The Nation Publishes Global Warming Denier

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Former Vice President Al Gore recently declared that man-made global warming is "in part a spiritual crisis." Over at The Nation, redoubtable man-of-the-Left Alexander Cockburn wonders "Is Global Warming a Sin?" Cockburn rather doubts it:

In a couple of hundred years historians will be comparing the frenzies over our supposed human contribution to global warming to the tumults at the latter end of the tenth century as the Christian millennium approached. Then as now, the doomsters identified human sinfulness as the propulsive factor in the planet's rapid downward slide. Then as now, a buoyant market throve on fear. The Roman Catholic Church sold indulgences like checks. The sinners established a line of credit against bad behavior and could go on sinning. Today a world market in "carbon credits" is in formation. Those whose "carbon footprint" is small can sell their surplus carbon credits to others less virtuous than themselves.

The modern trade is as fantastical as the medieval one. There is still zero empirical evidence that anthropogenic production of carbon dioxide is making any measurable contribution to the world's present warming trend. The greenhouse fearmongers rely on unverified, crudely oversimplified models to finger mankind's sinful contribution–and carbon trafficking, just like the old indulgences, is powered by guilt, credulity, cynicism and greed.

I believe that the balance of the evidence shows that man-made global warming might be a significant problem for humanity if not properly handled, but it's certainly not part of a "spiritual crisis" nor does it constitute a "sin." It's just an externality, the costs of which now need to be sensibly internalized.

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  1. Thunk. (sound of head hitting desk)

  2. [looks inside wine bottle on desk]

    Nope, still 3 servings left?

    [looks at TWC. scratches head? ]

  3. Yeah, compare science to religion. That’s brilliant. The two situations are about as similar as a NASCAR race is to a ballet. I can’t believe that in the 21st century, we still have a majority of humans talking to gods and ignoring science.

  4. There is still zero empirical evidence that anthropogenic production of carbon dioxide is making any measurable contribution to the world’s present warming trend.

    Wow. Is Cockburn saying that this whole thing has simply been made up?

  5. The two situations are about as similar as a NASCAR race is to a ballet.

    But those two events are very similar…people will pay to go to an arena and watch other people perform by doing things most of us can’t.

    The only difference is whether you find daredevil car driving more or less interesting than people jumping around to music.

  6. “Wow. Is Cockburn saying that this whole thing has simply been made up?”

    How did you come up with that conclusion?

    I think the point he was trying to make was that the cause and effect could very well be in reverse here. He is stating that CO2 is going up because of global warming and not that global warming is occurring because CO2 is up.

  7. How did you come up with that conclusion?

    I think the point he was trying to make was that the cause and effect could very well be in reverse here. He is stating that CO2 is going up because of global warming and not that global warming is occurring because CO2 is up.

    Maybe, but he said there is zero evidence that carbon dioxide has contributed to global warming. Which means that he thinks people just made it up.

    Not that it matters. My understanding is that there is quite a bit of evidence that may lead to this conclusion.

  8. Dan T, that phrase, “people jumping around to music” made me laugh out loud! I’d never thought about ballet like that…

  9. You mean the Martin Hertzberg who is “an internationally recognized expert on combustion, flames, explosions, and fire research with over 100 publications in those areas”?

    That Martin Hertzberg?

  10. Question:

    I’ve seen the claim that various volcanic eruptions spew far, far more greenhouse gasses than industrialized humankind.

    Is this claim true, or not? And if it’s true, how much of a difference between the two is there?

    And if there’s a difference, how did they go about measuring it?

  11. Gore’s actual quote:

    “It’s in part a spiritual crisis,” Gore told the crowd in the Convention Center at the American Institute of Architects national convention. “It’s a crisis of our own self-definition – who we are. Are we creatures destined to destroy our own species? Clearly not.”

  12. Given the high correlation between the “Greens” and the “Left”, it’s going to be interesting and amusing to see the firestorm that breaks over Cockburn’s head.

    However, Cockburn has made a valid point: The hysteria surrounding global warming is a close parallel to the millenial hysteria of AD 1000 (and the Y2K hysteria 1000 years later.)

  13. Despite my atheism, I absolutely agree that science is approaching religious status. Before, we attributed infallability to priests; now, we do the same to scientists, only replacing ‘infallable’ with ‘objective.’ We ignore the fact that scientists are human, not only as capable as any of us of error, but of having self-interested agendas by which they seek attention, funding, prestige, and even power. An example is Richard Dawkins, who has been an atheist all of his life, but only started to write about its defense when he perceived that religion was threatening the prominence of secularism. Now, while I agree with Dawkins, I also believe that science should be as available to criticism as religion. After all, the scientific method is not true in of itself; it is a convention that was invented and agreed upon by people.

  14. Media, it isn’t all that empirical, but when Krakatoa blew up it sure screwed things up, world wide, for several years.

    Second piece of anecdotal evidence: Standing downwind from Kilauea. Holy Smokes. There is an entire acid rain desert that stretches for several miles as a result of the sulfur dioxide from that volcano.

  15. Stevie, you’re right, I rarely get past the second glass before noon. 🙂 Thanks for the chuckle

  16. Maybe, but he said there is zero evidence that carbon dioxide has contributed to global warming.

    No, he said there is zero evidence that anthropogenic production of CO2 is contributing to global warming.

    Which means that he thinks people just made it up.

    Since global warming is now the pressing reason for doing what the warmingistas have been urging us to do for decades, for a variety of other reasons, I think there is some reason to believe that it is a pretext for pushing a pre-existing agenda.

    An example:

    Bet you didn’t know that there are at least as many polar bears now as there were twenty or thirty years ago, did you? Or that in the seventies the polar bears were all going to die because of the supposed cooling trend?

    The same people telling us back then the polar bears were dying because it was getting colder, are now telling us the polar bears are dying because it is getting warmer. It makes me wonder what they are up to, because it sure isn’t (a) counting polar bears or (b) studying the effect of climate on polar bears.

    1. Even if the glaciers ARE melting at the poles, I understand that polar bears are excellent swimmers, and probably wouldn’t be adversely affected by having more “melted ice” to swim in. I think evolution (still, in some quarters, a highly disputed theory) would at least guarantee the survival of the fittest! If Darwin were alive he would probably laugh at this debate, or cry at the lack of serious evolution among mankind. It would really be some sort of statement if Al Gore were EATEN by a polar bear. How would they know that he’s a friend of theirs, for gosh sakes? But he probably wont be traveling up to the frozen north any time soon; he’s safely hidden in one of his environmentally correct mansions, I’m sure.

  17. I’m going to guess it has to do with making more polar bears.

  18. Spiritual? crisis.

    To the humanist and atheist left with its reliance or rather lip-service to scientism, there is no spirit. Spiritual then is a synonym bogus or non-existant.

    In that context, I find myself agreeing Algore.

  19. Correction: Spiritual then is a synonym for bogus or non-existant.

  20. Since global warming DENIAL is now the pressing reason for doing what the DENIALISTS have been urging us to do for decades, for a variety of other reasons, I think there is some reason to believe that it is a pretext for pushing a pre-existing agenda.

    There, RC, I fixed that for you.

    1. Only problem with that line of reasoning is the “denialists” don’t think we need to do anything about AGW, since they don’t believe in the theory. You’ve turned it upside down, Joe.

  21. “spiritual” tends to be a synonym for what one might call the “inner life.”

    it’s one of those words, like “pretentious,” where the usage is so widespread and individualized that it seem to make actual discussion more difficult and convoluted.

  22. “The same people telling us back then the polar bears were dying because it was getting colder, are now telling us the polar bears are dying because it is getting warmer.”

    Oh, really? The ovewhelming majority of climate scientists, the NSF, the NOAA, NASA, and the UN were all telling us that they knew, with near-certainty, that there were going to be severe environmental, economic, and humanitarian problems from “global cooling?”

    You sure about that? You sure it wasn’t just a few fringe scientists and the popular press?

    Because I’m pretty sure it was.

  23. Yeah, compare science to religion. That’s brilliant. The two situations are about as similar as a NASCAR race is to a ballet.

    Regardless of the reality of global warming, the reaction to it bears many similarities to apocalyptic religion. The same was true with Y2K: the reaction to it had almost no connection with the danger it posed. This isn’t comparing science to religion; it’s comparing the reactions, which are very similar, if not identical.

    Dealing with anthropogenic climate change is going to require an intelligent response. Using the paradigm of sin and apocalypse to get people to do the “right thing” isn’t doing anyone any favors.

  24. It’s one thing to say that there is global warming, but I’ve seen little evidence, other than speculation, as to anthropogenic causes. What I, as a layman, reading this stuff conclude is that the causes of global warming and cooling are not very well understood.

  25. The hysteria surrounding global warming is a close parallel to the millenial hysteria of AD 1000 (and the Y2K hysteria 1000 years later.)
    Hysteria is the correct word; “science” is not the correct word to represent one side since so many scientists (real-live climatologists, etc) disgree with the people who hope to profit from the hysteria. And running necessarily imcomplete computer models shouldn’t be mistaken for “science.”

    NPR had a bunch of global-warming profiteers, er, I meant to write “alternative energy researchers” but my keyboard slipped, on the air about a week ago – each one ended by begging for and/or attempting to extort money to support their pet causes and projects. “The idea is to frighten the public, to get money to study it more.” – Climatology prof. William Gray.

    Despite my atheism, I absolutely agree that science is approaching religious status.
    Quite so. It reminds of stories like “five years ago the doctors said I had 2 months to live – it’s a miracle!” It’s not a miracle that some doctors made a mistake, and it won’t be a miracle when people realize that Al Gore and his fellow travelers are full of shit. As usual.

  26. After all, the scientific method is not true in of itself; it is a convention that was invented and agreed upon by people.

    Well, sure. And it has proven to be a quite useful convention, right?

  27. Wow, neat trick!

    First you define belief in global warming as “religion,” not science.

    Then, when virtually all of the relevant scientists come to realize that global warming is real, you actually manage to define belief in the objectivity and reliability of science itself as “religion.”

  28. joe,

    Is your “you” supposed to apply to everyone who has ever disagreed with you about global warming?

  29. fyodor,

    No, just Mr. Lemur there.

  30. Though he’s certainly not the only one pulling that same trick.

  31. Well, sure. And it has proven to be a quite useful convention, right?

    In some ways yes, and in other ways, no. I don’t find the atomic bomb to be that useful, as opposed to a world where nobody has them.

    If global warming or (more likely) a great oil war destroy the planet, then the scientifically developed technology of finding fuel and burning it may not have been useful, on net, either.

    AIDS drugs have probably hurt more than they have helped, and you can’t even say that outside an pseudononymous forum.

    Evolutionary science, while true, has given a lot of people the excuse to ditch ethics. Does this harm outweigh the utilitarian application of this branch of science? I honestly don’t know.

    The biggest taxpayer contribution to science (excluding weapons) was the moon landing. Was that useful or cost-justified?

    there are good things about science, but let’s not get carried away.

  32. Is your “you” supposed to apply to everyone who has ever disagreed with you about global warming?
    It must refer to people who think that running computer models is “science,” which it’s not, because it doesn’t have verification and repeatability at this point.

    The other side of the coin is the “science” of income redistribution, which, if anything, has been shown not to work so well (verification and repeatability) no matter what the issue at hand.

  33. Running computer models is a technique.

    Whether a certain procedure involving that technique qualifies as science depends on how it is done.

  34. chittering about global warming is propaganda

    people fretting about the possibility of mother nature ruining our neighborhoods (in part because we’re so wealthy/successful) is a good thing

    people thinking about how our nation’s batshit crazy foreign policy is ruining other (decidedly poorer/less successful) peoples’ neighborhoods? not so much

    the guilt for the latter is too specific, and makes us look like the wicked overlord aggressors we are, instead of the innocent victim underdogs we want to be

  35. Joe, is it not ironic that you “believe” in global warming, and that only scientists who agree with you are “relevant?” My argument was that ANY scientific convention could and SHOULD be challenged. Moreover, you further my argument by elevating scientists to a higher status than everybody else by implying that they are, indeed, “objective.” No human being is objective: we all have our prejudices; we all have our interests; and we all certainly strive to enrich ourselves when the opportunity presents itself. Science by its nature invites inquiry and skepticism. Simply because most people BELIEVE in it does not make it true. Most people BELIEVED that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Most people BELIEVE that a redistributive tax system is socially just, rather than theft that is inspired by covetry and intended to placate the masses. For me, BELIEF is not enough.

  36. Any minds changed here yet?

  37. Yes. Yes. We’re all going to die. We’re doomed, unless we repent of our carbon sins and go back to banging rocks together to make fire.

    Tell you what. If the Global Warming apocalyse comes and kills us before SARS, the Bird Flu, Missing Bees, or Super bacteria do, and I’m up to my ankles in sea water, I owe you all a Coke.

  38. Oops. I forgot about the terrorists.

    They’re around every corner just waiting for our guard to drop.

    Oh! And drugs! Drugs have been awfully quiet lately. I think they’re plotting the downfall of Western Civilization as we type.

  39. “Using the paradigm of sin and apocalypse to get people to do the “right thing” isn’t doing anyone any favors.”

    actually, it seems to work quite well in terms of getting attention.

    a lot better than the save darfur campaign (though that’s improved quite a bit over the past 18 months).

    as for a genuine global response that would satisfy most people as “intelligent” i can’t say i see that in the cards. politics is sometimes ugly business.

  40. “I can’t believe that in the 21st century, we still have a majority of humans talking to gods and ignoring science.”

    But I invented science.

  41. CFisher – I understand that one of the signs of global warming is that people will start to prefer Pepsi. A scientist told me that, and I believe him.

  42. ‘Joe, is it not ironic that you “believe” in global warming, and that only scientists who agree with you are “relevant?”‘

    Read that again, Chris K. “Then, when virtually all of the relevant scientists come to realize that global warming is real…”

    So no, acknowledging the reality of global warming is not the definition of “relevant” in that sentence. I was referring to climatologists, environmental biologists, and the like, as their areas of study are relevant to the issue of global warming. The word “relevant” in my sentence as meant to distinguish them from, for example, particle physicists.

    “My argument was that ANY scientific convention could and SHOULD be challenged.” Global Warming has been repeatedly challenged, and those challenges studied. The result has been to increase the level of certainty that it is real, significant, dangerous, and human-induced.

    ‘Moreover, you further my argument by elevating scientists to a higher status than everybody else by implying that they are, indeed, “objective.”‘ Again, read what I wrote. It’s not “scientists” who are objective, but “science.” Science, and the scientific method, exist partly for the purpose of bringing objectivity to a task performed by subjective human beings.

    “For me, BELIEF is not enough.” For the 90+% of climate scientists who have concluded that global warming is real, significant, dangerous, and manmade, belief is not enough, either. That’s why there have been thousands of scientists spending decades of their lives conducing scientific research on the question.

    Your position that acknowledging the reality of global warming is a matter of faith is, itself, a matter of faith.

  43. I’ve seen the claim that various volcanic eruptions spew far, far more greenhouse gasses than industrialized humankind.

    Mediageek, I’m not sure about the amount of greenhouse gasses that volcanoes spew, but when they erupt they contribute to global cooling. Particulate matter blocks/absorbs sunlight, which in turn cools the earth.

    If I remember correctly, the eruption of Mount Saint Helens slowed global warming temporarily (roughly 18 months). The year without summer (1816) was caused by the eruption of Mt. Tambora.

    In a weird way, lack of particulate matter is likely the cause of the current global cooling. Catalytic converters on cars and smokestack scrubbers introduced in the 70s both stopped a lot of particles from getting to the upper atmosphere, most likely ending the period of global cooling from roughly 1945-1975.

    My solution to global warming — as GPS units get added to cars for navigation, use them to automatically turn off the second stage (where particles are removed) of catalytic converters when the cars are outside of urban and suburban areas. Also, get rid of the smokestack scrubbers outside of those areas.

    Choice two is to figure out a way to cause major volcanic eruptions every 2 years or so.

  44. “Now, while I agree with Dawkins, I also believe that science should be as available to criticism as religion.”

    Read “Personal Knowledge; towards a post-critical philosophy” by Michael Polyani.

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0226672875/reasonfoundation-20/

  45. “Oh, really? The ovewhelming majority of climate scientists, the NSF, the NOAA, NASA, and the UN were all telling us that they knew, with near-certainty, that there were going to be severe environmental, economic, and humanitarian problems from “global cooling?”

    It’s what we were all taught in public school during the early ’70s. It was in our textbooks.

  46. Anybody besides me see Glenn Beck’s program on global-warming deniers last week? I thought it was pretty decent as infotainment goes. A few snippets have appeared on youtube but not the whole thing, AFAIK.

  47. Whoops. I meant to say: In a weird way, lack of particulate matter is likely the cause of the current global warming.

  48. “a lot better than the save darfur campaign (though that’s improved quite a bit over the past 18 months).”

    Fewer Darfurians means less global warming.

  49. jp,

    I caught the part where he compared people on the other side to Nazis, and switched over to the Cartoon Network after that.

  50. Joe — I must’ve missed that part.

  51. Since global warming DENIAL is now the pressing reason for doing what the DENIALISTS have been urging us to do for decades, for a variety of other reasons, I think there is some reason to believe that it is a pretext for pushing a pre-existing agenda.

    Except that denialists don’t have a pre-existing agenda with a long history of latching onto junk science as a pretext, joe. All the denialists want is to be free of overweening government dictation of how to run their life absent a very strong scientific case. Which hasn’t been made.

    Oh, really? The ovewhelming majority of climate scientists, the NSF, the NOAA, NASA, and the UN were all telling us that they knew, with near-certainty, that there were going to be severe environmental, economic, and humanitarian problems from “global cooling?”

    Hey, joe, I’m just pointing out how the mascot of the warmingistas, the polar bear, has been used and abused for propaganda purposes, now and in the past. Care to comment on what I actually said, as opposed to what the R C Dean in your head said?

  52. The word “relevant” in my sentence as meant to distinguish them from, for example, particle physicists.

    Or in this particular case, a guy who specializes in fire and explosions, but is not associated with a university, lab, or business since he specializes in consulting with companies how not to burn down / blow up their property or testifies for a fee when things burn down / get blowed up.

  53. stuartl,

    Actually, Edward Teller ran the numbers for how much it would cost to just put a bunch of particulate in the atmosphere and came up $100m-$1b a year. It’s much lower than the cost of abatement, doesn’t persist in the atmosphere that long so precise corrections are easy to make, and the existing modeling around volcanoes makes the consequences easy to predict. The main drawback is that it doesn’t address the secondary issue of the acidity of the oceans increasing as more CO2 gets dissolved.

  54. What about libertarianism as a religion?

    It seems to be based on the idea that if we simply let this invisible, abstract entity (call it God or the Market) have its way everything will be just fine…

  55. if we simply let this invisible, abstract entity (call it God or the Market) have its way everything will be just fine…

    I could go for an Invisible Hand job, myself.

  56. Is aging a sin?

    Watch out for Alkali Rain, it’s gonna destroy all plant and aquatic life; eventually the entire eco-system, coming Spring 2012.

  57. Joe-

    As an AGW agnostic, I have to ask:

    What is the evidence that has convinced you so thoroughly that this threat exists?

    I’d like to see a Global-Warming equivalent to the talk.origins web archive that details all of the arguments for and against evolution and creationism in an easily browsed and layman-friendly format.

    Does such a resource exist?

  58. “I could go for an Invisible Hand job, myself.”

    We don’t have time to stop at Star Bucks.

  59. You know, you’re only thinking about the short term.

    In a few billion years when the sun starts burning down and we get a new ice age, you’re going to wish we’d all just ignored Al Gore.

  60. mediageek,

    I’d suggest you start with Real Climate. Some of the articles are geeky, but those almost have a follow-on article that has been de-geek-ified without losing the overall meaning and preserves most of the science.

    Lead article right now is on, guess what, Cockburn’s piece.

    Don’t expect a GW or AGW agnostic experience. Interestingly enough, though, when doubters show up in comment threads they are treated fairly well as long as they not out-and-out trolls.

  61. Choice two is to figure out a way to cause major volcanic eruptions every 2 years or so.

    Choice three is to add a little sulfur to jet fuel, or simply to run stratospheric airplanes a bit fuel rich.

  62. In a few billion years when the sun starts burning down and we get a new ice age, you’re going to wish we’d all just ignored Al Gore.

    Although that would happen after the sun’s Red Giant phase when Earth would either be consumed entirely by the sun, or if the sun didn’t expand quite that far out to our orbit, would boil off the oceans and blow our atmosphere off.

  63. if we simply let this invisible, abstract entity (call it God or the Marketthe Total State) have its way everything will be just fine…

    Fixed that for you.

  64. “. . . the tumults at the latter end of the tenth century as the Christian millennium approached. . . . The Roman Catholic Church sold indulgences like checks. The sinners established a line of credit against bad behavior and could go on sinning.”

    The 1000 AD panic is not documented in historical sources. Those who believe there was panic on account of the approaching year 1000 base their arguments on guesses about how things must have happened. Others argue that the panic wasn’t documented because it *didn’t happen,* and that millenialism was no more acute than at other times. See

    http://www.conncoll.edu/academics/departments/relstudies/290/christianity/what.html

    Cockburn is confused about another anti-Catholic talking point: The sale of indulgences. This wasn’t about milennial panic, it was about corrupt Church figures misusing the doctrine of indulgences.

    “1032 . . . From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.608 The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead . . .”

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P2N.HTM

  65. “Bet you didn’t know that there are at least as many polar bears now as there were twenty or thirty years ago, did you?”

    Polar bear population is actually increasing.

  66. “Dealing with anthropogenic climate change is going to require an intelligent response. Using the paradigm of sin and apocalypse to get people to do the “right thing” isn’t doing anyone any favors”

    Al Gore is on record as saying he will exaggerate in order to get people’s attention.

  67. Earth would either be consumed entirely by the sun, or if the sun didn’t expand quite that far out to our orbit, would boil off the oceans and blow our atmosphere off.

    Isn’t that kinda what Gore is saying anyway?

  68. RC Dean,

    “Except that denialists don’t have a pre-existing agenda with a long history of latching onto junk science as a pretext, joe. All the denialists want is to be free of overweening government dictation of how to run their life absent a very strong scientific case. Which hasn’t been made.”

    Could someone remind me, is this ths global warming threat, or the thread about the health effects of cigarettes?

    Yeah, no history of using junk science by denialists looking to avoid government action. None at all. I don’t suppose Reason’s online archives go back to the early 90s, do they?

  69. Throughout the eons, the predominant biological life forms have always changed the environment. I don’t expect humans to be any different. So I accept the premise that there is global warming.

    I do dispute that global warming is somehow evil. There’s a natural course of things, and the various species can either adapt to the changes, or not. The Sahara was once a lush grassland, and things happened and now it’s not.

    If people want to spend their hard earned money trying to stop global warming, that’s their right. I don’t care, so I’m not going to. And I’m going to get cranky about it if it starts involving restrictions on my lifestyle.

  70. I’ve seen the claim that various volcanic eruptions spew far, far more greenhouse gasses than industrialized humankind.

    Interesting question. I just surfed the all-knowing Internet to see what it had to say. The answer seems to be: yes, for a few years following a big eruption, but the overall long-term trend is that humans produce much more greenhouse gases (as much as 100 times as much, in some references).

  71. De stijl-

    Gracias! Interesting link.

  72. We ignore the fact that scientists are human, not only as capable as any of us of error, but of having self-interested agendas by which they seek attention, funding, prestige, and even power.

    Yet the scientific method does not.

  73. “If people want to spend their hard earned money trying to stop global warming, that’s their right. I don’t care, so I’m not going to. And I’m going to get cranky about it if it starts involving restrictions on my lifestyle.”

    Therein lies the creamy nougat center of the entire debate.

    If AGW is indeed real, then it poses some tough questions for libertarian types, and I think a lot of them would rather dismiss the entire debate out of fear than to try to figure out what the libertarian/free market response to GW (if it’s real) should be.

  74. Polar Bear population claims – Rattlesnake Jake or R C Dean. Can you provide a cite?

    Are you referring to the Steven Milloy stuff? (I.e, Reports from three Inuit villages where hunters reported seeing increased land numbers.)

  75. Affixing “denial” to any noun is a bit of the old Godwin.

    A point of some of the honest folks in the other camp is that the weather models have approximately zero predictive value so it might be a bad idea to use them to formulate global policies reaching through several generations. The prime mechanism in the whole equation, the oceans, is barely barely understood and new discoveries about the deep sea currents and temperatures and plankton etc, etc are being made every year.

    The scientific method can and does lead to very bad decisions short term; especially regarding the natural world which is drastically more complicated than any 10 fields combined. Encouraging women to stop breast feeding for example in favor of formula. This was something most every nutrition scientist and medical doctor agreed upon. Consensus. Made a lot of babies drop some health, immunity, and a few IQ points for trying to end run a game barely understood. I’m sure it’s a coincidence that it was this generation.

  76. Could someone remind me, is this ths global warming threat, or the thread about the health effects of cigarettes?

    Second-hand smoke, AGW – its the same use of junk science by neo-puritans to try to get you under their boot.

    Yeah, no history of using junk science by denialists looking to avoid government action. None at all. I don’t suppose Reason’s online archives go back to the early 90s, do they?

    Personally, I regard the use of junk science to limit people’s freedom and expand the Total State as being worse than the converse.

  77. Polar Bear population claims – Rattlesnake Jake or R C Dean. Can you provide a cite?

    Are you referring to the Steven Milloy stuff? (I.e, Reports from three Inuit villages where hunters reported seeing increased land numbers.)

    I’m thinking of a hunting newsletter I get that tracks international hunting regulation. The warmingistas and their green allies are trying to get polar bears declared an endangered species as a propaganda coup.

    The newsletter, which is not on-line, reviewed the most current census data on bears and compared it to historical data.

    Bottom line – all but one bear population is stable to increasing. And that one, no one is sure of because the count only dealt with part of its range. The reports of shrinking bear populations are based on this partial count.

    For a “he-said, she-said” article on the topic, try this:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/03/09/wpolar09.xml

  78. If AGW is indeed real, then it poses some tough questions for libertarian types, and I think a lot of them would rather dismiss the entire debate out of fear than to try to figure out what the libertarian/free market response to GW (if it’s real) should be.

    The libertarian/free citizen response to GW is to shift your investments, move to a different (cooler/drier) location if you want, and generally adapt and profit from change.

    What we are fighting is ruinous control of our lives by the Total State under the twin pretext(s) that (a) AGW is real and (b) the Total State can solve it, and stabilize the climate as it was when the Baby Boomers were enjoying their childhoods.

  79. “libertarian/free market response… should be”

    Greetings Media!

    unfortunately, as we can see from lots of H&R discussions, those two responses oftentimes differ. That could be a source of the fear. Or AGW is a battleground (kinda like on Mustafar) in the culture wars (kinda like the clone wars, of course).

    oh well.

    But the creamy nougat center is the most tasty! yeaaaaa!

  80. RC Dean

    “Personally, I regard the use of junk science to limit people’s freedom and expand the Total State as being worse than the converse.”

    This says so much about your credibility demonstrating lack of trustworthiness to go along with your lack of expertise.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Credibility

    Some recent work on polar bears
    http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2006/1337/pdf/ofr20061337.pdf

    “Although our 2001-06 capture-recapture study did not provide evidence for a change in the size of the SBS polar bear population, significant changes in cub survival and physical stature must ultimately have population level effects. Lowered body weight has been implicated in declining survival of polar bear cubs in western Hudson Bay, Canada. There, reduced cub survival, associated with declines in physical stature caused by reduced foraging opportunity, was recorded long before a statistically significant decline in population size was confirmed. The relationship between decreased availability of sea ice and declining population size in western Hudson Bay, which is near the southern extreme of polar bear range, is cause for concern regarding the future status of polar bears in more northern regions such as the SBS. Because more profound declines in sea ice area and extent are predicted for these northern regions, continued monitoring and conservative
    management of the SBS polar bear population is warranted.

  81. From NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center…

    “We suggest that the greenhouse-icehouse transition was closely coupled to the evolution of atmospheric carbon dioxide”

    So…increasing atmospheric CO2 55 million years ago cooled us off… but now it’s warming us up…

    Damn! I’m not sure how “man” caused THAT global warming, but we western Europeans feel compelled to feel guilty about it AND SOMETHING MUST BE DONE!!!!

    CB

  82. VM

    “Or AGW is a battleground (kinda like on Mustafar) in the culture wars.”

    Not a question … It is.

    A recent skirmish

    http://mediamatters.org/items/200605170011

  83. Why does it matter whether GW is caused by human activity?

    Either it’s happening or it isn’t; if it’s happening, it’s going to have x negative impact (where x could be a negative value); if the negative impact is likely to exceed a certain threshold, we may want to consider preventive action; if we get to that point, is there any preventive action that (i) is physically possible and (ii) is cost effective? Whether humans are responsible doesn’t have any effect on whether a problem is solvable.

  84. “Personally, I regard the use of junk science to limit people’s freedom and expand the Total State as being worse than the converse.”

    And I regard the use of junk science in the service of any political cause, even those I agree with, to be unacceptable.

    Thanks for the admission, RC. That’s the difference between our camps, and that’s why mine is winning.

  85. “Second-hand smoke, AGW – its the same use of junk science by neo-puritans to try to get you under their boot.”

    No, not second-hand smoke. Smoking cigarettes. Surely you remember the tobacco comopany executives, and their paid shills, sitting in front of Congress and declaring that the links between smoking and addiction, cancer, and emphysema were not proven? Surely you remember them proclaiming that their scientists had shown that smoking cigarettes treats Parkinson’s and acne?

    Same junk science, same b

  86. *raises joe’s arm in victory.

    (remember – he’d support ID people, young earth people, and the like, just to rack up points against you. Kinda like… um.. using certain religious fundamentalists to fight the commies in some far off place… back in the 80s, that is)

  87. Regarding polar bears: actual research reveals that polar bears are thriving in areas where there is warming and suffering where there is cooling. According to leading Canadian polar bear biologist Dr. Mitchell Taylor, Department of the Environment, Government of Nunavut, “Of the thirteen populations of polar bears in Canada, eleven are stable or increasing in number. They are not going extinct, or even appear to be affected at present.”

  88. So…increasing atmospheric CO2 55 million years ago cooled us off… but now it’s warming us up…

    All I have been able to find are summaries of the NOAA paper. It wasn’t clear whether the summary’s “evolution of atmospheric carbon dioxide” refers to an increase or decrease.

  89. joe, are you trying to imply that R C Dean is a spokesman for the libertarian “camp”? If so, you are mistaken. I am the sole official spokesman for all libertarians.

  90. I just want to say that Alexander Cockburn is one of the best lefties out there, and I enjoy his website “CounterPunch” more than other lefty site.

    He is very friendly to Libertarians. I saw him on C-span, he lives in a secluded rural area of N Cal. He likes old classic cars, and even thinks that the catalytic converter was not necessary!

    He and his contributing editor John Walsh regularly bash the anti war left for excluding libertarians and promoting a far too lefty anti war message.

  91. “I can’t believe that in the 21st century, we still have a majority of humans talking to gods and ignoring science.”

    By majority do you mean that you know a few or that you have read about a relative handful? This is a really lame strawman. Please avoid embarrassing the rest of us by putting more thought into your next posting.

    A devout Catholic living in a country 85% Catholic…

    Lost in Paradise

  92. The ovewhelming majority of climate scientists, the NSF, the NOAA, NASA, and the UN were all telling us that they knew, with near-certainty, that there were going to be severe environmental, economic, and humanitarian problems from “global cooling?”
    It’s what we were all taught in public school during the early ’70s. It was in our textbooks.

    It was not. I dare you to find a peer-reviewed article in a 1970s climate journal talking about human-induced global cooling at all, much less saying it threatened us. Ignorant mass-media crap like Newsweek doesn’t count. Within the scientific community there was no such belief at that time, and thus no “flip-flop” that implicitly delegitimizes the community’s understanding of the evidence of global warming today. This is an undying zombie lie no different from the creationists who say Darwin recanted and accepted Jesus on his deathbed.

    Rattlesnake Jake: that one biologist from Nunavut does say that polar bear numbers have increased. And practically every other biologist says they have decreased. As is the game with denialism, all it takes is lack of unanimity in order to proclaim lack of knowledge.

    MediaGeek: in an average year, volcanism sends into the atmosphere less than 10% of the annual human carbon output, and most of it is in large enough particles that it will be rained out of the atmosphere before it has the chance to cause long-term damage.

  93. “that one biologist from Nunavut does say that polar bear numbers have increased. And practically every other biologist says they have decreased”

    Do you have proof that “practically every other biologist says they have decreased”?

  94. Regarding CO2 from Volcanoes vs Hunams:
    USGS Sez:
    “Scientists have calculated that volcanoes emit between about 130-230 million tonnes (145-255 million tons) of CO2 into the atmosphere every year (Gerlach, 1999, 1991). This estimate includes both subaerial and submarine volcanoes, about in equal amounts. Emissions of CO2 by human activities, including fossil fuel burning, cement production, and gas flaring, amount to about 27 billion tonnes per year (30 billion tons) [ ( Marland, et al., 2006) – The reference gives the amount of released carbon (C), rather than CO2, through 2003.]. Human activities release more than 130 times the amount of CO2 emitted by volcanoes–the equivalent of more than 8,000 additional volcanoes like Kilauea (Kilauea emits about 3.3 million tonnes/year)! (Gerlach et. al., 2002)
    http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/Hazards/What/VolGas/volgas.html

    Note that these numbers are 15 years old and so should be considered conservative. More current estimates are 150x/yr and growing.

  95. p.s.
    …it’s almost as if for every 18th century Volcano, 150 more sprang up within a couple centuries. I wonder when was the last time that happened naturally?

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