A Deeper Shade of Clueless

In the article “A Deeper Shade of Green” in the August issue of National Geographic, environmental essayist, activist, and author (their description, not mine) Bill McKibben attempts to scare the bejabbers out of everyone by saying:

British scientist James Lovelock … published an essay predicting that we’d already added too much CO2 [carbon dioxide] to the atmosphere and that runaway global warming was inevitable.

Oh no!  We’re doomed!  But in the same paragraph he notes:

The steady and long-serving NASA climatologist James Hansen defied federal attempts to gag him and told reporters that new calculations about, among other things, the instability of Greenland’s ice shelf showed “we can’t let it go on another ten years like this.”

Now wait a minute.  Do we have ten years, or are we already doomed?  Or can we fix Greenland’s ice shelf in 10 years or less, but we are still doomed?  Or if we fix Greenland will we stop the inevitable runaway global warming? Doesn’t inevitable mean something like “going to happen no matter what”?  Just how stupid are we supposed to be? (actually I can answer that one – stupid enough to buy his books and give money to his foundations that send him on trips all over the globe–using lots of fossil fuels that he excoriates all of us for using).
These guys can’t get their story straight, and its within just one paragraph.

10 thoughts on “A Deeper Shade of Clueless

  1. The first 6 months of this year were the warmest in US history.

    Increased global warming is happening and is inevitable but the degree of warming is not.

    Recent study of Greenland’s ice sheets show they are melting and moving toward the sea must faster than previous known. If the ice sheets continue to slide into the sea, there could be a significant ocean rise.

    The author did not say were were doomed you did.

    Global climate change is not a political topic and will not be solved by political personal attack or making fun of people with whom you disagree.

    This is a scientific issue and the response must be based on observed facts, not political leanings or personal feelings. At this point in time, the vast majority of the scientific community agrees that global climate change is happening now, is significant and is at least partly caused by humans. This apparently includes Bush’s science advisor who publicly said the same thing last week.

    The solutions to global climate change will be political and we will have different opinions on how to deal with the problem.

    Don’t kill the messinger because the message doesn’t agree with your politics. The Universe doesn’t care about your politics.

  2. Has anyone ever wondered why Greenland is called “Greenland?” I’ve heard that it was called Greenland because the Vikings wanted people to go there instead of Iceland, which was actually more habitable. I’ve also heard that it was called Greenland because – in the past – it was actually warm enough to produce crops. As time passed by it became uninhabitable and people left. The climate has apparently changed that much.

    What happened? Did civilized and uncivilized men decide to collectively reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere? Was it possibly bubonic plague that helped reduce CO2 emissions?

    I’ve also heard that the Arctic ocean used to have a temperate climate. There was no polar ice cap. How did we cause that? I’ve also heard stories that the sun goes through cycles where it actually burns hotter.

    Too many questions. Too much variability. The planet’s climate has never been stable. It is nothing short of hubris to believe that men can predict the climate with any degree of accuracy.

  3. md:
    Breath deeply.
    Try Junkscience.com
    Take come courses in real science…start with someting easy and simple (except for political types)…statistics, then try some physics. And please, lay off with that “…vast majority agree…” stuff. Try reading the initial reactions in the early 1900s to special relativity and see what the “vast majority” had to say about that nut Einstein. Funny, most of them actually had advanced degrees in some real studies. Perhaps you do also, but somehow methinks not.

  4. md:
    The vast majority of scientists said Louis Pasteur’s germ theory was a crock. Just because the vast majority of any group believe something doesn’t make it true. Just because there is an honest disagreement on something doesn’t mean you are right and those who disagree with you are liars, or trying to excuse something for political reasons. You, like the rest of the left, refuse to listen to any evidence that contradicts your position, and even after being forced to hear the evidence, refuse to change your opinion, no matter how convincing the evidence is. I read recently that we’re nearing a time when the temperature will be hotter than any other time in the last 300,000 years. Why was it so hot then? Some prehistoric carbon dioxide generating society that managed to completely hide their existence? Get over it.

  5. The majority of scientists and engineers do not beleive that there is a catastrophic warming going on. It is quite evident that the “warming signal”, if it exists at all, is near the noise level of scientific observation.

    In short the effect is tiny and cumulative only over several centuries. But that assumes technology doesn’t and won’t change and that’s rediculous. The energy componernt of US GDP has declined more in 20 years, than was predicted for several centuries, in the 1970s. There is a greater chance that CO2 levels, for any anthropogenic contribution of CO2, will turn negative within thirty years. To the degree that it has ny effect on the total CO2 flux at all, you could expect atmospheric CO2 levels to start declining in the second half of the 21st century not doubling or quadrupuling as some models postulate.

    Over 23000 said this merited more study and had a jaundiced view in the Oregon Petition signed by the US scientific and engineering community.

    On the other hand, the scientific illiterate and the average layman has been brainwashed by the publicists and is much more certain that “bad things” are supposedly happening, then is the scientifically trained community.

  6. No prediction can be believed with absolute certainty. The support of numerous luminaries does not guarantee correctness. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take notice when people with experience in a particular field (and have lots to lose if they’re wrong) speak up.

    The weight of scientific evidence, that human activities are negatively altering our climate, is sufficient to be considered “overwhelming.” The evidence would have long ago been accepted as canon if not for strong vested interests that would be hurt. (Recall how long it took for smoking to be universally accepted as unhealthy?)

    I would have to counter Stan Peterson’s assertion that the warnings signs “[are] near the noise level of scientific observation.” CO2 measurements from ice-core samples have shown that since industrialization (and especially in the later half of the 20th) CO2 levels have spiked in an unprecedented rate to unprecedented levels.

    Perhaps in the geological past (tens of thousand to millions of years ago) there were comparable levels of CO2, warmer climates, higher sea levels, etc. However, those episodes reflected gradual changes (over thousands of years) whereas the changes we see today are too sudden, too large, and too correlated not to be a result of human activity.

    One statistic often used to soften the need for stringent conservation measures is the rapid decline of CO2 emissions per $ of US GDP. That’s a great thing (more efficient wealth generation) except for two facts: 1) Our total GDP has increased faster than efficiency so we’re still putting out more CO2 in absolute terms. 2) A lot of the GDP efficiency gain has come because CO2 intensive manufacturing has been outsourced while the products of that manufacturing is still being consumed in the USA. Given that the Earth’s climate is impacted by cumulative global CO2 levels, the CO2 emissions per $ of US GDP is a misleading statistic.

    Finally, the author’s main point was whether we (basically the American people) would be willing to open our mind and question long-standing assumptions about life-style, individualism, consumption, etc. that have contributed to or inhibited solutions to our environmental challenges.

    Picking on the blog’s author: “A happy conservative living in Monument, Colorado. Living an extremely good life…” Isn’t it fair to ask whether your extremely good life may depend of consumption that may one day make my home state, Florida, into America’s next underwater historical park?

    P.S. If anyone has issue with what I’ve said or would simply like to continue the discussion, please feel free to e-mail me at grant.changchien@gmail.com

  7. “Perhaps in the geological past (tens of thousand to millions of years ago) there were comparable levels of CO2, warmer climates, higher sea levels, etc. However, those episodes reflected gradual changes (over thousands of years) whereas the changes we see today are too sudden, too large, and too correlated not to be a result of human activity.”

    I just wanted to reaffirm this statement. One of the crafty arguments often used is that the earth has warmed and cooled over its history so why should we concern ourselves with current day changes and any influence we may have on those changes. This argument makes much sense to the layman, especially when presented by a political friend. The issue is the timescale of change as suggested above. Small changes over long periods of time allow a natural system to respond and adapt. Rapid changes, especially on the scale of a century (very small in geological or climate terms) neccessarily cause the system to react more forcefully in an attempt to come into balance. Any physical equation has many constituates that are change of some quantiity per unit time. I often use sensible examples like El Nino which is just a shift of warmer water from one side of the Pacific to the other in less than a year. It is widely known that this shift cause weather to changes all across the planet. We adapt fairly well in the US, but other less fortunate culture/socities suffer many hardships. If global warming is occuring, which I’m alomost totally convinced, we will (and have) see more variability in the weather, more shifts from cold to hot, dry to wet, etc. For example, the heat wave and long drought in the West
    may be a global warming product. Some models I’ve examined indicate more temperature change out west over the next 50 years. Several times over the past 3-4 years, Europe has had record heat waves. Just something to consider.

  8. This is just ridiculous. The preponderance of evidence supports the idea that global warming is most definitely happening and at an alarming rate. This was a radical idea for a long time. It is something that the scientific community has been warning the world about for nearly a century, in one form or another. Yes, the scientific community, those who base their assumptions on repeated observations, not desires.

    If only there was some natural process that converted Carbon Dioxide into Oxygen. Wouldn’t it be great if that process didn’t require any more energy than sunlight to make it work? Oh, wait a minute…

    What are we chopping down?

    If you want to fruitlessly debate a subject where one side is represented almost entirely by industry and the other side is almost entirely independent scientific research, then let’s discuss the parallels of this debate and that little thing about tobacco use. Really, smoking’s good for you. Just like dumping CO2 into the atmosphere is good for the planet. Really.
    See, everything is ok. The world isn’t at war, just a few people in a very influential region. You can stay in your hole and ignore what’s happening around you. We’ve got it under control. Now, go buy more stuff. It will make you happy. Really. There’s a sale at Wal-Mart.

  9. Say things enough, do they become true?

    The world is flat.
    The world is flat.
    The world is flat.
    The world is flat.
    We’ll be seen as liberators.
    We’ll be seen as liberators.
    We’ll be seen as liberators.
    We’ll be seen as liberators.
    There’s no gloabal warming.
    There’s no gloabal warming.
    There’s no gloabal warming.
    There’s no gloabal warming.
    I’m rich, I’m a Republican, so I’m smart.
    I’m rich, I’m a Republican, so I’m smart.
    I’m rich, I’m a Republican, so I’m smart.
    I’m rich, I’m a Republican, so I’m smart.

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