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As global warming comes back to the fore of public discourse, environmentalists wonder how to overcome the polarization (this New Hampshire poll finds global warming to be the most partisan issue, second only to support for Obama) and help the broader public support critically-overdue climate action.

One approach has been to stay away from the crux of polarization - whether one "believes" in anthropogenic global warming or not, and why - and focus on areas of broader and near-bipartisan agreement, like support for renewable energy.

I do not subscribe to that approach. I think we do need to talk to our conservative and/or climate-confused friends about the science. The title "most polarizing issue" is a rapidly-changing "flavor of the day" thing; it comes and goes. I feel the wind is in our backs on this issue (pun semi-intentional), simply because the other position is fast becoming a laughingstock. This is the time to push forward.

But there's another critique of such engagement: that we should not dignify an anti-science stand by giving it unjustified "parity" with solid science.

To this criticism I say: just like we ask deniers and fence-sitters to wake up and smell the climate-reality coffee, so should we accept political reality rather than sit in an idealized and convenient political bubble. The fact is, not only are anti-scientists already getting parity with scientists, on this issue. In the American public sphere, they actually dictate the conversation. Here's the example that motivated me to write this post.

Over the past year, my favorite website (together with Daily Kos) has been - a grassroots site that provides, among other things, the most authoritative US electric vehicle sales numbers. Occasionally they publish personal driver testimonies. One such driver from southern CA proudly described how his family is not only all-EV, they also have extensive solar panels. This way, they save money, reduce smog, and help the American economy. Do you notice anything missing?

I did, and commented: "What about global warming? After all, that's what's driving both the EV and solar revolutions, and is making these products accessible for you." My comment was not welcome, to put it mildly; the thread turned into a pie fight. The author himself, who happens to be an elected Dem local official, responded in a more friendly manner, indicating that he does know all about global warming, but would rather not "alienate" parts of the public by mentioning it. This is the situation in an EV forum, and most EV fans are environmentalists at least to some extent.

So the game is not about dignifying someone who's waiting for our approval; this is about helping reality get through the door, when the other side is pretty effectively shutting it out.

The following text is a variation on a blog post at I am indebted to editor Jay Cole: he took a lot of crap from some readers, who don't want to see global warming even talked about in EV circles, and let me publish a 3-part series on EVs and global warming.

This is the middle part. Feel free to take chunks of it that you like (if you like any), and use when talking with climate-confused friends.


In Part I, I made the case that global warming is a main reason, and arguably the main reason why EV technology is finally getting its day in the sun. Unfortunately in American circles - still the world's largest EV market - there is a culture of silencing and self-censorship regarding global warming, even within EV communities. Just recently there was a nice example here for how different the conversation is elsewhere: the founder of the UK's highly effective quick-charge network has no qualms about showcasing global warming as a main motivation, both for the network and for customers. In the US people in similar positions do somersaults to avoid mentioning the issue. So the first post's aim was to open up a space, in which one can talk about global warming with other EV fans and visitors of this site, without being set upon. The fact Post #2 is seeing the light of day, indicates at least a partial success :)

This second post will not talk much about EVs directly (I did sneak in one Tesla Model S eye-candy for you). Rather, it's about the science underlying global warming. Given the topic's contentious nature, and the style of the "debate" about it, I devote quite a bit of space for a reminder/refresher/primer about what science is and how it works. Since EV technology itself relies upon lots of science, this is not a bad conversation to have here - global warming or not.

Some scientists might look like this... although they better have safety goggles on while doing labwork.

The bane of global-warming perceptions in the US, is that politicians and media figures have injected so much partisanship and "He said, She said" chatter into the topic, that it comes across as purely political. It is not. Yes, What to do about global warming can become heatedly political. However, the study of global warming itself is not a political question. Rather, it is a straightforward application of scientific theory and methods.
This is why I don't believe in global warming. Belief and faith belong in the realm of religion, ideology, etc.

Global warming, OTOH, is a collection of field measurements, scientific descriptions of reality, and scientific forecasts of future natural processes - all of which are based on several rather well-established, mainstream scientific theories.

A bio note: I have a B.Sc. in physics, an M.Sc. in environmental science, and a Ph.D. in statistics. As a statistician, too, most of my work has been in collaboration with scientists on scientific research projects. FWIW, I was also raised by a pair of scientists. I am not a climate scientist. However, the components of global warming are simple enough that anyone with a science degree can understand them on a pretty good level, and explain them in to others with less background.
Mauna Loa CO2 time series as of May 2014.
This is NOT an ideology, religion, or any other type of belief system.

I am not waving "Science" here as a codeword to hide behind. I am well aware that over the years there have been things calling themselves "Science" which were not. One shameful example is Eugenics, in vogue in many academic circles around the 1920s and 1930s. It turned out to be an intellectually compromised attempt to cloak racism in "Scientific" attire.

But here's the deal. The scientific theories that indicate anthropogenic global warming is happening, are among the most plain-vanilla, settled, non-questionable science you can find. Most of these theories have been around - and have been used extensively by all of us - for ~100 years.

Here's a list of the major components of global warming science.

  1. The chemistry of combustion (19th Century established science) - showing that industrial society has been releasing an excess of CO2 into the atmosphere;
  2.  Straightforward measurements of atmospheric concentrations (e.g., the "Keeling Curve" plotted above) - showing that natural CO2 sinks (e.g., plants) are unable to absorb all that excess CO2, and therefore concentrations have been rapidly increasing. In fact, the "Keeling Curve" has been increasing every single year since the start of measurements in 1958; (Of course, massive destruction of native forests doesn't help either; but fossil-fuel burning remains the #1 cause.)
  3.   Calibrated reconstruction of historical and prehistorical concentrations and temperatures, mostly from ice cores (using established lab methods, relying upon, e.g., stable-isotope ratios - a theory/practice that has been mainstream since mid-20th Century) - showing that our current (and still-rapidly-increasing) CO2 levels are well beyond anything seen on Earth in the last couple of million years, since well before the Ice Ages;
  4.  "Black-body" electromagnetic radiation (data known since late 19th Century; usable theory stabilized in early 20th Century, in fact Einstein got his Nobel for his contributions to this theory) - showing that the Earth's surface emits electromagnetic radiation as a function of its temperature, with the most intense emissions being in the infrared range;
  5.   Molecular absorption spectra of radiation (1st half of 20th Century, but data known before that) - showing that CO2 molecules (unlike, e.g. nitrogen and oxygen) absorb lots of infrared radiation;
  6.   Heat and mass balance equations of gases and liquids (19th Cetury, although the advent of computers has revolutionized the way it is practiced and its ability to make predictions in complex systems) - showing how these phenomena play out in terms of the Earth's overall heat budget.

This is enough to establish that anthropogenic global warming is expected, because the Earth's ocean-atmosphere-land system has been running an ever more positive heat budget, driven mostly by the relentless increase in CO2, year over year. And since CO2 keeps rapidly increasing, we are nowhere near a new equilibrium yet.

Note that the words "Marxist Economics", "Social Engineering", "Stalin" or "Trotsky" are nowhere to be found in the list of scientific theories above :)  Rather to the contrary, all of us use these very same underlying theories, every day, in a zillion different ways, without feeling the least bit controversial.

The less-certain part of global-warming science, is the task of trying to pinpoint how, where and when global warming will be felt worse/earlier/less/later. The inherent noise of weather systems, the difficulty of calculating a single global index for the Earth's surface temperature, the interaction with oceans (CO2 increase also causes ocean acidification, which is its own big problem, but also complicates climate predictions) - all these make exact predictions very difficult, especially since the entire system is out of balance at the moment. But this prediction task, too, is based mostly on mass and heat balance equations, mentioned above.

Recent and current field measurements of temperature and related variables, confirm that even though weather signals are noisy and difficult, global warming and other associated changes are indeed happening, pretty much as expected. In fact, generally worse than expected.

If you want to delve into more details on the scientific basis of global warming, besides the links above,  here's the National Center for Atmospheric Research. UC-San Diego's Scripps Institute (they're the ones who started measuring CO2 at Mauna Loa in 1958) offers this free online course on the subject. And the following link has what seems like an earlier version of this class, without videos - but also without needing to register.

Ocean-atmosphere temperature index with 5-year moving average, as of May 2014.
Yup, the science says this  trend is related to the one above. And scientifically speaking, this is not a controversial statement.

Ok, a few words on how science works. It's a bit tricky and not quite what we are taught in, say, middle school!

We humans have always tried to explain and predict the world around us. What sets science - a relatively recent yet wildly successful endeavor - apart from other such attempts, is science's dogged commitment to submit ALL theories to a rigorous reality check. Any scientific theory, large or small, that demonstrably fails its reality test, is discarded to be replaced with one that fits reality better. This encourages theories that are more general, more logically coherent, more defensible. (a semi-related aside: that's why economics is not a science; for example, economic theories proven horribly wrong by reality in the 2008 crash are still alive and well as if nothing happened...)

But this property of science, known as Falsifiability, also means that from a purist perspective, all scientific theories are by definition Wrong!!! The only question, is when and how we will find out they are wrong.

So... if all scientific theories are wrong, how can we ever use any of them ??? Obviously we do use them, right?

Ha. I guess I lied to you when I wrote scientific theories are always discarded when proven wrong. Many theories are indeed too flawed to be useful after proven wrong (stuff like "Cold Fusion" comes to mind). But some theories, are proven wrong in a way that helps define their limitations, i.e., it is understood where, when and why they fail. Moreover, it can be shown that within these limitations, the old disproven theory is still a very close approximation to the new and better theory (which is usually more complicated), making the older one still useful thanks to its simplicity.

The classic example is Newtonian mechanics, in particular Newton's Second Law F = ma. For over 100 years now, it is known that Newton's Laws break down as one approaches the speed of light, and also at subatomic size scales. And yet, professionals all around the world successfully use Newtonian dynamics in myriads of ways, e.g., when designing cars. In essence, we have modified Newton's Second Law to say,

For bodies with masses much larger than an atom's, and moving at speeds much smaller than the speed of light, F = ma is a very, very, very, very, very good and useful approximation.
Besides these "proven-wrong-but-still useful" theories, we of course have the state-of-the-science theories: theories that have been tested and accepted broadly enough, to function as our best current working description of reality.

Put another way: science is the system of coming up with logically coherent, reality-tested, continually-improving approximate explanations of the natural world. While motivated by the search for the truth, science will always be imperfect, and never attain the full absolute truth, if such a thing exists.

Misrepresenting the imperfect nature of science has been a favorite tactic of anti-science types - whether their target is evolution, vaccinations or global warming (the old "It's Only a Theory, they are still figuring it out" canard).

Of course, this imperfection-by-design is part of why science works so well. Once you demand absolutely perfect knowledge of the Universe, no less - it's a very short road to blind faith in someone who (purportedly) possesses that knowledge. Failure to properly address reality is then guaranteed.

A pinked-out Tesla Model S belonging to one of Google's founders.
Yes, this baby was designed using science that has been demonstrably WRONG for over 100 years.

To sum things up:

Measuring human civilization's emissions, and figuring out how they affect the atmosphere, ocean and the climate - is all about researching natural processes and physical reality.

Such tasks belong solidly in the realm of science.

Now, unlike some other professions, scientists are actually pretty good at what they do. For example, it is thanks to science that our lifespan is now double what it was for our great-great-grandparents.

It is supreme folly - nay, an absolute travesty - to take an inherently scientific question, hijack it from the scientists, and hand it over to talk-show hosts, random bloggers who specialize in provocation, conspiracy-theorists, politicians and empty-headed pundits: in other words, people who cannot even do their own jobs properly, let alone contribute positively to domains outside their profession.

Why would anyone want to do that?

The bitter irony is, scientists didn't ask for this weird fight with talking heads. Anyone who knows some scientists personally, can attest that most of us tend to be shy and to avoid mixing science work with politics. This is one reason why the earlier IPCC reports were rather nuanced and muted in language. The other reason is that the uncertainty about the rate and extent of the damage was greater; however, the scientific foundation was rock-solid and straightforward from the start.

In the 1990s most climate scientists thought that just pointing out the process to society would be enough; and for a while it seemed that way. But in the 2000s the topic fell prey (like many others) to the deepening polarization in American politics, and became political football - a game in which scientists feel like fish out of water. The few among them  who are more outspoken (James Hansen comes to mind) have been singled out for vicious personal attacks aiming to destroy their career and good name.

In short, it is the height of Chutzpah to claim that climate scientists are "alarmists" about global warming. So far, they have been the grownups in the room.

Neil Kudelka (the Australian) sets the record straight about
Neil Kudelka (The Australian) sets the record straight on 'Climate Change Alarmism'.

That's why right now, all leading scientific communities - not just climate scientists, but organizations representing ALL scientists - are practically screaming from the rooftops while tearing their (remaining) hair out in despair, trying to get people to start taking it seriously rather than yet another Sunday-morning talk-show chatter.

Here, for example, is the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Here is the US National Climate Assessment. And last but not least, here is the IPCC website.


Finally, a news flash: even ExxonMobil, which for years had bankrolled much of the attempts to produce warming-denial research (attempts that have failed spectacularly on the scientific front), does not deny global warming anymore. The outright denial position has become too untenable for any global business leader. So now they "only" say we shouldn't do anything drastic about it, the darlings. See here for their current official view. They are not alone: recently there has been a mass realignment of many former outright-denialists towards this new "Yes it's happening, but it's not a big deal" frontline, from which they continue to wage the very same battle (oppose and delay action on global warming).  Of course, none of these not-denying-anymore opinion shapers have bothered to inform or explain their recent shift, to the millions of good honest people who have trusted and followed them into outright denial.

Originally posted to Climate Change SOS on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 07:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Kitchen Table Kibitzing, Kosowatt, and SciTech.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If u have time, check out the insideevs comment (15+ / 0-)

    thread here.

    It got a bit lively at some places. That's nothing compared with Part I's thread, which was rife with name-calling; here, I think, people were a bit more intimidated by the need to directly argue against science.

    Still, one person, via his comments, provided pretty much a mathematical proof of being a conspiracy theorist.

    As I say there, the target audience is not such hard denialist core (even though I'm willing to bet much of that core is not as hard as it seems). It's all those people in their sphere of influence, or in the middle, or too timid and lacking knowledge to speak up for reality.

    •  Well, okay, but... (0+ / 0-)

      A strong case and very well documented.

      But there's another critique of such engagement: that we should not dignify an anti-science stand by giving it unjustified "parity" with solid science.
      I'm not so sure we should dignify an anti-science stand by paying any attention to it at all. Climate-change denial is not an "anti-science" stance so much as an ideological stand, and ideologues already "know" everything they need to know—how its all really just gummint propaganda and money-grubbing regulation and oppression and power grab and socialism and blah-blah-blah. They're not climate-change deniers because they think the science is wrong. The science must be wrong because climate change is just a buncha made-up bullshit.

      Ask the science denier what gives a factory the right to blow as much smoke as it wants. Then light up that stinky-ass cigar you've been saving for this special occasion.

      Fred Upton, Chairman, House Energy Committee: Stop pushing dirty energy, stop blocking clean-energy initiatives. Help lead the transition or retire.

      by Bruce Brown on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 11:39:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No one cares about our "dignification" of deniers. (0+ / 0-)

        At this point, too many people are still just plain clueless.

        And it's not entirely their fault: I took a Master's in Env-Sci in the mid-90's. The CO2 Keeling curve was shown in one of my classes. But apart from that, there was almost no focus on global warming. That's despite the fact that the department had a solar-energy section with its own solar collector tower (widely ridiculed by the rest of the faculty), and a climatologist who investigated El Nino.

        So in terms of awareness, this is still recent news even for many scientists. Let alone lay people, most of them with very little science involvement in their lives.

        When you walk out in the name of some "dignity", you concede them to the hacks.

        I'm very grateful for DeGrasse Tyson, Nye et al. - but we each have our part to do.

  •  very well done (15+ / 0-)

    I decided not too long ago to stop using the phrase "I believe" over "I think."

    This country privileges "I believe" over "I thnk" though and traditionally, a hallmark of American culture is that there's a preference not to think and show how proud one is of that.

    Reality is what it is. whether one believes in it or not doesn't change that.

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

    by terrypinder on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 07:29:55 AM PDT

  •  And no - warming hasn't stopped... (18+ / 0-)

    Just to counter the almost inevitable "It hasn't been warming for the last 15* years". (* or 13, or 12, or 17 ... they just can't agree on a number, obviously...)

    You don't need to resort to fancy statistics to refute those frequent claims. Try that simple answer:

    There is no 'warming pause'. It's still getting warmer. It's just that the global mean temperature doesn't quite capture the real situation.

    Have a look at Fig. 6 on the bottom of page 4 in the following document.

    Global Temperature Update Through 2013

    Here you see that the temperature of the atmosphere (!) is steadily rising on the southern hemisphere. It is also steadily rising in summer on the northern hemisphere. It has risen steadily in winter on the northern hemisphere until about 2004 - and the sharp decline since can be explained by an unexpectedly long series of La Ninas in the Pacific.

    Three times up an one down doesn't suggest, that anything had stopped - it is just a signal that the global mean isn't particularly well suited to express what's really going on.

    What's really going on is that our planet (i.e. both atmosphere and the oceans) is getting warmer - because during this "pause" the arctic ice has melted, the permafrost is melting and the temperature of the oceans has risen.

    Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. -- Philip K. Dick

    by RandomGuyFromGermany on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 07:30:13 AM PDT

    •  Corrected link! (6+ / 0-)

      Ouch - messed up the link (...where's the edit function when you need it?!)

      Global Temperature Update Through 2013

      Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. -- Philip K. Dick

      by RandomGuyFromGermany on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 07:33:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's Not All Atmosphere. (10+ / 0-)

      Much of the alleged missing warming was instead happening in the deep ocean.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 07:44:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And, as the trend suggests, the leveling off (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Assaf, houyhnhnm

      period -- what one might call a heat dispersion period -- ends, temperatures again begin to climb rapidly.

      "We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." - Louis Brandies

      by Pescadero Bill on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 08:30:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Besides, until the temperature actually (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      goes back down to where it was, the "warming" is for all intents and purposes still occurring.

      For example, if I heat my house to 85 degrees in January, just because it's still 85 degrees 6 days later does not mean that I've stopped heating it.  Quite the opposite, I'm continuing to pump in the heat . ..

    •  Akin to the "pause" in ice's temperature ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ... when it's undergoing a melt process.

      Try this at home:  put a bunch of ice in a beaker, along with a thermometer, and set it over a lit Bunsen burner.   Note the temperature over time.  It will rise at a consistent rate until it hits 32º degrees, then the temperature will more or less be "paused" while the ice changes from a solid (low energy state) to a liquid (higher energy state).  Once melted, the temperature will resume a monotonous upward rise.  

      Next, try the experiment with the glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica- oh, wait, we already are.

      This is not the meant to taken as the reason for the appearance of a pause in global atmosphere, but it might help put things in perspective for the ill-informed.

      And if you wanted to be mean, you can respond by asking them, "do you believe that a glass full of water at 32º has more energy than a glass full of ice at 32º?"

      •  totally goobered grammar alert. (0+ / 0-)

        "This is not the meant to taken as the reason..."

        should be

        "This is not meant to be taken as the reason..."

        O/T Why can't we edit our posts?  The "preview" feature let's us catch most things, but not all.

      •  If you wanted to be really mean (0+ / 0-)

        you could show them a little experiment in which you demonstrate how much boiling water it takes to get an ice cube of 0F (...yes Virginia, ice can get so cold) to water of 32F.

        So the glaciers of Greenland can soak up some badass amount of energy before they start melting as they do right now...

        Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. -- Philip K. Dick

        by RandomGuyFromGermany on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 11:20:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They are currently soaking up 600 GW of heat (0+ / 0-)

          Which seems pretty badass to me.  More so if you put in the zeros:   600000000000 Joules of heat energy, every second.

          [Where did I get 600 GW?   current global energy imbalance is 0.3 petawatts, of which is 0.2% goes into the Greenland icesheet - courtesy of the internets]

  •  Mostly Fox News, but (4+ / 0-)

    (this is not a both sides do it)

    It only takes a couple of examples of someone in the media overplaying their hand, and the right will cease on it.  I heard a report on NPR this morning about how Hampton, VA is being affected now by rising sea levels.  They made a huge deal about coal, climate change, and rising sea level.  At the very end of the story, they brought up the fact that the great majority of the issue is that the land has sunk, but they said that sea level rise is a future worry.

    Here is another example:

    From NatGeo

    The Headline reads:

       The Coming Storm
        The people of Bangladesh have much to teach us about how a crowded planet can best adapt to rising sea levels. For them, that future is now.

    Wow, sounds like sea level is truly rising, and they are already adopting to it.  But 8 or 9 paragraphs into the article, we get the real story.


    On May 25, 2009, the people of Munshiganj, a village of 35,000 on the southwest coast, got a glimpse of what to expect from a multifoot rise in sea level. That morning a cyclone, called Aila, was lurking offshore, and its 70-mile-an-hour winds sent a storm surge racing silently toward shore, where the villagers, unsuspecting, were busy tending their rice fields and repairing their nets.
    It was a hurricane.  Personally, I had to dig quite a bit to get the real science on anthropomorphic climate change, and I'm still digging.
  •  seize, not cease. geez. nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    John Crapper, Assaf


  •  Thanks for this most excellent post assaf (5+ / 0-)

    Republished in Kosowatt, and SciTech

    Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

    by HoundDog on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 07:44:27 AM PDT

  •  You're Still Elevating Philsophy To Parity (4+ / 0-)

    with science by going into the science to any degree.

    The debates open to the public are 2.) what to do about the science, as you indicated; and 1.) how to recognize technical expertise and evaluate its findings compared to beliefs, philosophies and other styles of observation.

    Once you get into the data with a non climate scientist you've seated them at the table with the scientists. We wouldn't do this with neurosurgery or power plant turbine wiring, we shouldn't do it with climate either.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 07:48:30 AM PDT

    •  As my intro says, it's science that is barred from (0+ / 0-)

      many American tables.

      Your approach is like building the second floor without any foundation.

      •  You aren't going to be expected to... (0+ / 0-)

        upend your entire way of life based on principles of neurosurgery or turbine wiring.  Don't make any mistake about it, addressing climate change in any meaningful way is not going to be painless.  It is going to destroy advanced, commercial, growth-based lifestyle on this planet as we know it.  Basically, you're asking westerners to give up the only way of life they've ever known or aspired to.  If we do develop the technology to replace what we have now, it will be too expensive for all but the wealthiest for decades if not a century.

        People who are going to be asked to commit to this extreme self-denial in the name of future generations are going to want to understand the science, perhaps as well as the scientists.

        •  I beg to differ. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jlb1972, Bruce Brown

          There's a ton of things that:

           - we can do,
           - are already done,
           - are technologically available and cost-effective

          - that can drastically reduce our footprint, right here right now. It's not painless, considering the extremely privileged consumerism we've all gotten used to - as you rightly point out.

          But your approach plays directly into the hands of deniers, in two ways:

          1. It reinforces their social-warfare suspicion that all this global-warming talk is just another plot to get all of us live in some hippie commune in a cave.

          2. It reinforces the new defense lines to which the more "rational" among deniers are now hastily retreating into, i.e., that nothing can really be done except destroy our civilization pre-emptively. Might as well sit and wait for Nature to do it.

          Besides that, your approach is wrong on the facts. For one example, see how fast the footprint of electricity-production in the US has fallen. See how fast coal has become an economic dead-end, from the narrowly economic perspective. With EV technology, oil might be next.

          For another example, see the amount of solar power produced in Germany, whose southernmost point is at 47.3 degrees North - about the same latitude as Tacoma Washington. The current CO2 footprint of producing solar panels is paid for by a factor of >10x over their active lifetime in Germany. Make that >20x in the US Southwest.

  •  ice melting, water rising, weather/extreme.. (0+ / 0-)

    decent wages don't eliminate jobs. Republicans eliminate jobs; and workers, and prospects, and then excuse it all and call for more austerity. there is no end to their ignorant, arrogant avarice. only political dinosaurs support their treachery.

    by renzo capetti on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 07:59:36 AM PDT

  •  The global environment is a commons, and saving... (5+ / 0-)

    The global environment is a commons, and saving it and ourselves requires worldwide collective, communal socio-economic prioritization and action.

    Conservatives hate all of that. So they deniers start by opposing that and work backward from there.

    •  Right. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Simplify, Assaf, jlb1972, Bruce Brown

      Conservatives don't really deny climate science - they know it's happening.  But, they'll be damned if they let this issue lead the world to a socialist, redistributive state that every fiber of their being detests.  Conservatives aren't sharing their stuff with anybody except their friends.  

      Everything after that is just a tactic.

      •  redistributive????!!!! (0+ / 0-)

        The problem is that most polices that address climate change tend to EXACERBATE INCOME INEQUALITY.

        And if they're honest, Dem lawmakers who favor an energy tax will concede that the working and middle-class will have to pay an energy tax to mitigate CO2 emissions.

        Meanwhile, many Oligarchs who claim to be concerned about climate change (Elon Musk, Richard Branson) are bankrolling ventures that will enable fellow Oligarchs to embark upon a carbon-emitting joyride into subspace.

        Joyrides into subspace for some.  Higher gasoline prices for others.

        Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

        by PatriciaVa on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 10:37:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The anti-science mindset has existed for centuries (10+ / 0-)

    Galileo, Darwin and many others had to deal with it.

    The difference now is that denying anthropogenic global warming can actually wipe out the human and many other species.  Denying that the Earth rotates around the Sun is wrong but not catastrophic. Denying that the species evolved preserves a religious belief but does not turn our planet into a steam room.  Denying global warming is the end of history.

    I would challenge your "friends" to watch The Years of Living Dangerously or the next to last episode of Cosmos.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 08:08:06 AM PDT

  •  Really good points about how science works! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewtx, Assaf

    One quibble that you likely already know about is that the best form of Newton's second law isn't F = ma.  Newton wrote that the net force on a system equals the rate of change of momentum of the system over time.  In this form it is consistent with the special theory or relativity.  In particular it is used to determine the magnetic forces needed to keep charged particles going in circles in particle accelerators.

    Other parts of classical mechanics don't work relativistically, but consistent with your way of presenting science, work just about perfectly at human scales.

    "Trust only those who doubt" Lu Xun

    by LookingUp on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 08:18:12 AM PDT

  •  I'm growing a set of gills in preparation ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Silencio, dewtx, Assaf

    of the melting ice caps.

    How do you tell your pet slug that you had escargot for dinner?

    by glb3 on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 08:29:53 AM PDT

    •  And also maybe some salt glands. (0+ / 0-)

      Just in case you're forced to drink some of that salt water we'll all be swimming in.

      I am proud to be able to say that I got the chance to vote for Ann Richards for Governor of Texas, twice!

      by dewtx on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 08:50:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  As with evolution, my answer is not (8+ / 0-)

    "I believe in..." but "I accept the evidence."

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    by ybruti on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 08:43:49 AM PDT

  •  "Don't believe" = "Don't understand". (0+ / 0-)

    I'll just tell people they don't understand: there's nothing magical about it.

    I don't generally sweat this argument. MOST people understand it now: those who don't mostly inhabit the same Venn Diagram Collection.

    Legal means "good".
    [41984 | Feb 4, 2005]

    by xxdr zombiexx on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 08:46:43 AM PDT

  •  Excellent analysis. Since I tend to take things (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf, bartcopfan

    from the psychological side I approach deniers from a much different perspective when I encounter them.  Maybe it's selfishness but my time is valuable so I don't waste much energy on convincing them of anything.  

    1.  I'll make a statement right off the bat that simply says.  I'm sorry I'm not going to argue about established scientific facts.  Facts are not subject to debate.  If they persist I'll dismiss, embarass, ignore, marginalize, laugh off any further comment they make and  then change the subject.

    2.  Sometimes when I'm feeling more giving I'll try and guide them through a series of simple questions.  First I'll say.  OK let's say climate change isn't happening like you say.  Is there air pollution?  They have to say yes.  Well, taking the steps to improve air pollution just happens to be the same steps that will improves CC if it is happening.  Do you agree that water pollution is a problem?  They have to say yes.  Well, doing the see where this line of reasoning goes.  Then instead of going into more complication I take things to further simplification.  Have there been oil spills?  Does oil drilling in the ocean sometimes cause pollution?   Is it healthy to breathe coal dust?  Is the exhaust from the tailpipe of a gasloline automobile healthy to breathe?  

    After a bunch of these questions I simply look at them and say.  You see.  I doesn't matter if climate change is happening or not.  We still need to work on all of the above to make our world more liveable.  Surely you're not against taking steps to improve air quality, water quality, and soil quality.  

    If they still try and belabor the point I resort to tactic #1.  It's more fun anyway.  

    If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit - Holy Shit.

    by John Crapper on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 08:46:57 AM PDT

    •  Yeah, but so many ppl don't know the science. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      John Crapper

      They just hear it's a "political controversy" and prefers not to hear anything more about it.

      If you manage to get into their minds that it's a "controversy" between scientists on one hand, and conspiracy-theorists and hacks on the other hand - you've already gotten something.

      As to your other approach, of course it has some merit. But generally speaking, whoever accepts all your points on helping the environment, would not be opposed to global warming action to begin with.  

  •  I have never understood how folks can be so (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    willfully stupid.  Global warming rests on everyday accepted and experienced facts: CO2 & methane trap some heat + closed system dynamics.  That's all you need to understand that sooner or later you get to the hockey stick.

    Everyone knows what happens to the inside of a car with the windows up on a sunny day.  The Earth has no windows to lower.  Do they not do the co2 in a jar experiment in science class in middle or high school (or grade school, sigh, remember when we taught science in grade school?)?

    But of course, there is the reason why: 1) science is not taught anymore.  h they have to memorize facts, but the system of experimentation, observation and comparison which is science is not. Bc apparently anything empirical makes baby Jebus cry... unless its money.  2) These people's minds are very, very small.  When your mind is so small, ts very, very hard to understand anything bigger than, say, 6000 years or a few miles or different from what Preacher SoldHisSoul says apparently.

  •  Communicating the Science of Climate Change (4+ / 0-)

    This is an excellent article (pdf) that has a lot of good stuff in it. It first came to my attention via the chart they have at the bottom of the 4th page, dealing with the scientific and lay-man understanding of words, and what to say instead.
    I.e. "theory" means a hunch or speculation to listeners, so use "scientific understanding" instead; or "Positive feedback" in the context of science is not necessarily a good thing.

    Figure 3 also has a good point about flipping the usual approach scientists use in making presentation from giving background/data first, and working to conclusions; and instead giving the bottom line - we have a problem - then developing further to explain how we know that.

    “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

    by Catte Nappe on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 09:11:06 AM PDT

  •  anti scientists have parity because they have 1200 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bartcopfan, Assaf, Calamity Jean

    radio stations with a lot of college sports logos on them screaming HOAX! in unison and have been for 20 years.

    a critical component to getting back on the right track would be to get the hundred or more major colleges out of the global warming denial business by getting them off rw radio and destroying the rw radio monopoly.

    a national rational 'debate' about this issue is impossible as long as those radio stations can blast the countryside virtually unchallenged, as if the lies are true.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 09:31:11 AM PDT

  •  I always respond with a question (4+ / 0-)

    When someone tells me that they do not believe in global warming, I respond with a two part question.  First I say, "What if we act against it and I am wrong?"  Then I follow that up with, "What if we do nothing and you are wrong? Which is more damaging?"

    I can never get a good response from that.  The bottom line is most of the deniers are not going to change their minds even in the face of all the science and evidence that is all around them.

    "I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~ Dr. Cornel West "...isn't the problem here that the government takes on, arbitrarily and without justification, an adversarial attitude towards its citizenry?" ~ SouthernLiberalinMD

    by gulfgal98 on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 09:38:37 AM PDT

  •  I'm prone to challenge people in a way that forces (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf, John Crapper, Bruce Brown

    them to question themselves. When I meet ignorant people (yes, ALL climate deniers are ignorant people -- 100% of them as a matter of simple fact), I ask them if they get their religious faith from politics. When they tell me, "Of course not!" then I ask them then why do they get their science from pundits and preachers, as opposed to, uh, scientists. Most people are simply too stupid to realize that their entire worldview comes from sources that have no expertise in a given topic. When called on the logic of it, some do think about it. Others are simply cultists that can never be influenced without complete psychological commitment and intervention.

    To reinforce it, ask them where they heard of x scientific "belief" Invariably the answer will be FOX News or something, not an actual source.

    I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony Everything good a man can be, a dog already is. - pajoly

    by pajoly on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 10:12:53 AM PDT

  •  Climate Change Is Moot (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pvasileff, John Crapper, Bruce Brown, otto

    I don't care whether you believe whether climate change is happening or not, anthropogenic or not.  The things we need to do to deal with climate change are the things we need to do if we want to reduce energy waste and save money, the things we need to do to prepare for the next weather emergency - hurricane, flood, tornado, blizzard, heat wave.... whatever it may be.

    This is one reason why I say Solar IS Civil Defense.

    We've spent too many decades (decades!) butting heads over climate change belief, a theological argument, rather than pursuing tactics and strategies that make sense and preserve lives whether or not your belief is the same as mine.  "No regrets" was a policy some enviro groups pursued in the 1990s.  Haven't heard the term coming from anyone else in a long, long time now.

    The climate change belief argument is a sideshow and a debating point that takes us away from the concrete steps we need to begin DOING.

  •  Thank you for this, and for this ----> (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

    by David Harris Gershon on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 11:22:49 AM PDT

  •  For a list of arguments relating to climate change (0+ / 0-)

    A million Arcosantis.

    by Villabolo on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 12:08:25 PM PDT

  •  YOu gotta have a paragraphg (0+ / 0-)

    It's simple science. It's overwhelmingly supported.

    If you fill one greenhouse with more CO2 than another, you will see an increased temperature in the one with more CO2, if everything else is equal. So, Carbon in the atmosphere retains the heat and increases temperature.  We know that we have all of this Carbon buried in the ground.  We want to run our cars with it, so we dig it up.  We release it into the air.  At the same time, we remove the trees which act as carbon storage sinks.  The ice sheets reflect sun's radiation into space.  When you increase temp, you melt the ice sheets. More of that radiation is absorbed, leading to higher temps, leading to more melting... It's very simple science. More carbon, higher temps, massively altered climate patterns.    


    by otto on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 12:22:10 PM PDT

    •  I realize it's disjointed (0+ / 0-)

      The paragraph might seem a little disjointed, but most of the climate deniers are not reading what is being written. THey are simply looking for something to "question."

      It's very obvious that there are a lot of climate change denier dollars that are spent on shills for the internet.  


      by otto on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 12:25:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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