NPR puff piece on Kristen Byrnes

NPR has run a puff piece on Kristen Byrnes. Byrnes stuff is full of errors, but the reporter seems uninterested in whether Byrnes’ science is accurate or not.

James Hrynyshyn notes that Byrnes has libelled James Hansen, while Janet Stemwedel is doesn’t like the lack of analysis in the NPR story.

Update: More comments from PZ Myers and Orac.

Comments

  1. #1 Boris
    April 15, 2008

    I look forward to NPR’s piece on Kaitlin Calkins, a 14-year old who has a website proving that HIV does not cause AIDS. That should be good for a few deaths–er, laughs!

  2. #2 mark
    April 15, 2008

    As I commented in an earlier post, that interview reminded me of how unqualified folks often think they have “disproved Darwin” (and all the evolution scientists) without having done any research. But on further reflection, I thought perhaps NPR meant only to provide an example of alleged skepticism on the part of people who overestimate their own abilities. The interview left me wondering if the girl was desperately seeking favor with her stepfather. Although if that’s the case, they should have said so.

  3. #3 Dano
    April 15, 2008

    Hhhhorrible piece.

    They even claimed that Byrnes has done ‘science’.

    This is the effect of the R’s incursion into public radio: the dumbing down, daily, of NPR. The problem is, no decent alternative. I say again: NPR is getting stupider since Republicans infiltrated. Stupider.

    Best,

    D

  4. #4 David
    April 15, 2008

    I just read TFA (well – more accurately – the first couple of paragraphs and the last two sentences) and now I need to scrape the stupid out of my brain.

    The last bit is a hoot: “She does not see herself as an environmentalist, though.” Well, she got _that_ right. “She says that makes her think of hippies.” As a geriatric former hippy, that really shits me, because, 40 years ago, we were largely correct about running out of oil and the unfortunate environmental impacts of endless growth. I concede we largely missed global warming.

  5. #5 bi -- Intl. J. Inact.
    April 16, 2008

    Maybe it’s just that after LaClair’s exposé on Wilson and Diliulio’s bogus textbook, they just had to dig up some screaming teenager skeptic in order to achieve “balance”.

    On a tangential tangent, I find that Rabett Run post introduced me to a new silly word: AlGorithms! Which leads me to the interesting question of whether AlGorithms can serve as the basis of algorithms.

  6. #6 RK
    April 16, 2008

    That girl has uncommon common sense that I am yet to see in the lemmings that follow catastrophic AGW. More power to her.

  7. #7 bi -- Intl. J. Inact.
    April 16, 2008

    /me ignores RK’s content-free trollage

  8. #8 Jeff Harvey
    April 16, 2008

    I am afraid this interview is the standard kind of crap that is aimed at people who don’t understand science (like RK, # 6). Bjorn Lomborg has used this strategy with aplomb: the key is not to know very much about a complex field, the key is to know just a little bit more than your target audience. And the target audience consists of people working in shops, bus drivers, factory workers, accountants, etc… people with virtually no understanding of the nuances of specific fields, but who want to know the basics, and nothing more. The same people who see any kind of change to their lives as a threat, and who are therefore anxious to embrace anything and anyone who will tell them what they so depserately want to hear.

    A few years ago, on a very anti-environmental web site in the US, I ventured my ideas on the middle- and long term consequences of biodiversity loss, focussing my discussion on the implications for a critical range of ecosystem services that play an important role in sustaining civilization. The thread was joined by someone who claimed to be a high school student who started spewing out all kinds of nonsense suggesting that humans had evolved beyond constraints imposed by nature, but his ideas were effectively simplisitic drivel lacking any kind of empirical foundation. And the result? Literally dozens of people wrote in arguing that the student’s arguments were full of substance, and that he made complete sense, whereas my arguments, speaking as someone who was trained in population ecology, were dismissed completely.

    In the case of Byrnes, its clear to anyone with basic training in the field of climate science that she doesn’t have a clue what she is talking about, but, as I said above, these are not the people she is interested in reaching. Same goes for Lomborg. I find most of his ‘arguments’ pretty easy to dismantle one by one (particularly when he strays into fields I work in that are well beyond his competence), but his target audience don’t, and furthermore they want to believe what he is saying.

    So its easy to understand why NPR goes easy on Byrnes. Its ebcause the reporter is as clueless as she is.

  9. #9 Bernard J.
    April 16, 2008

    Is RK channelling Tim Curtin and/or “Reality check”?

    Justify yourself, troll, if you are able.

  10. #10 bi -- Intl. J. Inact.
    April 16, 2008

    I’m still standing by my theory that the NPR story is a knee-jerk response to the Wilson and Diluilio textbook fiasco. I mean, Byrnes hasn’t been saying anything new in the last few days, so why’s there suddenly a story about her? (Alternatively, it could just be a very, very fortuitous coincidence…)

    Which leads me to a few more suggestions for textbook quiz questions:

    A screaming teenager just drew lots of snazzy diagrams purporting to show that global warming is a hoax. Do you
    ( ) try to understand what the diagrams say?
    ( ) look up the diagrams’ primary sources to see if they’re used correctly?
    ( ) praise the teenager for being Galileo?
    ( ) do none of the above?
    Answer: praise the teenager for being Galileo.

    A screaming college student just stated (without drawing diagrams) that global warming is not a hoax. Do you
    ( ) point out that there are no diagrams?
    ( ) ask him for primary sources?
    ( ) scream oppression?
    ( ) do none of the above?
    Answer: scream oppression.

  11. #11 Betula
    April 16, 2008

    I have no doubt scientists can find many errors in a 14 year old girls web page. I give her credit for showing interest…..and hope she is open minded to criticism.
    At the same time, a 13 year old can find errors with the findings of top scientists…..I hope they can also keep an open mind to criticism.
    [link](http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080415/sc_afp/spaceastronomygermany_080415214429)

  12. #12 Boris
    April 16, 2008

    The reason the denialists latched on to Byrnes is because she is the perfect proxy. She say pretty much anything she wants and they can say “aw, she’s just curious!” Yet, they still use her as proof that climate scientists are wrong.

    Oh, and if you point out her mistakes, you’re a big ol’ mean environmentalist jerk picking on a defenseless girl. How dare you!

    Let’s not forget that Climate Audit links proudly to her. This is more informative than anything SteveM has ever posted.

  13. #13 Jeff Harvey
    April 16, 2008

    Boris makes many excellent points. I think its great that Byrnes showed interest in the subject of climate science, but when I was 14 I can’t recall knowing much of anything about the functioning of complex ecological systems; I have maintained an interest in natural history since I was barely old enough to wlak, but it took a university education and post-university research to be able to develop something a much more complete understanding of community ecology. As a high schooler I wouldn’t have suggested for a micro-second that I knew more than scientists who had been trained in their fields and who were doing the relevant research.

    Consequently, for Byrnes, a high school student, to become a poster child for the climate change denial lobby says everything about this sordid lobby that I need to know.

  14. #14 Sam-Hec
    April 16, 2008

    Betula,
    bookmark this:
    http://tinyurl.com/

  15. #15 john Mashey
    April 16, 2008

    From the Portland High School curriculum, some useful facts.
    Honors Earth Science Is labeled as a 9th grade subject. Good for PHS.
    Ms Byrnes was 15 when this started last year, which fits.

    Chemistry is labeled as 11th or 12th.
    Physics, calculus, statistics are 12th grade.

    Maybe she got to take these in 8th or 9th grade? Or learned them elsewhere?
    So she did this project, perhaps with some help. On that basis, read carefully the KBSF page looking for funds.

  16. #16 Tim Lambert
    April 16, 2008

    I’m afraid the 13 year old boy [did not succesfully find errors in NASA's calculations](http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/04/16/esa_german_schoolboy_apophis_denial/).

  17. #17 Steve Bloom
    April 16, 2008

    Tim, I’m afraid this sort of hoax is a price NASA will continue to pay for that little error involving the Mars probe miles/kiliometers conflation.

    Re NPR, IMHO a look at the full picture justifies cutting them a little slack notwithstanding the imperfections of the Byrnes profile.

  18. #18 DaleP
    April 16, 2008

    From #10:
    I’m still standing by my theory that the NPR story is a knee-jerk response to the Wilson and Diluilio textbook fiasco. I mean, Byrnes hasn’t been saying anything new in the last few days, so why’s there suddenly a story about her? (Alternatively, it could just be a very, very fortuitous coincidence…)

    This story was one of several in the last week on climate change, which were part of a long term project called “Climate Connections” I think they just reached the check box for “skeptic”, and this kid had the most interesting story. Too bad they accepted so much without actually, you know, reporting.

  19. #19 bi -- Intl. J. Inact.
    April 16, 2008

    This story was one of several in the last week on climate change, which were part of a long term project called “Climate Connections”

    Aww shucks, I guess there goes my conspiracy theory. :-)

    Maybe she got to take these in 8th or 9th grade? Or learned them elsewhere?

    Judging from the post on Rabett Run, I think what Byrnes learnt in 8th and 9th grade was cutting and pasting graphs wrongly.

  20. #20 John Mashey
    April 17, 2008

    Folks here may want to assess Ms Byrnes’ step-father Mike Carson’s next-Saturday I think) appearance here, especially the list of Recent Articles.

  21. #21 Bernard J.
    April 17, 2008

    Bi said:

    Judging from the post on Rabett Run, I think what Byrnes learnt in 8th and 9th grade was cutting and pasting graphs wrongly.

    I think that Bi is being a little generous with his use of the term ‘wrong’. The only way that I can see to make the x axis scales for the two curves coincide in the fashion that they do is to be dishonest.

    Someone, if not Miss Byrnes, was deliberately and consciously dishonest in the fabrication of this graph.

  22. #22 Eli Rabett
    April 17, 2008

    No, bi and BJ, she also learned to build strawmen in arts class. First time around everyone tried to be nice to her, but it is clear that nice don’t get her attention.

  23. #23 John Mashey
    April 17, 2008

    re: #22 Eli
    Yes, and that prompted one of us who researched this topic last summer to pull out some long-shelved results, which are now tacked onto Eli’s post as a comment.

  24. #24 John M
    April 17, 2008

    Re: #8
    “A few years ago, on a very anti-environmental web site in the US, I ventured my ideas on the middle- and long term consequences of biodiversity loss, focussing my discussion on the implications for a critical range of ecosystem services that play an important role in sustaining civilization. ”

    Jeff,

    I’d be very interested in reading this. Is it still available on the web? Do you have a copy you could email to me? What is your background?

    John M

  25. #25 RK
    April 19, 2008

    Don’t see how I need to justify myself, Bernard. The onus is on the people who wish to curb my freedoms based on predictions. I say, show me. And, before you start categorizing me – I am not a creationist, republican or neocon. Not white-American either, if that matters; so I don’t come with any of the Western guilt that I am seeing on parade these days.

  26. #26 Eli Rabett
    April 19, 2008

    Ah RK stamps his feet and screams make me. OK

  27. #27 bi -- Intl. J. Inact.
    April 19, 2008

    /me ignores RK’s content-free trollage, again

  28. #28 Schneb
    April 20, 2008

    I teach a current events-type course to 12th graders. We spent quite a bit of time on Global Warming. There were two bright, very nice, responsible young people who kept to themselves in the class–I can’t blame them, the rest of the class, as 2nd sememster seniors tend to be, were NOT the most focused, thoughtful people.

    But as time went by, I realized the two ‘nice’ students were not just different in behavior, but in outlook: to them, Global Warming is an invented scheme, and/or hysterical over-reaction. And like the young blogger profiled on NPR, they have news stories about various carbon reading techniques, or the growth of the polar bear population, etc. to back themselves up. They see the mass of scientists who agree that GW is real and caused by human behavior as self-serving careerists who somehow profit from adopting/promoting the GW party line.

    But the tow that I’m talking about really are nice people–so they don’t do a Penn & Teller ‘Bull&$#@’-type proclamation of their views. In fact, it wasn’t clear that they were hardline in their views ’til we were most of the way through the unit (maybe they kept a low profile initially because, while they’re sure they’re right, they’re used to the rest of the world seeing things otherwise and mocking or dismissing them?–just a guess). When I finally realized their ‘take’ on GW, I wanted to engage them and bring them around to what I see as the only legitimate view [GW is real/human-caused]–but a flat-out dissing of their view would only have put me on their long list of ‘sheep who follow the self-serving GW deceivers’. So I tried a couple of ways to indirectly explore the issue so they’d see the error of their ways. They never said, ‘gosh, maybe it IS real!’–more the opposite, actually–so I can’t say that I had any success, but I hope they’ll eventually come around and that I started opening their minds a bit.

    I mention this because the problem isn’t that a GW-denying teen-blogger was profiled on NPR. It’s what she stands for (and that’s what I saw the NPR piece as being about). There’s a sub-culture of anti-GW folks out there. And like the blogger, they can sound knowledgeable. As all here seem to agree, this is the problem.

    And as you all have noted, others, who see GW as real, don’t always sound knowledgeable. As I remember the NPR story, the blogger’s friend sees GW as real, but couldn’t say why. Sit that friend in a room with 2-3 of the GW deniers, who bombard her with legitimate-sounding criticism of GW and there’ll be 3-4 deniers in the room (instead of 2-3).

    But it’s not just that the deniers have somehow fallen prey to bad science. Those who takes this position, and particularly the young people who do so, gets quite a ‘rush’ of self-empowerment. Sorry if this seems extreme, but it’s probably what fed the Hitler Youth, and the Red Guard, but in a less virulent form: a basis for flouting authority; instead of being a dependent, subservient ‘youngster’ you get to thumb your nose at the dusty old, wrong-headed, know-it-alls, and you get to do so by (in your own eyes, at least) being smarter than them.

    I don’t mean to say that the two very nice young people in my class are somehow comparable to the Hitler Youth. Far from it! They are not advocating violence or racism–I’m sure they are actively doing ‘the opposite’, whatever that would be–but I think they’re getting a little of the same vibe that fed the HY, etc.

    I mention this because understanding where they’re coming from, is important.

    It’s not a question of science alone, but of psychology, as well.

    Showing them that their graphs are wrong might be very satisfying–and might keep them from convincing their friends to join (if the friend witnesses your debunking of the debunkers)–but I don’t think you’re likely to set them straight. It’s not about the graphs for them–its about how they see themselves, and that’s based on how they see anyone who says GW is real/human-caused. This is about identity, as defined in terms of ‘science’–not science.

    And frankly, that same psychology underlies a large part of what the religious right (of which these two young women may be a part) is all about, in general, as far as I can see.

    It helped me to lay this all out. Sorry if I’m didactically stating the obvious.

    cheers.

  29. #29 RK
    April 21, 2008

    Interesting way of putting it Schneb. That could easily be twisted around with you in their place. A lot of us are not spitting out the mantra, because the science clearly is in its infancy. All the wailing aside, we just do not know enough to tell if fossil fuel CO2 is such a factor as proclaimed. As the spotlight shines, this doesn’t look pretty. More people are jumping off the bandwagon of “hysteria” than jumping on. We just need to get better with our scientific practices.

    Bi, you have a curious way of ignoring. LOL. Pot calling the kettle black on content? Flame on.

  30. #30 Barton Paul Levenson
    April 21, 2008

    RK posts:

    All the wailing aside, we just do not know enough to tell if fossil fuel CO2 is such a factor as proclaimed.

    Yes, we do, and it is.

  31. #31 dhogaza
    April 21, 2008

    A lot of us are not spitting out the mantra, because the science clearly is in its infancy

    How many centuries does it take until a field of science is no longer “clearly in its infancy”?

    When will, for instance, quantum mechanics cease being an field in its infancy?

  32. #32 Jeff Harvey
    April 21, 2008

    Schneb,

    Good post. You’ve raised many important points. Another thing that I have noticed (a point raised by Bernard J on another thread) is that just about everyone thinks they are ‘armchair’ experts on issues dealing with the environment. I have noticed this as a population ecologist: I have read some pretty inane arguments from members of the general public when it comes to evaluating human impacts on the environment, especially from the denial (the generally anti-environmental) lobby. On issues such as the value of biodiversity and functioning of ecosystems, which are inherently complex fields, some of the stuff I have read from laypeople is so simplisitic that it would be funny if the writers were not being serious. Many people glean their world view from television programs or from web sites that are distorting science rather than by reading the primary literature in peer-reviewed journals, like I must do in my field if I am to keep abreast of research that is relevant to my own.

    RK’s post is indicitave of this. I wonder how many peer-reviewed peer-reviewed articles RK has written in the field of climate science (or indeed read) to make such an outrageous and incorrect remark. Please do tell us, RK. Barton is correct, that by now the link between the human combustion of fossil fuels and the recent warming episode is – or at least should be – uncontroversial. Given the fact that scientists rarely agree on anything, and that by nature we are a very, very cautious lot, the strength of the prevailing (not unamnimous, but unambiguously strong) view amongst scientists that humans are responsible has few other precedents in history. That it is considered ‘controversial’ by RK and many others in society shows just how much influence those with accumulated wealth and power and who do not want things to change have. It also illustrates the maxim that one does not question the underlying systems of power when these systems give many of us lifestyles that evade most of humanity.

    As for your students, Schenb, citing the demographics of polar bear populations to ‘support’ their flawed reasoning, there is ample evidence to suggest that a small to moderate decline in pack ice benefits the bears by optimizing their ability to catch their primary prey (seals). The problem is that, as the pack ice continues to retreat, as it is doing, the benefits asymptote and then decline sharply. Given recent evidence that some polar bears are being forced to forage in terrestrial habitats well beyond their normal range, which is probably unprecedented, it appears that we’ve passed the aymptote already. Simply put, your students are espousing nonsense.

  33. #33 guthrie
    April 21, 2008

    Denialists I am aquainted with are so stupid they think that the increases in polar bear population in the last 50 years demonstrate there are no problems. I’m sure that this increase shows they are indeed living in healthy ecosystems, and has nothing at all to do with bans on hunting and protected status…

  34. #34 RK
    April 21, 2008

    Jeff, thanks for the put down. But, I have read my fair share of material around this whole issue. I have not submitted any papers, but that is not my day job. And to say that my reasoning capabilities are warped by the influences of accumulated wealth and power is highly convoluted thinking indeed. All I am saying is that if it is this hard to convince well-off people in the West; it will be multitudes harder to convince the people where I come from – those that are primarily using fossil fuel to pick themselves up to the same standards we enjoy. Good luck.

    My contention is that the scientists (not all climate-specialized) agree on this not because of sound science, but it panders to their guilt. This is sort of like gawkers who come up to a road accident really don’t want people dead, but have a morbid fascination to see something gruesome.

    Oh, and the rhetoric and sniping by the people on your side (aptly noted by Schneb) is nothing but a huge negative to that cause.

  35. #35 Jeff Harvey
    April 22, 2008

    RK,

    I only made the put down, as you decribe it, because you posted here like a ‘bull out of gate’. When someone who doesn’t do science, and with no disrespect, doesn’t understand much of the underlying science, makes very bold claims, they are setting themselves up like a sitting duck. I’ve had to deal with enough ‘experts’ in my field of research who claim that the current extinction rate is low and that even if it wasn’t, there’s nothing really to worry about because humans have evolved above and beyond any constraints imposed by nature. I’ve even had to deal with some ‘experts’ who claim that the value of nature is about 2% of GDP – or even less. It all goes with the job. I am not a climate scientist, but as a scientist in another field, I do defer to those doing the research who have spent years learning about this field. And the vast majority of these people – with a few outliers – are in agreement that the current warming episode is primarily due to human forcing. Forget the apparent ‘lists’ provided by the denial lobby in the past year showing hundreds of scientists who disagree with this hypothesis. Many, perhaps most of these have published little in peer-reviewed journals. How do I know? I looked many of them up on the web of science. I was quite surprised when I saw such few entries. Or perhaps not. This is because the fossil-fuel lobby is well aware of the fact that there are very few contrarians who possess significant qualifications in climate science. As I said abovem, there are a few, but not very many. However, to the public, a scientist is a scientist is a scientist if they say what they want to believe. That leads on to my next point.

    My point here, also made by New York-based writer Mickey Z, is that many people who beneift from what he terms ‘empire’ will not question what ‘empire does’ even if many of these things are abhorrent. So you make a good point there in your last post. But this in no way invalidates the accumulated empirical evidence for AGW, which by now is enormous.

  36. #36 RK
    April 22, 2008

    It is a bold assumption you make that I don’t know the issues. It is a bold assumption that many here make that they or the scientists can know the climate and the state of the world a century from now – very bold.

    I am far more interested in the issues of pollution, land use, water use and oil politics than CO2 induced warming. I have lived in the developing regions most of my life and am not an armchair quarterback like many in the environmental movement. The current price of oil will do more for shifting our energy focus than any shrill scientist or celebrity can do.

  37. #37 caerbannog
    April 22, 2008


    All the wailing aside, we just do not know enough to tell if fossil fuel CO2 is such a factor as proclaimed.

    RK,

    This statement of yours is proof that you don’t know the issues. With respect to global-warming/climate-science, you are nothing more than another poster-child for the Dunning-Kruger effect.

  38. #38 DAno
    April 23, 2008

    The problem is that, as the pack ice continues to retreat, as it is doing, the benefits asymptote and then decline sharply. Given recent evidence that some polar bears are being forced to forage in terrestrial habitats well beyond their normal range, which is probably unprecedented, it appears that we’ve passed the aymptote already. Simply put, your students are espousing nonsense.

    Jeff, I’m using sigmoid curves more and more in explaining ‘tipping points’ and societal learning and change. Very useful, with some explanation. In the above case, the ecosystem has ‘flipped’ into a new state, and cannot support the bears, hence their new range.

    But if I may, in the above italicized, what happens with many things in nature – tree growth, ecosystem resilience, species growth and decline – is that their trajectories often follow sigmoid curves. Human learning does too (think of your child). The inflection point on the asymptote is the tipping point. In societal learning – e.g. climate change – I call that the ‘a-ha’ moment.

    Anyway, good points above. Further discussion on the practical application at Eli’s hutch.

    Best,

    D

  39. #39 RK
    April 23, 2008

    caerbannog, With all due respect, the issues around climate science cannot be boxed into the “you are with us, or against us” category. If you read carefully, I am not saying that human generated CO2 may not have an effect. There are just so many layers surrounding this complex system, that to say that we can know the state of climate decades, or a century from now could itself be a manifestation of the DK effect.

  40. #40 luminous beauty
    April 23, 2008

    RK,

    With all due respect, what we don’t know about the specific future effects of climate change is as much a cause for concern as the broad general effects we can expect with a high degree of confidence.

    You seem to reflect the view that unless we know every little detail with absolute certainty, we know nothing.

    No knowledge is absolutely certain in this world. That is not sufficient reason for tempting fate by running blindfolded into traffic.

  41. #41 Jeff Harvey
    April 23, 2008

    Luminous B,

    Very nice post. RK is illustrating everything I said in my previous posts in this thread. He/she does not know how science works, and keeps coming back with the same discredited arguments espoused by many in the denial camp (and many of these are free-market absolutists or libertarians). Their anti-scientific refrain is that, without 100% unequivocol proof, their is no problem. Because of this, we should not do anything about it. But science does not work this way. Rarely, if ever, is proof absolute. When contrarians say they are searching for the ‘truth’, they are being disingenuous because the truth is an elusive concept in science. Certainly, the empirical evidence for a process may be strong, even incontrovertible, but it is rarely absolute.

    The kind of interpretation espoused here by RK is something I frequently encounter when debating contrarians. It has often been (and is being) used to deny everything from the negative effects of acid rain on freshwater and forest ecosystems to the link between habitat loss and the extinction of species and genetically distinct populations to anthropogenic climate change.

    For the millionth time, science does not advance by pure consensus but public policy should – indeed must – be based on it. Otherwise nothing will ever be done to deal with the increasingly negative effects of overconsumption, social injutice, poverty, and other factors on the health and vitality of our global ecological life support systems.

  42. #42 RK
    April 23, 2008

    Jeff, the last paragraph in #41 is a window into the soul of this movement you are a part of. I’ll let you figure out the details. That post also shows how little of the scientific method you yourself have actually used in this thread. Somehow you know so much about me with so little (doctorate in computational biology, FYI). All you have given me is some elaborate rant on capitalism. While growing up in poverty, I know some of the truth on the ground.

    I am seriously concerned about sustainability issues, but I won’t hitch myself on the catastrophic CO2 bandwagon based on the shoddy scientific methods and political manipulations that I’ve have seen thus far. The caravans of India and China (1 billion in poverty) will move on, while the alarmists keep barking.

  43. #43 z
    April 23, 2008

    “Denialists I am aquainted with are so stupid they think that the increases in polar bear population in the last 50 years demonstrate there are no problems”

    hmm… http://www.dilbert.com/strips/comic/2008-04-19/

  44. #44 z
    April 23, 2008

    “All I am saying is that if it is this hard to convince well-off people in the West; it will be multitudes harder to convince the people where I come from – those that are primarily using fossil fuel to pick themselves up to the same standards we enjoy. Good luck.

    My contention is that the scientists (not all climate-specialized) agree on this not because of sound science, but it panders to their guilt”

    i hope you realize that these are two orthogtonal issues; because you seem to be saying that one supports the other in some way. i.e., that since it will be hard to tell chinese people they can’t drive suvs, there is no such thing as agw.

  45. #45 z
    April 23, 2008

    “The caravans of India and China (1 billion in poverty) will move on, while the alarmists keep barking.”

    “Experts there – Canadian and American researchers, including a representative from a high-level group that advises Beijing – said, quite simply, China has decided to build a low-carbon economy. A couple of years ago, it wasn’t considered polite to even mention climate change: Now, it’s embedded in the latest five-year plan, which
    calls for a 20 per cent improvement in energy efficiency by 2010. ”
    http://www.thestar.com/News/Ideas/article/326294

    the chinese govt has shown many times that they are quite happy to engage in draconian measures where they think necessary, and the chinese people haven’t risen up en masse. they know damn well that even if agw is a fart in the wind, being extorted by unfriendly foreign powers is no way to build an energy policy, and they are using their domestic coal and imported petroleum to fuel the engine of change to get them to the new low carbon industrial economy; while we use ours to fuel our trips to walmart to buy chinese industrial output. maybe we will both do fine. maybe we will both fail. but if only one of these methods succeeds, i think i know which one will.

    india, i don’t know about, but suspect your model may be closer to correct there. although their electorate might not be as susceptible to pandering as ours obviously is.

  46. #46 JB
    April 24, 2008

    RK says:

    I won’t hitch myself on the catastrophic CO2 bandwagon based on the shoddy scientific methods and political manipulations that I’ve have seen thus far.”

    Perhaps you would care to elaborate — in detail.

    Which “catastrophic CO2 bandwagon” are you talking about? The IPCC? The thousands of scientists engaged in climate science (and other related) research around the world?

    Specifically what “shoddy scientific methods” do you refer to? Those of people like James Hansen and others at NASA? Those of the large number of scientists involved in producing the IPCC report and the peer reviewed results on which that report drew?

    Which “political manipulations”? That’s a real hoot, given the track record of those who have been in power (at least in the US) over the past 8 years and who have thwarted most efforts to address climate change.

    If you provide no such detail, I will have to assume that you are simply blowing smoke.

    put your money where your mouth is. If you are going to make sweeping claims about the science and scientists, then people like Jeff Harvey have every right to call you on it.

    Don’t complain, just show us the money.

  47. #47 RK
    April 25, 2008

    There is no way I can completely trust an organization like the IPCC – an organization run by UN bureaucrats. I’ve dealt with enough UN agencies to create a heavy level of skepticism. I tend not to get my science from political entities.

    Of course, there is merit in the research used by the IPCC, but our understanding of the factors is just not enough. There are plenty of unknowns about our measurement techniques, system inputs, historical behavior etc. To come to a degree of confidence displayed by the likes of Hansen is hard to justify, IMO. And, the politicization of this issue by his like is counter-productive to science.

  48. #48 luminous beauty
    April 25, 2008

    RK,

    Such vigorous hand waving! Your arms must be in great shape. Too bad your mind isn’t.

  49. #49 RK
    April 25, 2008

    JB, I am glad the current administration hasn’t done much on climate change. We all know its track record on mess-ups. I wouldn’t want them to create a Big-Carbon Credit or Big-Enviro in addition to what we have with Big-Agro and Big-Oil. We don’t want another ethanol boondoggle in our hands.

  50. #50 JB
    April 26, 2008

    RK, In response to my request for details actually documenting your sweeping claims (eg, about the science and scientists: “shoddy scientific methods”), you made more of the same.

    As I suspected, you are blowing smoke.

    Some of the people who comment here actually know something about this stuff. When you make general claims like you did above (“shoddy scientific methods”) without details, it is pretty obvious to these folk that your take on the matter is not based on science.

    Perhaps you might educate yourself a little on the science and come back with specifics before you comment again.

  51. #51 Bernard J.
    April 26, 2008

    RK states:

    I tend not to get my science from political entities.

    Considering everything that I can glean from your comments on Deltoid, it is apparent that you do not get your science from ‘real’ scientists either.

  52. #52 RK
    April 26, 2008

    JB, there is plenty of documentation by other posters on this site about why it is a stretch to believe that the warming is catastrophic. It is still a very probabilistic prediction. I need to see more from your side before I petition my government officials to do something about it. The onus is not on me.

  53. #53 JB
    April 27, 2008

    there is plenty of documentation by other posters on this site”

    Trying to weasel out, are we?

    I didn’t ask them. I asked YOU.

    You apparently have nothing (because your “opinion’ is not based on science?)

    YOU are the one making sweeping claims about “shoddy scientific methods”.

    The onus is on YOU to provide the evidence of such “shoddy science.”

    So, where is it?

    We are all waiting.

  54. #54 caerbannog
    May 3, 2008


    Trying to weasel out, are we?
    | April 27, 2008 1:15 PM


    I didn’t ask them. I asked YOU.


    You apparently have nothing (because your “opinion’ is not based on science?)


    YOU are the one making sweeping claims about “shoddy scientific methods”.

    It is now nearly May 3rd (PST), and the crickets are still chirping…

  55. #55 Ian Gould
    May 3, 2008

    “All I am saying is that if it is this hard to convince well-off people in the West; it will be multitudes harder to convince the people where I come from – those that are primarily using fossil fuel to pick themselves up to the same standards we enjoy. Good luck.”

    Yet strangely denialism is an overwhelmingly American delusion with occasional outbreaks amongst well-to-do right wing politicians in other English-speaking countries (Howard in Australia, Lawson in the UK).

    Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez have every fiscal reason to reject global warming – Chavez leading a major oil exporter, Morales a major gas exporter – yet both are outspoken on the topic.

    Tell you what, point me to a single poll showing a higher degree of AGW skepticism in the developing world than in the US.

  56. #56 ian Gould
    May 3, 2008

    From the 2006 Pew Global Attitudes survey (page 21).

    Percentage of respondents “Not at all” worried about global warming.

    United States 47%
    China 37%
    Indonesia 23%
    India 13%

    http://pewglobal.org/reports/pdf/DividedWorld2006.pdf

    Proof positive of RK’s assertion that global warming is solely the concern of those rich spoiled bastards in the west.

  57. #57 RK
    May 5, 2008

    Wow, I didn’t have time to check the blog for a few days and it looks like tantrum city. Hang on, kids, us adults have other things to do. :-)

    Perhaps shoddy science is too harsh. Imperfect methods, might be a better way to put it. Tell me where is it proof positive that ever-increasing temperatures and catastrophe are imminent. We just do not know! We only have limited input into the models.

    Ian, the Pew survey proves nothing. I could draw an inverse relationship between education or annual mean temperatures in those countries to anxiety about global warming. For environmentalists in the West, AGW is more about a cause/religion, from what I’ve observed. Remember, I grew up in a so called 3rd world country. GW is a very remote concern in day-to-day life. News bits about GW crisis are taken for their word.

    I do not understand the intense need to validate using consensus – it is a poll this or consensus that. Let science stand on its own merit. Lets keep an open mind. Most people do not like being badgered and talked down to, whether it is from a Hansen letter or an Inhofe statement.

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