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Mike Beacom

Either one of you following these hacked emails from Scientists and Climatoligists who were allegedly trying to stifle dissent in the global warming debate as well as conceal scientific data that contradicts their models? I’ve only seen a bit of it, but I’m trying to figure out what’s legit and what’s exaggeration.

Pretty interesting stuff.

Brian Karpuk

Interesting to be sure, but I think a bit of a head fake in the climate wars. I’ve only looked at it a little bit, but what I have looked at is the same repetitive emails. “Happy some guy is dead.” “Used the ‘Nature trick.’” I see it. I get it. But if you’re me, I can’t really say that it means anything.

This is what I wrote a while ago:

Let’s apply Occam’s razor on the most basic climate change concepts:

* Do greenhouse gasses reduce the loss of heat from the environment?
* Are greenhouse gasses not actually present in the atmosphere at the measured levels?
* Are the noted increase in greenhouse gasses not the result of the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities?

If you answer no to any of the above three statements than you might as well stop reading because you and the entirety of the physical science community are unlikely to ever see eye-to-eye. You are attempting to refute scientific fact.

I’m just not sure what these emails do or what they prove. As a skeptic of global warming solutions (but not a skeptic of the general concept global warming itself), I’m not sure of what to make of it.

On the one hand, I’m glad for it because I don’t believe that the current proposed solutions are legitimate.

On the other hand, I believe in the scientific fact that if you burn enough fossil fuels, you’re gonna raise the temperature.

Mike Beacom

Brian,

Don’t get me wrong, I like Occam’s Razor as much as the next guy. But I think your questions/answers in the quote could go a bit further.

“Is there actually an unnatural warming trend?”

“Are the increased levels of anthropogenic greenhouse gases globally significant?”

Even though I think one can safely answer yes to the 3 questions you pose, doing so doesn’t lead us to any useful conclusion.

Keep reading about the leaked emails.

It’s not just interesting for the sleazy headline potential of “trick” or “hide the decline”. (although I’m sure that’s what the focus will be if this actually gets mainstream news coverage)

What I find interesting is that the emails, over a long period of time, demonstrate pretty clearly that climate science is being driven by politics and professional aspirations rather than actual science. It shows a group of men who realize that the scientific community at large is quietly scrutinizing them and that they are doing whatever it takes to protect themselves. They’re intentionally withholding their data sets and get angry when their results are refuted or even questioned. This isn’t science.

Brian Karpuk

Mike, do you really believe that the answer to the questions you pose is no?

“Is there actually an unnatural warming trend?”

“Are the increased levels of anthropogenic greenhouse gases globally significant?”

I don’t.

What I find interesting is that the emails, over a long period of time, demonstrate pretty clearly that climate science is being driven by politics and professional aspirations rather than actual science.

Obviously, there is a political element to all of this. I have never doubted that. The problem is, this is a political issue. If you are a climate scientist who believes that your positions are correct, then don’t you have an obligation to do what you can to convince the public that something needs to be done?

Because I have been convinced that AGW is basically correct, I guess that I am willing to cut them a little slack on the politics.

I think its important to note that what is being criticized here are “the details.” Not the basic climate science.

More interesting is what is not contained in the emails. There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George Soros nefariously funding climate research, no grand plan to ‘get rid of the MWP’, no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of the falsifying of data, and no ‘marching orders’ from our socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords. The truly paranoid will put this down to the hackers also being in on the plot though.

Instead, there is a peek into how scientists actually interact and the conflicts show that the community is a far cry from the monolith that is sometimes imagined. People working constructively to improve joint publications; scientists who are friendly and agree on many of the big picture issues, disagreeing at times about details and engaging in ‘robust’ discussions; Scientists expressing frustration at the misrepresentation of their work in politicized arenas and complaining when media reports get it wrong; Scientists resenting the time they have to take out of their research to deal with over-hyped nonsense. None of this should be shocking. (More…)

Mike Beacom

If you are a climate scientist who believes that your positions are correct, then don’t you have an obligation to do what you can to convince the public that something needs to be done?

Are you making an “ends justify the means” argument such that it’s ok for a scientist to massage data in order to get the desired result?

Ultimately, I don’t know what the answer is. I wish I did. I’ve read a lot of scientific opinion that directly contradicts each other.

I would say this, if you were to point to evidence that the answers are yes, you’d be hard pressed to point to research that doesn’t at least reference the work of the guys whose email was hacked. I recognize there are politics involved. I think that’s natural, but I think in this situation, it goes beyond that. Even if these guys are totally right, it still bares further investigation. If greenhouse gases increase heat retention of the earth, then why isn’t it warmer every year? The answer has to be that there are things that effect global temperature to a greater extent than greenhouse gases. My fear is that if people blame everything on anthropogenic greenhouse gases and call it a day, we’ll be in for some hurt. Both because of the solutions that you rightly point out are flawed, and because we’ll likely pass up the chance to find out what else is influencing the global climate.

Al Gore and his followers want to stifle legitimate debate. These scientists seem to be in a similar position. Government leaders are making decisions based on information from these people. That scares me.

Brian Karpuk

No, I’m making a “We, as early 21st Century humans should understand the limits of our knowledge” argument.

I’m making a “Pi is 3.14159…..after that it gets a little confusing” argument.

I’m making a “The devil is in the details” argument.

I’m making a “We know that this is the cause but we don’t know how it works” argument.

I’m not saying that the ends justify the means. What I’m saying is, these guys are debating the minutia of global warming. They are not debating the basic, basic, basic science which underlies the theory of AGW.

To take another tack, yes, sometimes the ends do justify the means. If you are a scientist and you believe that the science says something that most lay-people are going to have a hard time swallowing, maybe you have to be a little, extra-strenuous in your argument. Maybe you have to be just a little to know-it-all about the subject.

I am naturally a skeptic. I am naturally a skeptic. I am a skeptic here not because of a doubt about motives or doubt about the basic science. I’ma skeptic because I’ve seen too many “we’re all gonna die becaue of X” throughout my life time. Science, technology and American ingenuity have overcome all of those things. I believe that the answer here is the same that it has been for all of these previous “crises.”

But, all of this, I think, means that you shouldn’t take a few emails, out of ten years worth of data, out of context.

Mike Beacom

Ok, thanks for the clarification because the paragraph I quoted didn’t come across as any of those things.

If you are a scientist and you believe that the science says something that most lay-people are going to have a hard time swallowing, maybe you have to be a little, extra-strenuous in your argument. Maybe you have to be just a little to know-it-all about the subject.

If you are a scientist with an agenda and you want the science to say something that most lay-people are going to have a hard time swallowing, maybe you have to be a bit overly selective in the construction of your data set. Maybe you have to conceal inherent contradictions about the subject.

Fixed.

No, I don’t think the IPCC report is some hoax by zealots or that George Soros is running around in the shadows. But I do think some excitable scientists in a bid to prove themselves to their peers went too far and then to cover their asses, went even further. I think they needed certain results to prove their theories and think they did what they had to to get those results. I don’t think they’re humanitarians doing what they have to to get the word out to us dumb folks. I think they’re doing what they have to, to be “right” about something major. I think they were so sure of themselves that they didn’t really care what the results were.

But sure, you’re right, the foundational science is tight. Unfortunately, the causality science is anything but. Setting Occam’s aside for a moment, “Correlation does not imply causation”. Further, the modeling for future warming, and it’s consequences is vague to the point of uselessness. And worse, the models have mostly been proven inaccurate. Yet, global leaders are basing policy on them. The emails are only a small piece in the puzzle of “context”. I don’t see it all yet, but I think I’m beginning to. And I think improvements in climate science will bare it out. When the IPCC report came out, maybe 10 percent of climate scientists were openly skeptical. Now it’s more like 50 percent. I see a critical mass in the next 5 years and the document will be completely scrapped.

There’s a reason they’ve stopped referring to it as “global warming” and now refer to is as “climate change”.

The salient facts are these. First, the accepted global average temperature statistics used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show that no ground-based warming has occurred since 1998. Oddly, this eight-year-long temperature stasis has occurred despite an increase over the same period of 15 parts per million (or 4 per cent) in atmospheric CO2.

Second, lower atmosphere satellite-based temperature measurements, if corrected for non-greenhouse influences such as El Nino events and large volcanic eruptions, show little if any global warming since 1979, a period over which atmospheric CO2 has increased by 55 ppm (17 per cent).

Third, there are strong indications from solar studies that Earth’s current temperature stasis will be followed by climatic cooling over the next few decades.

Gus

I mean no disrespect to either of you, but I am wondering why these hacked emails have legs for your discussion. As the need for climate mitigation becomes more dire, the political motivation issue is most likely to muddy the waters. Unfortunately, there is no political motivation in facts of observation. New shipping lanes in the Arctic circle, ice shelves diminished in Anarctica, exposed mountainside on every mountain terrain around the world (except Mount Hood), algae blooms (hence dead zones), amphibians loss of habitat(symptomatic precursor of climate/chemical havoc due to lungs on their skin), polar bears/penguins/caribou/etc. without normal migratory options, depleted aquifers, 300-yr droughts in Australia, 300-yr floods in England(twice in three years), and Cape cod fisheries having to fish 100 miles more north to fish the cold water cod they have been fishing for centuries (now they catch fish more akin to Virginia’s coastline). These are just a few of the headlines from the last few weeks that do not have political motivations behind them, but rather a defensive/protective stance on their own habitat. Who are we, as coddled Americans, to debate the effects that are not out our front door but rather on the doorsteps of the less affluent and less listened to perspective? What the world needs now is cooperation, not finger-pointing. Every country is looking out for its own interests and not seeing the whole picture.

Lord Stern announced, decreed, or just plain stated that the meat-eating contingency of the world is partly to blame for excessive CO2. That day, I became a vegetarian. It is just plain science that the protein in meat takes much longer to break down in your body, making your body work much harder than it should. During the hunting and gathering period of human evolution, when the processes of our gut were being fine-tuned, the inconsistent meat in our diet to the relative quantities of meat vs. everything else means early humans were probably eating a meat source once a month. In that respect, the nutrition and simple sources of energy found in green things have served as the main staple of human evolution. Meat may have been a catalyst to determine whether your tribe became more successful, but at the cost of first-world type ailments.

In addition, did you know that 80% of the world’s bluefin tuna is caught in the Mediterranean and then shipped via enormous cargo ship around the cape of Good Hope all the way to Japan. Despite the fact that bluefin will be gone in two years because no one wants to cut back fishing, that cargo ship is not a hybrid. It is one of the dirtiest diesel engines on the planet. These are problems of unbridled civilization. Once again, I feel Mark Twain sums up this Human imperialism, “Civilization is the limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities.” Twain is awesome and my new favorite author. He truly knew the American mentality.

I realize you are engaged in a debate of the numbers. The numbers are for Senate and Congress to efficiently tax the largest perpetrators against sustainability. 387 ppm is enough to melt everything and find a tipping point somewhere. Feedback mechanisms will accelerate the melting further. Already, the pollutants that mask our stratosphere is preventing our sure demise. Maybe a volcano eruption is perfect to halt all climate warming, but we will not have much sun for years.

IPCC says this, Exxon says that, will continue until the people most effected rise up. That is unfortunate. The debates take place in the pristine places on earth, while the resource-ravaged places on earth will walk in place until their demise. While lobbyist groups debate the numbers with scientists in front of the media, hacked emails seem contrived and a waste of attention.
Have a good Thanksgiving. I hope you get to spend time with your families.

Mike Beacom

This might be the second domino.

And Gus, I think you’re missing the point of what the emails point to.

If the warming isn’t unnaturally rapid (both because the recent rises have been fudged to look bigger than they are and because it has happened similarly before without manmade CO2), and/or CO2 isn’t the cause (keep in mind, CO2 only accounts for a miniscule .038 percent of atmospheric gases, of which only about 15 percent is presumed attributable to man), then it doesn’t really matter what we “coddled Americans” think or do about it.

Also, Gus, those “new shipping lanes”, were they navigable during the medieval warming period? Historical evidence suggests they may have been for several hundred years. Do some reading sometime on the viking expansion during the MWP and you’ll notice some interesting parallels with todays “unprecedented” climate.

Gus

Back to the cycle argument again, I see. Miniscule, measureable, and only one of the blitzkrieg of other factors that now imperil 7 billion people from living on this planet sustainably. Mineral resources or new technology are not going to allow this Titanic to avoid the iceberg unless people change their consumption habits. If I’m missing the point, then everybody who is paying attention to hacked emails is not? I seriously doubt Fox News has me on this one. For some reason, the Right think that embracing a new sustainable world would be catastrophic. For the oil, seed, coal, mining, logging, fertilizer, pharmaceutical, and plastic companies, maybe. Please point me in the direction of an article that shows me that our famed Norsemen traversed all over our Northern hemisphere in a warming period that looks like today with all these other factors that exacerbate the simple geologic and climatological factors. Greenland was still an ice sheet. Ice core samples taken from the edge of Greenland show that the glacier has been there for at least 100,000 years. Although there may have been water currents that may have encouraged Norse travelers to wander North, nothing is ice core samples suggests the Norsemen could have set up camp or have any routine migratory patterns on the roof of the world. The hockey stick of CO2 levels recorded is based on ice core samples that can be extended to 650,000 years. If there were significant warming patterns, the ice core sample would provide a slice as thick as the period lasted with its corresponding co2 level. The fact that the planet has never exceeded 300 ppm in this 650,000 year span is notable. CO2 may be miniscule in the atmosphere, but, in science, you look at the composition of your subject to determine if anything is changing. In this case, a 387 ppm reading is off the chart. Maybe something has changed. Amphibians are the symptom species of the world because they have lungs on their skin. If amphibians diminish in their respective habitats, then something is wrong. Likewise, scientists use CO2 as a symptom gas that tell us when something is wrong, simply in terms of quantity. Hacked emails do not change the science, just delay the reaction of our world.

Mike Beacom

Lets be clear Gus, I have no problem with “embracing a new sustainable world”. Nor does most of the right. In fact, I’m all for it. So you’re miss characterizing the situation out of the gate.

What I do have a problem with is forcing the issue via rushed and shoddy legislation for reasons that become more questionable by the day. You want to be a vegetarian? That’s truly admirable. But don’t force everyone else to do the same when we don’t have any clue if it will make a difference. (obviously I’m speaking metaphorically here)

You seem to disregard the concept of cyclical warming and cooling of the earth so I won’t bother to go into that here. I will say that I think evidence is mounting that we’re going into another cooling cycle. Not the least of which is the massive increases in polar ice over the last 2 years (yes, I know, it’s still low), a fact that constantly gets glossed over by the alarmists.

A very tight assessment of climatic cycles can be seen here.

There’s just so much of what we know about the climate that is unexplained by current models and assumptions. As a person of intellectual and scientific curiosity, I feel compelled to question and to look further and to urge caution when proposing mandated “solutions” via government policy. I feel like the people currently doing that are being shouted down and I think it’s hurting us.

Whatever we learn or suspect to be true should be transparent and be able to withstand the scrutiny of other independent scientists and statisticians and shouldn’t have to be constantly massaged to account for unexplained warming and cooling the way current models do.

If you’re honestly curious about cyclical warming and cooling and periods when ice has been at similarly low levels, look into Amundsens traversal of the Northwest Passage (awesome and incredibly in depth article here) as well as the west to east traversal of the Northwest Passage of the St. Roch.

Last note, looks like Phil Jones (heavily referenced in the climategate emails as being partially responsible for destruction of data and helping other scientists avoid FOIA requests) resigned as director of CRU pending an independent investigation. I think this guy is done.

Mike Beacom

Gus made mention of….

“ice shelves diminished in Anarctica”

Here’s an interesting recent (Apr 09) article on the Antarctic ice shelf.

“Antarctic ice is growing, not melting away …..”

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

“The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research report prepared for last week’s meeting of Antarctic Treaty nations in Washington noted the South Pole had shown “significant cooling in recent decades”.

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

I’m not linking it as evidence against global warming, but rather to highlight the fact that current warming models don’t hold up well to global observation. And that the media help keep us (Gus included) uninformed about what’s really happening. I don’t deny the earth is warming. I just question if we currently understand how and why it’s warming and whether it’s within the norm of variability. I’m currently reading some studies on the effects of CO2 in the environment and it appears there is a current scientific thrust claiming that CO2 saturation (the point at which it ceases to cause warming) may have already been reached, possibly 100ppm ago. Naturally, these studies are going largely ignored. If they look like something promising, I’ll post links.

Mike Beacom

Whooops.

Looks like the media got it wrong again. Apparently those “new shipping lanes” Gus mentioned and I’ve been reading about aren’t so new after all. Turns out they’ve been commercially exploited since 1935. How do sources like the BBC and NYT get it so wrong so often?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/09/14/north_eastern_passage/

http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2009/09/triumph-for-propaganda.html

http://www.aari.nw.ru/projects/insrop/forewords.htm

Gus

Good finds. The media has stumbled and misinformed again. Why do media outlets barf up crap without checking it? America’s media does its population a disservice by spouting nonsense. Which is precisely why I am looking for further discussion and even fact-checking on the open comment section of a blog (an unlikely place). I definitely concede on any assertions I made on how profound sea passages are to the 2009-world. However, the science that exposes all of the other symptoms of a sick planet are collectively painting a picture of future global cooperation. Bio-diversity loss is not only sad, but notable. Any geological event in the past has caused species loss, but our current bio-diversity loss can most definitely be attributed to the cocktail of chemicals manufactured every day by man to never degrade and pollute every corner of the globe. There is not a failed media debacle around the pacific trash gyre. The BPA’s and PCB’s that pervade all corners of the globe are sure to be the source of next decade’s health issues. Combine problems like this with receding ice, deforestation, mountain-top removal, algae blooms and reef calcification, the picture is one of destruction all around us. The U.S. seems to be the only nation who does not deem it important to exchange 20th century habits with new sustainable and cooperative habits. The U.S. is in denial as a whole and our reluctance to embrace cooperation may be our demise (if the disappearance of our middle class doesn’t happen first).I remain hopeful that our Legislative branch decides to vote in favor of global cooperation, but our media seems to be standing in the way.

Mike Beacom

“Why do media outlets barf up crap without checking it? ”

“The sky is falling” sells a lot more papers than “don’t sweat it just yet, we’re not sure there’s a problem”.

I totally agree with your further statements Gus. I may take issue with classifying CO2 as a “pollutant” but I’m as adamant as anyone when it comes to things like benzene, acetone, and all the other chemicals that get pumped into the environment. I absolutely wish we had better and more stringent regulatory authorities in the states.

This site is amazing. It’s pretty kludgy in making use of the data, but once you do, you’ll be amazed. Whichever side of the climate change debate you’re on, the fact that NOAA and NASA are using station data from this network is mildly unsettling.

http://www.surfacestations.org/

I looked at about 30 different station surveys. Pretty much every one I looked at with green space around it showed consistent temperatures over the last 100 years. Those in urban settings, with parking lots nearby, air conditioners, (one example they show even has a BURN BARREL next to it) showed steady rises in mean temps.

I’ve signed up for the site and plan to do some surveys myself and see what comes up.

Gus

Yes, I saw the article. I get the evening paper. I bet your tip revolves around your CO2 denial as a greenhouse gas. The more I read both sides of the aisle on this issue the more difficult it is to agree with the denial stance. I completely agree with you in that CO2 is NOT a greenhouse gas. That is, UNTIL it reaches a certain level. I have now seen this issue as something that has been discussed since the 1950’s. Back and forth. The denialists do not want to admit that CO2 could be a GrG because the lifestyle change it implies. Similarly, people who don’t believe peak oil is in our future do not want to change a comfortable existence and a lucrative economic model for the rich. I do not mean to be aggressive with my assertion, for I am just calling it as I see ‘em.

Climate does have distinct patterns, but once composition of climate chemistry changes, geological events occur, or solar activity changes, all of these variables will lead to pattern disruption, which in turn, leads to unknown climate future.

Like the article implies, ice can still be formed in places during a warming cycle. There are still places around the globe that exist below 32 F, especially mountain tops and glaciers. If moisture originating from a warm body of water passes through an area like North Pakistan due to different wind patterns, then I don’t see a contradiction in the warming model. Conversely, different wind pattens must be bringing the drier, warm air over the Everest area of the Himalayas.

This article is great timing with the Copenhagen hooplah and even more debatable than hacked emails. I find it difficult to disagree with such scientists who have been studying this particular region/topic their entire professional life. There are not many deniers who represent this type of scientist. Unfortunately, the deniers, if they are scientists, seem insincere because they are protecting status quo, hence big industry. If the green revolution is set to profit from climate change, the profit will not show up until another global recession or two passes while the globe shifts gears to sustainability. Thereby, the profit that deniers claim Al Gore and the like are going to reap will not surface until everybody endures a massive depression. This depression is necessary to avert Katrina’s and avert the disregard for the people who endure the Katrina. Yes, embracing a carbon neutral society does mean we as a planet have to take a hit financially. As with American politics, the obvious choice is between the lesser of two evils. Without industry change, as Brian noted in earlier entries, resources will become less dependable mostly to the poor people in vulnerable coastlines. Those once-thought infinite resources will eventually drive up the price of food. To me, that is the worst case scenario. Food riots, like the one in Cairo, seem right around the corner if any of the energy variables go up in price. Energy and food should not be linked this directly. Less energy-intensive food should be the global goal while keeping forests where they are, mountaintops on top of coal deposits, and an emphasis on locally produced/manufactured anything.

Anyway, we do disagree on the CO2 point and I don’t know how many times we will explain our perspectives in different ways, but I do know that this debate will continue until another Super-Katrina hits a major city or we cool off to 19th century temperatures. Either way, life is good now and must be enjoyed.

Mike Beacom

Gus,

Thanks for your comment. I won’t argue/debate with you in the spirit of the holiday season. Instead, I’ll try to explain my position/thinking as it’s obvious from your implication that I’m a “denier” that I’ve not come across well in my litany of previous comment on this topic. I’ll do it both by outlining my thoughts and commenting on your comments.

“I bet your tip revolves around your CO2 denial as a greenhouse gas.”

I’ve never denied that CO2 is a greenhouse gas so I’m not sure where that comment comes from. I think there is no doubt, that by definition, CO2 is absolutely a greenhouse gas. Ancillary to that, I don’t deny that CO2 has increased measurably over the last 100 years. Nor do I deny that the measured CO2 increase is, in large part, due to the burning of fossil fuels.

“Climate does have distinct patterns, but once composition of climate chemistry changes, geological events occur, or solar activity changes, all of these variables will lead to pattern disruption, which in turn, leads to unknown climate future.”

I agree the climate has patterns, but I don’t claim that what we’re seeing now is definitively part of that pattern. I do think it’s a valid area of study though, one that is largely ignored due to a perceived “consensus” on man made warming. I think that’s a bad thing. I think that our understanding of natural global weather patterns (warming/cooling/ice ages) is of incredible importance. I think the climate is in constant flux, with or without man made disruption.

You mention an unknown climate future. My belief is that whatever the patterns that exist, we have little to no understanding of them. Science didn’t even have a good understanding of El Nino/La Nina (arguably the largest natural global climate phenomenon) until about 20 years ago. They’re different in size and scope every year, appear to be cyclical and yet we have no understanding of their driving forces.

“If moisture originating from a warm body of water passes through an area like North Pakistan due to different wind patterns, then I don’t see a contradiction in the warming model.”

It’s interesting you mention that because even the men doing the study saw the contradiction. It basically said that due to the location of certain glaciers expanding while others nearby (subject to the same wind/moisture patterns) are contracting, the wind/moisture idea didn’t make sense and that they struggled to explain it. I think the reason they struggle to explain it is that the current models can’t account for it. That doesn’t mean they’re wrong, but it certainly should raise the question. I don’t feel like it has.

The tip that I would have given them is not that CO2 isn’t a GHG, but rather, that our current understanding of climate is incomplete (particularly CO2 in relation to other factors that effect overall climate), based on poorly homogenized observational data, contradictory historic CO2 measurements and that the resulting models are fraught with problems.

The whole reason the hockey stick thing blew up is because scientists created a warming model before they understood warming (which is fine and normal). It looked great at first. But when they tried to apply it to history (hindcast), there were changes in climate that didn’t fit the model of CO2 being the prime driver of climate change (medieval warm period, mini ice age etc). So, instead of changing the model (go back to the drawing board), they attempted to change history (what I like to call, “lazy science”). They’ve attempted to minimize both the medieval climatic optimum and the mini ice age, trying to write them off as regional only, or non-existent altogether. The man at the forefront of this push is Michael Mann, who I’m sure you’re familiar with. It’s not surprising since it was his hockey stick that was broken if the MWP and LIA actually existed.

“the profit that deniers claim Al Gore and the like are going to reap will not surface until everybody endures a massive depression.”

I realize money is a huge elephant in the room on both sides. On the one hand, you’re right, the current industry groups are generally very interested in maintaining the status quo. That much is obvious, and to be expected. But don’t kid yourself. Gore has ALREADY made hundreds of millions off the green scare he helped create. He’s not profiting on solutions, (which isn’t so bad in my mind), he’s profiting on fear. Fear sells. And in Al Gores case, it’s something like 300 million already (and an oscar).

“This depression is necessary to avert Katrina’s and avert the disregard for the people who endure the Katrina. Yes, embracing a carbon neutral society does mean we as a planet have to take a hit financially.”

I’m actually glad you mention this. I’m also glad you mention fear of upsetting the status quo as a hurdle, and that we need to focus on sustainability, while enduring potential financial pain. This brings me to a point I’ll only make since you mention it. Katrina. New Orleans. That should never have happened. Why? Because New Orleans should be abandoned and should have been after that last big hurricane (Camille?). People talk about the “warnings” prior to Katrina. Those warnings weren’t simply that the sea wall was weak and poorly maintained. Those warnings were that New Orleans is naturally susceptible to this and that it can be expected REGULARLY (every 30 years or so?). Its an absolutely unsustainable living arrangement. I know it’s expensive and tramples on centuries of American heritage and nostaligia, but the place is a swamp. People should not live there. As long as people attempt to defy nature and live in ridiculous places, Katrinas will happen with or without warming. Likewise, I think Las Vegas should be abandoned, as well as certain parts of Florida, but lets not get started on that just yet. Essentially, I think it’s pointless to fight nature the way one has to in order to sustain life in these places. If people insist on living in unsustainable areas, they should do so without government assistance. I’ll quote you by saying, “I do not mean to be aggressive with my assertion, for I am just calling it as I see ‘em.”

“Energy and food should not be linked this directly. Less energy-intensive food should be the global goal while keeping forests where they are, mountaintops on top of coal deposits, and an emphasis on locally produced/manufactured anything.”

I’m all for this.

“I don’t know how many times we will explain our perspectives in different ways,”

I don’t know. I’ve found in the last few months of commenting on Burglar, both with you and Brian and with a few others, that discussion (even argument/debate) helps me probe my ideas more thoroughly. It exposes blind spots in my thinking and in the end helps me come to a more complete understanding of things involved. This would be much more difficult for me without the significant brain power offered by people like both of you with informed and considered ideas on the things covered here. You may not think you benefit from these things, but I feel I do.

“Either way, life is good now and must be enjoyed.”

No question. This is particularly true in Omaha. Have you seen this unemployment map? Take note of Nebraska.

So, to summarize my thoughts that lead me to my “skepticism”. I’ll split the list into the areas I think we have common ground on.

Areas I think we’re in agreement

1. CO2 IS a greenhouse gas.
2. CO2 has increased in the last century
3. Said increase is mostly man made
4. The climate has patterns
5. Sustainability is important moving forward
6. Status quo should always be questioned
7. Carbon based economy is not the future.
8. Green energy is always preferable to fossil fuels and should inform our choices moving forward as humans and as Americans

Areas that may represent a divergence between you and me.

9. There are major factors that influence climate outside of CO2 (and possibly to a greater extent than CO2), particularly solar, volcanic, CFCs, methane, soot, tectonic shift, and others)
10. We don’t understand those patterns or factors in any meaningful way (one that allows us to predict changes with certainty, or one that allows us to accurately ascertain what changes are man made and what things we can realistically do about it)
11. Historic temperature and CO2 data is poorly collected, and poorly homogenized (combine my points 9,10, and 11 and the result is climate models that do not justify the creation of a rushed government solution).
12. An unfortunate conflict of interest exists between scientists who are largely gov’t funded and gov’ts who will likely cease funding if there isn’t an impending disaster to avert.
13. The peer review process needs to be fixed, such that skeptical science can be heard and judged on it’s own merits (this doesn’t generally occur right now), if for no other reason than to improve the science of the consensus.
14. Meat is good. 😉

Hope you don’t find reading this to be a complete waste of time and as always Gus, it’s a pleasure. Have a great day and I hope you have a really good Christmas/New Years/Winter Solstice, or whatever it is you enjoy this time of year.

Gus

Like you, blogging with you guys helps me with my “holes”, as well. I must say that I am elated with your very respectful and articulate refutation. As much as debates like this can can turn emotional, you have shown that you prefer the learning curve of our discourse rather than the competition. In that, I applaud you and thank you.

Your list of contentious points give me a wonderful vantage to tell you the only point we disagree with is number 11. Only in America would something that has been debated back and forth, in full view of legislative people, be considered “rushed” into a decision. Why did solar innovation leave the U.S.and still has not returned? Why does sustainable anything have problems gaining traction in the U.S.? Why do American politicians make energy/agriculture/foreign policy decisions as if we are the only country on the planet (in at least the last 50 years)?

Before I answer my questions, I want to gloss over the other contentious points we agree on. If we agree on the scientific consensus as an incomplete body of data, short only of insight scientists’ haven’t yet measured or collected due to inadequate technology or simply enough time elapsed to notice an observation, then why do we disagree on how this consensus, albeit incomplete, can be utilized for the improvement of these problems of sustainability we agree on? From the frog sitting in a pot and the temp dial turned slowly upward, to the Titanic hitting an iceberg, this debate is full of analogies which infer the instinct(s) of man as an individual consumer and more significantly as a whole. If I am getting your assessment, reacting to a perceived threat from the best experts of the last 50 years, does not mean we should think of change? The reason I do not think the Pakistan glacier is a contradiction because I am taking into account that we do not understand the force causing new snow, however every other part of the picture implies the future as an imaginable bleakness in terms of human coexistence. I admire the scientists who seek the anomalies in data. In turn, their subsequent conclusions may muddy the consensus. However, most people would agree that the explanation of anomalies would help understanding with the subject at hand, but not prove necessary in implementing an educated guess toward sustainable living. The cost of doing nothing is a really large cost for our grandchildren. 7 billion people are exacerbating this cost. Our grandparents grew up in a world with less than three billion people. The exponential effects of our lives/habits multiply into variables we aren’t even thinking about. This aspect of unknown effects from 7 billion carbon-consuming people is more than enough uncertainty to match the uncertainty scientists acknowledge in their anomalies. As a species cognoscente of our shortcomings, we know we can do something about one side of uncertainty, the consumption/footprint side. Uncertainty in weather patterns can remain uncertain until it is revealed to us.

In terms of inadequate consensus, I think I can draw a parallel with the disagreement I have with Brian on the existence of the UN. Just because the world has grown past the capacity of the UN to have any effect, does not mean that the UN should not be listened to, fixed, or supplemented. The UN exists as a human ideal circumvented by the greed of powerful men. IPCC seems to stand out there in the expanse of existence without anyone listening, like the UN. The IPCC and the UN are tools that the rest of the planet can either use or not. As the UN slips further and further into meaningless obscurity, peaceful nations are left to wonder what happened to this wonderful tool of mediation.

Briefly responding to my earlier questions, I believe you know where I am going to go with this. Almost all sustainable innovations that began in the great innovation engine of the U.S. are ignored/squished by powerful corporate interests as a threat to their profits. The disappearance of the public option shows this still to be true. The problems in front of us are ones of leadership and subsequent implementation. Tom Friedman of the NY Times posits a unique point, what if the U.S. could be China for a day? His point goes on to say that China can implement sweeping decisions in matter of years regardless of private interests, while the U.S. takes twenty to thirty years to implement industry change fighting tooth and nail the entire time. If Mr Friedman is correct, then I will not see U.S. energy/agricultural policy change before the iceberg, and that makes me sad.