Climate Change in the American Mind

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | January 28, 2010 2:49 pm

I started a post this morning on the release of the new national survey out of Yale and George Mason regarding public beliefs and attitudes on global warming, but CM beat me to posting it. Still, it’s important to emphasize my concern reading that public trust in scientists has decreased, while the number of Americans who do not think climate change will harm biodiversity is on the rise. Some more of the figures:

  • The percentage of Americans who think global warming is happening has declined 14 points, to 57 percent.
  • The percentage of Americans who think global warming is caused mostly by human activities has dropped 10 points, to 47 percent.
  • Only 50 percent of Americans now say they are “somewhat” or “very worried” about global warming, a 13-point decrease.
  • Sixty-five percent distrust Republicans Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sarah Palin as sources of information.
  • Fifty-three percent distrust former Democratic Vice President Al Gore and 49 percent distrust President Barack Obama.
  • The percentage of Americans who believe that most scientists think global warming is happening is now at 34 percent

So amid growing scientific evidence that climate change will have–and indeed, is already having–real impacts around the world, there is a dramatic and dangerous disconnect with the American public. Unfortunately, we continue to live in an increasingly Unscientific America–where partisan politics, media spin, religious ideologies, and special interests hamper progress.

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Comments (125)

  1. moptop

    What is “unscientific” is answering questions about science with political accusations and mockery.

  2. Mike

    Chris the climate change story of the day is clearly the British Government proclaiming the Hadley Center group, ie Phil Jones, Michael Mann and company had indeed violated FOI laws in denying the data to those who requested it under that statue.

    Or you could choose to write about the Indian Scientist who made the claims about the Himalayan Glaciers melting by 2035, now claiming he essentially made it up to scare policy makers into action.

    Or you could write about how the claims over the Amazon or Natural Disasters being linked to climate change have now been revealed to be non-peer reviewed propaganda press releases.

    In other words, you could write about WHY Americans no longer concerned with climate change as they used to be. Because right now its not America that’s acting unscientific, its the scientists and journalists who are acting unscientific.

  3. ScienceFan

    @ moptop where exactly is the mockery? and it’s not exactly like the author is accusing one political group or another, just that our current political system impedes scientific progress. If there’s any doubt about that just look at the Copenhagen conferences, which have been widely regarded as failures among the scientific community.

  4. Gaythia

    The issue of a lack of trust goes well beyond science. Obama touched on this last night in his State of the Union address. The statistics you quote above don’t point to a distrust of science, they indicate a distrust of leadership in general.

    I do not believe that focusing on the small crises of each “…gate” in turn is a method that will build trust. I believe that we need to work towards a broader framework from which these issues can be addressed..

    I think that the following upcoming book sounds as if it will offer an interesting perspective.

    http://www.bookshopsantacruz.com/event/timothy-ferris
    “Timothy Ferris, a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award nominee, and author of the acclaimed Coming of Age in the Milky Way, has published a new book, The Science of Liberty, a brilliant chronicle of how science sparked the spread of liberal democracy across the modern world. …Ferris argues that just as the scientific revolution rescued billions from poverty, fear, hunger, and disease, the Enlightenment values it inspired has swelled the number of persons living in free and democratic societies from less than 1 percent of the world population four centuries ago to more than a third today.”

    Given that there is a strong connection between science, enlightenment, liberty, and democracy, no wonder there are so many powerful forces working to undermine scientific credibility!

    By focusing on these attributes of progress, we ought to be able to create positive means to move forward.

  5. Thermo

    Well, Sheryl, you are certainly at the vanguard of partisan politics and media spin. What a shock it must be to have planet Earth herself falsify your AGW spin.

    “Climate change” used to be “global warming” before the planet started to cool over the pst decade:

    http://icecap.us/images/uploads/ALL_SINCE_2002.jpg

    The American public is starting to realize that an increase in CO2 – a tiny trace gas – from 4 parts in ten thousand to 5 parts in ten thousand, is not going to cause any measurable warming.

    The [always inaccurate] climate models fail to take clouds into account. Warmth creates more evaporation, which results in more clouds, which reflect sunlight. Therefore, any warming is self-limiting [negative feedback].

    That’s why as beneficial CO2 rises, the planet’s temperature is falling. Unless, of course, you don’t believe NASA, HadCRU, satellite temperature records, and the 3,300 ARGO deep sea buoys that show ocean cooling.

  6. badnicolez

    Perhaps after the most recent IPCC “scandal” (Climategate, Glaciergate and now Rainforestgate), perhaps the alarmists should now be called deniers (alarmist deniers?) so they can continue to deny that there’s anything wrong with the “science” in the IPCC report over and over and over again.

    The problem many of us “Unscientific Americans” have with AGW is the alarmism and political agenda, not the fact itself that the planet is (was?) warming. We simply don’t think it calls for the aggressive, socialist policies proponents are desperately trying to have imposed on us.

    Unfortunately, much of the partisanship, political agenda and fanatic ideology is being perpetrated by the “scientists” who are supposed to be objective and non-partisan.

  7. John Moore

    I am still amazed that anyone thinks they understand the planets eco-system so well as to venture a position that CO2 has caused this, that or the other. Sun output variablity; moon position moving further away from planet having less affect on tides; cloud cover albeto; volcanic emmisions; man-made pollution; continental drift; magma displacement of the mantle and crust; cyclic ocean currents; cosmic ray saturation; radio,tv,cell phone, power line transmissions; but lets place the entire blame for the natural occuring climate change on co2 and see if 1 trillion dollars can fix it.

  8. Randy

    These poll results have to be taken in context with the general attitude towards science in the United States. According to Pew polls, over 40% of Americans and nearly 70% of Republicans, feel that humans were created in their current form less than 10,000 years ago. In other words, a large percentage of a major political party in this country not only rejects scientific findings, they reject the actual concept of science, the concept that through critical analysis of data one can gain a greater understanding of natural phenomena.

    It’s difficult to imagine how we as a nation can address any of the tough issues like climate change with these attitudes. I’m just amazed we ever got a man to the moon! At least our universities and high tech research firms have people who know how to think.

  9. DancingBear

    Jeez, is it just me, or the level of the commenters to this blog has gone down the drain? They basically ruin it for me. Perhaps that’s their purpose…

    John Moore’s message is a jewel. Radio transmissions! Moon’s distance! Continental drift! What else, the Sun going into the house of Aquarius? (There’s an ironic one there, man-made pollution, just as the EPA has declared that CO2 IS pollution…)

    Thermo’s got to update her talking points. Perhaps if she takes http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/ and holds the monitor upside down, then all temperatures will go down.

  10. Charles Schmidt

    It seems that those on both sides of the issue have their own agenda and the facts are often opinions seeing what they wish to in the data. Both sides do what is needed to sell not just the issue but how to solve it or that it is not there. The day of finding and admitting that that the data does not support what was thought to happening are gone, their belief will not let that happen. That is true not just in science but it seems most things, to include government.

  11. moptop

    “70% of Republicans, feel that humans were created in their current form less than 10,000 years ago”

    Link please.

  12. moptop

    The science is great, and it is just starting to roll in. What passed for science in the past was all part of the process too. Climategate was a leak because somebody at CRU believed in the principles of scientific investigation enough to stand up for it. I always trust science in the long run. It can just run down blind alleys at times, like when Divinity School dropout Al Gore was leading the parade.

  13. Another Adam

    Sheryl,

    I realize the whole point of your current book is this statement “where partisan politics, media spin, religious ideologies, and special interests hamper progress.” However, Chris linked to an article a couple of days ago that made an interesting point. One of the missteps made by the climate change proponents was insisting on changing behaviors and focusing on conservation. No one wants to go backwards. While progress to (forgive the term) warmists is a reduction in green house gasses. Progress to most people is a solution to the problem that does not involve behavior modification. Give us some tech trinket to buy that will remove the CO2 from our auto emissions, create new machines or materials that will trap green houses gases before they leave the factory. Solve the problem by creating something. Internalize the externalities as they say in economics. That to most Americans is progress.

  14. capitalist

    If any one would really like to see what real scientists think go to petitionproject.org. 31,000 Americans with hard science degrees, over 6,000 of them PHDs will tell you that man caused global warming through increased CO2 does not exist.

  15. While on a NOLS backpacking trip in 1982, I showered in the glacial runoff from Mt. Kenya.

  16. Bruce A.

    I am sorry to see “Discover” to continue publish articles shouting about the impending doom of “global warming.’ I know that some claim the disclosed emails from the East Anglia University only indicate a mistake in the posting of some data. Nothing is further from the truth. The letters indicate a covert effort to discredit any scientist who questioned their data to the point of trying to destroy their careers. The letters also show that data had been intentionally manipulated to indicate results virtually opposite to actual events over the last 50 years. Tree rings from only 3 trees out of a sampling of 200 do not provide proof of a world economy destroying THEORY.

    But even if one chooses to ignore the devastating impact of these revelations, there several scientists over the last few weeks saying that their works were misinterpreted. Polar bears are not drowning due to melting ice pack. Snow pack average at the south pole has not decreased. Accept the fact that “global warming” and ‘carbon credits” are money making schemes. Plan was to sell carbon credits not truly cut CO2. And I am sure that you must have read the research showing that CO2 increases follow ocean warming, not precede it!

    There is so much more evidence that what little global warming that is taking place is normal, natural and has been averaging upwards since the last Ice age. There is no indication of CO2 increases causing symbiotic reaction increasing water vapor’s impact on global warming. I could go on well beyond the the limits of this comment section.

  17. Steven Carter

    Global Climate change has been occurring ever since there’s been an atmosphere, oceans and plate tectonics intertwined on planet Earth. Scientists know that there are many variables at work in each of these aspects of the Earth that bring Global Climate change be it warming or cooling. The models that have been created are only now beginning to come closer to actually mimicking the changes our planet goes through as the variables change and intermingle with one another. Our planet is actually a living system as James Lovelock has eloquently described in his book The Gaia Hypothesis. Its known that among all the variables that effect Global Climate change there are several powerful Greenhouse gases involved – mainly CO2, Methane and Water Vapor. Its also been shown through numerous independent scientific investigations that there is a direct correlation between the amount of these gases in the atmosphere and the average temperature. To refute these studies with rhetoric and hyperbole is reckless and only profits those with a narrow agenda to extend the status quo of doing nothing.

    Its clear that those interests that will most profit from the continuation of policies that do nothing to address the issues of Global Climate change are those of the mega-corps of the fossil fuel industries. Our world runs on oil, coal and natural gas and they want to keep it that way come hell or high water. They’ve hired spin doctors and disinformation specialists to confuse, mislead and lie to the public so effectively that most no longer trust whether the issue is real or not. And of course the continued dumbing down of our public schools has built a generation unable to discern the difference between credible scientific evidence and politically motivated gibberish.

    Great civilizations have come and gone on multiple occasions throughout history and ours will be another unless we wake up and realize what we’re doing. Jared Diamond’s book Collapse all too clearly described the factors leading to some of those civilizations failures. Seems we’re going down the same path brought on by ignorance, greed and corruption. Not the legacy we should leave to our children and future generations.

  18. JJ

    Yet another wrench thrown into the “climate change” debate. The Ozone hole has now been closing, which could make warming worse for Antarctic regions…maybe we should bring back CFCs to curb warming now? Ironic, back into the 90′s all the hype was about the ozone hole getting bigger and toasting us with solar radiation, now it’s closing, but Earth is going to get hotter…

    http://bestsyndication.com/?q=20100126_ozone_holes_closing_up_could_cause_warmer_temperatures.htm

  19. Unfortunately, we continue to live in an increasingly Unscientific America–where partisan politics, media spin, religious ideologies, and special interests hamper progress.

    So you and Chris “Republican War on Science” Mooney are worried that “partisan politics” has diminished public trust in science. At least you two relentlessly nonpartisan types had nothing to do with that!

  20. JJ

    The IPCC ignored the affect of the Ozone hole recovery on climate change. Apparently the closing hole is expected to reverse warming in the Southern hemisphere. The last article said the closing hole will increase warming…this is exactly why the “climate change” debate is rejected by the majority.

    http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/closing-ozone-hole-could-help-reverse-some-climate-change-16701.html

  21. Andrew Befus

    Maybe if enough of us don’t believe in Global Climate Change, it will go away.

    The climate is changing — we may not be the main cause of it but we’re sure not making anything better.

  22. Alexa

    Consider the prospects: AGW is happening and we address it, AGW is not happening and we address it (and probably gain the economic benefits anticipated regardless) or AGW is happening and we ignore it so developing nations suffer tremendously. We’re best off choosing the cautious path. If we lose, it’s devastating.

  23. For the moment, I’ll leave out Obama’s Statism of the Union’s self-referential speech last night and his own ideological “latching on” to anything that promises global governance, and just say:

    Ah, always charming to behold the inestimable Chris Mooney, con man du jour for the Left’s new methodology of extracting more money from our hides, this time with carbon demonization. Just thought I’d throw that little ditty in, for the amen chorus here at Discover mocking religious or ideological convictions.

    So, let’s recap here; to thwart the non-science demons among us and cast those heathens out, Mooney decides that science is now to be merged with the somewhat suspect version of study called Political Science, where the Evil Bad Guys are those who show up in poll after poll arguably hard to convince, these hardheads, that a Laodiciean Hellfire at most is about to hobble us with Climate Change should we not change our evil capitalist pig ways and yield to central authority and our supposed high-brow betters.

    Sorry Chris–not buying it. Science is not via consensus, and consensus is not science. The veracity of this wild claims about how climate change is now harming the commonweal and indeed all of life on earth (the latest tally is about 600 ugly things going on, from stale wines in Australia to the crash in the housing market to prostitution in Malaysia) hardly survived the CRU scandal of manipulated data and smother attempts at naysayers, and the result is: Damn the doubting torpedoes, full steam ahead!

    As to Al Gore and the rake-in he’s made off this hype, he’s more than deserving of the mockery far more than the American people, as are the carbon-belchers in their own right who convened in the really rotten state of Denmark a few weeks ago to engorge on caviar and lobster and partake of the local blonde cuties, all the while telling the Little People we need, ya guessed it, more regulation.

  24. JJ

    I think moving toward more energy efficient technology is necessary as a way to become energy independent. However, climate change is currently being used as an excuse for the Democrats to tax businesses for foreign countries to get our money, both don’t serve much purpose in curbing CO2. Developing more efficient energy technologies and alternative fuels should be done regardless of climate change.

  25. JJ

    …businesses *and* for…

  26. bilbo

    Polar bears are not drowning due to melting ice pack.

    Of course! That’s why, as of this year, only one population of polar bears out of all those studied by scientists was actually increasing in fitness and numbers (directly from the mouth of the IUCN).

    Once again, facts trump denialist nonsense. That one was easy.

  27. I’m curious if the climate skeptics who post comments here are willing to put actual money behind their positions. I’ll bet that warming will increase in the next decade at twice the decadal rate in the 20th Century. I mean a real money bet, not token amounts.

    I usually find the skeptics aren’t willing to bet, but there are occasional exceptions.

  28. JJ

    Even if that were so Brian, it still wouldn’t prove humans were the cause.

  29. Polar bears are at risk for SOME local populations due to overhunting, but most of the populations so far as we can tell are in fine shape. There are more of these man killers alive today than at any time in the past. And they apparently survived times of far smaller ice coverage than today:

    http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba551/

    These critters are less endangered than they are just conveniently charismatic looking boogers and make a cute cause, and don’t betray their dangerous predatory instincts unless you’re rather up close and personal.

    As to the whole Cap-N-Tax charade, that is long shot to hell for its real meaning and implications for the global economy:

    http://www.heritage.org/Research/Economy/wm1723.cfm

  30. bilbo

    First of all, my results from 2009 trump those from 7 years earlier (which were the figures you cited).

    Second of all, my study results are from an independent study published by scientists whose speciality is polar bear biology. Yours was performed by the state climatologist for Delaware (what?! The state climatologist from Dealware is an expert on polar bear biology?!) and was funded and published (quoting) “by the NCPA.” The NCPA (National Center for Policy Analysis) is a (predictability alert!!!!) conservative organization closely tied to the Tea Party Movement, funded by Exxon-Mobil (seriously. this is getting so predictable it’s hilarious), and was foudned and is led exclusively by the CEOs of large, multinational corporations with no ties to scientific research – including Frito-Lay, a large health insurance conglomerate, and the CEO of 7-11. Yeah, the convenience stores.

    Excuse me for being, I don’t know, intelligent, but I believe I’ll trust multi-year monitoring of polar bear populations by scientists in the field, who are trained in the study of polar bears and polar bear biology, over a study performed by a climatologist in Dealware who knows nothing about polar bears and was led by a group managed by a guy who makes potato chips and a dude who sells Big Gulps for a living. (and, I’ll note, the actual ‘study’ is never linked on your website to see how it was performed, what analyses were used, and what data sources it relied on. In fact, its name is never given. Coincidence? I think not.)

    In light of this, let it be known: Wakefield Tolbert is just another partisan denialist shill trying to pass off pseudoscience to the public. He should be pissed upon, as such a person deserves.

  31. I have to whole heartedly agree with Wakefield. The Hadley CRU document dump made it clear that we had all been treated to a dog and pony show for many a year, and those that had influence were ready to pull the rope on us when bottom fell out on the “scientists”. The Himalyan glacial sheet info is simply more of the same. Given the above, no one should be too quick to trust these ‘science’ laden scare mongers.

    I will say this for Brian, he was willing to bet his own money.

    The AGW crowd is most interested in betting yours and mine.

  32. bilbo

    nicholas, answer this:

    are Himalayan glaciers melting and causing major societal issues for humans in that region?

  33. Randy

    In response to moptop, the link to the poll results indicating that 70% of Republicans (actually only 66%, sorry) believe that man was created in his current form less than 10,000 years ago is at

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/27847/Majority-Republicans-Doubt-Theory-Evolution.aspx

    it’s actually a Gallup poll.

    There is of course a huge overlap between those who reject the science of atmospheric sciences and those who reject the science of evolutionary biology. It’s truly frightening to think that people like this are in the US Congress.

    And then there are others whose ideology trumps their critical analysis when it comes to review of scientific discoveries.

  34. GM

    If any one would really like to see what real scientists think go to petitionproject.org. 31,000 Americans with hard science degrees, over 6,000 of them PHDs will tell you that man caused global warming through increased CO2 does not exist.

    Same old canard. There are hundred of different scientific and non-scientific fields where PhDs are awarded. A PhD in one of them doesn’t make one expert in all of them, as molecular biologist I can’t comment on the quality of research in algebraic geometry and I would never do it.

    And a PhD on its own doesn’t mean anything, it is what is attached to the name on it in terms of body of work that does, a subtle point that tends to evade those completely ignorant about the way science works

    For the record, there is a lot of sausage-making involved in the process of doing any science, but it is the self-correcting mechanisms built-in in the system that ensure that the truth prevails in the end. This has been historically misused by post-modernists to declare science useless and is now misused again to declare a large body of solid scientific work discredited.

  35. GM

    Yet another wrench thrown into the “climate change” debate. The Ozone hole has now been closing, which could make warming worse for Antarctic regions…maybe we should bring back CFCs to curb warming now? Ironic, back into the 90’s all the hype was about the ozone hole getting bigger and toasting us with solar radiation, now it’s closing, but Earth is going to get hotter…

    The Ozone hole has been closing because we actually did something to stop emitting CFCs. The problem is that while we could relatively easily substitute CFCs, at this point we simply can’t substitute fossil fuels with anything. Of course, we’re running out of them anyway but this is hardly a reason to cheer up…

  36. GM

    The IPCC ignored the affect of the Ozone hole recovery on climate change. Apparently the closing hole is expected to reverse warming in the Southern hemisphere. The last article said the closing hole will increase warming…this is exactly why the “climate change” debate is rejected by the majority.

    It would be good if you can give us numbers quantifying the effect is it exists. What is happening now is that denialists are going crazy over the erroneous number given for glacier disappearance (it is not disputed whether glaciers will disappear, but when, it was a question of numbers), but when talking about negative feedbacks, too small to make any real difference they stop talking about numbers completely and instead switch to qualitative talk about how, you see, there are negative feedbacks so there is nothing to worry about.

    Cooling of the the Southern hemisphere, even if it really happens, isn’t much to be happy about because less than a billion people live there it is the rains in the other part of the globe that you have to be really concerned about. And closing of the ozone hole can only have limited effect on the climate, because once it closes, the effect is gone, and if emissions continue, the climate will still warms

  37. Nicholas, the skeptics who’ve stopped action on AGW for 20 years are betting our futures. Ones who make money off their skeptic claims, like Michaels, Morano, and Inhofe, refuse to put their own money on the line. I think it indicates something about their trustworthiness, or lack of it.

  38. GM

    I think moving toward more energy efficient technology is necessary as a way to become energy independent. However, climate change is currently being used as an excuse for the Democrats to tax businesses for foreign countries to get our money, both don’t serve much purpose in curbing CO2. Developing more efficient energy technologies and alternative fuels should be done regardless of climate change.

    Too late at this point to make a difference. Currently 80% of world’s energy comes from fossil fuels, 6% from nuclear (which is in essence fossil fuel too because it’s non-renewable), some 6-7% from hydro, and another 6-7% from biomass. Solar and wind are 1-2% if that. We need to reduce emissions by 90% in one or two decades during which time energy demand will keep rising by a few percents every year. How do you see us replacing those 80% with renewable sources, if those are 1% of the total now???

  39. GM

    Polar bears are not drowning due to melting ice pack.
    Of course! That’s why, as of this year, only one population of polar bears out of all those studied by scientists was actually increasing in fitness and numbers (directly from the mouth of the IUCN).
    Once again, facts trump denialist nonsense. That one was easy.

    You know what’s the most important thing about polar bears?

    The polar bears is an apex predator, and it is an apex predator in the second most unaffected (relatively speaking) by human activity region of the world. Its population is 20-25,000.

    Another apex predator is Homo sapiens. Of course, we are talking about different species, with different body mass and energy requirements, different primary productivity the area occupied and different size of those areas, but if you adjust for those, you still get an interesting estimate of how many people would be alive today if there was no agriculture and no fossil fuels, and this estimate is a few thousand time lower than 7 billion

  40. GM

    Polar bears are not drowning due to melting ice pack.
    Of course! That’s why, as of this year, only one population of polar bears out of all those studied by scientists was actually increasing in fitness and numbers (directly from the mouth of the IUCN).
    Once again, facts trump denialist nonsense. That one was easy.

    You know what’s one of the most important thing about polar bears?

    The polar bears is an apex predator, and it is an apex predator in the second most unaffected (relatively speaking) by human activity region of the world. Its population is 20-25,000.

    Another apex predator is Homo sapiens. Of course, we are talking about different species, with different body mass and energy requirements, different primary productivity the area occupied and different size of those areas, but if you adjust for those, you still get an interesting estimate of how many people would be alive today if there was no agriculture and no fossil fuels, and this estimate is a few thousand time lower than 7 billion

  41. FergalR

    Mom made me promise never to gamble Brian. Doubling the decadal warming seems like a longshot though since one of the positive forcings has petered out;
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8483722.stm
    while another has gone negative;
    http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100128/full/news.2010.42.html

    Did the mild NH winter destabilise the clathrates or is the current ENSO Hansen’s heat nearing the end of the pipeline? If doubling CO2 would give a tad over 1C maybe you should listen to my mom’s advice.

  42. GM

    Mom made me promise never to gamble Brian. Doubling the decadal warming seems like a longshot though since one of the positive forcings has petered out;
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8483722.stm
    while another has gone negative;
    http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100128/full/news.2010.42.html

    Some one didn’t bother to read his own links once again:

    from the first one:

    “This is a valuable paper that helps to constrain certain feedback components for the past,” said John Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
    “However, it is probably not suited for extrapolation into the future and it does not cover the really interesting processes like anthropogenic activation of permafrost carbon or methane clathrates.”

    from the second:

    With solar activity ramping up and an El Niño underway, Lean and Rind suggest that temperatures could rise over the coming years, followed by a slight plateau coinciding with the next solar minimum. Their paper3, based on a statistical analysis of past temperature trends, predicts rising temperatures until 2030, including scenarios for any unpredictable occurrences of El Niño and volcanic eruptions. A 2008 paper in Nature4 that investigated ocean currents and sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic came to the opposite conclusion, suggesting a pause in warming over the coming decade.

    Jeff Knight, a climate modeller at the Met Office Hadley Centre in Exeter, UK, last year led an analysis of temperature trends from the year 2000 and found that current global climate models are able to reproduce such short-term events without a hitch. He says that the models produced an extended period of relatively flat temperatures in one out of every eight decades — although none of them produced a flat trend beyond 15 years.

    “Too much focus on decadal trends is not healthy,” he says, suggesting that the climate models can simulate these events and do not necessarily need to be able to simulate any particular decade.

  43. FergalR

    I have a blindspot for hopelessly optimistic spin, especially when it comes from the Hadley Centre.

  44. Craig Gosling

    Fact: Humans are reluctant to face reality and act on it, whether it be the danger of smoking, obesity, or environmental destruction, etc. Reasons vary, some good, some bad. Unfortunately, the reasons for doubting dangers of climate change are ultimately political. How many doubters do you know who are not Republican/Conservative? If there was an easy and inexpensive solution to climate change would anyone oppose doing something about it? It is easier, more comforting, and cheaper to deny it than doing something about it. Humans are dummies. We have proven that over and over. So, what else is new?

  45. JJ

    GM, are you saying moving toward other energy sources are not good for the Earth? Seriously? You’d rather keep us on foreign oil? We need to find other energy sources to ween ourselves off of foreign oil. I didn’t give a time frame and it’s obvious the world is based on fossil fuels. Change has to start somewhere, doesn’t it? As the ozone hole, there are no numbers because the IPCC didn’t pay any attention to it’s affect on climate. Say what you will, but I doubt you’re a climatologist. I posted 2 articles, both with contradictory information about the affect of the ozone hole on climate, both credible sources directly from the source of the claims (climatologists).
    It’s a microcosm of the climate debate, contradictory evidence is everywhere, along with political corruption playing into the debate: those leaked e-mails, Al Gore making false claims, the IPCC’s false claims that glaciers in the Himalayas will disappear by 2035 . It’s no wonder why people don’t trust the government and scientists anymore, they dug their own graves, especially when the IPCC is consulted by the government and they’re at the heart of the most controversy. It only takes a handful of false public claims to warrant public distrust when it involves politics. No need for hard numbers here, it’s plain to see. If you’re not the least bit suspicious you must live under a rock or you’re in complete denial. Both sides can post whatever non-sense they want on these blogs, it’s not going to convince either side. I remain skeptical, there’s not enough evidence, too many false steps, political corruption, and partisan politics.
    Furthermore, meteorologists can only accurately predict weather within 48 hours and even then they end up wrong. You’re now trusting them to predict the entire climate of the Earth for the next 50+ years at the expense of the American taxpayer and businesses. Models are not always accurate, especially when trying to project the next 50 years of climate around the globe. It’s also known that the Earth has been much warmer than it is now for much of its history, without the presence of excess CO2.

  46. JJ

    The fact is that the Earth is indeed warming (which it has done in the past, naturally, and before the burning of fossil fuels), but we simply can’t conclude, without a doubt, that people are the cause; especially when the AGW claims are being used to push radical political agendas by leftist parties all over the world.

  47. JJ

    Furthermore, using climate data from the last 100 or 150 years is not a statistically significant sample when you consider the age of the Earth. To make an accurate climate prediction we would need at least tens of thousands of years of data.

  48. moptop

    Randy, OK, I have a quibble that the original claim was that 70% of Republicans are Young Earth Creationists. That nobody who believes in creation can have any other opinion but the most patently ridiculous one, but nevertheless, I have to say that the claim was not completely unfounded, even if it was exaggerated.

    Using your analysis though, 50% of Americans believe the world is 10,000 yrs old, according to your poll, does you experience tell you that that sounds right?

  49. It appears to me as if one certain thing humanity cannot keeping doing much longer is the very same thing we are so adamantly and foolishly doing now as the self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe among us choose to recklessly speed up the ever increasing, seemingly endless growth of the global economy as well as to deceptively manipulate human beings into going along with a conspicuous per-capita overconsumption and unreserved overpopulation agenda.

    If we keep doing what we are doing now and the human community keeps getting what it is getting now, I fear that sooner rather than later everything we are led to believe we are protecting and preserving will be ruined. In the not-too-distant future a distinct probability could exist that one of two colossal calamities will occur. The wanton dissipation of Earth’s limited resources, the relentless degradation of Earth’s frangible environment, and the approaching destruction of the Earth as a fit place for human habitation by the human species, when taken together, appear to be proceeding toward the precipitation of a catastrophic ecological wreckage of some unimaginable sort unless, of course, the world’s ever expanding, artificially designed, manmade global political economy (the modern “economic colossus”) continues to speed headlong toward the monolithic ‘wall’ called “unsustainability” at which point humanity’s runaway economy crashes before Earth’s ecology is collapsed.

    Could we talk about the need for a new vision for life on Earth?

    Months ago Andy Revkin of the NYTimes and the Dot Earth community asked the question, “What does humanity do when we grow up?” Dr. Joel Cohen has explained elsewhere how humanity is currently in an adolescent phase of its development and is moving toward maturity. Other experts have suggested that the behavior of people in many places is even more primitive, in the sense of being less grown-up than adolescents and more nearly infantile.

    Perhaps another way of coming up with a new vision would be to ask the question, “What might a human world look like when full grown, mature human beings with feet of clay design, construct and organize a new world order in the future?”

  50. moptop

    “However, it is probably not suited for extrapolation into the future and it does not cover the really interesting processes like anthropogenic activation of permafrost carbon or methane clathrates.”

    I am sorry. Did the paper address any of that directly through scientific investigation? Uh, that would be no. What it did show was that the models currently, by and large, overestimate the feedback from CO2 and thus, based on what is actually known, you know, the *science*, the models would appear to overestimate future warming.

    It is likely that when they look back at the Holocene Optimum, which was warmer than today, a few thousand years back, and the Eemian interglacial, about half a million years ago, when it was significantly warmer than today for thousands of years, they will see that those methane calthrates stayed put. I am basing this on the fact that the human race is not extinct. Not only that, they might also notice that the oldest polar bear fossils pre-date both of those significantly warmer than today events.

  51. moptop

    Science is a process of slow deliberate work and careful thinking. The science is starting to come in on climate change. “We can’t wait for the science to be settled” is not science, even if somebody with the title of “scientist” says it.

  52. Milton C.

    How many doubters do you know who are not Republican/Conservative?

    Easy answer: not very many. It’s a scientific issue that falls almost strictly along political lines….although very, very few scientists are skeptics relative to the amount that are not.

    That should speak volumes.

  53. bilbo

    You know what’s one of the most important thing about polar bears?

    The polar bears is an apex predator, and it is an apex predator in the second most unaffected (relatively speaking) by human activity region of the world. Its population is 20-25,000.

    Another apex predator is Homo sapiens. Of course, we are talking about different species, with different body mass and energy requirements, different primary productivity the area occupied and different size of those areas, but if you adjust for those, you still get an interesting estimate of how many people would be alive today if there was no agriculture and no fossil fuels, and this estimate is a few thousand time lower than 7 billion

    1.) A polar bear or a human doesn’t have “primary productivity.” I really, really hope you meant differences in the primary productivity of habitats and not the organisms. Otherwise, I suggest you take (or retake) general ecology at your local community college, and you’ll quickly grasp the ridiculous nature of your original statement. Fundamental misunderstandings like these are part of the reason climate skeptics are generally worthless.

    2.) Is your response just suggesting that we shouldn’t worry about other species/climate change because fossil fuels help keep human populations fat and happy? If so, I say again: I suggest you take (or retake) general ecology at your local community college, and you’ll quickly grasp the ridiculous nature of your original statement. Then you might grasp what it means to remove an “apex predator” from an ecosystem and why what happens to “the second most unaffected by human acitivity region of the world” also impacts the rest of the world. In fact, then you might understand why climate change matters, buddy. Try it. I mean that.

  54. moptop

    Bilbo,
    Why didn’t the polar disappear during the Holocene Optimum? Why didn’t they disappear during the Eemian? Take a look at the GRIP core for Arctic temps 6 to 8K years ago (give or take, I am writing this from memory), ask yourself if there would be summer ice in the Arctic at those temps…

    Yeesh!

  55. TTT

    Jeez, is it just me, or the level of the commenters to this blog has gone down the drain? They basically ruin it for me. Perhaps that’s their purpose…

    Rather defeats our hosts’ concept of “framing”, doesn’t it? Chris is right here, saying what he’s saying the way he presumably thinks all science communicators should, yet it seems like all the feedback he gets from this issue right where he discusses it the most is of the “global cooling in the ’70s / Oregon Petition” flavor.

  56. bilbo

    Easy answer, moptop: polar bears hadn’t yet evolved from their brown bear ancestors during your aforementioned periods; it’s not an old lineage. You’re basing your assumptions on a situation where evolution doesn’t exist. Nice try, though….but basic science lops the head off of your half-assed skeptic argument once again. Seems to me a skeptic “so concerned” about climate change would research such things before making a fool of himself, y’think?

    Somehow, though, I have a feeling that you’re “skeptical” of evolution, too. Am I correct?

  57. Milton C:

    “Easy answer: not very many [non-GOP skeptics]. It’s a scientific issue that falls almost strictly along political lines….although very, very few scientists are skeptics relative to the amount that are not. That should speak volumes.”

    Well, it speaks volumes, but in general, such a discrepancy may still have two possible reasons: either the public is confused, or the scientific community is politicized. (Or, less likely, the science community is not politicized, but it can still be wrong.) Guess which one is correct in the case of anthropomorphic global warming gods?

    It’s very transparent that most people in the Academia – and especially in politicized fields like climate science – are leftists, and often extreme leftists. They want more redistribution because more redistribution means more money to their pocket. And they especially want more redistribution to climate issues because it means more money to them personally. They usually don’t like corporations as suggested by the fact that they didn’t go to work to the commercial sector.

    It’s manifest in all polls that most of these university departments are composed of leftists, and they consequently have a manifest leftist bias. More regulation, more harassment of the individuals by the government, and so on. They don’t care: they really want it. I think that only a complete denier could deny this manifest, observed, and theoretically explainable political bias in the current Academia.

    Global warming has nothing whatsoever to do with science. The people who want to regulate carbon and the human society don’t give a s*it about the science. If Nature behaves differently than their propaganda dictates, they screw science and Nature. They just say it’s some exception, conspiracy, new effect, error of measurement, whatever. They just dismiss it. They are hyping possible arguments that are convenient and dismissing all arguments that are inconvenient. They don’t follow the scientific method and they never falsify their patently false opinions.

    You see, I know quite a lot about the internal workings of these matters because I have been at Harvard faculty for six years. For example, a favorite senior professor of mine – whom I still consider moderate (unlike others, and especially other Jewish Americans in the Academia, he wasn’t anti-American, after all) used to have dinners with Al Gore and/or Naomi Oreskes and their likes. He would very openly tell me that the answers about climate science didn’t matter: he wanted more money to be redistributed. He was ready to pay 10% higher taxes – what a surprise if his whole salary was paid from the taxes and similar “uncommercial” sources.

    All these people eventually tell you that the answers “don’t matter”. This is all about politics, and who is publicly denying that the global warming threats have always been influential only because of politics – because of people’s desire to change the society – and not because of science – i.e. because of the scientific findings that are actually supported by the evidence – is simply not saying the truth. These people are fooling others. They’re fooling themselves. They’re dishonest and dangerous liars.

  58. Katharine

    “The percentage of Americans who believe that most scientists think global warming is happening is now at 34 percent.”

    This is especially worrying.

  59. Milton C.

    moptop:

    Your post, #54, sounds good, but it’s an argument made without all the facts….which I notice characterizes most skeptic’s arguments, firmly backing up my hunch that most skeptics have never read the basic science they’re trying to hard and frantically to debunk.

    Polar bears had not completely evolved from their brown bear ancestors (which lived in a different portion of the world) until roughly 7,000-10,000 years ago. (“The Earth is always changing, remember? Your old skeptic’s canard). So, your argument is mostly debunked by the basic science you failed to brush up on before making it.

    Somehow, though, I imagine this will only bring about a rambling diatribe about the conspiracy of evolutionary biology and/or a layman’s attempt at debunking an evolutionary study. Such is climate skepticism.

  60. Katharine

    Also, let’s not forget that the Climategate emails being harped on about weren’t actually proof of falsification, considering the fact that the email was totally misread, which shows most of the skeptics’ absolute misunderstanding of climate science.

    Also, last I heard, you don’t trust a fucking physicist to know squat about, say, cell division.

  61. Katharine

    Is there any data on the average education level of denialists, their educational backgrounds, etc? It might provide some insight into their level of intelligence and their comprehension of science.

  62. What it did show was that the models currently, by and large, overestimate the feedback from CO2 and thus, based on what is actually known, you know, the *science*, the models would appear to overestimate future warming.

    Moptop, you continue to mischaracterize a paper that you obviously still have not read.

    First of all, this paper uses models to estimate the CO2 feedback. Your contempt for climate models is obvious, so I fail to understand why you suddenly consider this the gold-standard.

    Secondly, they are estimating the natural feedback relationship between CO2 and temperature. To date, this number has not been well defined. The feedback could have been negative (increasing temperature pulls CO2 from the atmosphere), positive (increasing temperature forces additional CO2 into the atmosphere), or effectively zero. They concluded that the feedback was almost certainly significantly positive – in other words, as the temperature rises non-anthropogenic carbon will be added to the atmosphere on-top-of the man-made carbon we know is being added already. To counter anthropogenic global warming, this number would have to have been significantly negative.

    Thirdly, since the magnitude of the feedback was poorly known, climate models included a range of values for it (not simply the 40 ppm number you’re obsessed with), including zero. This is one of the reasons that the IPCC report gives a (2-6 C) range of predictions for the increase in temperature by 2100.

    So to claim that the models ” overestimate future warming” is simply wrong.

  63. moptop

    Jinchi, never said there was no such thing as AGW, so please go tilt at some other windmill. It is difficult to respond to a post as incoherent and chock full of sloppy thinking as yours, but I will give it a try:

    You said I said:
    “So to claim that the models ” overestimate future warming” is simply wrong.”
    When I said
    “models currently, by and large, overestimate the feedback from CO2 ”

    I also pointed out that the article shows that the majority of models use higher numbers when the actual CO2 feedback is shown to be much lower.

    I answered these objections in another thread, go look for yourself:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2010/01/26/the-disastrous-setback-for-climate-advocacy-of-late-2009/#comment-47149

    Your post, #54, sounds good, but it’s an argument made without all the facts….which I notice characterizes most skeptic’s arguments, firmly backing up my hunch that most skeptics have never read the basic science they’re trying to hard and frantically to debunk.
    Polar bears had not completely evolved from their brown bear ancestors (which lived in a different portion of the world) until roughly 7,000-10,000

    Milton C,

    Fossil shows polar bears may have lived through warmer times: study

    Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/north/story/2009/02/04/pbear-fossil.html#ixzz0e1krCn0D

    Given the estimated age of the jawbone, and taking into account molecular biologists’ claims that polar bears have been around for more than 200,000 years, Ingolfsson said ancient polar bears must have lived through at least two ancient periods in which the Arctic was not as cold as it is today.

    “We know that there have been periods for the past couple of hundred thousand of years which have been warmer and with less sea ice than today,” he said.

    That possibility may challenge scientific concerns about the future of polar bear populations, as climate change melts the Arctic sea ice that is the bear’s habitat and threatens the species’ survival.

    Why don’t you go after the CBC, and the BBC had the same story, so go after them about their ignorance, while you are at it.

    I do seem to have gotten the 600k number wrong, but hey, your 10K number was a joke.

  64. moptop

    Oddly enough, the EPA’s endagerment finding regarding polar bears does not seem to have taken the above evidence into account….

    Maybe it is because politics trumps science in the Democrat’s War on Science…

    The well-preserved 23cm-long bone jawbone was pulled from sediments that suggest the specimen is perhaps 110,000 or 130,000 years old. Professor Olafur Ingolfsson from the University of Iceland says tests show it was an adult, possibly a female.

    What’s so fascinating about the discovery is that it places the polar bear remnant living in the Eeemian – the last interglacial – which was much warmer than our current Holocene epoch and might portend goods news for today’s polar bear population numbering 20-25,000 animals.

    This discovery has the potential to throw into doubt the New York Times report on September 7th that announced that two-thirds of the world’s polar bears will disappear by 2050, even under moderate projections for shrinking summer sea ice caused by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, government scientists have reported. The finding is part of a yearlong review of the effects of climate and ice changes on polar bears to help determine whether they should be protected under the Endangered Species Act. Scientists estimate the current polar bear population at 22,000.

    The polar bear has assumed an iconic status in the current global warming debate because of its dependence on ice to provide a hunting platform for seals.

    “The polar bear,” says Ingolfsson, “is basically a brown bear that decided some time ago that it would be easier to feed on seals on the ice. So long as there are seals, there are going to be polar bears. I think the threat to the polar bears is much more to do with pollution, the build up of heavy metals in the Arctic.”

  65. JJ

    How many doubters do you know who are not Republican/Conservative?
    Easy answer: not very many. It’s a scientific issue that falls almost strictly along political lines….although very, very few scientists are skeptics relative to the amount that are not.

    …..Most right wingers do believe we need to take measures for energy independence and efficiency, regardless of the AGW argument. The real debate is how each side plans on combating “climate change”.

    The left simply wants to cap and tax carbon emissions. Is this an efficient way to curb carbon emissions? No, it’ll just cost businesses more money as they continue to spew the same amount of emissions into the air. If anyone thinks this will actually help curb emissions you should ask them what they’re smoking.

    The right wants to build nuclear plants and put more emphasis on natural gas. They also want to drill here for oil in a cleaner manner than those overseas. A much more effective plan than the left. It promises results without funding big government spending, a tenet of the left (conflict of interest?). It’s clear that the left is only using “climate change” to exploit tax dollars from businesses. However, both sides favor investing in solar, wind, cleaner coal, and geothermal.

  66. Mark

    “The right wants to build nuclear plants and put more emphasis on natural gas. They also want to drill here for oil in a cleaner manner than those overseas.”

    That is not even close to a correct characterization of the right’s position on energy sources. I note you conveniently left out coal.

    And the desire to increase nuclear energy hasn’t even been thought through. There aren’t enough nuclear engineers being trained to expand nuclear energy to the level that would be necessary. http://chronicle.com/article/More-Nuclear-Engineers-Need-to/518/
    (subscription required–sorry)

    “The left simply wants to cap and tax carbon emissions.”

    Also not a correct characterization. You didn’t get either side right.

  67. Randy

    moptop said ” I have a quibble that the original claim was that 70% of Republicans are Young Earth Creationists. That nobody who believes in creation can have any other opinion but the most patently ridiculous one, but nevertheless, I have to say that the claim was not completely unfounded, even if it was exaggerated.
    Using your analysis though, 50% of Americans believe the world is 10,000 yrs old, according to your poll, does you experience tell you that that sounds right”

    The poll results found that 66% of Republicans believe that God created human beings pretty much in their present form within the last 10,000 years. Experience does indeed tell me that that sounds about right. Just think of all the ridiculous arguments we’ve heard in the health care debate. I think those of us who work in fields that involve science (I’m an MD) sometimes fail to appreciate how many people simply reject the concept of science and instead embrace fantasy or faith or superstition. And this has really become the semi-official position of the Republican party.

  68. JJ

    Mark, I mentioned coal in the very last sentence. Also, If I’m not correct, I challenge you to present sources that say otherwise. Simply saying you’re wrong holds no credibility. All of these sources below are non-partisan, including the last source from GOP.gov, which is a transcript of an MSNBC interview with Congressman Mike Pence.

    “Thanks to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), legislation that will further hinder our nation’s ability to become energy independent (i.e., depend less upon foreign sources of oil and natural gas) is one step closer to becoming law.”

    http://www.nowpublic.com/world/senate-democrats-oppose-energy-independence

    “These Republicans all agree that energy independence is a priority. They do not however, push for a nation wide cap on greenhouse gas emissions. This is the main difference between the two Parties.” (2008 Presidential Candidates)

    http://ballotbox2008.com/2007/04/where-republicans-stand-global-warming.html

    http://www.cfr.org/publication/14765/

    Polls show support for Nuclear power is growing. Also, Obama mentioned his new found support of nuclear power in the State of the Union Address, which may lead to more Democratic support.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/117025/support-nuclear-energy-inches-new-high.aspx

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/116713/Americans-Energy-Promote-New-Sources-Old.aspx

    “The Republicans’ all-of-the-above strategy, we’re going to say yes to giving the American people more access to American oil, more domestic exploration for natural gas and coal, yes to renewables like wind and solar and we’re going to say a deafening yes to nuclear energy. We’re going to commit this country or call on this country to build 100 new nuclear power plants in the next 20 years.” – Mike Pence, (R) Indiana

    http://www.gop.gov/wtas/09/06/10/congressman-pence-discusses-house-republican

  69. moptop

    Whatever Randy.

    I hope you read medical studies more carefully than you do polls.

  70. GM

    58. Katharine Says:
    January 29th, 2010 at 12:51 pm
    Is there any data on the average education level of denialists, their educational backgrounds, etc? It might provide some insight into their level of intelligence and their comprehension of science.

    On average they certainly are the less educated portion of society, however, as with creationism and other forms of denial, there tend to be a lot of engineers, computer scientist, mathematicians and people in the humanities there, i.e. often very sophisticated areas where you get a high-level education but you are rarely if ever exposed to the actual science and its epistemology

  71. GM

    1.) A polar bear or a human doesn’t have “primary productivity.” I really, really hope you meant differences in the primary productivity of habitats and not the organisms. Otherwise, I suggest you take (or retake) general ecology at your local community college, and you’ll quickly grasp the ridiculous nature of your original statement. Fundamental misunderstandings like these are part of the reason climate skeptics are generally worthless.

    It was a damn typo, of course I mean the primary productivity of the area occupied, it should have been obvious from the overall tone of the post

    2.) Is your response just suggesting that we shouldn’t worry about other species/climate change because fossil fuels help keep human populations fat and happy? If so, I say again: I suggest you take (or retake) general ecology at your local community college, and you’ll quickly grasp the ridiculous nature of your original statement. Then you might grasp what it means to remove an “apex predator” from an ecosystem and why what happens to “the second most unaffected by human acitivity region of the world” also impacts the rest of the world. In fact, then you might understand why climate change matters, buddy. Try it. I mean that.

    Humans aren’t the type of apex predator that keeps the system in near-equilibrium, they are exactly the opposite, because they are an apex predator that is 1000 time more numerous than it should be. This is just as destabilizing as removing the apex predator. That’s how we ended up exterminating most of the megafauna in Australia and the Americas.

  72. GM

    GM, are you saying moving toward other energy sources are not good for the Earth? Seriously? You’d rather keep us on foreign oil? We need to find other energy sources to ween ourselves off of foreign oil.

    Sigh…

    Of course we should move to other energy sources, what you fail to realize is that at present there aren’t any energy sources that can provide the amount of energy we’re using and that we can realistically switch to in time to avoid a catastrophe and keep growing. It is physically impossible, so the only solution is to stop growing and start shrinking.

    It is not a matter of the US being “dependent on foreign oil”, it is the globe that we are talking about.

  73. Randy

    69. moptop Says:
    January 29th, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    Whatever Randy.

    I hope you read medical studies more carefully than you do polls
    —————————————————————————————————————–
    ??????

    The question asked was

    “B. Creationism, that is, the idea that God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years”

    39% said definitely true, 27% said probably true.
    Total true, according to Gallup was 66%.

    Sorry to kick a dead horse, but what part of that am I not reading carefully?

  74. Mark

    JJ, you trust a Republican to accurately portray the Democrats’ energy policy? I’m sure you would equally trust a Democrat to accurately portray the Republicans’ energy policy, since intellectual honesty is your hallmark. And GOP.gov is a non-partisan source? ROFLMAO! Seriously, you need to choose your words better. It’s an accurate transcript, but to say that GOP.gov is non-partisan…

    Sure, lots of people support nuclear energy, as long at the plants aren’t near them. Plus, you didn’t even address the main point of my post: we don’t have enough nuclear engineers to build 100 nuclear plants in the next 20 years. Pence is an idiot for saying we’ll build them when we don’t have the necessary people.

    And your polls are meaningless. Just because people want it doesn’t mean it will happen, especially if there aren’t enough nuclear engineers. All the wishing of the people won’t make it so.

  75. Mark

    And JJ, who is going to subsidize those 100 nuclear power plants? The average cost overrun for nuclear power plants built in this country is 209%. The utility companies have consistently underestimated construction and operation costs, and the taxpayers and consumers get stuck with the bill. You want to build nuclear power plants with engineers we don’t have and break the budget doing so.

    http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/nuclear_power/nuclear-economics-fact-sheet.pdf

  76. TonyG

    People are skeptical because this is not science yet is being pushed on us as if it was science:

    “Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it”
    -Professor Phil Jones

    http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&q=%22Why%20should%20I%20make%20the%20data%20available%20to%20you%2C%20when%20your%20aim%20is%20to%20try%20and%20find%20something%20wrong%20with%20it%22&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wn

  77. It’s the political aspect of the more extreme forms of AGW that has stirred skepticism. AGW is being used by left-wing political activists, such as the authors of this blog, to justify spending trillions of dollars to restructure the economy of the entire planet. When scientists use their credibility to advance an overtly political agenda, they diminish their status.

    The most obvious example of this political agenda is the constant pushing for the most extreme, costly and economically damaging measures for stopping putative AGW. If you don’t sign onto that, you are an evil “denialist” or at least ignorant and deluded.

    Scientists at SIO recently published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that outlined measures that would delay the need for tackling atmospheric CO2 for 40 years. This would be far less expensive and a quicker way to deal with rising temperatures, assuming AGW theory is true. Yet it has been virtually ignored. You don’t hear James Hansen or Al Gore talking about it. Will any of the AGW believers here explain why?

  78. JJ

    Mark, of course GOP.gov is partisan, the link itself was non-partisan, a simple interview transcript directly addressing the Republican view on energy. Also, MIT has published a study on the future of nuclear power, along with other methods of lowering CO2 emissions. Nuclear is a viable long term energy source, assuming certain criteria are met according to the study. It’s quite expensive to start up, but costs can be recovered in the long term. A much more effective long term option over cap and tax. Subsidies could be offered without take hikes if the government were to cut spending on wasteful programs.

    http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/pdf/nuclearpower-summary.pdf

  79. moptop

    Randy,

    The poll makes no sense, look at one of the findings:

    24% of Americans believe that both the theory of evolution and the theory of creationism are probably or definitely true.

    Obviously, there is something wrong with the way the question is framed. At least half my friends are Rebublicans, something I wonder if you can say, and I don’t know a single young Earth creationist. Seriously, not one. Do you know a lot of Republicans?

  80. GM

    Or maybe there is something wrong with the people answering who haven’t even thought enough about the issue to realize that they can’t give contradictory answers to to separate questions…

  81. Gaythia

    @77 The news article you cite does not say that SIO scientists advocate that their suggested measures would enable a 40 year delay in taking action to lower atmospheric CO2.

    What they do say is this: “Cutting HFCs, black carbon, tropospheric ozone, and methane can buy us about 40 years before we approach the dangerous threshold of 2°C (3.6°F) warming,”

    and this: “the authors of the paper hope that policymakers will recognize the advantages of implementing these fast-action strategies to complement reductions in CO2.”

    and this: “Cutting CO2 emissions is essential, but it won’t produce cooling fast enough to avoid passing tipping points for abrupt climate change,” said Zaelke. “With the world already committed to more than 2C of warming, we need these fast-action strategies to put the brakes on climate change, and in the case of biochar, put us in reverse by reducing existing atmospheric concentrations of CO2.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/mar/25/hansen-biochar-monbiot-response

    “It is unfortunate that George Monbiot has insinuated that one of us (Jim Hansen) is a believer in biochar as a “miracle” solution for the climate crisis. If he is basing this on our published papers, then he has grossly misunderstood them.”

    “Although we do mention waste-derived biochar as a possible mitigation option, it certainly does not mean we are advocating that as the panacea. Indeed, as we very clearly outline in the paper, our scenarios assume waste-derived biochar provides only a very small fraction of the land use-related CO2 drawdown, with reforestation and curtailed deforestation providing a magnitude more.”

    Scientists are debating these issues.

  82. Gaythia

    The last paragraph above is out of place. Chris and Sherril, preview would help!

    I didn’t get a transitional paragraph into the above regarding James Hansen:

    Nor is it true that James Hansen and others are ignoring these issues. For example:

    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/hansen_14/

    “The conclusion is that prospects for survival of Tibetan glaciers can be much improved by reducing black soot emissions. The black soot arises especially from diesel engines, coal use without effective scrubbers, and biomass burning, including cook stoves. Reduction of black soot via cleaner energies would have other benefits for human health and agricultural productivity. However, survival of the glaciers also requires halting global warming, which depends upon stabilizing and reducing greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide. ”

    James Hansen has even gotten himself misquoted on the opposite side of the biochar arguement, as someone who saw it as a “miracle cure”:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/mar/25/hansen-biochar-monbiot-response

    “It is unfortunate that George Monbiot has insinuated that one of us (Jim Hansen) is a believer in biochar as a “miracle” solution for the climate crisis. If he is basing this on our published papers, then he has grossly misunderstood them.”

    “Although we do mention waste-derived biochar as a possible mitigation option, it certainly does not mean we are advocating that as the panacea. Indeed, as we very clearly outline in the paper, our scenarios assume waste-derived biochar provides only a very small fraction of the land use-related CO2 drawdown, with reforestation and curtailed deforestation providing a magnitude more.”

    Scientists are debating these issues.

  83. Jon

    Bradley J. Fikes: AGW is being used by left-wing political activists, such as the authors of this blog, to justify spending trillions of dollars to restructure the economy of the entire planet.

    You never hear Chris or Sheril saying we have to spend this or that, have a “big government,” or whatever. They just want the issue to get its due attention and get an effective solution. Hey, if a truly effective solution came out of the American Enterprise Institute, more power to them (not holding my breath, though).

    And as far as “activists” go, what the heck is the point of our political system if you can’t try to get people to deal with issues like this?

  84. Milton C.

    Interesting, moptop. I see you seem to view contradictory studies as evidence that an entire scientific field of study is bunk – a fake conspiracy – when the context is CO2 feedbacks.

    …but then here you are, doing the complete opposite assumption (using contradictory studies as evidence that a field of study is reinforacable) with polar bears.

    Interesting, indeed! It’s fun watching how the context of a situation fits or does not fit with one’s political ideology can so drastically alter their value system (In this case, yours).

    Isn’t it? Consistency is not a denialist’s strong point.

    (P.S. – I’ll add that considerable uncertainty exists in the study of polar bear evolution, but that the situation is hardly clear-cut, especially wiht the study you cited (read the original paper and they say as much. Also, this quote: “But both Ingolfsson and Ruth Klinkhammer, a spokeswoman for the Arctic Institute of North America at the University of Calgary, said the ancient jawbone cannot predict exactly what will happen to polar bears today and in the future.”

    It’s fun to watch them cautioning against viewing their study in the exact same way you’ve been doing it. Classic!)

  85. Julie

    Alright, I usually try to stay out of these climate change discussions because they’re just an ideological pulpit for uninformed political pawns on both sides. This one is no different, but I can’t help but jump in and disspell some of the misinformation about polar bears being spewed here. I use the polar bear situation as an example in my conservation biology class of how science can be taken out of context and spun to suit political ideology. So, let me begin with facts and move onto what they mean:

    1.) Polar bear evolution is indeed uncertain. Like any species, we can’t get a pinpoint year when “evolution” occurred because: 1.) we’re looking into the past, and 2.) evolution doesn’t occur in a single moment but over millennia. Also like other species, polar bears evolved at a molecular level long before they became the species we see in terms of morphology, distribution, and physiology today. The best molecular estimates suggest polar bears diverged from a brown bear-like ancestor several hundred thousand years ago. BUT, the “polar bear” that we see today wasn’t fully present until just a few thousand years in the past. We simply know nothing about where the polar bears lived, what they ate, what habitats they were restricted to, etc. during that time period.

    2.) Because of all of this uncertainty it’s terrible scientific practice and (mostly) political spin games to declare that we know polar bears were or were not impacted by climate change in the Eemian and Holocene. For example, we don’t know the specific extent of ice cover during those periods to begin with (not even close), and we furthermore don’t know if today’s “polar bears” were found just in polar regions during those times or if their ecology tied them to ice cover so tightly at those times, either. This uncertainty makes proclamations that “it was warm XXXXX-thousand years ago, so polar bears can handle it today” false, and ultimately not tied to any scientific knowledge.

    3.) In conservation biology, we make policy decisions based off of the best available science. In terms of polar bears, the best available science comes from what we can observe today. We know that polar bear populations are declining at a rapid rate, and we know that this is due to the loss of sea ice due to low temperatures (we even know the mechanism why). We also know that these declines are pushing polar bears into closer contact with human populations, which further exacerbates declines. These aren’t model projections or speculation; they’re facts coming from multiple independent studies from polar bear biologists working in the field and montioring the animals themselves (many of the “contradictory” papers on polar bear declines, such as one linked earlier in this comment thread, are often made by industry-funded scientists with no knowledge of polar bear biology, no field experience, and are made by simply weaking existing data and interpreting it out of context. The paper linked to earlier is a perfect example: funded and published not by a scientific journal that forced the paper through peer-review but through a partisan nonscientific group funded directly by the oil industry. The scientist writing the report works in Delaware and is a climatologist with no experience and no expertise in vertebrate biology). In light of these data, “good” scientific practice is to declare polar bears declining and work to preserve them. The USEPA ruling is limited to the US political boundaries and thus doesn’t apply to areas and populations undergoing the most decline – which occur far from the US and its legal jurisdiction. So, discussions fo the EPA ruling are out of context also.

    In this case, the facts are simply inconvenient for climate skeptics, and so we see the spin game moptop is employed in – picking a single study out of context of the scientific body of knowledge and declaring something a closed case. Milton C. has done a bit of this in the opposite direction, as well. This is sad, really – because it misrepresents science in place of ideology.

  86. Julie

    Make that “warmer” instead of “low” temperatures in the third section. Boo.

  87. Brian H

    Julie;
    Since the Incoherent Untruth, polar bear populations have risen from 5,000 to 25,000. Some drop! That must be NewSpeak you’re using.

    Meanwhile, money talks — and walks: At the CCX Carbon Exchange, the value of 1 ton of CO2 offsets has gone from $7 tone to 10¢ in 8 months.
    Much like the value of your arguments.

  88. Brian H
  89. Wil

    It has just been announced that the IPCC’s claims of mountain ice loss in the Andes, the Alps, and in Africa were based on two papers. Neither paper was reviewed by scientists, or reviewed at all.

    One paper was an article, based on some second hand stories from mountain hikers/climbers. The other paper was a Master’s thesis, which was also based on second hand stories from mountain hikers/climbers.

    Lately, the IPCC has repeatedly apologized for its “errors” and its extremely sloppy work. That is complete B.S. It is obvious that these “errors” were intentional and astonishingly arrogant lies.

    Say that 100 such “errors” are eventually uncovered. What are the odds that each and every single “error” is dramatically tilted towards man-caused global warming, and that not a single “error” is tilted away from man-caused global warming? The odds of random errors working that way are virtually zero.

    Sometimes it seems to me that non-scientists who still vigorously argue in favor of man-caused global warming, actually wish to be fooled, lied to, and used. I just don’t see any other explanation for such belligerent, willful blindness.

    For details:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/7111525/UN-climate-change-panel-based-claims-on-student-dissertation-and-magazine-article.html

  90. Wil

    Also recently uncovered:

    The IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (2007) states that 40 percent of the Amazon rainforest in South America is endangered by global warming.

    But that assertion was discredited this week when it came out that the report was based on a study by the World Wildlife Federation (written by a green activist) that had nothing to do with the issue of global warming. The study was about harmful forest fires, world wide, that were intentionally started by local peoples. And the “40 percent” figure came from a letter published in “Nature” that discussed harmful logging activities, not global warming.

    Ross McKitrick, a professor of economics, said the U.N. acknowledged the inaccuracy of the data only now that its shortcomings have been exposed. “They are admitting what they did only because they were caught. The fact that so many IPCC authors kept silent all this time shows how monumental has been the breach of trust.”

    Deforestation of the Amazon has occurred, but not because of global warming. It is caused by the clearing of cattle pastures, subsistence agriculture, the building of infrastructure and logging.

    Chalk this up as another “error”.

    For details:

    http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/01/28/save-rainforest-climate-change-scandal-chopped-facts/?test=latestnews

  91. moptop

    Milton,

    “I see you seem to view contradictory studies as evidence that an entire scientific field of study is bunk – a fake conspiracy – when the context is CO2 feedbacks.”

    I never said that, but after that embarassing claim that you made upthread, I can see how you are more comfortable debating against words you put in my mouth.

    “It’s fun to watch them cautioning against viewing their study in the exact same way you’ve been doing it. Classic!)”

    This is a pattern with you. You look at a paper, which focuses on a particular question, a paper where a lot of effort and thought went into reaching a particular conclusion, and you ignore that tightly reasoned conclusion and seize on some extraneous spin that is completely out of the scope of the paper in question. I would say that the jawbone settles the question of whether polar bears evolved during the current interglacial, which is what your original claim implies.

    I don’t know if you ever took a class in logic, but the classic example is “there are no black swans”, which seemed true until black swans were discovered in Australia. It only took one black swan to disprove the statement. It only takes one accurately dated polar bear jawbone to move back the date of the evolution of the polar bear. The science is no longer as murkey. Are you saying that the jaw bone is not that of a polar bear?

  92. moptop

    Julie,

    The best molecular estimates suggest polar bears diverged from a brown bear-like ancestor several hundred thousand years ago. BUT, the “polar bear” that we see today wasn’t fully present until just a few thousand years in the past.

    You seem to be claiming that there are occult genetic changes that differentiate a species, but do not actually show up in particular animals for, well, as long as it takes to protect a pet theory of yours. Very interesting. It is as ridiculous as young earth creationism though. If this genetic change takes place, was it designed in to be expressed in the future? Or did the changes take place because those changes were favored in the case of individual animals of the species? In other words, when the molecular changes took place, they were expressed in the animals morphology at the time they took place. That is in fact the accepted evolutionary explanation (which I accept as true, even though Julie does not seem to do so) for how dna changes are selected for in a species.

    So,
    – Are you saying that the jawbone was not that of a polar bear?
    – Are you saying that the polar bear evolved during the Holocene? At a time in the Holocene that was markedly warmer than today? If this is your claim, then your theoretical polar bears are already an evolutionary dead end because 90 percent of the last five million years have consisted of ice ages, not the interglacial we have been enjoying during the Holocene. Or is it that your newly minted polar bear species has been adapted in advance to survive the next ice age somehow?

    We know that polar bear populations are declining at a rapid rate, and we know that this is due to the loss of sea ice due to low temperatures (we even know the mechanism why)

    I would be very interested in reading about a couple of these studies. Do you have any links? All I can seem to find are, I guess, “Oil industry sponsored” agitprop.

    Because of all of this uncertainty it’s terrible scientific practice and (mostly) political spin games to declare that we know polar bears were or were not impacted by climate change in the Eemian and Holocene.

    A. CO2 is supposed to create a warmer climate
    B. the Warmer climate is supposed to be harmful to polar bears
    yet
    C. It was warmer in the past during the time the polar bear has been with us and they are still here.

    So your whole argument seems to be that this time it will be warmer, but different? The fact that human habiation impacts polar bear habitat is a completely separate issue from global warming, as are the impacts of othe pollutants.

  93. The best molecular estimates suggest polar bears diverged from a brown bear-like ancestor several hundred thousand years ago. BUT, the “polar bear” that we see today wasn’t fully present until just a few thousand years in the past.

    You seem to be claiming that there are occult genetic changes that differentiate a species, but do not actually show up in particular animals for, well, as long as it takes to protect a pet theory of yours.

    moptop, you seem to be confused about the term diverged from. If you learn that humans and chimpanzees diverged from a common ancestor 6 million years ago that does not mean that humans or chimpanzees existed 6 million years ago.

    Likewise with bears.

  94. moptop

    OK, Jinchi, I will ask you, was the fossil found that of a polar bear? If not, what was it? Scientific explanation only, not speculation of an anonymous blog commenter. If you know that it was not a polar bear, what was it and where is your reference?

    If it was not a polar bear of the kind that we see today, how do you explain that the polar bear appears to have evolved, if it was 10K years ago, give or take, during a warm period? No, it would have to be more recent than that to get it this side of the Holocene Optimum which your theory requires. There may be some attempt now to show that the HO was not global, but borehole measurments from the GRIP core, which lies within the lattitudes of polar bear habitat show that it was much warmer than today then, and orbital considerations (Milankovich) imply that there was likely far less summer arctic ice than today.

    If the polar bear is different than before the interglacial, that is likely because today’s polar bear is better adapted to the warm conditions in the Arctic than their ice age cousins, after being exposed to extreme climate change (warming) due to orbital forcings for thousands of years about ten thousand years ago.

    If you spent more time thinking about the issue at hand, and less time trying to construct arguments which show me to be wrong, you would do better in this debate. Instead, you assign some logical fallacy to my thinking which I never raised, nor meant to imply, and claim victory. As a bonus, we would be discussing science on a “science blog”, rather than politics.

  95. ehmoran

    bilbo,

    “scientists whose specialty is polar bear biology”

    Which scientists?

  96. ehmoran

    Wondering if anyone has stated that Polar Bears control their own population by eating their young?

  97. Julie

    Brian H.: Certainly you won’t mind me asking you for the data to support your assertion? In science, we typically argue with what can be backed up and proven. Otherwise, your point about polar bears harbors as much validity as if I said polar bears were extinct.

    ehmoran: Polar bears eat their young in extreme circumstances when other food sources are scarce…but it’s hardly routine, and thus a strawman argument with no scientific backing.

    moptop: Jinchi handled your response quite well. Your ensuing rebuttal highlights both some fundamental misunderstandings of science and evolution. Such as…”If it was not a polar bear of the kind that we see today, how do you explain that the polar bear appears to have evolved, if it was 10K years ago, give or take, during a warm period?”

    You’re continuing to argue from speculation, as you have no data to support “how something evolved” one way or another. This is science. Argue with facts. I say that knowing you will continue to not do so….which is precisely why I usually try to stay out of these arguments. a climate skeptic always argues with a “what if….????” instead of data backed, scientifically substantiable points.

  98. ehmoran

    Julie,

    You guessing with no facts nor personal observations…..

    According to BRD scientists, this is a pretty common event!

  99. Thomas L

    Another interesting conversation – lots of name calling whenever an actual line of reasoning is followed that is “inconvenient” to AGW. I’m really starting to think most of you are college students who are still memorized by theory and haven’t discovered how often wonderful theories fall into ruin when tested in the real functioning world. There are lots of claims about others logical ability in here, but I doubt very many of you know much about logic past an intro class. One of the more advanced fallacies, and much more serious – perhaps the most dangerous in fact, is known as “begging the question”, and one that quite a lot of AGW proponents are regularly guilty of. When one has already decided what the answer is it isn’t very surprising that everything, no matter how troublesome, still manages to fit into the desired theory.

    So rather than acknowledging there are still problems with our level of understandings and recognizing the level of complexity that climate systems represent makes it one of the most opaque areas of knowledge we have ever tried to grasp, everything is over simplified, apparently error bands should be ignored and methodology is never to be questioned. In most scientific discussion specific research is debated – things like methodology, levels of error and appropriateness of assumptions or conditions are very open to debate and disagreement. In AGW if one questions they are expected to somehow take on “the whole”, and issues with specific work are glossed over as “unimportant errors”.

    Some of us find that to be very troubling as it certainly is not how any other area of science seems to work.

    As Chris Moody put it a few posts ago, apparently many have been thinking that because we have a new president everything about our system is supposed to be miraculously fixed, and government would save us all from ourselves. This in itself shows a level of naivety I find troublesome for one who seems reasonably bright. There seems to be a common idea in our intellectuals these days that everything that’s wrong in the world is the fault of the institutions or personalities officially in charge, and thus it can all be fixed and we would be well on the road to utopia simply by replacing them with some other set of institutions or personalities. Anyone who has studied history *and* political science with any level of seriousness should know better.

    One stark realization that anyone who has spent the time to learn about these areas knows is that it’s easy to come up with a perfect, utopian sounding system of human society -as long as it doesn’t have to work in the real world. One can take almost any political theory on paper and compare it to the failings of a system that is actually functioning in the real world, and the paper theory will almost always look better. To paraphrase John Kenneth Galbraith, what gets ballyhooed as new and revolutionary thinking is normally the repetition of a fairly small set of fallacies that worked very poorly the last dozen or so times they were tried, and will work just as poorly this time, too. Of significant relevance is that those systems that function at all are fairly few in number. Something everyone should realize is while the current examples are in a bit of trouble (representative democracy in politics, a market system in economics), the basic systems are noticeably less dysfunctional most of the time than most of the alternatives. Be careful how you try to “fix” them.

    I’m really not sure why so many of you are so blindly trusting of the Government. While we do need a functioning government at all levels, they are nothing more than a bunch of people, with the same failings as any other large, self interested, powerful group. Here’s an example of how much they should be trusted: http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2010/01/miami-faces-financial-meltdown-sec.html. Our system was set up with quite a bit designed to keep them in check. There is a reason for that. And we are not a “Democracy” – we are a Representational Republic. The founders, as everyone else at the time, considered “Democracy” about as poor a governmental choice as could be made. Again, there is a reason for that too. The goal was to ensure that we didn’t have “mob rule”, and the rights of the minorities were protected… It is supposed to be hard for the Federal Government to get anything done – that is the way it was designed to be.

    Many seem to think ‘cap and trade” and other types of economic transfers of wealth are going to solve everything. I’ve tried in a few other threads to show that such thinking is simply false as the U.S.A. is not exactly a wealthy country anymore, despite what we would like to believe. There are no easy fixes to what is transpiring in our economy and we have demographics working against us now. We assuredly don’t have billions to toss around at the moment (or maybe ever again). I tried to warn that the states would soon be cutting education (and likely research) rather severely in the immediate future, and got told there was no way (because I guess there is just no limit to how much the government can spend…). Well, the real pain of this crises is beginning: http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2010/01/pennsylvania-capital-ponders-bankruptcy.html, http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2010/01/massive-layoffs-coming-in-nyc-nevada.html – and next year will likely be even worse.

    If anyone really wants productive changes to occur in the world we actually live in instead of just something that sounds great on a piece of paper, you better start understanding a whole lot more than just science, and set goals that are actually capable of being implemented in the world we actually live in.

  100. moptop

    “You’re continuing to argue from speculation, as you have no data to support “how something evolved” one way or another. This is science. Argue with facts.”

    Read my posts again Julie, I all but begged you for facts from your point of view, since you claimed that all of mine were based on oil industry propaganda. Where are they?

    You claimed that polar bears came into existance 10k years ago in their present form, not me. Are you questioning that the Arctic was much warmer then? If that is your question, I will be glad to hunt up links, but here is a clue for you, if you would like to do the research yourself, mile thick glaciers melted. Younger Dryas, when the ice age returned for a few hundred years because, according to the best available science, a quantity of glacial meltwater exceeded the volume of the Great Lakes poured into the North Atlantic, changing the salinity of the Gulf Stream.

    Where did all that meltwater come from? Is it just a coincidence that these dramatic climage swings seem to coincide with your statements on the timing of polar bear evolution? Is there a deeper point here, that the ice age polar bear is already gone due to inevitable climate change at the hands of orbital forcings? Or more likely, the polar bear is in a pretty good position to adapt again when the next ice age comes?

  101. moptop

    Should have read: “a quantity of glacial meltwater that exceeded the volume of the Great Lakes poured into the North Atlantic in a very short time”

  102. Julie

    Alright moptop. Here’s your argument, from what I’ve gathered from you so far:

    “Polar bears have been around for several hundred thousand years (a true statement, might I add). There were warm periods throughout this time. Therefore, polar bears should not be negatively impacted by climate change now.”

    Right so far? I know that isn’t your argument verbatim (your original one had quite a few of the more predictable antiintellectual labels scattered throughout for full emotional effect, as if emotion = veracity), but I feel it might be close. To make this argument, you’ve presented us with two pieces of data: 1.) a fossil polar bear jawbone and molecular estimates, and 2.) temperature reconstructions from the Eemian and Holocene (and other carefully-selected warm periods.) For the sake of a bit of fun, let me point out the irony that you’re using modeled temperature reconstructions to argue here while you claim in other threads that one should not use modeled temperature reconstructions to examine questions related to climate change. But that’s another story. Maybe, in fact, you don’t really quite understand how those temperature reconstructions are produced. Maybe it’s a little bit of both.

    This would be fine….except that you completely and wholly fail to address equally-plausible alternative hypotheses (the very bedrock of the scientific method) while making your argument that polar bears existing + warm periods = no effect of modern climate change on polar bears. For example, your conclusion in this argument is reached upon pure speculation (see my “arguing for speculation” earlier): because polar bears existed then, they must have had the exact same morphology/physiology/diet/ecology as they do today and survived just fine. Your hypothesis (and it is just that without further data) may be very much correct, but until you can provide data to bridge this very large hypothetical gap, you haven’t proven anything. In other words, you’re taking the first couple of steps of the scientific method (review prior knowledge, form a hypothesis), and then you’re cutting out the whole part where you test that hypothesis and exclude alternative ones, and you’re claiming to have reached a conclusion. This isn’t science, because you have several other equally-plausible alternative hypotheses that could also explain your argument:

    1.) Polar bears’ past diets did not specialize them to sea ice for hunting the way it does today (e.g., their dietary niche was much wider – a common ecological phenomenon).

    2.) The polar bear’s climate envelope was much wider in past millennia (we already know this can happen from past ecological and evolutionary studies on mammals).

    3.) The polar bear’s distribution in past millennia enabled it to migrate during times of warmth.

    4.) The polar bear experienced terrible genetic bottlenecks during past warm events that cripple its ability to adapt to further ones (yet again, another common evolutionary phenomenon).

    5.) (your hypothesis) The polar bear had the exact same dietary/climatic/biogeographic niche as it does today in past warm events, and it survived them just fine without genetic bottlenecking.

    Now, in science, if we were going to attempt to deduce the effects of past warm events on polar bears, we would need to design experiments and tests to systematically disprove those equally-plausible alternative hypotheses to reahc a conclusion. With a lack of data to do so, however, all are equally plausible. This is exactly where you stand at this moment, moptop. You’re arguing from speculation, and you’ve ignored alternative hypotheses. In other words, you’re looking at previous studies, posing a “what if…..?”, but you’re failing to test to see if your “what if……?” is correct. If you tried to get that published as science, your reviewers would reject your paper and say “test and disprove some of the other alternative hypotheses, and come back to us.”

    I don’t expect this to sink in much to you, of course, because you’re judging the merit of arguments based solely on where they lead. But hopefully this can illustrate to everyone else the places where most of climate skepticism leaves the scientific realm and attempts to elevate speculation to data-backed science.

    In fact, I think I’ll use this “argument” of yours as an example of the scientific method applied poorly to a scientific question in my philosophy/methodology of science class, moptop. It’s a valiant effort, but it’s just missing the important parts.

  103. moptop

    For the sake of a bit of fun, let me point out the irony that you’re using modeled temperature reconstructions to argue here while you claim in other threads that one should not use modeled temperature reconstructions to examine questions related to climate change.

    Sorry, I specifically referred to direct temperature measurement via the GRIP borehole in Greenland. P.J. O’Rourke said “The world is full of little ironies for stupid people,” I don’t think you are stupid, but in this case, the only irony comes from your lack of knowledge of how the GRIP reconstruction was done.

    The polar bear had the exact same dietary/climatic/biogeographic niche as it does today in past warm events, and it survived them just fine without genetic bottlenecking.

    I don’t think I ever said “without genetic bottlenecking”, in fact, I rather strongly implied that genetic bottlenecking is very likely just what happened during the Holocene Optimum (as shown by direct temperature measurement through the GRIP core, to be precise) and that the polar bear today is a likely result of that. I also stated that such climatic “bottlenecks” are the inevitable fate of the polar bear, due to cyclical ice ages.

    There is another word for “genetic bottlenecking”, that is “adaptation”.

    “I don’t expect this to sink in much to you, of course, because you’re judging the merit of arguments based solely on where they lead. ”

    Uh, that seems to be a pretty common malady around these parts.

    But enough of this, I don’t think we have a deep disagreement on your last post, but where we do disagree is on this claim that you made upthread:

    “Study after study shows that polar bear populations are declining” (I paraphrase)

    If you could back up those claims, I would back off a lot of my positions on polar bears. Seems a pretty simple thing to ask.

    I think I’ll use this “argument” of yours as an example of the scientific method applied poorly to a scientific question in my philosophy/methodology of science class, moptop

    I hope you will give me the right of reply. ;)

  104. Milton C.

    Moptop:

    “There is another word for “genetic bottlenecking”, that is “adaptation”.

    I suggest that you read this.

    Also, I think you fail to see Julie’s point. She’s not arguing that your argument is wrong. She’s just arguing that you’re just making your argument from simple speculation and trying to use speculation as the equivalent of science….which we all know is baloney. But, sadly, that’s also the most common way a climate skeptic argues.

  105. Julie

    “Study after study shows that polar bear populations are declining” (I paraphrase)

    If you could back up those claims, I would back off a lot of my positions on polar bears. Seems a pretty simple thing to ask.

    Just a few examples, then:

    Examples of declines and other negative effects related to diminished sea ice:

    Stirling 2002: Three decades’ worth of polar bear study shows that several populations closely track sea ice extent and that both abnormally high and low levels of sea ice negatively impact bear population numbers and the viability of offspring/survival of juvenile bears to adulthood. When combined with human hunting pressures, declines are magnified.

    Obbard et al. 2006: Fitness of polar populations showing a marked decline over two decades and linked to sea ice loss.

    Fischbach et al. 2007: Denning polar bears are being forced inland by sea ice loss to coastal areas which lack available den sites and exacerbate ongoing declines by way of anthropogenic development.

    Regeher et al. 2007: Polar bear populations closely track sea ice extent and have declined sharply with decreases in sea ice extent. This problem is becoming exacerbated due to the fact that declining polar bear populations are forced into coastal regions where human development is present (note that this matches the findings of several other papers, which took place elsewhere). The increase in human-bear interactions serves to increase the effect of declines.

    Derocher 2005: Found significant evidence of a sharp decline in litter size, viability, and fitness in polar bear populations. Noted that some uncertainty exists for this particular population in terms of a role of climate versus sea ice.

    Boyd et al.2006: Declining sea ice extent leads to dietary shifts in polar bears to less available food sources. Polar bears are being forced to come ashore earlier and in progressively worse physical condition due to sea ice declines, and shifting food sources puts polar bears into encounters with species (such as walruses) that have a high incidence of bear injury/mortality.

    Stirling et al. 1999: Declining sea ice forces bears to come ashore earlier and leads to dietary restrictions that increase bear mortality and lower bear fitness/offspring survivability

    USGS 2007: Polar bear population declines are strongly linked to the number of ice-free days.

    Paetkau et al. 1999: Sea ice decline leads to the increased occurrence of deleterious genetic patterns in polar bear populations. (Note that the authors find no evidence for past genetic bottlenecks in response to “cyclical ice ages,” which moptop said were “inevitable.” Once again, data trumps supposition).

    Contrary pieces:

    Derocher and Stirling 1995: Found relatively stable (with a slight decline) population trend in a Hudson Bay population of polar bears.

    Stiling et al. 2007: One Beaufort Sea bear population found to not be experiencing a decline due to localized levels of persistent sea ice.

    Dyck et al. 2007: An opinion piece highlighting that scientists should rely on observed data and not projection models for polar bear trends.

    Note a couple of things:

    1.) Some of the same authors published papers saying that climate change is significantly harming some polar bear populations while also publishing separate papers showing that it is not hurting other populations as much. “A global conspiracy,” skeptics? Nope.

    2.) Like any species, population trends are geographically variable, but there is little doubt left based on the science that ongoing sea ice declines are a major causal factor in the decline of the size, stability, genetic continuity, fitness, and survivability of polar bear populations. How much policy change does this warrant? That’s the real question. But calls that there’s simply nothing going on with polar bears in response to climate change are, well, false. It’s at least more political posturing than fact-based science.

    3.) Something tells me moptop or someone will go to a skeptic site and try to find places where skeptics have attempted to debunk each and every of the studies above (except the contrary ones, of course. Those won’t be looked at). I hope I’m pleasantly surprised.

  106. Philip Jr.

    Julie is on the spot wiht both of her last posts. Arguing against science with what-if speculation may sound sexy, but it doesn’t have the ability to trump observed scientific data.

  107. moptop

    MIlton,
    If I were you, I wouldn’t throw that “baloney” term around too much. And the clucking like a hen that just laid an egg after you do so doesn’t do you much credit either.

    Julie,
    I don’t get my thinking from skeptical sites. What would the point of going over to one site and fetching somebody else’s thoughts over here? This is a science blog, and I am interested in science.

    Note that the authors find no evidence for past genetic bottlenecks in response to “cyclical ice ages,” which moptop said were “inevitable.” Once again, data trumps supposition).

    Every time I think you are beginning to make some sense, you throw in another clunker like the above. Are you saying that ice ages are not cyclical in nature? That would be a truly revolutionary assertion. You should publish! I didn’t think I needed to go into Milankovich here, but it seems like I may.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles

    To clarify, are you claiming that there was no dramatic climate change 10ka? Are you a flat climater?

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/metadata/noaa-icecore-2450.html

    Here is the data for the Arctic in Ascii format:
    http://www.glaciology.gfy.ku.dk/data/ddjtemp.txt

    The above link shows it was significantly warmer than today in the Arctic for thousands of years in the current interglacial. Due to the methodology, the numbers are averages the farther back you go, over longer periods. This means that while there were cooler times, there were even warmer times to average them out.

  108. moptop

    BTW, while my longer comment is in moderation I just wanted to add that I will look at your studies and get back to you. This is why I do this, to learn more, believe it or don’t. I look forward to reading them.

  109. Randy

    moptop said:

    “Obviously, there is something wrong with the way the question is framed. At least half my friends are Rebublicans, something I wonder if you can say, and I don’t know a single young Earth creationist. Seriously, not one. Do you know a lot of Republicans”

    I don’t see anything wrong with the way the question is framed. It is about as clear as one can get and many of the Republicans I know (yes, there are many) would indeed agree with it. In certain parts of the country, probably well over 66% would agree.

    (By the way, there is a difference between a young-earth creationist and and someone who believes God created man in his present form less than 10,000 years ago, though most scientists would say that both are wrong.)

    Even so, I would also trust a Gallup polls much more than my anecdotal estimates. It is about the science, after all.

    The point is that these Republicans who feel that God created man 10,000 years ago, and who reject any scientific evidence that may say something to the contrary, are the same people who are leading the fight against the scientists researching our climate. It’s occurring at the grass-roots level, it’s occurring in the Senate, and it’s occurring with the same scientific rigor as in debate again evolution.

  110. To clarify, are you claiming that there was no dramatic climate change 10ka? Are you a flat climater?

    moptop, the argument that it has been warmer in the past is a popular one with climate skeptics, but it ignores a fundamental point that the rate of climate change makes a big difference.

    Take a look at the GRIP data. During the height of the dramatic change in climate between 10 and 12 ka, temperatures increased at a maximum of about 0.35 C per century and it took about a thousand years to rise from the year 2000 reference level to the peak about 2.5 C higher. We’re expected to do at least that over the next century.

    Rapid changes in climate lead to extinctions.

  111. moptop

    “but it ignores a fundamental point that the rate of climate change makes a big difference.”

    I don’t usually go for cryptic answers, but Jinchi, but you just aren’t very interesting, but have a look at Younger Dryas for rapid climate change. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Younger_Dryas

    Randy,
    I will let my posts stand as written. If it makes you feel better to believe that all skeptics are creationist, go ahead and think it. I just don’t care.

  112. I don’t usually go for cryptic answers

    I’d forgotten that you tend not to read your own links. Your argument is that:

    it was significantly warmer than today in the Arctic for thousands of years in the current interglacial.

    So let’s look at the period over which it was warmer than today according to the GRIP data link that you gave us.

    TEMP GRIP : (1995 AD) -31.7
    ————————————
    TEMP GRIP : (6880 BC) -31.73
    TEMP GRIP : (6364 BC) -30.19

    So there’s 1.54 degrees increase over 514 years or about 0.3 degrees per century and that’s about the fastest you’ll see in the last 10 ka.

    Remember this was your comment to Julie:

    To clarify, are you claiming that there was no dramatic climate change 10ka? Are you a flat climater?

    Compared to the projected increase in temperatures due to AGW by 2100 (2 to 6 C), that’s pretty damn flat.

    Now you want to bring up the Younger Dryas? A period that was considerably colder than the last 10 ka? What has that got to do with your polar bear theory?

    And of course, the Younger Dryas was a period of mass extinctions, which was my original point.

  113. Julie

    moptop:

    I wasn’t claiming that “cyclical ice ages” didn’t exist. I was showing that genetic studies of polar bears didn’t turn up the “inevitable bottlenecks” that you claimed would happen under said cyclical changes. Hence, data trumping supposition. In this case, the data doesn’t support your supposition.

    It’s ok, though. I figured that you would largely ignore data and possibly even take my words out of context in an attempt to deflect….which is exactly what you just did. Those kinds of arguing tactics never get old, do they?

  114. bilbo

    moptop: “I also stated that such climatic “bottlenecks” are the inevitable fate of the polar bear, due to cyclical ice ages.”

    Julie: “Paetkau et al. 1999: Sea ice decline leads to the increased occurrence of deleterious genetic patterns in polar bear populations. (Note that the authors find no evidence for past genetic bottlenecks in response to “cyclical ice ages,” which moptop said were “inevitable.” Once again, data trumps supposition). ”

    moptop: “Are you saying that ice ages are not cyclical in nature? That would be a truly revolutionary assertion”

    moptop is either the single worst person I’ve ever seen when it comes to reading in context, or he just used the age-old last ditch effort of a panicked denialist whose supposition has been backed into a corner with contradictory data: purposefully pin a false position on your opponent and rapidly try to deflect. I really, really want to think it’s the former in this case, but seeing as how moptop has done this exact same tactic multiple times on this blog, I doubt it. A denialist can be distinguished from a skeptic because a denialist cannot be swayed from their ideological pulpit by data. A denialist will never alter their talking points, no matter how damning the evidence. And moptop has proven himself a denialist in this regard multiple times here.

    BTW, while my longer comment is in moderation I just wanted to add that I will look at your studies and get back to you. This is why I do this, to learn more, believe it or don’t. I look forward to reading them.

    By now, we all know what this means: moptop will read the afmorementioned papers, cherrypick a couple of statements out of them decoupled from any and all context, and pretend that he has debunked a paper that multiple professional scientists spent years in the field studying and which 3 to 4 independent peer observers carefully vetted. It’s like clockwork.

  115. V.O.R.

    “Those kinds of arguing tactics never get old, do they?”

    Well, personally, I keep flashing on arguments with people during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The more recent one.

    The arguments themselves are pretty much identical, only the fact (or non-fact) content has changed.

    Which pretty much shows evolution is bunk.

    If evolution had *anything* to it, you’d logically expect some application outside of biology so long as the principles are the same. And if the argument style of moptop and my favorite WMD-junky are both fundamentally identical, and fundamentally flawed, then wouldn’t you expect them to have been selected against? Or are they just too new? But while it may be new-ish on the internet, since it’s new, it can be seen in literature going quite far back.

    But I suppose you could say there are maintaining factors….

    So… some sort of infrastructure that rewards flawed, non-”reality based” arguments would have to exist. And, realistically, given the geographic and chronological extent of the phenomena, I think we’d be looking at a large, well-funded media *and* political operation that both spreads and capitalizes on counter-productive thinking.

    Sounds pretty hard to believe, doesn’t it? Some massive conspiracy… or the Bible is correct after all.

    I’ll leave it at that.

  116. moptop

    Given the large annual variability in body condition, and the relatively short time over which this population was examined, the significance of a trend toward poorer body condition over time is unknown. Nevertheless, these data underscore the importance of long-term monitoring of body condition in polar bear populations.
    Obbard et. al

    Fischbach et al. 2007: Denning polar bears are being forced inland by sea ice loss to coastal areas which lack available den sites and exacerbate ongoing declines by way of anthropogenic development.

    Maybe it makes more sense to set aside habitat?

    Survival of juvenile, subadult, and senescent-adult polar bears was correlated with spring sea ice breakup date, which was variable among years and occurred approximately 3 weeks earlier in 2004 than in 1984. We propose that this correlation provides evidence for a causal association between earlier sea ice breakup (due to climatic warming) and decreased polar bear survival.

    The above seems to make a reasonable case that lack of sea ice impacts survival of less experienced and older bears. Of course there is another study of the same population
    http://www.jstor.org/pss/3808933 Derocher and Stirling 95, which said “Harvest levels appear sustainable for consumptive and nonconsumptive uses of the population.”

    What I did find was this chart regarding polar bear divergence which shows that the polar bear diverged from the brown bear 880 K years ago, give or take.

    http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2148/8/220/figure/F1?highres=y

    2008 Krause et al

    http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2148/8/220

    What mystifies me is the source of this claim:

    the “polar bear” that we see today wasn’t fully present until just a few thousand years in the past.

    I just don’t get it. The polar bear we see today appeared coincidentally at the same time as a significant climate warming occurred, yet this event had nothing to do with it? Or are you saying we just don’t know?

  117. moptop

    Well, after looking at papers on sea ice and polar bear biology, as well as mitochondrial DNA studies on bear evolution and divergence, I can see that it is possible that the polar bear has been weakened by the HO and left more vulnerable to another climate shift. Well, another climate shift is coming, regardless. They always do. What I also see is that the polar bear survived more than a couple of warmer periods which lasted thousands of years. One of which was just a few thousand years ago. If your claim is that the modern polar bear is a new species, which just came on the scene since the dawn of civilization, well, I don’t see what the long term prospects are for this fragile and unproven species that apparently has lost the adaptability of its ancestors of 20,000 years ago, whatever they were. And they seem to have lost their adaptability without experiencing a “genetic bottleneck.”

    I think your claim, at bottom, is that “anthropogenic development” makes the warming different this time and will possibly doom the polar bear, if the warming eventuates at the levels predicted by the IPCC. I think then that the real problem is human encroachment, and a futile attempt to stabilize the climate is an extremely expensive band-aide for this problem.

  118. bilbo

    moptop, based on the following statements from you (and ignoring that you seem to misinterpret what Julie is arguing again):

    “If your claim is that the modern polar bear is a new species, which just came on the scene since the dawn of civilization, well, I don’t see what the long term prospects are for this fragile and unproven species that apparently has lost the adaptability of its ancestors of 20,000 years ago, whatever they were. And they seem to have lost their adaptability without experiencing a “genetic bottleneck.””

    “What mystifies me is the source of this claim:

    the “polar bear” that we see today wasn’t fully present until just a few thousand years in the past.

    I just don’t get it.”

    “The polar bear we see today appeared coincidentally at the same time as a significant climate warming occurred”

    It looks like you need to go check out this site, and then come back and get the interpretations of Julie’s arguments and those papers right. For once I’m not just trying to be an ass and a troll. Seriously go read up. You’re kind of off the reservation here with how evolution works, and that’s essential to understand an issue like this, or climate change as a whole, even!

  119. moptop

    “For once I’m not just trying to be an ass and a troll. ”

    Do you really think that tactic is working for you? I am not talking about individual debates, I am talking about in the bigger picture. I mean look at the polls. Acceptance of the theory of AGW drops every day. Maybe you guys should think about what works. Even Julie, who apparently knows what she talks about, can’t resist cheap shots to the gallery, which I am guessing she regrets after writing them. Randy loudly maintains that anybody who is skeptical about the science, and the IPCC has given plenty to be skeptical about if you have been following the UK press, is a knuckle dragging creationist. Is that some kind of attempt to win people over using social intimidation? I don’t know.

    I know it is always dangerous to use irony when arguing with people who fundamentally disagree with you, but there is a fair amount of irony being used in that statement you excerpted. I will go look at your link, though, since, after weeks of trying, we are finally discussing science on this science blog.

  120. moptop

    BTW, bilbo, true to form, your link was useless without context. Anybody who doubts it go click on it.

  121. Ted: Meteorologist

    Maybe it is because there is more and more evidence that Global warming or climate change is more of a natural event. Just this week, data from journal Science and posted on the NOAA website talks about how Water vapor in the upper atmosphere or ten miles above has decreased by 10% and may account for the slowing of warmer surface temperatures in the last few years. When the water vapor was higher in the ’80s and 90s and surface temperatures were warmer. This is yet another example of natural climate change. It is all a cycle and even cycles within cycles. Glaciers are growing in Norway and the Pacific Northwest. Now I know that you warmers will blog that I am an idiot, don’t know what I am talking about, a hick conservative, a Fox News viewer, crazy and probably many other names that I won’t mention on this blog. I am a meteorologist and I do know a bit about climate, climate variables, atmospheric physics, climate patterns and climate cycles. No, I am not being paid by big oil. I just see through the BS and it is just plain logical that Earth’s climate is always changing. We have very little to do with it. I ask for proof that the sea level is rising. Let me know if there are any countries or Island’s that are building sea walls to protect them from flooding(be careful, don’t tell me about eroding cliffs and houses falling into the sea. Erosion of a coastline is very natural. If you build a house on cliff, eventually it will fall into the sea). Have there been any Islands that have gone under water? Oh that open water in the Arctic during the summer. Natural. Hard to claim that as proof of global warming since the records only go back to 1979. 30 years of Ice data in the arctic is not a good source for climate change. Most of the ice that melted in the summer has to do with wind currents pushing the ice into warmer waters. There is much evidence right in front us that proves that climate change is natural.

  122. bilbo

    Very refreshing to see that the investigation of Dr. Mann has cleared him of any wrongdoing – outside of generally saying some very nasty things about certain people and acting unprofessional. He even provided the inquiry committee with the very emails all of you skeptics so loudly claimed he deleted!!! Nice one, fellas.

    …of course, this news will only been seen by the denialists as more examples of a conspiracy within academia, as it plays well into their already-rampant confimation bias.

  123. Milton C.

    Interesting and refreshing to see, bilbo! I’m honestly not shocked that Mann provided investigators with the emails denialists claimed he had deleted; that sounded like a false claim from the start. Also, it’s very nice to see independent investigators both scolding Mann for acting unprofessionally while also pointing out that much of the “firestorm” generated by Climategate appears to simply be denialists feeding a confirmation bias (good choice of words on your part) by reading the emails with a lack of basic understanding about the philosophy of science and out of context. Vindication feels good, I suppose.

    But, as always, by not taking the denialist stance, I’m immediately part of the conspiracy myself. *facepalm*

  124. Milton C.

    Now I know that you warmers will blog that I am an idiot, don’t know what I am talking about, a hick conservative, a Fox News viewer, crazy and probably many other names that I won’t mention on this blog

    Nah, “ted.” I won’t call you any of those things. I will tell you, however, that you seem to be terrifically misinformed about what science says about climate change (see your core argument that climate scientists pretend that Earth’s climate never changes naturally – while claiming to be a meterologist [?!]) and that your cherry-pick of glaciers increasing in Norway and the Pac NW (while they are shrinking in many other places) highlights a fairly gross misunderstanding of what climate science even examines: global trends.

    This tells me you’re more or less just playing the “innocent bystander” troll card and are, in actuality, just another denialist – the depths of whose knowledge extends only to what he has read superficially through the filter of another denialist blog. I’ll graduate you from denialist to skeptic if you can prove to us a better understanding of what climate science actually says (even if you disagree with it) and how science operates on a general level.

  125. Ted

    Milton,

    Perhaps I missed your climate science qualifications in an earlier post, but what,may I ask are YOUR climate qualifications? There are other glaciers that are growing in the world..the list is too long. My point is..according to climate scientists who believe man’s role in climate change, glaciers should be melting everywhere. How can you have a warming planet but have numerous growing alpine glaciers? Scientists who support AGW do a lot of cherry picking. Many of the scientists use data from weatherstations across the world that may have been in the country 50 years ago but are now in the city, thus showing a warming trend(I will assume you know about the urban heat island). The IPCC used data from Chinese weatherstations to predict that the Himalayan glaciers would all be gone by 2035. Of course that was a serious error (or was it?) since many of the IPCC scientist didn’t even know where the weathersites were. Many climate scientists ignore data that is contradicting to their findings of a warming world. What climate knowledge would you like me to demonstrate? Would you like me to discuss the Milkovich cycles? How about the midieval warm period and The Little Ice Age…Snowball Earth perhaps? I could talk to you about the Köppen climate classification if you want. Did you know that the CO2 levels during the Cretaceous were 2 to 4 times higher then today? Guess what..no cars or factories and life was quite abundent. You see, Earth has survived much warmer conditions. Many warmers say that people who don’t accept AGW that we are misinformed, conservatives or slaves to big oil. Has it ever occured to you that many of these scientists are liberal? Perhaps they only see what they want to see to advance their political agendas. Did it occur to you that many climate professors are afraid to speak out and show evidence against AGW in fear that they might lose their jobs from progressive Universities or lose their government grants? There is debate about AGW, but the media doesn’t want to discuss it. They would rather report that Al Gore said the debate is over. It is not. So call me a skeptic…I am not alone. So let me know what you want to hear from me to prove that I do know a bit about the climate. I would be glad to discuss it. The Earth may be warming…but there is strong evidence that indicates that there are a lot of variables to the climate puzzle and humans are just a very small part of the equation.

    So my point….skeptics are not the only ones who cherry pick data…many AGW scientists do as well. Deniers or skeptics are not informed or are molded by their political beliefs…..scientists are humans too and can be influenced by their political beliefs to advance an agenda or are afraid of losing their jobs or grant money. It can work both ways. I am a meteorologist and I have knowledge of climate science but also knowledge of political science as well.

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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 info@hachettespeakersbureau.com For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at srkirshenbaum@yahoo.com.

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