inkwell.vue.388 : Eric Pooley, "The Climate War"
permalink #51 of 124: Gary Greenberg (gberg) Fri 30 Jul 10 06:46
    
Roger PIelke, Jr., in his forthcoming book The Climate Fix, argues
that certainty can't be had in climate predictions any more than in
weather forecasting. He thinks that the fact that neither the timing
nor the specifics of tipping points can be predicted has been way
underplayed, and he suspects that a political agenda is at work in
trumping up the science: the agenda of people who want to ratchet back
consumerism, reduce global inequities in income, and generally enforce
a green ideology. But he doesn't think that climate change isn't
happening, or that it shouldn't be addressed. Instead he says that we
should not behave as if tjhis were an emergency requiring a vast
rejiggering of society. So, for instance, he says that carbon taxes
aren't a bad idea, but that the point should be to raise revenue for
technological innovation, rather than to change behavior. 

I'm sure you're familiar with this line of argument, and I wonder what
you think of it. Is this apparent moderation a cover for a more
radical denier agenda? And, having written extensively on the way that
science gets used to provide (unwarranted) certainty for political
agendas, I am intrigued by his argument. Is there a reason that we
should treat the predictions of climate science as more like the
predictions of cell biologists than those of meteorologists?
  
inkwell.vue.388 : Eric Pooley, "The Climate War"
permalink #52 of 124: Jeff Dooley (dooley) Fri 30 Jul 10 09:28
    

> the point should be to raise revenue for
 technological innovation, rather than to change behavior.

isn't that a main selling point for cap and trade?
  
inkwell.vue.388 : Eric Pooley, "The Climate War"
permalink #53 of 124: Rip Van Winkle (keta) Fri 30 Jul 10 11:48
    
Eric
>RAPID change, of course, is the
disastrous kind, of course, because it gives human, animal and plant
populations no time to adapt.

Gary
>Instead he says that we
should not behave as if tjhis were an emergency requiring a vast
rejiggering of society. 

Interesting juxtaposition of comments - reading Gary's I realize that
what can be said for natural systems (that rapid change is the
disastrous kind) can also be said for societies.  So added to a lack of
understanding of tipping points would come a natural aversion to rapid
response...and even the perception that pushing the need for a rapid
response is pushing a cultural agenda.  This is actually the first time
I've gotten that!

I guess I'm one to think that tipping points are far closer than we
think.

What do you think of the views and approach of Bill McKibben and
350.org? 
  
inkwell.vue.388 : Eric Pooley, "The Climate War"
permalink #54 of 124: Gary Greenberg (gberg) Fri 30 Jul 10 14:31
    
>even the perception that pushing the need for a rapid response is
>pushing a cultural agenda.  This is actually the first time I've
>gotten that!

I don't thnk there's any question that the climate debate has gotten
caught in the culture wars. ERic's book details the way that deeper
ideologies explain some of the intransigence and outright weirdness
that has infected the politics and made it so difficult for the
Fdereral government to achieve any kind of policy response. And I think
a lot of the conflict has to do with a suspicion that the tree huggers
are trying to capitalize on the coming catastrophe by turning it into
an opportunity to remake the world as they thought it should have been
all along, regardless of whether there was climate change. Which seems
preposterous, I know, but on the other hand, consider how easy it was
to be suspicoius that GW Bush's response to 9/11 was merely his seizing
an opportunity to do what he wanted to do all along: get rid of
Saddam, turn Iraq into a democracy, seize oil assets, whatever. For
that matter, consider what Bill McKibben said a few weeks ago at a
conference I attended. (He was talking about the Gulf disaster and how
it fit into the overall picture.) "What once was merely sinful," he
said, "has now become a practical problem." In some weird and twisted
way, this is actually good news.
  
inkwell.vue.388 : Eric Pooley, "The Climate War"
permalink #55 of 124: Gary Greenberg (gberg) Fri 30 Jul 10 15:26
    
>> the point should be to raise revenue for
 technological innovation, rather than to change behavior.

>isn't that a main selling point for cap and trade?

I gather that PIelke is advocating for m,uch lower taxes, not enough
to inflict the kind of pain that changes behavior, but enough to fund
innovation. He figures we can innovate our way to some kind of new
homeostasis before things get really bad. 
  
inkwell.vue.388 : Eric Pooley, "The Climate War"
permalink #56 of 124: Eric Pooley (ericpooley) Fri 30 Jul 10 18:35
    
Pielke is a hugely controversial and in my view dangerous figure. He
advocates a response so mild we might as well be doing nothing, and
dresses it up in moderate clothing by saying he agrees that climate
change is real. The problem here is that if the overwhelming majority
of climatologists are right, we can't afford to wait. There are plenty
of seductive arguments for inaction; Pielke's happens to be dressed up
in a lab coat. 

Why should we regard climatologists as closer to cell biologists than
to meteorologists? Because they are scientists, committed to rigor,
peer review and the scientific method, and because their predictions
have been buttressed by observed fact over the course of decades.
'Meteorolgists,' on the other hand, are television announcers.

This is not to say that some proponents of climate action haven't
exaggerated some aspects of the science in a so far failed attempt to
mobilize the public. Of course they have. Because the public needs to
be mobilized, yet has a deep psychological aversion to recognizing what
is already happening. 

THIS JUST IN: Plankton, the foundation of the ocean food chain, has
dwindled 40% since 1950 due to warming oceans. What part of catastrophe
don't we understand?
  
inkwell.vue.388 : Eric Pooley, "The Climate War"
permalink #57 of 124: Michael C. Berch (mcb) Fri 30 Jul 10 18:40
    
> 'Meteorolgists,' on the other hand, are television announcers.

Sorry to barge in like this, but I think my father (now 92), who has a
masters degree from UCLA in meteorology, and taught a group of U.S.
Army officers, among others, how to forecast weather for the D-Day
invasion, might disagree with you.  Along with a large number of
serious scientists who work for the National Weather Service in the
U.S. and similar agencies across the globe.
  
inkwell.vue.388 : Eric Pooley, "The Climate War"
permalink #58 of 124: Jeff Dooley (dooley) Fri 30 Jul 10 22:37
    

So it's very likely that many highly trained meteorologists share with
climatologists the view that climate change is a serious threat to the
global ecosystem.

In the dust I'd hate to see overlooked Eric's comment that trends predicted
in the results of responsible scientific modeling from the 70s and 80s have
indeed been buttressed by observed facts over the past 20 years. The caution
that we can't predict what happens once a system goes into wild oscillation
does not mean that we should't pay attention to the trends leading up to it,
especially when out plots of these trends are so close to the empirical data
collected subsequently.
  
inkwell.vue.388 : Eric Pooley, "The Climate War"
permalink #59 of 124: Christian De Leon-Horton (echodog) Fri 30 Jul 10 23:22
    
If the time to take action is now, then what forms of action are most
effective? Earlier Eric mentioned law suits, and also touched on some
forms of direct activism. I'd like to hear more about the kinds of
tactics that can be employed against the climate deniers. 
  
inkwell.vue.388 : Eric Pooley, "The Climate War"
permalink #60 of 124: Eric Pooley (ericpooley) Sat 31 Jul 10 03:34
    
Michael, I meant no offense to your father or other meteorologists.
(TV weatherman are meteorologists, but you're right, that doesn't mean
all meteorologists are TV weathermen.) My point is that forecasting
weather is a vastly different endeavor than, for example, peer-reviewed
study of the paleoclimate record that seeks to understand what factors
have triggered past shifts in the climate system, what the impacts
have been, and whether such a change is beginning to happen now.

And Jeff's conclusion is well worth repeating:

>The caution that we can't predict what happens once a system goes
>into wild oscillation does not mean that we should't pay attention to
>the trends leading up to it, especially when our plots of these
>trends are so close to the empirical data collected subsequently.
  
inkwell.vue.388 : Eric Pooley, "The Climate War"
permalink #61 of 124: Gary Greenberg (gberg) Sat 31 Jul 10 04:57
    
>TV weatherman are meteorologists, but you're right, that doesn't mean
all meteorologists are TV weathermen.)

Actually, many tv weathermen are not meteorologists. Meteorology is a
bona fide academic discipline in which one can get a doctoral degree,
and which is closely related to climatology. The TV guys are "weather
forecasters," which is a branch of journalism.
  
inkwell.vue.388 : Eric Pooley, "The Climate War"
permalink #62 of 124: those Andropovian bongs (rik) Sat 31 Jul 10 06:27
    
Yeah.  Like "news reader".
  
inkwell.vue.388 : Eric Pooley, "The Climate War"
permalink #63 of 124: David Gans (tnf) Sat 31 Jul 10 07:23
    

As I read this book I continue to be outraged by the behavior of the
denialists.  First of all, the character assassination they employ against
the scientists is pure projection: "they're in it for the money."  I have
long believed that capitalism is a parasite that has taken over the host, and
we're now in danger of losing it all.  Does Ebell really believe his
bullshit?  Is profit so intoxicating that it will inspire us to drive our-
selves right off the cliff?
  
inkwell.vue.388 : Eric Pooley, "The Climate War"
permalink #64 of 124: Eric Pooley (ericpooley) Sat 31 Jul 10 08:32
    
Hey David.

>Does Ebell really believe his bullshit?

I don't pretend to know.

>Is profit so intoxicating that it will inspire us to drive ourselves
right off the cliff?

The answer to that one appears to be yes. But it's more than profit.
It's a way of life that we all share -- the juice powering my laptop
and your amp, the gasoline in our tanks, the petroleum in the soles of
our shoes, the plane that flew me home from that environmental
conference, and on and on. That's why the Deniers, pernicious and
hateful and dangerous as they certainly are, are not the only culprits
in this murder mystery. We're all complicit, I'm afraid. Many of us are
trying to make adjustments, grow our own food, reduce consumption,
change light bulbs and try to change laws, and many more of us are
distracted and oblivious, or struggling s hard to make ends meet we
don't have the luxury to think about this stuff. That's why the goal
hast to be to bring down the cost of clean energy, so it is no longer a
premium product--luxury green electrons sold to those who can afford
them, like organic food. Sometimes I wonder if the Deniers are just a
projection, a manifestation of our own desire not to deal with this.
They saw a market niche, an unmet demand, and occupied it. If they
didn't exist we'd invent them. Because I if Myron Ebell and Professor 
Frederick Siegfried Singer had never been born, America would still be
right where it is: needing to transform its energy infrastructure, not
getting it done, and running out of time.
  
inkwell.vue.388 : Eric Pooley, "The Climate War"
permalink #65 of 124: Eric Pooley (ericpooley) Sat 31 Jul 10 08:36
    <scribbled by julieswn Sat 31 Jul 10 08:40>
  
inkwell.vue.388 : Eric Pooley, "The Climate War"
permalink #66 of 124: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Sat 31 Jul 10 08:41
    
<65> scribbled because of double posting
  
inkwell.vue.388 : Eric Pooley, "The Climate War"
permalink #67 of 124: David Gans (tnf) Sat 31 Jul 10 08:57
    
Thanks, Eric. I needed that.
  
inkwell.vue.388 : Eric Pooley, "The Climate War"
permalink #68 of 124: Joel Bremson (jb) Sat 31 Jul 10 13:27
    
A lot of state and personal fortunes are built on fossil fuel
reserves.

A successful move off of fossils would mean those people would lose
the financial source of their power and positions. 
  
inkwell.vue.388 : Eric Pooley, "The Climate War"
permalink #69 of 124: (fom) Sat 31 Jul 10 20:21
    
A friend of mine (who is not pernicious or hateful) is a scientist who 
thinks climate change is probably not due to human activity/carbon 
emissions. He's in a field where he would benefit if it were; but he 
maintains that the claims that we are causing climate change are 
rhetorical, not scentific. He's kind of dismayed by claims that it's been 
proven. He would like to believe it but he cannot bring himself to. 
(Meanwhile he recycles everything, buys local food, hardly ever drives his 
car, keeps his energy consumption low, and so on.)

I asked him if he would participate in this discussion and he said no, 
but he'd give me some questions to ask. He sent me seven questions -- I 
can't evaluate them because I don't really understand most of them, 
but here they are:

(1) How can you take 0.74 degree C seriously when the one-sigma error
is one-fourth of that value?

(2) How can you quote atmospheric models when they don't include
clouds and rainfall properly?

(3) How can you take this 0.74 degree bump seriously when the
evidence is that over hundreds and thousands of years, changes of
five degrees c or more have been estimated?

(4) Isn't water vapor the most prevalent greenhouse gas?

(5) Can you prove that human activity is even close to natural
sources of greenhouse emissions, especially incluing water vapor and
oceanic CO2?

(6) Hasn't there been an increase in solar output that could explain
everything?
  
inkwell.vue.388 : Eric Pooley, "The Climate War"
permalink #70 of 124: Christian De Leon-Horton (echodog) Sun 1 Aug 10 00:44
    
And the seventh question? 
  
inkwell.vue.388 : Eric Pooley, "The Climate War"
permalink #71 of 124: (fom) Sun 1 Aug 10 02:52
    
Oops! Where did I get "seven"? Sorry, he sent me SIX questions.
  
inkwell.vue.388 : Eric Pooley, "The Climate War"
permalink #72 of 124: Eric Pooley (ericpooley) Sun 1 Aug 10 03:38
    <scribbled by tnf Sun 1 Aug 10 04:11>
  
inkwell.vue.388 : Eric Pooley, "The Climate War"
permalink #73 of 124: Eric Pooley (ericpooley) Sun 1 Aug 10 03:43
    
Please scribble 72 - Sorry for the double posting, not sure how I
managed that. 
  
inkwell.vue.388 : Eric Pooley, "The Climate War"
permalink #74 of 124: Eric Pooley (ericpooley) Sun 1 Aug 10 04:59
    
fom, if your scientist friend wants to educate himself about
climatology he should visit sites run by the IPCC or climatologists
such as realclimate.org. Realclimate has a library of FAQs, running
discussion of emerging issues in climatology, and a staff of scientists
ready to respond to questions not answered elsewhere. But all of his
questions are very familiar.

1. For folks who don't know, 0.74 degree C  refers to the global
average temperature increase during the 100 years ending in 2005. To
me, the pertinent question isn't whether you or I can take it
seriously; the vast majority of working climatologists take it very
seriously indeed. They are deeply concerned. There is at least an
additional .6 degree C of warming in the pipeline--and according to Jim
Hansen, perhaps as much as 2 degrees C--which means it is locked in
due to the emissions already released. (There's a lag between an
increase in atmospheric concentration and an increase in temperature.)
The consensus among the nations of the world is that if we don't keep
additional anthropogenic warming below 2 degrees C, we're going to
experience dramatic impacts. But we are clearly sailing well beyond 2
degrees, and an increase of 3 to 6 degrees would be catastrophic. If
you'd like to understand the potential impact of each additional degree
of warming, I'd recommend a book called Six Degrees, by Mark Lynas.


2. Climate models do take clouds into account. Your friend's claim
that they do not do so "properly" is badly out of date. Clouds have
been a source of modeling uncertainty, because they can be both
positive and negative feedbacks, but the models' ability to account for
them has been vastly improved over the past decade. See
http://www.grida.no/publications/other/ipcc%5Ftar/?src=/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/2
71.htm

3.Swings of 5 degrees have occurred in geologic time--long before
humans were around. Humankind has flourished in the Holocene, a period
of climatic stability. The problem is that we are hastening the end of
this hospitable epoch.
http://www.ipcc.unibe.ch/publications/wg1-ar4/faq/wg1_faq-6.2.html

4. Water vapor is indeed the most prevalent greenhouse has, but it is
a feedback effect, not a forcing agent. "Any artificial perturbation in
water vapor concentrations is too short lived to change the climate.
Too much in the air will quickly rain out, not enough and the abundant
ocean surface will provide the difference via evaporation. But once the
air is warmed by other means, H2O concentrations will rise and stay
high, thus providing the feedback."
http://www.grist.org/article/water-vapor-accounts-for-almost-all-of-the-greenh
ouse-effect/

"Water vapour is the most abundant and important greenhouse gas in the
atmosphere. However, human activities have only a small direct
influence on the amount of atmospheric water vapour. Indirectly, humans
have the potential to affect water vapour substantially by changing
climate. For example, a warmer atmosphere contains more water vapour."
http://www.ipcc.unibe.ch/publications/wg1-ar4/faq/wg1_faq-2.1.html

5) "Can you prove" is a question for schoolyards, not scientists.
Scientists ask, "what is the evidence?" and in this case there is
plenty.
http://www.grist.org/article/there-is-no-proof-that-co2-is-causing-global-warm
ing/


Water vapor, ocean CO2 and "natural variability" do not account for
the warming.
http://www.ipcc.unibe.ch/publications/wg1-ar4/faq/wg1_faq-9.2.html

6. Neither do solar variations. According the World Radiation Center
there has been no increase in solar irradiance since at least 1978,
when satellite observations began. This means that for the last thirty
years, while the temperature has been rising fastest, the sun has not
changed.
http://www.pmodwrc.ch/pmod.php?topic=tsi/composite/SolarConstant
  
inkwell.vue.388 : Eric Pooley, "The Climate War"
permalink #75 of 124: David Gans (tnf) Sun 1 Aug 10 08:59
    
I was telling a friend about your book last night, Eric, and I
realized that you are doing for the climate what Michael pollen has
Bern doing for the food system. 
  

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