Climate Change Is Not A Weather Forecast, with Michael Mann and Bill Nye

Very nice piece on MSNBC's The Reid Report. Spread this around.

Nice job, Michael Mann and Bill Nye.

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Dave Dahl is in the group of deniers. He has a job on TV, while Paul Douglas does not., What's wrong with that picture?

By Mike Haubrich (not verified) on 04 Mar 2014 #permalink

That's something I noticed when I first moved to the Twin Cities. Dave Dahl was actively denying climate change during his weathercasts while Paul was not, and over time, Paul became a spokesperson for reason in meteorology.

The official version is that WCCO was cutting their budget and Paul was expensive. It is probably more complicated than that but I've never heard that story from him. He was already heavily involved in other enterprises by that time so leaving WCCO probably made a lot of sense for him. He's doing more outreach now, in other ways, probably.

I still don't understand. What do those opposing climate change science want? I have not seen that argument articulated. Perhaps if it were stated, then society could come to a conclusion.

I thought it was stated VERY CLEARLY what those apposing the science of climate change WANT: To keep us all using Fossil Fuels. To keep us all away from alternative energies.
Oil Interests don't want you to buy an electric car or put solar panels on your roof.

By Paul Smith (not verified) on 06 Mar 2014 #permalink

But why do they want to keep using fossil fuels?

By Stephen (not verified) on 06 Mar 2014 #permalink

In reply to by Paul Smith (not verified)

I suspect what you are getting to is that their argument is economic. If they do not sell fossil fuels, they will not have money. On the other hand, society uses the fossil fuels. If we do not buy fossil fuels, we will be cold, lonely and our economy built on cheap energy may collapse. Is that an argument or an insinuation?

If it is socioeconomic, I would like to hear their argument. Even if it isn't, I would like to hear what "they" have to say. What is the argument about? We can read through and understand thousands of pages of IPCC reports to understand the planet physics. Why can't we even be told what "their" socioeconomic argument is?

One cannot come to any conclusion in this debate when the debate is only held in the arena of what is well known and characterized.

I'm not sure I get why it is bad to keep the discussion (debate or otherwise) in areas that are well known and characterized, given the huge amount of effort that has gone into knowing and characterizing things.

Because the science is known. One will not be able to convince people confronted with overwhelming evidence that contradicts their world view that they should change their minds.

Deprogramming the effects of misinformation is tricky. Engaging in conversation over settled topics may simply reinforce the notion that the facts aren't certain.

Stephen, here's the answer you're looking for:

Fossil fuel companies' assets include not only the fossil fuels they extract from oil & gas wells, coal mines, etc., but _also_ the "unproduced resources" that exist in those wells & mines, that they haven't extracted yet.

For example you're an oil company and you test-drill some wells in an area, and estimate the amount of oil in the ground in that area. Your estimate goes through industry peer review and is approved. Now you can add that estimated quantity of oil that's in the ground, to the net worth of your company.

Now I come along and demand a climate policy that will have the effect of not allowing you to extract and sell the oil you've just added to your asset value. That's the same thing as if you were sitting on a pile of money bags and I came along and demanded to take a bunch of that money. You'd fight like hell to keep me away from your money.

That, in a nutshell, is where climate denialism comes from. It's a form of self-defense by the fossil fuel industry. All the PR, all the paid stooges, all the obfuscation and all the interferences in our political process, are the means toward the end of protecting the asset value of unproduced resources.

And once all of us who write and post on these blogs _really_ understand that point, we'll stop wasting our time fighting with stooges, and aim our sights on the real targets.

The bottom line is, we have to go after the "unproduced assets" one way or another. The only question remaining is, "what are the most effective ways to do that?" From there, all else follows.

Future technology need not prohibit fossil fuels from being used. There will always be the chemical production industry. Even coal may be used for fuel with carbon sequestration technology, albeit expensive. The fossil fuel production industries would have their profits and assets under either infrastructure plan but the consumer may pay more for the energy. What the increase would be on a relative basis is difficult to predict.

By Stephen (not verified) on 08 Mar 2014 #permalink

In reply to by G (not verified)

G, More directly, I too see the conspiracy and know the origin. But knowing source and effect is different than understanding cause. Their agenda is clear but the reasons are obscure. I would like to know the reasons so that I might understand and respond. If is is purely economic, as you suggest, then economics is what needs to be addressed. And there is plenty of data in public health and energy infrastructure web sites.

Climate science is what it is. It is not perfectly predictive but there is no hidden agenda. There is similarly no debate. By debating in the science, we inadvertently contribute to the perceived controversy and uncertainty. We need to stop playing their 'tails I win - heads you lose' game.

Put another way, football matches are not won by playing only defense. Teams need offensive strategies to score points.

Stephen: Their agenda is clear but the reasons are obscure. I would like to know the reasons so that I might understand and respond.

Lately I've been reading some articles by Philip Mirowski, who's an economist/science historian from the University of Notre Dame.

I started with this lecture he gave in Sydney Australia in 2012, because it's more or less about climate science denial. "Life and Debt" Keynote. For me this was quite an unexpected take on the meaning of "the conspiracy" and what denialism means in a larger political context. But I think his arguments make even more sense combined with this lecture called The Commercialization of Science is a Passel of Ponzi Schemes" from the same conference. What's really interesting are his points about the growth of conservative think-tanks and their influence on our public dialog.

As a bonus, he lays out a comprehensive outline of the motivations behind what we see in the denial industry.

Why do I think Mirowskis's arguments are relevant? I've been trying to understand what's going on with Canada's current Conservative government, and I think Mirowski's description of the neoliberal agenda goes a long way towards understanding why Prime Minister Harper's government is doing things that would have been unthinkable 20 years ago: gutting federal environmental legislation; introducing blatantly anti-democratic electoral rules that favour the ruling party; widespread ruination of scientific research, measurement and data programs. And more! This set of behaviours corresponds well with Mirowski's outline of neoconservative rules.

Greg, Thank you! From your description I feel you may have given me some hope. I look forward to listening to all of Mirowski's lectures. What I have heard so far seems well thought out and to the point of what I was looking for. I also plan to see what he has published.

By Stephen (not verified) on 08 Mar 2014 #permalink

In reply to by GregH (not verified)

Wow! I can't believe there are people out there who don't know the difference between climate and weather and need to have it explained to them like they're children.