Best of FF: Confessions of a Climate Change Convert

December 29th, 2011 at 12:00 am | 159 Comments |

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As 2011 comes to a close, FrumForum plans to re-run some of our best featured pieces from the year. D.R. Tucker wrote an especially provocative piece about how he changed his position on climate change and global warming.

I was defeated by facts.

It wasn’t all that long ago when I joined others on the right in dismissing concerns about climate change. It was my firm belief that the science was unsettled, that any movement associated with Al Gore and Van Jones couldn’t possibly be trusted, that environmentalists were simply left-wing, anti-capitalist kooks.

It wasn’t until after I read Stanford University professor Morris Fiorina’s book Disconnect (2009) that I started to reconsider things. Fiorina noted that while environmentalism is now considered the domain of the Democratic Party, for many years it was the GOP that was identified with conservationist concerns. I was curious as to how the political climate shifted with regard to environmentalism—and whether there was something to all this talk about climate change.

I’m very fortunate to have acquaintances in the environmentalist movement, and I began discussing my concerns with them last fall. One friend recommended that I read the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, suggesting that it might resolve some of the questions I had about the science behind climate concerns.

I began reading the report with a skeptical eye, but by the time I concluded I could not find anything to justify my skepticism. The report presented an airtight case that the planet’s temperature has increased dramatically (“Eleven of the last twelve years [1995-2006] rank among the twelve warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature [since 1850]”), that sea levels have undergone a dramatic and disturbing increase since the 1960s (“Global average sea level rose at an average rate of 1.8 [1.3 to 2.3]mm per year over 1961 to 2003 and at an average rate of about 3.1 [2.4 to 3.8]mm per year from 1993 to 2003”) and that climate alteration is having an unusual impact on avian and sea life (“…recent warming is strongly affecting terrestrial biological systems, including such changes as earlier timing of spring events, such as leaf-unfolding, bird migration and egg-laying…observed changes in marine and freshwater biological systems are associated with rising water temperatures, as well as related changes in ice cover, salinity, oxygen levels and circulation”).

The report highlighted the key role carbon emissions played in climate alteration, noting, “The largest growth in GHG emissions between 1970 and 2004 has come from energy supply, transport and industry, while residential and commercial buildings, forestry [including deforestation] and agriculture sectors have been growing at a lower rate” and that “[c]hanges in the atmospheric concentrations of GHGs and aerosols, land cover and solar radiation alter the energy balance of the climate system and are drivers of climate change. They affect the absorption, scattering and emission of radiation within the atmosphere and at the Earth’s surface.” I was stunned by the report’s claim that “[t]he observed widespread warming of the atmosphere and ocean, together with ice mass loss, support the conclusion that it is extremely unlikely that global climate change of the past 50 years can be explained without external forcing and very likely that it is not due to known natural causes alone.”

If carbon-fueled climate alteration continues at its current rate, the report noted, we will bear witness to unprecedented health horrors: “The health status of millions of people is projected to be affected through, for example, increases in malnutrition; increased deaths, diseases and injury due to extreme weather events…increased frequency of cardio-respiratory diseases due to higher concentrations of ground-level ozone in urban areas related to climate change; and the altered spatial distribution of some infectious diseases.” In addition, “For increases in global average temperature exceeding 1.5 to 2.5°C and in concomitant atmospheric CO2 concentrations, there are projected to be major changes in ecosystem structure and function, species’ ecological interactions and shifts in species’ geographical ranges, with predominantly negative consequences for biodiversity and ecosystem goods and services, e.g. water and food supply.”

The report did provide some hope, noting that “[s]ocieties can respond to climate change…by reducing GHG emissions [mitigation], thereby reducing the rate and magnitude of change… Policies that provide a real or implicit price of carbon could create incentives for producers and consumers to significantly invest in low-GHG products, technologies and processes.”

I came away from the report convinced that climate alteration poses a critical threat to our health and way of life, and that “policies that provide a real or implicit price of carbon” are in fact necessary, from an economic and a moral standpoint, to mitigate that threat. Such policies—most notably the much-maligned concept of cap-and-trade—should not be considered job-killers but life-savers.

There’s a part of me that understands why libertarian pundits seem to have so much scorn for those who support state action to combat carbon emissions. Modern libertarianism is suffused with skepticism of government, and supporting state regulation of carbon emissions requires, on some level, a belief in government to get things right. Is it even possible to be a libertarian and an environmentalist—or a conservative and an environmentalist, for that matter?

I’m a bit skeptical myself. I’d argue that conservatives and libertarians should strongly support regulation to reduce carbon pollution, since pollution by one entity invariably infringes upon the rights of others (including property rights), and no entity has a constitutional right to pollute. It does not put America on the road to serfdom to suggest that the federal government has a compelling interest in protecting the country from ecological damage. If anything, it puts America on the road to common sense.

Since reconsidering climate science, I’ve had a number of debates with conservative and libertarian friends, who oppose government regulation of carbon emissions in part because they believe those regulations will cost too much. Of course regulations cost; limiting ecological damage and preserving public health requires money. The issue is whether those costs are moral to impose. If no entity has a constitutional right to pollute, and if the federal government has a compelling interest in reducing carbon pollution, then how can those costs not be moral?

In the months following my acceptance of the conclusions in the IPCC report, I’ve had a change in my emotional climate. I go back and forth between disappointment and hope—sadness over seeing Republicans who once believed in the threat of climate change (such as Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty) suddenly turn into skeptics; optimism about efforts by such groups as Republicans for Environmental Protection and Citizens Climate Lobby to sound the alarm about the need to combat climate pollution. I struggle with the urge to give in to cynicism and bitterness, to write off the American right for its refusal to recognize scientific facts. Thankfully, there’s a stronger urge—an urge to keep working until the American right recognizes that a healthy planet is required to have the life and liberty that allows us to pursue happiness.

Originally Posted on April 19, 2011.

Recent Posts by D.R. Tucker



159 Comments so far ↓

  • Geprodis

    The Frum folk are in favor of carbon taxes and also a gigantic military, a global empire, and perpetual war.

    The Frummies like to have their cake and eat it too.

  • SFTor1

    Not convincing at all.

    The IPCC has been politicized—even this staunch liberal has to concede that.

    The planet is getting a little warmer, but it is not particularly warm, and it is not getting warmer particularly fast.

    Anthropogenic greenhouse gases will have some effect on temperature, but the very stability of the climate shows us that it is likely to not spin out of control.

    There is no evidence that some warming will have an adverse impact on public health—none.
    There is no evidence that some warming will have an adverse impact on extreme weather—none. It has had no effect so far.
    There is no evidence that warming will have an adverse impact on food production—to the contrary.
    There is no alarming sea level rise. The oceans have been rising—dramatically, for long stretches of time—since the last Ice Age. They are now rising very slowly.
    The glaciers are melting, after advancing for centuries up until about the year 1800. (Glaciers spread out and covered farms and towns in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries.)

    What is it exactly that makes us think that more snow and more ice is better than less snow and less ice? Only the mistaken notion that it will all melt and take us over a tipping point.

    There is no evidence that there is a climate tipping point. The climate cycles, and there is every reason to believe that it will continue to cycle.

    Enjoy the slightly warmer conditions. They are bringing us a very habitable, productive, and greening Earth.

    • AnBr

      Don’t make the false assumption that all global warming means is that everywhere gets just a little bit warmer. Even a slight warming can disrupt patterns of ocean and wind currents, albedo patterns. Don’t forget that parts of western Europe are as mild as they are because of the Gulf Stream, which is just part of overall global current. More heating in the gulf, higher influx of fresh water into the gulf, rising ocean levels, etc. can alter the course of the stream. Changes in the El Niño/La Niña cycle and changes in the Jet Stream can disrupt weather patterns.

      It is naive to believe that any warming effect would be uniform. Some places would get warmer, others colder. some arable lands could become desertified, while other areas could become wetter. Climate change can affect soil fertility. One of the most disturbing things is that the fossil record shows that dramatic climate change can occur in as little as 20 years.

      This seems to fit a pattern from the deniers of first denying that there is any warming, but when that becomes hard to refute, claim that there is no anthropogenic causes to that warming. The next step I guess is to dismiss any detrimental ill effects from the warming.

    • valkayec

      would you accept the data and conclusions of NOAA and NASA?

      http://climate.nasa.gov/

      http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/ncdc.html

    • armstp

      SFTor1,

      You are another moron. If only things were so simple that it is just getting a little warmer. You have no idea about climate change and the issues.

      The earth is actually getting a lot warmer. Glaciers have melted since the last ice age, but not at these dramatically accelerated rates.

      I suggest you read up on the effect climate change is having on coral reefs and species all over the plant.

      http://coralreef.noaa.gov/threats/climate/

    • Traveler

      I have never seen a more counterfactual post. Has to be the record for the number of facts that are wrong. No point in getting specific. It is all BS.

    • Emma

      May I respectfully suggest that those interested in the topic — regardless of one’s current views or policy preferences — take a little time each week and read the journals Science and Nature. These are the two most highly regarded general science journals, available in most public libraries, and each week they publish one or two research reports on climate change. Both journals have a strict policy of public access to the data upon which the research was based.

      Wherever one stands on the issues, it’s always better to have a first-hand knowledge of the empirical literature.

    • Kane

      Over 80 percent of Global 500 companies now report to investors on the climate change risks, opportunit­ies, impacts, and issues through the Carbon Disclosure Project. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has also made informed reporting of climate change impact a mandatory requiremen­t.

      While many corporatio­ns are making business decisions based on the realities of climate change, some of these same corporatio­ns along with the aid of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are supporting front groups and select members of congress and some in the media to deny the existence of climate change.

      When I see corporatio­ns, brokers, NASA, NOAA, the EPA , the Pentagon and the U.S. military investing and planning for the impact of climate change, it’s not difficult to grasp that they take the issue of climate change very seriously.

      Even if you are absolutely convinced that the vast majority of scientists around the world are involved in some mass conspiracy and that climate change is a complete fraud, it still makes sense to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels for economic, national security, environmen­­tal and health reasons.

      There are countless reasons why we should move towards a green future. But there’s only one reason to maintain our addiction to fossil fuels; that reason is to enrich big oil and coal corporatio­­ns.

  • Graychin

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons

  • valkayec

    Just a bit more information on this subject.

    “The NY Times reviews two new books on Dust-Bowlification — A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest, and Lessons from the World’s Least Sustainable City:

    Both authors cite the work of Jonathan Overpeck, a geologist and a director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona, whose tracking of simultaneously increasing temperatures and decreasing rainfall leads him to conclude that a new era of drought is dawning in many regions. He is not alone. The NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies had already predicted that extreme droughts would be an every-other-year phenomenon in the United States by the middle of this century.

    And of course, the American Southwest is not the only region experiencing drought apparently tied to climate change. According to the journal Science, of the 12 driest winters the Mediterranean has experienced since 1902, 10 have occurred in the last 20 years. Researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say climate change can explain half of the added dryness.

    See NOAA Bombshell: Human-Caused Climate Change Already a Major Factor in More Frequent Mediterranean Droughts (http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/10/27/355639/noaa-climate-change-mediterranean-droughts/)

    “The coming droughts ought to be a major driver — if not the major driver — of climate policies,” Joseph Romm wrote in a recent issue of the journal Nature. Dr. Romm, a physicist who edits the blog Climate Progress, added, “Raising public awareness of, and scientific focus on, the likelihood of severe effects of drought is the first step to prompting action.”

    People who read these books will understand that message.”

    • Traveler

      This is why I am in the water business.

      • balconesfault

        Which reminds me of the following, recently published in the Austin American Statesman:

        http://www.statesman.com/news/statesman-investigates/growth-of-large-private-water-companies-brings-higher-2038684.html

        It’s a nice insight into the future being pushed by those free marketeers who think traditionally public utilities should be turned over to the private sector and deregulated (as if the manufactured California energy crisis of 2000 wasn’t enough!)

        • valkayec

          Private industry and speculators are dumb. They read the latest water situation here in the West. They know that water is going to become an extremely valuable resource that, as a result, will make them a huge amount of money if they can control it.

        • balconesfault

          “not dumb”?

        • valkayec

          Oops. Big typo there. Sometimes my thoughts move far faster than my fingers, and I slip up in the proof reading area. Thanks for making the catch. Yeah, I did mean that businesses are not dumb.

        • Traveler

          I focus on the recycling side. Taking dirty water and making it clean so it can be reused. Also retaining water where it falls, instead of letting it runoff. That can ameliorate droughts if widely practiced where needed.

          But to answer your post, most water companies are private. I personally think that is not a good idea.

        • balconesfault

          You hadn’t said before that you’re here in Austin, have you?

          Of course, water reuse and water retention can create their own set of issues, particularly in arid environments … but that would take this discussion way off course. You can see the NEPA mind working over here, though, I’m sure.

  • paul_gs

    Modern day beliefs are fine, and also very cheap. In fact, having beliefs, particularly around AGW, costs nothing for most so-called “believers”. It’s a fashionable pose more then anything. True belief is much different.

    True belief is not simply a mindset, but demands an adherence to a code of conduct conducive to whatever set of beliefs one professes. While Democrats may sincerely “believe” in AGW, it is not a true belief for the overwhelming majority of them. It is a cheap easy method to mostly engage in the bashing of others (mainly Republicans) who are living their lives in exactly the same manner as Democrats profressing “belief”. Why would such persons be taken seriously?

    One can not offload one’s own personal beliefs onto society and then claim that since society as a whole is not acting, they don’t have to act in accord with their beliefs either and all the while claiming a moral superiority. As Gandhi demonstrated, you must act in accord with your beliefs regardless whether society or anyone else is doing so.

    Why should folks take AGW seriously when its so-called biggest promoters have become exceedingly rich promoting it? Why should anyone take AGW truly seriously when its strongest adherents only adhere to a “belief” but avoid the necessary and painful costs of living a life in accordance with their beliefs, regardless of what fellow citizens or society as a whole are doing?

    • Geprodis

      +1 couldn’t have said it better

    • Xunzi Washington

      Well, I don’t know. I agree with the point – sure, belief not acted upon is hardly robust belief, and if people claiming to believe in AGW don’t act on it, then that’s one reason why others will be slow to react themselves.

      However:

      1. I know a lot – a lot – of liberals who do act on their AGW beliefs in their personal lives. They drive Prius vehicles, use only certain types of bulbs, transform parts of their homes so that they are run in a clean and green manner.
      2. I know a lot of liberals who champion the need for legislation that would transform their own public lives and that would be greener.

      I would consider (1) and (2) evidence of acting on one’s beliefs. Yet – I know more conservatives than I can count who laugh at those who do (1) as “whackos” and those who do (2) as “freedom/job killers” – all the while denying AGW.

      So, whereas I agree with the general sentiment in your point, I think in reality it is actually much ado about nothing.

      • Deep South Populist

        2. I know a lot of liberals who champion the need for legislation that would transform their own public lives and that would be greener.

        Except they have the freedom to transform their right lives now by their own free will yet almost none of them do it.

        People can rationalize this behavior however they want, but it definitely undercuts their credibility.

        • Xunzi Washington

          That’s my point – this is not true. I did not say that I know a lot of liberals who champion these causes and then merely vote on them. I said these people actually do these things themselves. However, clearly there is a public dimension to the conversation – voting for a politician who wants a carbon tax, or green building requirements are public policies.

          Essentially, the argument goes back to people who refuse to admit AGW or do anything about it. These are the folks who have explaining to do. It’s tiresome to hear stories about how a liberal was spotted in a big truck and then hear how this allows a denier sufficient reason to blow righteous smoke up everyone’s ass about how AGW is false.

        • Deep South Populist

          My position on AGW is that it’s happening but 1) the evidence that the effects will be as horrific as people claim is much weaker than the evidence AGW is happening, and 2) people who want to research the subject from a skeptical standpoint ought to be allowed to do it, and 3) policy and science are not the same thing, and there should be room for reasonable and good faith disagreements over policy solutions if not science.

          That said, I’ve read enough of your comments to know that you know that anecdotal evidence from your own personal experience does not prove anything. Just looking at the numbers on the Prius alone, there have only been 2 or 3 million Prius cars sold in the entire world. On the other hand, the number of people who claim we need drastic measures to combat AGW is much higher. If every person who claims AGW is a problem tried to buy a Prius, it would be impossible for Toyota to meet demand. Yet Prius cars are available on every lot in the country east, west, north, south.

          Beyond that, why stop at a Prius? Why not walk, ride bikes, grow your own food, and eschew all petroleum products if AGW is so bad? They don’t do these things, so my conclusion is the criticism is fair; they don’t practice what the preach.

        • balconesfault

          2) people who want to research the subject from a skeptical standpoint ought to be allowed to do it,

          Sorry to burst your bubble … but the sceptics are by and large disinterested in “research” the way most in the scientific community think of it. Instead, they focus on trying to find small inconsistencies or knowledge gaps in the massive body of work done by those really “researching” the issue, and try to pump up those things, when found, as loose threads that unravel the entirety of the field.

          There is little evidence that the sceptics are actually interested in adding to what we know about climate science.

        • balconesfault

          Just looking at the numbers on the Prius alone, there have only been 2 or 3 million Prius cars sold in the entire world.

          First, a large part of the reason why there have only been 2 or 3 million Priuses sold is because that’s how many Toyota has manufactured. They make a fraction of the money on a Prius that they do on selling a Highlander or Avalon. However, selling a certain number of Priuses allows them to meet CAFE on the rest of their fleet.

          There are also other hybrid being manufactured and sold.

          Someone buying a Hybrid is making a personal economic decision that they’re willing to pay more to drive a vehicle with much higher fuel efficiency/much lower emissions, or at least have the money to invest more when payback on the investment will (a) never be significant, and (b) will be 6-8 years down the road. And that’s only because companies are incentivized by regulations … without CAFE for example, Toyota’s impetus to accept a smaller profit margin on the Prius (some analysts say they lose money on the car) would disappear, and there would never be a “breakpoint” where owning the Prius saved you money over buying a cheaper, less fuel efficient vehicle.

          And frankly, while many of us have the resources to spend more money on a hybrid … an awful lot of people don’t. I am not going to fault someone deciding to pay a little more rent so their kids can live in a safer neighborhood with better schools, or building a college fund, or paying for health insurance for their family, instead of buying a hybrid – no matter what their feeling is on climate change.

          That is why societal action is necessary – and not just stories of Fat Al Gore owning too big a home.

      • paul_gs

        Xunzi, I would suggest that driving a hybrid, switching to CFL and LED bulbs and modifying part of one’s house is not nearly enough. That’s more showing off to their “eco-minded” friends then any serious commitment about AGW. Those are easy, and in many cases, easily affordable changes for a large number of people.

        Global warming is posited as the greatest challenge mankind has likely ever faced. If you or anyone believes in AGW, it requires a radical and drastic change in one’s life, not switching simply switching some bulbs in one’s house.

        People who claim to believe in AGW must make radical alterations to their lives. Much, much smaller houses (300 sq. ft per person max.), 90% reduction in any type of air travel forever, one vehicle (if that) per household and no more then 2500 miles per year driven in that vehicle. These changes would be a good start.

        How many people do you know who have made those kinds of changes?

        • Xunzi Washington

          Paul,

          Well, yes, I actually do know people who do this. Quite a few, actually. Is that enough for you to take the “belief” in AGW seriously? What percentage will you move the goalpost to? 50% of liberals? 75%? And when the numbers get that high, will you suggest with a snicker that these numbers can be discounted because really they are just “showing off to their eco-minded friends”?

          I have a different idea. How about we instead we stop the BS that seems to suggest that you might take AGW seriously, but those damn liberals and their inconsistent behavior keep standing in your way. How about we all act like adults instead, take the argument on its merits, and then judge the appropriateness of our behavior accordingly.

        • paul_gs

          Xunzi, you know people who have reduced their use of fossil fuels by 90%? Or 75%? And without the trick of carbon offsets?

          I’m truly curious how many folks you know who have actually accomplished these types of reductions.

        • Xunzi Washington

          Paul,

          I know quite a few people who live work, live off the grid (in entirely green homes), rarely drive, ride their bikes all the time, grow their own food where possible, and so on.

          But the point is: what do you care? Why do you engage in this line of discussion when it is actually meaningless to you? If I brought you photos you’d say “ah, there aren’t enough of them”. If I showed you more, you’d raise the minimum percentage required again. And we’d play that game for a while. Then you’d call them freaks at some point and say that they’re free to do what they want, as long as they don’t legislate their beliefs on you. And so on, and so on, and so on.

          Or we could just cut to the chase: you have no intention on ever believing in AGW, or making any changes whatsoever to your lifestyle, _regardless_ of what others do. That’s just smoke and mirrors, for the benefit of your non-critical cohort, who likely all snort the same nonsense.

        • balconesfault

          People who claim to believe in AGW must make radical alterations to their lives. Much, much smaller houses (300 sq. ft per person max.), 90% reduction in any type of air travel forever, one vehicle (if that) per household and no more then 2500 miles per year driven in that vehicle. These changes would be a good start.

          Where do those numbers come from? Not that I’m not saying they wouldn’t be a good start – but is there a published reference which states that’s what we need to get to in order to reduce our societal carbon emissions below unsustainable levels?

          It seems kind of arbitrary … no consideration of whether that home is in Houston, Santa Monica, or Boston (all of which have significantly different energy use profiles per square foot). No discussion of installation of 18 SEER AC units instead of limping along with old 12 SEER units. No discussion of whether the person currently flies once a year, or 20 times. No discussion of whether that one vehicle driving 2500 miles is a Ford F-150 or a Smartcar.

          For that reason, your list sounds more like a polemic than a proposal

        • Xunzi Washington

          Of course he’s being polemical. That’s all he’s got, and that’s what happens when you start from a conclusion and then work your way backwards to premises – when one set doesn’t work, you find another set.

          By the way, I actually do know people who live this way, and not because they have to.

        • paul_gs

          My suggestions are approximations are the level of sacrifice to demonstrate you are even semi-serious about AGW. But all the AGW “believers” I know (and I know lots of them) use just as much fossil fuel and energy as the deniers.

          Beliefs are cheap, free in fact. Go lecture someone else since you’re not willing to put your so-called “beliefs” into real practise.

        • Xunzi Washington

          Paul,

          This discussion is tiresome, because it is pointless. Let’s say that all your liberal friends are hypocrites, for the sake of argument.

          So what? What in the world does this have to do with your behavior? Are you a rational person, or not? Can you assess the debate on AGW yourself on its own merits, or is your own “belief” in some weird and bizarre way dependent on what other people are doing?

          You are talking nonsense. Geez, move to a different argument for your own sake.

        • think4yourself

          Paul, that’s a straw argument. – If don’t change to lower your carbon footprint by at least 90%, then you’re not serious. – And if you don’t make radical change, it’s not worth making change at all.

          Why not find ways to make change work? 10 years ago, CA had an energy crisis brought on by market manipulators (Enron, etc.). Gray Davis, the Governor at the time (who was recalled and replaced by Arnold), pleaded with people to conserve to keep prices down. He was unsuccesful at keeping prices down (because they were being artificially manipulated), however Californians made a few small changes and it turns out that over that summer they used 15% less electricity than the previous summer. There was very little sacrifice involved only changing a few patterns.

          So what would happen if we the entire country worked to find simple ways to lower energy consumption by 15%? What if we could set an example for the rest of the world to follow? What if US ingenuity and investment continued to be unleashed to create carbon neutral options? There is a company called Bloom Energy that has an amazing device for energy generation http://www.bloomenergy.com/.

          Given the chance, even if global warming isn’t a disaster or manmade, I’d rather breathe cleaner air and have less pollution.

    • balconesfault

      Why should folks take AGW seriously when its so-called biggest promoters have become exceedingly rich promoting it?

      Silly statement.

      I suppose you are thinking of Al Gore, for example?

      There are in fact many many very dedicated, very serious researchers, workers in different public interest research groups, government employees, etc, who have dedicated their lives to studying climate change, to working both with the public to change private behaviors, and working as lobbyists and in public relations to change both our regulatory structure and our energy policy to help control the growth of carbon dioxide emissions in America and abroad.

      This includes some extraordinarily smart, extraordinarily talented people who could in many cases be making much more money if they instead dedicated their lives to junk bond trading or working on ad campaigns for bigger SUVs or lobbying for less regulations and lower tax rates for corporations and the wealthy.

      You are probably defining “biggest promoters” by “promoters who have been most in the public eye” … and our media driven culture tends to rain money on a few individuals when they represent an important topic. That’s your blind spot, and not a problem with the huge community of people dedicating their lives to this issue.

      Why should anyone take AGW truly seriously when its strongest adherents only adhere to a “belief” but avoid the necessary and painful costs of living a life in accordance with their beliefs, regardless of what fellow citizens or society as a whole are doing?

      This is the same as the “Chickenhawk” argument, you realize? In 2002 were you discounting the insistence by George Bush, Dick Cheney, Richard Pearle, Paul Wolfowitz, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill Kristol et al that we needed to invade Iraq because they did everything they could to avoid active duty military service?

      Climate change is not an issue which can be addressed simply by personal sacrifice. One person deciding to commute in an F-150 truck instead of a 24 mpg sedan offsets the efforts of 3 people who get a 36 mpg vehicle for fuel efficiency. There is societal infrastructure that needs built to support more public transportation, and trying to slap the cost of the infrastructure simply on those who use buses and trains ignores the larger societal benefit that accrues each time a car is taken off the roads. It costs money to upgrade homes to more energy efficient utilities and appliances.

      You are essentially suggesting that there should be a “tax” for actually believing that climate change is an important issue. That’s a great way to address serious issues.

      • Xunzi Washington

        The rank stupidity of these right wing points reminds me of an interview I saw once on Hannity – he was interviewing Kennedy about AGW and started yelling at him “did you FLY here?” “Do you FLY around the country to talk about this issue??” “Don’t you realize that you are leaving a carbon footprint FLYING around???”

        This is the level of asinine stupidity we are dealing with on this issue.

        • balconesfault

          It is the equivalent of saying “if Bush wanted to fight Saddam, he should have jumped in his flightsuit and gone over to Iraq to fight”.

          It feels good to say … but it means nothing.

        • paul_gs

          What it means is that Democrats can be just as hypocritical as others. Rich white Democrats collecting fat speaking fees flying around the world on private jets lecturing others how they must sacrifice doesn’t bring any credibility to the AGW cause which so many of you claim to believe in.

        • Xunzi Washington

          Your argument is so damn stupid it irritates me to waste my time refuting it.

          So you are saying that if person X has evidence that AGW exists, he/she should not fly or drive or whatever anywhere to tell anyone about it, because said travel will leave a carbon footprint, making that person a hypocrite. Forget the fact that such travel will, if successful, convince many people to make changes to their behavior, far off setting the footprint of the travel. Instead, that person should move to a cave, eat berries, and not convince anyone of anything – except perhaps campers who happen to come across said cave now and again.

          That’s what you’re saying, Paul, right? Let me get your ridiculous argument straight here.

        • paul_gs

          The climate hucksters have been flying around the world for years because that’s the only way they can collect fat speaking fees. I have no respect or use for frauds like them.

        • Xunzi Washington

          Paul

          Your argument did not get any smarter with your last reply. Seriously, you need to check your ideology at the door before you argue.

      • paul_gs

        -delete-

    • armstp

      People are getting rich in promoting Climate Change? really…

      Lets assume for a minute that statement is even close to being true. That is absolutely nothing compared to the entire global energy industry that promotes deniers like you that is and continues to get very very rich.

      There is no money in doing the research on global warming (certainly no more than any other scientific field of study, which we do not hold as bias) and there is plenty of oil company money in being a professional denier.

      • paul_gs

        I love fossil fuels. Amazing energy source. But seriously, the Left’s schtick against Big Oil is awfully tired by now. Practise what you preach first balconesfault. There is no impediment (except maybe hyprocrisy) preventing you.

        When you adopt a belief, you adopt a set of responsibilities too. These responsibilities can not be shunted off onto society as a whole when you have made no serious efforts to live according to your beliefs.

        • valkayec

          Paul, I have to believe, despite your denial, that you do in fact work for in the oil business. Maybe not an oil company, but certainly some part of that industry. Everything you write about energy and conservation and related policies indicates a vested interest.

        • armstp

          not sure what your point is…. i think many human beings on the planet would like the ween the human race off of the destruction of fossil fuels. what is wrong with that?

          fossil fuels = harmful to the planet

          no fossil fuels = less harm to the planet

          there is currently and potentially better less harmful sources of energy. nothing wrong in pushing the planet in that direction.

        • balconesfault

          When you adopt a belief, you adopt a set of responsibilities too. These responsibilities can not be shunted off onto society as a whole when you have made no serious efforts to live according to your beliefs.

          So then a belief that we needed military intervention in Afghanistan or Iraq (or now, Iran) obligated everyone holding that belief to present themselves to their local military recruitment office to see if their services were desired? To proportionally increase their tax payments to the government to support the additional burden on our budget?

          Again, your charge is not intended to facilitate a discussion of what we need to do as a society to combat climate change. There are many individual sacrifices that are basically mooted by the profligacy of others. When I decide to drive a more fuel efficient vehicle and drive less miles, that reduces demand on gasoline which marginally reduces the cost of gasoline for others – in which case DSP or Paul_GS might decide that the cheaper gas cost means they should buy a bigger gas guzzler or get an RV and drive to Vegas next week.

          So yes, my family has taken many measures to reduce our carbon footprint. But if we don’t buttress those with legislation that incentivizes or mandates reduction of carbon footprints across society, that effort is doomed to futility.

  • Stan

    I’m a retired scientist. I spent my working life as a faculty member at research universities, and I know a number of climate scientists. With one exception, the people I know feel that global warming is due to anthropogenic causes and is a serious problem. The exception agrees on the first point, but feels that the uncertainties are too great to come to any definite conclusion about whether drastic action is needed now.

    As everybody in academia knows, any hint of scientific fraud is a career killer. Cheat and get caught, and you’re done. You’ll be fired and you won’t get another job in science for a long, long time. I learned this in graduate school, and so did every scientist I know.

    For this reason, ad hominem attacks by prominent conservatives on the integrity of researchers in climate science have virtually ended support for the Republican party among scientists. Even engineering professors, traditionally right wing, have told me that their party has lost its mind.

    When I look at the positions of the Republican presidential candidates on climate research, I see a total lack of integrity. I’ve never seen a more dishonest bunch of politicians. The truth just ain’t in ‘em. It’s too bad, but that’s the way it is.

    • armstp

      +1 Stan….

      “A new study by the Pew Research Center finds that the GOP is alienating scientists to a startling degree.

      Only six percent of America’s scientists identify themselves as Republicans; fifty-five percent call themselves Democrats. By comparison, 23 percent of the overall public considers itself Republican, while 35 percent say they’re Democrats.”

      http://www.people-press.org/2009/07/09/section-4-scientists-politics-and-religion/

      • Traveler

        Great link.

        Did you note that most of them scientists are a bunch of liberal secular humanists? A full 41% are atheists, compared to 4% of the public. With agnostics included, the percentages go to up to 59% vs. 16%. No wonder POGers hate them, and vice versa, me included. Thanks for the link, as dismal as it is.

        EDIT: I also note the difference in AGW perspectives. Dems vs. POG: 64% vs. 30% accept. On evolution: 36% vs. 23%, with independents at 38%. Pretty indicative of a low information society.

    • kccd

      It is not just the Republican position on climate change that has alienated scientists. This is also the party that has made room for those who would deny the very foundation of the modern biological sciences, namely evolution. And this is the party that vilifies education and expertise.

  • SteveThompson

    Here is an article that outlines how the world’s Arctic ice distribution and thickness has changed over the past 3 decades:

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2011/12/our-changing-arctic-is-change-permanent.html

    While these changes may be due to normal environmental fluctuations, they may also be a result of a long-term change in global climate. Unfortunately, we won’t know until it is too late.

  • rbottoms

    Republicans celebrate willful ignorance, what is new about that?

  • Baron Siegfried

    I think this pretty much sums it up . . .
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8IBnfkcrsM

  • willard landreth

    It comes down to a simple fact – Republicans have gone anti-science and it doesn’t matter what the facts are. As they accepted the mantra of the tea party ignoramuses and their conspiracy theories, they made it a political decision instead of a logical or scientific decision.

    “It wasn’t all that long ago when I joined others on the right in dismissing concerns about climate change. It was my firm belief that the science was unsettled, that any movement associated with Al Gore and Van Jones couldn’t possibly be trusted, that environmentalists were simply left-wing, anti-capitalist kooks.”

    This initial statement is ample proof that he drank the “southern strategy” cool-aide vigorously.

    His truest statement is this:

    “Fiorina noted that while environmentalism is now considered the domain of the Democratic Party, for many years it was the GOP that was identified with conservationist concerns. I was curious as to how the political climate shifted with regard to environmentalism—and whether there was something to all this talk about climate change.”

    The Tea Party and Libertarians have done immense damage to the party for the sake of power and glory. Our nation has and is paying dearly for this stupidity.

    As an aside, it is very clear that the republicans have done an excellent job of making Americans distrust the pillars that hold our society together – education, science government and media. Congratulations!

    • Deep South Populist

      Willard says:

      Republicans have gone anti-science and it doesn’t matter what the facts are. As they accepted the mantra of the tea party ignoramuses and their conspiracy theories, they made it a political decision instead of a logical or scientific decision.

      But, unfortunately for the people who believe this dumb talking point, the Washington Post reports:

      Canada, Japan and Russia said last year they will not accept new Kyoto commitments.

      Hmm, three major industrial nations are rejecting new Kyoto commitments for reducing emissions.

      I didn’t realize anti-science Republicans who don’t care about facts call the shots in Canada, Japan and Russia.

      Source:

      washingtonpost [dot] com/world/europe/russia-backs-canadas-pullout-from-kyoto-protocol-reaffirms-it-wont-accept-new-commitments/2011/12/16/gIQA0uRcxO_story.html

      • balconesfault

        Hmm, three major industrial nations are rejecting new Kyoto commitments for reducing emissions.

        Given that I and others have given very detailed explanations for why this is happening when you posted it previously – and how it illustrates both the corrosive effects of America’s abdication of a leadership role on this issue, as well as the Tragedy of the Commons referred to earlier in this thread – your continued simplistic throwing this reference up there illustrates:

        a) you’re simply trolling, and not interested in actually engaging in dialogue as to why these countries had reversed their course

        b) you’re too stupid to understand the explanations you’ve been given.

        c) you’re patently dishonest, just trying to cast doubt on issues for political purposes when you know there isn’t real doubt

        I’m pretty sure (b) isn’t true. I’m not sure whether to go with (a) or (c).

        • Deep South Populist

          I’m interested in a fair debate and do understand the Tragedy of the Commons argument. I use this example for convenience in response to the simplistic talking point “the GOP doesn’t believe in science.” You will notice I never bring it up until someone starts in with the “they don’t believe in science meme.” This is the most simplistic idea that invariably appears in this debate IMO. There are many outside the GOP, outside the United States, who have issues with these carbon reduction ideas. If I wanted to, I am pretty sure I could find citations that show opposition to the AGW agenda in every country in the world where AGW is at issue and where the GOP does not hold sway, and with many different rationales being given other than “the US has the highest per capita emissions so if they won’t act to reduce emissions we shouldn’t do it either.”

        • balconesfault

          If I wanted to, I am pretty sure I could find citations that show opposition to the AGW agenda in every country in the world where AGW is at issue

          Well, duh.

          First, in every country in the world, you will find those who believe that government acting as the public’s agent to enforce communal actions (from paying taxes to following building codes to adhering to environmental regulations) represents a step towards Communism or at least Socialism that must be fought. We even saw that in the extreme with the attacks on the Norwegan Children’s Camp last summer. Does finding that opponents to Socialism exist in Norway change that it is a nation which supports a much higher level of Socialism than the US does? Not hardly.

          Of course you can find opponents to climate change everywhere, in no small part because accepting that climate change is real, has a man-made component, and is going to be bad for us … means accepting the idea that government has a responsibility to participate in the solutions. And for many – probably around 20% of Americans, for example – government being part of any solution is anathema.

          Just like with smoking-cancer denialism in the 60′s, it seems clear that a lot of climate change denialism stems from people who are fundamentally opposed to government expanding its powers. They work ideologically backwards from that position, to one of refusing to accept one or more of the bases for why climate change legislation is needed.

        • Stan

          The countries opposed to action now about global warming are doing so on economic grounds. I understand this. The costs involved in reducing the emission of greenhouse gases are severe, and it’s easy to see why people want to go slow on this, particularly given the present economy. What I don’t understand is denial of the evidence for political reasons. It’s dishonest to the point of being squalid.

          While typing this, I finally remembered the title of a play I read a long time ago that bears on this issue. It’s “An Enemy of the People”, by Henrik Ibsen. I suggest you read it some time.

        • Deep South Populist

          @balconesfault

          Here’s a question. You seem to think that everyone or most everyone not on your side in this matter is ideologically motivated and uninterested in real science. In my case, the latter part is not true, and the former part, ideological bias, affects everyone to some extent.

          Do you even admit the possibility that the reverse could be true in some cases? Do you think there are people that actually care more about policies that will increase the power of the government over peoples’ lives than they do about actually reducing carbon emissions? Why aren’t their ideological motivations ever scrutinized — assuming there is anyone who believes in AGW that is willing to acknowledge such people do in fact exist?

          I’m not against reducing emissions in principle. Fossil fuels are a finite resource, so humanity needs to find replacements anyway, and as soon as possible. There is absolutely no reason reducing emissions has to be done through carbon taxes and other expensive measures, however.

          Kenneth Silber wrote the other day about the possibilities of nuclear energy and geo-engineering. A lot of people who want to reduce emissions (not you) seem to have a reflexive hostility to these ideas. I suspect it is because moving to nuclear energy would reduce emissions while not increasing the government’s power — and they care about the latter more than they do the former.

        • balconesfault

          Do you even admit the possibility that the reverse could be true in some cases? Do you think there are people that actually care more about policies that will increase the power of the government over peoples’ lives than they do about actually reducing carbon emissions? Why aren’t their ideological motivations ever scrutinized — assuming there is anyone who believes in AGW that is willing to acknowledge such people do in fact exist?

          Nope. I do not believe that there are a signficant number of people who are promoting climate change legislation simply because they want government to have more power over people’s lives. There may be some, but that number is so small to have no ability to influence public policy in the least, particularly in the US.

          And in the scientific community, I suspect that number drops pretty close to the null set.

        • balconesfault

          Kenneth Silber wrote the other day about the possibilities of nuclear energy and geo-engineering. A lot of people who want to reduce emissions (not you) seem to have a reflexive hostility to these ideas.

          I am not reflexively anti-nuclear – I’ve actually consulted with the nuclear industry – but there are few proponents willing to have an honest dialogue about the cost, resources, and disposal problems involved in trying to expand nuclear in the US. In the investment community, there is even a reluctance to put money in nuclear (thus – the need for Government loan guarantees) because of the fear that other technologies and energy sources will become so much cheaper over the decade it will take to get a nuke up and running will totally strand investment in the project, as power can’t be sold from the plant at a price which provides return on investor capital.

          I do have a reflexive hostility to geo-engineering, btw. I’m not sure how you do something that’s big enough to make a difference that doesn’t also carry tremendous potential for unintended irreversible consequences.

          It seems a lot like barely having enough money to pay the rent, and deciding to take the rent money and play the lottery, rather than making tough decisions and managing your budget better. The antethesis of conservatism, I might add.

        • valkayec

          DSP, I think you’re wrong on your last sentence. I know it’s a common meme on the GOP side of the aisle that Dems want to increase government and government power and regulate everything in American lives, a la Communism. That’s been a constant drum beat for decades. However, every Dem I know has absolutely no desire to do any of those things. Yes, Dem politicos may be more sensitive to some portion of the base’s hew and cry about some issue and want to do something about it simply because of the difference in the respective bases of the two parties. But most Dems, I’m certain, reject an all powerful government and really do want a free nation built on constitutional values.

          However, Dems also realize that there are some things, like fighting AGW, that do require government sponsorship and support. These are issues too big and too costly for the private sector to do alone. The investments are too enormous for boards and CEOs to allocate while at the same time struggling to keep profits up, stock prices growing, and dividends growing each and every quarter. It’s understandable too. So, we look to government to do take on those things.

          As for nuclear power, I believe Dems are fine with it as long as it’s safe – no Fukashimas – and we’ve figured out what to do with the waste. (Let’s not bring in the Nevada argument, please?) The good news is that researchers have been studying how to get more out of the nuclear material which will nearly eliminate waste. I believe that when that research is fully developed you’ll see Dems by the boatloads jump on board. The other reservation has to do with cost and time to use. Right now, we have these multi-billion dollars plants that take up to 10 years to build. The markets won’t tie up that much money for that long. So, the federal government subsidizes those plants. But with new technologies and designs, the chance of smaller plants at far less cost is feasible. I believe Dems would go along with that idea much more rapidly than they do the older, larger designs that cost so much and take so long to build.

          Simply put, the issues for Dems, as I understand it, are costs, environmental, and safety. Solve those issues and Dems will wholeheartedly support nuclear energy. But that takes research, and research, being done mainly in our research universities, takes money. Lots of money. And we all know the problem there.

          One more note from my perspective. You said liberals talk big about AGW but don’t live it. Are you so sure? Do you know every liberal? Every liberal I know has done everything they can, within the constraints of their budgets, to reduce their carbon footprint. If you’re unconvinced, then I suggest you head over to PlanetSave, Shareable, Earth 911, Care2, Greenwalla, and the ever popular NASA Climate Change and Rodale. And that’s only for starters when it comes to the growing movement to reduce carbon emissions and build more sustainable (and less expensive) lives.

          Oh, and by the way, owning a Prius ain’t necessarily the most best deal for a “greenie.” Although my small ’90 Civic DS still has thousands of miles to go before it needs replacing, I’ve looked at the current hybrid cars and I’m not yet sold. The mileage still isn’t that good overall (I’m a cheapskate when it comes to buying gas – I’m holding out for a minimum of 50 mpg.), and the battery doesn’t yet have the range, plus it’s still way too expensive to buy and maintain for average middle income families. Check back in 5 years – you’ll see a lot of changes in auto technologies that lead average middle income buyers and libs to purchase these cars.

        • Deep South Populist

          @balconesfault

          I do not believe that there are a signficant number of people who are promoting climate change legislation simply because they want government to have more power over people’s lives. There may be some, but that number is so small to have no ability to influence public policy in the least, particularly in the US.

          There are definitely some ideologically motivated — and profoundly sick people — on the “we need to act to reduce carbon emissions” side of this debate. I’m not suggesting you are either one, but such people do exist. It doesn’t seem credible to deny it.

          If you care to, I’d like you to comment on the notorious 10:10 campaign video. It was prepared by a mainstream climate awareness organization in the UK. The video is clearly the product of a very sick mind — yet a host of people who support emissions reductions actually spent time, money and effort creating this video and thought it would be a useful educational tool.

          The video depicts a teacher slaughtering kids for not agreeing to engage in behavior that will reduce emissions.

          The relevant section is about 0:15 to 1:36.

          youtube [dot] com/watch?v=CEZbWAwmBJ8

          Side Note:

          I don’t endorse this person’s You Tube channel or his views. I linked his copy because it was the first one I found.

        • Xunzi Washington

          Do you think there are people that actually care more about policies that will increase the power of the government over peoples’ lives than they do about actually reducing carbon emissions?

          I think it is this kind of conspiratorial nonsense that pops up like Whack-a-Mole every time. Do such people exist? Sure, no doubt. But if you asked me “are there people who believe in _fill in the blank_?” I’d say “sure, no doubt” even before you told me what was in the fill in the blank. Which tells you something about the significance of such statements in arguments about policy.

          I know a lot of liberals. A LOT. Most of them are off the chart liberal. I don’t know a single one — not one — who believes in AGW as a means to increased government control over people’s lives. Is this anecdotal? Sure. But the fact that I can’t count a single one over the vast number that I actually do know tells me something, because I somehow don’t think that my sample is biased.

        • balconesfault

          There are definitely some ideologically motivated — and profoundly sick people — on the “we need to act to reduce carbon emissions” side of this debate. I’m not suggesting you are either one, but such people do exist. It doesn’t seem credible to deny it.

          The onus is on you here to produce evidence of people who support climate change legislation simply to further empower Government, and not for you to fantasize them into having meaning into the current debate. The credibility must lie in you supporting this claim, not in others denying your phantasms are real.

          As for the sick advertisement, there are always extremists who feel so strong about an issue that they think violence is an acceptable part of the dialogue. Consider anti-abortionist web sites with lists of abortion providers and inflammatory rhetoric, consider Tea Party activists showing up at political rallies brandishing live weapons, consider a generation ago middle-class Little Rock parents greeting school buses waving clubs and threatening banners.

          I don’t think that anti-abortionist just want to empower Government, for example. They just want Government to solve one particular problem they see in society.

        • Deep South Populist

          @Xunzi

          Essentially, you handwave away the possibility that there are people on your side motivated more by ideology than by science while apparently ascribing close to 100% ideological motivation to the other side. It looks to me like an attempt to moot the question of whether honest disagreement is even possible — and I take that to be the intent. If no one of your side is ideologically motivated, and everyone on the other side is, well then honest disagreement is clearly not possible as there is no reason to ever consider what the other side has to say. This stance does say a lot about the people who would employ such reasoning.

        • Deep South Populist

          @balconesfault

          The onus is on you here to produce evidence of people who support climate change legislation simply to further empower Government, and not for you to fantasize them into having meaning into the current debate.

          Of course. But I before I go to the trouble to do that, I first need to know whether you’re even open to this explanation as a possibility for why some call for aggressive carbon measures. Why should I bother trying to make this case when you and Xunzi seem to be ruling out a priori that it’s even possible?

        • Xunzi Washington

          Hand wave away my ass.

          As I said: if the mere possibility that some people exist who are ideologically motivated is sufficient to produce a stalemated argument on AGW for you, then I’m not sure what in the world you expect in a reasoned argument about policy. I never said such people can’t exist a priori – I said that I have no reason to believe that they exist in numbers that would matter to policy or even to scientific study.

          I realize that this is the conspiracy card on the other side, and I realize that among your cohort that card probably gets a lot of non-critical play, but you can’t possibly think that it’s my job to debunk your conspiracy theories.

          What is your evidence that these people exist, and that they exist in numbers sufficient to move policy? Posting a YouTube video you received in some chain email is beneath your intelligence grade, to be honest. That’s RedState or Malkin type nonsense.

        • balconesfault

          Of course. But I before I go to the trouble to do that, I first need to know whether you’re even open to this explanation as a possibility for why some call for aggressive carbon measures.

          I’m always open to data. But let’s not move the goalposts – I’d like to see evidence that there are enough who favor climate change legislation simply as a means of giving more power to government to substantially affect the debate. My guess is if those people exist, that their number and influence is so insignificant that you could remove them from the equation altogether and it would not affect the dialogue in the least.

          I have to say that I have never heard someone say:
          “I wish I had to pay more money for gasoline, or that my home energy bill would go up, or that coal burning plants were eliminated in America, in order to make Government more powerful.”

          Perhaps people with such convoluted world views exist in your circle.

        • indy

          This is ridiculous.

          The POLICY argument on the left is that markets sometimes fail. There are many reasons this can happen and among them is the fact that industries can sometimes externalize costs. The argument from the left in the case of fossil fuels is that those industries and their customers should be forced to bear the ENTIRE burden of the costs and should not be allowed to pass them onto others and (so the story goes) government is needed to provide that force since the industry refuses to do so on their own. Hence government is a solution to a problem, not an end itself.

          The fact that businesses can externalize cost was once known to the right (Nixon and the EPA for example), but now it is simply denied on principal. So AGW doesn’t really have that much to do with science to them. Admitting to AGW is admitting that business can unfairly externalize costs, which implies corrective action is needed by the government. Oh Noes, not government! It’s less taxing when you can just attack the science and and motives of those involved.

        • indy

          Oops. That should be ‘principle’, not ‘principal’.

        • Deep South Populist

          @Xunxi

          Regarding the burden of proof and the debunking of claims, the burden of proof does not belong on me at all other than for this peripheral point – whether it can be shown that ideology distorts the perspective and analysis of some on the left as well as the right.

          On the most important issue – the policy responses to AGW – the primary burden of proof is and always will be on your side, not mine.

          You have to make the case not just that AWG happening but that the consequences will be severe enough to justify the policies you want.

          I don’t have to prove anything; you guys have to prove everything, bearing in mind:

          1) Extraordinary claims have the burden of extraordinary evidence. The claim that AGW will have catastrophic global consequences is extraordinary.

          2) The claim that carbon taxes and these other policy solutions will actually solve the problem is also extraordinary – I don’t know how this one can ever be definitively proven but I digress.

          3) The people on my of this issue side aren’t asking for money and power for the government. Your side is asking for money and power to transform society via government action.

          Given those three factors, I’d say your side has a far higher burden of proof than anyone on my side of this issue will ever have on any element of the debate.

          I realize that this is the conspiracy card on the other side, and I realize that among your cohort that card probably gets a lot of non-critical play, but you can’t possibly think that it’s my job to debunk your conspiracy theories.

          Except the “conspiracy card” is your language, not mine. Until someone actually says “I believe in a climate conspiracy,” mentioning conspiracies is simply a red herring.

          I don’t think there is any conspiracy at work here. I think the uniformity of left’s policy proposals on AGW reflect group-think on a massive scale. It’s the liberal hive mind in action. From the heights of the UN and the IPCC down to the locals driving the Prius to the food co-pt – there is no need for people who think the same way to conspire with each other.

          They perceive a problem, and they want the government to solve it. They forget, meanwhile, that not everyone perceives the same problem they do—and they forget that even if everyone did perceive it the same way, government solutions are not everyone’s first choice, nor are government solutions always appropriate.

          I and most people favor government regulation to stop incidents like the Exxon Valdez spill, the BP spill, a possible spill from the Keystone pipeline, or fracking harming the water in Wyoming (in the news recently). The consequences of those threats are very clear, and the government regulations to prevent them from happening can be proven to work. With AGW, in contrast, the consequences are not as clear nor can the solutions the left is proposing be proven to work with the same level of certainty. These factors make AGW policy fundamentally different from other government regulations geared toward conservation.

          Bottom line: the people who want action on AGW have much higher burden of proof at all levels.

          Posting a YouTube video you received in some chain email is beneath your intelligence grade, to be honest. That’s RedState or Malkin type nonsense.

          The point of the video was simply to show there are some real crazies on your side too, nothing more. Beyond this, I don’t claim the video to prove anything.

          Did you even look at it? The origin of the video wasn’t some kook on You Tube. The origin was a mainstream climate education group in the UK that has over a 100,000 members and that gets support from government, celebrities, corporations and others.

          It’s pretty sick stuff, and from a mainstream not a fringe group.

        • Xunzi Washington

          @DSP

          Sorry for the delay, I didn’t realize you have responded.

          1. On the video – to be honest it struck me as not sick, but just overwhelmingly stupid, unfunny, and in bad taste. I wasn’t even sure what the message was supposed to be. Very badly conceived, and it was the right thing to do to pull it.

          However, I’m not sure what the video shows me or anyone else. 10:10 is an influential group of climate activists (not scientists or politicians) dedicated to their cause. Other than this one brain dead video, with an unclear message, I don’t see anything questionable about these folks. Moreover, they are not scientists, don’t do the research, and they are not politicians and so have no sway over policy. That was our original argument – not about whether people exists with weird views (I’m not even sure this video shows that these people have weird views, just that they made an ill-conceived video), but that there are people who care about AGW as a means to inject government control into people’s lives. I see no evidence of that here (and even if there were – no policy or scientific influence).

          2. On Proof Burdens –

          You say that the burden for you is “this peripheral point – whether it can be shown that ideology distorts the perspective and analysis of some on the left as well as the right.”

          But this point was not in dispute at any time. I agreed with this – so did Balcone. Our point was different. We said that no evidence exists that the AGW claims made by science, or the policy driven by politicians, is driven truly by a desire for strong central government. That’s a very different claim.

          3. On Policy Burdens: You say, “on the most important issue – the policy responses to AGW – the primary burden of proof is and always will be on your side, not mine. You have to make the case not just that AWG happening but that the consequences will be severe enough to justify the policies you want.”

          Actually, I never argued any such thing. However, that said, I actually agree with you – if the consequences of AGW are that severe, and the policy measures will too be severe, then there needs to be serious proof, and that burden is on the AGW advocate. I totally agree.

          However, my question to you is: what level of burden is on the AGW advocate? To show that no kooks exist anywhere in the world? To show that no one on the entire planet is motivated by ideology? And in terms of science – what level of scientific consensus is great enough to meet the burden? 90%? 95? 99% What number?

          For my part, I believe that the AGW folks get tired of dealing with a burden of proof that really isn’t that at all, because the population (you, your cohort) will (a) not accept any level of fact finding as enough until your houses are submerged under water, and (b) because you folks seem to think that if some wackos exist, then the argument is undermined for AGW.

          I’m being hyperbolic on (a) obviously, but you get the point – if the AGW folks are right, by the time the layman “sees” the effects clearly and unambiguously, it is too late for the planet. So a more science-driven burden (where we rely on scientists, not the naked eye of laymen) is necessary. On (b), well, that’s our argument above. The (b) argument is the move of talk radio, IMO.

        • balconesfault

          Actually, I never argued any such thing. However, that said, I actually agree with you – if the consequences of AGW are that severe, and the policy measures will too be severe, then there needs to be serious proof, and that burden is on the AGW advocate. I totally agree.

          +1. Exactly right.

          The problem is not that there is a burden on the AGW community to address these issues in a serious fashion (and I will acknowledge that there are those in the AGW community who have been hyperbolic or over the top at times in trying to get attention for an issue they think too few are taking seriously).

          The problem is that, as we see repeatedly throughout this thread, the opposition to AGW focused government action do not want this serious discussion of the issues to take place. Once you get started trying to conduct the discussion, you are faced with a constant stream of:
          “scientists are engaged in fraud in order to get money to research things (that they know are fraudulent)”
          “AGW advocates just want bigger government for the sake of bigger government and this issue is merely a tool to give government more control over people’s (including their own) lives”
          “Al Gore wastes energy and is fat”

          These are all forms of chaff, the denialist community throwing as much stuff out there to distract the debate so that no comprehensive policy can be formulated. It worked throughout the Bush Administration, and it worked to keep the Senate from passing the House Cap-and-Trade Bill, and now the denialists are getting VERY frustrated because the Obama Administration is empowering the EPA to do what they are charged to do, particularly in absence of a different directive from Congress to either ignore the Clean Air Act, or to leave CO2 regulation to some other Congressionally designed structure.

      • indy

        You conveniently forgot to mention why:

        The protocol requires some industrialized countries to slash emissions, but doesn’t cover the world’s largest polluters, China and the United States.

        Edit: ah, I see balconesfault beat me to it, but he forgot to mention (d) looney tunes is dsp’s theme song. That’s the one I go with.

  • icarusr

    I think this sentence sums up the Republica attitude to pretty much everything:

    “that any movement associated with Al Gore and Van Jones couldn’t possibly be trusted, that environmentalists were simply left-wing, anti-capitalist kooks.”

    So the point was not so much the scientific merits of a position, but who advocated it.

    OTOH, I look at who advocates right-wing crapdoodle … and wonder maybe there is something to this silly way of looking at the world. :)

    • JosephP

      You have actually pointed to the real reason many Republicans reject the reality of AGW—it was a pet issue of Al Gore, that snobby intellectual that garnered more votes than their man George W. Bush. Republicans are the ones that have made the issue a political one, not Gore. And they did so only because they hate Gore and want to ridicule him as much as possible (it’s the same motivation for rejecting every single one of Obama’s proposals, even the ones that were originally Republican ideas). Republicans really are motivated by hate more than anything.

      • balconesfault

        +1

      • paul_gs

        Al Gore is climate huckster who will fly anywhere in the world on one of his private jets to peddle his hysteria, for a very hefty fee of course.

        I hope someday I too can make the big sacrifice fot Gaia and run my 100 foot houseboat on bio-fuel too.

  • Danny_K

    I don’t know what the long term strategy is for Republicans — the weather is getting more extreme every year and the heat is growing, the Arctic ice is melting and the volume of shipping is increasing through formerly ice-bound waters year after year. How do they back down from their position that all the climatologists are involved in a conspiracy?

    • kccd

      They will eventually embrace climate change as though it was their idea all along.

      Kind of like Sarah Palin claiming the mantle of feminism, conservatives pointing out that the slaves were freed by a Republican President, and Republicans arguing that SS and Medicare need to be protected.

      • balconesfault

        Perhaps some day we’ll even hear of how George W. Bush proclaimed during the 2000 Presidential Debates that CO2 should be regulated as an air pollutant, as an example of how the GOP was right on climate change all along, and were it not for anti-environmentalist Democrats like Jay Rockefeller and Mary Landrieu we’d have followed Bush’s lead and passed climate change legislation before it was too late!

    • valkayec

      If the GOP leadership, and especially a Republican President, said AGW is real and the planet is warming and they were going to develop policies to address the issue and the nation was going to take a global lead to promote policies to reduce climate change, then the base would simply nod their heads and go along, saying the US is leading; good for the US. Again, if a GOP President said we’re engaged in a War on Climate Change to save civilization and our way of life, the base would cheer.

      However, that ain’t gonna happen. There’s too much money to be made in the status quo.

      • balconesfault

        Again, if a GOP President said we’re engaged in a War on Climate Change to save civilization and our way of life, the base would cheer.

        There were even some conservatives who back in the mid-00′s expressed disappointment that Bush didn’t take the massive groundswell of “whatever it takes” attitude among Americans after 9/11, and push for reduction of our energy consumption and especially gasoline consumption as a way to strengthen America by:
        - improving our balance of trade
        - reducing the cash flow to many terrorist supporting entities in the Middle East, and
        - making our economy less susceptible to the oil price shocks that would result from aggressive action by the US in the Middle East.

        But of course – this was the Bush/Cheney/Halliburton/ExxonMobil White House, and that just wasn’t going to happen … for the same reason you noted above.

    • paul_gs

      Weather getting more extreme? Yeah? What major hurricanes have there been since Katrina?

  • LFC

    There are a minority subset of people who have objectively reviewed the evidence and conclude that the earth is warming but we can’t be sure of the the amount of change caused by humans or the outcome of the warming.

    There is virtually nobody who has objectively reviewed the evidence and concluded that warming isn’t happening or that it is but humans have little to do with it. Every time one of these types of people start squawking, it becomes blatantly obvious that they are ignoring massive swathes of data.

    That’s where I draw my line on skeptic vs. denier. And as soon as I hear the thoroughly debunked cries of the “hockey stick” being wrong, the manufactured “Climategate” scandal, the manufacture IPCC report scandal, sunspots, Earth’s wobble, natural patterns, etc. then my bulls***-0-meter pegs off of the charts.

  • paul_gs

    Nice to see the back-slapping AGW crowd has taken over this thread too.

    Sorry guys, putting a half dozen CFL’s in your house and hanging LED Xmas lights doesn’t make you credible on the issue.

    Sacrifice boys, let’s see it. Think of your children’s grandchildren. ;)

    • ottovbvs

      “putting a half dozen CFL’s in your house and hanging LED Xmas lights”

      Your latest strawman Paulie?

    • LFC

      From National Geographic citing the EPA…

      If every American household replaced just one standard incandescent bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb, greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 9 billion pounds annually, which is equivalent to the emissions from 800,000 cars. Those estimates are from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which also says that replacing a single standard bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb (CFL) in each household would save American homeowners a collective total of roughly $600 million in annual energy costs.

      This is the advantage of CFLs, yet they are already being replaced by better and more energy efficient LED bulbs. And yet the wingnuts scream about how forcing bulbs to meet an energy standard is an attack of their freedom.

      And let’s not forget about something as simple as white roofs. From a CNN story on them:

      The Energy Department said a white roof can knock 10% to 20% off a building’s electric bill.

      This year House Republicans defeated the use of more money for energy efficiency and clean energy sources, while simultaneously increasing money for fossil fuels. So much for their supposed position on not picking winners and losers in industry. I guess that only counts for industries that don’t give them a lot of money.

      • valkayec

        Speaking of those reports, last week while listening to Science Friday on NPR (great show by the way), I heard an interview with Home Depot’s head of energy supplies marketing – or whatever his title is. He stated the differences in energy use among the different bulbs, the differences in lifetime among them, and the relative cost differences. The takeaway is while the new bulbs currently cost more initially, they more than double the savings over their lifetime use as well as reducing emissions. Seems to me any Conservative worth his stripes would jump on that bandwagon for the simple reason that they save money, regardless of the side effect of reducing emissions.

        • nhthinker

          I’ve got plenty of CFLs and LEDs lighting my house. I recall my brother once had a water pump at his pond that required an incandescent bulb to keep it from freezing in the winter.
          Conservative free market people love lots of choices- liberal government elitists get off on taking choices away.

          Nobody is talking about removing the incandescent choices from the elitists’ chandeliers.

      • paul_gs

        Replacing one light bulb with a CFL bulb makes zero difference to the planet if you claim to believe in AGW. Zero. That is the type of fantasy thinking the Left engages in to convince themselves they are serious about AGW simply because they’ve switched out a few bulbs in their house for a more energy efficient variety.

        Believing in AGW requires a life-altering fundamental reorganization and radical downsizing of one’s energy use in all spheres of one’s life. Not a 5% reduction. Not a 20% reduction. A 50% reduction should be a general minimum.

        For all you who claim to believe in AGW, first reduce your own energy consumption by 50% minimum and then, and only then, will you begin to even have some credibility on the issue. And only then can you begin to lecture the rest of society on how they should live.

        • Xunzi Washington

          First of all, please supply links to the numbers who keep whipping out of your butt. But second, I love your argument: if you can’t make a 50% reduction, a 0% reduction will do just fine.

        • paul_gs

          Xunzi, you are aware, are you not, that to keep CO2 below 350ppm we would have to almost eliminate all fossil fuel use? I am being generous when I suggest believers make a modest 50% reduction in their personal CO2 emissions before hectoring others.

          Instead, we get tokenism from AGW believers who then demand we embrace a radical agenda they themselves won’t live by.

        • balconesfault

          Paul – you are aware that a major component of the threat posed by AGW is not simply that the earth is warming … but the rapid rate of climate change, forcing ecosystems to adapt at too rapid of rates, and causing localized pockets of changing weather and water availability that will require massive infrastructure projects to accomodate and in some cases lead to mass migrations?

          For that reason … even slowing the process of AGW will cause a marked improvement in mankinds ability to respond to the changes that will result without radical and sometimes violent response.

    • balconesfault

      Sacrifice boys, let’s see it. Think of your children’s grandchildren.

      Some of us make sacrifices.

      Some drop bombs in discussion threads and then make up fantasies or run away as those bombs are meticulously defused and debunked.

      • paul_gs

        And what token measures have you taken to lessen your usage of fossil fuels?

      • Xunzi Washington

        I have a better question for you, Paul. How many “token measures” will it require before you do something yourself? Clearly you have some sort of behavior matrix worked out in your head. If Balcone uses efficient light bulbs, will you? If he drives a Prius, will you? If he bikes to work, are you prepared to? If he grows his own veggies, are you ready to do so?

        Or is this all meaningless bulls*it on your part?

        • nhthinker

          OK- liberals
          I upgraded my 1800 sq ft house to 2015 energy standards- roof-windows-walls
          My primary vehicle is an American Mercury Mariner Hybrid.
          All my lighting except two chandeliers over tables are CFLs or LEDs.
          I’ve reduced my commute driving by 12000 per year.

          Voluntarily outdo that before you assert that government is needed to make you and others be more “concerned”.

          Any AGW-believer that drives to work more than 20 miles a day and does not car pool is a gluttonous carbon pig.

        • balconesfault

          That is all fantastic.

          If we were already in a cap-and-trade or carbon tax environment, you’d be getting quite an economic windfall versus your more energy consuming neighbors, which would allow you to have more money to compete for great seats at the next concert, show, or sporting event you wanted to get into … more money to spend on upgrades to housing … etc, etc.

          Instead now if you invest more money in energy efficiency, in many cases the savings on energy use is not actually great enough to offset the sunk cost in the investment. So while you personally may have done this, the great majority of consumers will not do the same, and the value of your additional investment will be mooted.

          Coming back to my war analogy – there is little value in a single person attacking a powerful enemy. There is a lot of value with in a substantial force doing the same. When our government wants to attack a powerful enemy, we don’t just rely on those whose patriotism encourages them to enlist … we offer economic incentives (bonuses, GI bill, VA benefits) and when it’s a really serious enemy we enforce conscription via the draft.

        • nhthinker

          My investments were based on realistic projected energy costs and timed properly to home maintenance needs. That is produces a better carbon footprint is primarily a byproduct of proper financial efficiency and the desire for less dependance on foreign energy.

          I think the US’s best chance is to go big in NG and coal until the magic new power source (cheaper than coal, and no GHG) comes online in the next 50-100 years. China’s economy may contract dramatically when they run out of coal in 20-25 years and the US may be positioned for a resurgence in heavy industry.

        • paul_gs

          balconesfault, there are tens of millions of progressives in the US claiming belief in AGW, hardly a single person waging war against a powerful enemy.

          Since there are so many of you, why is there no evidence as a whole that you consume or pollute less then deniers?

        • balconesfault

          balconesfault, there are tens of millions of progressives in the US claiming belief in AGW, hardly a single person waging war against a powerful enemy.

          As I pointed out before – the efforts of tens of millions of progressives (and NHThinkers) making positive steps to reduce their carbon footprint can quickly be negated by a smaller number of denialists increasing their energy use. And the irony is – each step a progressive (and NHThinker) takes to cut their energy use incrementally reduces the cost of energy for everyone … which then incentivizes the denialist (and moreover, the casual citizen who isn’t involved in the debate and doesn’t have a strong opinion but wants to enjoy the most comfortable life they can afford) to push their thermostat down a couple more degrees in the summer and up a couple more degrees in the winter, to drive a bigger car, to buy a home in a further out suburb – because the cost consequences of these decisions have been reduced via the progressives action.

          Since there are so many of you, why is there no evidence as a whole that you consume or pollute less then deniers?

          There is copious anecdotal evidence. Pick up Sierra, NRDC, or any of a number of other environmentalist publications and you’ll see tons of articles talking about steps people have taken to consume/pollute less, and articles on how others can and should do the same.

          What evidence were you looking for?

        • paul_gs

          I’m not the one telling everyone else how to live their lives Xunzi. If I was telling folks how to live their lives in a certain way though, I’d make darn sure I was first practising what I was hectoring them about.

  • John Q

    Dick Cheney was quoted as saying that if there was a 1% chance of a catastrophic terrorist attack, it should be treated as a 100% certainty, and we should act accordingly.

    My belief is that if there is a 1% chance that AGW will have catastrophic effects on future human existence on this planet, it should be treated as a 100% certainty, and we should act accordingly.

    • nhthinker

      Your belief is not backed up by science, tree-hugger.

      • Stan

        And what’s your scientific background? Do you have any idea of what goes into an atmospheric model? Aren’t you just a little embarrassed to comment on things you don’t understand?

        • nhthinker

          I understand plenty.
          Have you ever taken a thermal dynamics course?
          Do you have an understanding that computer climate models for decades did not even include ocean temperatures?

          Do you understand that human existence survived ice ages which dramatically reduced the amount of inhabitable land- orders of magnitude more inhospitableness than is being projected by global warming. Anyone than uses “human existence” and “global warming” is a non-scientific treehugger.

          The science is getting better but no where near where it needs to get. The technology will get better as well. We will get to a point of energy production that is less costly and less polluting than coal. But having the government spending money foolishly on overpriced solar panels from Solyndra is not the answer- we will go bankrupt and starve with the treehuggers in charge.

        • Stan

          What in God’s name is thermal dynamics? Do you mean thermodynamics? If so, I’ve both taken it and taught it. Do you mean heat transfer? Of course I’ve studied it. So has everybody in physics and in most engineering fields. Did I know that climate models didn’t include ocean temperatures? No I didn’t, because they did. They included ocean temperatures, but they didn’t allow the ocean temperature to evolve. This was decades ago, and it isn’t relevant now. They also didn’t allow baroclinic instability until 1954, and that isn’t relevant now either. You really don’t know what you’re talking about, and every time you add a comment you show your ignorance.

        • balconesfault

          Thermal dynamics. Heh.

          Apparently, per their literature “the leading producer of manual and automated plasma cutting systems.”

          But having the government spending money foolishly on overpriced solar panels from Solyndra is not the answer- we will go bankrupt and starve with the treehuggers in charge.

          Wow. The stupid – it hurts.

      • Traveler

        WTF? You twitch yet again.

        There is ample evidence for a far greater percentage of nasty outcomes than a mere 1%. I guess loss of most coral reefs, most glaciers, adequate water supplies for a good chunk of the planet, and rising sea levels wiping out Bangladesh and most maritime nations doesn’t rate as a catastrophe? The chances of all these outcomes is in the 50% range according to the experts.

        So are you merely an idiot because you don’t understand that, or a fool because you deny it, or just a self righteous coprophage that wants to post excrement?

        • nhthinker

          The US impact on global warming is being dramatically exceeded by China and India and other countries that want middle class living. Even the IPCC indicates that the global GHG are out of control and will remain so.

          So unless you are willing to put armies all over the world to police carbon use, it WAS a losing cause.
          The real answer is low-cost low-pollution energy that allows middle class convenience for everyone in the world.

          So tell us your GHG footprint…

        • Traveler

          Thanks for a measured response to my rant. No doubt US impacts are being approached by China, but not exceeded yet. And India has a ways to go, so we got to look in the mirror, as you do. I am impressed by your footprint (especially if you could keep it out of your mouth). :)

          Kidding aside, this is a major issue. I am no paragon of GHG footprinting. But I do telecommute as much as I can so my lousy old Audi mileage don’t cost a lot (10k/yr). BTW, them Prius’ have some some pretty discouraging total life cycle costs, so I am looking at the Focus. I still want a little fun.

          However I discovered, invented and patented a very cost effective system to reduce pollutants, particularly nutrients, in wastewater and runoff. I also do a fair amount of work in energy recovery from really skanky stuff. That also reduces methane, which is a bad actor indeed. Once applied globally, my technology to recycle nitrogen and phosphorus effectively saves megatons of carbon.

          I patents pending in over 3/4 the global GDP. I have experiments underway in 7 states and several sites in China, as well as several others coming in around the Pacific Rim and South America. But this means I got to fly a lot (in economy), so personally, I am no great example.

          I agree that conveniences of the middle class are what everyone might want, but they dont have to come with suburban sprawl. I am involved with several of those vaunted Chinese eco-cities, and it is humbling to see the scale and determination of those industrious folk. They will hand us our head in environmental technology and applications within several decades, if not sooner.

        • nhthinker

          So Traveler is a nerd version of Al Gore without the lower frontal massage fetish.

          Seriously, thanks for being a nerd: but your elitist crap is not very endearing.
          Don’t continue on the Al Gore path of not taking personal responsibility if you actually are a believer.

        • balconesfault

          [b]Seriously, thanks for being a nerd: but your elitist crap is not very endearing.
          Don’t continue on the Al Gore path of not taking personal responsibility if you actually are a believer.[/b]

          It is not very gracious to take Traveler’s modesty as some kind of evasion of personal responsibility. It appears clear that his job requires a lot of travel in order to do it effectively. I’ve always had a problem with this term in the carbon footprint equation as well – there are times when as a consultant I’ve worked on projects that allowed me to work from my office (a short commute from home, and I often bike) for the most part … and times when I have had to jump on airplanes regularly to visit some site, meet with vendors or clients to hammer out details, host or be present a public meetings, etc. Some of this can be done via telecommute, much of it cannot.

          But there are carbon footprint issues which personal responsibility cannot manage. For example – I can choose to drive a 30+ mpg car instead of a 12 mpg car. I can choose to live in a smaller house, or set my thermostat at 85 during the hot Texas summer (I’d actually leave it off many more days, I grew up in San Antonio without AC … but I do have a wife and she gets a say).

          I can choose to not fly to a meeting the client wants me to attend – but this won’t change the carbon footprint associated with the meeting. It will just change my participation, since the client will simply hire someone else to fly to the meeting. I assume that if Traveler stops traveling as much right now – the rate of implementation of his technology is at risk. This is different from Traveler deciding that he needs to leave his jacuzzi tub heated to 104 the whole time he goes on one of his trips.

          And note that most of the responsible parties on the AGW side of the debate are not out to tell someone they CANNOT buy an F-150, or CANNOT set their thermostat at 68 instead of 85 during the summer, or CANNOT leave their jacuzzi tub on. We just believe that energy consumption causes external impacts, and that since society is eventually going to be paying dearly for those impacts (the amount of new construction projects that will be needed to protect coastal cities and move more water around or as in Traveler’s work reclaim water) we should be incentivizing lower carbon technologies and discouraging higher carbon consumption, and cap-and-trade or a carbon tax is the best way to accomplish both of these.

    • paul_gs

      Sure John Q, you believe in the precautionary principle. If there is a 1% chance your cut finger could lead to a deadly infection, we should cut off your whole arm just to be safe.

      Smart thinking guy.

  • _will_

    I really just get a kick out of the idea that 98% of the world’s scientists are colluding to perpetrate a massive fraud in order to… what? destroy capitalism? kill jobs? seriously deniers, tell me.

    honestly, you guys might as well go around saying 9/11 was an inside job.

    • nhthinker

      Over 6 billion people want the middle class living that energy brings.
      The world’s scientists have no ethic to decide which 4.5 billion don’t get the energy.

      What’s your GHG footprint, believer?

      • Stan

        How to cope with global warming is a political decision, not a scientific one. The scientists have an obligation to inform us what’s happening. That’s their role. The people acting through their elected officials can then respond or not respond, as they see fit.

        • _will_

          ^^exactly. no one said it’s going to be easy. just quit equivocating and throwing tantrums in the face of incontrovertible evidence, denier.

          “believer” – why do i get the feeling you hiss this as you type? how about you, “thinker”, would you happen to believe a magical man, born of a virgin, literally walked on water 2000 years ago? but you don’t have time for empirical science?

        • nhthinker

          _will_ ,
          you are wrong on so many levels and still evasive…
          I’m not a denier…I believe in scientific uncertainty.

          I smirk, as opposed to hiss, at the hypocrite AGW believers that do not damned thing that their government doesn’t tell them the law requires them to do.

          I’m an agnostic, but you would rather jump to wrong conclusions wouldn’t you?

          So what do you drive? What do you do voluntarily for AGW?

        • _will_

          I’m an agnostic, but you would rather jump to wrong conclusions wouldn’t you?

          fair enough, thinker. that was completely lame of me. my apologies.

          I’m not a denier…I believe in scientific uncertainty.

          fair enough. skepticism is imho the hallmark of good science. but are you suggesting that 98% of the world’s scientists are just bad scientists?

          So what do you drive? What do you do voluntarily for AGW?

          i live in a fairly walkable/ bikeable area, so 90% of the time i do one or the other. i travel by commercial jet for work ~8-9 times a year. i own a 2002 Jetta that gets about 20 mpg in the city, 28 on the highway. hopefully it will last me another 4-5 years *fingers crossed*. when it stops running i’ll probably start looking at hybrids or electric.

          i had spray foam insulation put in my creaky, drafty 90 year old house last year (pretty $$$, but it will certainly pay off in the long run). i layer up during the winter, use ceiling fans and open windows in the summer. this isn’t all about climate change; it’s about being personally conservative (cheap). reduce, reuse recycle — it’s just good policy. *conservative* policy.

          look, i’m not here to besmirch capitalism or energy jobs, but we have empirical evidence that can’t be swept under the rug. we can choose to make smart choices now (i.e. an ounce of prevention, etc). i just find it equal parts sad/hilarious/frightening there is so much time, energy and cash put into disavowing actual science.

  • nhthinker

    Stan // Dec 29, 2011 at 10:26 pm
    Your science is out of date, old man.
    The use of deep ocean information is only in the last 2 to 3 decade of the computer modeling.
    And 2 decades before that scientist thought the planet was cooling.

    There is more to climate science than surface temperatures- terrestrial and ocean.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110918144941.htm

    Deep Oceans Can Mask Global Warming for Decade-Long Periods

    ScienceDaily (Sep. 18, 2011) — The planet’s deep oceans at times may absorb enough heat to flatten the rate of global warming for periods of as long as a decade even in the midst of longer-term warming, according to a new analysis led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

    The study, based on computer simulations of global climate, points to ocean layers deeper than 1,000 feet (300 meters) as the main location of the “missing heat” during periods such as the past decade when global air temperatures showed little trend. The findings also suggest that several more intervals like this can be expected over the next century, even as the trend toward overall warming continues.

    “We will see global warming go through hiatus periods in the future,” says NCAR’s Gerald Meehl, lead author of the study. “However, these periods would likely last only about a decade or so, and warming would then resume. This study illustrates one reason why global temperatures do not simply rise in a straight line.”
    ….

    Do you think the scientists in the 1970s were more full of bullshit and hubris than the ones of today?

    Do you think there is scientific proof that the hiatus in warming caused by deep oceans can only last a decade? Send us the link if you have it, believer.

    And the rest of you believers out there: don’t forget to tell us your voluntary GHG footprint. Is Al Gore your hero, hypocrites?

    • Baron Siegfried

      Take it down a notch, fella . . . you’re starting to get screechy.

      • nhthinker

        Completely ad hominem response…
        Don’t want to share your Baron sized GHG footprint? How about your knowledge of how much heat energy can be stored in deep ocean water?

  • Deep South Populist

    @Xunzi Washington // Dec 30, 2011 at 8:31 am

    I’m pulling this comment out of that sub-thread because it has gotten really cramped. I will try to be clearer and make a few final remarks on why I believe left ideology is relevant.

    The point I’m trying to make about the impact of ideology relies on the distinction between science and policy.

    Regarding science:

    First, let me be totally clear.

    I do not believe that most climate scientists are ideologically motivated, or that they let ideology influence their findings. I do, however, believe there are isolated cases where this is true or seems to be true, and these cases are generally denied by your cohort — to use your language. It indicates a zeal IMO to disclaim the possibility that a biased climate scientist could even exist.

    For example, I don’t believe Michael Mann at Penn State is entirely impartial given some of the statements he has made. From what I gather, right-wing media (which I seldom consume BTW) makes Mann out to be a villain, and given their tendency to distort, exaggerate and even lie, they probably make him seem worse than he is. However, at the same time, Mann has said the things he said – right-wing media hasn’t just made up his statements.

    Michael Mann it seems to me is a hybrid, both a scientist and an activist. This is fine; scientists have a right to be political activists too. However, once a scientist crosses into political activism and starts calling for political change based in part on his own findings, I feel it undercuts credibility and the bar for skepticism goes up. I feel the same way about scientists at Exxon Mobile who present findings, and then turn around and make political recommendations based on their own findings. Same principle.

    That said, let me reiterate.

    Michael Mann is only one scientist among many, and whatever the truth is about him, I don’t think the majority of scientists let ideology affect their work.

    For this reason, I accept that AGW is happening.

    A 90% to 95% consensus is good enough for me on whether it’s happening (though I still think researchers who are skeptical should be allowed to work without being harassed).

    The next issue is how bad will it be?

    Many suggest a looming catastrophe for the planet.

    The evidence here – how bad will it be – seems much less strong to me.

    Whereas the evidence for AGW is based on hard data confirmed by multiple research teams, the evidence concerning the future impact of AGW is based on computer models and projections that are loaded with assumptions – essentially informed speculation about future events, but still speculation.

    I don’t believe the scientists putting these models together are ideologically biased or that they’re lying. Still, the fact remains computer models are not empirical evidence, and no one in your cohort will ever get around this. It’s just an inherent weakness in this type of evidence.

    Which brings us to policy – what to do about it.

    We are now entirely outside the realm of science and into politics and policy.

    It’s an area where everyone is affected by ideology to some extent.

    The first thing to note is that the political left’s AGW policy recommendations (carbon taxes, etc.) are designed to combat the future effects of AGW. And the future effects aren’t based on empirical data but rather on projections derived from models.

    In other words, the political left’s case for aggressive measures relies on the weakest link in the AGW science (future projections based on models not data).

    Yet despite the inherent uncertainty there, they are insisting on measures that will greatly expand the government’s power to transform society. And yes, these carbon taxes and other measures WILL greatly expand the government’s power.

    The government will write the laws, enforce the regulations, and collect the tax money, and then use that tax money to fund other political activities. This adds up to drastically increased power. Whether this is good, bad, necessary, whatever is a separate issue. In point of fact, the policies the left wants translates to more government power over society.

    If you want to do all that based on computer projections, well, you’re going to get a lot of resistance from me and others, resistance that is reasonable IMO.

    Also, the political left, working from their basic ideological assumptions, automatically gravitates to government solutions.

    Of course, regulation is often appropriate, but not always. Again, we are not talking about an oil tanker, pipeline, fraking machinery or deep water platform here; those things pose immediate ecological threats with the potential to inflict severe environmental damage right now. The nature of the AGW threat is different.

    Leftists seem to assume without argument that government action is the way to go when using the government’s taxing and regulation authority is not the only way to reduce emissions.

    The government could fund 30 nuclear power plants and reduce emissions that way. That would create a lot of jobs. Or, the government could fund geo-engineering or other research projects.

    There are ways to reduce emissions other than through government tax and regulation, yet the left gravitates toward the government approach. Why? Because their basic ideological assumptions always drive them toward government solutions.

    • indy

      The government could fund 30 nuclear power plants and reduce emissions that way. That would create a lot of jobs. Or, the government could fund geo-engineering or other research projects.

      There are ways to reduce emissions other than through government tax and regulation, yet the left gravitates toward the government approach. Why? Because their basic ideological assumptions always drive them toward government solutions.

      So you suggest ways the government can solve the problem, and then complain that the left only thinks of government solutions?

      Wow.

      • paul_gs

        Don’t be so dense indy. It’s obvious he means govt could approve 30 nuclear plants.

        And instead of the typical left-wing snark, why not try offering an intelligent response like Deep South has.

        • balconesfault

          You are being willfully dense, Paul

          “Fund” means something very different from “approve”. I may disagree with DSP’s logic, but I give him credit for knowing what words mean.

          I also give DSP credit for understanding that the marketplace isn’t going to pony up for 30 new nukes without government loan guarantees or funding, even if they have approval.

        • indy

          Paul is nothing if not dense.

        • paul_gs

          At least I’m not a walking, breathing, snivelling AGW hypocrite.

      • Deep South Populist

        The hypothetical 30 nuclear power plants would reduce emissions but without giving the government a new tax stream and new and pretty vast regulatory authority over society. The left seems to gravitate to the latter solution.

        • balconesfault

          The hypothetical 30 nuclear power plants would reduce emissions but without giving the government a new tax stream and new and pretty vast regulatory authority over society.

          So you’re advocating some massive governmental spending program (funding 30 new nuke power plants) without any new tax streams?

          And for the record, this is not creating a new regulatory authority. The Clean Air Act already gives the Federal Government the regulatory authority (and responsibility) to address CO2 emissions – this has been upheld in court.

          Cap and trade, and a carbon tax, are two proposals to exercise that authority in a manner more responsive to the unique threat posed by CO2 emissions to human health and the environment. In reality, I’ll readily admit that the EPA setting emissions limits is a kludgy work-around – but it is what the agency has to do in the absence of a directive from Congress that its mandate under the CAA is moot, or that Congress has designed a different regulatory structure for addressing CO2.

        • indy

          Let me suggest why this is a horrible policy idea.

          1. You admit there is AGW, which is largely the product of the energy industry externalizing costs.

          2. You suggest that the government fund alternative ways to solve this problem, then intentionally deny them any revenue sources for it.

          3. The funding therefore, falls on the taxpayer in general.

          Hence, people who choose to reduce their footprint voluntarily pay three times: for themselves, for others who don’t, and for the industry that caused it.

          Low footprint people therefore subsidize larger footprint people and the industry.

        • paul_gs

          ==”AGW, which is largely the product of the energy industry externalizing costs.”==

          AGW is almost exclusively the result of us consumers externalizing the costs. We are the the final consumers. Responsibility rests on our shoulders. It’s not Exxon’s fault, it’s not the Koch brothers fault, it’s your fault. And mine.

          Blaming industry is simply another method the Left uses to offload responsibility for the issue onto others.

        • balconesfault

          I don’t blame industry for the emissions they need to produce in order to meet consumer demand.

          I do blame them for concerted lobbying and disinformation actions aimed at blocking the passage of AGW legislation.

        • indy

          AGW is almost exclusively the result of us consumers externalizing the costs. We are the the final consumers..

          To quote myself, from above: The argument from the left in the case of fossil fuels is that those industries and their customers should be forced to bear the ENTIRE burden of the costs and should not be allowed to pass them onto others…

          So nobody is letting the customers off the hook but I should have been more explicit. By industry I meant the entire cycle of production and consumption. Producer and consumer were largely ignorant of the long term effects so I’m not saying punishment is appropriate either. I am saying that producer and consumer, now aware of the effects, should be appropriately charged for any externalized cost in the future.

    • balconesfault

      For example, I don’t believe Michael Mann at Penn State is entirely impartial given some of the statements he has made.

      Impartial or not – do you have any evidence whatsoever to claim that Mann has an ideology that government needs to be more powerful simply for the sake of being more powerful, and that he is pushing AGW simply to advance that ideology?

      Until you start backing away from that claim – that AGW believers in general, and scientists in specific, are pushing AGW because they simply want more influence by government in people’s lives as a goal unto it self – we can’t even discuss the ideological side.

      You did lay out some reasonable discussion on the pragmatic side.

      The first thing to note is that the political left’s AGW policy recommendations (carbon taxes, etc.) are designed to combat the future effects of AGW. And the future effects aren’t based on empirical data but rather on projections derived from models.

      Correct. The models show that if we continue to race to pump carbon which has been sequestered under the earth for millenia into our atmosphere at a very high rate, the climate will continue to rise.

      In other words, the political left’s case for aggressive measures relies on the weakest link in the AGW science (future projections based on models not data).

      That is technology has always worked. When the Hoover Dam was built, this was not simply based on data – the design was based on models, and society made a massive investment in the project. I can see DSP on the sideline as the design was being finalized saying “we should not be making this investment (or putting downstream people at risk) until you show me another dam with identical specifications that has been built and worked”.

      When Dow or ExxonMobil decides to build a new technology unit in one of their plants, they are often working from computer models and bench scale tests that show that once operating, the unit will really turn some set of carbon chains and amines and whatever into some marketable precursor or product, without blowing up or releasing toxic gasses that kill everyone in the region. The good folks at Dow don’t sit around saying “we want absolute data to show the unit will serve as designed” … but rather they rely on scientists, engineers … and models.

      The Golden Gate Bridge … the banning of CFCs … the first nuclear power plants … all based on models.

      In other words – your screed against basing decisions on models is moot.

      Yet despite the inherent uncertainty there, they are insisting on measures that will greatly expand the government’s power to transform society. And yes, these carbon taxes and other measures WILL greatly expand the government’s power.

      You are far too dramatic here.

      The government will write the laws, enforce the regulations, and collect the tax money, and then use that tax money to fund other political activities.

      What do you mean “political activities”?

      Do you mean – to fund priorities which have been decided upon through the political process? Like, say paying down the national debt, or upgrading our national highway and rail system, or shoring up Social Security? Maybe. But Government does this with any tax.

      Is this all just about you being an anti-tax fetishist?

      Also, the political left, working from their basic ideological assumptions, automatically gravitates to government solutions.

      We just had 8 years of a Presidency which advocated non-governmental solutions to the continuing increase in societal carbon emissions. Fail.

      There are some things the free market is lousy at. That’s why we have government.

      The government could fund 30 nuclear power plants and reduce emissions that way. That would create a lot of jobs. Or, the government could fund geo-engineering or other research projects.

      It would be entertaining, if not so sad, to see you ranting against the left for proposing governmental solutions and then offering up as an alternative … government solutions.

    • indy

      P.S. I thought balcone and the rest were wasting their time with you but that does not seem to be the case. I was wrong.

      • Deep South Populist

        I like exchanging words with you. You’re smart. We are on opposite sides of the divide on a great many issues though. It inevitably results in heated exchanges and talking past each other a bit.

    • Deep South Populist

      @balconesfault/Indy:

      re: railing against government solutions while calling for gov’t funding, denying tax revenue, etc.

      From bal’s comment:

      It would be entertaining, if not so sad, to see you ranting against the left for proposing governmental solutions and then offering up as an alternative … government solutions.

      I should have been clearer.

      I make a sharp distinction between government solutions that expand and increase the government’s tax and regulatory authority over most of society versus those that don’t.

      For example, when the government spends big on a highway infrastructure project, it’s an appropriate solution to a problem the market can’t solve and a big expenditure for the public good, but when the project is over, what is the net effect?

      When the project is over, people start using the highways, and they get the benefit of the highways, but the government doesn’t come away with broad (and permanent) tax and regulatory authority that it can exercise over society.

      In contrast, you want an emissions solution that calls for new and permanent government authority over society, based on what is clearly the weakest link in the AGW case.

      As complex as the modeling for bridges and damns might be, they can’t possibly as complex as the weather. But I’m not a specialist. You tell me.

      Are you suggesting that scientists can model the global climate as accurately as the stresses on a bridge or other large engineering structure?

      I’m not a libertarian or opposed to government solutions in principle. In some areas, such as Wall Street oversight, I don’t feel the government does nearly enough. But in that case, the oversight I want to see is over a tiny subset of society, not society in general.

      I will admit, however, to having bit of an anti-tax fetish that is diametrically opposed to your own pro-tax fetish.

      I tend to be anti-tax for the simple reason that taxes fund many things that are bad for society and don’t serve the public good IMO. This includes, among other things, corporate welfare, wealth re-distributions to the MIC, predator drones and perpetual war.

      I don’t how much the 30 nuclear power plants would cost, but who says they would have to be paid for through taxes?

      The liberal instinct at work yet again.

      You could always cut spending elsewhere. Cutting the defense budget and closing military bases around the world would be my first choice.

      • balconesfault

        I make a sharp distinction between government solutions that expand and increase the government’s tax and regulatory authority over most of society versus those that don’t.

        OK – but let’s be clear – the Clean Air Act already creates the authority and responsibility for the Federal Government to regulate CO2. What we’re talking about, in the absence of direct Congressional mandate to remove that responsibility, is the means to exercise that authority and responsibility.

        For example, when the government spends big on a highway infrastructure project, it’s an appropriate solution to a problem the market can’t solve and a big expenditure for the public good, but when the project is over, what is the net effect?

        When the project is over, people start using the highways, and they get the benefit of the highways, but the government doesn’t come away with broad (and permanent) tax and regulatory authority that it can exercise over society.

        What about when Government has decided before construction of the highway that there are insufficient funds available – and therefore incorporates a Tollway Authority into the highway planning process, which is then responsible for figuring out how to collect revenue from highway users that will pay for the bonds which will be floated to pay for the infrastructure?

        Is this Tollway Authority anything other than a new taxing and regulatory authority (regulatory, because they will give you tickets for not paying toll)? Have you been fundamentally opposed to the recent boom in highway projects constructed under a tollroad system?

        Does it help if we simply call a carbon tax a “toll” on the consumption of fossil fuels?

        In contrast, you want an emissions solution that calls for new and permanent government authority over society, based on what is clearly the weakest link in the AGW case.

        As complex as the modeling for bridges and damns might be, they can’t possibly as complex as the weather. But I’m not a specialist. You tell me.

        You tell me:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mclp9QmCGs

        Are you suggesting that scientists can model the global climate as accurately as the stresses on a bridge or other large engineering structure?

        No – but then again, the impacts to society of undermodeling climate change severity are orders of magnitude greater than the impacts to society of undermodeling the stresses on a bridge or other large engineering structure.

        And for the record, when they build a bridge, they don’t say “our models say that the maximum stress it will ever face is X, so we will build the bridge to withstand forces equal to X.” Rather, they are going to conclude “we will build the bridge to withstand forces equal to 3 times X” or some similar high overconservative design factor, because the consequences of them being wrong or something unpredictable happening are so severe.

        And again – those consequences are trivial as compared to the consequences of us not being responsive enough to climate change. The potential infrastructure costs that will need to be incurred in response to a warming earth dwarf the additional costs that we would be incurring right now to slow and even stop the warming trend.

        We’re just pushing societal costs down the road … most likely in snowball form, getting larger and larger the further down the road they’re pushed.

        I will admit, however, to having bit of an anti-tax fetish that is diametrically opposed to your own pro-tax fetish.

        I pay a big buncha money every year in taxes. I would love to have that money to spend on other things.

        That said, we have to pay for things that we want as a society. And my own belief is that taxes should do a couple things
        - first, not be counterproductive (eg – increasing taxes on people barely able to stay above water will just put more underwater, making them more reliant on government services, creating a need for increasing taxes to pay for more people receiving government assistance …)
        - second, to help pay for the external costs associated with actions (eg – the gasoline tax dedicated to improving and maintaining the roadways that suffer wear and tear because of people driving on them)

        I tend to be anti-tax for the simple reason that taxes fund many things that are bad for society and don’t serve the public good IMO. This includes, among other things, corporate welfare, wealth re-distributions to the MIC, predator drones and perpetual war.

        I do not see taxes as an avenue for creating these things. As the last decade showed, insufficient collection of taxes is not going to prevent government from spending our money on these things.

        I don’t how much the 30 nuclear power plants would cost, but who says they would have to be paid for through taxes?

        You tell me how government “funds” the power plants via another mechanism? Actually, loan guarantees is an attempt to do so without additional taxation, but as we see illustrated with Solyandra loan guarantees are simply a gamble by government that they won’t have to raise taxes to pay for something, and not a guarantee.

        You could always cut spending elsewhere. Cutting the defense budget and closing military bases around the world would be my first choice.

        If cutting the defense budget and closing military bases around the world is a good idea, it should be viewed wholly independent of the issue of whether taxes should be raised or not. If we could do that and it reduced expenditures to the point where taxes could be cut while we’re still making progress towards reducing the national debt, I’d be all for cutting taxes at that point.

      • indy

        The liberal instinct at work yet again.

        Actually, my only concern is that those who caused the majority of the problem accept responsibility and pay for the bulk of the solution. I could not care less how that happens. In that sense, I seem more deeply conservative than the vast majority of ‘conservatives’ who post here and generally whine about being asked to pay for the problem they helped create, and I don’t even consider myself particularly conservative. Instead of paying their share, they prefer to escape responsibility by denying there is a problem and shifting the burden to people who do care about it. That isn’t conservatism. That’s simply craven.

      • indy

        BTW, this is also my complaint with your policy suggestion. It isn’t that taxes weren’t being raised to pay for the program, but that by not targeting the responsible parties enough, you were allowing them to evade financial responsibility and therefore shifting it to others, some of whom are already going out of their way to make an effort.