January 20, 2007

Why do people constantly misrepresent "global warming"?

Case in point (and I know this is an easy target): Delaware Liberal excoriates Ryan of Jokers to the Right thusly --

Jokers to the Right’s Ryan S. still thinks climate change is a liberal myth. With future leaders like Captain Chickenhawk McSillystring I’m sure that one day the notion that the Republicans ever enjoyed a majority in Congress will be regarded as a myth by many.

My emphasis. Here's Ryan's post for your perusal. Here's what important to note: His post is careful to note MAN-MADE global warming. And here's the difference between someone who thinks (Ryan) and someone with a Neanderhal brow (Jason of DE Liberal): Ryan is careful to note the skepticism surrounding MAN-MADE global warming and the attempts by some to quell that skepticism. Ryan writes:

Isn't science all about discovering truth through experimentation and the free exchange of ideas?

Where in the scientific method does it say "Do not allow others to dispute results?" Why this stifling of scientific inquiry?

Amen! Being skepitcal of MAN-MADE global warming is NOT akin to Holocaust denial, or believing the moon landing never occured. But some want it that way. As Ryan notes, the Weather Channel's Heidi Cullen is one of them. Jason of DE Liberal is another.

Meanwhile, Andrew Stuttaford offers the following on global warming (my emphasis):

Cambridge astrophysicist Nigel Weiss:

"Typically, sunspots flare up and settle down in cycles of about 11 years. In the last 50 years, we haven't been living in typical times: "If you look back into the sun's past, you find that we live in a period of abnormally high solar activity," Dr. Weiss states. These hyperactive periods do not last long, "perhaps 50 to 100 years, then you get a crash," says Dr. Weiss. "It's a boom-bust system, and I would expect a crash soon." In addition to the 11-year cycle, sunspots almost entirely "crash," or die out, every 200 years or so as solar activity diminishes. When the crash occurs, the Earth can cool dramatically. Dr. Weiss knows because these phenomenon, known as "Grand minima," have recurred over the past 10,000 years, if not longer.

In addition, Stuttaford quotes blogger Al Fin who writes (again, my emphasis):

The rush to reduce CO2 levels is not only massively expensive, but totally unnecessary, according to these learned solar experts. Certainly everyone with any knowledge should understand that global cooling is far more threatening to human life than the mild global warming currently being experienced. Politicians such as Al Gore have vested monetary interests in exaggerating the climate effects of CO2. Likewise, climatologists such as Michael Mann have achieved fame, prestige, and easy grant money through the use of shoddy research methods. The route to grant money in climate science currently lies through the gate of CAGW—catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. Those are the magic words. Reality is much larger than that. It is foolish to fixate upon one seemingly obvious explanation for cyclic climate behaviour of epochal duration. Many junkies of "global warning" enjoy the thrill of the apocalypse. Others have more mundane motivations, such as going along with the perceived flow.

Just remember people -- a mere 30 years ago these same "experts" were screaming and hollering about global cooling. And speaking of global cooling disaster, I highly recommend the book Fallen Angels by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. It takes a somewhat tongue-in-cheek view of the disaster brought on primarily by the policies of radical environmentalists who've come to power to the US.

UPDATE: Add commenter "dan" to those who believe there should be no dissent about human-caused global warming. Check his comments:

This isn't abortion, affirmative action, hate crimes, or many other issues. I ain't no moderate. There aren't two sides.

If you dissent from the "conventional wisdom" that humans are primarily responsible for causing global warming, you are -- according to dan -- a member of the "anti-Earth" crowd. And all this time dan has been posing as some sort of reasonable commenter around Colossus. I had my doubts, of course, but this confirms those doubts.

Still now word from that "bastion of wisdom" dan on how all these climate experts were screaming and yelling about the next Ice Age as recently as the late 70s.

Posted by Hube at January 20, 2007 07:58 AM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Quiz, Hube: Whose statements are these?

"Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere will increase during the next century unless greenhouse gas emissions decrease substantially from present levels. Increased greenhouse gas concentrations are likely to raise the Earth's average temperature, influence precipitation and some storm patterns as well as raise sea levels." They then add a disclaimer about the magnitude being unclear, but that's fine, I'll take it.

That would be the Bush Administration's EPA.

How about the #1 factor in determining "the amount and speed of future climate change"?:

"Whether greenhouse gases and aerosol concentrations increase, stay the same or decrease."

How 'about this?

"Scientists know with virtual certainty that: Human activities are changing the composition of Earth's atmosphere....
The atmospheric buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases is largely the result of human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels.
"

The fact is, as Frank Luntz essenteially admitted in his famous leaked memo, the anti-Earth crowd is wrong on this, and all it can do now is lie and stall for a few more precious months or years.

The Bush Administration -- in writing -- has admitted the truth, after government study after goverment study told it to get its head out of its own ass. Did you notice Bush has stopped saying it "needs more study," in favor of basically never mentioning the issue at all? Which makes it all the more galling that they're doing nothing about it, while letting deputies from Congresspeople all the way down to bloggers, talk about the issue for them.

This isn't abortion, affirmative action, hate crimes, or many other issues. I ain't no moderate. There aren't two sides. I'm with the Christian Conservatives here. God gave us this land and we must protect it. I'm ready for some ruthless Rove-esque rhetoric from the left here: How 'bout, "You're either with us or you hate your children."

Posted by: dan at January 20, 2007 04:30 PM

dan: Oooooh, you impressed me w/all your quotes. Of course, I easily counter with my own, but why waste my time? You oughta know better. The FACT is, the jury is still out on the degree to which human activities are actually influencing climate change.

Dennis Miller holing up that Time magazine from the late 70s alarming us all to the coming disaster of global cooling. What an image.

Frankly, you bore me, dan. Here, more than most. And spare me your bullshit "anti-Earth crowd" and "there aren't two sides" to this debate garbage. Frankly, there IS a huge degree of debate about man's influence on the climate, just like there's a lot of debate about abortion, etc. If you wanna be that sort of troll, I'll treat you like one. Or, if you'd prefer, go be a troll elsewhere, OK?

Posted by: Hube at January 20, 2007 04:54 PM

If you dissent from the "conventional wisdom" that humans are primarily responsible for causing global warming, you are -- according to dan -- a member of the "anti-Earth" crowd. (my emphasis)

Again I point out that the "conventional wisdom," as you put it, extends to the Bush Administration.

"The atmospheric buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases is largely the result of human activities" And the other quote above indicates that greenhouses gases are causing the Earth to warm.

Posted by: dan at January 20, 2007 06:54 PM

So the f*** what? The Bush administration also was certain there were WMDs in Iraq!!

But now you wanna believe 'em!!

Posted by: Hube at January 20, 2007 06:59 PM

Humans are solely responsible for global warming? It's a natural phenomenon! I suspect the truth is somewhere in the middle -- There is a climatic warming trend in progress, however, manmade gases are maybe a teensy bit to blame for the warming. All you have to do is review the climate data for the last 40 years or so to know it's warmer now, not by much, than it was in the early part of the 20th century. It's going to get much much worse, though. Since we in NCC can't send our yard clippings to the landfill any longer, all those compost piles that are going to spring up will warm the atmosphere significantly. In a couple of years you'll be able to leave your pool open year round! Whoopee! No more heating bills!!

Posted by: Al at January 20, 2007 08:03 PM

Although I have been a proponent of the human cause of the current global warming trend, after very little study, one quickly concludes that these trends have occurred off and on, many times before humans existed.

However, (look Jason, Castle's favorite word), one must look at the current evidence and decide whether to hedge one's bets, or to "bet the ranch" that this climate trend will pass.

Since the human tendency is to insure themselves against catastrophic consequences, we should make plans to tackle this problem in its early stages. If it is for nothing, so be it; no real loss. But if it is for real......and the problem is we will never know for sure until it is too late, we must make the faith based decision and start the drive towards eliminating carbon fuels and sourcing out other energies to meet our growing needs.

Posted by: kavips at January 21, 2007 02:16 AM

If it is for nothing, so be it; no real loss.

Better than that, really, in that there would be still be terrific health benefits to all of us even if global warming were bogus.

The same tactic (less pollution) that is likely to slow global warming would unquestionably cut back on the millions of air-quality-related deaths annually.

Posted by: dan at January 21, 2007 10:26 AM

Still now word from that "bastion of wisdom" dan on how all these climate experts were screaming and yelling about the next Ice Age as recently as the late 70s.

If you'd like to have a discussion about the scope, depth, and sheer volume of the Warming vs. Cooling research, as well as the differences in the quality of scientific data and resources in 1971 vs. 2007, we can do that.

Posted by: dan at January 21, 2007 04:06 PM

Why, dan? In your own words, there IS no middle ground -- no two sides. Therefore, no discussion is able to take place, right?

You're contradicting yourself.

Posted by: Hube at January 21, 2007 04:55 PM

"Why, dan? In your own words, there IS no middle ground -- no two sides. Therefore, no discussion is able to take place, right?"

No two side? Are there always 2 equal side to every debate? Why would you believe that?


"You're contradicting yourself."

You're practicing relativism. Strange for a Republican!

Posted by: Chris mankey at January 27, 2007 12:56 PM

No two side? Are there always 2 equal side to every debate? Why would you believe that?

Nice try. I never claimed that the two sides "were equal" neither here nor would I in just about any debate. You're missing the point on purpose b/c either 1) you're stupid, or 2) you're just like dan. Dan -- who said there are NOT two sides to this issue; he did NOT say there aren't two equal sides.

Sorry, Chris.

Posted by: Hube at January 27, 2007 01:54 PM

Sorry Hube, but you shouldn't believe all you read in the National Review. Prof Weiss has been completely misquoted (originally by the Toronto National Post, then by your friend Andrew Stuttaford) and now wrongly championed by the right-wing lobby as a global warming denier. Nothing could be further from the truth. See his own website for more detail - the top result on Google will take you there.

Posted by: Tim at February 8, 2007 03:33 PM

Tim, the excerpt above does nothing to indicate that Weiss is a global warming "denier." It merely takes statements he's made and they assist in the argument that the hysteria about warming is unwarranted. Perhaps you can show us where he was misstated by Stuttaford (in the above).

Posted by: Hube at February 8, 2007 03:44 PM

I can also confirm that my father, Professor Weiss, was incorrectly quoted by Stuttaford, who presumably took this statement from the article written by Lawrence Soloman in the Toronto National Post last month (who in turn, without interviewing Prof. Weiss himself, failed to distinguish between his views and those given by Stuart Clark in his article in the New Scientist). My father's research into solar activity has shown that it may have an effect on climate change, but that this is MINIMAL and insignificant compared to the global warming that we are already experiencing - and very small compared to what will happen if we continue to burn fossil fuel at the present rate.

In his own words:

"It has been established from satellite measurements that during the 11-year solar cuycle the solar irradiance drops by about 0.1% from sunspot maximum to sunspot minimum, corresponding to a drop of around 0.1 degrees Celsius in global temperature. There might be a similar fall in
temperature in a Grand Minimum. Such modulation has occurred several times in the last thousand years and may have been associated with climatic variation -- but we know that global temperature has only varied by about 0.2 degrees Celsius during that period (though fluctuations in local climate have been more severe). That is a small effect compared to the changes that we have
experienced in the last half-century, and is much smaller than the changes predicted for the future.

It would, of course, be very interesting to experience a Grand Minimum, and it would be satisfying to be able to calibrate the influence of solar variability on climate. But I have always been careful to maintain that this
does not affect the issue of global warming, which is caused by greenhouse gases, and that the concentration of CO2 is rising owing to burning fossil fuel."

The irony here is that you're undermining your own arguments by using incorrect evidence. Check your facts! And even better, face up to the reality that if we don't do something about global warming caused by HUMAN activity, the future will be very bleak indeed.

Posted by: Naomi at February 9, 2007 10:11 AM

Naomi: You're entitled to your opinion (as is your father) about the supposed coming apocalypse; many other scientists differ with your father.

However, you stated: and very small compared to what will happen if we continue to burn fossil fuel at the present rate.

I myself have written on this very blog that this contention alone is highly unlikely based on the simple fact that fossil fuels are finite and are not expected to last the century. Thus, it is highly probable that countries will be busily converting to other sources of energy that will not have the significant greenhouse effect.

Posted by: Hube at February 9, 2007 10:47 AM

Dear Hube,

Yes, fossil fuels are finite, but we're still using them at present and will continue to do so for several years to come. But we need to take some drastic measures to counteract climate change NOW: we can't just sit back and wait until other sources of energy overtake fossil fuels, as by the time that actually happens we will have caused irrevocable harm to the atmosphere.

I know only too well that there is a very vocal body of scientists who believe humans are not the main cause of global warming. But can you find within this group scientists who are at one of the top universities in the world and are in no way connected to any private (oil) enterprise? It's pretty hard to do so. Then put that comparably minute number against the hundreds, the thousands of scientists who confirm the human responsibility for global warming and concur with the recent IPCC report.

I really don't understand how you can really believe all the arguments you present. All I can do to explain your stance is the reluctance to face up to something that seems so big it's almost unbelievable. Of course it's far easier to be a denier as then you don't need to do anything about this problem. But that's the coward's position. By actively fighting against the overwhelming tide of scientific and (here in the UK at least) public opinion, you're preparing yourself to be directly responsible for future calamities. It's not just Bangladesh and other far off places we're talking about here: it's your own country! Think of what would happen to Florida, even New York if the sea levels rise by as much as 4-5%. It's scary stuff - and we need to do something to prevent it right now, not just wait until it's too late.

Posted by: Naomi at February 10, 2007 12:51 PM