January 24, 2007

have cane, am able

1/24/07

News stories like this absolutely make me shudder with rage. In it, we meet a father of seven in Washington state who managed to stop the seventh grade in the local middle school from watching "An Inconvenient Truth". The man is named Frosty Hardiman, a moniker which, given the subject matter, is so staggeringly ironic that it beggars belief. To quote the article:

"No you will not teach or show that propagandist Al Gore video to my child, blaming our nation -- the greatest nation ever to exist on this planet -- for global warming," Hardiman wrote in an e-mail to the Federal Way School Board. The 43-year-old computer consultant is an evangelical Christian who says he believes that a warming planet is "one of the signs" of Jesus Christ's imminent return for Judgment Day.

As of now, there is a moratorium on the film, and the school board said "An Inconvenient Truth" can only be shown with the written permission of a principal, and a presentation of "alternate views" that were approved by the superintendent of schools. The science teacher who originally wanted to show the movie has been looking for alternative "authoritative articles," but the only thing she could find from a reputable non-partisan source was an article from Newsweek written in 1975.

The time for this tomfoolery is at an end.

There are three issues, for me, that bear specific importance to the survival of my family: drastically reducing our carbon output, jumpstarting research on stem cells, and securing ALL loose nuclear materials in the world. If we make headway on those things in my lifetime, I will consider this era to be largely successful.

Yet all three have ticking clocks. It is only a matter of time before some very bad people get their hands on weapons-grade nuclear material. We only have a decade - at most - to stop a potential environmental holocaust. And I would like to unlock the stem cell secrets before any one of us, currently healthy reading this blog, starts to get Alzheimers, Parkinsons, or has a spinal injury.

That's three clocks. One ticks down to an American city flattened into glass, one ticks down to you not remembering your own children, and one ticks down to billions dead because of a little change in the weather. I'm not being histrionic or even cavalier. It took me a lot of Celexa, therapy and a healthy dose of nihilism to come to grips with it. They all loom, but all come with a saving grace: THEY ALL CAN BE PREVENTED IF WE ACT IN TIME.

Let's leave aside the nuclear material problem, because that's my own little bête noire. The other two issues, however, are being roadblocked, again and again, by American religious fundamentalists. If we don't stop them, they will actually end up killing us. I'm not being histrionic. Their efforts to suppress the news of global warming and their stalwart opposition to stem cells will, if nothing else does, eventually end your (or your kids') life before its time.

I was listening to this story about two brothers who are trying to bridge their cultural divide: both are Christian, but one is a pro-war Republican who believed the Earth was created in seven actual days by God, and the other, well, votes for Democrats. They discuss how they've decided to get together more often and see where they have common ground.

The evangelical brother's biggest problem with... I dunno, people that don't agree with him, I suppose... is their perceived superiority. He doesn't like the disdain, and he's enraged by conversations where he's perceived as an idiot.

For me, it's summed up in a metaphor. Suppose there is a car that is supposed to drive us into the future. A lot of people with a lot of skill made the car, and it was almost done and ready to go, when another group of people come along and say "nice car, but it needs square wheels."
"Square wheels?" the craftsmen say, "You're... you're joking, right?"
"No," the group says, very loudly, "And I'll thank you not to act so smug."
"But round wheels work infinitely better than square wheels."
"We don't care. We firmly believe, to the depths of our hearts, that square wheels are the way to go."
"We're not putting square wheels on the car! That's totally fucking stupid!"
"HOW DARE YOU CALL US STUPID! WE'RE GOING TO LIE IN FRONT OF THE CAR UNTIL YOU PUT OUR SQUARE WHEELS ON IT!!!"
"We're sorry, we're sorry," say the craftsmen, "Maybe we can compromise... um, maybe octagons? Um..."

That argument? That's where America is right now. The future is coming on incredibly fast, the clocks are ticking. We're dying to go, excited about a future that could be so much better for ourselves and our families. We could be so far along on the journey, and yet we're stuck retrofitting our vehicle with bling from the Dark Ages.

That time has expired. We have work to do. For the love of your God, please get your Hell out of the way.

Posted by Ian Williams at January 24, 2007 11:21 PM
Comments
Posted by: CP at January 25, 2007 1:58 AM

good stuff.

Posted by: litlnemo at January 25, 2007 3:53 AM

I just want to make it clear that Federal Way, while it is in Western Washington, is not Seattle. This stupid crap doesn't happen in my city, at least.

Posted by: Chris M at January 25, 2007 4:31 AM

Love the analogy, but these scientific problems are more complicated and so are the solutions.

What the current public discussion about global warming (i.e., articles, editorials, tv talking heads) consistently lacks is descriptions of what actually would be done to reduce America's CO2 emissions and how that will effect our lives should we as a society agree that it is necessary. Al Gore proposes some solutions; discussion of that issue should proceed as if there was agreement on the problem.

Since the need to reduce CO2 emissions is obvious to rational Americans unhampered by fundamental Christianity, etc., what is stopping the brightest and most creative among these tens of millions, or any business that wants to make money serving them, from creating and providing solutions? From making real progress even without government intervention?

Posted by: Matt at January 25, 2007 5:23 AM

"...the only thing she could find from a reputable non-partisan source was an article from Newsweek written in 1975."

That's BS. There are thousands of scientists who question an anthropogenic source of global warming. And, once more for the record, there are billions of dollars in play (not to mention power) for those pushing the enviro doomsday scenario. Also, Gore's documentary itself ignore's many inconvenient truths.

http://www.cei.org/gencon/019,05394.cfm

http://ff.org/centers/csspp/library/co2weekly/20061012/

Posted by: Matt at January 25, 2007 5:32 AM

One more:

"An Inconvenient Truth (AIT), former Vice President Al Gore’s book on “The planetaryemergency of global warming and what can be done about it,” purports to be a non-partisan, non-ideological exposition of climate science and moral common sense. Inreality, An Inconvenient Truth is a colorfully illustrated lawyer’s brief for global warmingalarmism and energy rationing. It is a J’Accuse hurled at fossil fuel energy-basedcivilization, especially the United States, and above all the Bush Administration and itspurported allies in the U.S. oil and auto industries.We do not expect lawyers to argue both for and against their clients, nor do we expect“balance” from political party leaders. However, although Gore reminds us—in the filmversion of An Inconvenient Truth—that he “used to be the next President of the UnitedStates,” and concludes both the book and the movie with a call for “political action,” hepresents AIT as the work of a long-time student of climate science, a product ofmeditation on “what matters.” He asks his audience to expect more from him than themere cleverness that can sway juries or win elections.What we get instead is sophistry. In AIT, the only facts and studies considered are thoseconvenient to Gore’s scare-them-green agenda—and in many instances, Gore distorts theevidence he presents. Nearly every significant statement Gore makes regarding climate science and climatepolicy is either one sided, misleading, exaggerated, speculative, or just plain wrong."

http://www.cei.org/pdf/5539.pdf

Posted by: kent at January 25, 2007 5:50 AM

Matt, why do you persist in posting links to documents prepared by people who are paid millions by interested parties to muddy the waters on Global Warming?

Last time I went through your links and it was either A) Scientists with an ideological ax to grind, commenting outside their area of expertise or B) straight up bought-and-sold industry hacks.

The 'Center for Science and Public Policy' -- see http://tinyurl.com/rn3qt
"the Center for Science and Public Policy, is run by the Frontiers of Freedom Foundation, an organization founded and chaired by former Senator Malcolm Wallop of Wyoming. Frontiers of Freedom receives money from tobacco and oil companies, including Philip Morris, ExxonMobil and RJ Reynolds Tobacco."

Cormpetetive Enterprise Institute: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=CEI

Bullshit Bullshit Bullshit.

On the one hand you have the work of peer-reviewed scientists. On the other, you have bought and paid mouthpieces of polluting industries with a huge financial stake in the status quo.

I want to coin a new meme about Global Warming Skeptics -- they're 'future holocaust deniers.' When Bengla Desh and Florida disappear, when famines start because of pandemic crop failures, those Global Warming Skeptics will still be blaming it all on the tree huggers and commies.

In other ways, Matt you seem to be a perfectly reasonable person, but on this, you make me really fucking angry.

Posted by: Deb at January 25, 2007 6:12 AM

Excellent post, Ian. I share your terror and, to keep my sanity, bank on your hope.

On the stem cell issue, thought this article on banking baby teeth was interesting: http://www.boston.com/business/globe/articles/2007/01/25/center_in_newton_looks_to_profit_by_banking_stem_cells_from_baby_teeth/

Posted by: Cris at January 25, 2007 6:23 AM

Matt - You often cite these "billions of dollars in play" for individuals pushing this "enviro doomsday scenario." As a scientist, I would truly love to know exactly where and how one taps into these funds. The current proposed NIH budget is around $32-33 billion, which is intended to support all federally funded health-related reearch. Because the annual increases to the NIH budget have been so minimal over the past 8 years, the number of grants each institute has been able to fund has dropped to near record-low levels - which is leaving many universities and academic scientists seriously struggling to maintain their research programs. NSF and similar programs have suffered even more, with far less funding to disburse for non-health related research.

You keep implying that there's some huge cash cow available for scientists who jump on this global warming bandwagon - but if so, where? What are these funds? And what's the mechanism by which they're accessed?

This is not meant to sound sarcastic. I genuinely want to know what you're talking about.

Posted by: Jody at January 25, 2007 6:25 AM

You are doing what you can. As fathers, each of you heard something in the story that made you shudder with rage. You are now both on the record. What you have to accept is that there is a fourth topic for your list: our religious fanatics are reaching the level of their religious fanatics. America is a more rational setting but both groups have an equally large death wish and they are looking for a showdown. They percieve this threat as coming from any direction (like, from you even) and believe in "God's Plan". I liken evangelicals to fascists and martyrs (check out fascism 'definitions' on Wikipedia), and they are willing to go down the path that fascists and martyrs go.

So whaddya think about attacking Iran? It is being driven by these apocalyptic groups, Iran especially, but it is couched in your third issue. If you have a nation expressing the outright desire to nuke someone, not just "bury" them, is that how you secure loose materials? The Iraq war was based on this premise (you know what I mean), so how often and at what level and with what intelligence should we pursue the nukes issue? North Korea has tested and is more than willing to spread the wealth. Pakistan is only stable because of a Saddam caliber leader. Russia just provided Iran with more missile and nuke technology. There are loose materials but also new ones created daily. There are many concrete steps to take for your first two issues, what do you think the intervention limits are for the third?

Posted by: Anne at January 25, 2007 6:28 AM

Even in Jonny Hart's comic strip "B.C." the cavemen knew enough to ride on round wheels. (Is "square wheel" an oxymoron?)

I'm really getting ready for Coastopia, Ian. And I don't have the patience to be nice about this: People who are willfully STUPID make me crazy. I don't care what their politics, religion, or blood type is... they are wasting the perfectly lovely brain cells we were all given at birth. They are ignorant and then have the cojones to be arrogant about it -- or, worse, whine that they are victims. Just STFU, losers*. *You* are the self-righteous, smug ones.

Now, whatever happened to social Darwinism... Maybe we have subverted it by being too tolerant? : le sigh :

*epithet courtesy of 14-year-old son

Posted by: Figbash at January 25, 2007 6:29 AM

Victory has been had. Federal Way School Board lifts ban:
http://www.komotv.com/news/local/5350146.html

One wonders how many times the reality-deniers will have to have their heads handed to them before they just go away.

Posted by: Beth at January 25, 2007 6:30 AM

Kent, I have a small aside re: the last two days' topics: can you tell me where you've heard that Giuliani is the current Republican front-runner? I could probably just Google it, but I'm curious to know your source because I was nattering away at my husband this morning about a Vanity Fair article on McCain and how Giuliani was apparently eating McCain's lunch and I was guessing that was because McCain panders, etc., etc. My husband interrupted to say, "Where'd you hear that about Giuliani? I listened to an awful lot of news this weekend while I was painting the bedroom, and the message I got was that McCain is the front-runner." Because my husband is a news junkie, I couldn't quite bring myself to tell him that my source, as with a lot of my news, was a blog. See there, xtcian folks, I trust you with my very credibility.

Posted by: Matt at January 25, 2007 6:32 AM

I'm sorry, but Kent's post cracks me up. Not ONE SINGLE WORD on the substance of the material, just broad character attacks on dissenting scientists who point out significant problems with Gore's charges, and a complete and utter lack of self-awareness of the possible motivations of those who are polluting his mind with one-sided, misleading and flat-out incorrect theories of man-made causes to global warming.

Posted by: Matt at January 25, 2007 6:40 AM

I'm a little surprised you have to ask, Cris, but there are billions of funds devoted every year to those who tow the line with the anthropogenic GW view, and not just from the government. Google 'global warming billion funds' just for starters. There's lots of private money out there as well. And then of course there's the media, from documentaries to cable specials to Weather Channel shows on GW. If it's as bad as they say it is, we must put these smart people in charge! To say there are no serious doubts about humankind's contribution to weather changes (as if the climate was always been stable before the industrial revolution) is absolutely ludicrous. Open your eyes folks. Let's see some of that curiosity you're always deriding President Bush for lacking.

Posted by: LFMD at January 25, 2007 6:47 AM

That Frosty guy's story made me laugh. It is like the Scopes Monkey Trial in reverse!

I have noticed in recent years that individual communities have an incredible amount of power over the public school systems in regards to what movies the kids see, what books are stored in the library, whether a school can have a Christmas/Holiday pageant, how sex ed is taught. . . this can be a good thing if you live amount like-minded people, but it can be a terrible thing if you do not. No wonder people (like me) make the decision to send their kids to private school.

Posted by: LFMD at January 25, 2007 6:56 AM

And, my daughter's little Catholic school is very big on recycling and protecting the Earth. I guess the Catholics have not heard about the global warming/Jesus' wrath connection!

Posted by: noj at January 25, 2007 6:57 AM

Cecil chimed in last year. We all trust him to be non-partisan, don't we?

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/060407.html

Posted by: Matt at January 25, 2007 7:01 AM

noj's link is a good case in point. It focuses on CO2 (of which humans contribute maybe 5%) and completely neglects water vapor even though it is the most important ghg and accounts for more than 90% of the warming effect.

Posted by: Anne at January 25, 2007 7:02 AM

LFMD: Good for your daughter's school! And please don't confuse modern Catholics with the Frosty-Hardiman-lunatic-fundamentalist-Christian types. :-)

("Frosty Hardiman" ... Ahh, the jokes. Won't go there.)

Posted by: Piglet at January 25, 2007 7:09 AM

I'm waiting for the day when the President forces the FBI to adopt a faith-based CSI approach, and the testimony of people who had visions from God are accepted as evidence in federal courts.

Remember, at first they laughed and thought the War On Science was a joke, too.

Posted by: Matt at January 25, 2007 7:10 AM

Washington (CNSNews.com) - An MIT meteorologist Wednesday dismissed alarmist fears about human induced global warming as nothing more than 'religious beliefs.'

"Do you believe in global warming? That is a religious question. So is the second part: Are you a skeptic or a believer?" said Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Richard Lindzen, in a speech to about 100 people at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

"Essentially if whatever you are told is alleged to be supported by 'all scientists,' you don't have to understand [the issue] anymore. You simply go back to treating it as a matter of religious belief," Lindzen said. His speech was titled, "Climate Alarmism: The Misuse of 'Science'" and was sponsored by the free market George C. Marshall Institute. Lindzen is a professor at MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.

Once a person becomes a believer of global warming, "you never have to defend this belief except to claim that you are supported by all scientists -- except for a handful of corrupted heretics," Lindzen added.

According to Lindzen, climate "alarmists" have been trying to push the idea that there is scientific consensus on dire climate change.

"With respect to science, the assumption behind the [alarmist] consensus is science is the source of authority and that authority increases with the number of scientists [who agree.] But science is not primarily a source of authority. It is a particularly effective approach of inquiry and analysis. Skepticism is essential to science -- consensus is foreign," Lindzen said.

Alarmist predictions of more hurricanes, the catastrophic rise in sea levels, the melting of the global poles and even the plunge into another ice age are not scientifically supported, Lindzen said.

"It leads to a situation where advocates want us to be afraid, when there is no basis for alarm. In response to the fear, they want us to do what they want," Lindzen said.

Recent reports of a melting polar ice cap were dismissed by Lindzen as an example of the media taking advantage of the public's "scientific illiteracy."

"The thing you have to remember about the Arctic is that it is an extremely variable part of the world," Lindzen said. "Although there is melting going [on] now, there has been a lot of melting that went on in the [19]30s and then there was freezing. So by isolating a section ... they are essentially taking people's ignorance of the past," he added.

'Repetition makes people believe'

The climate change debate has become corrupted by politics, the media and money, according to Lindzen.

"It's a sad story, where you have scientists making meaningless or ambiguous statements [about climate change]. They are then taken by advocates to the media who translate the statements into alarmist declarations. You then have politicians who respond to all of this by giving scientists more money," Lindzen said.

"Agreement on anything is taken to infer agreement on everything. So if you make a statement that you agree that CO2 (carbon dioxide) is a greenhouse gas, you agree that the world is coming to an end," he added.

"There can be little doubt that the language used to convey alarm has been sloppy at best," Lindzen said, citing Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbles and his famous observation that even a lie will be believed if enough people repeat it. "There is little question that repetition makes people believe things [for] which there may be no basis," Lindzen said.

He believes the key to improving the science of climate change lies in altering the way scientists are funded.

'Alarm is the aim'

"The research and support for research depends on the alarm," Lindzen told CNSNews.com following his speech. "The research itself often is very good, but by the time it gets through the filter of environmental advocates and the press innocent things begin to sound just as though they are the end of the world.

"The argument is no longer what models are correct -- they are not -- but rather whether their results are at all possible. One can rarely prove something to be impossible," he explained.

Lindzen said scientists must be allowed to conclude that 'we don't have a problem." And if the answer turns out to be 'we don't have a problem,' we have to figure out a better reward than cutting off people's funding. It's as simple as that," he said.

The only consensus that Lindzen said exists on the issue of climate change is the impact of the Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty to limit greenhouse gases, which the U.S. does not support.

Kyoto itself will have no discernible effect on global warming regardless of what one believes about climate change," Lindzen said.

"Claims to the contrary generally assume Kyoto is only the beginning of an ever more restrictive regime. However this is hardly ever mentioned," he added.

The Kyoto Protocol, which Russia recently ratified, aims to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by the year 2010. But Lindzen claims global warming proponents ultimately want to see a 60 to 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gasses from the 1990 levels. Such reductions would be economically disastrous, he said.

"If you are hearing Kyoto will cost billions and trillions," then a further reduction will ultimately result in "a shutdown" of the economy, Lindzen said.

Posted by: Sean at January 25, 2007 7:14 AM

Why do Christians fight so hard not to allow things to be taught in school that defy the bible? I went to seminary for two years in high school, and we learned about the bible in school in religion class, sociology class and in literature studies, but the frustration is that it isn't taught as a corollary to *SCIENCE*?

You Christians are gonna be fine, nobody's been able to stop the spread of monotheism for the last several thousand years, so if your child watches a documentary about *ANYTHING* you disagree with, then tell her that you think it's crap.

But this *terror* that your children are gonna be exposed to something that disagrees with the bible, this abject, white knuckled horror that your child might be introduced to something that challenges not the *ideas* in the bible, but rather the illogical conclusions you've come up with based on hints and clues in the old testament, is more revealing than you think.

Posted by: kent at January 25, 2007 7:59 AM

Matt, dude, give it up. Scientists who do peer reviewed papers work on grants, that aren't easy to get, and don't pay nearly as well as, say, speech honoraria from corporate-backed 'institutes' like the George C. Marshall Institutes. It's actually _in_ a scientist's best financial interest to pimp for big oil. There's not one substantive thing that Lindzen says in the whole article -- he makes a bunch of broad accusations about the politics of scientific disagreement, and a broad statement like 'Kyoto itself will have no discernable effect on global warming.' He claims scientific certainty about a statement that's completely untested and hypothetical.

Furthermore it's misleading. Reducing carbon emissions will slow the progress of global warming, but there are plenty of indications that CO2 already in the atmosphere has already started to warm the planet, and current models indicate that going immediately to zero emmisions won't stop it.

What's even stupider about this whole argument is that even if human-caused Global Warming will never be an issue, everything we have to do to minimize human impact on our biosphere is a good idea. Energy efficiency, moves to alternative energy, restoration and promotion of the decimated forests of the world? It's stupid not to do them on their own obvious merits.

I could just agree to disagree, but the effect the Global Warming Skeptics is simply to fight a rear-guard action for Humanity's worst tendencies. And it's all being paid for by people and corporations for whom greed trumps sustainability.

Posted by: Matt at January 25, 2007 8:12 AM

"Matt, dude, give it up. Scientists who do peer reviewed papers work on grants, that aren't easy to get, and don't pay nearly as well as, say, speech honoraria from corporate-backed 'institutes' like the George C. Marshall Institutes. It's actually _in_ a scientist's best financial interest to pimp for big oil."

It's precisely the opposite, my friend. Money from industry-sponsored studies are dwarfed -- DWARFED! -- by special interest group studies.

"...there are plenty of indications that CO2 already in the atmosphere has already started to warm the planet..."

Actually, CO2 plays a negligible role compared to WV, which is far and away the #1 player in GHGs. It's ignored, of course, because it can't be blamed on humans and by ignoring it one can exaggerate the human contribution.

"and current models indicate..."

[Can't stop laughing]

By all means, continue to believe in the man-made GW hype and that all of the alarmist, eco-hysteria studies are funded by school children sending in their pennies. It makes no difference to me.

Posted by: CP at January 25, 2007 8:13 AM

everyone should netflix idiocracy. and here's what betty and jodi have to say on the subject of global warming...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2CITvRzTw8

ps -- yes, netflix is now a verb. deal.

Posted by: Ian at January 25, 2007 8:25 AM

Matt, you're so rational that it almost seems like you're not unbearably wrong.

Again, I have to ask the question.

AGAIN.

What dog do you have in this fight? If 99.99% of the scientists in the world are wrong, photo evidence is coincidence, ice core samples are lying, and global warming is bunk, why is it still so important to you to roadblock efforts to conserve?

Even if there's only a 10% chance we're right, why would you gamble your family's future on it? Jesus, we ask for better odds in bungee jumping.

What do you, personally, lose as Global Warming becomes obvious to everyone else?

Posted by: Matt at January 25, 2007 8:39 AM

My interest is purely in the truth, Ian, and you're guilty of some base stealing here as I don't accept the premise that "99.99% of the scientists" agree with the alarmists, or that ice core samples support an anthropogenic cause (it's the other way around in many cases -- showing that temperatures variations have been greater in the relatively recent past).

Finally, I agree with conservation efforts and apologize for not making that clear before. There's no benefit in wasting resources.

Posted by: kent at January 25, 2007 8:52 AM

Matt, find me some peer reviewed papers that support skepticism about Global Warming.

Every time you bring up GW Skeptics, you post links that come out of the whole Astroturf GW Skeptic underground. Basically all those 'institutes' and 'thinktanks' are A) corporate funded B) Very, very, light on actual science. They pay people really well to give speeches and write articles for the popular press but pay nothing for actual research. That's how they keep costs down!

It is true there's a strong prejudice against GW Skeptics in the conventional scientific community. That grows out of the fact that most scientists in the related fields consider GW skeptics to be hacks, or idiots, or both.

And where can I get my lucrative 'special interest' grant for my Global Warming research? Who are these 'special interests' so keen on perpetuating the big lie of Global Warming?

Posted by: Josie at January 25, 2007 9:21 AM

Several times over the past few years, with the most recent being this month, large factions of Evangelical leaders have banded together to make statements in recognition of global warming and take their weight to Washington.

(google: evangelical and "global warming")

The group of "evangelical christians" as a whole do not seem to stand on one platform about this issue, and therein, I believe, is a great deal of hope. There will always be stalwarts, but over time the sanest people stop listening to them.

Posted by: emma at January 25, 2007 9:54 AM

Ian basically beat me to the punch. But the way I see it and I am one the more conservative readers is this "Who cares who is right or wrong on the global warming issue?" So, say Ian's wrong, the world is safe and no harm done by conservation. Matt's side is wrong and the world is an unsafe place to live and folks who listened to this side and didn't do their part made the world an unsafe place quicker.

Just conserve. There are lots of reasons other than global warming to do it. Our Blind Center collects auminun cans and sells them for income to a recycling center. Find a worthy cause who does that. Do it for your own pocket. Put in CFL lights to decrease your utlities and only have to buy bulbs once every 5-6 years. Get that hybrid because, believe me, it feels good going to the gas pump just once every two weeks or so.

I never did very good in science class so I look at all this debate over global warming and it just goes over my head, but in the grand scheme of things, I am going to act as if there is global warming, because Matt, what if your folks are wrong? I'm not willing to take that chance.

Posted by: Cris at January 25, 2007 9:59 AM

Matt,

I'm a little surprised you answered my question without providing the specific information I requested.

"Private money" usually refers to foundations which dispense grant funds drawn from donors as well as corporations which fund research compatible with their economic interests. In the medical sciences at least, most foundation grants tend to be extremely small, although there are some exceptions. If you are aware of foundations which are actively funding pro-global warming research, please provide a link to their grants program and/or request for proposals (RFAs). Similarly, if you are directly aware of specific corporations which are funding research which supports human causes of global warming, please provide a source for that info.

As for the entertainment industry, I think many of us would be very surprised to learn that documentaries on any scientific topic would be so extraordinarily profitable, given trends in programming and advertisor dollars. If you are citing a specific study which has shown the level of revenue which a network or other film-making company brings in related to this topic, please provide a source.

I don't mean to sound contentious, but if you are going to challenge scientists to back up their arguments with data - and to look critically at those data - then you must also do the same. This seems to be a central point to your position - that the individuals suggesting that global warming derives from human behavior are simply motivated by potential financial gain. If that is your argument, please provide us with direct evidence that this significant financial gain exists. Simply claiming that it is your perception is insufficient to convince many of us.

Posted by: Matt at January 25, 2007 10:17 AM

Kent, you're not seriously suggesting there are no peer-reviewed and scholarly articles published in scientific journals questioning the significance of human activities on global warming, are you? A minority they may be, and the bias against skeptical scientists among the journals is well documented. (Afterall, if GW isn't as big of threat as it has been made out to be, interest and funding will dry up and they can't have that!)

I've posted some of these papers in the comment section before and I'll do so again if you address the substance in CEI's critique of "An Inconvenient Truth," which you've managed to ignore thus far, preferring to dismiss them as industry hacks even as you accept with blind faith the point of view of those who share you're politics and whose funding is not without its own motivation.

I don't question the sincerity of most of them, but I do believe they've allowed their political views to interfere. They think like Ian: Even it's remotely possible, they believe, we should take preventative measures now (which coincide with the green agenda and just so happens to empower themselves). So they oversell. They ignore WV, they ignore solar activities, they ignore past marming periods, or anything that might cause the masses to "decide wrongly." It's said the road to hell paved with good intentions. Indeed.

Posted by: Matt at January 25, 2007 10:27 AM

Cris, I suggested that you perform a simple search query on the subject (I even gave you the search string), since if you had, you would have found articles on Richard Branson's donation of $3 billion last year towards fighting global warming, and he helped raise another 3.5 billion from contributors to do the same. That's just one example. It's not difficult if you want to find more.

Posted by: LivingInFear at January 25, 2007 10:45 AM

Al Gore is cashing in on the global warming fear.

Flying everywhere in private jets, owns large mansions, drives around in SUVs....

Just follow the money indeed.


It is to hit 31 degrees in New York City today. The high for today, January 25th, came in the year 1967 at 60 degrees. After all the global warming fear and all the SUVs and all of Gore's flying around the world promoting his new movie so he could make money, the high temperature for the day was 40 years ago.
Weather Underground :
http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/getForecast?query=new+york+city

Posted by: noj at January 25, 2007 11:46 AM

can someone tell me why water vapor is part of the discussion? it's stupidly, persistently, naturally always there - there's nothing to do about it so why is it part of a discussion that concerns man-made greenhouse gases? that's what we're talking about, right?

disclaimer: i don't sleep much, so i could be missing some boat that i should be on.

Posted by: Matt at January 25, 2007 11:55 AM

That's a good question, noj. Sorry I passed over it. Water vapor is very efficient at trapping heat radiating from the earth, ten times more efficient than CO2, which is present in the atmosphere at levels far below that of WV. Ignore it and you're ignoring the primary cause of the greenhouse effect.

Posted by: noj at January 25, 2007 11:56 AM

yeah - i get it about water vapor, what i was wondering was why are we talking about it in this discussion? no one's disputing that water vapor is by far the largest greenhouse gas, are they?

Posted by: Matt at January 25, 2007 12:04 PM

Unortunately, it's often left out of the discussion and its impact neglected in studies in order to exaggerate the human contribution to GW. See this site, for example: http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/greenhouse_data.html

Posted by: frosty at January 25, 2007 12:26 PM

enough with all this science bullshit, get back to work on the ark.

iguanas! who's got the iguanas?

Posted by: caveman at January 25, 2007 1:21 PM

damn you water vapors....damn you straight to hell

Posted by: Curtis at January 25, 2007 1:46 PM

Just to show that I am also good at linking talking points from special interest groups, I offer this link concerning an alleged causal relationship between CO2 emissions and water vapor. FWIW.

http://www.environmentaldefense.org/documents/5596_GlobalWarmingWaterVapor_onepager.pdf

Posted by: Matt at January 25, 2007 1:59 PM

That's right, Curtis, but what the Environmental Defense Fund doesn't tell you, is that all CO2, from both natural and anthropogenic sources, accounts for only 3 or 4 percent of the greenhouse effect (global warming). Of that, more than 95% of all CO2 in the atmosphere occurs naturally. That is to say, the anthropogenic contribution of CO2 to global warming is about one-tenth of one percent.

We are to believe that an earth chock full of buffers to self-regulate in a vast array of systems, is so fragile that it can't withstand a 0.1% fluctuation in CO2 levels. A volcano emits more GHGs in one hour after an eruption than every vehicle, incinerator and industrial plant in America does in an entire year.

That's probably enough from me today.

Posted by: Cris at January 25, 2007 2:14 PM

Matt,

Forgive me if I'm misunderstanding you. I was under the impression from previous posts that you've implied that there are scientists misrepresentating their data because they stand to gain financially from public acceptance of their conclusions. I thought that was what you were arguing invalidates much of the research suggesting human origins of global warming. If that is not your position, then I apologize.

Wealthy individuals like Richard Branson donating funds to "fight" global warming is one thing. Donating those funds to support research into the human origins of global warming (and then putting pressure on that research to shape its outcome)is something different altogether. I'm sorry I haven't had time today to track down that information on the web myself - with my schedule today, it's all I could do to briefly check into this discussion periodically. But the critical question, in my opinion, is to whom is Richard Branson giving that money and for what purpose? Tonight I will try to look that up myself but feel free to enlighten the rest of us here.

Posted by: kent at January 25, 2007 2:17 PM

Matt, that CEI paper is retarded.

"Never acknowledges the indispensable role of fossil fuels in alleviating hunger and poverty, extending human life spans, and democratizing consumer goods, literacy, leisure, and personal mobility."

If you want to make a movie about the dangers of Global Warming, what does the possible uses of fossil fuel have to do with it? Sure, I take the bus to work, I wear shoes with plastic soles. Woopdy Doo!

"Never acknowledges the environmental, health, and economic benefits of climatic warmth and the ongoing rise in the air’s carbon dioxide (CO2) content."

Err, if the mean global temperature goes to high, the coral reefs die, islands disappear, the permafrost melts, the polar bears drown ... what's the upside?

"Presents a graph tracking CO 2 levels and global temperatures during the past 650,000 years, but never mentions the most significant point: Global temperatures were warmer than the present during each of the past four interglacial periods, even though CO levels were lower."

Oh there's that old GW Skeptic bugaboo, the famous curve that they claim has been debunked, when in fact it has agreed with every study examining it's methods. This is a completely discredited argument in the world of real climate science.

"Never confronts a key implication of its assumption that climate is highly sensitive to CO2 emissions—that absent said emissions, global climate would be rapidly deteriorating into another ice age."

Um, this statement is highly, highly suspect. I suspect ZERO science behind it.

"Neglects to mention that global warming could reduce the severity of winter storms—also called frontal storms because their energy comes from colliding air masses (fronts)—by decreasing the temperature differential between colliding air
masses."

More BS. If the total energy of the atmosphere rises with GW, the system will become more energetic, which means steeper gradients. Again, I think they just made that shit up.

"Claims that scientists have validated the “hockey stick” reconstruction of Northern Hemisphere temperature history, according to which the 1990s were likely the warmest decade of the past millennium and 1998 the warmest year. It is
now widely acknowledged that the hockey stick was built on a flawed methodology and inappropriate data. Scientists continue to debate whether the
Medieval Warm period was warmer than recent decades."

GW Skeptics won't STFU about the hockey stick, but the various attacks haven't made it go away. Read http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=11

I would go on and on but that document is nothing but an expression of corporate power trying to make the facts of Global Warming go away. It is so transparently bogus as to be laughable.

I'm sorry Matt, I know this is a bedrock thing for you but A) You're wrong B) You're not even plausibly convincing.


Posted by: Curtis at January 25, 2007 2:50 PM

Matt:

I think you missed the point of my post. I understand your point about the importance of water vapor as a direct cause of the greenhouse effect, and the fact that humans directly cause very little of that water vapor. But you didn't address the fact that an increase in CO2 emissions raises air and ocean temperatures, which in turn increases the water vapor, which in turn increases the greenhouse effect. In other words, the increased CO2 is the initial cause while the increased water vapor is a downstream result that amplifies the effect of the CO2. So to simply point to water vapor as an unrelated cause of X% of the greenhouse effect is misleading. They are actually somewhat related.

Here's another link that, frankly, is largely over my head but is an interesting read on the subject:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=142

Posted by: Anne at January 25, 2007 3:22 PM

Time out! All the hot air in today's comments is hastening global warming.

8-)

Posted by: caveman at January 25, 2007 7:45 PM

I think Matt is plausibly convincing

Posted by: Matt at January 26, 2007 3:38 AM

Here's the problem I see with it, Curtis. It reads, "Scientists calculate that changes in water vapor double the climate's temperature response to increasing CO2" And therefore, it's important to control CO2.

But what kind of changes in WV are we talking about and what amount of "temperature response" is doubling? It doesn't say and that seems very important. It implies a significant role, but the statement can be technically true while having only the most miniscule effect. I think if its effects were in any way significant, the author would have been more heavy on the details. And again, it defies plausibility that the earth cannot handle even the tiniest fluctuation in CO2 levels -- especially since we know the earth spews it out in much greater quantities than humans -- without suffering dire consequences. This isn't a license to pollute, just a call for perspective.

I'll check out the other link when I have time later today.

Posted by: LivingInFear at January 26, 2007 8:10 AM

New York hit a new record LOW this morning, this is not good news for the Gore propagandists.

RECORD EVENT REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE UPTON NY
0718 AM EST FRI JAN 26 2007

...RECORD LOW TEMPERATURE SET AT KENNEDY...

A RECORD LOW TEMPERATURE OF 9 DEGREES WAS SET AT KENNEDY TODAY AT
647 AM. THIS TIES THE OLD RECORD OF 9 SET IN 1994.


The Gore sheep believe this Global Warming fear like a religion, Al Gore with his mansions and private jet is their Messiah and his movie is their Bible even though Gore doesn't have a degree in science. They have their blinders on, even though Kennedy Airport hit a new record low temperature this morning, the ideologues such as Ian and Kent will discredit the National Weather Service who are scientists that aren't making millions and the ideologues will instead rely on the word of Gore who is raking in $ millions.

Posted by: michelle at January 26, 2007 9:23 AM

Um, isn't it painfully obvious that one day of a record low temperature has exactly nothing to do with... well, anything? We're talking about a global event here, and one temperature reading of one day in one place is meaningless in the grand scheme of the warming of our planet.

Posted by: rivertam at January 26, 2007 10:16 AM

I'm with Ian - what dog do you "Global Warming is not Real" people have in this fight? How does energy conservation hurt you? What do you lose by believing that it is a real threat, and taking steps to make the environment a better one? Are you just not allowed to disagree with anything George W. "Dear Leader" Bush says?

Posted by: Claudia at January 26, 2007 10:38 AM

I'm late to the party, and admittedly have only skimmed the comments, but it seems to me that the real issue that inspired this post is primarily one of free speech.

Schools put out all manner of information, and minds both rational and irrational may agree or disagree with such information. It raises interesting questions: should parents have the right to shield their children from information put out by schools? If so, where should we draw the line? At the sexual? The political? The quasi-political?

While I can envision scenarios in which I would want my children to be shielded from information put out by their schools (sadistic children's literature, certain overreaching "scared straight" films or reading material, and age-inappropriate information about illness and death come to mind, rather than scientific or religious issues), I would never seek to block others from having access to that same information. That's not parenting; that's censorship.

On a final note, I just wanted to make the point that not *all* Christians are fundamentalists or strict interpretationalists. Lumping the varying denominations together as such is simply inaccurate. By way of example, many a Catholic priest has argued on behalf of teaching evolution. Here's a link to some interesting reading, originally published in the Science section of the New York Times: genesis1.phys.cwru.edu/~krauss/17comm2.html

Posted by: kent at January 26, 2007 1:05 PM

LivingInFear, thank you for posting the stupidest comments in this entire thread.

The earth's atmosphere is a dynamic chaotic fluid system. If you add heat to it, it will raise the average temperature, but any local temperature is dependent on the local manifestation of the global system. You add more energy to the system, you will get higher highs and (locally) lower lows.

And then the blah blah about the Gore Sheep. Just because you can type doesn't mean you should.

Posted by: Sean at January 26, 2007 2:10 PM

I can't help but wonder of religious people have a natural mistrust of any sense that mankind is capable of personally effecting the planet. It's not exactly proof that there is no higher design, but it is pretty questionable if we could actually destroy Humanity, God's Greatest Invention, with a holocaust caused by just driving to work and going about our business and just sort of not really caring about pollution ... makes it seem like a pretty tenuous existence.

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