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Posted at 2:45 PM ET, 01/ 5/2011

Climate Lens: Politics, hype, and science

By Jason Samenow

Do your politics impact your view of climate change science? Do gloom and doom predictions alter your opinions? Some recent articles in the LA Times and Nature explore these fascinating questions.


The LA Times story, which profiles MIT scientist Kerry Emanuel in a case study of the linkage between political affiliation and beliefs in man-made global warming, begins:

According to the conventional wisdom that liberals accept climate change and conservatives don't, Kerry Emanuel is an oxymoron.
Emanuel sees himself as a conservative. He believes marriage is between a man and a woman. He backs a strong military. He almost always votes Republican and admires Ronald Reagan.
Emanuel is also a highly regarded professor of atmospheric science at MIT. And based on his work on hurricanes and the research of his peers, Emanuel has concluded that the scientific data show a powerful link between greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

The article goes on to discuss the evolution of Emanuel's scientific thinking and, most recently, his politics. Some of the themes in this article are to similar those published in the Boston Globe last year about Emanuel and fellow Bostonian climate scientist Richard Lindzen.

The article closes with Emanuel saying: "I am a rare example of a Republican scientist, but I am seriously thinking about changing affiliation owing to the Republicans' increasingly anti-science stance." (Others who hold that opinion might find this video amusing from "Countdown with Keith Olbermann", h/t Steve Tracton).


"The use of dire predictions to encourage action on climate change may be backfiring and increasing doubt that greenhouse gases from human activities are causing global warming," begins a controversial story in Nature by Matt Kaplan.

But progressive climate blogger Joe Romm, a strong advocate for communicating science-based warnings of the severe consequences of global warming if we don't act, says not so fast. He argues the study this statement is based upon, which examines psychological responses to global warming messages, analyzes a sample "hardly comprehensive or representative of America" (citing the Washington Post)." And, after dissecting the study, Romm finds:

If people want to draw conclusions from the small sample of this study, then it would seem to be telling us:
1. The message that does work is we face Hell and High Water if we don't act but fortunately much of the technology we need to solve this problem already exists.
2. The message that doesn't work is that the problem is so hopeless science doesn't even know where to start.

The second message certainly doesn't work in making snow forecasts...


* The Northeast Regional Climate Center (NRCC) reports five cities in New England - Boston, Hartford (CT), Caribou (ME), Providence (RI) and Concord (NH) - had their warmest year (2010) on record. But it was the fifth warmest year on record for the Northeast region, as a whole.

* The United Kingdom had its second coldest December since 1659 according to preliminary data posted on the BBC's weather blog. Some might be tempted to use this as evidence to question global warming but recall Andrew posted yesterday 2010 globally was likely either the warmest or second warmest on record.

* Environmental studies scholar Roger Pielke Jr. blogs about a new study written by him and colleagues that finds: "the detection or attribution of an anthropogenic signal in tropical cyclone loss data is extremely unlikely to occur over periods of several decades (and even longer)." In plain English, this means it's likely to take a long time before global warming will change hurricanes enough to detect a clear impact (from global warming) on life and property.

* The National Snow and Ice Data Center reports Arctic sea ice extent during December was the lowest on record (for the month).

Climate Lens is a guided aggregation of recent climate change science news and voices for those interested in the intersection of weather, climate, politics, and the environment.

By Jason Samenow  | January 5, 2011; 2:45 PM ET
Categories:  Climate Change, Latest  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Farmer's Almanac forecast vs. reality in December
Next: PM Update: Tranquil through tomorrow


When the steps that need to be taken to curb global warming just happen to coincide with the same left-liberal policies that will result in the stifling, massive regulation of business and enormous redistribution of wealth from rich individuals to poor individuals and rich countries to poor countries, yeah, I think there's a political component to it.

Posted by: DankWin | January 5, 2011 3:36 PM | Report abuse

What does the redistribution of wealth have 2 do with the climate? Please enlighten us uninformed. 1st time I've ever heard of that theory as an agrument against climate change. Maybe u can provide a link 2 support this new theory.

Posted by: VaTechBob | January 5, 2011 3:48 PM | Report abuse

I don't feel very tactful today.

Those who believe that the human population can continue to burn, burn, burn, burn and burn fossil fuels for decade upon decade, more & more, faster & faster, without painful enviromental/climate consequences, they are so dumb.
Perhaps selfishness plays a factor too, but the dumbness is just incredible.

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | January 5, 2011 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Ahhh yes the vast left-wing conspiracy. ROFL.

If you honestly think the left is organized enough to create, and maintain, a huge conspiracy to enact left-leaning legislation and regulations, then you haven't really been paying attention. Dems had 2 yrs to 'force' cap and trade through, but they couldn't, or wouldn't (depending on your personal take).

What happened, however, is that the energy/mining industry has quietly funded the same kind of pseudo-science the tobacco companies used. We now see all kind of web sites by organizations, funded by the energy industry, produce 'scientific articles' which benefit their funders. These sites have proliferated around the web and we see them being quoted, time and again, in the debate. It has become more difficult for the average person to ferret out the real science arguing against climate change from the aforementioned pseudo-science. This has left many to just rely on their beliefs, usually with information provided by partisans. Now many come to the debate with information they believe is real, but is often just propaganda aimed at killing regulations and environmental policies.

Yes there are political components to the debate, but is it one sided? Not really. Two sides to every coin. We have 2 sets of interest trying to gain advantage. Science is just being used as their football.

Moreover, your post adds no information to the debate, it just makes accusations. That you use industry-friendly language and slang shows you have an agenda.

Posted by: PlowKing | January 5, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse

DankWin and PlowKing,

I must ask that we don't discuss politics on this blog. Like I always say, we all know it's just gonna get ugly. There's a whole world of weather out there that you could discuss, but please, not politics. As someone mentioned a few days ago, it doesn't have to be DC weather, it could be Brazil weather, Mexico weather, China weather, etc. This is a weather blog, isn't it?

Speaking of which, it's 57°F and partly cloudy in Hong Kong right now.

Posted by: BobMiller2 | January 5, 2011 4:43 PM | Report abuse

but, bob, this thread, titled "Climate Lens: Politics, hype, and science", IS specifically about the politics of climate change. the politics discussion is appropriate here.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 5, 2011 4:54 PM | Report abuse


OK, if you want to discuss politics, feel free, but I prefer not to share my political views on a page like this. I might on other WaPo pages, but not CWG.

Posted by: BobMiller2 | January 5, 2011 5:09 PM | Report abuse

To address the headline of the post, yes I do think political viewpoints affect the way people view this. Leftists tend to trust Government and Government funded initiatives; the other side tends to not trust Government.

It is amusing to me, as a skeptic, to watch the evolving belief of the true believers. We heard nothing but "warm and warmer, and sea levels flooding streets, and more and stronger hurricanes" from the CAGW folks for many years. When it got colder and lots of snow fell, the warmists discovered that their models actually predicted that cold and colder would be happening due to CO2. True believers picked up the party line without missing a beat. The lowest level of hurricanes since the beginning of airplane based hurricane history will surely also be predicted soon, as that is what happened this last year. The sea level flooding the streets of New York might take a while at the current rate of about 6 inches per fifty years, but maybe next year will be the one where the rate of increase accelerates.

The earth has been warming since the end of the little ice age in about 1850, which is also roughly the start of the thermometer based historical temperature record. There appear to be cycles of warmer and colder periods that run to 20-30 years each. Simple arithmetic dictates that at about half of the decades since 1850 would be the 'warmest ever'. Since we need continued warming to attempt to maintain the credibility of the warmist tribe, we now have lots of publicity about now being the warmest ever.

With the ocean currents in the Pacific turning colder, and the Atlantic likely to follow suit, and the quieter sun cycle, the next few decades are likely to be flat or colder. This was absolutely not predicted by the models that drive current warmist belief, but I have a prediction: the models are already being tuned to 'predict' that we could have a cold decade or two as part of the overall, inevitable, 'settled science' that knows with absolute certainty that a warming earth will mean the end of civilization as we know it and probably the end of most of the humans and other life on the planet.

There is apparently no level of wrongness in the alarmist forecasting community that will convince any of the warmists that nothing resembling 'settled science' is in play here. My guess is that even a massive increase in glaciers swallowing up northern towns will somehow be attributed to more CO2.

Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | January 5, 2011 5:44 PM | Report abuse

There was an event like this last summer in South America. A cold wave killed thousands of animals, some humans, and it was seldom mentioned in the warmist media.

China is experiencing the 'variability' now predicted by the warmist models. Is it only me who notices that the predictions about CO2 causing cold weather didn't start being publicized until after places like the UK had three brutal winters in a row that occurred after the UK warmist driven meteorological service predicted warm winters?

Mass evacuations as China's south battles 'big freeze'
By Martin Patience BBC News, Beijing

Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | January 5, 2011 6:30 PM | Report abuse

hahahaaha... boy oh boy.

AGWsceptic99, you said,
"When it got colder and lots of snow fell, the warmists discovered that their models actually predicted that cold and colder would be happening due to CO2."

when did that happen!?!

it has been getting warmer and warmer and warmer. remember it's GLOBAL warming. just because it's cold right now where you are, doesn't mean it's cold everywhere. just because it snowed a lot on the east coast of the U.S. last year doesn't mean the GLOBE was cold.

if you're still in denial about the FACT that the earth is warming, well, just look at some GLOBAL data.

the area where rational, informed discussion is possible is the consequences of global warming and the counter-measures adaptations we should or shouldn't take.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 5, 2011 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Well PlowKing, how about you adding something factual to the blog.

There are billions of dollars available to fund any ridiculous proposal that publicizes the theme that global warming is happening. Everything from dying lizards in Mexico (where it really never gets hot in the summer), to genetic changes in snails, to changing the flavor of tea in India is caused by climate change.

Climate has been changing since the molten gasses coalesced into a solid ball a few billion years ago. Since then there have been periods with a lot more CO2 that we have now, and periods with less. There have been multiple ice ages that covered all or most of the planet with glaciers and there have been warm weather plants growing in the arctic circle. Generally changes in CO2 followed rather than led increased in temperatures, but surely you can demonstrate how or why the glaciers came and went without benefit of humans burning carbon based fuels.

Photos of you home and transportation vehicle that are not using carbon based fuels or electricity produced by coal would help establish your credibility. Are you killing and skinning deer to make your clothes and cover your tepee? Are you maybe shutting down all the appliances in your house when the alternative energy (wind or solar) is not available?

The reason most people who are not leftists think your CAGW mitigation proposals are ridiculous is because we have jobs and run companies where our decisions make a difference in whether we can buy food and pay the mortgage next month. Most lefties have a job funded by the taxpayers work at non-managerial levels in schools or unions. If there is no chance that your electricity will actually be turned off because no responsible leader will implement your mitigation proposals, it is ok for you to lobby for them. Actually shutting down the power plants and turning off the gas pumps would kill off enough people to really reduce CO2 production, but it is safe for you to lobby for this kind of nonsense because no one will ever really throw the switch.

Leaving our nuclear and hydro, less than one percent of all energy is 'alternative' sourced, and probably that number never gets to five, let alone the 95 needed to power the world's economy without using carbon fuels.

Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | January 5, 2011 6:51 PM | Report abuse

So walter-in-fallschurch, the warmist crowd is still doctoring the current temperature data trying to prove that 2010 was warmer than 1998, and has finally massaged temperatures from the 1930's to be less warm than 1998.

If CO2 is making it warmer, 2010 should have easily been much warmer than the previous 12 year old peak. Fact is there is little or no statistically significant warming since 1998, and honest numbers would show that. NASA is the only purveyor of temperature numbers that is likely to claim a new record for 2010. Whether you believe it is or isn't, the increases predicted by the models on which your fervent belief in a warming world are based all predicted a much warmer world by now, and it ain't happening.

When it was warm on the East Coast, there were lots of articles claiming CO2 was at fault. When the Chinese or the Brazilians are freezing their butts off, there won't be anything published in this warmist rag.

And all of this publicity will simply fade away if 2011 turns colder. Just like eugenics, your tribe will suddenly find a need for new blog names so no one will know that you were a true believer.

Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | January 5, 2011 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Global Warming is a religion, not a science. A science requires controlled experiments, and conclusive data. With Global Warming, we have guesses as to why temps are up and down, and then when conflicting data appears, members of the religion don't change their outlook, but their story. This is what creationists do.

Ten years ago, we were being told the impact would be less snow, that kids might not know what actual snow looked like. When this didn't occur, the story changed to global warming can produce more snow. This is how people in religions force fit data into their belief systems because they're views are based on faith, not logic. As is the case with the Global Warming Cult.

Posted by: tgt111 | January 5, 2011 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Just as you can find a conservative to back the alarmist point of view, you can find a liberal who backs the skeptic's point of view.

An example of that is Steve Goddard and his "Real Science" blog. Steve is apparently a well credentialed climate scientist who provides a volume of convincing evidence that global warming does not exist, or if it does it is occurring very slowly and not an immediate threat.

Steve gives evidence that sea levels are not rising and that warm periods come and go in a totally random fashion. He documents that very little going on today has not happened sometime in the fairly recent past.

Steve also gives evidence that this "warmest year ever" business is largely based on urban heat island effect and interpretation if not alteration of data.

From my own standpoint, I'm not a climate scientist, but I have seen tremendous embellishment on both sides. In fact, I have seen enough outright fabrication on both sides that frankly I don't trust anyone at this point, especially with so much money (our money) at stake.

From what I do know, the warming to date has not been catastrophic. Antartic ice has been growing faster than Arctic ice is shrinking, so therefore, if anything worldwide sea ice has been increasing.

Also, it has recently been abnormally cold over most of the world, oceans included.

Another example, Washington, DC has not set a monthly high temperature record in the months April thru October since 1941.

Des Moines, IA has not set a daily high temperature record in July since 1955 and Waterloo, IA has only set one daily high temperature record in July since 1940.

Also, many of the high temperature records set in the 1930's over much of the US have not been recently approached.

During the summers of 1930, 1934 and 1936 there were more 100 degree days during each of those summers in places like St. Louis and Kansas City than there has been for the same cities over the past ten years.

So I believe the skeptical viewpoint has some merit There are plenty of convincing arguements on both sides.

Also, before we redistribute wealth. wreck the fragile economy and drastically curb our way of life, we better know for sure what we are doing. I'm not sure we do. For all we know, the human created CO2 might be preventing another Ice Age, which for humanity (aside from nuclear war) would be the ultimate disaster.

Posted by: frontieradjust | January 5, 2011 7:04 PM | Report abuse

you say it was cold is south america, huh? and china too?!

did you see the recent CWG post about temperature records. true there have been some cold records lately (as there are every year), but there have been WAY WAY more warm records. sorry, dude... them's just the inconvenient facts.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 5, 2011 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Walter, as I mentioned on that thread, the study that showed more hot records than cold ones has two related flaws. The full text is here: The first flaw is that in general hot records will increase if there are no corrections for UHIE. The second flaw is that rather than acknowledge and correct for that, they did the opposite. They only used 1800 out of 11,000 "high quality" stations which had the effect of selecting urban stations. For example they had to discard rural stations that with potentially small staffs that were missing readings.

Here's a critique made of the study when it came out:

Posted by: eric654 | January 5, 2011 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Whatever the science says, the solutions are politically-driven. The prime example is corn-based ethanol, which even Al Gore has now disavowed.

Posted by: chernobill1 | January 5, 2011 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Re: President's Day. Our three greatest presidents were indeed born in February: Washington, Lincoln and Reagan (Feb 6, 2011).

As an aside, the four worst presidents were all born in August: LB Johnson, Clinton, Hoover and (ahem) you-know-who.

Posted by: ASColletti | January 5, 2011 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Interesting, we 1 poster telling us wealth redistribution has something something 2 do with climate change theories, & now some1 rating presidents.
4 the record most historians rate , Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Truman & Ike as some of our best.
Pierce, Fillmore, Tyler, Buchanan, Harding, & GW Bush at the bottom.
LBJ & Clinton r considered in the middle, & it's 2 early 2 rate Obama.

Posted by: VaTechBob | January 5, 2011 9:54 PM | Report abuse

All these labels I'm seeing in here ("leftist," "warmist," etc) are really turning me off. I know how people use those terms when said "leftists" and "warmists" aren't present. Just sayin'.

Btw, I don't see anything wrong -- or leftist, for that matter -- with creating an energy industry based on efficiency and renewable sources. It actually sounds quite business friendly to me. Renewable sources = longevity, right? Even Russia, stubborn China -- the world's largest source of CO2 emissions -- and most of South and Eastern Asia recognizes this and are making moves towards cleaner energy options (mostly natural gas, which is merely a step up from petroleum or coal, rendering their recognition mostly symbolic, but still, recognition is recognition). South Korea is making plans for a wind energy farm that will generate gigawatts of energy. Scotland runs on at least 30% renewable energy sources now and is well on it's way to providing 80% renewable energy by 2020. Algeria has recognized that the solar energy that reaches its deserts is enough to potentially power the entire world economy. So now they're constructing solar energy facilities to not only provide energy for itself, but for Europe as well (which would help Europe get off Russia's Gazproms's teat). There's more, but I don't want you to totally tl;dr me here. :P

I see nothing leftist here. This is all happening in the private sector. My problem is, I don't see a big plan from U.S. either. Where is our grand renewable energy plan? That isn't a rhetorical question either. I'd like to know. As far as I can tell all we have is a smattering of renewable energy start-ups and some local government policy. I don't want to be left behind in a world where renewable energy is commonplace and we're still going to increasingly great lengths (miles underwater, unstable developing countries, under wild-life reserves, buying from Asia) to get those last few oil fields barreled up.

Posted by: SpeedLimit186000 | January 5, 2011 10:02 PM | Report abuse

SpeedLimit186000. You need to recheck the funding for the renewable energy in the countries you mentioned. The cost is several times that of carbon based or nuclear fuel, and is funded by the taxpayers and the utility customers. Spain is in financial trouble as a country because of their solar subsidies, and they are reneging on the long term subsidy contracts because they cannot afford to pay them.

England gets up to 8 or 9% when the wind blows, if it isn't too cold. Averages less than one percent and has driven up the cost of electricity to the point that poor people are riding the buses all day because they cannot afford to keep warm at home.

The reason there isn't much here is that no one has ponied up the subsidy money. No private company will build or operate windmills without a long term government guaranteed subsidy that runs several times the normal cost of electricity.

There is enough coal to operate for several hundred years. Natural gas too. There will be alternative renewable energy when smart people figure out how to create it and sell it for profit. The Government is highly unlikely to be involved. Until then it is just another scam to take money from the taxpayers, and the US taxpayers seem to be smarter than the ones in Europe.

The Chinese are building the windmills, but they will build anything if you agree to pay. Any Chinese windmill installations are strictly for marketing to the (usually) leftist Governments who are buying them.

Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | January 5, 2011 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Straight from the paragon of conservative thought. ;)

--begin quote--
Or could it be that disagreements over climate change are essentially political—and that science is just carried along for the ride? For 20 years, evidence about global warming has been directly and explicitly linked to a set of policy responses demanding international governance regimes, large-scale social engineering, and the redistribution of wealth. These are the sort of things that most Democrats welcome, and most Republicans hate. No wonder the Republicans are suspicious of the science.

Think about it: The results of climate science, delivered by scientists who are overwhelmingly Democratic, are used over a period of decades to advance a political agenda that happens to align precisely with the ideological preferences of Democrats. Coincidence—or causation? Now this would be a good case for Mythbusters.
--end quote--

source of the above quote

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | January 6, 2011 12:02 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Mr_Q | January 6, 2011 12:17 AM | Report abuse

The good old classic.

--begin quote--
I would be remiss, as a scientist who studied this, if I didn’t mention the following two things:

The first is that, most importantly, we need to do, as a society, in this country and globally, whatever we can to reduce population. [Cheers, applause.] It’s the ‘master variable’ that controls everything [shouts of "that's right"].

Our whole economic system is based on growth, and growth of our population, and this madness has to end.
--end quote--

source of the above quote?
NOAA climate scientist, John B. Miller

Sounds a whole lot like President Obama's science czar, John Holdren.

--begin quote--
President Obama's "science czar," John Holdren, once floated the idea of forced abortions, "compulsory sterilization," and the creation of a "Planetary Regime" that would oversee human population levels and control all natural resources as a means of protecting the planet
--end quote--

source of the above quote

Those "solutions" were found in a text book that John Holdren co-authored decades ago. 33 years ago! They appear to have a solution in search of a problem (any justification to implement their "solution").

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | January 6, 2011 12:39 AM | Report abuse

"The signature of climate change is in the increased amplitude and frequency of extreme events." I said it in 1993 before the AGW concepts really got started. I don't know how long the extremes will last, but we had better be ready for them.

For example, last year was an "extreme hurricane year" for the US. Huh? Extremely LOW! How many hit the US? Way down on the far left tail of any distribution.

Forget the means, we are living in the tails of the distributions now. Australia goes from record drought to record floods essentially overnight!

The insurance industry has this figured out. They don't really care about AGW, they just want to write policies that turn a profit!

Finally, I think/hope we will be on this planet past the year 2100 (end of most model runs) unless the climate flips to very cold. Then we will really have a problem feeding a planet of 9+ billion when agriculture and governments fail.

We will solve these problems, but there is going to be significant pain along the way.

Posted by: theshredder | January 6, 2011 1:18 AM | Report abuse

"Then we will really have a problem feeding a planet of 9+ billion when agriculture and governments fail"

This is why the members of the Global Warming Cult are so entertaining. They run of data very quickly, so they're forced to make up scenarios that sound like cheesy made-for-TV movies.

There'll be no food! NYC underwater! Al Gore's bald spot will get even bigger!

Posted by: tgt111 | January 6, 2011 4:13 AM | Report abuse

Following is some interesting data from Weather Underground. It's actually boring data, but I've learned with Global Warming/Climate Change/We'll Call It Something New in a Few Years you always have to precede the word "data" with some attention grabbing adjective, not unlike an forecast that tries to turn sunny and 65 into some unprecedented weather event.

At DCA, we've had 1631 heating degree days this fall and winter, normal is 1627. This means is been 0.25 percent colder than average, or extremely (have to say extreme in any GW discussion) normal.

"Since 1 July heating degree days Actual 1631 Normal 1627"

Posted by: tgt111 | January 6, 2011 4:41 AM | Report abuse

AGWsceptic99, Your post in 'reply' to mine is exactly what is wrong with the debate.

You make an accusation about the facts within my post, yet address something entirely different. I addressed the difficulty of finding reputable sources in the anti-warming side. Show me the reputable science driving your viewpoint. Everything I wrote was based on research and if you have an easier way to ferret out which scientists are bought and paid for (By either side) well then produce it.

Mr. Q, I guess you come back now and again hoping people forget that you once admitted human development affects the environment on the local level. If on the local, why not the global? When you add up all of those pesky local impacts, you will indeed find a global impact. You cut yourself off at the knees in that you admit humans affect the environment. You admit man-made climate change, then deny it. Who do you work for???? Exxon? Love your smug writing style. Shows you have an open mind.

I don't have a side on this debate, the jury is still out in my mind. I can't find good sources for the anti argument, just industry funded groups. I think some of you could provide us with reputable links at some point so we can get beyond your rhetoric and look at some data.

Just because you repeat it a hundred times, doesn't make it true.

Posted by: PlowKing | January 6, 2011 6:10 AM | Report abuse

Re: politics. I am on the right wing, I volunteer here to defend the free market. Far too many people on the right wing are not conservatives, they have forgotten the principles of conservation which saves resources not only for their own future, but everyone else's as a side benefit. It is not in conservative principles for Mr. Ken Cuccinelli to use subpoena power with no evidence whatsoever (of financial wrongdoing) because the scientific product was shabby (IMO) or perceived as shabby. It is certainly not conservative to know or care nothing about science.

On the far left wing we have the tree sitters which we can ignore. Next from the left we have the paid staff of the climate change industry like Andrew and his volunteer friends here. Those are the people we need to constantly correct and never let have the last word. I apologize in advance for those boring posts.

Everyone else including the vast majority of the readers here are in the middle tending to be liberal. They have an appreciation of the free market, but see corporate excesses and are concerned about some alarming possibilities. I am not going to change anyone's politics so I will try to avoid political diatribe although I might slip in an occasional criticism of top-down government mandates. Mostly though, I will describe what I have known and rediscovered for well over 10 years (since Gore's first book) which is that warming is not going to be a catastrophe. Hopefully we also find points to agree on like conservation.

Posted by: eric654 | January 6, 2011 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Eric654, excellent post. I enjoyed reading your perspective and have heard this from some of my friends who share your viewpoint. While I may not totally agree with you, thank you for bringing your views to this forum.

I think you have pointed out the basis of the problem in this debate. We have 2 camps with competing self interests trying to influence the science, and the reporting of the science, behind climate change. This has resulted in a partisan debate over principles rather than a debate on the issue itself. Now we have both sides trying to vilify each other in order to discredit the others' positions. This has resulted in the majority of people being concerned about the issue but unsure of who to believe.

I remember back in college that the debates over the environment were based on arguments pitting the costs of regulating business against pollution's long term costs. Now we have debates on who is more evil or who is the biggest liar. It's hard to talk to each other when a debate is framed this way.

I agree with Eric654 that there is common ground to be found. There are things we can agree on. We just have to force this debate from who is good or bad, to what can we do to find this elusive common ground.

I say question everything, right or left. Let's debate the issue and not just look for scientific nuggets to support a predetermined position. I realize I also have to be vigilant in this regard.

Posted by: PlowKing | January 6, 2011 9:37 AM | Report abuse

There was a very well respected U of MD meteorology professor who taught a class on radiation many years ago.

Back in the 1970's, before global warming became a political football, this professor stated that CO2 was not very important as a greenhouse gas. The reason given was that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere was going to quickly reach a saturation point, thus almost all new CO2 put into the atmosphere was going to settle out.

I ran this by Steve Goddard, who is a skeptical climate scientist. He agreed with what this professor had said 35 years ago.

I asked Steve why so many scientists believe that there is an impending disaster. Steve replied that their modeling is based on various feedback functions which apparently are not working as envisioned.

I don't know the first thing about radiation theory, but the U of MD professor was saying in so many words that the science behind global warming is very shaky if not totally flawed.

I'd appreciate some commentary on this from people with some expertise in this area.

Posted by: frontieradjust | January 6, 2011 10:02 AM | Report abuse

what say you re this:
"Assessment of Urban Versus Rural In Situ Surface Temperatures in the Contiguous
United States: No Difference Found"

also, i was not referring to any particular study, just that CWG post as a whole. you really think the UHI effect "explains away" the 2:1 ratio of record highs to record lows? i seriously doubt that. also, how would that explain the trend of that ratio increasing ever since the 60s?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 6, 2011 10:23 AM | Report abuse

PlowKing, thanks for that vote. I will bump your post about vilification, I am not aware of any actual villains here, questionable motives at worst and usually those are not hidden.

frontieradjust, try Jack Barrett is a skeptic who tirelessly debunks bogus skeptic arguments. He certainly has some detractors, but his science about saturation (debunking that argument) is pretty solid.

Walter, using the satellite nightlight data for urban/rural has some merit, but also has problems. The main problem is that what matters is not how rural or urban a place is, but the delta or "urbanization over time". If a place has stayed one light level, then the temperature should show no bias. If not it might. That delta analysis was not done so it dilutes the statistics (primarily with urban that were always urban, but also rural that is a lot less rural than it used to be).

Posted by: eric654 | January 6, 2011 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Walter, I don't know the answer to the trend, but it's not simple. IMO, record low max = weather, record low min = AGW + natural, same for record high max, record high minimums = AGW (that's Jerry's theory and I think it has merit). In the AGW category we have to be really careful about UHIE since they hit the same hot buttons (humidity at night is the same as asphalt at night)

Posted by: eric654 | January 6, 2011 11:00 AM | Report abuse

The Inuit hunters who just made it out on the ice Monday for the first time this winter, 2 months late.

It's raining there today.

You can't call a growling stomach a hoax.

Check the unusual 2 foot higher-tide on the east coast that persisted for 3 months.

Saltwater covering your street means exiting out the backdoor and walking through your neighbor's yard to your car..

You parked it there why?

Because your street was in the surf?

These aren't hoaxs, they have no political slant, they just stand out as changes that are rather unexpected and that may alter where you hunt for dinner or where you park your car at night.

Posted by: ender3rd | January 6, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

PlowKing wrote, "Mr. Q, I guess you come back now and again hoping people forget that you once admitted human development affects the environment on the local level."

I don't get this. You seem to think -
a. you know my hopes and aspirations
b. what motivates me or why I do what I do

What do you think I am hoping for right now?

But to address the specifics of your comment - it is preposterous. Of course people can affect the local climate. Professor Pielke is right about that. That science is sound. The dust bowl of the 1930's settled that argument long ago.

PlowKing further opined, "If on the local, why not the global?"

Given that over 70% of the planet is covered in water, there is obviously only so much man's sum influences on local climate can equate to. Less than 30% of the earth's surface is land. Man has influenced change/transformation on, at most, 50% of that land. Which means that man has somehow affected the local climate of, at most, 15% of the surface of the earth. And that 15% is spread out across the entire globe. That is a very large dispersion.

Can all of those widely dispersed changes to the local climate somehow affect the climate as a whole? I suppose that is possible. I wouldn't have a gut level (my term for intuitive) negative response to that assertion. But I am unaware of any papers that have made that calculation and posited an answer. Do you know of any?

PlowKing also wrote, "When you add up all of those pesky local impacts, you will indeed find a global impact."

Do you know of a paper on this? See my previous comment.

PlowKing also wrote, " You cut yourself off at the knees in that you admit humans affect the environment."

Perhaps in your mind I do. I am sure that die hard true believers can twist anything I write into somehow cutting myself off at the knees. I can't change that. Since I can't change it, I don't concern myself with it.

PlowKing further opined, " You admit man-made climate change, then deny it."

Now you are tip toeing into disingenuous. You are conflating affecting the local climate with affecting the global climate. I don't know if that is accidental or not. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you yourself accidentally conflated the two.

Yes, I admit that man affects the local climate. The dust bowl is the perfect example of that. But so is a large city and UHI. If you could magically make Washington DC disappear for an hour and measure the temperature in the center of where it had been, then make it reappear for an hour and measure the temperature in the exact same spot, I would stake my life that there would be a difference. So obviously I believe that man can affect the local climate.

Continued in my next comment.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | January 6, 2011 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Yes, it has been unsually warm in NE and central Canada. That has been due to an strong upper air ridge in that area, commonly referred to as the Baffin Bay Block.

We had the same feature last winter when we had record snowfall in the DC area.

When that block appears, it usually correlates with unusual cold and snow in the middle latitude where most people live.

Now the alarmists are trying to claim that recent cold and snow in much of the Northern Hemisphere are also a result of global warming.

They weren't saying that a couple years back when the "hockey stick" showed nothing but ever increasing warming.

It goes to show that even if CO2 is causing climate change that the "experts" are clueless about what the effects will consist of, whether the effects will be positive or negative for humanity, etc., etc.

They are also clueless about what the effects would be if we took drastic action to reduce CO2.

Posted by: frontieradjust | January 6, 2011 12:30 PM | Report abuse

PlowKing asked, " Who do you work for???? Exxon?

I do not work for, or have any association with, any person in the energy industry. I do not derive a single penny of my income from anything associated with the energy industry or the global warming controversy. Not one single penny.

Why is it that you think I work for Exxon? Have you considered the possibility that someone could not believe in catastrophic man made global warming and still not work for Exxon?

The vast majority of the population of the United States does not believe in catastrophic man made global warming. Do you think that we all work for Exxon?

PlowKing snarkily opined, " Love your smug writing style. Shows you have an open mind.

Sarcasm! My favorite form of humor.

On a serious note though, do you not see the full blown irony/hypocrisy in that comment?

If you go back and re-read my comments here, you will see that what I do not believe is the current theory of catastrophic, man made, global warming. I have been painfully clear on that. Although given your comment, perhaps I haven't been clear enough.

I have also advocated a better safe than sorry approach by replacing all existing coal burning power plants with nuclear energy power plants. That seems like the reasonable thing to do, in my opinion. But sadly, few people here agree with that.

If you wish to dialogue in the future, could you please dispense with the mind reading and personal attacks? Can you please limit your responses to the points I raise? Let's make the debate about the science and the corresponding public policies.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | January 6, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone read the Slate article/column that I linked to?

I am curious about this specific point/question.

--begin quote--
Think about it: The results of climate science, delivered by scientists who are overwhelmingly Democratic, are used over a period of decades to advance a political agenda that happens to align precisely with the ideological preferences of Democrats. Coincidence—or causation?
--end quote--

Agree or disagree?

Is it pure coincidence? Or is their ideology effecting (on a subconscious level) their science?

In past comments, I have referred to it as "agenda driven science".

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | January 6, 2011 1:07 PM | Report abuse

ender3rd, AGW is no hoax. My question about the unusual warmth up where the Inuit live is: is there a study from 2007 or earlier (before we got strongly negative AO and negative NAO) that shows a model prediction with this result? An "Arctic warming" prediction is not acceptable because parts of the Arctic are much colder than normal (e.g. north of Scandinavia). I would like to see a study that predicted negative AO before it happened.

Posted by: eric654 | January 6, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse


There are so many people who ask of a project manager to outline a project and come up with an educated delivery date and cost analysis.

I remember Fleet projected a 400 million data warehouse project that was eventually cancelled. After they were bought out, the next bank project a 1.2 billion dollar data warehouse project.

I had to laugh. I'd charge them ten bucks and tell them to save the 1.2 billion and just do what you are doing today, only faster and more politely as possible.

I love it when the John Boehner says "the American people demand" something.

Just because a bunch of monkies in the trees want to know the future doesn't make it doable.

You can't project the future when an asteroid will hit in ten minutes and knock Earth into the sun.

Right now it's predictable that Spring will come 2 weeks earlier than it did in 1970, but to extrapolate that the Hudson Bay will remain ice free year round from that isn't possible, no matter what level of demand you have to want to see that model.

Posted by: ender3rd | January 6, 2011 2:49 PM | Report abuse


Try growing a crop at the bottom of a glacier. The topic was abrupt climate change, not global warming.

Posted by: theshredder | January 6, 2011 6:02 PM | Report abuse

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