Bringing opinions on climate change closer to reality: Peter Doran

Enough! That's Peter Doran's opinion on the "debate" about a scientific consensus on climate change. There clearly is one -- a strong one. So why do the public and the politicians think otherwise? Why the big disconnect between what the vast majority of scientists know to be fact, and what the public thinks. Dr. Doran blames the way media reports on science, and he blames a few of the loud voices on the right. He presents an idea to change a lot of the minds of people who deny the scientific consensus on climate change which will hopefully lead politicians to action. Peter Doran is a professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has published over 80 articles in the academic literature about the polar regions, lakes, ecology and climate change.

Here's his OpEd.


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In space, no one can hear you listening to Rush.

Which is too bad, since his scientific performances can be cruelly funny.

By Russell Seitz (not verified) on 20 Dec 2014 #permalink

I would say there are three basic issues which stand at the heart of bringing people together.

First, I lay no claim as a scientist....but I am a statistics expert. When I start to read over a report (any topic, any subject) and I note 'cherry-picking' of data, that's the end of reliability for that single matter what PhD guy or scientist claims. The fact that the 'experts' won't stand up and clean up this cherry-picking of data.....bothers me. It's fraud when you do it, and makes the whole argument look suspect when you get caught time after time. Maybe there's some accurate reports out there but they are surrounded by cherry-picked reports.

Second, why does taxation always become the solution? As of yet, I've not seen any scientist give a rational reason why taxation fixes the problem. Gov't guys like taxation....mostly because they shift the money from the main purpose to other gimmicks. The guy who comes up with a solution that bears NO taxation....wins my vote. Why can't we find such people?

Third and final. Maybe it's a personal thing with me, but this topic of connecting polar bears to climate change is a puzzler. The guys who count polar bears (typically Canadians) kinda indicate that there is no dwindling number of polar pears. So the hint, ever so strong, is that polar bears aren't within the climate change problem.....yet about ever six months, here comes another dire report on polar bears. It's just not working as some evidence block to the story.

I have no doubt....climate change is ongoing, and basically unstoppable. That part, you don't have to poke at me or waste efforts. But if your argument is that we need to stop climate change...I'd ask the logic, Maybe there is a 'medium' button on climate change, and we are currently heading toward 'turbo', but telling us we need to totally stop climate bogus. It has to occur in some fashion.


As to your point 1: please provide evidence of inappropriate cherry picking (that is, the type where data is left out because it is inconvenient, not because it is known to be questionable/wrong).

Regarding point 2: you are very welcome to propose your own solution. Note that no scientist would propose taxation as fixing the problem, they would say that significantly reducing CO2 emissions would solve the problem. As to how that is achieved is a policy decision. Economists like Richard Tol would say there should be a tax on CO2 emissions just because of the externalized costs. If governments then use that tax for something else is irrelevant: at least those CO2-emitting activities would have their 'proper' price.

Regarding point 3: you are wrong. Get your information here:
Some data is old, almost by necessity, but you will see that it is easy to select some populations and claim "see, they are doing fine".

Refusing to admit that climate change is real because you don't like taxes is like being sick, being told you have cancer, and saying that can't be true because you wouldn't want to do chemo. Maybe, indeed, you are better off on balance to do something else, or nothing at all, but pretending that the dilemma doesn't exist is unlikely to help you make the best choice for yourself. What is happening and what to do about it are two totally different issues, and where an issue of concern to the public is involved, your right to have a respectful hearing of your views on the second is more likely to be acknowledged if you acknowledge consensus reality regarding the first.

Roy, you just accused a lot of people of unethical behavior by cherry picking data.

Now, it is up to you to demonstrate what you are taking about. Refer to the original "reports" please. Tell us what has been cherry picked, and provide the alternative analysis.

Those who refuse to admit that climate change is real (because they don’t like to pay their share of taxes, etc.) are like those who, on being told by their physician that they have cancer, labor desperately to discredit their doctor, their radiologist, their oncologist, and their pathologist, claiming that they don't know the first thing about medicine or their fields of study -- and that the lab technologists produced erroneous data due to incompetence & fraud -- and that the AMA and ACS are covering up their unethical behavior, are improperly rallying behind their MD's, and are hiding evidence that they actually don't have cancer...

They think that if they can discredit enough doctors who have studied their cancer, discredit the lab procedures and results, impugn everyone in the cancer field who might be associated with their case history, that this will SOMEHOW MAGICALLY make their cancer just ::POOF!:: go away. Then they can live happily ever after. Once upon a time.

And they'll believe that as they become disabled and bedridden, and believe it up to the point where they're on their deathbed. Their cancer cells will continue to do what they do... And the healthy cells in their body will succumb with them as a consequence of this entire charade of denial.

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 22 Dec 2014 #permalink

@ 2. Roy :

"First, I lay no claim as a scientist….but I am a statistics expert."

So you're not claiming expertise here except that you kinda are? Glad you've cleared that up! Do you think statisticians aren't scientists and that field not a science or what exactly?

"I note ‘cherry-picking’ of data, that’s the end of reliability for that single report… matter what PhD guy or scientist claims. The fact that the ‘experts’ won’t stand up and clean up this cherry-picking of data…..bothers me. "

Cherry-picking? You mean like this? :

On this issue only the anti-climatologists consensus side has been doing that for example as in the clip above.

The climatologists have been standing up and pointing that sort of cherry-picking out on many occasions across the many canards where it’s used.

"It’s fraud when you do it, and makes the whole argument look suspect when you get caught time after time. "

Really? Please name a few times - just say three examples you think fit that description. You do realise that there's currently a legal case where climatologist Michael Mann is suing for defamation those who have absurdly and falsely accused him of fraud right?

" Second, why does taxation always become the solution?"

Who precisely, Roy, is saying that? Reducing our use of fossil fuels and reducing our Greenhouse gas emissions is the solution. A tax eg on carbon dioxide & other GHG emissions is just one way to make people think more about their use of power generation but it certainly isn't the only mechanism or solution that's been proposed and is only a small part of the "solution" (perhaps mitigation program would be a better way of phrasing) which involves a lot more varied and broad ranging steps.

I suggest you read George Monbiot's book Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning, (published 2006, Penguin Books) for one comprehensive look at some possible solutions. I would also highly recommend reading James Hansen's 'Storms of My Grandchildren' (Bloomsbury publishing, 2009) especially the sections on his proposed "Fee & Dividend" alternative to carbon trading plus for personal measures George Marshall's excellent 'Carbon Detox' (Octopus publishing, 2007 ) book which also has an accompanying website.

The proposition that the only solution to HIRGO* is taxation is, in ultimate distillate, a straw-monster over-simplification which, in any case, deals only with our response to the science and has no bearing on the validity of the actual science at all.

"Third and final. Maybe it’s a personal thing with me, but this topic of connecting polar bears to climate change is a puzzler."

Polar bears spend most of their lives upon and have evolved to live in the Arctic sea ice biome. The shift in climate to a much warmer Arctic - which is changing far quicker and becoming far more different to its previous conditions than anywhere else on Earth. These changed conditions are likely to result in Ursus maritimus (the polar bear) being unable to survive in the wild and to thus vanish from the world (outside perhaps of zoos) along with a great many others species such as walrus. Because it is such a majestic, iconic animal the polar bear has come to symbolise the plight of these animals and the whole Arctic ecosystem which is now placed in extreme peril and likely to be destroyed as a consequence of HIRGO*. How exactly do you find that “puzzling” – and I also refer you to the comment and links of Marco #3 above.

In addition, the relatively recent discovery of grizzly-Polar bear hybrids should be taken as a warning indication that something is up given how theses have not been historically known before showing there has been significant environmental change.

* HIRGO = Human-Induced Rapid Global Overheating, my preferred descriptive acronym for the observed reality we are all experiencing.

By Astrostevo (not verified) on 22 Dec 2014 #permalink

Furthermore see :…

Greenman3610 /Peter Sinclair : 'Climate Denial Crock of the Week - Extinction: It's not just for Polar Bears any more (updated)'

Plus :…

'In the Land of the Pizzly: As Arctic Melts, Polar and Grizzly Bears Mate' by Laura Höflinger

"The melting Arctic ice has brought polar bears and grizzly bears together and their hybrid offspring, known as "pizzlies," have been detected on Canadian islands. It is a trend that is happening with other species as well, and scientists are worried because it poses a risk to biodiversity.

Unfortunately I'm having trouble getting to Marshall's Carbon Detox site which is :

to work. Unsure what's going on there - hopefully others will be able to get that to work?

By Astrostevo (not verified) on 22 Dec 2014 #permalink

I have high hopes for at least the pizzlies, if not polar bears per se. Like humans, bears are quite intelligent, adaptable, and able to at least survive on a variety of diets. I expect that an increasing number of polar bears or their descendants will give up on the increasingly hopeless ice floe and seal approach to subsistence and move south permanently. Their biggest threat will then be humans with guns (humans without guns being tasty snacks), and there's plenty of sparsely populated land left in Canada.

Some will be very upset that increased intermixing between polar and brown bears will "taint" their genetic "purity". OTOH, that purity is of relatively recent vintage, the former species having evolved from the latter. You could equally well argue that hybridization will likely be beneficial for one or both species by giving them a greater range of genetic variation, some of which may be suitable to the changing conditions they will face ... just as interbreeding with multiple other human species was likely beneficial for ours.

It's been a while a polar bear snacked on one of our grad students on the Ungava Peninsula, ( there were a lot of forms to fill out in consequence) but if the arctic seal shortfall continues, some here fear the bears may follow the great whites example and swim south to sample the academic smogastbord swimming off Cape Cod each summer-- in August in the Elizabeth Islands, the sea lions outnumber the tourists.

By Russell Seitz (not verified) on 24 Dec 2014 #permalink

Russell, that may have been a little insensitive. Depending on to whom you refer, I know people who were close to her and also the person who was incorrectly fingered as responsible, so... ick.

But, I would be very interested in an overview of pinneped redistribution over the last five decades. Do you know of anything like that? There seem to have been huge changes.

Second, why does taxation always become the solution? As of yet, I’ve not seen any scientist give a rational reason why taxation fixes the problem.

Roy... First, that's certainly not "always" the solution people propose. Second, that's an economics question rather than a scientific one. Third, the reason why people propose taxation is because it accounts for the external costs imposed on the economy by carbon emissions. Even hard core Libertarians like Milton Freedman suggested this is an appropriate form of taxation, even in a laissez faire economic system!

By Rob Honeycutt (not verified) on 25 Dec 2014 #permalink

Roy, I am a scientist, and I have noticed that very often when people are ignorant, they project their ignorance onto everyone else. They don't gather data and decide based on the facts, they just take their own position and project it onto their opponents.

For example, your claim of "cherry picking of data" by climate scientists sounds exactly like what someone who was cherry picking data would say. Since you are not a scientist, you can't be conversant with all of the data used to generate climate models. You can only be cherry picking the data yourself. Your conclusion of cherry picking is from cherry-picked data.

So, because you are obviously cherry picking data, your position can be dismissed by your own stated criteria.

By daedalus2u (not verified) on 31 Dec 2014 #permalink

That sort of thinking also engenders disbelief (of established facts/theories/etc) on the basis of incredulity.

"I am ignorant. The thing you said, I didn't know. So, I don't believe it. Therefore it is wrong. So you are ignorant. See how smart I was when I did that?"

Then there are those who believe TOO much on the basis of incredulity... (I.e., our conspiracy theorists.)

"You are ignorant. This thing I heard about, you don't know. But, you'd better believe it. Because it's so fantastic it must be true. I'll correct your ignorance. See how smart I was when I did that?'

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 31 Dec 2014 #permalink