Climate Preservation

By Keith Kloor | September 14, 2010 1:34 pm

The American Scholar is on a roll with provocative climate change-related essays in consecutive issues. The summer issue has a brilliant coverline, “The Earth Doesn’t Care if You Drive a Hybrid,” touting this essay by Stanford physicist Robert Laughlin. People on opposite ends of the climate debate will likely find much to agree and disagree with in Laughlin’s elegant piece.

He takes a deep time perspective, of which the geologic record

suggests that climate is a profoundly grander thing than energy. Energy procurement is a matter of engineering and keeping the lights on under circumstances that are likely to get more difficult as time progresses. Climate change, by contrast, is a matter of geologic time, something that the earth routinely does on its own without asking anyone’s permission or explaining itself. The earth doesn’t include the potentially catastrophic effects on civilization in its planning. Far from being responsible for damaging the earth’s climate, civilization might not be able to forestall any of these terrible changes once the earth has decided to make them. Were the earth determined to freeze Canada again, for example, it’s difficult to imagine doing anything except selling your real estate in Canada. If it decides to melt Greenland, it might be best to unload your property in Bangladesh. The geologic record suggests that climate ought not to concern us too much when we’re gazing into the energy future, not because it’s unimportant, but because it’s beyond our power to control.

The Autumn issue has what might be considered a rejoinder (also prominently featured on the cover), titled, “Prozac for the Planet,” by Christopher Cokinos, who tackles the geoengineering question in a novel manner:

We’ve too long mistaken the present for some version of a human forever. We say we want to save the world. What we really want to save is the Holocene. We want to cast the world in amber, to preserve it as it has been, more or less, for the past century or two. We want to stay alive. More, to hold onto our economies, our life styles, our civilization. These impulses, if not always their consequences, are laudable, but let’s not delude ourselves: trying to extend the lifespan of the Holocene is selfish. We humans are not forever, nor is the time in which we find ourselves. Most of us would like for all of us, including wolves and tadpole shrimp and yellow-eyed penguins, to stick around for a while. Trying to extend the lifespan of the Holocene is also, in a way, compassionate.

Geoengineering may be the earthly pinnacle of our toolmaking ways and an expression of our animal will to live. Certainly it can be more than an attempt to control the future of the climate and civilization; it can be a way to understand our relationship to the nature of time and mortality, a way, perhaps, even to manufacture, or to finally recognize, kinships. But if we extend the lifespan of the Holocene by retooling the air yet fail to retool our own ways, our revels will end sooner than they needed to.

I love the way that sounds: extending the lifespan of the holocene. Might turn out to be a mixed bag, though, like the technologically aided final years being tacked on to individual lives in old age.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: climate change
  • Marlowe Johnson

    both of these posts are wrong for so many reasons I’m at loss of where to start.
    ¬
     

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Huh? You mean the essays? Are you responding just to the excerpts I’ve highlighted? Because if you did, you might want to read both pieces in their entirety.

    Anyway, The American Scholar is no gutter outlet. They’ve got a well-earned reputation for publishing nicely-crafted litarary essays that touch on all subjects. You might want to have a look before jumping to conclusions.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Both of these posts are wrong for so many reasons I’m at loss of where to start.
    ¬
    ‘Climate change is a matter of geologic time.’
    ¬
    true until recently — which is kinda the point isn’t it?¬† The issue is not whether or not climatic conditions have changed or not in the past.¬† It’s whether or not we are changing them now, and whether or not the life support systems that we are dependent on will be able to adapt a climate that is forecasted to change much more rapidly than insinuated by references to “geologic” time.¬† It’s not just about absolute changes.¬†¬† Rates of changes are just as important.
    “climate ought not concern us when we’re gazing into the energy future”? wtf does that mean?
    ¬
    “[the earth's climate] is beyond our power to control.”
    ¬
    Umm, apparently somebody hasn’t been paying attention for the last 140 years or so.¬† While it is certainly true that we can’t fine tune the climate system, we certainly do have some degree control.¬† It’s simply ridiculous to claim otherwise.¬† As a physicist you’d think he’d know that.
    ¬
    Moving on….
    ¬
    “trying to extend the lifespan of the Holocene is selfish”.¬† Selfish for whom?¬† the billions of lifeforms (other than humans) that have evolved over millions of years to survive in these conditions?¬† Stick to poetry rather than environmental ethics on this one I think.
    ¬
    This issue with geoengineering from an env. ethics POV is about dampening the changes that we are introducing to the climate.¬† they are a whole host of reasons to oppose it, but selfishness wouldn’t seem to be one of them, at least when one defines it in terms of preserving our current climate.
    ¬
    By Corkino’s logic it would be selfish of us to try and stop an asteroid from hitting the earth….
    ¬
     

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Keith,
    ¬
    Fair enough, I’ll take a look.
     

  • Banjoman0

    I think you meant Holocene, not holocone.¬† Regardless, two interesting points of view, at once contrary and complimentary.¬† My view is that we understand so little of the complexities of all the various climate forcings and feedbacks, that any talk of geoengineering solutions that are more than a glimmer in someone’s eye are obnoxious, almost dangerous.¬† I note that there isn’t much concern for potential costs or consequences of “extending the Holocene” in the second quote; how could it possibly be bad?

  • http://www.theamericanscholar.org Scholar Staff

    Thanks for the great discussion on both pieces. The American Scholar strives to feature works that provoke thought and inspire these types of threads. It’s nice to see the articles being mulled over, controversy and all.
    The Scholar Staff

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    BanjomanO:

    Thanks for spotting the spelling error–now fixed. And I largely echo your take.

    As for how extending the holocene might be bad? Well, I was thinking what if it turned out to be a temporary extension, if the earth’s resources and systems continue to be over-exploited and not properly addressed?

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Ok I took a look at both articles.
    ¬
    Prozac is actually quite good (I agree) but I still think he was ill advised to call extending the Holocene selfish.
    ¬
    ¬
    Laughlin piece on the other hand is even worse when you read the whole thing.¬† It comes across as a bit of a rambling mess.¬† In fairness maybe that has more to do with the translation from the larger book that the piece is taken from.¬† But even if you put aside clarity and elegance, there are still some big problems, both rhetorical and factual,¬† in the text in addition to those I’ve already mentioned.
    ¬
    “Unfortunately, this concern isn’t reciprocated. On the scales of time relevant to itself, the earth doesn’t care about any of these governments or their legislation.”
    ¬
    If by ‘care’ he means isn’t affected, then clearly he’s wrong.¬† If he means ‘care’ in the emotive sense, then, well, who cares? Is he simply reminding us that no Santa doesn’t exist and there is no ‘Mother’ Earth?
    ¬
    “Global warming forecasts have the further difficulty that you can’t find much actual global warming in present-day weather observations.”
    ¬
    Wrong.
    ¬
    “. In order to test the predictions, you’d have to separate these big effects from subtle, inexorable changes on scales of centuries, and nobody knows how to do that yet.”
    ¬
    Wrong.
    ¬
    “Nobody knows why these dramatic climate changes occurred in the ancient past. Ideas that commonly surface include perturbations to the earth’s orbit by other planets, disruptions of ocean currents, the rise and fall of greenhouse gases, heat reflection by snow, continental drift, comet impacts, Genesis floods, volcanoes, and slow changes in the irradiance of the sun. No scientifically solid support has been found for any of these suggestions.”
    ¬
    Really wrong.
    ¬
    Keith I’m not sure if it was your intention or not, but by juxtaposing these two posts you seem to suggest:
    ¬
    1. Climate changes all the time and we can do little to stop it (Laughlin piece); and
    ¬
    2. It is selfish of us to try and preserve the climate that our civilization developed and flourished in.
    ¬
    Have I got it wrong?

  • http://letsget.small.org PDA

    Laughlin’s piece is based on a faulty premise: namely that ” damaging the earth is precisely what’s concerning a lot of responsible people at the moment.” I don’t know any serious observer who is worried about “damaging the Earth.” Instead, people are concerned about the impacts on humans and – secondarily, let’s be honest – other inhabitants of the biosphere.

    Cokinos’s formulation is similarly odd: “an attempt to extend the lifespan of the Holocene”¬¶ so that humans and other creatures might last a bit longer than otherwise.” He makes it sound rather like a quixotic fight against natural processes, rather than a scheme for global remediation.

    Certainly, geoengineering research and development should proceed with all haste, and with an eye to the precautionary principle as alluded to in Banjoman0′s post. I think that any initiative to pursue geoengineering without also coming to an agreement to limit emissions should be strongly discouraged: it’s more ore less the climatic equivalent of a credit-default swap.

  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub Niggurath

    Marlowe Johnson
    Is it possible for human beings to have a long-range perspective on events of the globe?

    Thanks

    The detached philosophical view of the earth is antithetical to your view. I presume this from your previous comments. As someone that is interested in implying that we have a significant and transmutable influence on timescales which are appreciable only in the abstract, everything Laughlin says is goes against the grain, of your way of thinking.

    Is this correct?

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-9111-SF-Environmental-Policy-Examiner Tom Fuller

    Instead of preserving the Holocene, I vote for a return to the Discocene. Back in the Dildoic Era, when I could sweep the floor with my pantlegs, we didn’t have time to worry about the climate, and the climate didn’t have time to worry about us. We were too busy cultivating sideburns that looked like diseased lawns and the Climate was too busy listening to Donna Summers, while trying to forget Neil Diamond singing Hot August Nights and Martha & the Vandellas singing Heat Wave. Who knew that the horrors of Bananarama’s Cruel Summer and Rock You Like a Hurricane were just around the corner?
    Back to the days of yore!

  • christine parthemore

    George Will has a piece in Newsweek on “Earth doesn’t care” angle as well:
    http://www.newsweek.com/authors/george-f-will.html
    Equally bad, for all the reasons cited above. Unless you don’t care in the least about humans.
     

  • Alex Heyworth

    Millenia of evolution has uniquely equipped our species to excel at adaptation to whatever the environment throws at us. In particular, we seem to have adapted particularly well to changes from ice age to interglacial and back. Maybe we should continue to focus on our strengths.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Shub,
    ¬
    In the long run we’re all dead or dust in the wind depending on which cultural reference for nihilism you prefer…
     

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Keith,
    ¬
    To see how poisonous Laughlin’s line of thinking is when taken up by the MSM see here:
    ¬
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/please-remain-calm-the-earth-will-heal-itself/article1642767/
    ¬
    See a problem or is it just me?

  • kdk33

    Oh my.  Nobel Laureate, even.

    Probably funded by big oil.

  • keith kloor

    Christine (12), Marlowe (15):
    Are you giving the essay the guilt-by-association treatment? Lots of people get unfairly tarnished that way.
    Look, I never said I endorsed the piece; I merely found it provocative and well written enough to note in a post. Does every piece of writing on climate change have to pass some sort of litmus test? As a one-time magazine editor myself, I never agreed with everything in an article that I edited. (How boring if I did!)
    So people like George Will are going to use it score rhetorical points. Big deal. You have to understand, I don’t view everything I read on climate change through some tactical filter: will this help or hurt the cause? That’s why I never understood the big fuss made by Romm over the NYT magazine profile of Freeman Dyson.
    In particular, essays and profiles are a different journalistic animal than your average spot news story. They have a different purpose.
     

  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub Niggurath

    Marlowe Johnson
    “In the end, we are all dust.”
    This is a statement about the fate of humanity, therefore the question and the judgement of ‘nihilism’ arises.
    Laughlin’s article is talking about geologic processes which occur at timescales that are impervious to such judgement. To know, that there are processes that are more long-lived than humanity, does not diminish the value of humanity. There are such processes – it cannot be helped.
    To throw away the present to the wind, in a fantasy of “saving the grandchildren” sounds like nihilism too.
    Contemplation of long-range climatologic and geologic phenomena leads us to value fragile human and ecologic life. Dreaming of controlling the climate leads to arrogance and skewed priorities. It is paradoxical indeed. :)

  • Barry Woods

    11#

    towards the end of the discocene, popular culture became a bit grimmer, by 1979, The Specials – London Calling
    CHORUS
    The ice age is coming ;) , the sun’s zooming in
    Meltdown expected, the wheat is growing thin
    Engines stop running, but I have no fear
    Cause London is drowning and I, live by the river

    (meltdown – ref three mile island)

    “In the end, we are all but stardust” is a bit more inspiting.

  • http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com Bart Verheggen

    The first excerpt, giving¬†a geologic perspective, is largely correct until it reaches the last sentence. But even then, it is a bit of¬† truism, and it is written so as to lead the reader to the faulty conclusion that mankind couldn’t possible influence climate even if we wanted to, because it has changed in the past without humans having had anything to do with it.

    The fact that climate has changed in the past due to natural forcings (no scientist would deny that), is no evidence whatsoever that the same is happening now. He alludes to the ice ages, which are caused by changes in the earth’s orbit taking place over¬†tens of thousands of¬†years. They have nothing to do with the observed warming of the¬†last 100 years.

    The fact that forest fires occur naturally, is not a valid alibi for Johnny who just caused a fire by throwing away a burning cigarette.

    In fact, throughout earth’s history, greenhouse gases (and esp CO2) played a major role in influencing¬†the climate. With humanity emitting so much of the very same substance that influenced climate throughout geologic history, it would be rather strange if it would suddenly stop¬†with its natural habit¬†of absorbing and re-emitting infrared radiation, thereby influencing the radiative balance¬† and ultimately the temperature of the planet.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Keith,
    ¬
    It’s not about a ’cause’.¬† It’s about not promoting every piece of bullshit that you come across.¬† Look I have no problem with people who say they accept the science of climate change but would rather not do much about it.¬† It’s not a position I share but at least it’s intellectually honest.
    ¬
    Just because it’s an essay and not a news piece doesn’t mean he gets a pass on the facts does it?
    ¬
    “So people like George Will are going to use it score rhetorical points. Big deal.”
    ¬
    But Keith that was precisely Laughlin’s point wasn’t it?¬† Opinion pieces are fine, but as a scientist¬† (and a nobel laureate) shouldn’t he be held to a higher standard (i.e.¬† rely on facts rather than rhetorical excess)?
    And frankly I’m surprised you found it well written…
    ¬
    p.s. what do mean by the guilt by association comment?

  • http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid Tim Lambert

    Well I read the first piece in it¬†entirety and it was stupidly wrong. ¬†But apparently that doesn’t matter because it was “well written”.

  • paulina

    Keith:
    Laughlin’s post is an excerpt from a forthcoming book on “the future of fossil fuels.”
    For this reason, one particular line jumped out at me.
    Keith, could you please share your own interpretation of the following or possibly ask Laughlin to come elaborate?
    Laughlin writes:
    “On the scales of time relevant to itself, the earth doesn’t care about any of these governments or their legislation….These actions simply spread the pain over a few centuries…and leave the end result exactly the same: all the fossil fuel that used to be in the ground is now [after a few centuries] in the air, and none is left to burn.” [emphasis added]
    ¬
    My focus is not on (a) the timescales issues or (b) the anthropomorphizing of the planet.
    Instead, here’s what I’m confused about:
    “all the fossil fuel that used to be in the ground is now in the air, and none is left to burn”
    This reminded me of the “Everything burns” line from The Dark Knight:
     

    “It’s not about the money. It’s about sending a message. Everything burns.”
    (If the link works, it’s at 3:55.)
    ¬
    Here’s a question “that’s concerning a lot of responsible people at the moment” :¬† “To what extent is the Joker right?”
    All the conventional oil, all the easily mined coal, all the coal to be had by blowing up the mountains, all the conventional natural gas, and also all the shale gas, all the tar sands, all the oil shale, all the methane hydrates…
    Is it axiomatic that all conventional and unconventional fossil fuels will end up “in the air,” with none left to burn?
    No matter how we act?  No matter how we choose to deploy non-fossil technology?
    Please clarify.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Paulina,

    I have already emailed Professor Laughlin at Stanford (this morning), to see if he would like to join the fray here.

  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub Niggurath

    Marlowe Johnson
    Laughlin’ article is not “bullshit”. You have not demonstrated why and where it is factually wrong, yet you do not hesitate to use strong words.

    The article’s facts and inferences are¬†greatly troublesome for advocates of the importance of climate change in our lives, such as yourself, and Bart Verheggen.¬†Therefore they are “wrong”, “bullshit”. Therefore¬†KK has committed the crime of publicizing.¬†

    Apparently, we should all stay focused on one kind of climate change only, – the kind that happens in the “policy-relevant time scale”,¬†and the¬†kind that can be¬†under¬†the heel¬†and rolled back and forth at will.¬†

    The fact that Laughlin points out that global change that is immense in magnitude, however rolls gently and impercetibly in these very policy-relevant timescales – that is the irksome bit, isn’t it?

    If it is change that is severe, but apparently can be controlled by passing legislative laws, then such change is not very large or inexorable in magnitude in the first place, is it?

  • Marlowe Johnson

    ok shub.
    “Global warming forecasts have the further difficulty that you can’t find much actual global warming in present-day weather observations.”¬Ě
    ¬
    <a href=”http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/faq-3-1.html”>Nope</a>
    ¬
    ¬
    “”In order to test the predictions, you’d have to separate these big effects from subtle, inexorable changes on scales of centuries, and nobody knows how to do that yet.”¬Ě
    ¬
    <a href=”http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/faq-9-2.html”>Wrong again</a>
    ¬
    Just in case you can’t be bothered to click the link….
    “Climate models provide a suitable tool to study the various influences on the Earth’s climate. When the effects of increasing levels of greenhouse gases are included in the models, as well as natural external factors, the models produce good simulations of the warming that has occurred over the past century. The models fail to reproduce the observed warming when run using only natural factors. When human factors are included, the models also simulate a geographic pattern of temperature change around the globe similar to that which has occurred in recent decades. This spatial pattern, which has features such as a greater warming at high northern latitudes, differs from the most important patterns of natural climate variability that are associated with internal climate processes, such as El Ni√ɬĪo.
    ¬
    do i really need to keep going?

  • Marlowe Johnson

    bah screwed up the tags please delete Keith…
     

  • http://letsget.small.org PDA

    Apparently, we should all stay focused on one kind of climate change only, “‚Äú the kind that happens in the “policy-relevant time scale.”

    Where does the quote “policy-relevant time scale” come from? It’s not in either article. Why do you twice put it between inverted commas as if it referenced either the articles or Johnson’s comment?

    Anyway, I’m not clear on what the confusion is about. People who are concerned with anthropogenic climate change are interested in policies that deal with anthropogenic climate change. There’s no movement to stop orbital precession or sunspots.

    It’s understood that you feel there is no such thing as anthropogenic climate change, or that its effects are limited. I don’t get how you see climate change on historical time scales is any way relevant to – let alone a refutation of – the scientific conception of anthropogenic climate change.

  • Lazar

    “The article’s facts”
    ¬
    what ‘facts’… the essay has no citations…

  • Lazar

    PDA is correct,
    ¬
    “Laughlin’s piece is based on a faulty premise: namely that “¬Ě damaging the earth is precisely what’s concerning a lot of responsible people at the moment.”¬Ě”
    ¬
    Compare with IPCC AR4 WGII 19.2;
    ¬
    “Various aggregate metrics are used to describe the magnitude of climate impacts. The most widely used quantitative measures
    for climate impacts (see Chapter 20 and WGIII AR4 Chapter 3
    (Fisher et al., 2007)) are monetary units such as welfare, income
    or revenue losses (e.g., Nordhaus and Boyer, 2000), costs of anticipating and adapting to certain biophysical impacts such as
    a large sea-level rise (e.g., Nicholls et al., 2005), and estimates
    of people’s willingness to pay to avoid (or accept as
    compensation for) certain climate impacts (see, e.g., Li et al.,
    2004). Another aggregate, non-monetary indicator is the number
    of people affected by certain impacts such as food and water
    shortages, morbidity and mortality from diseases, and forced
    migration (Barnett, 2003; Arnell, 2004; Parry et al., 2004; van
    Lieshout et al., 2004; Schär and Jendritzky, 2004; Stott et al.,
    2004). Climate impacts are also quantified in terms of the
    biophysical end-points, such as agricultural yield changes (see
    Chapter 5; F√ɬľssel et al., 2003; Parry et al., 2004) and species
    extinction numbers or rates (see Chapter 4; Thomas et al., 2004).
    For some impacts, qualitative rankings of magnitude are more
    appropriate than quantitative ones. Qualitative methods have
    been applied to reflect social preferences related to the potential
    loss of cultural or national identity, loss of cultural heritage sites,
    and loss of biodiversity (Schneider et al., 2000).

  • Steve Koch

    Discocene = greatness, imo.  That was the era when sharkskin was not limited to sharks.

  • Steve Koch

    Lazar (30):
    ¬
    That cut and paste from the IPCC is so long and so boring and of so little value that it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment for the reader. Beyond that, quoting the IPCC is not particularly persuasive because it is a UN and governments (of the world’s nations) dominated organization dedicated to finding global warming headed by a guy who is a joke. ¬†The IPCC has not much credibility, particularly when it comes to things like glaciers melting or sea levels rising.
    ¬
    The big picture that people like Judy Curry or Keith Kloor are talking about is for all of us to open our minds to the arguments of the other side.  Makes sense to me.
    ¬
    It is clear that global warming seems to have¬†plateaued over the last 12 years for surface temps and since 2003/2004 for ocean heat content. ¬†This doesn’t mean that the long term trend will stay flat, just that it has been flat for several years now.
    ¬
    It is also clear that the direct impact of rising CO2 is quite small. ¬†At current rates, it will take around two centuries for the direct impact of rising CO2 to increase temps by about 1 degree C (i.e. current CO2 levels are about 390 ppm and CO2 level is going up 2 ppm per year). That works out to an average of about 1/200 of a degree C temp rise per year. ¬†That is tiny. ¬†You don’t wreck your economy for such a tiny temperature change, especially when surface temps and oceans heat content have not been going up for several years.
    ¬
    In my lifetime the number cause of recessions has been increases in energy prices. ¬†The current recession was first triggered by a massive energy cost spike the summer before the 2008 election. Raising energy costs in the middle of a recession is economically insane and political suicide. ¬†Politicians don’t need a climatologist to know which way the wind is blowing.
    ¬
    The key questions are how thoroughly does climate science understand how the climate works, especially the feedbacks to warming. ¬†The obvious answer is that the earth’s climate is incredibly complex and only partially understood (including the feedbacks). ¬†What is particularly interesting to me right now is how clouds (particularly cirrus clouds) affect the feedbacks and potential tipping points.
    ¬
    The person claiming the science is settled most likely either does not understand the complexity of the earth’s climate or is just trying to avoid detailed discussion.
    ¬
     

  • http://letsget.small.org PDA

    It is clear that global warming seems to have plateaued over the last 12 years for surface temps and since 2003/2004 for ocean heat content.

    Is it? Is it “clear?” What sources do you have for these assertions?

    It is also clear that the direct impact of rising CO2 is quite small.  At current rates, it will take around two centuries for the direct impact of rising CO2 to increase temps by about 1 degree C (i.e. current CO2 levels are about 390 ppm and CO2 level is going up 2 ppm per year). That works out to an average of about 1/200 of a degree C temp rise per year.  That is tiny.

    Is it? Is it “clear?” This is the problem with doing back-of-the-envelope math when you’re making assertions about climate. You can’t just project current trends forward, as if CO2 and temperature are always proportionate. Solar minima and volcanic cooling played a role in limiting warming in this century, and feedbacks like reduced CO2 solubility in the oceans and lower albedo at the poles will play a role in the future.

    You are absolutely right that feedbacks from clouds are difficult to model and therefore poorly understood. Of course, this cuts both ways.

    You don’t wreck your economy for such a tiny temperature change

    The question of whether doing anything, anything at all about GHG emissions will “wreck the economy” is always begged by so-called skeptics. Do you know this will happen? If so, how?

    The current recession was first triggered by a massive energy cost spike the summer before the 2008 election.


    Another unsupported assertion. The IMF – which one would imagine knows a bit more about global economics than a random web commenter – clearly points to the subprime crisis and the collapse of Lehman as causes.

    Neither side can simply cherry-pick facts that seem to support its argument and hope to improve understanding.

  • Lazar

    “That cut and paste from the IPCC is so long and so boring”
    ¬
    Your attention span is not my problem.
    ¬
    “quoting the IPCC is not particularly persuasive”
    ¬
    It was not quoted in order to persuade.
    ¬
    “because it is a UN and governments (of the world’s nations) dominated organization



    [...]



    The big picture that people like Judy Curry or Keith Kloor are talking about is for all of us to open our minds to the arguments of the other side.”

    ¬
    … contradiction much?
    ¬
    Rest binned unread.

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    http://xkcd.com/793/
    ¬
    nuff said

  • Steven Sullivan

    Steven Koch:
    “That cut and paste from the IPCC is so long and so boring and of so little value that it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment for the reader. Beyond that, quoting the IPCC is not particularly persuasive because it is a UN and governments (of the world’s nations) dominated organization dedicated to finding global warming headed by a guy who is a joke. ¬†The IPCC has not much credibility, particularly when it comes to things like glaciers melting or sea levels rising.”
    ¬
    The joke is on you — or may¬† in fact *be* you –¬† if you think the tiny number of mistakes , found in the last IPCC report, which ran to thousands of pages, blown up in the denialsphere and a hysterical press, actually minimized its credibility.¬†¬† You might want to read the recent IAC review of the IPCC, the see a fair assessment of its work so far.¬†¬† I’ll warn you it’s not short, finds much to admire about the IPCC along with room for improvement, and contains words with multiple syllables, so you might find it ‘boring’.
    ¬
    Shub Niggurath:
    Laughlin’s article isn’t bullshit.¬† It’s just silly.
    Yes, climate has changed radically across geologic timescales. Whole phyla have gone extinct across geologic timescales too.¬†¬† Humankind, or natural disaster, could wipe out 99.9% of all species, including man, and there’s a good chance biodiversity would recover in some millins of¬† years.¬†¬† Though in any case eventually the planet will be destroyed in the natural course of astronomical events.
    So what?¬† No one denies any of that. And nobody lives their life on geological timescales.¬† When we write of actions that will affect the earth of our grandchildren and their grandchildren , we’re talking about decades, hundreds, maybe a thousand.¬† Human civilization’s only been around for maybe ten thousand.¬† That’s nothing on a geologic timescale –¬† and heck, that’s less than nothing on¬† *cosmological* timescales.
    ¬
    We quite sensibly focus on climate changes taking place in human timescales, especially the ones we can and have influenced.
    ¬
    ¬
    ¬
    ¬
    ¬
    ¬
    ¬
    ¬
    ¬
    ¬
    ¬
    ¬
    ¬
     

  • paulina

    I grew impatient and googled a bit.
    Here are a few comments by Laughlin that pertain to my question above. (The comments focus on coal, though, ie, not all fossil fuels.)
    ¬
    http://burycoal.com/blog/2010/07/21/climate-correspondence-robert-laughlin/
    ¬
    I’m not going to excerpt the relevant parts since Laughlin asked the BuryCoal blogger not to “edit” w/o permission. But Laughlin’s comments there raise additional questions. Hopefully Laughlin will come clarify stuff himself.
    If anyone has additional links to comments or texts by Laughlin on his reasoning re the inevitability (or not) of exhausting fossil fuel supplies, and how such reasoning fits (or not) in the “climate rhetoric wars,” I’d be grateful if you share these.
    Thanks.
    Gratuitous second link: http://bit.ly/patience- (url includes the hyphen at the end)

  • dbleader61

    Hi Keith Рenjoying your blog Рwas put onto it a couple days ago via some references to Judith Curry commenting here over at WUWT. 

     Michael Tobis @ 5. Рmade my day Рthanks.

    Marlowe Johnson @6 – Never have bought the idea that throwing in anthropogenic CO2 proves AGW because it then¬†causes the models to “predict” ¬†the recent warming.¬† Why not throw in the rising price of a U.S. postage stamp?¬† First came about in the 1850′s as well.¬†¬†The cause of the current warming¬†could be anything – including¬†unknown natural factors.¬† ¬†

    The study of the past climate change doesn’t prove that anthropogenic CO2 isnt ¬†the cause of the current warming, but it does show that warming can occur without it and therefore eliminates anthropogenic CO2¬† as the only possibility.¬†

  • dbleader61

    Oops sorry, that should have been thanks to¬†Michael Tobis @35….

  • dbleader61

    And of course that should have also been Marlowe Johnson @26

  • Marlowe Johnson

    #38
    ¬
    You’re right, I’m making this up as I go along.¬† We don’t know anything about the earth’s climate or our influence on it.¬† Sorry about that.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    p.s. db i just came back from a talk with Jim Hansen at UofT in Toronto.¬† If you’re in the area could you let him know he’s full of $h!t?

  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub Niggurath

    Marlowe
    Ok, Laughlin is talking about dipping in and out of ice ages – temperature changes vastly different by orders of magnitude occurring over much longer time periods – to tell us, all of us including those that want to use the climate for a certain purpose – that the climate changes greatly without human influence. And you are countering that by quoting the IPCC’s graph which shows temperature change over 157 years?
    ¬
    You are proving Laughlin’s point rather.
    The point was, can Laughlin say the kind of things he said, without being considered as misleading his audience? Or being wrong? Yes, he can. Your IPCC graph contains a minuscule period with a tiny amount of global change – not insignificant for us humans – but definitely so, compared to what goes at geologic scales. It cannot be used to counter his point.
    ¬
    Moreover, the page has the same joke graph about accelerating temperature change. Just eyeball it – you can make out they are fibbing. :)
    ¬
    PDA:
    The “policy-relevant timescale” quote comes from me. It put it in quotes to stress the fact that that is all we care about, and the change that occurs during timescales are very low compared to what Laughlin is talking about. People who care only about anthropogenic climate change, have a problem with what the article is saying, because the anthropogenic attributed changes (if we are to believe them) get buried if we take a step back and realize how minuscule these changes are.
    ¬
    So fine, let us be bothered about what affects us. But let us not say that that should bother the earth as well.
    ¬
    Much against Laughlin’s wishes, I am going to cherry-pick him, to support my view.
    ¬
    “The chapter is simply there to establish that the time scale of the carbon crisis is very short compared, say, to the age of the earth,”
    ¬
    Unfortunately Laughlin believes in not participating the “climate rhetoric wars”, although he’s contributing to it. If that is true, he is going to miss interacting with brilliant minds like ours :) ,
    ¬
    And I agree with Steve Koch – why quote the IPCC, at length, without setting out your interpretation? If the quoted passage is not suitable for the purpose at hand – which certainly is, as the IPCC reports focus on human contribution, it just amounts to vast chunks of text completely useless to counter Laughlin’s point. He is taking a different approach to the “energy issue” – working backwards starting from the geologic timescale and then reducing it, and mixing in human behaviour and economics with it.
    ¬
    Steven Sullivan
    I agree with your first para.

  • Lazar

    Shub,
    ¬
    “why quote the IPCC, at length, without setting out your interpretation? [...] it just amounts to vast chunks of text completely useless to counter Laughlin’s point”
    ¬
    I guess you and Steve didn’t read the first and second sentences in my comment that immediately precede the IPCC quote?…
    ¬
    “PDA is correct,

    “Laughlin’s piece is based on a faulty premise: namely that “¬Ě damaging the earth is precisely what’s concerning a lot of responsible people at the moment.”¬Ě”¬Ě”

  • Lazar

    … now go and reread the IPCC quote to see what people are actually concerned about.

  • http://letsget.small.org PDA

    Never have bought the idea that throwing in anthropogenic CO2 proves AGW because it then¬†causes the models to “predict”¬Ě ¬†the recent warming.

    Jeebus crikey, it’s a faulty-premise festival around here. Anthopogenic CO2, and other greenhouse gases are implicated in warming because those gases absorb thermal radiation and reradiate it down to the surface. That’s a principle of physics, not a theory. The effect has been measured, not merely modeled The uncertainty lies in predicting the future effect, not whether it is happening now.

    I have said, and will continue to say, that this idea of “citizen scientists” doing publication review and critiquing the state of the science could be of great potential benefit. But you have to know what the hell you’re talking about first.

  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub Niggurath

    Lazar
    You guessed wrong. It is italicized, and it doesn’t make sense in the flow of the argument. You want to trash Laughlin argument – I can understand that, nothing beyond.

    You are trying to say that being concerned about the many things (that can happen because of CO2), mentioned in the IPCC paragraph, is legit, right?

    If it is so, then say it. That’ll make life easier for everyone. Just copy-pasting an IPCC report passage and implying that because the big boffins say so, there must be some weight to that perspective, is meaningless. We can listen to Hansen or Schneider, but we dont read their IPCC reports to decide what ought to concern humanity – they have to stand in line for that. That was Koch’s point too, I think.

    Yes, people are concerned about several aspects (pointed out in the paragraph). These concerns are valid, within the framework they reside in.  Laughlin is attacking the very idea of being concerned and worried about the climate, from the *outside*. We cannot wave our IPCC flag at his face to counter him Рhe is standing outside that reach.

  • http://letsget.small.org PDA

    Laughlin is attacking the very idea of being concerned and worried about the climate, from the *outside*


    I can do no better than quote Steven Sullivan’s response to you above: “”¬¶nobody lives their life on geological timescales.¬† When we write of actions that will affect the earth of our grandchildren and their grandchildren , we’re talking about decades, hundreds, maybe a thousand… We quite sensibly focus on climate changes taking place in human timescales, especially the ones we can and have influenced.”

  • Lazar

    Shub,
    ¬
    “You are trying to say that being concerned about the many things (that can happen because of CO2), mentioned in the IPCC paragraph,¬†is legit, right?”

    ¬
    Wrong. Try again…
    ¬
    Laughlin claims that a major concern, of people worried about global warming, is that the earth, a ball of mud which has existed for many billions of years and will probably exist for many millions more regardless of any climate change, will be damaged by global warming. Silly alarmists, lolz! He then proceeds spending the rest of the essay taking apart that alleged concern.
    ¬
    I claim that if you look at the single most cited piece of work, the bedrock of ‘alarmist’ claims, the main target of denialists, the IP’friggin’CC report, the stated concerns about damage have nothing to do with ‘damage to the earth’ and everything to do with primarily impacts to human welfare and secondarily to plant and animal life…


    “Various aggregate metrics are used to describe the magnitude of climate impacts. The most widely used quantitative measures
    for climate impacts (see Chapter 20 and WGIII AR4 Chapter 3
    (Fisher et al., 2007)) are monetary units such as welfare, income
    or revenue losses (e.g., Nordhaus and Boyer, 2000), costs of anticipating and adapting to certain biophysical impacts such as
    a large sea-level rise (e.g., Nicholls et al., 2005), and estimates
    of people’s willingness to pay to avoid (or accept as
    compensation for) certain climate impacts (see, e.g., Li et al.,
    2004). Another aggregate, non-monetary indicator is the number
    of people affected by certain impacts such as food and water
    shortages, morbidity and mortality from diseases, and forced
    migration (Barnett, 2003; Arnell, 2004; Parry et al., 2004; van
    Lieshout et al., 2004; Schär and Jendritzky, 2004; Stott et al.,
    2004). Climate impacts are also quantified in terms of the
    biophysical end-points, such as agricultural yield changes (see
    Chapter 5; F√ɬľssel et al., 2003; Parry et al., 2004) and species
    extinction numbers or rates (see Chapter 4; Thomas et al., 2004).
    For some impacts, qualitative rankings of magnitude are more
    appropriate than quantitative ones. Qualitative methods have
    been applied to reflect social preferences related to the potential
    loss of cultural or national identity, loss of cultural heritage sites, and loss of biodiversity (Schneider et al., 2000).

    ¬
    Get it? Laughlin’s erecting a straw man about ‘what people are concerned about’. This has nothing to do with whether those conerns are justified or not. Capisce?

  • Lazar

    I’m not sure what it is about…
    ¬
    “Laughlin’s piece is based on a faulty premise: namely that “¬Ě damaging the earth is precisely what’s concerning a lot of responsible people at the moment.”¬Ě”

    … that is so hard to understand?

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    I’d rather vote for the return of the disco scene.

  • harrywr2

    paulina Says:
    September 15th, 2010 at 10:55 am
    “Is it axiomatic that all conventional and unconventional fossil fuels will end up “in the air,”¬Ě with none left to burn?
    No matter how we act?¬† No matter how we choose to deploy non-fossil technology?”
    No, we only burn fossil fuels because they are relatively cheap.
    Humanity has a fairly good track record of acting selfishly. When the cost of extracting fossil fuels exceeds the cost of alternatives humanity will switch.
    In the year 2000 the price of coal in China was around $25/ton and the Chinese proceeded to build more coal fired electricity plants in 10 years then the US has built in 60 years.
    This year the price of coal in China  exceeded $100/ton and the Chinese have announced that they will build almost as many nuclear plants in the next 10 years as the US built in the last 50 years.
    ¬
    ¬
    ¬
    ¬
    ¬
    ¬
    ¬
    ¬
    ¬
    ¬
     

  • paulina

    Thanks for your response harrywr2.
    I am also interested in hearing from Laughlin, since he appears to assume and also not assume that we will burn all the fossil fuels. It would seem the burden is on the person who literally claims that we will, even if they also claim we may not.
    I’m interested in what he thinks about how making (and not) such assumptions (or, possibly, drawing such conclusions) relates to what he refers to as the “climate rhetoric wars,” of which he wants no part.
    ¬
     

  • paulina

    Apropos the discocene and more:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8VGQTtENSs

  • dbleader61

    To Marlowe Johnson @ 42.

    If directed to me, thanks, but I am on the other end of Canada.¬† As you have astutely picked up I am a climate contrarian, but my approach with Mr Hansen¬†may not be as you would predict.¬† I would actually enjoy hearing him speak even though I disagree with him. I don’t ever think that people, even the imitiable Mr. Hansen, are generally full of s***.¬†¬† They truly believe what they believe as I do.¬† And yes, there is science supporting both our “beliefs” – consensus be damned.¬†

    The forum that Mr. Hansen spoke at would have been immeasurably enhanced if someone would have called up Torontonian Steve McIntyre to put another perspective on the table.   Had he spoken, I would have hoped he be given the same deference as I would have given Mr. Hansen and you would not have considered him to be full of s***. 

  • Marlowe Johnson

    actually on that last bit I agree.¬† I would have loved to have seen Stevie Mac at the talk with Hansen.¬† But FWIW I suspect you’d be surprised at how much they would agree on.¬† Or at the very least that Steve would voice no opinion, since most of Hansen’s talk was on how evidence from the long-term paleo record constrains climate sensitivity.¬†¬†¬† As you may or may not know, this is something that Steve avoids talking about too much…can’t for the life of me think why though since it goes to the heart of the matter….

  • dbleader61

    To PDA @ 46. 

    Yep, you’ve pegged the science about CO2 and greenhouse gases, all determined sometime ago by Arrhenius and others.¬† Thanks for the reminder of the current consensus that increased CO2 and other greenhouse gases will have to cause warming.¬†¬†

    Silly scientists like Roy Spencer (and others),   question the extrapolation of the known effects of CO2 in simple models.   While the greenhouse effects of CO2 are known, how CO2 works in the atomosphere is indeed STILL THEORETICAL.   (Check out his 2nd post on his blog today Рtalks about this very thing) 

  • laursaurus

    Maybe someone else has already identified what has become a common fallacy in these AGW discussion. The “appeal to our grandchildren” is becoming extremely tiresome. The accelerated accrual of debt is the serious hardship our descendants will be faced to endure. ¬†A warmer climate might lessen the high energy costs required to heat their homes.

  • http://www.hopkinson.net SimonH

    Marlowe, #56: McIntyre very specifically doesn’t speak outside his field of expertise in a way that might be perceived as authoritative. He doesn’t, all said, “like the sound of his own voice”, so to speak. In my opinion, this is in stark contrast to Hansen or Mann, who love the adulation and thoroughly enjoy their platforms (maybe past tense in Mann’s case, I’m not sure). But where McIntyre finds errors and/or manipulations, he exposes them, and when he sees inappropriate behaviour he relays it. He’s apolitical with regard to his interest in climate science, in stark contrast to Hansen, and so there is probably little that Hansen would enjoy discussing that would interest McIntyre.
    ¬
    I find McIntyre’s approach – specifically his disinterest in policy and his focus exclusively on the integrity and quality of the science – his most endearing quality. Sure, he gets sarcastic occasionally, or even frequently, about those still defending the hockey stick and those with a history of attempts to belittle him and thwart his attempts to gain access to data, but given the history he remains infinitely more composed than I would in his position.

  • Steven Sullivan

    Hilarious, laurasaur. I *love* this bit of rhetorical jujitsu from your tribe.¬† It goes something like:¬† “Rapid global warming, a danger to our grandchildren?¬† Hah, what a tiresome liberal fallacy!¬† After all, we as a species have¬† lived through much worse global climate change before (OK, on a different timescale, but whatever) and hey, it might even be GOOD for us this time, because after all it, means the temperatures will go up everywhere, and that means less heating costs, right?¬†¬† Effects on the rest of the ecology?¬† Ah well, those loser species that can’t adapt as fast as modern H. sapiens¬† deserve what they get.¬† We won’t miss ‘em.¬† Let only the fittest¬† — or the ones we choose to save — survive our little global experiment in rapid niche rearrangement.”

    “And ok, by the same token economic crashes may be *another* thing that humans have recovered from before through luck and pluck (and a world war and FDR’s socialism), but goshdarnit THIS one requires immediate action — and that action is to start tamping down debt *right now*.¬†¬† Top priority. ¬† I didn’t think so a few years ago when there was white Republican in the White House, but now I sure do.¬† It’s the most important thing.¬† Even though we’re in the worst recession since the 1930s, and poverty’s at a 15yr high, and employment’s stuck around 10%, we’ve gotta say NO to government spending.¬† Starting right now.¬† For our children’s children’s sake.”
    ¬
    ¬
    come to our attention debt is now (though not so much a few years ago) *so* theatening to our grandchildren that we must make debt reduction top priority, even in the midst of a history-making recession  (and even though humans have survived radical economic change before, much more recently than global climate change in fact).
    ¬
    ¬
    ¬
    ¬
    Stipulating that *we* can probably ‘adapt’:¬† the question is¬† *what kind of world will it be*?
    Do you think the rest of the biosphere can ‘adapt’ right along with us?¬† Do you¬† think evolution will work its biodiversity wonders on human timescales?¬† Or might we have to step in and start ‘archiving’ species, in the hope that we could revive them later when we get better at geoengineering?
     

  • Steven Sullivan

    Oops, two versions got elided in one there.¬† Keith, feel free to wipe everything after ‘For our children’s children’s sake’.

  • Lazar

    Claim in Loughlin’s essay…
    ¬
    “weather patterns are dominated by large multi-year events in the oceans, such as the El Ni√ɬĪo Southern Oscillation and the North Pacific Gyre Oscillation, which have nothing to do with climate change. In order to test the predictions, you’d have to separate these big effects from subtle, inexorable [climate] changes on scales of centuries, and nobody knows how to do that yet.”
    ¬
    The literature is full of papers doing that, using physical understanding of processes, model factorials, and statistics.
    ¬
    Three examples using different methodology…
    ¬
    Zorita, E., T. F. Stocker, and H. von Storch (2008), How unusual is the recent series of warm years, Geophysical Research Letters, 35(24), 24706, doi:10.1029/2008GL036228.

    Lean, J. L., and D. H. Rind (2008), How natural and anthropogenic influences alter global and regional surface temperatures: 1889 to 2006, Geophysical Research Letters, 35(18), L18701, doi:10.1029/2008GL034864.

    Marshall, G. J., P. A. Stott, J. Turner, W. M. Connolley, J. C. King, and T. A. Lachlan-Cope (2004), Causes of exceptional atmospheric circulation changes in the Southern Hemisphere, Geophysical Research Letters, 31(14), L14205, doi:10.1029/2004GL019952.

  • http://letsget.small.org PDA

    ¬
    While the greenhouse effects of CO2 are known, how CO2 works in the atomosphere is indeed STILL THEORETICAL.
    I’m sure I said something like “The uncertainty lies in predicting the future effect, not whether it is happening now.” Oh yes. I did.

    I was responding to someone who suggested it was confusing correlation with causation: “Why not throw in the rising price of a U.S. postage stamp?” And it’s more than correlative.

  • Lazar

    Mind you there is interesting stuff!…
    ¬
    “Radiometric dating has to be used cautiously, however, because it’s notoriously easy to do it wrong. The argon levels can be artificially high, for example, because of atmospheric contamination in air pockets and grain boundaries in the rock, or they can be artificially low because the rock got overheated sometime after it formed, or because the rock re-crystallized or acquired inclusions of younger rock through geologic processes underground.”
    ¬
    Guy seems to know his geology. But the whole thesis insisting on thinking in timescales of millions of years when considering climate change that occurs over tens to hundreds of years is bizarre. Perhaps Loughlin is the one who needs to shift perspective?

  • Lazar

    Keith… this may be a controversial suggestion… how about, instead of picking an essay for being provocative, pick one for being accurate, rigorous, and written by a climate scientist? The whole courtroom / debating society thing really doesn’t work for discussing or communicating science.

  • Lazar

    laursaurus,
    ¬
    “The accelerated accrual of debt is the serious hardship our descendants will be faced to endure.”
    ¬
    If you look over geologic time, the earth has not been damaged at all by debt.

  • kdk33

    Yea Keith,

    What were you thinking publishing an essay by a nobel laureate.  In physics, no less.  Seriously, could a guy of such dubious distinction have a prayer at grasping climate science.  I mean, come on. 

    Stick to the narrative.¬† Give us something by somebody smart.¬† How ’bout¬†a scientist…¬† oh wait.

  • Lazar

    kdk33,
    ¬
    “What were you thinking publishing an essay by a nobel laureate.”
    ¬
    You seem confused. Having a nobel doesn’t make one smart in another field, nor as smart or smarter than those people working in another field, nor does it make the arguments any more accurate or rigorous. See, the original request was…
    ¬
    “How about, instead of picking an essay for being provocative, pick one for being accurate, rigorous, and written by a climate scientist?”

  • http://letsget.small.org PDA
  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub Niggurath

    Dear LAzar
    You forgot about one thing. It is one thing to try to make someone understand what you meant (by your copy-pasting). It is quite the other thing, for that to be convincing.
    ¬
    Your IP friggin’ CC paragraph actually represents the ‘junk science’ part of the friggin whole thing. :) . So while I do give you thanks for trying to explain to me what it meant, I realize now why I did not get your point the first time around-because it was junk.
    ¬
    We cannot see much global change in the purest of climate indicators – the instrumental proxies.¬† And you have set out to argue against that by pointing out that “no we study these other things that actually matter to us, like disease, and our bank balances to find the influence of the climate on them”?
    ¬
    If WGII level changes, or “impacts” were to occur, we would see clear signals in our instrumental measurements, wouldn’t we? Since this change is small, the impacts it produces will be correspondingly small. Thus, while you take correct aim at the supposed Laughlin strawman, your KO punches are pretty weak.
    ¬
    In other words, while you place great credibility on the fishing expedition journal logs of the climate community (a.k.a the WGII report), – as in, “we wanted to learn about impacts, so we sat in the WGII boat and put out our rods and waited for 7 years – we’ve caught a few anemic piranha and a quite a few old soggy boots, so it is quite bad out there” – the simple fact that you went looking for something and that not turned up – significant climate impacts, which are anthropogenic – only invalidates your concern idea.
    ¬
    Moreover, Laughlin already says “go ahead, presume that climate change is much and dangerous, if that makes you feel safe and take steps” – he does not deny the precaution thing. So he is on your side.

  • Lazar

    Shub,
    ¬
    “We cannot see much global change in the purest of climate indicators “‚Äú the instrumental proxies. And you have set out to argue against that by pointing out that “no we study these other things that actually matter to us, like disease, and our bank balances to find the influence of the climate on them”¬Ě?”
    ¬
    Keep digging yourself deeper Shub, and keep on lying. Rest of your drivel binned unread.

  • Lazar

    anyone can check to see that I am arguing against
    ¬
    “damaging the earth is precisely what’s concerning a lot of responsible people at the moment.”¬Ě
    ¬
    ¬
    More explicitly…

    “Laughlin claims that a major concern, of people worried about global warming, is that the earth, a ball of mud which has existed for many billions of years and will probably exist for many millions more regardless of any climate change, will be damaged by global warming.”
    ¬
    … by showing that the ‘damage’ people are worrying about is not ‘to the earth’ but to people and other life…
    ¬
    Anyone can see that the following description of my objectives and ‘what I am arguing against’ is a lie…

    ¬
    “We cannot see much global change in the purest of climate indicators “‚Äú the instrumental proxies. And you have set out to argue against that
    ¬
    Laughlin makes the same claim about ‘not seeing’ global change in the insturmental records, I respond that in fact scientists can and do and have done so.
    ¬
    Anyone can see that the following description of my response is a lie…

    “you have set out to argue against that by pointing out that “no we study these other things that actually matter to us, like disease, and our bank balances to find the influence of the climate on them”¬Ě?”¬Ě
    ¬
    Anyone can follow the links and see that you are lying. Why do you think that such behaviour is productive?

  • Lazar

    A review by Josef K of Laughlin’s book “The Crime of Reason: And the Closing of the Scientific Mind”;
    ¬
    “This is a strange book. Unlike some previous reviewers, I think the subject is extremely important and deep. Laughlin, a Nobel Prize winning physicist, utilizes an unforgiving sort of analytical reasoning that is often hard to follow. His logic is stated so directly, and with so little elaboration, that the ideas end up being ambiguous. He suggests thoughts and conclusions, but often fails to elaborate enough to make them clear.

    Ultimately, I think the book ends up giving the subject short shrift. This is a musing book, and, probably to the author’s horror, I would suggest that it is a little bit intellectually lazy. There is a sort of arm-chair philosopher’s self satisfaction in the reasoning which does the reader little good and the author little credit. The sections of the book about hard sciences and technology are the most interesting and convincing, while the ones about society and economics are the least.”

  • http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com Bart Verheggen

    Shub,

    The only thing I’m advocating is to not bend science around. I gave arguments as to why I think the first piece gives a misleading impression, which goes against my idea of critically and truthfully assessing the science.
    That your idea is different is your perogative, but don’t try and paint me as advocating something that I’m not.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    To add a backstory to SimonH’s comment #59, we could read¬†Steve blogging about the geological perspective a while ago. ¬†For example:
    ¬
    >¬†This a sequel to a¬†The class of scientist who tend to be most unimpressed with IPCC-type climate science are geologists “‚Äú which is where I got started in this. If you took an Oreskes-type survey among geologists, I don’t believe for a minute that you would get anything like IPCC solidarity. Unlike most scientists, geologists also happen to know a lot about climate history.

    Source: http://climateaudit.org/2005/05/22/climate-geological-views-1/
    ¬
    (The second part is a tiny bit more substantial.)
    ¬
    One could easily agree that Steve “does not like the sound of his own voice” on matter in which the authority of others naturally prevail. ¬†One should also easily agree that editorial choices are being made in the relays and expositions. ¬†How could one dare to openly discuss interests and desinterests anyway?

  • Lazar

    “Shub [...] don’t try and paint me as advocating something that I’m not.”
    ¬
    … another one stung by the liar… what was it this time?… misrepresenting intention and claiming to be able to mind read

  • http://www.hopkinson.net SimonH

    willard, I doubt that having spent most of his working life amid geologists, in his role as a minerals mining executive, that McIntyre is anything less than sufficiently qualified to posture his feeling regarding geologists’ likely response to an Oreskes-style questionnaire. Nor do I think that it is reasonable to assert that McIntyre’s views, as he presents them, and given his specific professional knowledge, are mere editorialising and nothing more substantive than that.
    ¬
    But, in case we were under any illusion about McIntyre talking on a subject about which he is insufficiently versed, McIntyre himself (in part 2 of the piece from which you quote) ensures that the message is plain: “I’m not trying to make any magisterial pronouncements here; I’m just trying to draw attention to an interesting long record of climate change.”


    So.. no. Even once we’ve filtered out the confusing snark, I don’t think you’ve pulled that one off. Sorry, willard.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    SimonH,
    ¬
    ¬
    My own impression is that Steve distinguishes very well where he speaks from his own authority and when he appeals to others’. ¬†And this is very well exemplified by¬†the very exact sentence you quoted when I made my comment. ¬†So I fail to to see exactly what is the point of contention here.
    ¬
    Perhaps this impression might be caused by the fact that making editorial choices is not editorializing. ¬†“Trying to draw attention” to such and such, as you underline, is an editorial choice. ¬†“Posturing his feelings” is editorializing, however competently these feelings are expressed and justified.
    ¬
    ¬
    ¬
    ¬
    ¬
    Steve owns a blog, so he makes editorial choices and editorializes.  Outlining his editorial choices and his editorializing does not cast his work on a bad light.   The only question of interest here is why we dare to portray his work as desinterested, apolitical, expository, and really a mere information-relaying mechanism.
    ¬
    The quote that I used is even relevant to this thread.  Dare we say that coatracking Hansen and Mann here is not?
     

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    ¬
    [Second try, to comply with Google Chrome's idiosynchrasies and  to lift that one up with less obscure snark:]
     

    SimonH,
    My own impression is that Steve distinguishes very well where he speaks from his own authority and when he appeals to others’. ¬†And this is very well exemplified by the very exact sentence you quoted, which I had in mind when I made my comment. ¬†So I fail to to see exactly what is the point of contention here.
    Perhaps this misunderstanding is caused by the fact that making editorial choices is not editorializing. ¬†“¬ĚTrying to draw attention”¬Ě to such and such, as you underline, is an editorial choice. ¬†“¬ĚPosturing his feelings”¬Ě, as you say later, is editorializing, however competently these feelings are expressed and justified.
    In any case, Steve owns a blog, and so he does make editorial choices, and so does editorialize. ¬†Outlining his editorial choices and his editorializing does not cast his work on a bad light. ¬† What it does, however, is to cast doubt on the common portraying of Steve’s blog as a desinterested, apolitical, expository, and a mere information-relaying voice. ¬†This is, to put it bluntly, a myth. ¬†And the “Steve uses elegant snark” excuse is the usual cover-up for that myth.
    The quote that I used is even relevant to this thread.  Dare we hypothesize that coatracking Hansen and Mann here is not?

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Andy Revkin weighs in on the Laughlin essay at Dot Earth and some good discussion of it in that comment thread.

  • http://www.hopkinson.net SimonH

    willard, I referenced Hansen in response to Marlowe’s reference of Hansen, so it’s contextual and not coatracking.
    ¬
    Perhaps I misread you, willard, and/or perhaps I failed to communicate my meaning. I don’t believe that McIntyre is the kind of person who speaks outside his depth. In the Gruan debate, when challenged, he answered quite frankly that he didn’t know the answer to a question asked of him which was outside of his particular field of focus. I don’t think McIntyre’s climate science interest extends as far as policy, nor politics. He is vocal in his opposition to Cuccinelli’s fishing trip, describes himself as being, more than any other, aligned politically as a Clinton Democrat and did not at all say soothing things to the Heartland audience (nor was apologetic for failing to deliver the political sound-bites they craved). McIntyre is McIntyre, no more or less than that.

  • paulina

    I like the “X is X, no more or less than that.”
    Reminds me of Laughlin’s “either we will burn all the fossil fuels, or we won’t.”
    So there’s common ground on tautologies; I guess that’s good.

  • Pingback: Scientists React to a Nobelist's Climate Thoughts - NYTimes.com

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    In a follow up post at Dot Earth, a bunch of notables respond to Laughlin’s essay. Very insightful. Well worth the read.

  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub Niggurath

    KK, you have to give me a bit of a pass. I wont stick to this…:)
    ¬
    This guy Lazar, thinks he can call people names simply because his claims are questioned.  As soon as someone does that, he  becomes upset and rushes to shoot off his replies, without bothering to read and digest what has been written Рas he admits freely.
    ¬
    I understood your point, about scientists not being concerned the ball of mud per se, but the people living on it. But I pointed that this concern that climate scientists have, is valid, only if the change is significant enough. You might have to read and understand my whole comment to get that point though. I am not ‘lying’, you read and understood wrongly.
    ¬
    Whether a given change is significant or meaningful enough, is obtained by judging what is happening to the ball of mud – not by just swallowing whatever sense or nonsense the IPCC may spout. One way of judging would be the ‘IPCC way’ – by being alarmist, precautionary, usurious in outlook. This way would attach great significance to a given degree of change – as the IPCC has done now. The other way, the other perspective would be where a Laughlin like way of thinking would take us. The change that you provide links to and shows your graphs for, is very tiny in that perspective. Yes, the scientists have measured it. But, it is tiny.
    ¬
    It is very tiny even in an everyday perspective – humans have survived and flourished inside the bounds of your precious IPCC graph, with no effort. That means, the change is insignificant. And this is in terms of the very people you are attempting to show concern for.
    ¬
    You can beat your drums of alarm – it doesn’t matter – what matters is only lots of change, or rapid change. Lots of change will happen only in geologic timescales. Rapid change? I guess the Toronto guy is standing in the way of that. You want lots of change in short time periods via “tipping points”? Go ahead and play with your computer models, I wont grudge you that.
    ¬
    Bart,
    Your exhortation to “not bend science” is dependant on your perspective. That perspective is being challenged by Laughlin. You cannot ask him not to “bend science”.

  • Lazar

    Shub,
    ¬
    “I understood your point”
    ¬
    I know.
    ¬
    “I pointed that [...]”
    ¬
    Ah, but that wasn’t all you did, was it?

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Shub,
    ¬
    You truly are a master of bafflegab.¬† I’m impressed.

  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub Niggurath

    Lazar, You say that climate scientists are worried about the effects of on people and lives. But those effects are mediated by changes occurring in the ball of mud. On occasion, they are the very changes of the ball.
    ¬
    [1]So “damaging the earth” and “upsetting the earth systems” *is* what is concerning, for many people – contrary to what you say – your ‘strawman’ strawman.
    [2]Why they are concerned, is for the supposed ill-effects such change will have , on humans – which can be supported by the IPCC para you reproduced.
    ¬
    There is already an element of circularity to all this – and if you trace steps back, it begins with your pasting of the IPCC report and assuming that everyone got your point. Another added assumption on your part seems to be that everyone is in agreement with your strawman analysis.

  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub Niggurath

    Marlowe
    You have said nothing to counter my point. Which, to begin with was – “are other perspectives, such as Laughlin’s valid in the climate game?”. You, Tobis and Lazar have all played the same game – snicker and giggle like teenagers , wrapped inside your own assumptions. Tim Lambert called the “entire article” “stupidly wrong”.
    I can adopt your perspectives, since I’ve learnt how climate change activists think about the climate, and understand why Laughlin’s article can seem totally funny and stupid. You cannot come up with a small paragraph saying why Laughlin is wrong?

  • Lazar

    Shub,
    ¬
    “You say that climate scientists are worried about the effects of on people and lives. But those effects are mediated”

    There’s no “but”. That the effects are mediated by something does not change the fact that scientists, governments, publics are concerned about the effects on “people and lives”.
    ¬
    “But those effects are mediated by changes occurring in the ball of mud [...] So “damaging the earth”¬Ě”
    ¬
    Did you think that no-one would notice you swap out “changes occuring” with “damaging”?
    ¬
    “Why they are concerned, is for the supposed ill-effects such change will have , on humans”
    ¬
    The “why” is the “what” they are concerned about. Enough rhetorical tricks. Rest binned.
     

  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub Niggurath

    The “why” and the “what” are not as easily separated as you are making it out to be. That is my point, and that has been my point. Unfortunately, you have gotten stuck in a strange limbo where if I talk about one thing and try to reach the other, it sounds like a “lie” to you.
    ¬
    If climate scientists have obsessed about the physical climate system-as they have, over the last 30 years or so, – which is what I am pointing out,they have done so for the potential effects on humanity the climate might have – which is what you are pointing out.
    ¬
    Think about it. Even as we are haggling over the Laughlin phrase of “damaging the earth’s climate”, by which he is erecting his ‘strawman’ as per you, John Holdren continues to popularize his term “global climate disruption”. And by this he means: humans will “disrupt’ the “weather patterns” of the earth.
    ¬
    This type of rhetoric and belief is very common in climate change activism, which is what Laughlin is tackling. Many climate bloggers and commenters use terms more precisely – because they engage with themselves and the “enemy” constantly – much unlike many activists and scientists who do think “we are damaging the earth’s climate” or frame and understand the issue in such terms. Once such thought patterns and ideas are established, every time a bit of ice breaks off, or there is a heatwave or drought, these people suffer terrible guilt and existential angst – for the climate itself, apart from the lack of water and the sweatiness that bothers them. Your grievances should be taken up with them.
    ¬
    ¬
     

  • Lazar

    Shub,
    ¬
    “The “why”¬Ě and the “what”¬Ě are not as easily separated as you are making it out to be.”
    ¬
    It is you who claims that effects on “humans and life”
    are not the “what” but the “why”. Which I claim is nonsense.
    ¬
    “If climate scientists have obsessed about the physical climate system”
    ¬
    Is that like how immunologists have obsessed about the physical immune system and astronomers have obsessed about astronomy?
    ¬
    “Even as we are haggling over the Laughlin phrase of “damaging the earth’s climate”¬Ě, by which he is erecting his ‘strawman’ as per you, John Holdren continues to popularize his term “global climate disruption”¬Ě”
    ¬
    I don’t think Holdren means to imply the climate system is being “damaged”. But you should ask him.
    ¬
    “unlike many activists and scientists who do think “we are damaging the earth’s climate”¬Ě”
    ¬
    So far you have failed to provide any, let alone “many”, convincing examples.
    ¬
    “these people suffer terrible guilt and existential angst”
    ¬
    You can’t mind read.

  • Lazar

    Keith,
    ¬
    “In a follow up post at Dot Earth, a bunch of notables respond to Laughlin’s essay. Very insightful.”
    ¬
    But we’ve heard this one before. Nobel prize physicist blunders into climatology, makes grand claims that lack relevance, or have faulty logic, or are factually wrong. Climatologists provide appropriate smackdown. Feel kinda sorry for the paleoclimatologists writing good stuff and being ignored. Feel kinda sorry for the public missing out on reading about that good stuff. It’s all about the fame and the controversy, the ‘provocativeness’ right? When will the media ever learn…

  • melty

    “tacked on to invidual lives in old age”
    invidual?  a new word?

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Lazar,

    Laughlin’s essay was featured on the cover of American Scholar, a high-minded and highly respected publication. It seems your main beef should be with them.

    But anyway, I go ahead and mention his essay in an inconsequential blog post at my site, mainly as an intellectual exercise and pair it with another featured essay on global warming at American Scholar. All I’m interested in doing is having a discussion on the respective essays. We do that in this space, which seems to rile folks like you up.

    Then Andy Revkin also takes up the Laughlin essay in a different context and elicits an array of responses from experts, which I can’t help thinking is a good way to inform people about the merits of the essay, warts and all.

    So what would you have me and Andy do? Ignore a cover essay in a top publication? Again, those of you who have issues with Laughlin getting a platform for his perspective should take it up with the editorial staff of American Scholar. But if you’re looking for some corrective views to what some of you assert is Laughlin’s factually incorrect piece, then it seems that I’ve provided a forum here for that and Andy has gone even further with his post over at Dot Earth.

    Why such a fuss over this?

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Melty, obviously a misspelling, which I just corrected, thanks to you.

  • Rory M.

    Robert Laughlin is right.

    If you abstract any problem to a time frame over which human concerns are meaningless, the problem will become meaningless.

    But for human beings, alive right now, there is a problem. If you care at all about the quality of human life — in our time, and over many future generations — there are real, profound consequences to the way we do business.

    There is a billions-of-years legacy of evolved life which exists only on Earth, and can only exist here, and will only continue to exist if conditions are stable. “Change” is natural, but natural change occurs gradually (over geologic/evolutionary time). Life can keep up with climatic change occuring at a natural rate. Life can’t keep up with the changes happening right now.

    This conclusion is supported by good science, and if you won’t be bothered to look into it then you can’t honestly speak against it.

    Not all future Earths are equivalent. Some are rich, interesting, beautiful, and capable of sustaining human life. Some just aren’t. An Earth without a diversity of life forms is poor, both materially and spiritually. It just is.

    The Earth will abide, if all “Earth” signifies for you is a mass of rock orbiting a star. We’re not trying to protect the rock.

  • Rory M.

    Should mention the above comment is a repost, I also submitted as a comment on Andy Revkin’s blog at NYT. Hope that’s appropriate. I just got riled-up by the Laughlin article and wanted to shout. Thanks for hosting the discussion, Keith.

  • Lazar

    Keith,
    ¬
    I’m not riled up that an essay which contained much irrelevant or unoriginal points, misunderstandings, flawed premises, logical and factual errors, was published simply because a) the author has a Nobel, and b) was trying to be controversial. I’m just tired, we’ve seen this play before. Y’know the parts where he talked about what geologists study and how, they were good!, interesting, and would have made a fine essay alone. But that ain’t controversial, it’s only educative, right? I think communicating science is important. This issue in particular is important, and growing in importance as every year passes. As are environmental and resource issues in general. But instead of hearing the views of rigorous, cautious, quiet and thoughtful scientists involved in studying these issues, or the people dedicated to communicating their results, we hear the media’s obsession with the cult of personality and controversy and conflict. We get the Skeptical Environmentalist prancing around Europe with his hairdo and not much substance behind him. We get Al Gore, who hasn’t said much new in donkey’s years. Sure, Keith, erroneous views can be discussed and knocked down. But the game of whack-a-mole can go on for eternity… and not be very helpful or illuminating. Yes, my beef is primarily with American Scholar for not finding a paleoclimatologist to talk about paleoclimatology. But it’s part of a broader pattern which I had hoped that the internet could help change… I am disappointed when I find it reinforced.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Keith,
    ¬
    IMO Lazar nails it perfectly.¬† Can you take a moment to reflect on what he’s saying? (and then respond) :)

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    SimonH,
    ¬
    > I referenced Hansen in response to Marlowe’s reference of Hansen, so it’s contextual and not coatracking.
    ¬
    Yes, but why Mann?  I also note that the contrast is now a bit more than the love and adulation of platforms.
    ¬
    > McIntyre is McIntyre, no more or less than that.
    ¬
    Agreed, if this includes that Steve has been Steve, and Steve will be Steve.  And a blogger is a blogger.  And a blog is a blog.  And a platform is a platform.  And Climate Audit is Climate Audit.  And love is love.  And adulation is adulation.

  • http://www.hopkinson.net SimonH

    willard, why not Mann? You don’t criticise Marlowe for introducing Hansen, but feel compelled to challenge my introduction of Mann, even though the soapbox parallels with Mann and Hansen seem obvious and even though McIntyre, the focus of this micro-discussion, is himself normally focused on the work of Mann.
    ¬
    “Agreed, if this includes that Steve has been Steve, and Steve will be Steve.¬† And a blogger is…”


    Let’s put aside and ignore your tireless snark for a minute (I do wish you’d rein it in, though, because I’d rather a pleasant discussion where we make our points without coming away feeling somewhat dirtied by the experience), in the past, I’ve described McIntyre as “data.Steve”. There are those from both sides of the debate who would love to be able to claim McIntyre as a champion for either their cause, or the cause of their imaginary opposition. The CAGW side would love for McIntyre to be funded by, or motivated by, Big Oil interests. He isn’t. The “deniarrrs” – not the sceptics, but the politically motivated Fox News fans – would love for McIntyre to champion their cause. He won’t.
    ¬
    McIntyre is interested in the data, the integrity of the data, the appropriate use of the data and in exposing misrepresentations of the data. It strikes me that if you are experiencing a scientific conflict with what McIntyre does, then it’s time to redefine your own approach to science as something other than scientific.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    SimonH,

    Why not Mann?¬† Because the hypothetical scenario under discussion was a debate between Jim and Steve, not “Jim and Michael”.¬†¬† This coatracking is quite blatant.¬† It whispers: Steve beats Michael; Michael is with Jim; Steve beats Jim.¬† And the remaining of your comment, regarding Steve being more honest than Jim about his own authority, tries to argue about that.

    You’re simply trying to say: Steve is better than Jim.¬† Tell me that you’re not trying to say that.¬† Tell me how this relates to the discussion Marlowe and others were having about Jim talking with Steve in public, except by saying that you’re dog is Steve and you put your money on him.

    That the discussion has not been introduced in the most calm circumspect manner by Marlowe is so obvious that there is no need to underline it.¬† But this discussion led to some kind of agreement: Jim and Steve might agree about everything.¬† (I doubt that, since we now know that one of Steve’s dog is Richard, but we should let that sleeping dog lie right now.)¬† So there is room for disagreement.¬† But not that much as to say that there would be no discussion and no agreement between Jim and Steve.

    Fair enough, Steve likes data.¬† But my personal impression is that Climate Audit is not only about data, to the point where the “scientific conflict” is not scientific matter anymore.¬†¬† There is no reason to attempt yet another overall evaluation of Steve’s work.¬† I like Steve, and won’t step between him and the nephrologists he continually endears, day in day out. Nobody should.

  • http://www.hopkinson.net SimonH

    Well, willard, you’ve got me thinking, with your incessant pursuit of this point of insignificance. Since you demand it, I’ll respond.
    ¬
    No, I don’t trust Hansen as a scientist to give us hack-free scientific assessments of the state of the climate. Hell yeah, I do trust McIntyre a whole load more than I trust Hansen, who I don’t feel I could trust as far as I could throw a fit to serve up dispassionate science. I don’t trust advocacy scientists who cross the line between the science and the policy, and who are blatantly NOT the “honest broker” that, as scientists in the field, they should be. Hansen is an activist and an advocacy scientist whose integrity as a scientist cannot be trusted any more than can be his carefully and purposefully manipulated and interpolated GISSTEMP.
    ¬
    Happy now?

  • Lazar

    I’d be happy if Hansen sued you.
    ¬
    But then, “carefully and purposefully manipulated” isn’t quite libel.
    ¬
    Even if you are thinking unsupported ignorant bx.

  • http://www.hopkinson.net SimonH

    It isn’t quite libel? It’s nowhere near libel. It’d have to be untrue, for starters.
    ¬
    It’s not a secret that GISS temperatures for gridboxes where there are no station data are filled in with data interpolated from selected stations from surrounding areas. Do I trust the data that goes in those gridboxes? No!¬†Is it against the law not to trust it? No! What’s Hansen suing me for in your mind again?

  • http://www.hopkinson.net SimonH

    This is all aside and, courtesy of willard’s hand-walking, a long way away from the original point. There is little if anything to connect McIntyre and Hansen because McIntyre has focused on Mann’s work. Now, if McIntyre were to focus on Hansen and the work performed at GISS, THEN we could have an interesting few years. Who knows how Hansen would react to McIntyre’s attentions? I couldn’t begin to guess.

  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub

    Simon,
    Hansen actively participated in the “he whose name shall not be mentioned game”, as far as one can tell. He also thought McIntyre does not have a “light on upstairs”.
    The story of GISS and McIntyre is a mess of misunderstandings on both sides.

  • http://www.hopkinson.net SimonH

    Shub, are we talking about the 1934 contiguous US temperature issue? I seem to remember a lot of Pachauri-style “voodoo science”-esque protestations from Hansen, eventually culminating in him conceding, correcting his figures and asserting that none of it really mattered much anyway.¬†D√ɬ©j√ɬ† vu moment much?

  • Marlowe Johnson

    BTW Keith if you’re still checking this thread can I suggest you take a look at Revkin’s update on the Laughlin piece:
    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/17/scientists-react-to-a-nobelists-climate-thoughts/
    ¬
    As you can see Laughlin’s errors are pretty egregious from the perspective of actual climate scientists.¬† His piece is propaganda for climate nihilists at worst and grossly irresponsible at best.
    ¬
    Do you have an obligation as a journalist to check the accuracy of every piece you link to? No.¬† But it wouldn’t hurt if once in a while you’d reflect on how this kind of reflexive media coverage (i.e. giving platforms for ‘controversial-but-factually wrong’ opinion pieces hurts the body politic rather than helps it.¬† In this particular case, something along the lines of “wow I can’t believe American Scholar actually published that…”
    ¬
    In some ways I’m reminded of Jon Stewarts admonishment of Begala and Tuckerson on Crossfire a few years ago, wherein he basically calls them out for sacrificing substantive dialogue in the name of entertainment…

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Marlowe, perhaps you skipped over comment 84 of this thread, where I direct readers to check out that very post.

    As for the arguable merits of riffing off the two American Scholar pieces in a blog post, I’m still fine with doing that.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    wow.¬† message not received i guess. next time perhaps….

  • Steve Fitzpatrick

    Keith,
    ¬
    Great post.  Perspective, while greatly needed, is seldom considered.
    That being said, I am quite certain that people 200 or 300 years from now will smile at our political conflicts, and will long ago have figured out what, if anything, is needed to extend a Holocene-like climate. (Not to mention living 200 years or more!)

  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub Niggurath

    Marlowe: By ‘actual climate scientist’, you mean the enlightened NYU climate scientist who said this:
    ¬
    “If we fail, I can imagine a thousand years from now a small fragment of humankind barely surviving the new planetary climate huddled round a fire in some remote northern latitude observing the night sky, subsisting perhaps as hunter-gatherers on a vastly different and biologically depleted planet listening to a tale vaguely recalled in ancestral memory by the local shaman.”
      ;)
    ¬
    ‘Concern for humanity’¬ģ
    Actual Climate scientists ¬ģ All rights reserved.

  • John Costello

    Marlowe — The Holocene is ony the last ten thousand years since the end of the last major ice age. The animals who have been evolving for millions of years have evolved to live though warm periods and really, really cold periods.¬† If it gets too hot they move north, if too cold they move south.¬† That’s why most of the northern crittes have thick furs while african animals (zebas, giraffes, lions, chettahs) have short first that mostly pro tect against the sun.

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Collide-a-Scape

Collide-a-Scape is a wide-ranging blog forum that explores issues at the nexus of science, culture and society.

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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