Climate Puffery

By Keith Kloor | August 23, 2013 9:21 am

Many people lament the sulfurous climate change discourse, myself included. At this point, the well is so poisoned that I find myself increasingly avoiding the topic. Most of those who read this post already have a strong opinion on climate science. Anything I write is automatically viewed through a skewed lens.

True, none of us are blank slates; we all have predispositions and biases. And yes, other highly charged topics, such as GMOs, are also filtered through a political or ideological lens. But climate change has become a sport where the most passionate followers belong to one of two opposing teams that really, really hate each other. If you want to participate without joining either team you will always find yourself being harangued or yelled at by affiliated members of one team, because anything you say on climate change will be viewed as ammunition for the other team. Even something as innocuous as the name of a blog gets caught in the maw. There is no neutral ground. You are either an ally or an enemy.

The dynamics that contribute to this sorry state of affairs were on exhibit with a recent NPR piece on Georgia Tech climate scientist Judith Curry–and the response to it by outspoken climate science gatekeepers.

Here’s how the NPR piece opens:

While the Obama administration presses forward with plans to deal with climate change, Congress remains steadfast against taking action. It’s not easy to find a scientist who will agree with that point of view. But Republicans have found an ally in a climate scientist by the name of Judith Curry.

Notice the framing, how Curry is associated with Republicans who have in recent years made dismissal of climate change a litmus test for GOP membership. Since Republicans have painted themselves as Team Climate Denial and Curry is viewed as their ally, what does that make her?

Now, those familiar with Curry know that she doesn’t belong on Team Climate Denial. She just doesn’t want be on Team Climate Doom. She doesn’t want to be on any team, it seems. In fact, she’s made a name for herself by criticizing tribal behavior in the climate science community. See, for example, this 2010 profile of her in Scientific American, which of course some climate science gatekeepers took issue with at the time.

Since then, Curry has regularly probed and highlighted aspects of climate science that remain uncertain, such as the role natural variation plays in climate change. Curry sees this as part of the larger scientific discussion, but plenty others, including many of her peers, see it as aiding Team Denial (and their evil offshoot, Team Inaction). This has put Curry outside the mainstream of the climate science community. Indeed, as the NPR piece notes,

she focuses on uncertainties and unknown unknowns far more than on the consensus of climate scientists, who say we know enough to be deeply worried.

Though NPR didn’t bother to quote any critics of Curry (there are plenty of them), it did make clear several times that her views were at odds with the stated position of numerous professional societies (such as the American Geophysical Union) and many climate scientists. (At her blog, Curry has an interesting backstory on the NPR piece.) Still, that NPR profiled her at all seemed to rankle outspoken guardians of climate science. Penn State’s Michael Mann tweeted that the piece was a “pathetic puffpiece” and “glorifies” Curry “for purveying climate change distraction & confusion.”

I didn’t see it that way, but others seem to have. After fellow climate science defender Dana Nuccitelli responded to some of Curry’s statements to NPR at his Guardian blog, he tweeted:

Perhaps, but I also see some folks puffing themselves up as they fan the partisan flames of the climate debate.

  • mememine

    You goose stepping Greenzis and climate cowards have fear mongered our kids and issued CO2 death threats to billions of helpless children for 28 years. You actions constitute a war crime!

    Science has yet to say or agree that their own 28 year old threat to the planet is inevitable or eventual or unavoidable or WILL happen. What has to happen now for science to agree on something past “could be” or is it too late now as they themselves have suggested?

    How close to irreversible and unstoppable warming will the lab coat consultants take us before they agree it WILL happen not just “could” and”might” and “likely’ and…………………?

    The ultimate disaster needs certainty not “maybe” and science can end this costly debate instantly by saying their crisis is now really going to happen. Help my house could be on fire maybe?

  • Joshua

    Now, those familiar with Curry know that she doesn’t belong on Team Climate Denial.

    Hmmm. Well, given the complete lack of definition of terms, that could certainly be true.

    On the other hand, she does explicitly engage in the political side of the debate on behalf of Republicans in Congressional testimony. On a third hand, she criticizes Inhofe for political motivation. On a fourth hand, she routinely diminishes the politicization of the debate by “skeptics.”

    Good thing that you’d never fan partisan flames, Keith.

    • carolinaeagle

      Thus since other scientists testified for the Democrats, that makes THEM……..what?
      Maybe you forgot a scientist is supposed to be skeptical?
      BTW, which side is denying that climate changes (and always has)?

      • Joshua

        Thus since other scientists testified for the Democrats, that makes THEM……..what?

        That makes them advocates for the policies those Dems support: In other words, members of “team realists,” or whichever your preferred term is.

        BTW

        – neither side is “denying” that climate changes (and always has). Have you found anyone who does that? Please provide a link. Thanks in advance.

  • bobito

    Great post!
    Curry is a shining beacon of reason in the AGW debate. She will both dismiss any argument that states anthropogenic CO2 does not cause the earth to warm. And calls out areas where the science is being over played. I always find her articles to be fair.

  • mem_somerville

    I wish I could see a way to get off the merry-go-round. But I haven’t seen anyone succeed yet.

    • Buddy199

      It’s a non-theistic religious war. Please leave your sanity at the door.

  • macnicol

    Here are some real scientific facts about global climate changes:

    A summary of the sequence of events for the last 130,000 years (‘real’ years);

    150,000 y.a. – cold, dry full glacial world

    around 130,000 y.a. – rapid warming initiates the Eemian interglacial (Stage 5e) [Without human interaction]

    130,000-110,000 y.a. – global climates generally warmer and moister than present, but with progressive cooling to temperatures more similar to present.

    (except for possible global cold, dry event at 121,000 y.a.)

    ?110,000 y.a. – a strong cooling marks the end of the Eemian interglacial (Stage 5e).

    105,000-95,000 y.a. – climate warms slightly but still cooler and drier than present; strong fluctuations.

    95,000 – 93,000 y.a. – another cooler phase similar to that at 110,000 y.a.

    93,000 – 75,000 y.a. – a milder phase, resembling that at 105,000-95,000 y.a.

    75,000 – 60,000 y.a. – full glacial world, cold and dry (the ‘Lower Pleniglacial’ or Stage 4)

    60,000 – 25,000 y.a. – ‘middling phase’ of highly unstable but generally cooler and drier-than-present conditions (Stage 3)

    25,000 – 15,000 y.a. – full glacial world, cold and dry; Stage 2 (includes the ‘Last Glacial Maximum’)

    (This period includes two ‘coldest phases’ – Heinrich Events – at around 23,000-21,000 y.a. and at 17,000-14,500 y.a.)

    14,500 y.a. – rapid warming and moistening of climates in some areas. Rapid deglaciation begins. [Without human interaction]

    13,500 y.a. – nearly all areas with climates at least as warm and moist as today’s

    12,800 y.a. (+/- 200 years)- rapid onset of cool, dry Younger Dryas in many areas

    11,500 y.a. (+/- 200 years) – Younger Dryas ends suddenly, back to warmth and moist climates (Holocene, or Stage 1) [Without human interaction]

    9,000 y.a. – 8,200 y.a. – climates warmer and often moister than today’s

    about 8,200 y.a. – sudden cool and dry phase in many areas

    8,000-4,500 y.a. – climates somewhat warmer and moister than today’s [Without human interaction]

    Since 4,500 y.a. – climates fairly similar to the present

    about 2600 y.a. – relatively wet/cold event (of unknown duration) in many areas

    1,400 y.a. {536 – 538 A.D.} wet cold event of reduced tree growth and famine across western Europe and possibly elsewhere

    700 – 200 y.a. (~1300 – ~1800 A.D.) ‘Little Ice Age’

    200 y.a. – today – began gradual NATURAL warming from lows of ‘Little Ice Age’

    1970′s – 1980′s “scientists” predict coming Ice Age is imminent

    1990′s – 2000 same “scientists” predict catastrophic Man-made Global Warming.

    Which era do we pick to try to recreate / maintain and spend $$$$$$$$$ with no real impact on nature’s climate whims?

    • macnicol

      This is more revealing than I thought it might be. Consider this list of Earth’s climate variations over the past 150,000+ years. This is well accepted consensus of geologists and climate scientists backup with real hard physical evidence from several diverse sources.

      But notice that, at last count, 3 people have indicated they don’t like the facts. Are these the same kind of people who now are the FAITHFUL followers of the Pied Piper of Man-Made Climate Change, AlGore? Are the above facts “inconvenient” to their beliefs and faith?

      It can be a little disconcerting to the faithful to be confronted with data that shows the Earth goes through quite drastic swings in climate from Ice Ages to Tropical Jungles WITHOUT the influence of mankind.

  • andrew adams

    Yes the climate change debate is highly partisan. It doesn’t mean that one side is not right and the other not wrong. Or that taking the “middle ground” is necessarily a superior position. It certainly does not mean that those doing so should not be criticised if others think they are talking crap.

    • Tom Fuller

      Sadly, neither Team Bella nor Team Edward are really using logic to advance their cause anymore (if they ever did). And it bears repeating that the debate is 99% about politics and 1% about science.

      Although my perspective is closer to the consensus than the true skeptics, I will note that while people like Anthony Watts are quick to point out the defects of the sky dragons and iron sunnis, those on the consensus side can’t bring themselves to point out the flaws in the behavior and arguments of some of the loons (Lewandowsky, Prall, Romm, Gleick, et al) who sport the Emperor’s trademarked clothes of revealed truth.

      • andrew adams

        Tom,

        I agree that the climate change debate in much of the blogosphere is essentially a political one, which is why I don’t go along with those who bemoan the quality of the debate – it’s no worse than debates on many other topics where people have strongly held opinions, and better than some.

        You point out that Anthony Watts criticises the skydragons. Well the skydragons perform a useful function in that sense as they are so absurd that the likes of AW can condemn them without upsetting too many of his followers and claim that this proves he is not “anti-science”. As someone recently pointed out that’s like someone who claims the moon landings were faked saying they aren’t a crank because they don’t think the moon is made of cheese. The fact is that some of the stuff on WUWT is little better than skydragon nonsense, so if calling out people on your own side is so important where are the “skeptics” calling out Watts?

        You make it sound as though Watts is a mainstream figure and someone like Romm an extremist but whatever one thinks of Romm’s personal style his blog is a more reliable source of information than WUWT and his views much closer to the scientific mainstream.

        • Tom Fuller

          Hi Andrew! I think you’re missing my point. Andrew Watts is not trashing the credibility of climate skepticism (if such exists). Joe Romm is trashing the credibility of mainstream scientific opinion regarding climate change by acting like a street thug.

  • Buddy199

    The odd thing is that the louder and more hysterically the combatants shriek, the more the public tunes them out, as evidenced by polls showing Climate dropping to just above Misc. on the ranked list of their concerns.

    So, logically, as in the anti-GMO debate that means doubling down on an approach that isn’t working.

    • mtobis

      Climate combat is therefore working well for those who want nothing to happen; a disengaged public is a victory for them.

      • Tom Fuller

        It also fits the nefarious plans of green skinned aliens planning to serve us all for a Twilight Zone dinner. They are probably just as numerous.

  • macnicol

    Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. …consensus science “is an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. 



    Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.”



    Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science, consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.”

    

”There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period…” MICHAEL CRICHTON



    Models & complicated equations used to predict scientific events are full of assumptions and presumptions about what is relevant and how relevant it is. The inclusion or exclusion of factors is often based on unconscious or unintentional personal biases or lack of knowledge or difficulty of description about a factors relevant to the event being modeled.

    For example, many climate change models do not include the variability of the Sun’s output because it was difficult to describe or was not supportive of the desired results.

    Ultimately ALL climate change and the temperature of the Earth’s environment is a direct result of the Sun’s output. The Sun is the first order climate determiner. Every other factor is either a second, third or higher order effect.

    Scientists are human with their biases and preconceived view of the universe. Most are successful in being neutral by designing experiments that are “blind” to the results. Some are not as successful, especially when there is money, peer pressure and professional acceptance at stake.

    Remember it was consensus, accepted science that insisted the Earth was flat and was the center of the Universe. Anyone disagreeing was denigrated or worse accused of being a heretic. It took a few brave individuals to go against the consensus scientist to reveal the truth.

    “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881)

    Isn’t it interesting the government is the number one purveyor of statistics–yes very interesting.

    • andrew adams

      Consensus is something which emerges naturally when the evidence points overwhelmingly in one direction. It doesn’t mean it can’t be wrong but there are very large numbers of examples where the consensus has passed the test of time. Scientists are not for example forced to prove the laws of thermodynamics from first principles when they apply them to their work.

      I’m not sure why you think Michael Crichton is any kind of credible source on this issue.

      • macnicol

        Of course you are correct that Michael Crichton is not a credible source for the man made climate change debate. He was quoted for the idea that consensus does NOT prove, that which was agreed to, WAS IN FACT correct. For the “Self Pronounced Scientific Authorities/Societies”, consensus has been an embarrassment too many times through out history. When the issues of money, peer pressure and professional stature are at stack, then one should be very careful with the scientific consensus pronouncements. It is even more troubling when scientists proclaim there should be no more debate or research on a topic that is still in controversy.

        • mtobis

          Science does not work by consensus, but when it does work, a consensus emerges.

          How else would all those facts get into your undergrad textbooks?

          • macnicol

            Re “facts that get into your undergrad textbooks” Interesting. I have seen textbooks that presented as fact; the Bohr atom model, that blood letting cured disease and the Tychonic and Ptolemaic systems of the solar system.

            Scientific consensus only means that it is agreed that their are NO currently known observed/recorded/repeatable “unfortunate” exceptions to the proposed hypothesis NOT that it is irrefutable law.

            The scientific method encourages continuous questioning of a hypothesis using new observations, experiments and analysis of data. Scientific knowledge is closely tied to empirical findings, and always remains subject to falsification if new experimental observation incompatible with it is found. That is, no theory can ever be considered completely certain, since new evidence falsifying it might be discovered. Therefore, when it is suggested that there should be no further questioning or discussion of a hypothesis, it stops being a scientific process and becomes a political/economic one of self interest.

            The current climate models are unproven hypotheses and in fact have recently given extremely contradictory results from global climate cooling to warming using the same observed data. Look at the current hurricane path prediction models and the widely divergent results they give.

            Science is the process of gathering, comparing, and evaluating proposed models against observables. A model can be a simulation, mathematical or chemical formula, or set of proposed steps. Current models of climate change have not been verified by producing results which explain the past 100,000 plus years of historical climate variations let alone predict future ones. There are just too many unk-unks, unknown unknowns. To say that one factor or a limited select few factors control Earth’s climate changes is a leap of faith (except for the Sun’s direct influence).

            To achieve consensus, scientific journals use a process of peer review, in which scientists’ manuscripts are submitted by editors of scientific journals to (usually one to three) fellow (usually anonymous) scientists familiar with the field for evaluation.

            The peer review process can have limitations when considering research outside the conventional scientific paradigm: problems of “groupthink” can interfere with open and fair deliberation of some new research.

            Pre-existing beliefs can alter the interpretation of results, as in confirmation bias; this is a heuristic that leads a person with a particular belief to see things as reinforcing their belief, even if another observer might disagree (in other words, people tend to observe what they expect to observe).

          • Betterose Ryan

            ” A model can be a simulation, mathematical or chemical formula, or set of proposed steps. Current models of climate change have not been verified by producing results which explain the past 100,000 plus years of historical climate variations let alone predict future ones.”

            This is one reason, being a mathematician, that this debate has always been ‘open’ in my mind. From what I’ve read, it no model has come close to predicting the past climate history but I might well be wrong on that as I have quit following this closely.

            But we also have people that now say ‘climate change’ instead of ‘global warming’, I suppose because recent data isn’t supportive enough? Anyway, it reminds of a book called “Psychology in the Wry” and one of the articles in it about how scientist hide data that doesn’t quite match their theory. Just rename it! Hence ‘imprinting’ isn’t ‘learning’ since it doesn’t fit the theory.

            I am in neither camp on this debate but it seems to me that declaring the house is on fire because for 10 seconds out of the day the thermostat says it is a degree higher that it should be is a bit crazy. In terms of geological time, this is what we seem to be doing.

          • Tom Fuller

            When I was an undergrad the periodic table looked much different than it looks today. Science changes. Minds, not so much. Especially if there’s a ‘consensus’ that takes on the air of received truth.

          • andrew adams

            Sure, the periodic table looks different from what it looked like 50 years ago, our knowledge has progressed since then. But the consensus view then was our best understanding at the time, it was not believed AFAIK that it was final and complete, and what we have learned since then has built on that understanding, not invalidated it.

            Similarly no-one is saying that the fact that there is a consensus on many aspects of climate science means there isn’t still much to learn. Hopefully in 50 years we will know much more than we do now, but again it is likely to be an evolution in our knowledge, not a revolution.

          • Tom Fuller

            Hi Andrew! I hope you are well. I hijacked that example from a book I read recently called The Half Life of Facts. It was just one example. I understand the development and ongoing maintenance (and evolution) of a consensus. But I submit to you that for some the climate consensus has become dogma. Not you. Not many of the people I correspond with, such as Bart Verheggen. But for some–like the aforementioned Gleick and Romm and others such as Mann.

          • jh

            Fair enough, if by “revolution” you mean going back to pre-AGW days.

            But evolution can be startling. And it’s occurring spectacularly in climate science just at the moment. Just two years ago, there was no “pause.” Now there’s a 16 year + pause, depending on who you talk to. The emergence of the pause has caused the “chlorofluorocarbons caused the 50s-60s pause” hypothesis to quietly – and quickly – disappear. A few years ago, AGW started prior to the 1930s, now it’s the 1950s or even the 1970s. The emergence of the pause and the loss of the CFC theory means that it’s pretty clear now that no one has the slightest idea when human-induced warming supposedly started. It’s a bunch of guessing, nothing more than stabs in the dark. If you don’t know the boundary between what’s natural and what’s not, what the hell do you know??

            This “evolution” has ultimately pushed Hansen and Mann to the fringe of climate science and has many others covering their tracks.

            So if by “evolution” you mean “gradual invisible change”, I’m afraid your deeply mistaken. It’s big change. It’s knocking people off the train. It’s forced a complete re-evaluation of the basic ideas driving long-term climate prediction and related policy.

            From the political standpoint, it’s a huge coup for the skeptics and a major black eye for the IPCC and climate policy supporters.

            HUGE evolution.

      • Michael Philip

        “Scientists are not for example forced to prove the laws of thermodynamics from first principles when they apply them to their work.”

        But why? Is it because of ‘consensus’? SHOULD it be? Or should it be a presumption that not only has the person applying them actually understood them in a first-handed way, but that so has the audience.

  • harrywr2

    associated with Republicans who have in recent years made dismissal of climate change a litmus test for GOP membership

    Sorry Keith…you are conflating preferred issue framing with issue stance.

    Look up Dave Reichart(R)…look at his stance…look at his standing in the party. ‘Out of favor’ with the party congress critters don’t get to sit on Ways and Means.

    Republicans don’t talk about the ‘need to address climate change’…they discuss the ‘need for clean,affordable energy’.

    Within the party members are free to emphasis ‘clean’ or ‘affordable’ based on district realities.

    The entire Republican Party is in favor of ‘clean, affordable energy’ and depending on what district the member is from that can mean high efficiency coal, nuclear, windmills solar panels, geothermal etc etc etc…

    Even Senator ‘climate change is a hoax’ Inhofe is in favor of windmills coupled with natural gas.

    How can the Republican party have as a litmus test opposition to action on climate change when virtually every member of the party is in favor of some technology that would be an improvement on the status quo?

    The term ‘Climate Change’ is a losing framework for the Republican Party…Clean,Affordable Ennergy is a winning framework for the party.

    Any action on climate change that isn’t based on ‘clean,affordable energy’ is doomed to fail. The developing world isn’t going to adopt expensive, un-affordable energy. So any plan that is based on making energy expensive is going to fail.

  • GenghisCunn

    Keith, a fair representation of Judith’s position. As for opposing teams “hating” each other, I don’t hate anybody, and while, like many, I have views on policy towards alleged CAGW, I’m also, like many in the debate, not on a team.

    Faustino aka Genghis Cunn

  • jh

    Mann, Gore and Nuccitelli are leading the emergence of a widely acknowledged crack-pot faction in the alarmist camp. Hansen has long been in this camp too, but is finally starting to gain proper recognition for his crack-pot nature (having previously been viewed as something like a lovable but nutty uncle who should not be disdained). These people are so committed to their position that they’ll say anything to advance the cause and will do anything possible to stifle dissent – especially from real scientists.

    There are still plenty of alarmist scientists that are dramatically overplaying the strength of the science and their resulting policy positions. But I suspect that, as the crack-pot faction increasingly establishes itself as such, other alarmist scientists will be forced to distance themselves from the nutters if they want to maintain credibility.

    This can only help the policy discussion.

    • macnicol

      Just follow the money. How much has Gore made off this discredited “hockey puck” science?

  • http://orach24463.wordpress.com/ CJ

    Green Energy is bad for humans and other living things. Germany invested billions in Green energy and when last winter got too cold their Wind turbines stopped working and they had to use coal or freeze to death. A definite health hazard freezing to death do you not agree?

    For people who want to use the force of government to impose green energy on the folks look what happened in Europe and it’s not very pretty.

    The truth is finally coming out: Green Energy Is A Big Loser In Germany and Europe As A Whole

    http://joannenova.com.au/2013/

    “Germany is a Green basketcase:

    German’s electricity bills have doubled since 2000. (Germans pay about 40c a KWH.)

    Up to 800,000 Germans have had their power cut off because they couldn’t pay their bills.

    Germany’s renewable energy levy rose from €14bn to €20bn in one year as wind and solar expanded. German households will pay a renewables surcharge of €7.2bn this year alone.

    Germany has more than half the worlds solar panels. They generated 40% of Germany’s peak electricity demand on June 6, but practically 0% during the darkest weeks of winter.

    Seimens closed it’s entire solar division, losing about €1bn. Bosch is getting out too, it has lost about €2.4bn.

    Solar investors have lost almost about €25bn in the past year. More than 5,000 companies associated with solar have closed since 2010.

    Germany has phased out nuclear, but is adding 20 coal fired stations. Gas power can’t compete with cheap coal or subsidized renewables and 20% of gas power plants are facing shutdown.

    Despite the river of money paid to renewables, emissions have risen in Germany for the last two years.

    It’s a case of lose-lose all around, everyone — taxpayers, investors, renewables companies, gas companies — all lost. Waste and stupidity on a colossal scale.

    The pattern is similar in the rest of the EU:

    Two weeks ago the Czech Government has decided to end all subsidies.Spain owes €126bn to renewable energy investors.In Spain more than 5,000 solar entrepreneurs face bankruptcy without the subsidies.EU leaders now officially list affordable energy as being more important than greenhouse emissions.None of this even counts the flow-on effects of expensive energy — how much was lost from European manufacturing which could not compete? Investors are “pouring money into the US, where energy prices have fallen to one-third of those in the EU, thanks to the shale gas revolution.”

    This is burning money on a scale that only Big-Government can manage, misdirected malinvestment so “successful” that we can only guess how many people have lost jobs, lost years of work, and in the case of homes without electricity, lost lives.”

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

    Your first two paragraphs address a valid and problematic issue: The “you’re either with us or against us” mindset.

    I agreed with that aspect of Curry’s criticism when she first starting beating that drum:
    http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/judith-curry-on-climate-science-introspection-or-circling-the-wagons/

    You
    write “This has put Curry outside the mainstream of the climate science
    community.” where “this” refers to Curry’s focusing on uncertainty.

    From where I’m sitting it looks different.

    It’s her poor scientific arguments and above all her sweeping
    accusations of mainstream scientists that caused the vehement criticisms
    on her. See e.g.
    http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2010/11/05/judith-curry-building-bridges-burning-bridges/

    • Tom Fuller

      Hi Bart! How are you?

      I remember that post of yours. In fact I commented on it there: “I think you need to note a very real distinction. I don’t believe Curry is attacking science or scientists. I think she is attacking a bureaucracy, a lot of politicians and environmental lobbbyists and some small portion of scientists who have taken advantage of that bureaucracy, and a political process that is dragging our understanding of what is happening and what our options are to a dead halt.

      I agree with her appraisal. Schmidt’s parallel narrative at RC is also good, but does not address the same points.

      Saying Curry is attacking science or scientists is just playing into the whole horse-race game again. It’s obvious that what she’s attacking is the IPCC–and it deserves the criticism.”

      I still think that’s a valid counterpoint to what you’re saying.

  • Jason McCullough

    There is no real long-term adaption that is possible for the type of Climate Change we continue to create. Why do articles such as this only consider the small consequences? Science has shown us the long term devastation.

    Unfortunately for all of us, the science is very clear: Tar Sands, Natural Gas leaks, and Coal will cause climate change to go beyond the control of humans. Worldwide, we have to fully stop using these
    fossil fuels 2030, with a rapid phase out occurring immediately. Only if the United States leads this effort do we have a chance.

    The consequences sound unreal, but they are true: there is now the probability that earth will go the way of Venus. If humans allow
    oceans to warm to the point where the 50+ million year buildup of methane hydrates currently sitting on ocean floors are released into the atmosphere, our planet will warm too much to support life.
    Earth will become another Venus.

    Between the unprecedented climate forcing by human use of fossil fuels + the release of methane hydrates – climate change will run away. Our surface temperature will go from 15C to 100C, and the oceans will boil away. This is where we are going. If we continue to burn coal and unconventional fossil fuels, this will happen in less than 300 years from now.
    The humans alive in 2100 will have such a different planet than we live
    on today as to be unknowable to us. We need to keep most known reserves of fossil fuels in the ground – regardless of what we fear that choice may do to our current immediate lifestyles.

    Our government must do more. Obama much do much more on this issue. We must lead and change the world.

    This is not science fiction. This is what science and the data tell
    us. Read about it. Study it. We can’t afford not to understand this.
    Listen to the leading scientists our world has to offer: Hansen, McKibben, etc.

    Please.

    • macnicol

      Keep Calm and Carry On.

      Contrary to those who benefit politically and financially from the climate change hysteria creating & selling phony carbon credits and getting government grants, there is a REAL scientific debate about long term climate prediction. Don’t fall for the climate change “snake oil” A’gore shysters that have their hands in your pocket and have made millions $$ from this manmade pseudo-religious issue.

      The monthly near-surface temperature record from the RSS satellites shows no warming trend for 16 years 8 months. Even the climate-science chairman of the UN’s climate panel, the IPCC, admits that.

      By EVERY scientific measurement and verified by ALL professional scientists, the Earth has been gradually warming since the end of the last Ice Age approx 16,000 yrs ago independent of anything that man has done to cause it or to stop it.

      The Carboniferous Period and the Ordovician Period were the only geological periods during the Paleozoic Era when global temperatures were as low as they are today. To the consternation of global warming proponents, the Late Ordovician Period was also an Ice Age while at the same time CO2 concentrations then were nearly 12 times higher than today– 4400 ppm. According to greenhouse theory, Earth should have been exceedingly hot. Instead, global temperatures were no warmer than today.

      Clearly, other lower order factors besides atmospheric carbon influence earth temperatures and global warming such as the Sun’s energy output variations which are ignored or minimized as “inconvenient” factors in climate change models.

      Here are some REAL “inconvenient truths”.
      Of the 186 billion tons of CO2 that enter earth’s atmosphere each year from all sources, it is estimated that only 6 billion tons are from human activity, 6/186 = .03225 = 3.225%.

      At 368 parts per million, CO2 is a minor constituent of earth’s atmosphere, less than 4/100ths of 1% of all gases present, .0368%. Compared to former geologic times, earth’s current atmosphere is CO2 impoverished.

      However, human CO2 activity accounts for only 3.225% of the .0368% of C02 in the atmospheric gases or 0.0011868% of the total global atmospheric gases!

      Please ask them to explain, with their “real” science of manmade global climate hysteria, why the Earth over the past 150,000+ years, without man’s input, has undergone drastic climate changes and why the climate we live in today is NOT typical and is naturally warming from the “Little Ice Age” 500 years ago. Also, why did these same experts claim the Earth was on the verge of another Ice Age just 20 years ago using the same “cherry picked” data and unproven climate prediction models?

      Keep Calm and Carry On.

      • Jason McCullough

        The data shows great warming of the oceans, and great loss of the ice caps. The projections show catastrophic changes to our way of life – perhaps even extinction.

        ‘Carrying on’ means dying.

        Just about all of the conclusions in your above reply are dead wrong.

        • macnicol

          What data are you talking about? Projections are someone’s conjecture about the future based on delusional models that have not shown credible correlation to the past let alone the future.

          Lets talk about facts not conjecture. Core measurements and satellite data show that the polar ice caps (arctic and antarctic) are expanding, not shrinking. The Australian recently published an article on the fact that the antarctic ice cap is growing:

          ICE is expanding in much of Antarctica, contrary to the widespread public belief that global warming is melting the continental ice cap. . . .

          Ice core drilling in the fast ice off Australia’s Davis Station in East Antarctica by the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-Operative Research Centre shows that last year, the
          ice had a maximum thickness of 1.89m, its densest in 10 years. The average thickness of the ice at Davis since the 1950s is 1.67m.

          A paper to be published soon by the British Antarctic Survey in the journal Geophysical Research Letters is expected to confirm that over the past 30 years, the area of sea ice around the continent has expanded. (“Antarctic Ice is Growing, Not Melting Away,” http://www.news.com.au/stor/0,27574…57-401,00.html)

          Dr. Ian Allison of the Australian Antarctic Division Glaciology Program rejects alarmist claims about ice-cap melting::

          Dr Allison said there was not any evidence of significant change in the mass of ice shelves in east Antarctica nor any indication that its ice
          cap was melting. “The only significant calvings in Antarctica have been in the west,” he said. And he cautioned that calvings of the magnitude
          seen recently in west Antarctica might not be unusual.

          “Ice shelves in general have episodic carvings and there can be large icebergs breaking off – I’m talking 100km or 200km long – every 10 or 20 or 50 years.” . (“Antarctic Ice is Growing, Not Melting Away,”
          http://www.news.com.au/story/0,27574…57-401,00.html)

          The North Pole ice cap (arctic) is not melting away either. In fact, the arctic ice cap grew by 9% from 2007 to 2008:

          “We have news from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). They say: The melt is over for this season. And we’ve added 9.4% ice coverage from this time last year. Though it appears NSIDC is attempting to downplay this in their web page announcement today, one can safely say that despite irrational predictions seen earlier this year, we didn’t reach an “ice free north pole” nor a new record low for sea ice extent.” (Arctic Sea Ice Melt Season Officially Over; Ice Up Over 9% from Last Year .
          http://www.m4gw.com:2005/m4gw/2008/0…s_growing.html)

          The above article includes an overlay map of the North Pole ice cap that shows the ice cap in 2007 and then in 2008. Notice that the 2008 ice cap is larger than the 2007 one.

  • thrib

    “Many people lament the sulfurous climate change discourse, myself included. At this point, the well is so poisoned that I find myself increasingly avoiding the topic.”

    “If you want to participate without joining either team you will always find yourself being harangued or yelled at by affiliated members of one team, because anything you say on climate change will be viewed as ammunition for the other team.”

    Wow.

    I would like to propose an alternative view:

    You increasingly avoid mentioning climate change because you like being right. And you’re not stupid. And you have a memory.

    You staked out your position many years ago – the mainstream consensus is entirely correct, and any dissent from that position is due to a problem with communication.

    You are very slowly realising that you were wrong. That doesn’t feel good, so you talk about the GM thing instead.

    • john n-g

      Keith -
      Apparently, avoiding the topic doesn’t prevent you from being harangued or yelled at by affiliated members of one team.

      Saying something intelligent about climate change is like the laws of thermodynamics:

      Zeroth: You must play the game.

      First: You can’t win.

      Second: You can’t break even.

      Third: You can’t quit the game.

      • thrib

        “Apparently, avoiding the topic doesn’t prevent you from being harangued or yelled at by affiliated members of one team.”

        Keith didn’t avoid the topic. Or has the word “avoid” gained a new post-normal meaning?

        He doesn’t mention it as much as he used to. But he likes to dabble every now and then, when he thinks he can pull off the “I’m the sensible man in the middle” act.

        And no, you can’t win. But you *can* quit.

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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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