Pharyngula

You have to watch this loon making his case for how harmless global warming is in testimony with Lord Christopher Monckton (thanks, England…really, we have enough wacky ideologues without you sending yours over here). Monckton dismisses the problem of CO2 by claiming that CO2 levels were much higher in the pre-Cambrian, and that the stuff is just “plant food”.

It’s plant food … So if we decrease the use of carbon dioxide, are we not taking away plant food from the atmosphere? … So all our good intentions could be for naught. In fact, we could be doing just the opposite of what the people who want to save the world are saying.

Yes, it is the material plants take up from the atmosphere to make sugar. It’s also a greenhouse gas. So? And what is this stuff about “saving the world”? It’s like the two of them are babbling about problems and arguments that no one is making — and we get more when Shimkus explain how he knows CO2 is not a problem. It’s because the Bible is the inerrant word of his god, and he knows god isn’t going to end the world with global warming.

The earth will end only when God declares its time to be over. Man will not destroy this earth. This earth will not be destroyed by a flood.

Could one of you voters out there in Illinois take Shimkus aside and explain to him with short, simple words and short, simple sentences that global warming isn’t going to destroy the world? It’s not an argument anyone is making. It could very well make the world more tropical, and it could be of some advantage to certain kinds of plants.

However, please note: human beings aren’t plants (well, most of us, anyway — John Shimkus does seem to share some similarities with root vegetables). The concern with global warming is change that will cause economic disruption and environmental disturbances and damage to places we like…like cities. Honestly, if nations collapse, we know that algae will still thrive. We just happen to generally take the side of humanity.

Oh, and you might let him know that the Bible is mostly wrong.

Comments

  1. #1 Invigilator
    March 29, 2009

    But should we make the case for humanity? Maybe we are just an infestation the planet would be better off without.

  2. #2 Atlee
    March 29, 2009

    He doesn’t care if global warming has any negative side-effects (Like completely flooding the coastal regions) because he’s from ILLINOIS. Seriously, the worst natural disaster we see is about 2 feet of snow each year.

    Also… I can’t vote so don’t blame me. =)

  3. #3 JD
    March 29, 2009

    Actually, it’s Ann Coulter who will decide when and how the Earth will end. Nice try though.

  4. #4 Geral
    March 29, 2009

    C02 is plant food? Really.. I wish Lord whoever would more accurately describe photosynthesis even for a man who probably hasn’t taken a science course since HS.

  5. #5 Don
    March 29, 2009

    If he was from my district, I’d chew him out but good. Alas, I’m a few districts north of him, so he hasn’t got to worry about losing my vote.

  6. #6 Felix
    March 29, 2009

    Agh. Just two days ago I wrote about how people like him deny climate change (respectively negative effects) for religious reasons. People (normal people) tend to believe such loons don’t exist.
    Is it just me, or is it in fact impossible to think of any religiously justifiable position that hasn’t actually been already covered by some nutjob?
    Does he even theoretically have the capability to realize how much his mindset has to do with chiroptera guano?

  7. #7 Holbach
    March 29, 2009

    A mind enraptured as a mindless heddle.

  8. #8 Sven DiMilo
    March 29, 2009

    He’s right, you know. CO2 is plant food. And plants are people food (along with bacon). See? More food! Why do you think they call it a “greenhouse” gas? Green! Plus, we are carbon-based life forms that breathe oxygen, and so what’s the problem with a little more carbon, especially pre-attached to O2? Each molecule is like a little life-kit! Finally, there’s no way global warming will destroy the earth so shut up tree-huggers. There’s nothing wrong with “the planet” that some good old-fashioned God-fearing tax cuts couldn’t fix.

  9. #9 penn
    March 29, 2009

    What did all those plants do for the tens of millions of years between the Miocene and the beginning of the industrial revolution? I don’t understand how people like Shimkus and Bachmann figure out which hole food goes in let alone get elected to congress.

  10. #10 TigerHunter
    March 29, 2009

    He’s 19th district, that’s the southernmost part of the state, and the most rural. Unsurprising that they elected a moron to represent them.

  11. #11 DeadGuyKai
    March 29, 2009

    Downstate Illinois… COAL. That he’s a global warming denier is about as surprising as the guys from Oklahoma being ones too.

  12. #12 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 29, 2009

    His district is in the far south of Illinois near the Kentucky border. Not surprising at all. It is a staunchly conservative republican area.

  13. #13 Wes
    March 29, 2009

    The earth will end only when God declares its time to be over. Man will not destroy this earth. This earth will not be destroyed by a flood.

    What the fuck does a flood have to do with it?

  14. #14 Phil
    March 29, 2009

    Holy shit….this is close. I’m only about 30-40 miles north of his district. went to his web page – he is a bible thumpin nutter. Looks like he won for the 7th straight time in 2008 (66% of the vote). We need to find a way to get him out in 2010. Let us Pray to the FSM that he loses next time
    RAmen

  15. #15 Big A
    March 29, 2009

    I think John Shimkus is Plant food. Sounds like Sven Dimilo fits into that group also!

  16. #16 Ciaphas
    March 29, 2009

    Oh, and you might let him know that the Bible is mostly wrong

    No, no… The Bible isn’t wrong, reality is. Damn heathean, librul, commie facist, athiest islamisist reality.

  17. #17 SteveC
    March 29, 2009

    But…but…but… there’s a certain book that says the meek shall inherit the earth. what could be meeker than plants? What do you have to say about htat, you atheistic heathen shellfish-eating cannibal?

  18. #18 George
    March 29, 2009

    The earth will be destroyed in a flood? Okay, so warming will raise the ocean levels flooding the coasts causing chaos and the end of the world.

  19. #19 plum grenville
    March 29, 2009

    Mostly wrong?

  20. #20 And-U-Say
    March 29, 2009

    I am not at all so sure that global warming cannot destroy the planet. The sun is a lot warmer than 300M years ago. When you consider that H2O is also a green house gas as well as methane, you can see that as the temperature rises, larger amounts of other greenhouse gases can be released into the atmosphere. If this process were to spiral upward, it is conceivable that the earth could become much more like Venus, and completely uninhabitable, even from bacteria.

    Granted, this is a worst case scenario and is pretty unlikely. But a runaway greenhouse scenario would end life on this planet.

  21. #21 Mane
    March 29, 2009

    Ugh, this sort of shit have been around for years, the Competitive Enterprise Institute have held this sort of bullshit position for years, it’s like they’re fucking 12 of something, and produce shit like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=il0ab-WkImU

    It’s like, I don’t know, they have not idea about how anything works– while it’s true that millions of years ago the world was a lot warmer, and had a shitload more CO2 in the air, evolution was in a completely different place, and so was the Earth. The world isn’t going to get more pleasant because we’re resetting the atmosphere or something to it’s original carbon levels, because the CO2 is being released far, far too quickly, and most of the creatures on the planet are in danger of dying cause they’re not adapted to handle the heat and such.

    And it’s not as if humans will do any better either, most of us heat stroke out if the temperature pushes a few degrees above what we’re use to, because, surprise, humans didn’t evolve in 90 millions years ago atmospheric conditions either.

    Hell, for all our human achievement that video goes on about, our buildings seem to fold pretty damn easily in a storm.

    This is just so fucking annoying, and these people are the ones who are bringing about the destruction of our planet.

  22. #22 Holbach
    March 29, 2009

    plum grenville @ 19

    Percival Grenville Wodehouse, alias Plum. Good man.

  23. #23 larrydalooza
    March 29, 2009

    Find another villain. CO2 is a trace gas and our contribution to it is minuscule. Really… you would have been better off blaming warming on butterflies. Choo Choo goes the CO2 crazy train.

  24. #24 crucifinch
    March 29, 2009

    Facepalm.

  25. #25 Becca Stareyes
    March 29, 2009

    It’s not like history hasn’t shown that, even assuming a god or gods exist, s/he/it isn’t opposed to letting groups of humans seriously make other humans’ (and sometimes their own) lives miserable. Just because something won’t end the world doesn’t make it a good idea, or even not a bad idea.

    Doesn’t take a genius to figure that out.

  26. #26 386sx
    March 29, 2009

    Man, talk about non sequiturs. There’s all kinds of things that won’t destroy the earth. Pretty much everything won’t destroy the earth! Talk about your non sequiturs and yer carte blanche…

  27. #27 Badger3k
    March 29, 2009

    But….PZ….don’t you know that, by pointing out that this moron is an idiot, you’re…part of the problem….

    Quoting someone: “In fact, this persistent and widening gap in perceptions over the past decade suggests that climate change and stem cell research have joined a short list of issues such as gun control or taxes that define what it means to be a partisan in the United States. So like the New Atheists, while “war on science” claimants believe they are defending the integrity of science, they are more likely to be part of the communication problem, reinforcing partisan divisions across key issues.”

    I’m not sure who wrote that, but you can guess where it came from (and who is probably making money off it): http://scienceblogs.com/framing-science/2009/03/the_ethics_of_framing_science.php

    (edit before I post – I disagree, and see the whole “partisan” BS as part of the problem. Gun control and taxes are issues that have a huge subjective component to them. Global warming is an objective reality. To confuse the two types of issues is moronic. Since when is it partisan to be in favor of evidence and reality? – don’t reply, I know the answer. Idjits)

  28. #28 Noadi
    March 29, 2009

    Posted by: plum grenville | March 29, 2009 11:12 PM

    Mostly wrong?

    There is a small amount of historical stuff that’s right. Judea was under Roman control at the time Jesus is supposed to have lived, there was a King Herod, etc. Also on rare occasions it hits on a good idea like the Golden Rule. The majority of the book is wrong though.

  29. #29 course8
    March 29, 2009

    @#20

    Fortunately (thank the FSM!) this is not a possible outcome of our current foray into experimental climatology.

    RealClimate: “The Earth may well succumb to a runaway greenhouse as the Sun continues to brighten over the next billion years or so, but the amount of CO2 we could add to the atmosphere by burning all available fossil fuel reserves would not move us significantly closer to the runaway greenhouse threshold. There are plenty of nightmares lurking in anthropogenic global warming, but the runaway greenhouse is not among them.”

    Suppose we manage to last this long: Giant sunshade, anyone?

  30. #30 azqaz
    March 29, 2009

    Hey, I live in Illinois, but I didn’t vote for that nitwit. Actually he is from the district east of me. The one that Effingham is in. As some of you may know, Effingham has a really big cross. http://www.crossusa.org/. Shimkus even has a picture of it on his website as one of the slides for his district map button along with the catsup bottle in collinsville and the white squirrels in Olney.

  31. #31 Autumn
    March 29, 2009

    The New York Times Magazine had an entire story today about Freeman Dyson echoing the CO2 arguments. There’s no religious claptrap, but Dyson seems to have adopted the same “plant food” stance. He also complains about an over-reliance on models. It reads a bit like he’s just latching onto a curmudgeony contrary position just to show up the kids.

  32. #32 plum grenville
    March 30, 2009

    Kudos, Holbach! You’re the first person who’s ever recognized my nom d’Internet. But it’s Pelham (hence “Plum”), not Percival. Read Whiffle on The Pig.

  33. #33 course8
    March 30, 2009

    @larrydalooza (#23)

    Preindustrial CO2: ~270 ppm, if I recall correctly.

    Current C02: 387 ppm or so, rising ~2 ppm/yr.

    “…our contribution to it is miniscule.”

    Uh, no. Really, is it that hard to look this stuff up?

  34. #34 DaveX
    March 30, 2009

    His district more or less surrounds the one I’m in– I wouldn’t expect much better from the locals here. If we’d been the only ones voting in the Presidential election, Palin would’ve just got written in FTW.

  35. #35 Fl bluefish
    March 30, 2009

    This reminds me of those “We call it Life” ads…

    http://cei.org/pages/co2.cfm

    Thought I’d see some comments defending root vegetables as smarter than these clowns

    shit..now I’ve insulted clowns.

  36. #36 hje
    March 30, 2009

    I wonder if Aaron Shock, youngest member of Congress, and an out and out conservative Republican really believes anything different. Unfortunately some of the media has focused on his “sexiness.”

    “One man asked Rep. Schock about whether he believed former Vice President Al Gore?s claim that man is largely responsible for global warming.

    Rep. Schock said whether he agrees with Mr. Gore?s beliefs on global warming is not the issue. ?The globe is warming. That?s a fact,? he said. However, he pointed out that the Earth goes through cycles of cooling and warming.”

    Source: CNN

    The last statement is usually a dead give away as to the real opinion.

    More interesting are the opinions of Freeman Dyson in this weekend’s NYT. I don’t agree with a lot of what he says about AGW, but he may be right about one thing–there are other very important threats to human survival that desperately need attention.

  37. #37 raven
    March 30, 2009

    Shimkus doesn’t even know his own bible and just made some stuff up. After the near total genocide of the flood, god promised himself that he would never destroy everything living again.

    Of course, in Revelations, it says the exact opposite. This is because the bible is inerrant and every word is true and makes sense. If you pick and choose and toss a lot out anyway.

    Irrelevant of course. We don’t make policy based on idiot god babble.

    gen 8:

    20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 21 The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though [a] every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

    22 “As long as the earth endures,
    seedtime and harvest,
    cold and heat,
    summer and winter,
    day and night
    will never cease.”

  38. #38 hje
    March 30, 2009

    “And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done, … cough, cough, mumble–by water.”

    Moses must has missed that last part. Next time, fire it is!

  39. #39 typo180
    March 30, 2009

    Ah…damn. I…I’m sorry (actually, he’s not from my district).

    But seriously. A theological debate that this is a carbon starved planet? What the hell does that mean?

  40. #40 Lynn David
    March 30, 2009

    What else did you expect, his district is nearly 95% white.

  41. #41 amphiox
    March 30, 2009

    #20: The scenario you describe will, in all likelihood, happen. But not for a long time, probably somewhere past 1 billion years from now. As solar output continues to increase due to the natural evolution of stars like the sun, the inner edge of the habitable zone is going to move out past earth’s orbit, and our planet is going to go the way of Venus.

    And the carbon starvation of plants will also eventually happen. Throughout earth’s existence, a combination of weathering and plate tectonics have been sequestering CO2 out of the atmosphere and into carbonate rocks. This process has essentially kept earth’s temperature habitable all this time (basically, when sun was cooler, more CO2, as sun warms up, CO2 goes down).

    Eventually, as the sun continues to warm, CO2 levels will drop below the minimum needed for photosynthesis, and the plants will go. The C3 plants (grasses, etc) will last longer because they’ve evolved a more efficient photosynthetic pathway that can work at lower atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Of course once the plants go the animals will too.

    The time frame for this is something between 500 million to 1 billion years into the future, barring the evolution of even more CO2 efficient means of photosynthesis. But regardless, since life is made of carbon, the total amount of atmospheric CO2 will ultimately correlate to the total mass of life the planet can support, at any given point in time.

    Nothing humans are currently doing now will have any effect at all on these long term trends.

    This is, as they say, how the world is going to end. Or at least that’s what the best evidence seems to suggest so far.

  42. #42 amphiox
    March 30, 2009

    The End Permian mass extinction was probably the result of CO2 induced global warming from volcanos, and life recovered just fine from that, eventually. During the most recent period of intense global warming back in the Holocene, the fossil record indicates an abundance of life, probably a richer, lusher biosphere than today (or the recent past before the human-induced extinctions).

    No one who cares only about the big longterm picture of life on earth need worry one whit about human induced global warming. Only those of us who care about humans and the interglacial symbionts humans depend on for survival need to care about anthropogenic global warming.

  43. #43 Clemens
    March 30, 2009

    What always startles me is that many people are ready to believe the uttermost bullshit. Astrology. Homoeopathy. Talking Snakes and Virgin Birth. But then they go all smug about how they are sceptic about climate change because, you know, you shouldn’t believe everything someone else tells you. Ugh!

    What also pisses me off is the arrogance climate denialists show. It is perfectly okay to ask (seemingly tough) questions, like “Maybe it’s not the CO2, but the sun spots?” or “It appears to me that we FIRST have the warming and THEN the rise in CO2″.

    But instead of raising these questions in such a way that scientists get a chance to answer, they just spurt it out in the media so the common people think that there IS no answer.

  44. #44 rrt
    March 30, 2009

    This twit is my rep, Dog help me. I have a LOT going on right now, but when I can focus I’ll write him. Not that it’ll do any good, especially given DeadGuyKai’s astute observation about coal. There are a great many southern Illinoisans who would want expanded coal mining.

  45. #45 Mena
    March 30, 2009

    The IL-6 isn’t much better. Assclown Roskam, and we aren’t that far out of Chicago. I’m so tired of Wheaton loons representing me, because they don’t.

  46. #46 Eddie
    March 30, 2009

    On behalf of all Illinoians, I sincerely apologize. I know we haven’t been doing so well, what with 4 governors going to jail, 2 currently serving prison terms, another on the way,… and now this jackass. Look, you guys took the only decent guy we had and made him president, so now what do we do?

    Seriously. guys good for chuckles. I thank people like this and the Pope for helping spread atheism.

  47. #47 Martin
    March 30, 2009

    Please note that all of Illinois did not elect Shimkus – the people of CD19 did. Of course, we did elect Blago governor – twice! Only part of Illinois is a Midwestern state – the Mason Dixon line runs just south of Tinley Park (a south suburb of Chicago). The rest of Illinois is like Alabama. So is southern Ohio – which is why you have the stupid creation display near Cincinnati.

    Shimkus is a Cardinal fan
    Illinois Republican John Shimkus rose on the House floor today to compare the Democrats’ position on the war to an imaginary St. Louis Cardinals-Chicago Cubs baseball game in which “my beloved Cardinals”simply leave the field in the 15th inning to let “the much-despised Cubs” win.

    So yes – he is a complete moron.

  48. #48 shonny
    March 30, 2009

    Oh, and you might let him know that the Bible is mostly wrong.

    B-b-b-b-but 200% is more than mostly, – innit??

  49. #49 Your Mighty Overload
    March 30, 2009

    This whole “CO2 is plant food” thing is disingenuous at best. Fact is, at the moment, most plants in most environments are nitrogen or water limited most of the time. As the temperature increases, we may find C4 plants (which are typically less palatable by animals) and N-fixing plants become more numerous.

    Fact is, increasing the CO2 levels seems to have relatively little effect on photosynthetic rates in most plants, in most environments, yet increasing (nighttime) temperatures have been linked with depressed yields in rice.

  50. #50 davem
    March 30, 2009

    Aopoligies for sending Lord Chris over. However, looking him up, he seems quite bright. Compared with bat shit insane Shimkus, he seems extraordinarly bright. But both are horribly wrong.

    I reckon these guys won’t twig until the water is lapping up over their second homes in Florida.

  51. #51 Ben
    March 30, 2009

    In shock news, followers of the same religion disagree on how God works…

    Archbishop of Canterbury says “God will not give a happy ending” in reference to climate change.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7964880.stm

  52. #52 XD
    March 30, 2009

    Did anyone else notice that in the first video, when the shot is of Shimkus, there is a weird block on the right-hand side. The second video makes it clear why; the woman behind him is trying not to laugh when he spouts his bible bullshit.

    XD

  53. #53 Tiina Jńrvi
    March 30, 2009

    Shimkus should read his Billions & Billions immediately.

  54. #54 XD
    March 30, 2009

    amphiox #41,

    You are forgetting that plants evolve. As the temperature increases and CO2 levels drop, some plant species will become extinct, but that just provides an opportunity for other species to evolve.

    Plant and animal life may well be around in five billion tears time, but they will be radically different to what we see today.

  55. #55 XD
    March 30, 2009

    #54 cont

    Oop’s, I see you did mention evolution. Sorry.

    Looks seems like I need more coffee.

  56. #56 Walton
    March 30, 2009

    As a Brit, may I point out that he is not “Lord Christopher Monckton”. The style “Lord [first name] [surname]” is used only for the son of a duke or for the eldest son of an earl or marquess. Rather, as a hereditary peer in his own right, he is simply “Lord Monckton”, or, in full, “The Right Honourable Christopher Monckton, the Viscount Monckton.”

    (I’m sorry. I’m a pedant.)

    In fact, I’ll be meeting Viscount Monckton next term, as he’s coming to speak to my university’s Conservative Association (on the subject of climate change, in fact). I’m looking forward to it.

  57. #57 Carlie
    March 30, 2009

    Two pieces of information for anyone who comes across people like this:

    1. Not every plant uses CO2 the same way. Under high CO2, many weedy species do a lot better than our crop plants. Oops.

    2. With global warming, the best crop-growing zones in the northern hemisphere shift north. For us, that means the big midwestern grain belt shifts to Canada. Crappy for our economy, but worldwide, the issue is that the northern regions’ soils aren’t rich enough to handle the strain of producing food crops in the yields that are produced now. Oops.

  58. #58 RedGreenInBlue
    March 30, 2009

    Walton (#56):

    1. How do you remember that sort of arcana?

    2. Are you not tempted to stand up at that meeting and say, “Oi! Discount! NO!”

    I’m afraid I have no respect for any title attained by birth – he can be plain old Christopher Monckton, or earn a title like Doctor or Professor, or he can naff off, and leave the pomposity behind as he goes.

  59. #59 Matt Heath
    March 30, 2009

    As a Brit, may I point out that he is not “Lord Christopher Monckton”. The style “Lord [first name] [surname]” is used only for the son of a duke or for the eldest son of an earl or marquess. Rather, as a hereditary peer in his own right, he is simply “Lord Monckton”, or, in full, “The Right Honourable Christopher Monckton, the Viscount Monckton.”

    PZ writes in American English. If our American cousins feel the need to mention our ludicrous baubles at all, then Lord [first name][last name] is established usage. Beyond this, getting it “wrong” is a Good Thing because the institution of aristocracy deserves disrespect.

    In fact, I’ll be meeting Viscount Monckton next term, as he’s coming to speak to my university’s Conservative Association (on the subject of climate change, in fact). I’m looking forward to it.

    Nice to see the Tories celebrating their own Militant Tendency. I was drifting towards casting a protest vote for the Liberals or Greens (each as worthwhile as the other in Lab/Con marginal Broxtowe); showing me that chaps like the author of “The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS” are being offered privileged platforms to speak by the Bright Young Things of your party has put me firmly back in the Labour camp.

  60. #60 Fernando Magyar
    March 30, 2009

    larrydalooza @ 23,

    Next time you are thirsty let me offer you a nice tall cold glass of crystal clear water that contains *TRACE* quantities of arsenic, antimony, cadmium, lead, selenium, and thallium…
    What? you don’t want to drink it, why? We are only talking
    *MINUSCULE* quantities that can hardly be measured so what are you worried about.

  61. #61 Fernando Magyar
    March 30, 2009

    Sorry about that, only “TRACE” was supposed to be bold.

  62. #62 Matt Heath
    March 30, 2009

    2. Are you not tempted to stand up at that meeting and say, “Oi! Discount! NO!”

    Appropriate Cupertinos FTW!

  63. #63 Matt Heath
    March 30, 2009

    me@62 Markup fail (missing a slash on last “blockquote”)

  64. #64 Chas, PE SE
    March 30, 2009

    Ah, Illinois Politics! Shimkus is the least of it. We’re also the home of Phyllis Schlafly and her son of conservapedia fame. Before Roskam, there was Henry Hyde. And Oberweis, who has run for 5 offices and never come close. And when they needed a canidate to run against Barack for Senate, they couldn’t find anyone bad enough, so they imported Alan Keyes from Maryland.

    And from the other side of the aisle, we have Rahm Emanuel…

    Plus, all you geometers: For a real laugh, call up the map of Illinois congressional districts and look at the 4th…

    (sorry for any spelling errors)

  65. #65 Walton
    March 30, 2009

    I’m afraid I have no respect for any title attained by birth – he can be plain old Christopher Monckton, or earn a title like Doctor or Professor, or he can naff off, and leave the pomposity behind as he goes.

    That’s fine – but if you are going to acknowledge and use the title, then get it right. Seeing suo jure peers referred to as “Lord [first name] [surname]” is almost as painful as seeing people refer to a knight of the realm as “Sir [surname]“. It’s rather like the way Professor Myers probably feels when he hears non-biologists saying “if evolution is true why are there still monkeys?”; or the way, say, a professor of French literature would feel if he heard someone speaking French in an atrocious accent and mangling the grammar.

    And, btw, the majority of British peers today do not attain their titles by birth; most are life peers, awarded the title by virtue of service to the nation (or, more cynically, by virtue of donating money/political clout to the party in power). It so happens that Viscount Monckton is a hereditary peer (as one can discern from his rank; all life peers are Barons); but it should be clarified that many peerages in Britain are no longer inherited.

  66. #66 Walton
    March 30, 2009

    Nice to see the Tories celebrating their own Militant Tendency. I was drifting towards casting a protest vote for the Liberals or Greens (each as worthwhile as the other in Lab/Con marginal Broxtowe); showing me that chaps like the author of “The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS” are being offered privileged platforms to speak by the Bright Young Things of your party has put me firmly back in the Labour camp.

    Don’t get the wrong impression – I believe we’re also inviting Ken Clarke next term.

  67. #67 Matt Heath
    March 30, 2009

    Don’t get the wrong impression – I believe we’re also inviting Ken Clarke next term.

    The tobacco industry’s favourite wholly-owned parliamentary puppet? Well that makes all the difference ;)

  68. #68 DavidCOG
    March 30, 2009

    > It could very well make the world more tropical, and it could be of some advantage to certain kinds of plants.

    PZ, it’s going to do a *lot* more than make the world a little more tropical – and there are very few kinds of plant – or any life – that is benefiting in the rapidly shifting climate.

    http://climateprogress.org/2009/03/22/an-introduction-to-global-warming-impacts-hell-and-high-water/

  69. #69 Epikt
    March 30, 2009

    Autumn:

    The New York Times Magazine had an entire story today about Freeman Dyson echoing the CO2 arguments./

    Given Dyson’s contributions to physics, my first inclination was to take him seriously. But when you read what he’s been saying recently, you find that he’s offering nothing of consequence, nothing original, and nothing more than the standard denialist talking points. I expected far better. As somebody on another blog pointed out, he seems to have “gone emeritus.”

  70. #70 rrt
    March 30, 2009

    Atlee: I hadn’t noticed your comment earlier, but sorry, we actually get a LOT of disasters in Illinois. Floods, mostly, hitting everything from the Boonies to the urban heart of Chicago. But also tornados, windstorms, ice storms, and someday one HELL of an earthquake.

    I should add that insider knowledge of Shimkus reinforces his doofiness.

  71. #71 Dave S.
    March 30, 2009

    CO2 is plant food, see. Just like the nutrients potassium and phosphate and nitrate, aka fertilizer. So that means it’s A-OK for farmers to dump tons of the stuff into the local estuaries and over the nearest coral reefs. No harm possible there…its FOOD after all!!

  72. #72 Nimitzguy
    March 30, 2009

    My hometown rep…doesn’t suprise me a bit. I went to Holy Cross Lutheran School where John is on the Board and he attends. Holy Cross is Missouri Synod and they are completely literal in their reading of the bible.

    He is a nice guy, but he is beholden to his faith first and foremost. No evidence can come in the way of his theology – a fate I suffered for many years. I thank PZ and others for lightening the way for me. It’s really shameful and I remain optimistic that within my lifetime these sorts of rants will be relegated to future episodes of Family Guy.

  73. #73 Chemgirl
    March 30, 2009

    Don’t blame me…I may be an Illinoisan, but I can’t vote yet.

  74. #74 Marshall Nelson
    March 30, 2009

    “You have to watch this loon making his case for how harmless global warming is in testimony with Lord Christopher Monckton (thanks, England?really, we have enough wacky ideologues without you sending yours over here). Monckton dismisses the problem of CO2 by claiming that CO2 levels were much higher in the pre-Cambrian, and that the stuff is just “plant food”.

    “Dyson agrees with the prevailing view that there are rapidly rising carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere caused by human activity. To the planet, he suggests, the rising carbon may well be a MacGuffin, a striking yet ultimately benign occurrence in what Dyson says is still ?a relatively cool period in the earth?s history.? The warming, he says, is not global but local, ?making cold places warmer rather than making hot places hotter.? Far from expecting any drastic harmful consequences from these increased temperatures, he says the carbon may well be salubrious ? a sign that ?the climate is actually improving rather than getting worse,? because carbon acts as an ideal fertilizer promoting forest growth and crop yields. ?Most of the evolution of life occurred on a planet substantially warmer than it is now,? he contends, ?and substantially richer in carbon dioxide.? – Freeman Dyson

    http://tinyurl.com/dloueo

  75. #75 60613
    March 30, 2009

    Great! I thought former governor Blago was bad… now I have yet another reason to deny I live in Chicago!

    Sheesh.

  76. #76 Mark Sletten
    March 30, 2009

    Mr. Shimkus, I’m sorry to say, is my representative in Congress. As such, I fired off this message to him today via the House of Representatives website:

    Dear Representative Shimkus,

    I’m writing to you regarding comments you made at a House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment hearing last week. You opened with a rambling speech containing references to your god, the bible and your religion, including this:

    “The earth will end only when God declares it?s time to be over. Man will not destroy this earth. This earth will not be destroyed by a flood.”

    Having served 20 honorable years in my nation’s military, during which I often contemplated the global holocaust sure to result from the planned use of tens of thousands of man-made nuclear weapons, I have, perhaps, a different perspective on man?s ability to destroy this earth.

    Be that as it may, my choice to serve my country resulted, in part, from my strong belief in the right of every individual to believe whatever they like, no matter how whacky, as long as they don’t act on those beliefs in a manner that might endanger the safety or property of others. Too, individuals have the right to share their personal beliefs with anyone willing to listen. But when it comes to defining public policy impacting the whole of my country, I believe those serving as my representative in government should base decisions on the best scientific data available, not un-provable personal beliefs.

    Consequently, I found your religious commentary at last week’s hearing both repugnant and alarming. I do not believe in your God, and I would find your assurance it will protect me from global climate change laughable were I able to ignore the frightening realization it is the basis of your guidance in developing governmental policy.

    Here’s more of your commentary, this time regarding the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2):

    “It’s plant food… So if we decrease the use of carbon dioxide, are we not taking away plant food from the atmosphere? …So all our good intentions could be for naught. In fact, we could be doing just the opposite of what the people who want to save the world are saying.”

    The majority of scientists the world over are telling us the dangers global climate change poses for man and the environment are both real and manifold. But none, however, is claiming the earth will cease to exist. As you noted, the increase in CO2 is a boon to plant life, and most scientist agree plants will continue to flourish even if the worst fears regarding climate change become reality. The point, however, is continuing widespread production of CO2 COULD result in serious consequences for the future of human kind (or at least human civilization as we know it). While I appreciate your concern for plant life — I like a good salad too — I believe most of your constituents would say the continued existence of mankind should take precedence.

    Is human extinction a foregone conclusion of global climate change? Is global climate change a result of human activity? Is there anything we (humans) can do to prevent or mitigate the coming effects of climate change? I can’t answer these questions, and I don’t believe you or your god can either. But I DO believe that, based on the scientific opinions of the vast majority of the world’s climate experts, global climate change is occurring. I also believe that if such climate change poses a danger to humans, neither your god, nor Buddha, nor Allah, nor Yaweh can save us. If we are in danger, our only hope is a better understanding of what may be causing climate change so that we may direct our efforts in devising avoidance and/or mitigation strategies. That understanding will only come with continued scientific study of the phenomena.

    Mr. Shimkus, please don’t place my future, and the future of my children and grandchildren in the hands of your (so far) non-interventionist god. If your god existed, Sir, we wouldn’t need human government; it would protect us from the “evils” in the world. To date, I?ve yet to see your god dealing with any of the man-made evils America faces — it’s clear to me we humans must protect ourselves.

    Sir, I shouldn’t have to explain to you the purpose of a Congressional hearing is to gather information for use in developing policy, not to broadcast to the world your ignorance and superstitions. Our best and only chance at avoiding and/or mitigating the effects of global climate change is a coherent, consistent public policy based on fact and reason, not in the hope of supernatural intervention from any of the many deities worshiped by individual, superstitious humans. As my representative, if you are unable to set aside your personal religious beliefs in developing such policies; if you are unable to admit you and your god don’t know everything; if you are unable to listen to and consider scientific opinion based on empirical observation of available data; if all you can bring to the discussion is the assurance your god will save us, I respectfully request you just sit quietly and not interfere with those having a clearer understanding of the science.

    Respectfully,

    Mark Sletten

  77. #77 mus
    March 30, 2009

    Global warming- That’s not change we can believe in!

  78. #78 Quidam
    March 30, 2009

    Shit and corpses are plant food too, however I don’t want to be waist deep in them.

  79. #79 recovering catholic
    March 30, 2009

    XD–yes, her look in the beginning of the second clip is priceless–she really had to control that eye-roll but couldn’t quite hold back the smirk.

  80. #80 Master Mahan
    March 30, 2009

    Human beings need water to live. Does that mean that Shimkus thinks it’s a good idea to drop a newborn in a pool?

  81. #81 recovering catholic
    March 30, 2009

    Mark Sletten @76

    From a fellow Illinoisian: Well done!!! Let’s hope the cretin takes the time to read your wonderful letter and (probably hopeless) understands it.

  82. #82 Eamon Knight
    March 30, 2009

    I would like to thank the citizens of the state of Illinois for making rational Canadians feel comparatively less embarassed about Gary Goodyear.

  83. #83 Last Hussar
    March 30, 2009

    Actually the Archbishop of Canterbury said God won’t stop Man from destrying himself, just last week. Archbishops out rank him.

    Re: Monckton- We have a long and distinguished history of sending our loonies over the pond. We just didn’t consider what 400 years of inbreeding might do.

  84. #84 humorix
    March 30, 2009

    That amazes me that the Earth does not stop turning !!!

  85. #85 zpmorgan
    March 30, 2009

    @course8 #29

    That’s somewhat of a relief. Thanks.

    With so many There are so many different different assertions floating around, the runaway greenhouse idea doesn’t seem to help people get a clear picture of the actual issue.

  86. #86 Chakolate
    March 31, 2009

    As an Illinoisan, (Illinoisy?) I wish to apologize for his election. Honestly, I don’t know how it happened. We don’t elect idiots, generally; we prefer our politicians to be corrupt, not stupid.

    Again, I apologize for the inconvenience, and I assure you that all future Illinois politicians will follow the proper corruption protocol.

  87. #87 Cameron
    March 31, 2009

    Shimkus is my Congressional Rep. His district covers a large portion of Southern Illinois, but most of the population lives in the St. Louis Metro East area (which is also where Shimkus is from).

    We aren’t all backwoods hicks in Southern Illinois (contrary to what most Chicagoans will tell you), there are some good people down here. However, as someone stated above, this has more to do with his ties to the Coal Mining industry than it does his religion, I don’t really know why he threw in the “God will end the Earth” nonsense.

    I actually used to attend the same Church as John (Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod), and they did support some pretty anti-scientific nonsense (the earth had no axial tilt prior to Noah’s flood and the weight of all the water caused the earth to tilt on it’s axis and the dinosaurs died out as a result of seasonal changes that followed) so I can see where John’s “distrust” of Science comes from. I know next to nothing about climate change or global warming, but I would be happy to write a letter to him on someone’s behalf that does.

    -Cameron

  88. #88 mbr47
    April 1, 2009

    I live just west of the district John Shimkus tries to represent. People who live in that area are staunch Republicans. So-called conservative talk radio shows are very popular in that area. That should be all I need to say to paint a picture of what the intelligence level is of the majority of people who live in his district. I have tried for years to educate people on what a backsliding, brain dead, hypocrite John Shimkus is however, his constituants are just like him. They would lie, cheat, and steal all in the name of God if it helps thier partisan agenda. I honestly don’t think Shimkus and his supporters really are Christian, I think they figured out long ago that all they need to do is exploit God and patriotism and that will keep thier Republican stronghold on that district.

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