Effect Measure

Why the Right Wing attacks science

If you want to see what difference environmental protection enforcement makes, just go to eastern Europe or the former Soviet Union. Or China. In the 1970s the US led the world in cleaning its environment and was consolidating its gains with well-staffed, motivated federal and state environment agencies. But that was then. Last weekend the US Senate couldn’t even manage a paltry 60 votes to stop a filibuster of a bipartisan and none too strong global warming bill. This kind of failure isn’t new. The US slow motion fall in environmental leadership has been going on for decades. In the Bush administration it is no longer covert but displayed blatantly and without shame. The lack of commitment is not a result of public disinterest or hostility. Polling throughout this period shows continuing support for environmental protection, and mainstream environmental organizations have even increased their membership. So what’s going on? A recent scholarly paper pulls back the curtain on one reason for the long slide (cf. Jacques, Dunlap and Freeman, “The organisation of denial: Conservative think tanks and environmental scepticism”, Environmental Politics 17:349 – 385, 2008).

To get the Big Picture, we have to return to the sixties and the extraordinary forces it unleashed: the civil rights movement and its struggle against institutionalized racism; the anti-war movement, which didn’t disappear with the end of the Vietnam war but transformed into a potent intellectual critique of Great Power economic, cultural and military imperialism (an old fashioned but apt word for what was happening); the woman’s movement, with its probing deconstruction of everyday social relations; the consumer movement, and its demystification of marketing techniques; and the environmental movement, which seemed to burst onto the scene fully formed on Earth Day 1970. Gay rights was still to come, but by the early 70s the platter of status quo changing social forces was already heaped pretty high.

The challenges were intellectual and ideological as well as political and they called forth a predictable and well financed right wing response in the form of ideologically based professional advocacy groups. Jacques et al. refer to them as CTTs, Conservative Think Tanks, a network of paid consulting groups supported by multinational corporations and foundations bankrolled by wealthy far-right ideologues like Richard Mellon Scaife. Examples include the American Enterprise Institute, the Hoover Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, and many others. These bastard offspring of wealthy elites and Far Right anti-communist crazies have achieved a surprising respectability. All it takes is money.

For their first 20 years the CTTs concentrated on traditional right wing pre-occupations, typically, anti-communism and its phantom variants like “creeping socialism.” they linked communism to various threats to the interests of their patrons to produce a typical menu of anti-regulation, anti-corporate liability (aka, “tort reform”) and the promotion of an idealized and distorted version of competition and free-markets. The environmental movement figured into the mix in obvious ways, but wasn’t the centerpiece until the 1990s.

Two factors in the early 90s pushed the environmental movement to center stage. One was the vacuum produced by the disappearance of a favorite right wing bogeyman, the “international communist menace.” The other was the growing global environmental movement, most conspicuously on display at the Earth Summit in Rio, 1992. Globalization was well underway and “free-trade” for the CTTs meant trade free of any constraints — constraints on how workers were treated and paid, how the environment was treated and paid for, how consumers were treated and how much they paid. You can get a glimpse of the power of the moment by watcjomg the show stopping 5 minute performance of 12 year old Severn Suzuki at the 1992 Rio Summit. If you’ve never seen it, take a look. It represented the kind of developing political and ideological power the Right feared most.

In 1992 it wasn’t yet feasible to destroy the government mechanism of environmental protection by executive fiat. Reagan tried it in the 1980s and it produced a serious public backlash. Reagan did a lot of damage but the experienced showed the environmental movement couldn’t be attacked head-on. A new method would have to be found. It was time to turn the Red Scare into the Green Scare.

The key was a unique feature of the environmental movement: its reliance on science. The new strategy (not just a tactic) was to create an environmental skepticism, a contrarian counter-argument, superficially also based on science. This wasn’t an easy trick because environmental science was based on a robust scientific consensus, international in scope and as deep as it was wide. the environmental movement held the scientific high ground. So an ingenious and simple method was used. Accuse environmental science of environmental skepticism’s own defects, reducing environmental science to the CTT’s own level. Environmental science, the CTTs would claim, exaggerated, or even fabricated, the seriousness of environmental problems by manipulating data. Its scientists were corrupted by a political agenda.

The sheer audacity of this has to be admired. The strategy was to go directly at the single thing the environmental movement depended upon most, the science, and to reject its validity outright. It was a jiu-jitsu move, using the authority and language of science to discredit it while simultaneously giving it an extra push by giving a new priority to economic considerations. If you could convince people the benefits were in doubt but the costs were certain, you would have a strategy that fit beautifully with anti-regulation and anti-corporate liability objectives. Throw in the claim that environmental regulation would threaten progress and prosperity and the Green Scare would be bearing Right wing fruit.

In establishing a foot hold in the scientific arena, peer review was an obstacle. The science of environmental skepticism was weak. So the full length book became the preferred vehicle. No independent reviewers. This is where the paper by Jacques et al. makes its primary contribution (the background to this paper also has much useful background and analysis, some of which I have used here). They assembled a dataset of all English language books (141 of them) that had International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN) from the earliest example in 1972 through to 2005, whose subject could be identified as environmental skepticism. Their definition of environmental skepticism was “denying or downplaying the seriousness of problems such as climate change; stratospheric ozone depletion; biodiversity loss; resource shortages; chemicals and other pollutants in the air, water or soil; threats of trace chemical exposure to human health and the potential risks of genetic modification (Jacques et al,, p. 358). If the book merely questioned environmental values while not denying some specific environmental problem, it was not included. The researchers then tried to determine if there was a relationship between the authors or publishers each of these 141 books and the CTTs, using only publicly declared information, not inference. The paper has a 14 page table giving the details in each case so the reader can check the judgments (Appendix 1).

The results are not surprising but still stunning. Over 92% of the book length literature denying the seriousness of the major environmental problems was written by authors affiliated with the network of CTTs or actually published by a CTT itself. An examination of the CTT websites showed that environmental skepticism was a major theme in 90%, a sign of the extent to which the environmental movement has become a specific target of the Far Right.

The success and potency of the assault on environmental science is not due solely, or even primarily, to the persuasiveness of the arguments. Refuting the arguments of environmental skeptics is usually easily done but the volume of their assertions is so large and so indifferent to counter-argument that cutting off the heads of the CTT hydra has become a major distraction for environmental science and a significant cost in time and money. That is a side show, however, a “watch the birdie” effect that tends to obscure another major factor. The Republican take-over of Congress in 1994 resulted in a major ally for the Right Wing attack, and the subsequent control of the Executive Branch in 2001 by George Bush allowed the CTTs to become the source for political appointments into the regulatory and research agencies central to environmental regulation. With the conversation sufficiently confused by years of right wing static supported by CTT publications and the preoccupation with “national security” in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the same kind of dismantling attempted by the Reagan administration could be carried out with less opposition. It is a tribute to the strength of public support that even under these conditions the attack has not gone smoothly and without significant pushback.

And in some areas, like climate change, the attack on the science is failing. The major flack for environmental skepticism in the US Senate, Oklahoma’s knuckle dragging Far Right homophobic crazy James Imhofe, sat silently in the debate. His arguments now endanger the credibility of the opposition and the Republican leadership chose to fight on economic grounds first, and ultimately, via a filibuster, since the bill looked like it was headed for passage.

Attacking science is a tool to attack the environmental movement. The Republican attack on science is therefore a means to something else, not an end in itself. It has gotten its power from having had a Republican congress until 2006, a weak and sometimes cowardly Democratic opposition, and the power of the Bush Executive Branch who used the Global War on Terror to obscure its domestic agenda, a central feature of which is to trash environmental protection. We can hope we are entering a new era where two of the three, the Congress and the Executive Branch, will no longer be in play.

The attack on science will continue, no doubt. But between a Democratic congress and a Democratic Whitehouse, it will begin to lose any salience it had. The Conservative Think Tanks will continue to spew out their books, but the revolving door between government and the corporate board room will slow its rate of spin.

To every thing there is a season.


  1. #1 carl
    June 13, 2008

    True enough, but the left is also guilty of ‘attacking science.’ Examples would include irrational attacks on nuclear power when countries like Japan and France (not to mention the United States Navy) have used it for decades without serious accident and irrational attachment to crackpot ‘alternative medicine’ ideas that discount science. That doesn’t justify right wing attacks on science but it is to indicate they are not the only guilty parties. Scientific illiterates come in all political persuasions.

  2. #2 Alan
    June 13, 2008

    Science is refined over time, never really correct but still the most usefull tool we have for informing decisions. Elected officials make many decisions on our belhaf, it doesn’t look good if they are ‘indecisive’ or ‘remorseful’.

  3. #3 Dunc
    June 13, 2008

    the left is also guilty of ‘attacking science.’

    True, but I’m not sure you could argue that it’s on anything like the scale and level of organisation as that on the right. Nor am I convinced that crackpot alt med ideas have a political affiliation of any kind – they’re equally prevalent on both sides, although certain modalities may be more represented in one side or the other.

  4. #4 DarkSyde
    June 13, 2008

    Carl your point is well taken. And there may come a day when assaults on science and reason eminating from the left are as damaging, well funded, and vociferous as those currently coming from the right. But that day is not today, that day is no where in sight.

    The fact is, today, antiscience works better on the right, at least the way the political axis currently lays. When your goal is to get away scotfree with telling whoppers to millions of oeple comprising your base about, well, just about everything, science and the style of analytical thinking it demands are your arch enemy.

  5. #5 Tasha
    June 13, 2008

    Another point worth mentioning is the different audiences that are usually exposed to the left vs. right arguments. Scientific studies will usually end up in scholarly journals which, for the most part, are read by fellow scholars. Full length books on the other hand are often picked up by random Joe in Borders books. This creates a much wider, and often less skeptical, audience. It’s no wonder the latter became the more pervasive argument in popular thought.

    Scientific scholars (in all areas, but especially this one) need to publish their work in arenas that will reach the general public. The peer-reviewed journal is a verey important part of the process, but this should not be the end and final goal of scholarly work. People need to have access to good science. The Journal of Microbiology and Quantum Physics is not going to reach them. Maybe academics should hire P.R. firms? đŸ™‚

  6. #6 Phil
    June 13, 2008

    And where are the French putting their nuclear waste? Just asking. I have no opposition to nuke plants in principle. I just want to know what they do with their waste.
    The left’s anti-sci crowd is far less organized and funded and frankly are much more kooky. Healing crystals….meh.

  7. #7 Tasha
    June 13, 2008

    Oh my goodness, I misspelled “very”. How did that happen?

  8. #8 James Mayeau
    June 13, 2008

    The thing is, well let me show ya. Of the big three environmental political actions over the last 50 years, ozone hole, acid rain, and global warming, not one of the enacted remedies was signed by a Democrat President.
    The ozone legislation was signed by Reagan. He sold out his political base and by extention the people of the world, just to get a bit of relief from a malevelantly partisan press core. Worse, it didn’t work. The press was just as attack dog liberal after the Montreal protocal as before it.

    Same happened with George Bush Senior and the acid rain scare. He wanted to impress all the wrong people of how compassionately conservative he was. Big mistake. Cost him an election. Say, I notice you scientific lefties don’t mention the acid content of New England rivers much nowadays. How is that all going?

    Now we have a choice between Obama, the known liar, or McCain, who tells you straight up to your face how he is going to screw his base over.

    Given my druthers, when everybody is singing from the same climate change songbook, I’ll vote for the known liar.

    Because at the end of the day it’s the corporations and the politicians (some of which call themselves ecologists), against the consumer and the public. Democrats have demonstrated their disdain for corporations. I think Obama might full of himself enough to tell Gore and his posse of windmill merchants to step off.

  9. #9 hardindr
    June 13, 2008

    Revere, you may be interested in a new book that has come out that covers many of the topics you outline in this post. It is called Doubt is Their Product: How Industry’s Assault on Science Threatens Your Health by David Michaels, the Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary for Environment, Safety and Health under the Clinton Administration. Your fellow Scienceblogger Chris Mooney has reviewed the book for the American Prospect. The book also has a website here.

  10. #10 revere
    June 13, 2008

    hardindr: I noted David Michael’s book in an earlier post. David is a good friend and colleague and we have worked together for many years. His book started from a joint project he and we and others participated in and it has become an important source in our world, a wonderful text that spells it out, in detail. David also appears in various posts here over the years (e.g., here and here and many other places). Like you, I strongly recommend the book to everyone interested in how things work.

  11. #11 M. Randolph Kruger
    June 13, 2008

    In the past when the Catholic Church was in charge and the de facto government, they used to burn scientists at the stake, imprison them, put them on the rack (Now there’s something for Gitmo) and garot them by the neck until they confessed.

    For me science is an ever evolving thing. Expanding/contracting universe, panflu, pulse beam emitters and Star Wars to mention a few.

    Libs generally want to do pure research, the conservatives just want to make some money for the money put in. Return on investment. The Right Wing doesnt attack science anymore than they attack civil rights. Seems that a guy named Lincoln was a Republican, the 1954 desegregation Act, the desegregation of Little Rock High to also mention a few. And the environment too. The EPA was founded under a Republican president. But the Left/Libs seems to alway vilify what is done that is good under all circumstances for the Right Wing.

    Quite a few of you have benefited from the pictures of the true producers of GHG’s that I have sent you. Conceived by Republican Administration the MODIS/TERRA satellite system was and it took almost 20 years to get it off the ground, as was the finish of the space race to the moon. It was the Dems who cut the funding for that to pay for Vietnam and the giveaway programs of the late 60’s and early 70’s. Ever heard of the Human Genome Experiment… GB Senior signed the authorization. Now there is an attack on science.

    The assertion is that the right wing has tamped down the environmental scientists and there is good credible evidence that they have. Okay, when its a fair statement then I have to give it to Revere. I dont like suppression of information of anykind unless it has to do with national security. Then I go entirely to the opposite direction and that is to release it only on a need to know and compartmentalize it. In otherwords, you gotta go down and get a security clearance. But if I was running an office that had both a scientific and political arena running around I would simply tell the people under me that It doesnt go out of here without my approval. Keeps the underlings from torpedoing you when you least expect it. Certainly any position taken is not the official position unless that position comes from the political appointee of these departments. That IS the official position.

    The suggested suppression of information for climate change here is far outweighted by the information that was suppressed by the IPCC that stated just the opposite position and that has been expounded upon more than once here. Too many people just accept as fact what was put out and many very good and high level Phd’s and in more than several instances Chairman Emeritus climate people were excluded from the debate. Never even got an invite, never got to enter into the record any of their data. Things like misplaced weather reporting stations, out of calibration stations. Even the SST information with the satellites may be skewed due to acid in clouds from vulcanism. It wasnt included in the possible explanations for a mere .5 to 1.0 degree rise in temperature on a planet that saw the Alps lose its snow pack about 15 times in recorded history and Greenland wasnt open for skiing. It was open for farming.

    So the Right Wing calls into question the “science” of environmental change and gets hammered by the left because its not their “science.” I honestly dont know whether we are in a cycle or a human induced climate change. I prefer to sit and wait it out a bit to simply see what happens. We meaning the EU and US can cut all we want but SE Asia is undeniably pumping more crap into the atmosphere than we ever have. My position is simple. California and the US has cut and cut and cut their local emissions with or without the Clean Air Act for cars. We got rid of acid rain supposedly for the better part. But the air there is still getting dirtier every year? So how could that be? To attack that and ask the most valid of questions, the IPCC simply categorically excluded or denuded it down to a couple of mere statements. Thats the attack and the attack simply doesnt fit the GW facts that are pumped out by the left. Or should I just say that the information is skewed by lack of inclusion?

    Is it an attack or is it good solid questioning of the data that brings the conclusion? I think its the latter. Cycle or man or both… Now there’s a question that needs to be attacked. Mind, we have no baseline data other than some very ragged ice and sea samples and its an ever evolving thing but I would post here that Aspen is open for skiing on the 13-15th if anyone wants to go…..

    But would that be skewed by the Left who would say that its open because of the anomalies of GW?

  12. #12 revere
    June 14, 2008

    Randy: Here is the nub of the argument. Almost all the skeptic’s talking points have been refuted over and over again. There are only a few and they have been discussed ad nauseam. The IPCC didn’t ignore them. They refuted them. It is not good solid questioning of the data. Assertions have been made by the critics which are either plainly false or involve distorting the evidence. The origins of these assertions is highly revealing. It is Right Wing money that entered the picture at a certain point (not during Lincoln’s presidency or Eisenhower’s) and for a specific purpose. Science doesn’t represent “the Left” or “liberals,” it represents the fruits of the scientific method. Environmental skepticism represents the arguments of the Far Right designed to counter what a wealthy elite and Far Right crazies see as a threat. It isn’t science even if it is couched in scientific terms. Intelligent Design is couched in scientific terms, too, but it isn’t science.

    The scientific ground here has been gone over and over. Your side has lost. That’s why Imhofe sat impotent. The Republican right can still block action but that’s politics, it isn’t science.

  13. #13 Lea
    June 14, 2008

    Phil: Don’t know where the French nuclear waste is going but do know that the nuclear waste from Italy is coming to Utah.

    MRK: Have seen the satellite image you speak of and it’s conclusive evidence that Asia/China is polluting the planet more that the U.S. I’d go so far to add I hate much about the Chinese government since I studied the brutal takeover of Tibet. (Gitmo comes out smelling like a rose compared to the takeover of Tibet).

    Anyway and however, ironically, China is one of the few countries on the planet that is taking responsibility for overpopulation. Some one got that right so give credit where credit is due.

    And a side note: The local Taoist spiritual teachers in China announced that the recent earth quakes were a warning for China to reconsider its rapid industrialization, which is causing such severe ecological devastation.

  14. #14 K
    June 14, 2008

    Lea, before you decide that China’s take over of Tibet was horror upon horrors you might want to read Michael Parenti on the Buddhist Fuedalism that existed in Tibet
    This is not a criticism of the religion but of the religious elite who, much as the Catholic church in the Middle Ages, taxed and oppressed the poor while living a much better life.

    Personally I see the hand of the US in the latest disturbances in Tibet. Our CIA is great at stirring up things and painting it to be something other than it is.

  15. #15 K
    June 14, 2008

    Some of French nuclear waste goes to Russia

  16. #16 James Mayeau
    June 14, 2008

    A few other things.
    The ban on offshore drilling was signed into law what year?

    Anyone want to take a guess?
    We’ll come back to it.
    How about the endangered species act? Anyone want to take a stab at which president signed that pig into law?

    Lets clear the air. The IPCC locked out desenting opinion.
    It is entirely unclear that Co2 has an effect on temperature, but even if the case were concrete, the IPCC can’t tell what the baseline “natural” rate of growth for atmospheric co2 is.

    Respiration Animals, Phytoplankton 43.5-52 Gt C/ year
    Ocean Outgassing (Tropical) 90-100 Gt C/ year
    Volcanoes, Soil degassing 0.5-2 Gt C/ year
    Soil Bacteria, Decomposition 50-60 Gt C/ year
    Forest cutting, Forest fires 0.6-2.6 Gt C/ year
    Anthropogenic emissions (2005) 7.5-7.5 Gt C/ year
    TOTAL 192 to 224 Gt C/ year

    The only source of co2 that science knows with any degree of accuracy is man made co2 emissions (this unnatural precision is due to tax records). The rest are only approximations. Three of the other sources range of probablility (the error bar on the IPCC’s guesstimate) exceed the total known amount of human emissions.
    That means even if every man, woman, and child, were deleted from the planet, along with their space heaters,cars,trucks,air conditioners,coalplants,movie studios,beach bonfires,planes,trains and cow farts, leaving only one scientist on the planet to read the co2 gauge, the co2 readings would still be going up due to ocean outgassing, animal respiration, and bacterial decomposition.
    Now about that offshore drilling ban, which would you rather do? Walk to work/pay terrorist actor states gobs of money/wait for the inevitable techno leap that allows the Chinese to horizontally drill into our territory from platforms anchored just outside US waters, or drill our own oil/break the opec cartels strangle hold on energy/force the prices down/trade shoe leather for wear and tear on the tires? That’s simple math for me.

    Oh yes.
    Reagan signed the bill banning offshore oil drilling in 1981.
    Nixon signed the Endangered species act in 1973.

    What have Democrats ever done for the environment?
    I’m sure there’s got to be something.

  17. #17 JimFiore
    June 14, 2008

    Oh please, James, don’t be so transparent. As if a Democratically controlled Congress had nothing to do with environmental legislation. Tell me, what did your Republican controlled Congress do for the environment (besides deny global warming)? The Republican party has veered so far to the right that if a candidate showed up today who held the same positions as Nixon did, he’d be tarred as a “crazy liberal”.

    While I can’t speak for New England’s rivers, I do live on the border of NY’s Adirondack Park and go there often, and although there have been improvements due to legislation, I’d love to show you the numerous lakes and ponds that are STILL DEAD due to acid rain, in spite of environmental protections begun decades ago.

    Oh, and if I could, I’d LOVE to be able to walk or bike to work. The problem is that there are a lack of pedestrian/bicycle byways and I’d prefer not to battle 4000 or 5000 pound SUVs with my 25 pound bike.

  18. #18 Ryan
    June 14, 2008

    Lets cut the BS. I think this was the author’s original point. One can quote CO2 emissions figures until they are blue in the face. The fact is they (as well as myself) are probably not environmental scientists. However, I do know that global climate is not so simple that those numbers simply speak for themselves.

    Cite some credible research. Cite some credible research. Cite some credible research. Get it? You’re just blowing hot air.

  19. #19 M. Randolph Kruger
    June 14, 2008

    And THAT is my point. There were more things included to support the IPCC’s position than those that didnt. Clear cut and undeniable information that instead of including it, simply was cut.

    It was and is to the inurement of the countries other than the US to ensure that we get regulated to death. The Greenies in this country are going to be our undoing, and not the other ones. China could give one big crap about pollution as does India, but we are supposed to just sit back and watch the greatest country on this planet just slip into a third world status. I am sorry but I can assure you all that if Obama wins and the Congress stays Democrat that those deniers are going to roar into the forefront by the time the next Congressional election phase comes around. It will be about the economy stupid(s).

    All bets though would be off if we hit Iran before then.

    JimF-I wish I could bike too but it would only take two hours due to the terrain. And you are correct, the left/liberals have been responsible for a lot of good legislation …. and very bad ones. Any crap that comes up with a carbon tax is going to get hammered down. Acid rain kind of puts you high on the list and I dont disagree with that at all. But, cant complain when the lights are on with those big coal fired plants when the lefties/libs stopped the nuke projects at Hanford. There is no good place to put a nuke in their opinion, or a wind farm in Nantucket-Thanks Teddy.

    We have had about 30 years of continuous attempts at greening the environment and a lot of it was good. Now its getting to the point that the jobs are leaving the US at some 1000 per week. When the unemployment starts to hit about 6 they’ll get nervous, at 7 they’ll keep their backs to the walls, at 8 as they did under Carter they will just start to pack up their desks and watch for the landslide election victories.

  20. #20 daedalus2u
    June 14, 2008

    JM, you are so completely FOS, exactly proving Revere’s point. We know what the CO2 level has been in the atmosphere for the last ~800,000 years because it has been measured in bubbles trapped in ice cores. We therefore know that the CO2 level in the atmosphere now is ~1/3 higher than it has ever been during that entire time. We know that the increase only occurred in the last 50 years and that it matches and coincide with anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

    So an 800,000 year “baseline” isn’t good enough to tell that there is a 1/3 increase in the last 50 years?

  21. #21 JimFiore
    June 14, 2008

    MRK: Your final paragraph appears to argue that environmental legislation is somehow tied to unemployment. I think the loss of manufacturing jobs in the USA goes WAY beyond ennviro leg and I’ve seen no hard data that proves cause and effect. Indeed, I suggest that intelligent application of environmental concerns could create jobs. Technology and mind-power is the one thing we’re good at.

  22. #22 Allen, Asheville NC, US
    June 14, 2008

    i was trained in science, but nowadays we see alot of not very good quality showing up in respected journals. I heavily critiqued one in J. Wildl. Mgmt.– cy to the Editor, both the senior & jr. author from a prestigious upper mid western univ. never a peep from any of them. lots of summary statements, no data of support.

  23. #23 Joesage123
    June 14, 2008

    Lets get back to the point of the article- more proof that: the destruction of the Earth and its inhabitants is for increased profits for the wealthy and is with malice. It is smokescreened to look like they are watching out for the American people.

    Those of us who have felt sick in the stomach for years have always seen through the conservative lie of their supposed values and patriotism in the actual name of profit, greed, power. But, articles like these hopefully will little by little pull the blinders off of those who have apologetically let the republican fear and hate rhetoric numb them from the truth (think 911 & the “1 term pres.” W’s unlikely reelection), as republicans so desperately rely on those tactics to stay in power.

    Listen with your fears and prejudice, and you will follow republicans and continue to argue for them with weak fluff lined with venom; listen with your logic, and you will have better judgment.

  24. #24 Ray Hoff
    June 14, 2008

    James Mayeau’s comments exactly make Revere’s point. It is about talking points on FoxNews rather than science. His list of IPCC emissions are impressive. The natural environment is a major “source” of CO2. Yes, but it is also a major “sink” of CO2. And the imbalance of sources and sinks is only of order of 1-2GT per year. So if there were no people, we’d only have to worry about fluctuations in CO2 of 1-2GT. But we are now adding 6GT of CO2 from man’s activities. Gee, do you think that might have some impact?

    The right and our beneficient Republican presidents have so looked out for our interest that we should just let Dow and Exxon and Merck look after us. I guess those were Republican Congresses that brought throught that legislation, huh?

    From 1989

    Published: February 1, 1989

    LEAD: William K. Reilly, President Bush’s choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, signaled a sharp break with Reagan Administration policies today by saying he would propose legislation to reduce acid rain.

    The article goes on to talk about how the Reagan administration stonewalled on Acid Rain for 8 years. Yep, looking after us well.

    The revisionism about Acid Rain amazes me since I remember how hard George Senior and Jim Mahoney fought Congress (a Democratic Congress) on the 1991 Acid Rain agreement. As a reviewer on the EPA report, I recall how the Bush Administration eviscerated the science in the report and wrote pap as an executive summary to water down the recommendations of what was needed to reduce acid rain.

    That agreement did not reduce SO2 enough and in the 1990’s EPA rulemaking (oh, wait, that was a Democratic President) accelerated the reductions of SO2 which has brought down sulfate levels. But don’t kid yourself. We still have acid rain. See http://nadp.sws.uiuc.edu. pH on average in Pennsylvania is 4.3. It was 4.1 at the height of the acid rain scare. I think pH of 4.3 is a problem. If Mayaeu thinks that’s ok, put that in your aquarium and see how your guppies feel about it.

    We still have dead lakes. What we don’t have is any concern. What we have are Republicans who tell us to “go to sleep. It will all be ok”.

  25. #25 SC
    June 14, 2008

    Good post.

    Reading through the comment threads here on Sb over the past several months, I’ve come to hold a very strong suspicion that several of the denialists appearing here regularly are also connected to or in the employ of CTTs or the corporations that fund them: a sort of Blog Disinformation Team, if you will.

  26. #26 daedalus2u
    June 14, 2008

    The problems of dealing with nuclear waste are political, not technical. If you take spent fuel straight out of a reactor, it is deadly radioactive. If you wait 700 years it becomes less radioactive than the ore from which the uranium was originally mined. Most of the radioactivity in uranium ore is from the daughter products from the decay of the uranium. They have a much shorter half life than uranium, so the decay of uranium sets the quantity of everything down stream. The specific activity (disintegrations per second) of each of the daughter products ends up being the same as that of the parent uranium (more or less). It takes a long time for that equilibrium to build up.

    Is natural uranium ore a deadly health problem? The natural abundance of uranium in the Earth’s crust is about 4 ppm. Within a mile of where everyone is sitting is on average 85,000 tons of uranium (21 billion tons of rock at 4 ppm U). The energy density of uranium is about a million times higher than that of coal.

    If you put the spent fuel in a secure location for 700 years, it becomes less radioactive than natural uranium ore. Most of the danger then comes from the long lived uranium and transuranics. Those could be easily disposed of through reprocessing and incorporation into new fuel and burned up in a reactor. There are plenty of buildings still standing that are more than 700 years old. The Pyramids are ~5,000. We can’t do better?

    The problems of nuclear waste are political. Virtually all of the environmental contamination is from military weapons programs where they didn’t care about the environment, did everything on the cheap, and when there was a problem just classified it secret. Atmospheric weapons tests released a lot more radioactivity than did leaks.

    It is clear to me that the anti-nuclear activists are not really concerned about safety, because there is plenty of nuclear material that is being held in relatively unsafe conditions only because of delays that they are causing. I see it as a game of chicken with the extremists on both ends preventing the reasonable and effective solutions that are in the middle.

    We can use nuclear power safely. We can’t if there is so much red tape that it takes an infinite amount of time to do anything. We also can’t if there is no regulation and radioactive crap can be released just because it is cheaper to be reckless than prudent.

    With any reasonable cost attached to CO2 emissions, nuclear develops such a cost advantage over coal that it would be hard to screw it up.

  27. #27 Chris Crawford
    June 14, 2008

    I’d like to offer a minor criticism of the main post. It strikes me as a bit conspiratorial in tone, suggesting that all those conservatives are part of a grand cabal with secret handshakes, meetings in parking garages at 3:00 in the morning, and so forth. I find such thinking distasteful. Yes, the conservative think tanks have hit upon a strategy that has had great success in gutting the environmental protection mechanisms in this country, but I doubt that it is the result of some grand plan — more likely an evolutionary process pursuing what works and what doesn’t work.

    I am, however, far more appalled by the anti-rational screeds of Mr. Mayeau and Mr. Kruger. Their own conspiratorial rants against the IPCC, environmentalists, and the left are much more deranged and more poisonous than that of the original post.

    I was particularly struck by Mr. Kruger’s reference to “the greatest country on this planet”. I don’t choose to argue his claim, but I am struck by the fact that he would make it here. I think it reveals a thought process driven by pride rather than objectivity. I do wish that conservatives would set aside all the chest-thumping and sit down to discuss this rationally with us.

  28. #28 M. Randolph Kruger
    June 14, 2008

    So SC-its better to just go with the flow of political winds rather than the realities? Sorry, I cant buy that and none of the people that I am aware of are in the employ of those you suggest. Nor is it an argument. Its a suggestion of conflict of interest. Conflict of interest doesnt make people wrong for making their positions known. It might taint it but until completely and totally shown to be bunk, you have to include it. The same could be said for just about any of the Greenies.

    Here is an nice little speech that was made recently by John Coleman, one of the founding fathers of the Weather Channel. Now this group has been on a warpath about GW after they went public. It sells advertising. Push the agenda, make some money…sounds so Republican. So they get wacko Heidi to pump this crap into the air as bad as a 57 Chevy. Nothing she says can be credible because there are opposing views that NEVER make it onto their show(s). Nor do they ever produce anything but “proof.”

    Remember, butter is bad for you? Try some of that trans-fatty shit instead….

    I simply say this. Wait ten years and see if Al “the Manchurian Candidate” Gore is right or wrong. I believe the earth is starting a cooling cycle as indicated and for a variety of reasons. Yes the 9000 scientists will include a few grocery store owners K. But the others all do have Phd.s in climatology and other near fields.

    The other thing is that we have gone into this save the world stuff and its now got a butchers bill of problems with it. At least 500 million people, maybe a billion have been saved from extinction due to food supply and ability to produce it. Now that surplus is gone either by bad harvests, demand and other extenuating circumstances. Add in the idiocy of bio fuels and we got big people kills in the next five years. We have slipped from an arguably small 41 day supply of food under normal consumption to around 23-25. This means dead people any way you look at it. You feed them and they go out and raise more goats and make more babies. Population pushed by food supplies.

    If something comes along and disrupts this such as weather related, then its going to be a self correcting problem. Too many polluters, nature or God is going to come in and smoke them.

    Do read this as it continues to wear against the GW’s and the founding father of Co2 warned that it (Co2) shouldnt be used as a gauge for activism. Try not to pollute is a good plan. Committing economic suicide isnt. Every layoff notice should include the Commerce Secretary’s warning: “Global Warming pushed your job offshore. You wont get it back in your lifetime. It can cause serious hardships on your family and your current lifestyle that someone says is too ostentatious, and you as an American consume too many resources. Now we are going to send it off shore and then they can consume your job, your resources, and have an ostentatious lifestyle.”


    And Ray, So2 is generated by coal and volcanoes. So build nukes…..if you can get that past the Greenies and wind farms if you can get that past Teddy. But dont let the politicians talk environmentalism when they own stock in the big oil companies like Michael Moore and his trust. Wouldnt want a conflict of interest. That would be unethical.

  29. #29 revere
    June 14, 2008

    Chris: It is not the kind of conspiracy as you caricature it but more like the one the presidential candidates employ when they all use the same talking points. These CTTs often have the same funders (check out Scaife as an example).

    Randy: It’s not about Al Gore. It’s about the science. You consistently slide over into a false “liberal versus conservative” frame or talk about the US’s competitive standing when you don’t want to talk about the science. That’s exactly what the strategy is. You have drunk the kool aid. If you want to talk about the science, fine. All the rest is peripheral to the question at hand. Al Gore is irrelevant. Competition is irrelevant. Democrats and Republicans are irrelevant. Liberal versus conservative is irrelevant. Unless, of course, you don’t want to talk about the science. Then those topics are all you’ve got. Every time you talk about them it is an open concession you don’t have the green stamps on the science. Which you don’t.

  30. #30 sgp
    June 14, 2008

    Tasha notes:

    ” Scientific scholars (in all areas, but especially this one) need to publish their work in arenas that will reach the general public. The peer-reviewed journal is a verey important part of the process, but this should not be the end and final goal of scholarly work. People need to have access to good science. The Journal of Microbiology and Quantum Physics is not going to reach them. Maybe academics should hire P.R. firms? :)”

    More scientists really need to consider the usefulness of electronic journals that are freely accessible to all at no cost. As things stand now, publishing houses pretty much dictate the rules to scientific societies as to the costs of publishing. There has been a trend in this direction, but many are reluctant to let go of old habits. There is concern among some societies with regard to covering the costs of publication and so they continue to go with traditional journals and publishers. Most of this could be passed through at very limited cost either by direct line items in grants or through subscription fees to society members or from input via library funds (which buy hugely expensive subscriptions for traditional publication). As it stands now, there is a turnstile at which interested readers must pay, typically $25-50 to read a single journal article on line, unless subscribed to particular services, such as JStore. Such schemes work, but they hardly provide universal access to science beyond a small cotterie of academics and only for a limited number of journals.

    Free electronic access really has nothing to do with peer review, as that is a layer different from “publication” and distribution. It is up to scientific societies to set standards for acceptable publication and that ultimately falls to scientists who are in a position to critically assess the value of a given publication.

    Publishing houses would lobby against funding for free universal access as its their livelihood, but there is no reason that folks working for such firms could not be assimilated into a free distribution scheme, with costs for their services being more widely spread by socieity.

    Its ironic that in many cases the funds used to do the research are public monies, but the public only gets limited access to the publications (not that most could actually read and interpret it properly, which are yet other issues).

    Perhaps the major advantage of freely available on line access to journal articles is that the contents of this work could be more rapidly assimilated into other activities of scientific socieites and educational groups, and policy planners, which could more directly use the information for online efforts to foster better understanding of the underlying science. Distillation and summary of this information by teachers and educators would give young students direct access to all of science, all at a much earlier age and available to any school with an internet connection. It would also facilitate cross-disciplinary interaction, which are necessary to address complex problems, such as global warming, biodiversity loss, and ocean acidification. As a result, free access to all scientific publications, play an imoportant role in generating major scientific breakthroughs in the years to come.

    In the long run completely free on-line access to scientific information would greatly benefit everyone, regardless of your political point of view or your source of income.

    All, perhaps except those who believe in creationism and the universal utility of myth and superstition instead of science.

  31. #31 Pierce R. Butler
    June 14, 2008

    … the environmental movement, which seemed to burst onto the scene fully formed on Earth Day 1970… The environmental movement figured into the mix in obvious ways, but wasn’t the centerpiece until the 1990s.

    A few important pieces have been left out of the puzzle here.

    “Environmentalism” was quite visible in the ’60s: highlights include Silent Spring, fights over oil spills and damming the Colorado River, the surge of militancy in the Sierra Club under Dave Brower, and increasing awareness of overpopulation. The backlash was systematic and well-organized.

    I for one would be most interested to see a comprehensive review of changes in science funding from, say, 1950 to 1980, and would be prone to betting that research and teaching on topics relating to ecology were diminished and channeled toward “safe” subspecialties once their political implications became obvious.

    We don’t hear much about ecology any more, do we? Even the most vocal biologists in the blogosphere vent their spleen against relatively insignificant creationists and barely raise a peep about the massive wave of extinctions going on around the world.

    However it happened, there was a sharp decline in the public discourse on all things “eco-” even before the Reaganistas led their counter-attack. Given that this is where much of the critique of consumerism and corporate control had been coming from, meeting a public response that leftist arguments per se had never approached, only the most naive would think there had been no high-level opposing strategies using all available political levers.

    It’s also worth mentioning that what was left of the environmental movement after the Reagan-Bush I years was very effectively de-fanged by Bill Clinton’s strategy of co-optation. All the major eco-groups were made to feel like Beltway insiders, and softened or silenced their rhetorical and legal actions in hopes of having a director appointed the assistant deputy undersecretary of something or other.

  32. #32 revere
    June 14, 2008

    sgp: Couldn’t agree more, although in the interests of full disclosure, I am editor in chief of an Open Access peer reviewed scientific journal. Click on the Open Access category in the left sidebar to see our many posts on the subject.

    Pierce: Yes, the environmental movement was well underway before Earth Day. That’s why there could be an Earth Day. So that’s why I used the word “seemed” because for many Americans that was their first experience of it as a movement. Ecology has taken a hit by the CTT assault, which has identified it with attempts to save spotted owls and snail darters. But as a discipline it is pretty robust and active. I agree with you about Clinton. It was a period of reaction, generally. One thing I especially blame him for was putting his own skin ahead of the Democratic Party, thus losing the congressional election of 1994 and ushering in the Dark Ages. But Clinton was a stalwart of the right wing of the party (the DLC) and couldn’t care less about that.

  33. #33 ToughIsNotEnough
    June 14, 2008

    This all started with the Powell Memo. Back just before Powell was appointed to the Supreme Court in the early 1970s. Financing Think Tanks is part of it. Detailed candidate recruitment — similar to corporate CEO searches — has also had its impact. Minnesota House district 02 is one example. A retired Army officer with CIA connections named John Kline was groomed, moved from Texas, supported for years including getting a house on nice terms, and financed to eliminate the local moderates. Texas has about a half-dozen House Districts that are located conveniently in other states.

  34. #34 SC
    June 14, 2008

    M. Randolph Kruger,

    If it helps, that bizarre, despicable neo-Malthusian rant has somewhat convinced me that you aren’t likely a member of a corporate/CCT Blog Disinformation Team but merely an individual, irrational zealot who is immune to evidence. Slightly less scary in the grand scheme of things.

  35. #35 M. Randolph Kruger
    June 14, 2008

    Revere-I generally try to find out as much as possible about a situation before I do something about it. Rightly intentioned moves in a wrong situation have created what we have today. The science is inconclusive and even though it might mean that the water rises, the Co2 levels increase, and maybe a bunch of humans get whacked by it then I am content to wait.

    But if its human generated, those things will KILL a bunch of those human problems, prove your case and thus by design start to eliminate GW as you designate it. Humans gone…This would be a good thing would it not? Equilibrium of the biomass. Pierce indicates the species elimination is in a high order. Well, so is the creation of them too. This elimination might take us as a species off of the planet, but we would simply adapt by creating a new lung or gills if the water rose. If not, we would go. Ultimate Green rather than Soylent.

  36. #36 Lea
    June 14, 2008

    Thanks for the link K, will check it out soon.

    revere: That was an astounding video of 12 year old Severn Suzuki at the 1992 Rio Summit.

    She said: “If you don’t know how to fix it then stop breaking it.”

    In my mind that pretty well sums it up.

  37. #37 Carolyn Russ
    June 14, 2008

    I just got back from several weeks in China. I wish we could put a bunch of Republicans and captains of industry on a plane to Chongqing and make them spend some time there. The air, the water, are completely fouled. It is really almost beyond description – you cannot even see down the street. I did not see blue sky in three weeks. No child should grow up there. People need to see and experience what the world is like with no environmental controls. This isn’t a political statement, it’s just facts. If this is the future, it will not be survivable.

  38. #38 Ray Hoff
    June 14, 2008

    SC et al.

    Been a long time since I checked out EffectMeasure and I’m glad to see that it has become a home for the denialists. Keeps them out of harm’s way.

    Funny thing is that I’m on the left of the spectrum and I actually do believe that nuclear is a good thing. I think it should be viewed as a rather shaky, awkward bridge to the 22nd century when we might actually have efficient energy sources. But nuclear is not salable because the morons running this country would be responsible for keeping the waste out of our drinking water and air and out of the hands of Al Qaida. And I don’t trust for a moment their ability to do that correctly. I found it interesting that nuclear is now being touted in Maryland as a good alternative since the waste fuel “would not be stored in the US”. Huh? We’re going to ship it to Kazakhistan or Georgia or the Ukraine and figure that it will not be intercepted as a source for dirty weapons (not bombs, just dirty stuff).

    For 10,000 years, man has hunted, eaten, shit and then thrown his shit in his neighbor’s cave. We do that with our water pollution and with our air pollution. Now we want to do that with our nuclear pollution? No thanks. Invest in wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, hydrothermal power. And if you want nuclear, you better start training some new Physicists since all the old ones who knew how to do this shit are dead or dying and all you have are eastern Europeans to run reactors.

  39. #39 Lea
    June 14, 2008

    Just so you know Carolyn Russ, I read your comment and appreciate you taking the time to post here.

    Now if everyone could just drop their judgemental ego trips and have actual conversations here.
    It’s too late for wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, hydrothermal power. These should have been done dozens upon dozens of years ago.

  40. #40 Marty Kay Zee
    June 14, 2008

    The technology for clean satellite-generated solar microwave energy has been available for over 30 years. See http://www.ssi.org
    Let’s go to the moon, but delay going to Mars until the latter half of the century and spend the money on an orbiting solar satellite manufacturing facility.

  41. #41 LB
    June 14, 2008

    Phil: check this out about French nuclear waste


  42. #42 M. Randolph Kruger
    June 14, 2008

    SC-If it makes you feel better vent all you want at me. I am of the opinion that skeptics are not denialists and until you can prove your case which no one has yet we will continue doing what we are doing on this planet. If Co2 is the problem which I doubt, then its going to finish us off very quickly.

    The IPCC 600 which was by invitation only totally discounted So2, Nitrogen, and about ten other gases and scuse me but fuck a bunch of Co2 when Co is by far the most dangerous gas and its the one I am more concerned about. You might make it past the carbon dioxide but if you took a little time to read up a bit you would find that this is the one that isnt in question. It bonds more readily with hemoglobin than O2. Now THAT is man made and if it continues there will be a continuous belt of it circling the globe at all altitudes and south and north of the 60 degree latitudes. Again, its a self correcting problem.

    But what would I know? If I can call the IPCC into question over that particular GHG and not CO2 then I dont fit the agenda. Therefore I am automatically wrong. Co2 is the big problem…..Right.

    If you want the pretty pictures just ask. I bear no malice against anyone.

    Carolyn-So your point is that Republicans are responsible for Chinese air quality or that the air is dirty from unregulated industry? No one is suggesting that we stop what we are doing. What I an others are suggesting is that if we are going to have air quality standards in the US and maintain an economy that EVERYONE on this planet follow the same standards. This also means that they compliance is immediate. It levels the playing field and then we get a baseline estimate whether we are doing harm to the environment. People just dont get it. Kyoto was going to be signed by WJC and he declined at the last minute. Reason for that is that the USChambers of Commerce went directly to him and explained what it was going to cost us, how many jobs were going to be lost and permanently at that as Kyoto had a 40 year “catch up” clause in it. In addition the US was going to be the leader in paying for the clean up in those other countries. Annex 1 countries paying for those other countries to take your job? Only a goddamn idiot would do that and neither GB1 or WJC would do that.

    Of course all of the other countries are pressuring us to do it. Germany, France, etc. It raises their stature, and they aint paying the bills! Our tax money being sent to other countries to clean up their shitty smoking industries that we moved there because of the standards here. Uh-huh. Sorry but if you think thats out of line we just have to agree to disagree and move on. Or, most people dont even know what Kyoto said, or even the Montreal Protocol.

    How about a news flash….they could be wrong period. Its not the Co2? Methane, Nitrogen, So2, etc. all might be elevating but for some reason we keep harping Co2 and above all only testing for that. They are elevated, but the causes of the warming are simply not known. Lot more science has to come down the pike to get me to join in for this party that will kill the US economy permanently. Yes, permanently. We will become a country with a flat to negative economy, a much weakened military and packing nukes. Its absolutely to every other countries advantage to take us down. But most dont understand that this single issue could do just that, take us down. I am not in a world love in mentality most of the time. I gave that up about 1974. I watch for the trip wires to be hit and respond accordingly.

    Think not? With Carter, we taxed, spent, enviro’d, and above all overregulated and within only a year into his Administration we were on our way to runaway inflation, jobs cut, and we had to borrow money from the Germans to cover ourselves. Gold was at its highest level ever until now. Interest rates were 20%! Afghanistan fell to the Russians and gave us what we have today.

    Each time the US has become weak for whatever reason, things fundamentally changed here..for the worse. It starts with the economy. Bust it and it takes years to recover. Who wants to step on up and decide whether Co2 is definitely OUR problem. And WADR Carolyn maybe you should have stopped by the Premiers offices in Beijing and voiced your opinion to them rather than saying we are the problem. I just disagree completely as none of the data proves that. We contribute at best. But that would be full on denialism on my part. Me, I just pull up tables and charts, space satellite pictures and they get TOTALLY ignored by the Greenies… Kind of like the IPCC.

  43. #43 Matt
    June 14, 2008

    Marty: The problem with space based solar power is that launch costs for LEO are very expensive and it would require us to send huge fields of solar panels up into space, which means it would have to be mainly self assembling, since construction work in space is tough. To fully develop the technology for a large solar panel array + deployment and construction would take at least till 2020, but my bet is that it would take even longer. With all these problem attached to it, I think we will make ground-based progress in the time span require to make space based solar power work that will make the deployment of such a facility obsolete.

    The SpaceCynics have had a roundtable discussion on the topic just recently (I highly recommend it):


  44. #44 revere
    June 14, 2008

    Randy: Please stick to the scientific arguments. John Coleman is not a climate scientist and he never cites science. He only gives his opinion on the science. He is a well know fringe voice who has been discredited by every scientific body having to do with climate change, including the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, not to mention his own scientific association the American Meteorological Association and also The Weather Channel, which he started. Even they think he is full of crap. More importantly he never gives any scientific arguments. He just says he has studied the models and doesn’t believe them. His idea that 70 parts per million of anything in the air couldn’t be important is ludicrous. The idea that two major greenhouse gases, CO2 and water are “natural” and therefore couldn’t be a problem is too stupid for words. Formaldehyde and cyanide are also “natural.” Coleman has no expertise in climate change. Neither do you. The scientists who do, long ago reached consensus. I know enough about the science to know you couldn’t possibly have made an independent evaluation for yourself. You depend wholly and completely on nut cases like John Coleman. This says more about you than about the science.

    The piece you linked to is incredibly idiotic.

  45. #45 albatross
    June 14, 2008

    I haven’t thought about this stuff in as much depth as you have, but I think the right-ward anti-science bias is incidental, not fundamental. I think the reality is that there are folks with deep pockets who often have an economic/business interest in confusing some scientific issues. And they spend a lot of money on doing that, with some success. Because the left tends to be relatively friendly to environmental arguments, and the right tends to be relatively friendly to arguments in favor of deregulation, those anti-science campaigns tend to come from the right than the left. If you’re Monsanto, and you need advocates who will argue for deregulation or no new environmental regulation, you can find guys who make that kind of argument at Cato or AEI.

    I think the left is often more hostile to technology than science. Nuclear power and genetically modified foods are two places where I think the left tends to be more hostile than the science would support, and which have seen pretty well-organized attempts to fight them which were/are willing to play fast-and-loose with the science. Evolutionary psychology, sociobiology, and psychometrics are areas of science (for some value of “science”) to which a lot of folks on the left are extremely hostile, to the point of violent protests to shut down conferences and prevent talks. But this kind of opposition looks like it’s much less organized, and not especially well funded–very different from the There’s No Global Warming Problem industry.

    Of course, the truly wonderful example of anti-science denialism by industry is many years old–the tobacco industry and the whole argument about the dangers of smoking, which I believe managed to get (among many others) Ronald Fischer as an advocate.

  46. #46 Lea
    June 14, 2008

    Go easy on Carolyn MRK, she gave us some good information although she did implicate Republican’s in the beginning of her comment and then went on to say “This isn’t a political statement.”

    Taking a doomer’s point of view, we really are screwed MRK. So what do we do? We offer constructive recommendations rather than continual digs at one another.

    Here’s part of what I’m talking about: (not my words that follow)

    If our leaders are criminals that should come as no surprise, for we live on theft. We’ve invented polite words for our theft (“capitalism,” “the global economy,” “the free market”), but in fact it takes a lot of muscle and legalized theft for 5% of Earth’s population to gobble 50% of its resources. Our way of life is a criminal enterprise, and it takes criminals to run it. For more than a century we’ve depended upon thinly veiled criminality for our good fortune, and we damn well are implicated.

    Which is the underlying reason most Americans want to know nothing about their governance. To know would be to admit responsibility. To admit responsibility would put one in the moral dilemma of either taking action toward a more just world and thereby ultimately undermining one’s own prosperity, or ignoring it all in the desperate attempt to live happily ever after.

  47. #47 daedalus2u
    June 14, 2008

    LB, interesting article on the French nuclear power industry. An interesting point, a breeder reactor is one that takes uranium that is not fissionable (U238) and turns it into plutonium which is fissionable and can be used in reactors. The French Superphoenix has a breeding ratio of ~1.07, that is in a year it makes enough fuel to run itself another year plus 7% more to fuel another reactor. Natural uranium is 99.3% U238 and only 0.7% U235. By using a breeder reactor you can use 100% of the uranium (as well as thorium which is ~3x more abundant than uranium).

    As I said, the French Super Phoenix has a breeding ratio of about 1.07, the US had a breeder reactor too, the Clinch River Breeder reactor. Carter killed it as a show of good faith to prevent proliferation. The Clinch River Breeder reactor had a breeding ratio of 1.86

  48. #48 albatross
    June 14, 2008


    The implication of your comment is that we’re living well because we’re impoverishing other countries. There are a couple pretty obvious reasons to think that’s all wrong:

    a. Countries that are embargoed from trade get poorer, not richer. If our trade with other countries is really making them poorer, the opposite should happen–embargoes against Iraq, Iran, Cuba, Serbia, and North Korea (for example) should have made them wealthier, as no more exploitation was happening to impoverish them.


  49. #49 albatross
    June 14, 2008


    b. The poorer countries are almost all richer now than before the industrialized countries rose to great wealth. While there’s no doubt that some of the seeds of that wealth was stolen (with slavery being the most obvious example of this), if we were living well because of making others live on less, we’d expect the opposite pattern.

  50. #50 M. Randolph Kruger
    June 14, 2008

    Again, Albatross that isnt an argument. Smoking wasnt a problem because we were specifically lied to. They sued and won. Do I get to sue Al Gore if it gets colder?

    Lets start and here we go again. The only consensus is that which exists inside of the 600 specially selected people who were in the IPCC. Its an agenda based group and to have a consensus you must include ALL scientific information provided by even a damned grocery store clerk and debunk or prove each assertion. Being a guy who reports the weather and even a grocery store clerk who have information you MUST include it when you are talking about the entire planet. I wouldnt discount a thing because the problem or lack of it affects us all in our future. Whats next the food we eat is now going to kill us? Has for about 50,000 years.


    Here is the challenge to a debate on GW from the Czech President to Al Gore.

    Here is where the Supreme Court has said that the GW Co2 people have not met the burden of proof.


    Well here is a meldown of sorts in Canada…. do listen to the interview.


    And on and on. I can counter everything that anyone puts up with valid reasons that its not right. But I am not saying that the Greenies are wrong either. Now boys and girls understand I agree that its a bit warmer out there. But I am not ready to throw out our babies with the bath water because a couple of guys got together and bought into GW technology and are going to get their asses beat up when it turns cooler as the Russians AND the Chinese say it is. Remember, Al Gore tools around in a G3 as do most of his Hollywood buddies.

    Who is right? The Greenies or the GW aint happening, its a cycle types? I honestly dont know but I can say that ice melting doesnt flip my skirt because its happened before. At least 15 times in recorded history. And the Sahara was wet and the Western US was a swamp and the area where I live was at least 120 feet under the water. That would make it a cycle that we will have to adapt to and no matter what we do, still have to deal with it.

    NO, dont tell me anything about consensus because there simply isnt when the IPCC deliberately kept people out of the mix. Its biased, its agenda based. This skews the results and doesnt prove a damned thing. The report itself said that it was based on “current data.

    If you dont include ALL of the data then thats pure cookery of what may be happening and its pandering to certain types of voters. I will tell you one thing and that is the US cannot take another economic hit. High taxes and paying for some dip shit in China to rebuild his factory on my dime isnt going to happen. Great if your paymasters are in China Al. Or if you are a socialist/communist Michael Moore.

    Remember, secession is still very legal and the southern states are becoming very uneasy with DC and its constant barrage of bullshit. Clean Air Act and they are talking about no driving in the City of Memphis during certain days. Wouldnt that be a kick in the ass to find that the GHG’s are there when there is no driving? I know, someone would just say that it takes a long time to dissipate. Not with an average 9 mph wind!

    Its hot here all summer long, hotter in some years but no real records busted for the last 70 years. Maybe one or two a year based upon a certain day…measured of course at the asphalt laden airports that are at the centers of asphalt laden cities. Another problem with realities.

    Listen, there have been droughts, there have been rainstorms. There have been hurricanes and years where there werent a single one. I wouldnt base a thing on anything that either party says about it. Here is a thought… forget it for five years and leave our standards where they are. Lets see what happens. Failing that the Greenies cant prove any of this GW stuff. The Greenies and others simply refuse to do anything but attack, attack and attack whenever they are challenged on it. Why is that? Is asking for proof not enough? I have seen dozens of holes in this argument on both sides. Both are amply pointed out by each group with nothing to fill those holes… They simply go to terms and then they both have to admit one thing….We could be wrong.

    Its very, very simple. PROVE ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING IS CAUSED BY MAN. Not that it might be. Just prove it. Make every scientist with an axe to grind on either side of the argument come to a meeting and then everyone vote on what the causes are. Then you can call it it a consensus.

    Long about the 22nd Century, you might get one.

    And no being skeptical is not denialism. Nor is it a consensus when all of the information is not agreed upon by each group. Prove either side is what I say. The voices are getting much louder that its a cycle.

    Revere-thats an opinion that you carry about it. I carry mine. You can call it whatever you want but it does bring to the front that little item and consensus is not proof. The Right is no more attacking science that the left. Its a media blitz now. Sure sounds good. Its only going to cost the US a smooth 30 trillion to comply with. Thats not science, thats economics.

  51. #51 M. Randolph Kruger
    June 14, 2008

    BTW you know I love your blog Revere. I wouldnt want you on anyones side but ours. You could be right of course, I just dont buy it yet. Keep going though, you might convince me and we might have to ride to work on bicycles…Like the Chinese used to.

  52. #52 revere
    June 14, 2008

    Randy: It’s not about Al Gore. Al Gore isn’t a scientist and whether warming is due to human activity or not doesn’t depend on whether Al Gore thinks it is. It depends on scientific evidence and it is simply not true that the only scientists who buy it are in the IPCC, although 600 of the world’s best climate scientists should mean something. But the consensus is broad and it is deep and goes far beyond the IPCC. Here is a partial list:


    You are merely parroting talking points put forward by the right wing think tanks this post is about. You wish to believe it isn’t a problem. Wishing won’t make it so.

  53. #53 James Mayeau
    June 15, 2008

    Wikipedia? Wikipedia as your global warming source? Hehe

    This article documents scientific opinion as given by synthesis reports, scientific bodies of national or international standing, and surveys of opinion among climate scientists.
    Lets look at that list.

    1.1 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007
    1.2 InterAcademy Council
    1.3 Joint science academies’ statement 2008
    1.4 Joint science academies’ statement 2007
    1.5 Joint science academies’ statement 2005
    1.6 Joint science academies’ statement 2001
    1.7 International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences
    1.8 European Academy of Sciences and Arts
    1.9 Network of African Science Academies
    1.10 National Research Council (US)
    1.11 International Council for Science
    1.12 European Science Foundation
    1.13 American Association for the Advancement of Science
    1.14 Federation of American Scientists
    1.15 World Meteorological Organization
    1.16 American Meteorological Society
    1.17 Royal Meteorological Society (UK)
    1.18 Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
    1.19 Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
    1.20 Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences
    1.21 International Union for Quaternary Research
    1.22 American Quaternary Association
    1.23 Stratigraphy Commission of the Geological Society of London
    1.24 International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics
    1.25 International Union of Geological Sciences
    1.26 European Geosciences Union
    1.27 Canadian Federation of Earth Sciences
    1.28 Geological Society of America
    1.29 American Geophysical Union
    1.30 American Astronomical Society
    1.31 American Institute of Physics
    1.32 American Physical Society
    1.33 American Chemical Society
    1.34 Engineers Australia (The Institution of Engineers Australia)
    1.35 American Statistical Association

    You know what’s missing? A name. It’s the same with all of these pronouncements of impending doom. Why is it that climate alarmists always hide their name?
    Can you tell me why that is um… Revere?

  54. #54 revere
    June 15, 2008

    James: I have no idea what you are talking about. A name of what or who? Is it your claim that these organizations aren’t part of a consensus on global warming? Which ones? Yes, wikipedia. I use it quite a bit, as do many other people. Of course I use it judiciously, just the way I use newspapers and TV. It beats Fox News and John Coleman’s weather reports.

    If your “name” question is about my name, I have explained our use of a pseudonym here many times. I won’t repeat it. I’ll make two comments. The description on the masthead is completely accurate. The second comment is that if you are not in the field of public health, specifically environmental health, our names would mean nothing to you anyway, just as your name means nothing to us. I don’t even know if it is your real name, what you do, what your knowledge, expertise or experience is except by what you say. Which seems a perfectly fair way to judge you anyway. In our case, you can do the same thing. You have literally thousands of posts over almost four years to make whatever judgment you care to make about our expertise. That’s more than I can do for you, even if the name you use is your real name.

  55. #55 PhysioProf
    June 15, 2008

    Dude, brilliant post! Sorry I’m late to the party! These right-wing assholes will stop at nothing to bring to fruition their sick depraved social, economic, and legal goals. They want nothing less than a return to feudalism, the sick bastards.

  56. #56 M. Randolph Kruger
    June 15, 2008

    Urps….James as the resident right wing extremist here I have seen funding for both right and left types in the research areas just disappear overnight from both left and right wing administrations at both state and federal levels. Revere could pretty much give one big rats butt if they went after him, but he has students to look after. He doesnt blog up every couple of days unless he has an axe to grind. Neither do I.

    What you are suggesting is both correct but not realistic. If the funding for a students area for a Phd./Masters goes away and they have set themselves into a sinking ship, they will go down with it without a doubt. That sinking ship is caused by funding. The Lord giveth and taketh away that funding on specious right and left wing ideals. Therefore its just fine by me that Revere doesnt pop out his name even though he and the other Revere’s are known to me.

    No, this is one you let go out of respect. There are plenty of wannabe Greenies out there that cant back up 1/2 of what they say. Nearly all of what Revere puts out is pretty solid stuff. It may be skewed by the one assumption, but its solid and acceptable to probably the biggest skeptic about GW that there is…Me.

    If Revere wants to give you his address and name, he has your ISP address. Remember, any divulging of his information affects the kids and that can both jade and sink them in the same fell swoop. Revere was being read by Frist, Corker, Alexander and their field reps nearly every day. I have never, ever seen Revere go off half cocked but once or twice (we all have bad days) and if nothing else his stuff is very interesting. A lot of it sets my right wing butt on fire because its a jab. Sometimes its a mischaracterization but the old buzzard takes his lumps here just like I do. And you know what? Its honest when he does put something out. Its not half-baked as many of Left do when they are just trying to pull someone down.

    You are right about the list there are no names. I will vet Revere by saying that there are right wingers on that list by association and I was on two of them. I bailed on them when they refused to accept ALL data, but it doesnt make them wrong or me right. I still say wait a bit and see what happens and it will manifest itself or not in a more direct way. I wasn’t a lone voice on that list from the right either. There were hundreds if not thousands that bailed…..and all for the same thing. Lack of inclusion to the process, and lack of inclusion of the data that refuted it. John Colemans speech just brings forth the issue to the forefront in vocal manner. It doesnt make him wrong, or Revere right. He was vilified because of it and we got into that attack mode thing. Not the science, just the person. I am just as guilty of that as anyone. Most of the people in an Inconvenient Truth were not climatologists. Several have said that its cyclical. Gray at UColorado says its a crock and he does this every day. Everyone has an opinion but I cant see this country paying the bills for another country to clean up its act. That is just flat stupid and counter productive to our economy and the EU. As I said, most people didnt even read Kyoto. When the nuts and bolts of it came out of it, the businesses revolted. Bush 1 never intended to sign it.

    Using this IPCC report to make a determination of HOW we move from here is a very loaded gun and aimed at the head of no one but the US. They have everything to gain in Asia if its implemented, we have everything to lose. And we would get taxed to pay for this stuff that will generate nothing but social programs for the people who get put out of work. Communism/Socialism and UHC. All hand in hand.

  57. #57 Lea
    June 15, 2008

    Could be the implication albatross. Just throwing ideas out there like everyone else. Each individual will decide for themselves in the end, especially in America.
    There’s definately room for improvement but I only see that happening on the micro level and not the macro.

    Not sure if I shared Freeman J. Dyson’s prediction of a world to come but in one of his books he does say that all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated. He goes on to say he’s opposing the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens who believe the numbers predicted by the computer models.

    It’s fairly interesting and goes on covering the subject in several pages. If I recall correctly, he does say the man’s activities are stopping the next Ice Age, or at least slowing it down.

  58. #58 James Mayeau
    June 15, 2008

    I don’t give a rat’s ass about Revere’s real name. Nor would I enjoy being put in the position of holding that personal information with the implied threat that my mentioning of that information would lead to injury to his livelyhood, for the sake of family or mortgage payments or whatnot. I have no way of gauging whether this trepidation is based on reality or merely an imagined negative consequence.
    I’m just saying. It’s an obsequeous pattern among the warming crowd that they conceal their identities.
    I can’t imagine a more effective way to bend otherwise rational minds into adopting and preaching an unscientific position, regardless of that position’s immoral goal.
    When I look at the line up of scientific orgs listed on that wikipedia page, and their various lukewarm, faceless, riskfree, endorcements of the “consensus”, I see a firing squad aimed at the heart of modernity, using the cover of the organization to shelter the individual scientist from the implications of their little personal scientific compromise, just as in the days of old the officer of the executioners detail would load the weapons personally, leaving one rifle without shot, to assuage the guilt of his men.
    Personally if I truely believed that I were saving the world from a climate catastrophy, I would stand tall and proud, making it plain that this is my beleif in the fashion of John Hancock.
    Instead we are bothered by an army of “Reveres”.
    It says something about the value of climate science’s “truth”.

  59. #59 James Mayeau
    June 15, 2008

    From Kruger above – “most people didnt even read Kyoto. When the nuts and bolts of it came out of it, the businesses revolted. Bush 1 never intended to sign it.”

    The treaty was negotiated in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997, opened for signature on March 16, 1998, and closed on March 15, 1999.

    Why would Bush 1 sign a treaty negotiated during the Clinton administration?

    Why do advocates always fail to remember that it was Senate Democrats who overwhelmingly defeated the Kyoto Protocol?

  60. #60 revere
    June 15, 2008

    James: Since I’m not part of the “warming crowd” I have no idea how many don’t use their names (although given the way the Bush admin treats the ones that are in gov’t I can imagine why some public sector scientists might not want to), but I’m surprised it is very many. Most people who have weighed in on this from within the discipline have done so under their professional names. Do you have a tally of those that do vs those that don’t? (this is a real question, not a rhetorical one; I am surprised to hear it is common).

    Regarding your concerns, is it that you have examined the models and you do not believe they are correct (again this is a request for information, not a challenge). If your issue is whether carbon dioxide levels alone and independently can account for significant warming, I assume you think not. What exactly is there about the interactions the models require that you reject and why?

    Regarding the anonymity, it isn’t to protect myself. It is to protect my students, colleagues and institution, none of whom deserve any harm from what I write here. It also doesn’t involve climate change issues, about which we write comparatively little but other issues directly connected with our professional activities and those of our colleagues and students. We just choose not to take a risk for other people, a risk that has been shown all too real in this administration of thugs.

  61. #61 David Brin
    June 15, 2008

    David Brin here, author of The Transparent Society: Will Technology Make Us Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?

    Excellent article. And yes, the far right does not monopolize this kind of thing. The far left has long matched the right’s anti-science fetishism with a deep and visceral loathing of engineering, or viewing technology as a potential friend to liberal causes. SOme skepticism is well-founded of course. And the left is re-examining its opposition to nuclear power.

    Still, the real difference between liberalism and conservatism is that conservatism gave itself, wholly and without reservations, to complete control and direction by its right wing crazies. The crazies of the left – on the other hand – have been mostly limited to a few hundred university departments, where their bizarre statements gave Limbaugh et al grist to rally their own troops.

    The vast majority of America’s liberals do remember the roots of their movement… in pragmatists like John Locke and Adam Smith. They have never allowed their own side’s lunatics control their party.

    The saddest thing so far is the refusal of Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership, including Barrack Obama, to underscore this difference by making a restoration of US science central to their agenda.

    I describe such a suggested path at:

    Foremost, Congress should restore the independent scientific and technical advisory apparatus that Gingrich et al dissolved as their FIRST and top priority, when they took over, in 1995. Nothing could be more symbolically potent and pragmatically meaningful.

    For more discussion, drop by http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/

    Thanks and thrive.

    With cordial regards,

    David Brin

  62. #62 James Mayeau
    June 15, 2008

    How does the Bush adm. treat government scientists? Show me someone who has suffered negative impact for holding forth their beliefs on climate change. More importantly show me someone who renounced his cushie lifetime government employment in protest, demonstrating his or her principled fear for the long term prospects of the human civilization amid climate change doom brought on by government inaction. If climate change is the greatest danger mankind has ever faced, why don’t you people act like it?

    My principle objection to the climate models is reality. The world is getting colder. The oceans are getting colder.
    The sun is getting colder. Carbon dioxide is getting higher. Trees have been found to regulate their internal temperature, which puts dendrochronology in the crapper. For atmospheric co2 content from 4000 years ago, one ice core shows it higher then today, another shows it lower. No two agree. Species are not going extinct at an alarming rate, at present the world is more biodiverse then it has ever been. In short, nothing you climate changers pummelgate is real.

    You say you are protecting your students from government thugs. Whatever dude. The only thuggish behavior I’ve noticed is your treatment of John Coleman. I’m not well aquanted with the man or his writings, but I noticed in all your insinuations, insults, and attacks, you didn’t link to source material to back up your allegations. You just said “he’s a lunatic” then point to all these faceless institutions, run by nameless risk adverse cowards, saying they agree. Well the AGU isn’t a person who can hold an opinion. If there is someone in the AGU who thinks John Coleman is a lunatic, then let that man step out from behind the AGU’s skirts, then throw his mud.

    In my book John Coleman, has one thing over the people from the AMS, AGU, AAAS, AMA, the Weather Channel, and the IPCC, and this is true before I read one word he has to say. John Coleman has guts. Personal conviction. A reputation he’s willing to risk. In short, a name.

  63. #63 revere
    June 15, 2008

    OK, James. If that’s the way you want to do it, fine. You are smarter than everyone else. You understand climatology and no doubt have looked at the models you criticize. You have, haven’t you? You know what happens when there are non linearities in the system, even simple climate systems like the Lorenz equations. YOu do, don’t you? You know that anything designed like a bumblebee couldn’t fly. All the professional societies are dopes but a superannuated weatherman is a hero, “because he has guts.” Not because he knows any science. But because he, like you, has guts, because he goes against the grain, a contrarian. You’re a hero, too, no doubt. In your own eyes.

  64. #64 M. Randolph Kruger
    June 15, 2008

    James the record may be a bit skewed but the process that started Kyoto was in 1992. The Greenies and others helped elect Clinton but the final version that we were NOT able to change made it impossible for even him to sign. The unions, the Dem Senators and especially the USChambers of Commerce were totally against this.


  65. #65 James Mayeau
    June 16, 2008

    Notice what Rev doesn’t say. He doesn’t show people being dragged off to Gitmo for talking about climate change. He doesn’t list gov. scientists given the pink slip for supporting Al Gore. He can’t show you an AGW believer so much as losing their parking space.

    I can show you that government employees, doubting AGW with facts and expertise, most definitely do get fired, censured, or muzzled, by the government. Some might lose their parking spots also but I have no documentation to back that up.

    University of Washington climate scientist Mark Albright was recently dismissed from his position as associate state climatologist, just weeks after exposing false claims of shrinking glaciers in the Cascade Mountains,…

    In the face of evidence agreed upon by hundreds of climate scientists, He does not believe human activities are the main cause of global climate change. Taylor has held the title of “state climatologist” since 1991 when the legislature created a state climate office at OSU The university created the job title, not the state.
    In an exclusive interview with KGW-TV, Governor Ted Kulongoski confirmed he wants to take that title from Taylor. The governor said Taylor’s contradictions interfere with the state’s stated goals to reduce greenhouse gases, the accepted cause of global warming in the eyes of a vast majority of scientists.

    Gov. Ruth Ann Minner has directed Delaware’s state climatologist to stop using his title [state climatologist] in public statements on climate change, citing a clash of views on global warming and confusion over the position’s ties to the administration.
    Minner, who made the directive in a letter, described the move as a way to “clarify” the role of David R. Legates, a prominent skeptic of views that human activities are warming the planet and triggering climate shifts.

  66. #66 travc
    June 16, 2008

    It always amazes me how deniers reinterpret objective success stories (ozone hole, acid rain, even Y2K) into ‘see, I was right, there was never a problem’. Either they are profoundly dishonest or morons.

    Yeah, even the Y2K bug was real. Lots of work went into tracking down and fixing the code before it failed. And now people laugh as if it was all a big hoax because people actually predicted the problem and worked hard to avoid it.

  67. #67 M. Randolph Kruger
    June 16, 2008

    Thats the point though Trav….that was a KNOWN glitch. This stuff has more holes in it than the Ozone layer and when the questions are asked or if someone challenges it, then you are a denier and not a skeptic.

    Why is that? I can assure you many of the scientists on that list were the same that said we were going into a cool down period in the 70’s and it was one of the coldest on record. But they predicted a mini-ice age and we got a warm up. Cant tell me about a heat wave when it snows 8 inches in March in Memphis. Doesnt seem to jibe with current events.

    But it has snowed even more than that before in March. So is it cycle, skepticism or being a denier? Guess it depends on which side of the agenda you are on. I certainly dont want 600 selectees making decisions for me or the country when the stakes are so high.

  68. #68 revere
    June 16, 2008

    Randy: ” I can assure you many of the scientists on that list were the same that said we were going into a cool down period in the 70’s and it was one of the coldest on record. But they predicted a mini-ice age and we got a warm up. Cant tell me about a heat wave when it snows 8 inches in March in Memphis. Doesnt seem to jibe with current events.”

    Since you can assure me “many” of the scientists on “that” list were wrong before, go ahead: give me the names and what they were wrong about.

  69. #69 Brian
    June 16, 2008

    From James:

    Q: “Show me someone who has suffered negative impact for holding forth their beliefs on climate change.”
    A: The climate researchers who were forced to change the language in their final reports to make the Bush Adm. policy sound reasonable.

    Q: “More importantly show me someone who renounced his cushie [1] lifetime government employment in protest [2], demonstrating his or her principled fear for the long term prospects of the human civilization amid climate change doom brought on by government inaction.[3]”
    A1: Cushie lifetime government employment? HAHAHAHA
    A2: Colin Powell
    A3: Ok Ok, Christine Todd Whitman, though she waited too long to do it.

    Q: “If climate change is the greatest danger mankind has ever faced, why don’t you people act like it?”
    A: You mean, why hasn’t climate change spawned international organizations, thousands of papers in countless journals, documentaries, nobel prizes, and become a major campaign issue in the United States?

    You say that your “principle objection to the climate models is reality.”

    I think your principle objection is to reality in general.

  70. #70 Sam Dawes
    June 16, 2008

    Hi Revere,
    Your excellent and penetrating post has unleashed a hurricane of response. As my grandmother used to say, “looks like you hit the pocket nerve.” I don’t know if a clear signal still comes through all the noise, but is seems abundantly clear to me that “environmentalism is the new communism,” and “green-baiting has replaced red-baiting” as a tactic in the ideological battle.
    Keep up the good work, and let’s hope the ideological hegemony that permeates many of the negative comments in response to your is eventually defeated in the next generation.

  71. #71 James Mayeau
    June 16, 2008

    It strikes me as unfair that we have made the Earth’s ozone hole the focus of all our efforts, when Venus has a hole over each of it’s poles and we found those first.(that picture is from the Mariner 10 mission in 1973)
    Seems like the Venusians should have dibs on our planet saving activities.
    Well ok. I can see the practicality of doing Antarctica first. It’s closer and all, but Venus has to be the next in line.
    Then after we fix both of Venus’ poles we can move on to the next hole in the order of discovery, which would be Uranus. That’s a big hole. Going to be hard to fix that one.
    But even the Uranian hole is a piker compared to what Cassini found at Saturn’s pole. Just look at that beauty.
    It’s kind of arousing, isn’t it.
    Of course the hole over Jupiter’s pole is the grandest of them all, sizewise. Five Earths would fit inside, with room to spare.
    Then we come to Mars. By just a quirk of fate there was a satellite orbiting as a planet wide dust storm kicked up due to global warming… Wait. That’s crazy talk – GW on Mars. If that would happen, we’d have all heard about it.
    Ok due to reasons that have yet to be determined Mars experienced an unprecedented global dust storm which rendered it’s normally transparent whisper thin atmosphere visible. There, right in the middle of the planet’s northern polar ice cap, a hole which would be undetectable under normal conditions was made obvious.

    After finding a hole over the poles of five different planets, do you think… I’m just spitballing here, but do you think it might be just remotely possible…

    Nah – I don’t want to ruin anybodies day.
    In fact I’m happy that the people of the world could unite to spend billions of dollars to cure the hole over Earth’s pole. Switching from r-2 refridgerant to r-22 is a small price to pay to get the eco whiners to shut up for a few minutes. Money well spent.
    And in the end we will get what no other planet in the solar system has. A buttplug of o3 for our southern continent.
    Or maybe not.

  72. #72 revere
    June 16, 2008

    James: Do you have a substantive point or are you just exercising your trolling muscles?

  73. #73 Brian
    June 16, 2008

    Good point James, we should aspire to be like all of those other life-supporting planets in our solar system…

  74. #74 bar
    June 16, 2008

    I really can’t understand why everybody is getting so heated about GW. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a denier. I predicted the effects of GW back in March 2005.

    I also published a comment with calculations that matched the data of Mayeau (above) and demonstrated that the annual increase in atmospheric CO2 pretty well matched up with the CO2 provided by burning fossil fuels. It was also obvious that the price of oil was going to go exponential fairly soon, as the peak oil people have long explained to anybody who cared to listen.

    The whole issue is a furphy. There is no problem. That is because it’s all part of a negative feedback loop (i.e. self correcting situation). Oil is going to get even more expensive, that will provide an economic incentive resulting in new energy sources being found. An interim solution could well be by cracking other carbon minerals (tar, shale, coal). However those alternatives will rapidly become uneconomic as solar technology advances.

    In the meantime, distorting economic signals with legislation is going to have unintended consequences. An example of unintended consequences is the ethanol legislation, which is now blamed for reducing the availability of food in some third world countries. I have no doubt that every liter of ethanol additive to gasoline can be measured in lives lost due to starvation in those third world countries that have stopped planting food to grow ethanol crops.

    The solution suggested by economists (e.g. Yale’s William Nordhaus) is a carbon tax offset by a corresponding reduction in other (e.g. income) taxes. Such a tax would encourage carbon fuel conservation, and stimulate research in non carbon energy systems.

  75. #75 Matt
    June 16, 2008

    Yeah, I like Venus. We should also envelope our planet in clouds of sulphuric acid. Acid rain isn’t quite enough.

  76. #76 Brian
    June 16, 2008

    “Oil is going to get even more expensive, that will provide an economic incentive resulting in new energy sources being found. An interim solution could well be by cracking other carbon minerals (tar, shale, coal). However those alternatives will rapidly become uneconomic as solar technology advances.”

    Good lord, someone’s been playing a lot of Sim City lately.

    How about we shovel funding into research for alternative energy sources NOW, instead of waiting until the extreme cost of oil is a sufficient economic incentive? The only thing better than curing a disease is not getting it in the first place.

  77. #77 paiwan
    June 17, 2008

    “You know what happens when there are non linearities in the system, even simple climate systems like the Lorenz equations. YOu do, don’t you? You know that anything designed like a bumblebee couldn’t fly.”


    LOL, bumblebee flies anyway.

    Non-linear process in nature? Perhaps if scientists are lacking of coherence, they always have problems in reasoning non-linear process.

    Why have deniers? Is our world beautiful now or are we making a more beautiful world in the future? Tradition mediated rationality can easily tell. It seems that our great-great-great-grand parents were much better than modern “scientists” nowadays.

    Are our scientific education lacking of something? Or the “scientists” are living in ethics and esthetic devoid universe?

  78. #78 Matt
    June 20, 2008

    I don’t see what’s your point paiwan. Scientists are human just like everyone else. They cherish the world just much as other people do. They cherish ethics just as much as other people do.

    I have absolutely no clue what you mean by “great-great-great-grand parents were much better than modern “scientists” nowadays.”

    Do you know your great-great-great-grand parents personally? Do you know scientists personally? I don’t think you can compare them.

    And why put the scientists in quotation marks?

  79. #79 paiwan
    June 20, 2008

    Matt: Thank you for your question. I need to explain more. Otherwise maybe others have the same confusions.

    As a Biology student myself in 1968, I was taking Carson’s “Silent Spring”‘s message very clearly. Nevertheless, after 40 years now in 2008, honestly to say I have been completely appalled by the mindless tone towards environmental protection; especially the obvious reluctances of American leading in improving global situation.

    I can not agree more on one of Revere’s context; Americans can be part of the solution and not part of the problem. In fact, I have pondered in agreeing with him in highlighting the right wing this term or not; because as I said in my previous post, that kind of effort demanded lots of tensional energy. Unfortunately, so many publications under the name of science to promote so-called environmental skepticism are politics motivated. That is the reason that I put quotation marks for this kind of scientists is to show the differentiation to the scientists that deserve our foremost respect. So, we have been talking the same language.

    As I now reside in coastal area in Asia, every time even small rain will bring yellow mud to the sea, indicating the seriously exploitative soil erosion which is going to destroy the coral reef in a short period of time. MRK’s descriptions of Asian polluting environmental situation are very true. My example is a small icetip.

    The previous post I have responded to Revere’s somehow rich terminology such as the non-linearity and the bumblebee’s metaphor. It has been excellent defense and nuanced pinpointing to defend his theme for environment protection. He is leading us to write the history. And we are in the right side of history. Not right wing:-)

    Having said that, my questions to the future solutions perhaps is to look in more coherent strategy, by sarcastically questioning the process of producing scientists and papers in our society; I thought that was healthful skepticism. What I have tried to express is that both science and religions are equally prone to make mistakes. The lesson and the same dilemma from Sunday Summonette are applicable here.

    Sorry to use the rich language of great-great-grand parents to compare with scientists. Its idea was from Michael Pollan’s “Unhappy Meals”. The simple meal that we eat every day has been distorted by wrong science coupling with food companies marketing and journalism which have led to our deteriorating health in general not only one generation perhaps two or three. Therefore, the author stressed the corrective measures must extend beyond three generations.( Our parents have been misled, they can not lead us correctly.) My goodness, collective mistake from nutrition scientists, impossible?

    You can read this from: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/28/magazine/28nutritionism.t.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin

    I use tradition mediated rationality to complement with overly scientific reductionism; myself is partly invovling with doing research work, and I’ve found that it is helpful to me and wish to share here.

  80. #80 abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz
    May 17, 2010

    The planet has been cooling since 1998.

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