically feels obliged morally or legally to address it.

    Quite true. “The tragedy of the commons” is another way to look at it, that is, everyone using a resource, overuse of which negatively affects everyone, but increased use of which benefits individuals in the short term.

    It requires novel approaches to fight, not just the boring old “The government will fix it!” vs. “It isn’t real.” Seriously, neither of those approaches will work. The government WON’T fix it and it IS real. Stop your bickering and let’s figure this mother out.

    Well, “the government will fix it” IS a bit simplistic, but ultimately, when you’re faced with externalities like this that affect everyone, the government usually does play a significant role in addressing it. The Superfund program is a good example – you have these polluted sites which are leaking into the surrounding environment, negatively affecting people who had nothing to do with the original pollution. The government comes in and either makes the responsible parties pay for it, or if they can’t afford it, funds part or all of the cleanup. Of course they’re using taxpayer money, but none of the individual taxpayers could hope to deal with the situation by themselves.

    The thing is, even if the government doesn’t want to spend a single dime on global warming amelioration, they could still have a profound effect by simply stating the problem in certain and specific terms, and making it a part of every American’s civic duty to take certain measures (of course I’m speaking as an American here). During WWII, for instance, the government encouraged people to recycle metals, to save certain commodities like nylon and gasoline, to grow vegetables, etc. And people did it. Not because they had guns to their heads, but because they wanted to be good citizens.

    But right now we have a federal government that, just four years ago, was still suppressing evidence that climate change was even happening. And even now, because we have a major political party that’s been brainwashed into seeing any mention of climate change as code for “I’m a Communist Muslim and I’m gonna take your guns and abort your babies rawwwrr!” we have a government that’s afraid to simply publicly state the problem, and the magnitude of the problem. Ultimately, the government is supposed to do the will of the people, so until the people are ready to deal with reality, the government isn’t going to help much. But when we’re ready to demand it of them, that government can play a significant role, even without spending truckloads of money. And that’s just on the home front. Internationally, leadership is even more important. As others have pointed out, the actions of major polluters like China and India are at least partly the responsibility of a US government that has dodged the issue for at least 15 years. Why should they feel obligated to pursue low-carbon energy options when the USA, with its resources and technology, won’t even give it a shot?

  92. shunt1

    @83. Cory Says:

    Fantastic Cory. Then you can use that theory to predict the trajectory of the storm next week.

    NAO and Jet Stream… At least you are starting to understand the basic physics involved. Good first start.

    Unfortunately, that is not what the water vapor images were showing me during the hurricane Sandy event. That is what has me so baffled!

    ….

    Need to depart for some time now.

    Have a rocket launch in the morning and must get the equipment ready. High powered rockets are not trivial and the electronics must be fully checked out. My rocket has a GPS tracking and telemetry relay to the ground while in flight. My darn cat chewed the cables to the tracking antenna leading to the receiving radio and that had to be repaired this morning. Still need to insure that the parachute deployment explosives are strong enough to get the job done and return everything safely.

    Talk to you later, and hopefully, you will have something more scientific for me to evaluate?

  93. Cory

    All storms are weather, all weather is the immediate manifestation of climate, climate change is about climate.

  94. Cory

    LOL – didn’t like seeing the scientific facts, didja? That’s what’s got you baffled. Runs directly against the grain of your denial.
    Have fun with your rocketeering.

  95. Chuck Currie

    @Nigel Depledge (32) says:

    “@ chuck currie

    Please stop posting your ignorance is showing.”

    That’s a specious argument.

    Tell me this o’non-ignorant one: How many major hurricanes hit the east coast between South Caroling and New York in the 1950s?

    What precipitated the 1938 hurricane? 1821? 1894?

    Oh, please tell me it was global warming…please, pretty please.

    Cheers

  96. Cory

    Leading evidence suggests that global warming will impact the severity of the storm, the path it takes, and the damage it will cause – i.e., higher flood levels.
    It is also predicted that the number of hurricanes may drop.
    I haven’t heard anyone espousing the theory that global warming is precipitating hurricanes.

  97. @Shunt1: Just curious, how high do your rockets normally get? Also, what engine class do you use?

  98. @87 Chuck Curry: Hah! That’s the oldest line in the book. “Hurr, what caused X weather before climate change? ” It’s not the weather, it’s the probability. If a pair of dice come up snake eyes once after 18 rolls, you’re unlucky. If it comes up every 10 rolls, it’s unusual. If it comes up every 5 rolls, the dice are almost certainly loaded. It’s expected to have a “hundred year storm” once every hundred years or so. When you have a “hundred year storm” every 6 or 7 years, you have to start to conclude that “normal” has changed.

  99. CitationPolice

    @Cori

    That was a well, though out reply to the question posed by shunt1. The only problem is that it wasn’t your reply.

    A lot of people – especially in the scientific community – don’t look too kindly when you post something and fail to give credit to the originator of the article. So next time, make sure that you cite the source of your information – http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2012/10/30/did-climate-change-cause-hurricane-sandy/

  100. CitationPolice

    @Cory (my apologies for misspelling in the previous post)

    Sadly, I thought that maybe you just made a mistake and forgot to attach a citation to that one, particular response that I mentioned earlier.

    “All storms are weather, all weather is the immediate manifestation of climate, climate change is about climate.” – http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2012/10/30/did-climate-change-cause-hurricane-sandy/ (same article, no less)

  101. Cory

    @Citation – you are absolutely correct and I’m embarrassed at my un-intentional omission. I posted the “scientific evidence” that shunty1 was asking for – I had the link to the article in my comment and failed to notice that I had deleted it during subsequent editing.
    Thank you for keeping me honest.

  102. shunt1

    @89. Joseph G Says:
    November 2nd, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    @Shunt1: Just curious, how high do your rockets normally get? Also, what engine class do you use?

    We are launching from the Atlas ICBM site this weekend, so we have a FAA limit of 12,000 feet.
    Will use an ” I” engine for these launches, since my computer software has specified that motor for that height. My rocket was designed for supersonic 20,000 foot altitudes, but the fire hazards prevented us from launching from the Northern site this year.

    Since we must launch under wind conditions out of our control, even at 12,000 feet the rocket may land miles away. I had to obtain a Ham license for the radio transmitter in my rocket, but receiving it’s GPS coordinates while in flight was well worth the additional expense. Rather a pain when you spend months building a rocket and can not locate it after it has landed.

    Now off to the hardware store for some needed items. Will make my parachute deployment charges with clear straws and sealed with hot glue.

    Thanks for asking…

  103. Cory

    My apologies –
    I failed to give credit where it was due in a previous comment, much to my chagrin. Here’s how it was supposed to go –

    Here’s where climate change comes in. The atmospheric pattern that sent the Jet Stream south is colloquially known as a “blocking high”—a big pressure center stuck over the very northern Atlantic Ocean and southern Arctic Ocean. And what led to that? A climate phenomenon called the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)—essentially, the state of atmospheric pressure in that region. This state can be positive or negative, and it had changed from positive to negative two weeks before Sandy arrived. The climate kicker? Recent research by Charles Greene at Cornell University and other climate scientists has shown that as more Arctic sea ice melts in the summer—because of global warming—the NAO is more likely to be negative during the autumn and winter. A negative NAO makes the Jet Stream more likely to move in a big, wavy pattern across the U.S., Canada and the Atlantic, causing the kind of big southward dip that occurred during Sandy.
    Get it? Or did I use words that were too big/confusing?

    I got those words from here:

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2012/10/30/did-climate-change-cause-hurricane-sandy/
    which is probably the best explanation for what global warming may have done to the path of hurricane Sandy. If you can find me a better scientific explanation….

  104. shunt1

    @104 Cory Says:

    “A negative NAO makes the Jet Stream more likely to move in a big, wavy pattern across the U.S., Canada and the Atlantic, causing the kind of big southward dip that occurred during Sandy.”

    I can accept the NAO as moving the Jet Stream to the south, since that is what was happening with hurricane Sandy.

    However, NAO and other long term cycles have been our primary arguments with “global warming” and why this has been natural.

    It is nice that you have recognized things like the NAO and ENSO cycles. That is a very good start.

    BTW: I will not be voting under my own name and should cast at least 10 votes on Tuesday. All I needed to know is the name and address of the people I wanted to nullify.

    Next time kids, demand voter ID!

  105. Wzrd1

    @shunt1, that voter fraud joke is in extremely poor taste.
    Many people in our inner cities, typically the poorest people, don’t have identification cards, as they don’t have drivers licenses. They use mass transit and don’t need a license. Some elderly widows can’t get an ID card on a bet due to name changes over the years, deceased husband, etc. In Pennsylvania, we have documentation on a dozen elderly widows who cannot get an ID card from the state because of inflexibility on the part of the Commonwealth.
    So, perhaps we should be fair. Can’t vote, don’t pay ANY taxes, no taxation without representation!
    I’m also still a lot miffed over some shenanigans years ago in Philadelphia in a mayoral election, where every republican was de-registered from the voter rolls that some folks could, including myself. They didn’t enjoy the federal investigation though. Or the FBI wiretaps inside of the mayor’s office. Forced him to stop shifting non-compete jobs to his brother’s businesses. :)
    Besides, only we Sicilians are permitted to vote well and often. :P

  106. shunt1

    Sorry, but since 2000, we have been trying to stop voter fraud. Even in the States that have passed laws requiring voter ID, judges have ruled against it.

    “Many people in our inner cities, typically the poorest people, don’t have identification cards,”

    How do they cash a check?

    ………….

    My bad and way off topic. But I will have fun on election day.

    This time, I will fight back and do my part.

    Heck, even dipping my finger in ink would insure that I could only perform that fraud once.

    Amazing how Democrats will demand recounts, even for areas that they have already won. We saw this in Minnesota two years ago and it took months. Eventually, ballots were suddenly located in the trunks of cars, etc…

    Nobody can prove that I did anything wrong, since it is illegal to check my ID.

    Thanks Wzrd1, you actually understood the concept. *Wink*

    “Can’t vote, don’t pay ANY taxes, no taxation without representation!”

    Pay extra taxes because you are “rich” and you can vote multiple times, in proportion to your “fair share.”

  107. Number 6

    Well, yesterday, I believe, a brave soul voiced his opinion about climate change to Romney and his supporters …..

    Heckler interrupts Romney rally to bring up climate change –> http://www.salon.com/2012/11/01/heckler_interrupts_romney_rally_to_bring_up_climate_change/

  108. Grisha

    @Shunti. #76 wasn’t me!

  109. AliCali

    73. shunt1 Says:

    “The federal government was not authorized to influence free trade, other than setting standard tariffs among the States”

    Wow. If all your statements are as factual as this one, I now understand why everyone keeps jumping all over the “scientific” statements you make. The Federal government has broad authority to affect free trade, including interstate commerce (way beyond tariffs, such as the 14th amendment), anti-trust regulations, minimum wage regulations, etc. Way too many to mention. The Federal government can even have different laws for different industries, such as taxation of insurance, banks, and real estate companies being very different.

    Oh man, I really, really hope you start looking up facts before you post. You will gain a lot more credibility.

    Edited to add: Did I just feed a troll? Bad AliCali!

  110. Wzrd1

    Who gets checks these days? Direct deposit or for welfare recipients, to their access card. No checks needed.
    As for voter fraud, that is less than 1% in the worst state. The states enacting voter ID laws have the lowest rates of fraud around. Interestingly enough, there is a video of a Pennsylvania republican party boss bragging how he’d keep those democrats in the cities from voting with the new voter ID law. That is why it got held up for a year by a court.

    Meanwhile, a voter ID law finds no hidden ballots, misconduct, involuntary de-registration of voters, etc. It only suppresses those who don’t have identification cards from voting in areas where there has been little to no voter fraud.

    The additional votes for the rich is probably coming, as corporate personhood has been extended to ridiculous extents. Give it a few years, even money, there will be argument over how many votes a corporation gets by value, total employees or total employees per state.

    When the people lose the ability to vote by ballot, they may well elect to exercise the vote by bullet. That IS why we departed from British rule.

  111. shunt1

    Personally, I think it should be illegal to require a picture ID for anything.

    I often play this game: “Hey, I will show you exactly what I am required to show in order to vote!”

    They look at me like I have three heads, for simply trying to purchase a beer. LOL

    Please be consistant, since your debate points can be used both ways…

    Wzrd1, you are absolutly correct! That is why I should be able to nullify at least 10 votes next Tuesday. This is going to be fun.

    You stated something very important:

    “When the people lose the ability to vote by ballot, they may well elect to exercise the vote by bullet.”

    Remember that!

  112. Wzrd1

    I haven’t been carded since 1982 when getting alcohol.
    If someone did, I’d be referring them to an opthamologist, as they obviously have significant vision problems.

    Try purchasing a firearm using that line. See how loud the gunshop owner/employee laughs. ;)

    BTW, what do you use for the charge on the rocket? Black powder or black powder substitute?

  113. Brian Too

    @51. Bob,

    One of the more constructive posts here. The only thing I disagree with you is that it was a rant! I do not think it was a rant.

    These are my thoughts. Some of the early steps we can take are very much in our personal self-interest. Energy efficiency is practical and cost-effective right now. You don’t have to take any position at all on global warming in order to justify more fuel efficient cars, better insulated homes, and so on. You win on payback, comfort and resale value, with green advantages a nice bonus.

    Some of the bigger steps get pretty hairy in terms of costs, technology maturity, and all-in environmental impact. Do we want a hydrogen economy, an electricity economy, a methanol economy, a fission or fusion economy, geothermal/wind/solar economy, various mixes of the above? This stuff is going to take a long time and a lot of money to sort out. Fortunes will be won and lost.

    Therefore it is best to take the smaller steps and the easy wins now. It advances the cause and carries little risk. The more complicated things will get easier in time.

  114. shunt1

    @113. Wzrd1 Says:

    “I haven’t been carded since 1982…”

    Dang, I get carded almost three times a week. Walmart, the bank, etc…

    It should be illegal for anyone to show a photo ID, for any reason.

    ….

    Just for fun on election day, I will play this game:

    I will give my name and address and they will hand me the ballot. I will then show my photo ID and demand to know why I was allowed to vote as that person!

    It is to teach a lesson.

    …..

    Sorry about being totally off-topic, but we are all itching to talk about this… LOL

  115. Wzrd1

    The only time I’ve been asked for ID was at the bank when I first started using that branch. When asked for ID, I asked, “Federal, state or municipal?” I have all three. :)

    What do you use for the parachute deployment charge? Black powder or black powder substitute?

  116. Steve Metzler

    In his next incarnation as a Slate blogger, Phil should consider banning moronic trolls like shunt1, whose woefully obvious raison d’être is to derail any useful discussion regarding AGW.

  117. James Evans

    @DanVeteran:

    Oil companies are not subsidized by US taxpayers, they are given the same tax credits as other companies for putting profits back into their companies. Saying oil companies are subsidized is like saying I am subsidized because I take a tax credit for my two daughters.

    There are at least three insurmountable problems with your statement, Dan. First, you’re splitting hairs when you try to distinguish tax credits from taxpayer dollars. Regardless of what companies do with the taxes they are allowed to skip out of paying, it’s government revenue lost, and money taken straight out of taxpayers’ pockets must make up the budgetary difference, hence US taxpayers subsidize oil companies. The difference you are trying to establish is meaningless. Second, tax credits for the oil industry are NOT the same as deductions for children, because I’m pretty sure your two daughters won’t ever ruin entire bodies of water or cause the release of pollutants into the atmosphere on a national or global scale (unless they become co-CEOs of Exxon, or something), which brings me to my third and most important point: externalities. Tax credits are not the only subsidy oil companies receive, and they are FAR from the largest form of subsidy they receive. If oil companies actually had to pay for the health and environmental damage their products create, rather than we taxpayers who end up footing the medical and clean-up bills in reality, they would be bankrupt and begging in the streets. They can thank taxpayers (something they or their fervent supporters don’t much care to do) for their seemingly impressive profit margins.

    Oil companies are subsidized by taxpayers, unfortunately in massively burdensome and hidden ways that mostly go unrecognized.

  118. James Evans

    BTW, what do you use for the charge on the rocket? Black powder or black powder substitute?

    Not sure about the charge, but if blog comments are any indication, shunt1 should have no shortage of hot air to use as propellant.

  119. Wzrd1

    @James Evans, a charge for the parachute deployment system.
    Yes, his hot air, if contained, could propel the rocket into Neptunian orbit, however, in the REAL WORLD, I’m curious if he is working with black powder or a black powder replacement that carries a bit of a mild burden of confinement issues.
    In short, high power rocket stuff.
    I may not like some of his attitudes, I may not like his politics, but the science and fine art of rocketry is something special.

  120. Kaleberg

    Yeah, but he did build the Colosseum, and he did give slaves standing in court so they could sue their masters. I think the later, among other reforms, is why he got such lousy press in his day.

  121. Wzrd1

    @Kaleberg, there was a LOT of politics then, THEN add in Christian editing of history.
    He WAS a bit of a no good SOB as far as freedom of religion was concerned. That is reflected in history.
    He DID order buildings to be made of stone, rather than wood, which was the previous custom for a very good reason. The previous fire.
    NO politician wants mass deaths on their watch. Bad for both the resume AND for upcoming elections. Even for an emperor, for THAT election was performed by arrow and sword.

  122. VinceRN

    Unfortunately neither candidate is much good on this issue. Romney is a bit unknown but I think not likely to make it a priority regardless. Obama seems to just toss money at things that sound good as political plums without any real coherent plan.

    I would love to have a candidate talking about real energy independence, about working at getting away from burning carbon for energy, about expanding nuclear power. This disorganized piecemeal stuff we have been doing doesn’t help and I see little hope of it changing regardless of who wins this election.

    I figure Obama takes this one by electoral votes if not popular votes, so I hope I’m wrong about him and he comes up with an organised, coherent long term plan.

  123. Lee

    Perhaps I missed something in the covereage of Sandy, could someone fill me in as to why exactly it is considered a remarkable cyclone? From what I gather, the damage it caused was chiefly due to its storm surge, which was especially high (and thus damaging) not by any remarkable property of the cyclone per se but by the fact that it struck in the middle of a spring tide.

  124. @ ^ Lee : Are you kidding?

    Hurricane Sandy was a superstorm because it was huge in physical size and also huge inthe dmaage and deaths it caused.

    If you want more info and understanding, I suggest you look at the tags feature at the bottom of this blog post which include :

    Tags: climate change, global warming, Hurricane Sandy, James Inhofe, Mitt Romney, President Obama

    Emphasis added. There are quite a few previous posts on Hurricane Sandy available through that tag including some very dramatic videos showing just how remarkably impressive Hurricane Sandy was.

    @ VinceRN :

    Are you still out there somewhere? Have you seen my comment #108 on the old ‘A Wind is Rising” thread (linked to my name here too) & would you care to answer it either there or if you’d rather here please? Question is :

    You have claimed people here were attributing hurricane Sandy solely and directly to Global Overheating.

    Please can you quote a line where someone actually made that specific claim?

    Because I don’t think anyone is actually saying what you are claiming they’ve said.

    Really, please point to someone saying exactly that or I think its safe for us to assume you’ve misunderstood what others have actually said on this.

    @1. Dan I. :

    Phil; While I get what you’re saying, in the interest of accuracy I feel it necessary to point out that the idea that Nero either set the Great Fire of Rome or that he “did nothing” while it raged is now considered an inaccurate rumor.

    Interesting. I didn’t know that. Cheers.

    I knew former English King Richard III had his modern fans but not the Roman Caesar Nero! ;-)

  125. Messier Tidy Upper

    @3. saphroneth :

    There’s one very worrying statistic that I recently saw a talk on, which is that the CO2 level spike going on today is a similar scale to the one from the PETM (the last climate maximum)… and it’s being generated ten times faster… and, last time, it was methane-related. Which hasn’t triggered yet in the current warming event.

    I recently read something like that too in an excellent and very well written book on the HIRGO issue by Jo Chandler :

    “Scientists at the University of Bristol recently ran models comparing changes in ocean chemistry during the PETM* extinction and those playing out today and discovered that today’s changes are happening ten times faster than those which devastated the world fifty-five million years ago.”
    – Page 162 Jo Chandler, ‘Feeling the Heat’, Melbourne University Press, 2011.

    That was on ocean chemistry but as we know one consequence of HIRGO is ocean acidification which is a related major concern in its own right.

    I just finished reading that ‘Feeling the heat’ work and its a book I’d very highly recommend. :-)

    * PETM = Palaeocene Eocene Thermal Maximum. This planetary history event is also well discussed in James Hansen’s Storms of my Grandchildren’ (Bloomsbury 2009.) book too and that is another text I’d strongly recommend on this issue.

  126. @Messier – Sorry, been away. You never made such a claim, I never said you did, I know your posts well enough from reading you these past couple years to know you would not. Only one person made such a claim, neon. I said you can not specifically pin that one storm on global warming, he said I was wrong.

    I never said anything like global warming doesn’t cause an increase the frequency or severity of storms, in fact I clearly stated a few times that it obviously does. I said that extreme storms can and have occurred without global warming, and that we can not pin that one storm on global warming. Both statements I think you would agree with.

    That doesn’t even mean I think that storm had nothing to do with global warming. The opposite is true, I would bet that it did. My point was just that we don’t, and can’t at this time, know. Neon attacked me for saying that and inferred a bunch of craziness that has nothing to do with what I said or what I believe. That is why I said he was putting politics first, because he made assumption about what I was saying and attacked them because from his political viewpoint is wrong to anything that doesn’t fit the party line.

    Please reread my comments, at no point did I claim anything about that storm or global warming other than that we can not definitely pin the two together. Several times I insisted that that was all I was saying.

    You and I, and neon, agree on just about everything about the details of global warming, that is that what the vast majority of scientist have to say on the subject is correct. I think that all of us would agree that the effects of global warming, the changes happening in our environment, are obvious and quite serious.

    We have no real disagreement here, except that neon either claimed that I am wrong to say we can not pin the storm specifically to global warming, or he made a bunch of inferences from what I said and attacked me for those.

  127. Sorry again, you said specific line. I said extreme storms can and have happened without AGW and that we can not say for certain that this particular storm was caused by AGW. He said I was wrong, that that was a false inference. It seems to me that in saying I was wrong to say we can not definitely link the two he must have been saying we can link them. Cut and paste doesn’t really work on this tablet, so that will have to do.

  128. Childermass

    Fizz@47: Unlike an issue like evolution vs creationism (which is basically science vs magic), the global warming debate is science vs science, at least from the perspective of Joe Average

    We need a way to tell average people that climate change denial is a belief in magic.

    Because the only way adding greenhouse gases into the atmosphere would not make the climate warmer than it would have otherwise been is magic.

  129. If global warming is real…then how come there’s ice in my freezer?!?
    Take that, you pesky NASA scientists you!
    ///////

  130. CosmicJC

    Let’s just colonise Mars already and let these ignoramuses see for themselves just how lovely a runaway greenhouse effect can be. All their prejudices will mean nothing on Venus 2.0.

  131. Messier Tidy Upper

    @4. Skydaddy :

    What shall we do, Phil? ..

    I’m not Phil but I’d certainly suggest we start by recognising reality and listening to the experts in climatology you know what they’re talking about.

    Step one : recognise we have a problem, step two, look at our choices and possible courses of action. Step three start acting and following some – perhaps many possible ideas to tackle the problem.

    Even if the US shut down all coal and gas-fired plants and outlawed the use of internal combustion engines (good luck with that), India and China would be burning merrily away.

    Because everyone in China and India is stupid enough to think *their* nations are immune to the effects of Human Induced Rapid Global Overheating ya reckon? :roll:

    China has experienced major desertification issues and, if memory serves, Beijing or some other major Chinese cities have had serious dust-storms. A lot of Chinese and Indian cities are coastal and would be flooded with sea level rises. Those nations and pretty much all others are aware that the whole planet is affected by Global Overheating. Everyone suffers. There’s likely to be chaos, damage and major problems for all with increasingly unpredictable consequences if we – humanity collectively – keep going down the high Greenhouse gas emissions road.

    Perhaps China and India could and should be doing much more to work on slowing the rapidity of Global Overheating. Don’t think anyone is saying those nations – second world? – are flawless or ideal here. They have massive populations and vast inequalities and many social issues and they want to prosper and live well just as we do.

    Perhaps we could set a better example and help them by developing technology and coming yup with international solutions that are fairer to everyone? We’re on the same planet. We breathe the same air, bleed and love and cry and laugh as all humans do. HIRGO crosses boundaries just as human nature for good and ill does. We cannot force China and India to act – but we can, maybe, deal with them reasonably and work together? Can’t we? If we cannot, yes, we’re stuffed. Us – plus also China and India. So we have to try.

    Let’s just assume that we’ve passed the tipping point and that there is nothing we can do to stop or even slow the trend.

    Let’s not. :-(

    You may be right – almost certainly to some degree or other. HIRGO is reality, is happening and will keep happening into the future. For hundreds of years most likely, maybe thousands we’re going to have a planet that’s overheating with rising seas, worsening storms, more erratic and chaotic weather hitting ever more extreme extremes.

    But the more we do and the sooner we do it the less bad things may be and vice versa. Imagine you’re in a car that’s left the road and is travelling too fast. A crash is inevitable and the wall is looming quickly. You can do nothing and hit that wall at a higher speed and suffer more damage, write the car off, get killed. Or you can hit the brakes hard and still hit that wall but at a much lower speed. The car will be damaged but not as bad. You will be hurt but maybe survive with only minor injuries as opposed to life threatening ones. Do you hit the brakes or not?

    Same applies here. Choose to do nothing and we are deliberately accepting a worst case scenario as opposed to doing things that will make it potentially still bad but much less disastrous than it otherwise would be.

    Instead of making cheap and abundant fossil energy artificially expensive – a move that will only impoverish people and ruin economies – let’s focus our energies on figuring out how to adapt to a changing world.

    We’re going to have to adapt to some extent. Its going to be painful, some great places are going to be destroyed and lost and we’re still going to suffer. But we’re going to have do more than that too. All sorts of things are going to have to happen. This includes finding alternative fuel sources for a couple of reasons – one is HIRGO and another is peak oil. Sooner we start, the better.

    Also it doesn’t have to be the more draconian and drastic measures – there are varying alternatives and yeah, the same science and industry that got us into this mess is still in my view our best hope of getting out of or at least reducing it* – but the longer we leave it the harsher and more draconian and less effective the measures required are going to be.

    Just as a little braking further from the wall can slow a car down better and safer for its occupants than slamming the brakes on hard just a second or two before impact.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    * I also prefer Hansen’s fee’n’dividend idea to carbon taxes and cap’n’trade FWIW and think nuclear power (maybe geoengineering i.e. terraforming Earth and genetically modified lifeforms will play important roles too) will have to be one part of the answer so I think the political Left wing is going to have to compromise as well. The best options for mitigating HIRGO are still unclear -what is clear is that we need to accept reality and start taking some serious actions against it. Doing nothing is too costly and too appalling to be acceptable. :-(

  132. Messier Tidy Upper

    @128. VinceRN :

    @Messier – Sorry, been away.

    Fair enough. Can relate to that myself having missed the first hundred plus comments here.

    You never made such a claim, I never said you did, I know your posts well enough from reading you these past couple years to know you would not. Only one person made such a claim, neon. I said you can not specifically pin that one storm on global warming, he said I was wrong.

    Apparently from what I’ve been told noen is actually a she FWIW.

    I’m not sure that’s what noen said and will have to check and see.

    I said that extreme storms can and have occurred without global warming, and that we can not pin that one storm on global warming. Both statements I think you would agree with.

    Yes. I don’t think any single weather event can be 100% positively proven tobe be Global Overheating.

    However, I do think it is likely – extremely probable – that HIRGO was a major contributing and exacerbating factor in hurricane Sandy and I’m a bit baffled by your approach here which seems to be downplaying the link and the fact that HIRGO predicts and is consistent with such storms becoming more frequent and severe as indeed appears to be happening.

    That doesn’t even mean I think that storm had nothing to do with global warming. The opposite is true, I would bet that it did.

    Good. I agree.

    My point was just that we don’t, and can’t at this time, know.

    Well, yes, but there are[probabilities and consistencies and trends here which mean hurricane Sandy is indicating something. Is it just a one off? Taken in isolation it could be, in context, it suggests a lot more. Its is part of a trend and as such it is, as the BA noted, a metaphor for how global overheating is making our planet a worse place.

  133. Messier Tidy Upper

    @129. VinceRN :

    Sorry again, you said specific line. I said extreme storms can and have happened without AGW and that we can not say for certain that this particular storm was caused by AGW. He said I was wrong, that that was a false inference. It seems to me that in saying I was wrong to say we can not definitely link the two he must have been saying we can link them.

    I think I see the problem here.

    Noen saying we can link hurricane Sandy to Global Overheating is NOT quite the same thing as saying hurricane Sandy was directly and solely caused by Global Overheating.

    Connection or association isn’t necessarily direct causation.

    Does this help clarify and make sense? I hope so. Afraid I’m already half-asleep here. (Well past 2 a.m. in my timezone.)

  134. noen

    “Connection or association isn’t necessarily direct causation. “

    Our intuition is that if A causes B there must be direct physical contact between A and B. Otherwise you have spooky action at a distance and as long as we are not talking QM that is not allowed. When people discover new physical processes (radiation for example) there is a tendency by lay people to engage in magical thinking and attribute supernatural properties to the new physical phenomenon.

    When a study shows a non-zero statistical correlation between two things, like say cell phones and cancer, that is not enough. You have to also show there is some kind of mechanism that would connect one with the other. If there really were a plausible narrative that would let us connect radio waves and cancer then those who have concerns about cell phones might have a point.

    But there is that correlation and that seems to leave it an open question. Maybe there is some unknown process at work? That kind of unresolved open question can be very frightening and one’s fears are only enhanced if one doesn’t have a good understanding of science or critical thinking. Fear, as we now know, shuts down our rational brain and activates deeper regions associated with survival. We make a magical leap. Maybe there really is some as yet unknown mechanism secretly causing cancer in my brain right now!

    This is a false inference because there is nothing connecting radio waves and what we know causes cancer. Correlation is not enough.

    We can know cell phones do not cause cancer because radio waves are not the kind of radiation that can cause cancer.

    We can know that smoking causes lung cancer because the tars in cigarette smoke are known to cause cancer.

    We can know that climate change made hurricane Sandy more *likely* because global warming makes more energy available to storms and thermodynamics is well understood.

    Oh, and it helps that it was totally predicted, down to which subways would flood and the dollar amounts.

    “Klaus H. Jacob, a research scientist at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, said the storm surge from Irene came, on average, just one foot short of paralyzing transportation into and out of Manhattan.

    If the surge had been just that much higher, subway tunnels would have flooded, segments of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive and roads along the Hudson River would have turned into rivers, and sections of the commuter rail system would have been impassable or bereft of power, he said.

    The most vulnerable systems, like the subway tunnels under the Harlem and East Rivers, would have been unusable for nearly a month, or longer, at an economic loss of about $55 billion, said Dr. Jacob, an adviser to the city on climate change and an author of the 2011 state study that laid out the flooding prospects.

    “We’ve been extremely lucky,” he said. “I’m disappointed that the political process hasn’t recognized that we’re playing Russian roulette.””

    That was in 2009. On Oct 28 just before Sandy hit he said this:

    “We may not know which of those two scenarios we face, however, until just hours before the storm hits. “Sandy is a very moody storm,” Dr. Jacob added. “It changes its mind as it goes along, so it will take probably until tomorrow or early afternoon before we know exactly what the exact timing will be.”

    Regardless, it seems like we’re in for some subway flooding. According to Dr. Jacob, the most vulnerable are subway stations are those in downtown Manhattan, particularly along Wall Street — newswire photographs showed transit workers boarding up subway grates near the Staten Island Ferry on Friday — as well as on the Upper East Side near the Harlem River, and near the Newton Creek boundary between Brooklyn and Queens.

    Besides the subway, car tunnels, coastal streets, and even the airports should expect flooding from a Category 1 hurricane, according to one city report. Both LaGuardia and JFK airports, where serious delays and travel disruptions are already expected, may experience as much as three feet of flooding.”

    Only someone who’s denial is based in irrational fears could dismiss clear science based predictions out of hand.

    If you put a bullet in a revolver with room for 1000 rounds and keep pulling the trigger you cannot then claim there is no causal connection between your pulling of the trigger and the gun going off simply because it will take time for the odds to catch up with you. Yet that is exactly what climate denialists would have us believe.

  135. Steve Metzler

    Very well put, noen.

  136. MNP

    To be fair, Nero was actually quite successful in other areas other than protecting the city itself. For instance, he was a great peacemaker between Rome and Persia. And when Boudicca revolted and was annihilated at Watling Street, Nero recalled the Roman victor because his pacification of Britain afterwards was considered too violent and harsh.

  137. Wzrd1

    @noen, your statements on radio waves not causing cancer is incorrect in part. Microwave energy has been well documented to cause leukemia.
    That said, at power levels substantially higher than any cellular phone has or ever well be able to put out. The cellular phone cannot induce tissue heating, due to the nature of low power signals transmitted by the phone.

    As for hurricane Sandy, one data point does not a trend make. Multiple data points CAN indicate a trend. For Sandy, our current understanding of hurricanes and storms cannot say with certainty that global warming caused the hurricane, its bizarre path or even the surrounding weather systems that contributed to the severity of the effects of the storm. Not with absolute certainty.
    It can only be accurately said that global warming MAY have contributed to the storm severity and damage.
    I’m of the opinion that the arctic blast that helped “steer” the storm is quite probably global warming related. But, that is an opinion. I’ve yet to hear any meteorologist make such a claim, either for global warming certainly causing the severity of the storm, causing the storm or having anything to do with the storm. Or the arctic front that came in and helped direct the storm along its path.
    A fraction of a degree warmer over thousands of square miles of atmosphere is a substantial amount of energy that will seek equilibrium.

  138. James Evans

    The idea that [Nero] “fiddled while Rome burned” is wholly inaccurate.

    So Bugs Bunny was wrong?!

    I must remind everyone here who agrees with this subversive, neo-Nero revisionism that Bugs and the little gremlin totally nailed the rich role Wendell Willkie played in history.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, people.

  139. Wzrd1

    @James Evans, you’re right. Bugs Bunny is the world example of history and proper behavior.
    Ignore the FACT that the violin only existed in the west in the mid 1500’s, LONG after Nero was dead.
    Ignore the history, not the religious tradition of the later conquerors of the west. Only pay attention to the Roman Catholic church, who prevailed that tradition and not the written works of the period that survived.
    Ignore modern scholarly research in favor of ancient and oft repeated in modern times Catholic interpretations of history.
    Because, we don’t want silly little things like facts confuse the ISSUES.
    ISBN 978-0-415-21464-3
    For a source.

  140. Mick LL

    I love how the denialists have moved seamlessly from denying the existence of global warming to denying the effectiveness of doing anything about it!

  141. @Messier – See, we agree. I think it likely that AGW was at least part of the cause. I never claimed we can’t link them, clearly all weather is linked to climate. Perhaps neon was thinking I meant can’t link them and attacked that.

    @neon – sorry if I got your gender wrong, kinda dumb to assume everyone on the internet is male, and it really doesn’t matter at all anyway. English needs a generic pronoun. Anything here I’m still wrong about?

    As for cellphones and cancer, the safe distances for RF exposure are well established. For a cell phone operating at average power of a few milliwatts that distance is a few millimeters. Even at peak of 300mW it’s a few cm, and phones rarely ever radiate that. I have always figured that correlation was BS because in any city you are constantly being exposed to vastly more RF than that. Holding a cell phone next to your head doesn’t really change much. On ham radio boards that I read there is a ton of info on this.

  142. James Evans

    @Wzrd1:

    Ignore the FACT[s]…Ignore the history…Ignore modern scholarly research…Because, we don’t want silly little things like facts confuse the ISSUES.
    ISBN 978-0-415-21464-3
    For a source.

    Oh.

  143. As a former sceptic on the matter I still find it difficult to accept direct attacks at deniers as good science. Like let’s have some science here rather than Global Warming is happening and you’re stupid.” If you want to argue with a creationist, insulting their intelligence gets you nowhere. Whatever I believe, this is why I despise the climate alarmist community.

  144. James Evans

    @Nick:

    As a former sceptic on the matter I still find it difficult to accept direct attacks at deniers as good science.

    But the direct attacks by deniers on Phil and contributors in this thread are just peachy keen, groundbreaking science in your opinion, Nick? Cherry-pick and miss the whole story much?

    Whatever I believe, this is why I despise the climate alarmist community.

    Yeah, surprise, surprise. Didn’t take you long to be guilty of exactly what you claim to have difficulty accepting. Spare us the “former” part of your bio, if this is what you wanna add to the discussion.

  145. VinceRN

    Ugh! I hate autocorrect. Elfing tablet changed noen to neon every time I typed it. Can’t live without that stupid thing, but sometimes I want to drop it in an industrial strength shredder.

  146. Wzrd1

    @VinceRN, know the feeling all too well. I’ve gotten so angry, I started counting at the computer! ;)

    “Ford carried on counting quietly. This is about the most aggressive
    thing you can do to a computer, the equivalent of going up to a human
    being and saying Blood… blood… blood… blood…”
    -Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

  147. Nigel Depledge

    Fizz (47) said:

    Consider the issue from the perspective of Joe Average. Joe Average encounters two scientists, one telling him human-induced global warming is real, and the other saying global warming is natural. Both sides accuse the other of politicizing the issue, both sides accuse the other of misrepresenting the data.

    Unlike an issue like evolution vs creationism (which is basically science vs magic), the global warming debate is science vs science, at least from the perspective of Joe Average. How does Joe Average know who to believe? And to Joe Average, it is belief, because he has no scientific background or ability to parse through dozens of papers and properly assess them.

    I disagree. First, if scientific opinion is split as you claim, the scientific societies can issue statements to the effect that “this is potentially an important phenomenon and we’re looking into it, but we don’t yet know if it is real”. This has quite obviously not happened. Second, Joe Average generally doesn’t see the opinions of the actual scientists – instead he sees the opinions of politicians, chat show hosts, his mates down the pub and various political pundits. Third, good luck finding a climate scientist who will undermine his or her credibility by publicly stating that AGW is an illusion or a conspiracy.

  148. Nigel Depledge

    Shunt1 (48) said:

    I am honestly trying to understand….

    I’ll believe this when I see it happening. Not before.

  149. Nigel Depledge

    Shunt1 (53) said:

    I keep studying the computer models which were amazingly accurate, but I am stumped as to why those air masses moved like that.

    Maybe you are focussing on trying to understand the wrong things. Stop picking at the detail and try to see the bigger picture.

  150. Nigel Depledge

    Shunt1 (59) said:

    You do realize that an increase of CO2 will alter the albedo of the planet at the IR CO2 wavelengths?

    You do realise, don’t you, that the IR absorption specrum of CO2 is only about a third of the story? Don’t you?

  151. just a guy

    global warming is in the news because it’s very likely that the hurricane Sandy was influenced by our changing climate.

    Oh noes, a cat 2 hurricane! Seriously, like we’ve never had a cat 2, or worse, hurricane before. This fear mongering is ridiculous. There’s no evidence that global warming would cause worse hurricanes either. If temperatures between the poles and equator and between the ocean and air above had less of a spread, there would be less hurricanes.

  152. Wzrd1

    @just a guy:
    First, increased thermal input caused increased storm severity. That is weather 101.
    Second, go to New Jersey and tell them that the storm was fearmongering. First, let us know how you want your remains disposed of.
    Long Beach is nearly leveled, people JUST permitted to go home for TODAY and see the houses in the middle of the street, leveled or full of sand and water. They have a mandatory evacuation because of a nor’easter due on Wednesday.
    Don’t talk about fear mongering when someone from the region has lived through what you call slight. You’ll get your words shoved back in your face.
    We STILL have people without electricity. Fuel is still scarce in the “fear mongering” areas heavily hit.
    People have been killed, some fear mongering, huh?

  153. James Evans

    @just a guy:

    Oh noes, a cat 2 hurricane! Seriously, like we’ve never had a cat 2, or worse, hurricane before.

    Since it’s such a common occurrence, just a guy, care to fill the rest of us in when the last time it was that NYC was pumping a cyclone’s storm surge out of its crippled subway system, Seaside Heights was pulling its collapsed amusement pier out of the Atlantic and fighting gas fires, millions of people up and down the the eastern seaboard were without power, however many thousands in these same areas lost homes because they were pushed right off foundations and properties, and on and on and on, IN NOVEMBER?

    Yeah, nothing to see here, except like maybe $50-$100 billion in damage. Ho-hum. Move along, people.

  154. Nigel Depledge

    Chuck Corrie (95) said:

    @Nigel Depledge (32) says:

    “@ chuck currie

    Please stop posting your ignorance is showing.”

    That’s a specious argument.

    Argument? I didn’t make an argument. I simply asked you to stop polluting the thread with your irrelevant gibberish.

    But I did make that request grammatically, and you misquote me.

    What I said was:

    Please stop posting, your ignorance is showing.

    Note the positioning of the comma that lends meaning to the sentence. Of course, in hindsight I feel that a semicolon would have been more apt.

  155. Nigel Depledge

    Shunt1 (67) said:

    [Quoting Cory, #66] “What, exactly, is the “valid scientific question” you are asking? Because nothing you have presented here rubs anything in a scientific way.”

    Simple:

    How was the interaction of cold polar air with hurricane Sandy caused by “global warming” and how did the historical increase of a trace gas like CO2 alter the trajectory of that storm?

    Eh?

    Where did you ask this question?

  156. Nigel Depledge

    Shunt1 (73) said:

    I honestly want to keep this topic as a scientific discussion about a specific hurricane.

    Why?

    Does the “global” part of “global warming” flummox you?

    Sandy’s significance is more or less trivial by itself. Where Sandy is significant is as a symptom of the changes in weather patterns that we should expect to see with increasing frequency.

  157. Nigel Depledge

    Shunt1 (74) said:

    No Cory, I am asking how “global warming” altered the trajectory of a very specific hurricane called Sandy.

    I could care less what your personal politics are. I want to understand the actual scientific evidence that this specific hurricane altered its course because of “global warming.”

    Wait a second. I can’t find where anyone made the specific claim that AGW caused Sandy to alter course. Can you at least reference the comment number?

  158. Nigel Depledge

    Shunt1 (76) said:

    If the albedo of Venus (or any other planet) decreased, then there would be a large increase of atmospheric temperature.

    Wrong.

    The over-simplified version: If the albedo of Venus were to decrease, there would be a commensurate increase of atmospheric temperature.

    The correct answer : if the albedo of Venus were to decrease, any change to atmospheric temperature would depend on why the albedo decreased.

  159. Nigel Depledge

    Shunt1 (88) said:

    Oh, I do fully understand. You make it us as you go along. But when questioned, you have absolutely no answers.

    What the hell . . .?

    Since when have you ever asked an honest question about global warming without attempting to divert the discussion into trivial local issues?

    Besides, if you want to learn about the science of AGW, what the hell are you doing merely demanding answers in a blog comment thread? If you wish to understand, there are plenty of popular-science books that have been written by actual climate scientists. Even you should be able to understand some of these.

    Or is it merely easier to take no responsibility for your own ignorance?

  160. Nigel Depledge

    Shunt1 (106) said:

    However, NAO and other long term cycles have been our primary arguments with “global warming” and why this has been natural.

    It is nice that you have recognized things like the NAO and ENSO cycles. That is a very good start.

    This is back to your usual style of utterly failing to get the point.

    The NAO cycle and others are, of course, well known to climatologists. But they are not a significant cause of the current GW. IOW, scientists have looked into the possibility that the current GW trend is part of a natural cycle, and they have found that the natural cycles cannot explain the GW observations.

    Or did you really believe that climatologists have failed to account for such an obvious possibility?

    The relevant point here, that you missed, is the impact that AGW has had on the NAO, not vice versa.

  161. Nigel Depledge

    AliCali (111) said:

    Edited to add: Did I just feed a troll? Bad AliCali!

    Not so much feed a troll as deliver an extra kick to one.

  162. Nigel Depledge

    Shunt1 (113) said:

    Personally, I think it should be illegal to require a picture ID for anything.

    This is just nuts.

    Do you think that ID cards should be freely transferable between people? Or driving licences? Or passports? A photo is simply the easiest and least intrusive way to make ID specific to one individual (except, probably, in the case of identical twins).

  163. Nigel Depledge

    Shunt1 (116) said:

    Just for fun on election day, I will play this game:

    I will give my name and address and they will hand me the ballot. I will then show my photo ID and demand to know why I was allowed to vote as that person!

    It is to teach a lesson.

    Let us know how you get on with this game.

  164. Nigel Depledge

    Vince RN (128) said:

    You never made such a claim, I never said you did, I know your posts well enough from reading you these past couple years to know you would not. Only one person made such a claim, [noen]. I said you can not specifically pin that one storm on global warming, [s]he said I was wrong.

    FTFY.

  165. Nigel Depledge

    Vince RN (128) said:

    I never said anything like global warming doesn’t cause an increase the frequency or severity of storms, in fact I clearly stated a few times that it obviously does.

    Hang on a sec, wasn’t this discussion on the previous Sandy thread?

  166. Nigel Depledge

    Nick (145) said:

    . . . I still find it difficult to accept direct attacks at deniers as good science.

    When has anyone here directly attacked a denier?

    Sure, we always attack their attempts at arguing against AGW, but an attack on an argument is part of the scientific process, and is not an attack on the person who proposed the argument, even if sometimes that person perceives it as such.

  167. Waaay too late by now, but what the heck, in the unlikely off chance this gets seen :

    @169. Nigel Depledge :

    Vince RN (128) said : “I never said anything like global warming doesn’t cause an increase the frequency or severity of storms, in fact I clearly stated a few times that it obviously does.”
    Hang on a sec, wasn’t this discussion on the previous Sandy thread?

    It was, then it moved across the the newer thread.

    There’s also a great clip on superstorm Sandy and the wider geoclimate implications and context by Greenman3610 linked to my name here or see Hurricane Sandy’s Double Whammy on his youtube channel.

    @67. shunt1 :

    How was the interaction of cold polar air with hurricane Sandy caused by “global warming” and how did the historical increase of a trace gas like CO2 alter the trajectory of that storm? Darn, that computer model is too large to upload. Still trying to upload to somewhere that can be linked.

    Still trying? Then try seeing the clip linked to my name that explains it pretty well I reckon. Or if you can’t be bothered – Unusual Greenland High pressure and weak jetstream.

    @ 158. Nigel Depledge :

    Note the positioning of the comma that lends meaning to the sentence. Of course, in hindsight I feel that a semicolon would have been more apt.

    Glad to see I’m not the only person who keeps mulling over how they put things and mentally editing their comments! ;-)

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