Global Warming Shouldn't Hog All the Headlines

By Keith Kloor | July 2, 2011 12:22 pm

Is Mark Lynas, the author of Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, downgrading global warming in his hiearchy of environmental concerns? In a recent post, he writes that

biodiversity may well qualify as a more important planetary boundary even than climate change itself.

By way of reminder, the “planetary boundary” concept was laid out in this 2009 Nature essay, and nicely translated into laymen terms by Carl Zimmer, who wrote in Yale Environment 360:

They [scientists] propose that humans must keep the planet in what they call a “safe operating space,” inside of which we can thrive. If we push past the boundaries of that space “” by wiping out biodiversity, for example, or diverting too much of the world’s freshwater “” we risk catastrophe.

It’s a controversial concept, but also little discussed, because global warming hogs all the headlines. Jon Foley lamented this one-track mindset here:

In the rush to portray the perils of climate change, many other serious issues have been largely ignored. Climate change has become the poster child of environmental crises, complete with its own celebrities and campaigners. But is it so serious that we can afford to overlook the rise of infectious disease, the collapse of fisheries, the ongoing loss of forests and biodiversity, and the depletion of global water supplies?

I’ve also echoed this complaint:

The biggest problem I have with the debate over climate change science, politics, and policy is that it’s elbowed all other environmental issues off the public stage.

But as I’ve discovered, people get crotchety when you suggest that other environmental concerns be allowed to share center stage with climate change. A reader at Lynas’ blog, evidently annoyed with the post talking up biodiversity, illustrates that attitude:

Please write an entry” My Priorities,’ in which you layout, in order, just what it is you care about most. Maybe then we can start having an intelligent discussion.

Hmm, I get the opposite impression from a comment like that, and it leads me to think that some people really don’t want to have an “intelligent discussion” unless climate change is at the top of the priority list.

  • Paul Kelly

    It’s really quite simple. Climate is the only issue that can be used as an argument for global control via government fiat of energy pricing and consumption from which all economic activity flows.

  • EdG

    Unfortunately, employing the “mission oriented” pseudoscience called ‘Conservation Biology,’ loaded with junk models and false historical baselines, the ‘biodiversity crisis’ is already as overhyped as the ‘climate crisis.’

    This is the ‘science’ supporting the ‘species-at-risk’ listing business, The recent addition of highly dubious ‘OJ Simpson’ style DNA work and related tricks has just made it worse.

    Now they invent so-called subspecies or, even easier, ‘distinct geographic populations’ to save. And if you can ‘find’ that your chosen species (etc.) is in trouble and, working with eco-lawyers, get it listed as ‘Threatened’ or worse, the reward is long term guaranteed jobs, potentially forever. Like getting your own research franchise.

    This is my ‘favourite’ topic so I share your concerns about the spotlight being shone so much on the AGW story. This one is just as corrupt but mostly ignored.

    The real ‘extinction crisis’ in North America was a century+ ago, which was when the conservation movement was born. This is evident whenever you get to the details… like how many REAL species have gone extinct in the last 50 years, for example.

  • Dean

    You can’t solve the biodiversity loss / extinction event issue without dealing with AGW as it is one of the serious factors pushing it. I don’t know if AGW is a more serious cause than habitat loss or not. Neither practically seems solvable to me. Humans need space, food, and energy, and (relatively) long-term sustainability considerations get second billing.

  • http://skepticalscience.com grypo

    Seems like an odd request, but it makes sense to begin dealing with the short term biodiversity issues now and getting them more into the public’s eye.  Although getting people to understand the need for a diverse eco-system may be just as difficult as getting them to understand atmospheric physics.   Unfortunately, without a mitigation plan, I’m not sure if we’d just be wasting our time and effort by just delaying the inevitable.  Getting over the climate change hump will be a bit too much too ask species 50 years out as the global average temperature steadily rises.

  • Howard

    Keith:  Thanks for this topic.  Obviously the CAGW folks cling to the climate as the driver and will not budge and the skeptics are skeptical of all things environmental.  This is why there is no political will to actually work on solving real environmental problems using technology available today.

    Biodiversity seems like a noble goal but a very nebulous subject that lacks appropriate metrics to calculate impacts, costs and benefits.  Also, it is a mistake to let biologist drive the priorities because nothing will ever get done except analysis paralysis.

    It makes much more sense to go after the low hanging problems. Pollution sources, like agriculture nutrient impacts to water, diesel engines, coal power (NOT the CO2), municipal and industrial wastewater, etc.  Infrastructure like water supply, updating roads and freight rail.  Science-based forest management.
    Environmentalists have lost a lot of credibility because they have halted common sense infrastructure to prevent growth inducement, have added huge costs to the most benign projects and have hitched their wagon to a strong-arm CAGW campaign.

    The greens slander science and engineering as offering nothing but unsustainable techno-fixes and expect that things will get better by letting the world go to seed.  The CAGW fetish is just the latest brand of “Steely Dan” to help the scientifically illiterate enviro-activists to “get off”.

  • Tom Fuller

    When we finally make a serious effort to quantify loss of biodiversity we will then be able to start a discussion about it. We have not yet done so, so we’re just having sports talk in a bar. Muhammad Ali would have cleaned the floor with Mike Tyson.

    We don’t know how many species exist now. We don’t know how many species existed in the past. We don’t know how many species are going extinct in modern times. We don’t know if it is happening more quickly or more slowly than in times past.

    So of course we read impassioned statements that the extinction rate is 50,000 times normal.

    Real science there.

  • Jack Hughes

    Could Lynas be the Martin Luther figure to spearhead a reformation in the enviro church?

    Certainly the old establishment types like Gore, Stern, Revkin, Pachauri are acting like medieval popes fat on indulgences.

  • http://skepticalscience.com grypo

    “So of course we read impassioned statements that the extinction rate is 50,000 times normal.”

    Wow.  Where’d that number come from?

  • Tom Fuller

    Gee grypo, you can only answer hyperbole with hyperbole.

    “The rate at which they are being lost is alarming, even when compared with the extinction episode of 70 million years ago when the dinosaurs disappeared. No-one knows exactly what the current extinction rate is, but recent calculations by leading scientists put it at between 1,000 and 10,000 times greater than it would naturally be. The rate of extinction also appears to be increasing.” (BY SIMON STUART
    IUCN’S HEAD OF SPECIES SURVIVAL PROGRAMME)

  • Tom Gray

    re 8

    The number comes not from observations but from models. The models link the size of habitat to the number of species. An estimate of the habitat lost is fed into the model and out comes an estimate of species lost.

    The models have failed empirical tests and are being applied out of the range of the size of areas on which they were based. What more needs to be said?

  • http://bigcitylib.blogspot.com bigcitylib

    Paul Kelly, since the answers to many of these enviro problems overlap signficantly, they can all be used as a means of global control.  We have many ways to make you a slave.

    Bwahaha!

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    >Climate is the only issue that can be used as an argument for global control via government fiat of energy pricing and consumption from which all economic activity flows.
    Wikipedians might disagree:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incomes_policy
     

  • Tom Gray

    re 8 and 10

    I found a good discussion of the controversy around biodiversity and Species-Area models in Aynsley Kellow’s book ‘Science and Public Policy’. I found the book to quite insightful and would recommend it to anyone who is concerned with the treatment of scientifically based issue in politics

    Species- Area Models – A proposed scientific method is accepted before it is confirmed and sued beyond the areas in which it was tested. Thus these predictions of species loss cannot be relied upon in any way

  • harrywr2

    EdG Says:
    July 2nd, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    <i>Now they invent so-called subspecies or, even easier, “˜distinct geographic populations’ to save. And if you can “˜find’ that your chosen species (etc.) is in trouble and, working with eco-lawyers, get it listed as “˜Threatened’ or worse, the reward is long term guaranteed jobs, potentially forever</i>
    You mean like the $200+ million a year Bonneville Power Administration spends on ‘Fish and Wildlife’.
    Operating expenses of Bonneville Power..page 71 of the budget.
    http://www.bpa.gov/corporate/finance/Budget/BPA_CJ.pdf
     

  • Jeff Norris

    Keith
    What I believe you’re talking about is akin to “buyer remorse”.  One of the selling points of CAGW was that it can reasonable connected to any Environmental Issue.   It became the rally point from which all solutions would flow.  Unfortunately   facts and fate have made success elusive.    I see some evidence in comments here and elsewhere of resistance to downgrading CC and it does not surprise me.  The trench/guerilla warfare has set hair triggers on both sides and a with us or against mentality has formed.  For example Willis reaction to Curry and Mueller or this response by a CC proponent
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v474/n7353/full/474541a.html#comment-24770

    CC proponents are up against deadlines and predictions they have set, tangential supporters are getting nervous.   A Captain Queeg response   by proponents while very entertaining would be a disaster to many environmental concerns. 

    I think a future development will be a Chicken or the Egg type argument between CO2 and Over Population activists. 

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    Yes there are serious problems, and yes humans are driving many of them.  If you think that biodiversity loss is not a problem, explain how our changing the surface of the earth in the last 100-200 years has had no effect.  If you think that our changing the radiative properties of the atmosphere is huncky dory, well, please explain why (and oh yeah, we are changing the pH of the oceans).
     

  • Tom Fuller

    #16, nobody is saying humans haven’t had any effect. Every sane discussion of bioversity loss starts with the real effects humans have had on it. The four horseman, universally acknowledged as habitat loss, predation, introduction of foreign species and pollution.

    And believe it or not, those were sufficient to drive the beginnings of an effective set of policies to deal with it.

    Then something popped up and distracted everybody.

  • Paul Kelly

    Eli, like so many existential threaters, causes continued delay. They argue the science, but they do not follow the science. The science, for example, says that the number one effort of the climate concerned should be eliminating black soot. The science says that the information deficit model is not the reason the existential threat message doesn’t resonate.
    Resistance to downgrading CC and its proposed solutions as the defining driver of action is now an impediment to doing the things that should be done.


     

  • DeNihilist

    Keith, I don’t know if you have read this series by Walter Russel Mead. I think it explains this subject perfectly.

    http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/06/24/the-failure-of-al-gore-part-one/

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    All in all a rather strange stew here.  First of all, look at the preceding post, all those stuck up environmentalists worried about owls and fish instead of people.  Now look at this one, oh you should worry about owls and fish and toads.  A fine game of Calvinball you have going here.

    The truth is that Eli and others like him (think Jeff Harvey for example who often comments at Deltoid) HAVE been worrying about the loss of biodiversity driven by humans and one of the major ways we are killing off species is by climate change, both local and global.

    And, as a perfect example, Paul Kelly pontificates in about black carbon.  Eli has been talking about this for years (as has Hansen).

    It’s the perfect catch22.  Today, emissions from modern coal burning plants are much lower, and can be made lower still. Indeed, instead of beating on China not to build coal burning plants, everyone should be beating on China to build modern coal burning plants and close down the old soot belching ones, eliminating a large portion of the black carbon problem. Using waste heat in South (e.g. India/Pakistan) and Southeast Asia for cooking could make another contribution. Even using the waste heat to process the dung used today for cooking would be a relative winner.

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2009/04/efficiency-one-of-things-missing-in.html

    But of course, just like biodiversity, no one has thought about this before Paul Kelly.  Here’s one for you Paul, people have been trying to get folks in SE Asia to give up cooking with dung, but failing, because dung is cheap as you know what.  Worse, it’s the poorest of the poor who gather and sell the dung, and everyone else gets sick from cooking indoors with it.  But of course, Paul and Keith know that the entire problem is those darn environmentalists.

  • NikFromNYC

    Eli Rabett is, like most formerly very testy AGW enthusiasts, entering the negotiating phase of grief (due to loss of status) which replaces denial and then anger and which will soon devolved into depression and then final acceptance (that he was instrumental in causing the ruin of the environmental movement by supporting its big junk science power grab).
    Sea level is one of the best measures of AGW claims, since we have century long tide gauge records that are truly global and there is much less decade-by-decade noise in a highly inertial and self-leveling state. A simple average of tide gauges over 150 years shows utterly no trend change whatsoever. That’s about all one need know about this topic really, now that Mann’s e-mails are about to be released, very likely causing the final downfall of the Hockey Stick team that Eli and his cultist group of true believers have frantically tried to support as haloed heroes all these years.
     

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    Nik,  Eli understands there is a Zip Clue stand down the block.

  • Tom Fuller

    I’m sure you will all join in the general celebration in honor of the installation of the 1 millionth residential solar panel system in… (drumroll) Bangladesh.

    Paul, keep at it. Don’t let the anklebiters worry you.

  • EdG

    Eli Rabett Says:
    July 3rd, 2011 at 10:53 pm
    “The truth is that Eli and others like him… HAVE been worrying about the loss of biodiversity driven by humans and one of the major ways we are killing off species is by climate change, both local and global.”

    OK. How about some specific examples please? These generic ‘mass extinction’ stories do seem to fall apart when one gets down to the specifics.

    If these rates of extinction are remotely credible, you ought to have a very long list to substantiate them.

  • Gaythia

    I don’t think that there is any controversy here.  Carl Zimmer eloquently links climate change and the planetary boundary concept in his first three paragraphs in the link given in the post above:
    “Human civilization has had a stable childhood. Over the past 10,000 years, as our ancestors invented agriculture and built cities, the Earth remained relatively stable. The average global temperature fluttered slightly, never lurching towards a greenhouse climate or chilling enough to enter a new Ice Age. The pH of the oceans remained steady, providing the right chemical conditions for coral reefs to grow and invertebrates to build shells. Those species, in turn, helped support a stable food web that provided plenty of fish for us humans to catch. The overall stability of the past 10,000 years may have played a big part in humanity’s explosion.

    Now, ironically, civilization has become so powerful that it can reshape the planet itself. “We have become a force to contend with at the global level,” as Johan Rockstrom of the Stockholm Resilience Center in Sweden, puts it. Humans have changed the chemistry of Earth’s oceans, lowering their pH and causing ocean acidification. We are shifting the composition of the atmosphere, raising levels of carbon dioxide higher than they’ve been in at least the past 800,000 years.
    A number of scientists have warned in recent years that if we keep pushing the planet this way, we will cause sudden, irreversible damage to the systems that made human civilization possible in the first place.”

  • EdG

    Gaythia Says:
    July 4th, 2011 at 6:42 pm
    “Human civilization has had a stable childhood. Over the past 10,000 years, as our ancestors invented agriculture and built cities, the Earth remained relatively stable. The average global temperature fluttered slightly, never lurching towards a greenhouse climate or chilling enough to enter a new Ice Age.”

    Nice fairy tale. But over the past 10,000 years there has been more variation than our recent blip. Or are we pretending the Little Ice Age or the MWP didn’t happen? If you like drought in the western US, google ‘Altithermal’ for some radical ‘stability.’

    And seems our recent variations just aren’t obeying the CO2 models:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/07/04/a-peer-reviewed-admission-that-global-surface-temperatures-did-not-rise-dr-david-whitehouse-on-the-pnas-paper-kaufmann-et-al-2011/

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    Ed, you could start here and follow the links

    http://www.pnas.org/content/98/10/5466.full

     

  • Gaythia

    @26 Note that I was quoting Carl Zimmer, from the link listed by Keith above!  The point being that he was segueing neatly between climate change and other environmental topics.   I think that Carl Zimmer is knowledgeable about the issues you mentioned, and carefully phrased his statements accordingly.

     

  • EdG

    27. Eli. From your suggested link:

    “Each year, an estimated 13 million ha of tropical forests are destroyed, causing the loss of 14,000″“40,000 species.”

    These are the kind of ridiculous ‘all hype, no details’ statements I mean. Model-based junk science.

    Now, how about picking/finding just ONE species – a real species that is – that has gone extinct so we can explore the relevant facts. Call it a case study. And just to make it simpler, pick one from North America.

    Thanks.

  • EdG

    28. Gaythia, Yes, saw it was a quote… but it is still a fairy tale. And it is a deliberate one. If we pretend that the last 10,000 years was some kind of calm climate bliss that can fool some people into believing that what we have now is somehow ‘unprecedented’ and ‘climate disruption.’  But it is not because that mythical prior climate stability never happened.

    He did say it “carefully” – to the point of careful meaninglessness – but the impression it definitely left is a false one.

    True the variations in the climate in the past 10,000 years did not lead to another Ice Age… to use the most extreme cold reference point. Except for the Little Ice Age. But what exactly is a ‘greenhouse climate’? We always have one. So this phrase is meaningless – though we all know what he is trying to say without saying it. In other words, his extreme example(s) do not mean anything, while in reality the climate varied dramatically over the past 10,000 years.

    But I suppose many people remember their ‘childhood’ in an unreal way.

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

    Aha! Keith, here is an excellent case in point.

    Keith, Ed G is flatly wrong and Carl Zimmer was right. I hope by now you know enough about the what is known about the Holocene and about how science works that this is obvious to you.

    In #26 Ed G asks “Or are we pretending the Little Ice Age or the MWP didn’t happen? If you like drought in the western US, google “˜Altithermal’ for some radical “˜stability.'” These events were small and local compared to the instabilities of the period ending about 10,000 years ago and tiny and local compared to the events we are expecting to come in this century that are now beginning.

    How are we supposed to prevent the brazen tavern storyteller from inventing things and then passing them off as fact? Does it require a PhD. in a physical science to shoot down of a random blowhard on the net?

    That doesn’t scale. We need the press to do some of what the webby types call “curation”. This is your website and you shouldn’t let noise like this go unanswered. I suggest that answering this sort of thing is your job, and Andy Revkin’s, and anybody’s who is hosting these discussions.

    If, as Moynihan said, we aren’t entitled to our own facts we need someone we can trust to separate the facts from the fictions, fallacies and frauds. That was supposed to be you all.

    Yet I would expect that you feel no sense of responsibility about this at all.

    To you, the “fact” is that some Ed G. says this and some scientist says “no way”. It’s all social. The press have sold their soul to the deconstructionists (and of course, the editors to the advertisers) and now you are of no use to anybody. You wouldn’t contemplate for a second letting down you guard as neutral party and settling this matter in favor of the established facts about the climate of the Holocene.

    Am I reading this right?

    And yet again, if it’s not your job to separate out the trolling from the hard-won information, whose job is it?
     

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

    MY PRIORITIES

    My single goal as an advocate is sustainability, which is to say,the principle that every generation should leave the world in a better condition than they found it, maximizing the options available to subsequent generations, and minimizing those foreclosed to future generations.

    This needs to be accepted everywhere by everybody as an ethical principle as solid as the recently established one that nobody may own another person, and needs to be as thoroughly ingrained in the laws and customs.

    As far as prioritization goes, all existential threats to dignified, civilized, free and sustained existence are pretty much equally important. Climate change looks fairly urgent and compelling among these, though. I can’t help that. I chose to study it for a reason. But you can’t ignore any of them.

    This seems kind of obvious to me. You don’t walk in front of a speeding cargo truck, and you don’t stand under a big tree in a thunderstorm. Which is more important? I guess I am having some trouble with the question. It seems like a question you would ask if you didn’t understand how much is at risk.
     

  • EdG

    Michael Tobis,

    My point is simple. While it is true that the last 10,000 years – since the Younger Dryas say – have been relatively stable compared to longer time lines, the variability within that ‘stable’ period has been greater than anything we have seen recently. The MWP or LIA or Altithermal were not minor in that context. So to portray that period as some tranquil climatic sanctuary for our (agricultural) ‘childhood’ is to tell a fairy tale.

    And I’m guessing we would differ on “what we’re expecting” in terms of the future climate.

    P.S. Heckuva job on that net nanny thing. Little over the top. I would recommend you find a better example than this to work with. 

  • jeffn

    In two sentences, Mark Lynas demonstrates why AGW is not getting any traction. It’s mighty nice little niche the green movement has built for itself- through deception, create a problem, then blame others for it and claim the moral high ground. Why anyone pays any attention to these goofs is beyond me.
    Sentence one: Through research, I found that much of what I believed about environmental issues had little, if any, basis  in science. Put simply, though my  concerns were right, my solutions were wrong.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2010981/You-mustnt-believe-lies-Green-zealots-And-I-know–I-one.html#ixzz1REzanvbT

    Sentence two: Had the Green movement of the Seventies and Eighties supported nuclear power “” instead of violently opposing plans for greater use of atomic energy, a move that led to more coal power plants being built “” we would not be facing the climate crisis we are today.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2010981/You-mustnt-believe-lies-Green-zealots-And-I-know–I-one.html#ixzz1REyzIqvS

  • Edim

    I agree with EdG. During this interglacial (~10,000 years), the last century was the most stable.
    But it looks like it might change. Strong cooling in the next few decades is very likely.

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

    Two thousand words here, by which I mean, two pictures. See figures #1 and #3. I have seen the like many times in real scientific literature. I take them to be consistent with Zimmer’s claim, multiply replicated, and robust in their general character. I believe most people in the field would agree.

    Claims dramatically different from the pictures shown there require much more than a little handwaving.

    I do not think any law could stop Ed (and to some extent Other Ed) from being incorrect and overconfident, even though doing so really is ethically dubious. I think they are free to be stridently and irresponsibly wrong. But I think someone like Keith should be free and willing to say “that’s wrong”, or at least “most scientists in the field are convinced otherwise”.

    Some think this is outside the purview of journalism. To which I repeat my plaintive query: whose job is it then?
     

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    FWIW, and nothing is going to breech Ed’s certainty about things he is ignorant about, a major difference between this century and previous ones is that in the past species could easily migrate from a place that is becoming inhospitable to another.  The difference today is that the routes are blocked by human development and the rate of change is much higher.

    As to the silliness about how do you know if you are losing species in the rainforest if the rainforest goes away, you first survey representation patches of rainforest, you note the number of new species and you extrapolate.

    Here is some more reading and links
    http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2011/02/19/biodiversity-extinction-climate-change/

  • EdG

    36. I do not think any law could stop Michael Tobias (and to some extent Hansen, Mann, Trenberth, Gore, etc.) from being incorrect and overconfident, even though doing so really is ethically dubious. I think they are free to be stridently and irresponsibly wrong. But I think someone like Keith should be free and willing to say “that’s wrong”, or at least “most scientists in the field are convinced otherwise”.

    Since the so-called 97% consensus is a product of junk research, the first question is whether “most scientists in the field are convinced” about anything, let alone your assertion that the last 10,000 years were some kind of optimal climatic calm.

    As we all know, some people tried to ‘disappear’ the MWP, so it takes a leap of faith to accept anything else this same ‘consensus’ says. But you are free to believe whatever you want.

  • EdG

    Eli writes that “nothing is going to breech Ed’s certainty about things he is ignorant about”

    Yet you will not answer my simple question about specifics but instead, as usual, fall back to sweeping generalities.

    Why is that? Why are you so certain if you can’t provide specific examples?

    You think extrapolation indicates anything with certainty?

    So, again, how about one specific example of a “species [that] could easily migrate from a place that is becoming inhospitable” but is now threatened because “the routes are blocked by human development”? 

    Pick a North American one to keep it simple.

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

    Michael Tobis (31):

    Look, this is an independent blog and with my time limited as it is, I’m not going to spend it policing comments for accuracy. I mainly police for tone and conduct, so people can at least try and engage in as civil a manner as possible.

    Maybe if my blog was connected to a publication with more general readers I’d feel obligated to play referee, but not here, where the comment threads are mostly populated by readers with varying states of climate knowledge. That said…

    EdG (38)

    You’re welcome to make such ridiculous, sweeping statements such this:

    “Since the so-called 97% consensus is a product of junk research…”

    But you do know that puts you in the Morano/Inhofe clownsphere, right?

  • EdG

    Keith – Put me in any box you like. All I do know is that the two studies that purportedly showed that were both junk – no, just to be collegial, let’s use the term ‘dubious’ – research.

    “Anderegg et al. employed suspect methodology that treated publication metrics as a surrogate for expertise… cite each other’s work in an upward spiral of self-affirmation… data hoarding and publication blockade… was not addressed at all.”
    http://www.pnas.org/content/107/52/E188.full

    As for the other ‘97% consensus’ – you know, the carefully cherry picked 75 of 77 researchers – it has been dissected here:

    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/consensus_opiate.pdf

    Here’s Solomon’s article about it:

    http://opinion.financialpost.com/2011/01/03/lawrence-solomon-97-cooked-stats/#ixzz1A5px63Ax

    And here it is again, complete with lots of interesting comments:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/01/04/lawrence-solomon-on-consensus-statistics/

    In terms of “ridiculous, sweeping statements,” there seems to be a lot of those coming from all sides.

    But unless somebody has something more substantial to verify this alleged consensus, I stand by my statement.

    And by the way, the statements made by the executives of scientific organizations are not evidence of any consensus of their membership. 
     

  • EdG

    40. Keith – Since you suggested I must be in the ‘Morano’ box I just had to go to his site and see what was there today. I found this classic example of the AGW believers going down the desperate rabbit hole: 

    http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2011/06/why_is_anthropogenic_global_wa.php

    Starts with some sweeping absolutely certain statements about AGW and its effects, including this beauty:

    “It has been said that global warming is a mixed bag: For some it will be bad, for others it will be good. This is a myth. Global warming is on balance bad, and it is mostly bad.”

    OK. If you say so. Now, onward AGW soldiers:

    “When you have friends or colleagues who seem to show leanings towards AGW denialism, show them clearly that you do not take them seriously, indicate subtly that their credibility is at stake, politely give them links to sites like Real Climate where actual climate scientists talk about actual climate science.”

    Now that is funny. Real Climate no less! Then it gets less funny:

    “When you look upon a global warming denialist, you are not seeing a person who is deluded, wrong, misinformed, or misguided. You are seeing a person who is intent on killing your grandchildren. You may want to treat them politely, you may want to be a dick to them. Do whatever works. But don’t let them think for a second that you do not know what the consequences of their actions are. Don’t let them get away with it.”

    My grandchildren have learned to think for themselves and they don’t share these concerns. They see other more serious problems, including a world where politically driven pseudoscience has too much influence on their lives. They know about Lysenko because, unlike most people these days, they have studied history. I am very proud of them.
     

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

    #38, I choose to believe the ice cores over some random guy’s confused impressions on the internet. I recommend this approach to others, including journalists. I think the opposite approach is unlikely to work and therefore maladaptive.
     

  • EdG

    43. “I choose to believe the ice cores.”

    Me too. That is why recent events are so obviouly a tiny blip in the long term picture.

    But if you take any one of the many minor fluctuations and project it as some straight line trend, bingo, you can produce a hockey stick (in any direction).

    I don’t take long term straight line projections from short term trends seriously at the best of times. Few decades ago this kind of flawed thinking led some people to predict a looming ice age; then they switched to a looming Planetary Fever; now some are back to the ice age prediction.

    This reminds me of the time not so long ago when the consensus all agreed that US housing prices could go nowhere but up… because they did, in the short term.

  • Paul Kelly

    This all moves much faster than my typing speed. Tom, thanks for the support. Eli is not an ankle biter. Amid the frivolity there is the occasional keen insight like:
    “Indeed, instead of beating on China not to build coal burning plants, everyone should be beating on China to build modern coal burning plants and close down the old soot belching ones, eliminating a large portion of the black carbon problem.”

    EdG,
    Most sides of arguments about nuances of the climatological consensus are irrelevant to the discussion about energy transformation. Refuting any or all of the consensus does not alter the case for replacing fossil fuels, which at some time scale will be insufficient for our energy needs.

    Over the last year or so, a number of studies have analyzed the failure of the international climate action structure and related communication issues. Lynas is one more climo enviro progressive to have, in Pogo’s words, seen the enemy and he is us. Many of the climate concerned understand their current approach is a blind alley.

     

  • EdG

    Paul Kelly – Energy transformation. Fair enough. And one can see that some people might think it justified to frighten people in that direction with tales of the Planetary Fever. I don’t because I do not see ‘Peak Oil’ but rather ‘Peak Cheap Oil.’ As the price goes up other energy sources will become more attractive and viable. That is already happening.

    Moreover, when you say “fossil fuels” it confuses the issue. We have vast new supplies of natural gas and enough coal – which can be liquified if the price is right – to last for centuries.

    In the meantime I see the whole climate scare being used to push other agendas, and no end of useless wasteful spending:

    http://notrickszone.com/2011/07/04/weed-covered-solar-park-20-acres-11-million-only-one-and-half-years-old/

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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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