Thursday, December 10, 2009

The latest Refutation of Climate Crisis Deniers - Finally the WaPo gets it right.

On 9 December, the Washington Post published yet another in a string of climate crisis denying editorials, this one by Sarah Palin. It follows on the heels of the many lies and half-truths cooked up by George Will to try and derail sensible policy changes to confront a slow rolling, but all too real set of changes in the Earth's climate system.

Well today, a mere 24 hours later, and without any serious campaign by scientists, the media, or grade school kids, the WaPo publishes the rebuttal. Alan Lesher, who is the publisher for the prestigious journal Science, writes this:

Climate-change science is clear: The concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide -- derived mostly from the human activities of fossil-fuel burning and deforestation -- stands at 389 parts per million (ppm). We know from studying ancient Antarctic ice cores that this concentration is higher than it has been for at least the past 650,000 years. Exhaustive measurements tell us that atmospheric carbon dioxide is rising by 2 ppm every year and that the global temperature has increased by about 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century. Multiple lines of other evidence, including reliable thermometer readings since the 1880s, reveal a clear warming trend. The broader impacts of climate change range from rapidly melting glaciers and rising sea levels to shifts in species ranges.

Pretty clear stuff. I'm sure some deniers will try to spin this, but it is tough to do when you add in this:

None of these tactics changes the clear consensus of a vast majority of scientists, who agree that the Earth is warming as greenhouse gas levels rise. The public and policymakers should not be confused by a few private e-mails that are being selectively publicized and, in any case, remain irrelevant to the broad body of diverse evidence on climate change. Selected language in the messages has been interpreted by some to suggest unethical actions such as data manipulation or suppression. To be sure, investigations are appropriate whenever questions are raised regarding the transparency and rigor of the scientific process or the integrity of individual scientists. We applaud that the responsible authorities are conducting those investigations. But it is wrong to suggest that apparently stolen emails, deployed on the eve of the Copenhagen climate summit, somehow refute a century of evidence based on thousands of studies.

Already I can hear the groans - release the data. Scientists already did. Don't be fooled - this is just a conspiracy to take away your rights - as if that hasn't been done under other rubrics already (such as security from terrorists). The bottom line is that, while the nature of the impacts and their duration is still a subject ripe for study - the fact that impacts are already occurring is not open for debate. No should we waste time laying blame, or looking the other way. The time is now for the U.S. to summon her collective national will and tackle this problem head on. We need more innovation in green energy, not less. We need to hold the patents on Carbon Capture technology, not the Chinese. We need to lead, not just spout platitudes. Otherwise, our children and grandchildren will richly deserve the chance to heap scorn on us for our lazy, self-centered response to clear and present danger.


Mike at The Big Stick said...

As you mention, we don't really know what the longterm effects (if any) will result from the carbon increase. We can make an educated guess that it's probably bad and we should work to limit it. The problem is that conservatives are naturally skeptical of any policy proposals that appear to 'put the cart before the horse'. So if liberals are really concerned about global warming, here's the best way to get he Right on board: Present reductin proposals in language we can understand i.e. dollars. For most moves towards cleaner energy there is a longterm net cost reduction. So regardless of your motivation, think about how to get businesses on board.

My company has a lot of clients that are very 'green' and demand certain things from us. One small thing is paperless billing. When it was originally presented to us 4-5 years ago there were a few skeptics who didn't want to hear about it because it would require software changes, etc. All we had to do though was put a $$ amount on the savings from paper and shipping in a year (some monthly bills were 6,000 pages long) and our management got on board. For them it was about saving money and the green stuff is ancillary. Likewise our company fleet has been moving towards hybrid vehicles because there was a demonstrated longterm savings on fuel.

I realize this may seem like we're asking liberals to be dishonest in some way or play along with kooky conservatives, but THAT is how change happens. If they could quit beating the drum of global warming, which has a lot of skeptics, and start talking about basic efficency, not to mention the way moving away from oil undercuts terrorism, they would accomplish a hell of a lot more.

jg said...

Excellent post. I agree with Mike. The money savings is key, but it also is the problem of pay more now to save more in the future. Swallowing that initial payment has its own psychological barrier to overcome. In Mike's case it was minimized because he could show a gain over the span of a year, which I'll argue is in most people's short-term view.
To make the short-term hurdle manageable, we need government to set long term policy, to keep the playing field constant, and that seems to violate the foot dragger's principles, unless we can show them how much money they'll make.

Philip H. said...

Joe Romm over at Climate Progress has been synthesizing economic information on his blog for years:

If you believ the nobel Laureates who have looked at the issue, real changes to address climate/emissions can be done for 1 to 3% of GDP. As I recall, we're spending more then that on teh national debt right now, which is supposedly a big crippler of the economy.

I think the economics are out there, but I also think the same people who deny the existance of climate change deny the economics because it requires them to do something different.

Publius said...

Until we get down to some real science, and critical debate, you will always have skeptics, "deniers" or heretics as you will soon call them.

It is not illogical to question the results of the study's that they refuse to show the data for.

The climategate revelations have only solidified the belief that the climate scientist's idea of 'peer-review' is the same as asking all the of the members of the Catholic College of Cardinals if there is a god.

Let the climate-inquisition begin!

Green Tea Study: In statistics it is often taught as a cautionary tale that there was a study done regarding the health benefits of green tea. The study showed overwhelmingly that people who drank green tea were overwhelmingly more healthy than those that did not. Therefore green tea must posses health giving properties and supply great benefit to the drinker. Well, later examination showed that really it was the overall healthy life style led by the green tea drinking types that was probably more likely the explanation. Green tea drinker didn't go to McDonalds they tend to exercise, etc. etc.

This planet in a span of 4.5 billion years has been a jungle planet that supported ectotherms, to an ice planet (5 different ice ages). Yes climate change is real. It's been real for 4.5 Billion years.

What do you think the right temperature of the planet id supposed to be?