Jon Huntsman speaks

When we take a position that isn’t willing to embrace evolution, when we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Science – Sciences has said about what is causing climate change and man’s contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position….I can’t remember a time in our history where we actually were willing to shun science and become a – a party that – that was antithetical to science. I’m not sure that’s good for our future and it’s not a winning formula.

Here is more.  The recent evidence, by the way, is making matters look worse, not better.


Politics is about affiliation, not truth.


And I love the idea that if you don't believe in Global Warming, that's the same thing as not believing in evolution.

If you think $14.6 Trillion in debt is a bad idea, that's the same as thinking Obama planned 9/11! If you have a problem with the fact that Social Security is completely out of money, that's the same as having a problem with Easter!

See how easy this is?

It's easier than that. The battle line was drawn 400 years ago between those who support the Enlightenment and those who wish to roll it back. Huntsman seems surprised at which side he finds himself on. The cleavage isn't perfectly red and blue, but it's close.

Are they rolling back the low prices as well?

Not batshit insane enough, of course he has no chance of winning GOP primaries.

Once you get past the consensus that humans are contributing to global warming, there is no consensus about anything else. How much will the planet warm? What can be done? What should be done? Will it matter? and on and on and on. Beating up people because they don't believe in science (remember for every correct theory there are MANY wrong theories - science is more often wrong than right - so a default disbelief is logical), is a little ridiculous - since no one really knows what to do if the science is correct.

That was no earthquake yesterday - it was mdb moving the goalposts.

I wish we could like comments here. :^)

Umm, dude, those comment is pretty much proof that you aren't very familiar with the science or the debate. Check prominent "conservative" critics of AGW, from Richard Lindzen to Jim Manzi to Ron Bailey. The standard line is this: there is very good consensus that a doubling of CO2 will cause warming in the neighborhood of .8 to 1.5C. On this narrow fact there is very solid consensus.

The real debate comes down to "feedback effects" included in climate models, which account for the majority of the alarmist's predictions. There isn't strong empirical evidence on the magnitude of feedback effects, and there is in fact, strong debate about which effects even predominate. Meanwhile, there are a number of outside critics claiming that some amounts of historical warming are due to non-athropogenic sources.

If you click through to Ezra's column, you notice that he is pulling this same sleight of hand In 2010, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a survey of 1,372 climate researchers, finding that 97 to 98 percent of those publishing in the field said they believe humans are causing global warming. Yes, most prominent "denialists" will agree with that statement that humans cause *some* warming. AGW proponents have gotten a lot of mileage by blurring the line between direct effects of CO2 and secondary effects.

Ultimately, I look at Perry or other politicians who might be technically wrong, but whom i agree with in the broad strokes, and I realize that is true of everything politicians say-- no politician is a wonk. The bottom line here is that the smart conservative line is "yes, of course CO2 causes warming, but the effects probably aren't that big, and btw, the proposed solutions aren't going to help much anyway."

So, the new party line is...

1) The Earth isn't warming, but
2) Even if it is warming, it's caused by sunspots, but
3) Even if it is warming and caused by humans, the effects are minor, but
4) Even if it is warming, caused by humans, and serious, the effects are positive, but
5) Even if it is warming, caused by humans, serious, and bad, the effects are impossible to counteract, but
6) Even if it is warming, caused by humans, serious, bad, and mitigatable, it's too expensive for the world to deal with, but
7) Even if it is warming, caused by humans, serious, bad, mitigatable, and economically feasible, other countries won't coordinate with us, but
8) Even if it is warming, caused by humans, serious, bad, mitigatable, economically feasible, and coordinatable, domestic political constraints means its stupid to waste political capital on.*

So, yeah. New party line, same as the old party line.

*There is, of course 9) Al Gore is fat and rides in airplanes, which in practice is also 1.5), 2.5), 3.5)...

All the denial-ism in this thread is just a libertarian conspiracy to allow the seas to rise and force us all into their utopian floating cities. (Just kidding.)

But, sincerely - rational people should all agree to price the consensus externality of 1.5C, at least.

"The bottom line here is that the smart conservative line is “yes, of course CO2 causes warming, but the effects probably aren’t that big, and btw, the proposed solutions aren’t going to help much anyway.”" <-- The smart political line, perhaps, but there is nothing conservative about that. That is wishful thinking/denial/fatalism.

The conservative thing to do is take action in proportion to the threat, and the best way to 'organize' the kind and scope of that action is by pricing the threat into our every day decisions.

If you read the paper you will find that Ezra's claim is questionable. The authors do not measure people publishing in the field. They find 1372 signatures from pro or con IPCC statements and then impose various number of "climate" publications cutoffs to get to the 97 or 98% number. Of the 1372 there are actually ~400 unconvinced researchers. The unconvinced have fewer publications, and that's how the paper gets from 472/1372 (34%) down to the 2-3% of "top" publishers. Again, to be a top publisher you need to have 20 publications! The authors provide this caveat:

"Our dataset is not comprehensive of the climate community and therefore does not infer absolute numbers or proportions of all CE versus all UE researchers."

They are comparing the citations count of two DIFFERENT groups of signatories.

For everyone to see, is the paper Ezra (and Andrew') refer to.

I'll point out that Andrew' has provided massively incorrect information about it, either out of ignorance or mendacity. He claims that of the 1372 a full 400 are unconvinced of the IPCC's findings. If you look at the paper, you see that the number of unconvinced is significantly below 100 (around 80, it looks like, but 100 liberally).

I have a mixed reaction to your post.

Half of me appreciates nuance and thinks the left is just as quick to group think as the right. I mean hell I'm not a climate scientist (or any kind of natural or social scientist for that matter) so pretty much all I can do is sit back and take other people's (relatively reliable scientific) word. So I think there's plenty of room for the "smart conservative line" even if it turns out to be wrong (i.e. it's not beyond the pale).

The other half of me thinks you give the average GOP primary voter too much credit, since the "smart conservative line" is not the one they will take.

I mean after all, Huntsman did mention evolution too. GOP rhetoric (i.e. pandering) on this topic is not nearly as defensible.

PS I should clarify that I realize you didn't mention the average GOP voter or evolution. I just wanted to take care that both were emphasized, since those things too are what make Huntsman's quote interesting.

Zephyrus, you are wrong, I was right and this is one reason I have a hard time listening to people like you crow about science.

This could go on forever; I advise anyone who would believe him to simply look at the paper.

The number of unconvinced is around 50 for people who have ~50 citations, 15 for people ~100 citations, 15 for people with ~150, and 15 for the rest. Rough numbers, but generous if anything.


I don't actually blame anyone for having difficulty with the paper. Nothing has to go on forever. But just ask yourself, if the paper says exactly what Ezra Klein says it does, then why are you having to guesstimate the numbers? By all means, everyone read the paper.

We're counting different things, apparently.

You're including the people who haven't published at all in climate journals; you claim there are "400 unconvinced researchers." This is inaccurate, as it includes many uninvolved in climatology who were signatories to those documents.

If you're dealing with researchers qua researchers (meaning people who have published in the field), then yes, it's around 80 people or so.

To be fair, we were looking at different cuts of the data sets, and it is accurate to say that 400 of the 1372 signatories, and I shouldn't have accused you of lying. Only a fraction of those 400, however, can be classified as researchers.

No, I'm saying Ezra says only 2-3% of 1372 climate research publishers don't believe AGW.

That is not what the paper does.


I appreciate your thoughts. But still, they are researchers. They just may be non-scientists, scientists in other fields, or climate researchers with fewer papers. So, the paper says what it says it says, at least if you read the fine print. I don't expect Ezra to be a scientist, and that's the point. If you look at their "top 50" the unconvinced group is still pretty darn impressive in my mind from publication count, even while I think such huge publication counts are one thing that is wrong with science as an institution.

I don't even have a huge problem with the paper per se. Science is hard. They found a dataset and they sliced and diced it. I think this might be one reason economists are sympathetic to this kind of paper. However, I could rattle off 20 problems with their method and the conclusions people will draw from it. Their method really is ridiculous for what other people are trying to make it say, and the authors of the paper know what other peopel want their paper to say.

I am fairly confident that if this were any other issue, many people, Tyler probably included would rip it to shreds. And how much does this seem to pop up every time the latest definitive paper comes out? Every time. And I don't even buy into the whole "consensus" argument. Seriously, there may be other issues of science where people talk about consensus, but I can't really think of many. It occurred to me on the way home that economists might by swayed by the "consensus" argument because it kind of reminds them of a market. Well, to me it ain't a market.

I think you've got this one, Andrew'.

The paper is interesting, but many people (including myself) are mis-intrepreting it as something it's not (a survey of the evidence/a poll) and not something it claims to be.

I knew that global warming had to somehow cause the earthquake too.

Has a single person died in a provable legal sense from global warming? I'm not saying that you completely ignore weak signals, but even if 100% true in it's hardest form true for believers, from my calcluation, that puts it ranknig right below the use of "non-lethal" bullets after sporting event riots.

What is really rich is all the people who self-righteously think they are wielding a rationality litmus test.

A "provable legal sense"? What the hell does that mean? Beyond a reasonable doubt? That's kind of hard with a broad meterological phenomenon. If there's an ice storm, and a car crashes and people die, does that count either?

More reasonably, it's fairly easy to point to thousands of deaths associated with rising sea levels (entire populated islands off India have gone below sea level, and rising sea levels increase the mortality associated with monsoons) as well as climate change in other regions causing drought/starvation. Legally provable? Not sure that's a relevant standard here. You can't convict nature. But something we should be concerned about, because it could potentially kill millions of people and disrupt billions of other lives? At this point, hard to argue against.

Entire islands have gone below sea level due to about 25 cm increase in sea level over the past hundred years? I guess.

Just think about this Tom K, what other issues have monopolized peoples' brains the way this has. Is the problem and what can be done about it in proportion to our limited capacity to think about things like this? Almost obviously not. AGW at its worst is not more important than say preventing another world war for example.

And the way it is used as a political football reminds me of the way "global terrorism" was used and that fixation made us make mistakes even in the area of terrorism, let alone all the other more important opportunity costs.

Has the national debt caused any harm whatsoever to our economy? No. In my calculation, we shouldn't even both reducing the yearly deficit until interest rates are above 6%.

Big problems built up over decades that get worse every year need to be solved proactively. If you wait until they actually hit, you've waited too long.

"science is more often wrong than right"

Actually for every correct theory, there are many wrong HYPOTHESIS. After a hypothesis is tested it becomes a theory. The theory may not be complete, as Newtonian physics was incomplete - but not wrong - but it was still very effective for targeting artillery and building cars and things.

"...since no one really knows what to do if the science is correct."

Maybe there isn't a consensus on what to do about climate change, but there are lots of things we could actually do to reduce it - a green house gas emission tax, cap-and-trade, straight regulation, X-prizes for breakthroughs in cheap clean energy just to name a few.

Then they will have an incentive to emit less and we will reduce the amount of climate change that takes place.

It breaks my heart to see so much fake no-nothingness around this very important issue.

Correct and it should be CORRECTLY called climate change hypothesis, since it has not been proven. Now if you want to parse words rather than address the argument that's fine.

Not sure when a hypothesis becomes a theory, but when there's 97% agreement with a growing consensus, I think we're closer to theory.

Consensus has nothing to do with it. This is science. There was a time when 99%+ of scientists didn't believe in atoms, then along came einstein.

Actually, John Dalton had him beat and was a larger figure in atomic theory.

Not entirely true. Not all theories are correct. In fact, there are many scientific theories that were believed to be true for hundreds of years that were later discarded. These were more than just hypotheses because they were falsifiable, but the evidence at the time supported them. Phlogistan, Ptolemaic system, the Miasma Theory of Disease, and others were all thought to be real, all explained what was then known, but all were completely wrong, not just incomplete.

At the time, all were considered to be the dominant theories. Only in retrospect, do we know why they were wrong. That's an important lesson. Science cannot "prove" theories, it can only falsify them. The mark of a good theory is that it not only explains existing evidence, but that it provides future predictions that can be falsified so that even if it turns out to be wrong, we are still expanding the frontiers of knowledge.

For example, we know that our theory of gravity - the one theory everybody uses to show that a scientific theory is more than a guess - is wrong. Gravity is not working the way everyone expects it should work. Deep space satellites and probes to the outer solar system are not following the paths they should, and need to be constantly corrected. Something is obviously wrong. We don't yet know why that is, but there have been a variety of theories and hypotheses formulated that could provide the answer - dark matter and dark energy, the electric universe, at least one well respected scientist believes gravity doesn't even exist at all, string theory, quantum gravitation, etc. But even if the theory of gravity is someday proven to be wrong, it has still been very useful. Without it, we would never have gotten to the next answer.

The controversy with climate change is that proponents are asking for huge changes to be made in the way the world is being done. That these changes are always for increased government control, and that they have made similar claims before for several different "scientific" reasons. The reasons keep changing even though their solution remains the same. It's no wonder that many people are still skeptical. If the doom-mongers were wrong before about global cooling, mass famine, running out of resources, the triumph of "scientific" socialism, etc., they ask why should we believe them now?

There will always be people who will never accept the theory because it runs against their interests. But a lot of skeptics are willing to be convinced provided their concerns are answered about the accuracy of the temperature data going back decades or centuries ago, how the average temperatures are determined based samples taken, the reliance on computer models to predict future climate, the failed predictions already made, why some of the proponents won't share their information fed into the models, etc. Sometimes there concerns are answered, but other times they are given vague, evasive, defensive rebuttals that do nothing to convince.

Progress is not being made because this topic is heavily politicized on both sides.

Your post contains an egregious false equivalence between AGW and global cooling, mass famine etc. None of these other ideas developed any kind of scientific consensus. The idea that global cooling was once a mainstream scientific concern has been particularly debunked. The far majority of climate research in the 70's was focused on warming, not cooling (and, no, mainstream media did not reflect this at the time, but rather created some sensation that obviously influenced George Will).

Somewhere, Karl Popper is smiling.

Nicely done! I suspect that belief in AGW is a requirement for membership in the fraternity of Climate Scientists, which would explain the sort of numbers Klein references. It also matches one of the truly scandalous parts of the Climate-Gate fiasco, in which "scientists" collaborated to keep contradictory papers from getting published. Might that skew the consensus numbers, just a smidge?

The real problem with the science, regardless of the results of polls, is that the alarmist scientists have failed to actually predict anything accurately. The biggest failure, I suspect, was the tropical tropospheric "fingerprint", the one really solid prediction the climate modelers offered. When they went looking for it, they couldn't find it.

Then, in just the past few months we have a published study based on NASA satellite data that shows significantly more heat escaping the atmosphere than the climate models have assumed, and a CERN study that appears to prove that all of the climate models' assumptions regarding the mechanism underlying the formation of clouds are wrong.

Still, there is that consensus. I wonder what percentage of professors of theology believe in God?

"default disbelief is logical"

Unfortunately, what's happening in human-induced climate change is that the evidence for the theory is piling up in its favor, so we're way past the point of "default disbelief," which may be appropriate for novel claims that are yet untested.

Climate change is a mature proposition, dating back to the 1970s, and the hypothesis has been confirmed by numerous, numerous tests and the accumulation of new data as time progresses. You -- and your party -- should be way beyond "default." Heck, you should be beyond "the jury is still out."

And even if no one knows what to do, that's irrelevant to whether it's happening. You can't ignore whether your house is on fire just because you're clueless as to how to respond. It's still on fire.

Further, insistent and ignorant denial further limits research into and debate about what to do about the problem.

So you convince every one it's happening, liberals feel better, nothing else changes. Waste of energy.

That's funny, because I have yet to see one predictions from the IPCC 4 report hits its target yet. And that is the authoritative literature on the subject, no?

How many times will they have to miss their mark before their models/process is called into doubt by the true believers?

The "evidence" is evidently unrelated to the predictions, which are the "testable" part of the hypothesis - and which have an abysmal track record, so far.

The "evidence" for significant (rather than theoretically very likely, but of unknown and possibly quite tiny magnitude) human contributions keeps vanishing when I ask for it... probably because the "evidence" most of them seem to have in mind is the continued predictions and the revised models - neither of which are actually evidence.

When models don't predict, and people keep "correcting" data to fit the models, we're not dealing with evidence and science anymore.

(Even if those involved honestly believe they are doing Proper Science, they can be fooling themselves. Scientists, just like everyone else, can become obsessed with the outcome rather than the justification or the process. Problem is, science is about the latter, not the former.

And of course, people who got Alarmed into "Problem Fixing Mode" have a tendency to reject interpretations that say There Wasn't Really A Problem. Again, this is a universal tendency.)

Do you really think you're somehow a better scientist than people actually in the field, based on what you know from... I guess, watching Fox news and reading comments in libertarian blogs?

The irony is science spent most of early life being defined as the antithesis of received wisdom and argument by authority.

How the worm turns.

Cute rhetorical trick, TallDave, but it falls a bit flat. Yours is the same argument that people who reject evolution and think relativity is a Jewish conspiracy use.

You don't attack and try to defund scientists you disagree with; you argue with them with data. And you definitely don't pull them in front of Congressional committees trying to establish how anti-American they are.

Not so, the arguments for evolution are based on evidence, the arguments against have always been received wisdom. Relativity was a fight against authority. It won out because it made predictions that came true.

Defunding, ha. What is the budget for climate science this year? Is it still only in the billions? At any rate, one does not fund a non-problem.

I thought your line was "more research is needed," TallDave.

Yes, preferably at something like 1/10th the currrent budget.

Can they get by on mere hundreds of millions?

I'd be curious to see your math on those billions of dollars. Cite, please.

Just one U.S. agency, mind you.

Alongside major new investments in clean energy development, President Obama’s FY2011 Budget proposes $2.56 billion in funding for climate and global change research conducted under the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) umbrella. This $439 increase over the FY2010 level brings climate research funding to a level higher than under any previous administration dating back to 1989.

Believe it or not... TallDave is misrepresenting facts!

Unless you want to include NASA's entire Earth science budget, research on alternative energy, money for EPA enforcement efforts, and the like as "climate science research."

If you don't believe me, or the link, would you believe the White House source at the link?

Budget maintains continuity of NOAA satellite coverage needed for monitoring weather and climate by providing over $2 billion to fund the development and acquisition of NOAA’s polar orbiting and geo-stationary weather satellite systems, satellite-borne measurements of sea level and other climate variables, and other space-based observations.

The Budget provides $766 million, an increase of $105 million over comparable 2010 levels, for a new effort at NSF that represents a fundamental shift in how an agency defines and supports multidisciplinary energy and climate research.

Establishes Climate Science Centers: Managing ecosystems and wildlife habitat that are facing the impact of climate change requires reliable data on changes, supporting science, and tools to bring these together to inform land management decisions. DOI is establishing a framework, which includes Climate Science Centers that will focus on the impact of climate change on a broad array of Departmental Resources. The Budget includes an increase of $14 million for these Centers to provide land managers with vital decision support tools based on the latest science.

The budget of the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS), now five years behind schedule, has more than doubled since it was proposed by President Clinton, ballooning from $6.5 billion to $13.9 billion despite a previous effort to restructure the program in 2006.

Now, the Obama administration is proposing to split the program among the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA and the Defense Department.

There's no consensus on how to cure AIDS either; should we then humor that lot denying that HIV causes AIDS?

logic will be wasted on you.

And on you

Difference is, the hypothesis that HIV causes AIDS has been tested, and held up to testing.

We've seen AIDS be transmitted, and HIV is the only "offender" we've been able to identify that would explain the transmission of the disease.

(I don't know that anyone's ever done a test with infecting someone via isolated HIV, for obvious ethical reasons, but the hypothesis is so strongly evidenced that, barring a reproducible disconfirmation or a superior explanation we'd be fools to reject it.

There is nothing remotely comparable in the significant-anthropogenic-warming case.

All we have there is models that are bad at predicting, and data that's shaky at best thanks to "corrections", and cries of "consensus".

So, no, not buying that gambit.)

I wasn't implying a similar standard of proof. My only point was, the lack of a credible solution should not impact a recognition of the underlying problem.

"I wasn’t implying a similar standard of proof. My only point was, the lack of a credible solution should not impact a recognition of the underlying problem."

Of course it does, especially for problems that are so subtle that only the top researchers can tease out the glacial pace of progression. In every other area of your life it does. When information is expensive to collect, and the donwside is so low you move along. It does politically because for Democrats too. To them, the problems and solutions are linked even though their favored solutions do not automatically follow.

I don't even think we are really talking about global warming or even science, but politics.

while you "recognize" a problem -dont let it get your guard down .on other immediate problem .like malaria and malnutrition.
mankind WILL adapt to the climactic changes.but those who are dying today are not worth the hypothetical lives of someone being born in 2200

We also lack a perfect model of the sun, but we can tell it's hot.

What makes you so certain that your scientific expertise is greater than people who publish in Nature, Science, etc., along with all the prominent scientific societies? It certainly can't be you've actually bothered to study the issue.

"Do you really think you’re somehow a better scientist than people actually in the field,"

I'm certainly not saying that. All I'm saying is that when I decide something in science, I don't just take the opinions of experts for granted. And if you were to ask me whether I believe in AGW, I'd say that it is theoretically plausible, but I haven't seen a lot of actual experiments. I would distrust all models ESPECIALLY because we are dealing with such small changes over long periods of time minor tweaks to the model will completely change the importance of these changes. If something doubles over 50 years versus 100 years that is huge, even though the change in the compounding exponent might be small.

Then I'd say that none of the science litmus test and statist policy prescriptions that are based on the worst case scenario readings of the data follow- for EXACTLY the same type reasons I was against going into Iraq for WMDs.

Well no, you're wrong. Of course HIV causes AIDS. Because AIDS is by definition "stuff that happens because you have HIV". But AIDS has NEVER been transmitted. HIV has been transferred. And most of the components of AIDS are seen in other immuno-suppressed communities such as cancer patients, the elderly, and babies.
And AIDS is exactly like global warming in that we try to suppress the spread of the HIV virus. If a global warming denialist applied their same logic to HIV they would say that it was useless to try to stop the spread of HIV with anti-retroviral therapy since we don't know if the patient is going to die of liver cancer, pneumonia, or a weird skin infection.

The first part of your comment is certainly correct, but are you really suggesting that it's perfectly okay to deny reality simply because the implications have yet to be fully grasped? I don't think that's kosher at all, really.

Many widely held scientific hypotheses have been proven wrong in the past, it is not unheard of. Frankly, if science waited till everyone accepted the theory evolution before moving on, we would still be at the Origin of the Species. All I am saying, is who cares? Not me. Liberals have a hard time accepting people that don't think like them.

mdb, how much scientific consensus will you need to see before you, too, agree? I'm not being snarky. It's a serious question. Given that the scientific consensus is 97% - and growing - it's one I think you should spend some time considering.

Who says I disagree, oh you must be a liberal, if someone doesn't get upset at a skeptic like you, they must be a skeptic.

Science isn't a popularity contest, so consensus has absolutely nothing to do with the debate. Science is the pursuit of testable hypothesis.

Politicians have been abusing and intentionally obfuscating the science regarding AGW for a long time now. That is what the climategate emails and the Himalayan glacier controversy truly showed.

The most salient fact is that even if you accept the proposed solutions to combat warming, even the most optimistic models show that all we do is delay the inevitable by a handful of years.

Science is not a popularity contest, but it is a mistake to believe you are contributing to science by reading blogs and repeating "Science is not a popularity contest."

Science doesn't have to wait. But in a way it really does. It is methodical.

People are confusing science with policies they think follow from this.

"Given that the scientific consensus is 97% - "

It's not!!! Read the paper.

Hint: I'll never be convinced by people telling me what 97% of scientists think about something especially when that is not accurate.

"Science is not a popularity contest, but it is a mistake to believe you are contributing to science by reading blogs and repeating “Science is not a popularity contest.”"

So true, but you are contributing to politics and hopefully the independence of science/scientists and proper thinking about policy WRT science.

When I see people say AGW is the same as testing the effects of mercury I realize people just don't get it. In a lab testing mercury, the only prediction I have to make is that inductive reasoning works. Who are the real science deniers here? It's the people claim to understand the philosophy of science when what they are really doing is appealing to authority.

Newtownian physics has been "proven wrong", but it is still valuable and taught as good enough for macro scales. Just because something is wrong doesn't mean it's not valuable.

it warms my heart to see all of these comments in response to mdb's fallacious one.

So you BELIEVE science is more right than wrong? I think you found religion.

Your assumptions about what I believe reminds me of this blog post that Tyler recently linked to:

"Once you get past the consensus that humans are contributing to global warming, there is no consensus about anything else."

Maybe if people stopped pretending to not believe that climate change is occurring--and that man is the #1 contributor--then we could move on from pretending to have to convince politicians global warming is happening and find some consensus on how to address it.

or not address it. frankly that is a HUGE issue when you get into the costs, what those costs will accomplish, and on and on. Just saying all we have to do is accept it and everything will be easy and proceed quickly is very naive.

The cost of doing nothing is expensive as well, with a MUCH longer tail risk.

Beyond that, we have no actual right to flood someone out of their home in Bangladesh regardless of the cost to avoid doing so.

Hmm, do we have the actual right to bomb civilians in Afghanistan? Both are inevitable results of achieving other ends, though not intended.

Yes, but why exactly have insurance companies and the markets accepted it? If you are a libertarian wouldn't an insurance company hedging against global warming be the best proof you could have as to its reality?

"Maybe if people stopped pretending to not believe that climate change is occurring–and that man is the #1 contributor–then we could move on from pretending to have to convince politicians global warming is happening and find some consensus on how to address it."

Mark the tape: We'd just move on to the next issue that people can use as a whipping post.

What about Republican positions on Stem Cell Research, abortion and gay-rights issues. I suspect they'd still have to suffer the close to 98% disagreement if they polled the corresponding professionals in these areas.

Those three topics make claims about justice, about which there is real and legitimate disagreement.

On global warming and evolution, the disputes are about facts and theories, not justice.

The debate about global warming and evolution are about what the hard-form believes think hard-form belief or lack thereof says about other people.

Science and I have no problem. I'd put me in the 99th percentile at least.

When did gay-rights become a field of inquiry for science?

And just because... what do you believe to be the Republican position on stem cell research?

Not gay rights per se, but homosexuality certainly is in the realm of science.

As Mr. Edwards said, "professionals" in those areas (well, the first two - what's a "gay-rights professional"? Is that a science now?) are not privileged in talking about moral matters.

Also, you left off "fetal" in front of "Stem Cell Research"; as far as I know the Republicans have no general position on adult stem cell research. Because it's not a moral issue particularly. They do have one on fetal stem cell research, because it does involve a moral issue, at least in their calculus.

You can dislike their moral calculus (I don't entirely agree with it myself), but you don't get to pretend that the moral issue Just Doesn't Count because you don't agree.

Same (deeply related, in fact) thing on abortion.

(Actually, who's an "abortion professional"? Someone who performs them? Imagine that!

Someone who does them would not be someone who thinks they're wrong, because someone who thinks they're wrong wouldn't get into that line of work! We call this "selection bias", don't we? I'd be shocked if it wasn't more like 99.9% of abortion providers think abortions are acceptable - otherwise they wouldn't be doing them.

Try polling "doctors" about abortion instead and I bet you don't get 98% disagreement... especially since the issue at hand is moral, not medical. Medicine hasn't actually developed a universally accepted criterion for "personhood" yet, turns out! People who are equally "doctors" working from the same scientific facts can come to opposite moral conclusions - and neither can demonstrate the other is wrong.

Because science does not make moral claims. It offers information that can inform our moral calculus, but it does not replace it.)

So, the interesting fact is that when it comes to scientific knowledge amongst the electorate, Republicans score higher than Democrats or independents on almost all topics:

BTW, as far as I know, there is pretty much zero disagreement on the scientific facts of Abortion. As far as gay rights go, it is the pro-gay lobby that has squelched scientific research into psychology & homosexuality, there is next to no peer-reviewed literature on the topic.

An amusing study, thanks for sharing. I've been saying for years anyone could put together a poll that made the other side look dumb.

Some of the independent answer tendencies are interesting, though. I wonder, does astrology just appeal to the indecisive?

Considering that the study didn't control for race, education level or SES, it seems that at least one conservative doesn't understand statistics.

Though aside from that, while the father's sperm determines the sex of the child, there are factors controlled by the mother, such as the acidity of the reproductive canal, that can cause the child to be more likely to be female. So it's not purely accurate to say that the father, but not the mother, determine the sex of the child.

Democrats seem to be doing okay while ignoring the scientific consensus on psychometrics.

Which consensus?

cb is right, there is no consensus. Just about all evidence points in the same direction, but you'd be hard pressed to get anyone (even me, srsly) to acknowledge it in public.

In the interest of fairness, could you please support that statement with a link to a study showing widespread consensus on psychometrics? I'm not disputing your statement, but I think it would help to see some support for it.

I like it when people trash financial models and praise climate models. Or the other way around. Really, you've got to love them both or hate them both. Enviros.... feel the burnnnnnnn! Crony capitalists... feeeeeeeeeeeeel the burn!

Even monkey's experience cognitive dissonance (actually they might not, but who the fuck cares).

I love it when people try to create false equivalences.

One major difference: financial models are based on no laws of nature. None. The data generating processes underlying financial markets are time variant.

Climate models are based on physics. Parameters may be mis-estimated, functional forms may not be exactly correct, but they are based on actual observed and tested natural laws.

Moreover, the evidence for human induced climate change is based on a lot more than model-generated simulated futures. The evidence overwhelmingly comes from empirical data. Where do you think the models come from?

Heh. Did you know, bro, that each of the IPCC climate models have very different sensitivities to increases in CO2? And yet they all match the historical record...

All the physics-based variables in the world wouldn't help you sleep at night if you knew how they did that.

I hear financial models are generally quite good at fitting historical data, too.

This is interesting, and a fair criticism of the IPCC if true--do you have more details?

Kiehl 2007. Here's where I first read about it:

Interesting read.

It should also be noted, though, that Kiehl definitely falls into the "alarmist" camp on this issue, so his point was evidently much more nuanced than Forbes suggests.

See, for instance

Yep, Kiehl is a mainstream climate scientist. As academic criticism from within tends to be, his is moderate in tone and quite reasonable sounding.

Your use of the word "evidently" is bizarre, by the way. You could have said "probably", but you took the author''s affiliation with a certain group of people as evidence that his criticism must have been (!) more nuanced than it is portrayed in in the Forbes article.

Bottom line: is it true about the fudge factors? Will cb need sleeping pills now?

Really. If the GCM models were fundamental, how on Earth could you have differently parameterized GCM models describing the same system?

This is far less true than you suspect. A big part of climate models are predictions of where emissions will occur and when-- ultimately that is an economic question more than it is one that can be answered by objective physics. If you look at the IPCC reports, they don't have a single prediction, but instead model a large number of scenarios, which differ primarily along economic lines:

That doesn't help as much as you might think.

You must be misunderstanding the purpose of those models. Yes they are modeling systems that are outside our ability to understand them fully. However, people use financial models to make specific financial decisions, rather than trending markets. No one uses climate models to predict the weather. We use climate models to understand and predict climates. Meteorology != climate research

The models have a poor track record. Check Hansen 1988 against the actual temp record.

Dan Dostal,

You also don't have to predict the exact level of the market to determine if it's going up, down, or flat over 10 years. Many people do model for trends I think.

I believe global warming is real. I don't know what real problems are caused by it. I do know that politicians, Democrat or Republican won't be able to fix it.

We will run out of oil long before any politician has the wherewithal to stop people from using it.

Even were AGW a real and present danger, I would deny it, afraid of the even more real and vastly more present danger of leftist technocrats run amok.

Thankfully (I think?) the converse is also true. Even if the chance of real and present danger is extremely low, many lefties would promote it, afraid of the even more real and vastly more present danger of rightist technocrats run amok.

God bless deadlock.

So, you believe you're a special snowflake who has a right to violate other people's property rights?

God, faux-libertarians disgust me.

No, only leftist technocrats get to violate everyone's property rights, because of their demonstrated moral superiority, as evidenced by their disgust for others.

You're not even slightly concerned that a consensus of scientists think your actions are going to lead to property damage for millions of other people?

I suppose reverting to a coping mechanism of rejecting their findings might make sense, but isn't it a bit callous to just totally not care if that is indeed what you were doing?

You're not even slightly concerned that you might be damaging the economies of billions of people on a theory that could easily be wrong?

Clearly, I'm better than you, since I'm not that callous. ;)

"Even were AGW a real and present danger, I would deny it, afraid of the even more real and vastly more present danger of leftist technocrats run amok."

The callousness is in saying it wouldn't be worth fighting even granted that it exists.

The equivalent on my end would be thinking we should price carbon even if I granted that AGW didn't exist.

You're confused again, TallDave.

I don't think you understand his statement. He's saying leftist technocrats might kill more people than AGW.

What about the proposition that we could not support our current population in a non-environmentally destructive way without causing catastrophe? (either in the form of famine or war)?

Do you think there's any way to stop Brazil, Indonesia, India, and China's industrialization (main culprits of environmental destruction now a days) without war? Even if the Western world turned off the lights and shut down the cars, the technology is there. The developing world has billions of residents who are not happy where they are and don't care to stop what they're doing to save the environment. Deforestation of the Amazon is led by small farmers, not multinational corporations. Do you think we could feed 7 billion people without modern agriculture (and it's side effects)? Is anyone prepared to kill 3 billion people so we can feed the world "organically"?

We could divert our energies to stopping growth and reverting back to medieval technologies in the hopes of convincing the world that we had to, but do you think that would succeed, or do you think when times became tough (as they would) there would be revolt?

In many ways it's best to stay the course --> invest heavily in new technologies, allowing growth to continue so we can fund ever larger investments, and increasing awareness & incentives to lead to small marginal changes in behavior at the individual level to buy us runway.

In order to do what you said, namely, increase incentives, etc. , you first have to agree that climate change is happening and that something should be done about it, even if it is marginal. If one of major parties disagrees, we can't do anything, however marginal. It is unfortunate that Republicans insist on denying climate change rather than arguing about proper solutions, such as market based incentives, etc.

Before you decide if anything should be done about it, you have first decide whether the remedy will cost more than the warming. This is not a trivial issue, because the warming will not have net negative effects for decades, and thus the net-present value of it may be very small given reasonable discount rates.

Consider a world that is slowly warming. According to the IPCC, warming of less than 2.5 degrees may actually be a net economic gain for the earth, as the effects on the northern countries where the big economies are may be positive, while the negative effects are felt mostly by poor equatorial countries that don't contribute that much to the global economy. So one possible 'fix' is to simply provide foreign aid that transfers enough of the gain to the northern countries to the poorer countries.

Second, even if the warming is greater, the benefits of warming would come sooner than the drawbacks. So we would gain for a while, then lose the gains. That implies that we could just save the extra wealth generated when the warming is moderate, and invest it to pay off the later costs.

For example, a trillion dollars in damage 100 years from now, at a discount rate of 3.5%, has a present value of about 32 billion dollars. Given the estimates for actual damages due to climate change, most advocates say that the discount rate can't be measured economically, and should therefore be zero. I think that's a ridiculous assertion. But using realistic discount rates makes it very hard to justify spending the amount of money they want to spend.

Jon Huntsman, Andrew Sullivan and Ezra Klein. I guess once these three have said it, how can a mere human disagree?

Unless a pundit has directly relevant knowledge, training and experience in the relevant science, how do they evaluate competing claims about whether climate change is caused by burning coal and oil ? As DW says, it is by affiliation: if they like what someone says about taxes, marriage, law and order or prayer in shools, they will trust them on climate science too.

Here are some ways to think about it.

Reductio ad absurdum. Let us take the idea that human activity is causing harmful global climate change. If so, then co-ordinated world-wide action at goverment level is required to reduce the harm. But this is absurd: government action always makes everything worse. The original premise may be dismissed, without data.

Ask your favorite pundit two questions. Why does more frost form on the roof of a car than on the doors? Why is carbon dioxide a greenhouse gas when oxygen isn't? If they can't answer these two questions, you may safely assume that they don't have a clue about climate science.

I agree there is an element of trust involved in these evaluations. I argue, for example, that you really don't know that regular exercise will increase your chances to live longer, as opposed to dramatically shorten your life. You trust the reports of experts to this fact, including trusting the cartoon description in terms of making your heart stronger (as opposed to, say, wearing it out) is honest and backed by data.

Yet trust like this is needed to cope on a daily basis, on just about anything. I mean, you trust your parents and some paper documents about something as basic as your birthdate, and have no alternative to do otherwise.

On issues of climate change, there are discussions of both sides online (you can read, for instance, and compare to the linked sources they criticize) and it is not too difficult to sort out who are the competent scientists and who are not. I highly doubt this is what every politician is doing. But they are consulting people they trust -- not just trust because they agree with them about taxes, but trust as people with the cognitive skills to perform such an analysis and the honesty to give a fair assessment -- which is along the lines of what we all do when we use the information and understanding coming from others to cope on a daily basis.

I'm just thankful that I survived the Ice Age they predicted for the last part of the 20th century.

Yeah, a single article in Newsweek definitely represents scientific consensus.


You really think it was "one article in Newsweek"?

Do a little research before you call names.

Give any evidence that a consensus of climatologists believed the Earth was cooling. There is none.

It wasn't a consensus, there were mixed views. But (as JB says) some did predict this, and they were taken seriously at the time.

In fact, the 1970s saw a lot of predictions by scientists that did not pan out, some of which definitely did fall into the realm of "consensus." For a more exhaustive list of such, I recommend the book Future Babble.

Expert predictions have a very poor track record.

So you grant that experts believe climate change is happening? It's just you believe in a post-rationalist ideology that says the universe is fundamentally unknowable to mere humans?

No, I just disbelieve in a post-rationalist ideology that says the every aspect of the universe is fundamentally understood today by mere humans.

So experts are sometimes wrong, so we shouldn't believe in climate change, but the people who say that climate change is happening are... not experts?

Get your arguments straight, please.

So, we should not spend trillions of dollars on an unproven problem just because most experts are predicting it will someday become a problem.

Climate research experts are experts on the research they do. After they hand their results over (with their error bars), the economists should say "thank you very much, now get lost."


"Once you get past the consensus that humans are contributing to global warming, there is no consensus about anything else."

Hide the decline & keep on rockin' Tyler.

Republicans should embrace the science and push alt climate policies (carbon capture, etc.), and then the Dems will become the anti-science party because they will oppose all reforms that don't just amount to "burn less fossil fuel", revealing their true goal: the establishment of moral blame-- not a solution. Easy fix. Call me, republicans.

Ding! Except the Republicans will never do that.

Anyone who can equate disbelief in evolution with disbelief in substantial AGW is so ignorant of science that it's an embarrassment.

Which is why Huntsman and Cowen did not assert such an equation.

Scientific consensus in both fields, my man. Just because it offends your ideological preconceptions doesn't make them any different.

Evolutionary biology is a vastly more mature field than climate science at the moment, and while I think it would be foolish for a layman (which is what most if not all the commenters on this site are) to discount the scientific consensus in either field, the levels of certainty concerning the propositions in each field are not the same.

Very good point.

I'll take AGW's proponents more seriously when, acknowledging that increased urbanization and higher levels of consumption raise ambient temperatures and increase CO2 emissions, they call for a halt to Third World immigration into the US and Europe.

My albedo is lower than yours.

-A brown Third World'er

Right. So, you radiate less energy back into space. Ergo, you are a part of the problem.


First of all, go yourself. Unless your name is squanto you just said the most ignorant thing I've read on this comment board, which is no small feat.

Second, wouldn't higher density living decrease overall CO2/temperatures? I'm not sure what people should be acknowledging in your pseudoscience.

Finally, you know the third world has cities right?

Cities are full of asphalt and steel and gobs of radiant heat. More people means more asphalt and steel, less foliage, more heat, smog, etc. Also, bringing more Third Worlders into the US and hence "up" to US levels of consumption means more carbon. Since I never hear anybody who's wringing their hands over AGW make any sensible proposal for a smaller, cleaner, less crowded US--like limiting immigration--I conclude that even they don't believe in it other than as a means to advance government control.

it's easy to stop HIV infections (well relatively)

who knows what to do about climate change/global warming?

Speaking of evolution, does everybody believe that there is no sub-speciation of the human animal? Or that evolution has stopped, and we've all reached this uniform apex of equal promise in life, ergo, we dare not leave a single Child Behind?

Scientific ignorance is not a monopoly of the Right. The Left rejects large amounts of scientific data to cling to the myth that all people are equally educable, so plopping down $300M+ on a school in Harlem or LA is a fantastic idea.

"Speaking of evolution, does everybody believe that there is no sub-speciation of the human animal?"

Yes. If two separated populations exchange more than about one migrant per generation, then it is very difficult for them to diverge into separate species. Human populations mix far more frequently than that.

Just FYI, the equilibrium in evolution includes variation.

Also black people are as intelligent as white people.

I know you don't care, but I'm going to go ahead and be embarrassed *for* you.

Of course a black person with an IQ of 120 is as intelligent as a white with an IQ of 120. The group deviations persist because there are comparatively fewer blacks with an IQ of 120 than whites with an IQ of 120, so different mean IQ.

I too can't remember things that happened before I was born. Here's one of them. Einstein published his theory of relativity, and all the professional scientists thought it was baloney. I'd venture to say 98 out of a hundred establishment physicists rejected it... although I don't know the actual number, I know a whole generation of PhD's had to die off before it was truly accepted. Science isn't about voting.

So who's the Einstein for the AGW-deniers? Lomborg?

Lomborg is not a denier.

I don't know if he's the Einstein of AGW skepticism, but as a lay person I found it difficult to read 10 pages of this blog and maintain that the issue is "solved" or that there are no valid criticisms of the mainstream view.

There was even a book, "100 Scientists Against Einstein."

Einstein, when told, reportedly laughed and said "If I'm wrong, shouldn't one be enough?"

Science is not done by weighing the mass of papers for and against.

There are two reasons to talk about the consensus:
1) We are not experts ourselves, so we can't judge the evidence on its own merits, but we still have to decide what we should do about it.
2) When a hypothesis becomes a theory is not clean cut, especially with something as aggregate with as many moving parts as global warming. Judgement is required, the judgement of experts.

Those are fair points, but unfortunately studies of expert predictions show they have a very bad track record. That's probably one reason Feynman called science the belief in the ignorance of experts.

And of course, Einstein refused to accept quantum physics, famously saying that "God doesn't play dice with the universe".

The problem with this argument is that science is not the process of polling science-y people and organizations to get their opinion. It was with good reason Feynman called science the belief in the ignorance of experts.

AGW is poorly evidenced, and not so much because of the mendacity of the scientists involved, but simply because it is in that class of things that are very hard to measure/prove/predict. We all agree the force of gravity on Earth is 10/m/s/s with very high reliability because anyone can measure it and it's been measured repeatedly by almost everyone. We can't directly test the myriad interrelated feedbacks that are the heart of AGW theory.

The IPCC openly states it does not even have a quantitative method to estimate GCM reliability. The proper response to this is not "Let's spend trillions of dollars just in case the theory is right."

By your standards, the evidence that mercury caused hatters to be mad is poorly evidenced, and I'm guessing you keep a bath of mercury in your house to float your baby in to amuse guests, because mercury has never been shown to be harmful.

I defy you to find one tenth the number of research papers tying CO2 levels to global climate on the harm of mercury.

I defy you to find one tenth the number of research papers tying the correlation between exposure levels of mercury to harm as are readily available on the measured effects of increased CO2 levels tied directly to human activity that are making changes faster than during any prior period of rising CO2 in the past ten million years, which occurred after tectonic plate spreading causing volcanoes and centuries of CO2 increases.

And the rising price of gold has driven the rampant unregulated use of mercury with insanely unsafe use of it. In a number of areas, if you pillage the environment and mix mercury with the gold rich mud with your feet and hands, you can produce gold for $200 an ounce and sell it for a $1000. Clearly, telling those people mercury is extremely harmful would get the same response as you have expressed on climate science - even if true, the cost of the science is way too high given the $800 an ounce in profit the science of mercury would cost these individual businessmen serving the demand for gold.

Poorly reasoned. I can test mercury's effects very easily.

You can test the effects of AGW in much the same way, though somewhat more slowly.

No, you cant. AGW is more like economics. There are no control groups. No controlled environment. You have to rely on post hoc ergo propter hoc. You have to use mathematical models to make predictions even though everything has changed from before.

I can put mercury on a neuron in the lab and I don't have to use the same neuron already in mercury from the previous test and try to predict further change from additional mercury as is the case with climate science.

This is what it is.

Fair point on the control groups. On the other hand, I don't think that, "Let's not do anything ever because we don't have a repeatable controlled experiment" is a valid stance in economics, either.

Let's just be Bayesian about it and act on the probabilities, shall we?

Well, here's the result of the theory's predictions from 1988.

Now, if the results had looked like the predictions, then I would agree the model had proved out well so far, there appeared to be a real problem, and we should do something (probably not emissions control, but definitely something). The AGW argument has been "well, you should trust our forecasts because we can hindcast" which should provoke howls of laughter from financial modellers, and forecasting scientists (who study the science of all different kinds of forecasts) are not impressed with their work either.

".I can’t remember a time in our history where we actually were willing to shun science and become a – a party that – that was antithetical to science."

Huntsman is either:
- suffering dementia
- only 30 years old
- a liar
- or at best thinking of a mythical era when liberal-conservative did not equate to Democrat-Republican.

The debate on CO2 emissions is no different then the past debates on:
- mercury (repeated many times)
- lead (repeated multiple times)
- smog (repeated many times)
- SO (repeated several times)
- NO (repeated several times)
- dioxins
- PCBs
- tobacco

In every case, "conservative" as defined by association with "Reagan" has denied the science on the harm of mercury, lead, SO, NO, dioxins, PCBs, and especially tobacco, claiming in all cases the science was political efforts to dictate to Americans how to think, etc.

BTW, huge self-selection problem with "climate scientists." They tend to be environmentalists who got into science to help the environment and are predisposed to believe any theory that appears "pro-environment."

And then they all peer review each other, while suppressing skeptics. That's how you get really, really bad science like Mann inverting the Tiljander series even after the orginal authors told him it was upside down.

Inaccurate attempt at poisoning the well.

On the contrary, it's totally accurate.

Please, provide a single study that climatologists came into the field with an ideological agenda.

It's a sad, sad attempt you have at poisoning the well.

Again, check their self-reporting on this issue.

Just provide the cite please. I'm not here to do your homework.

Apparently you think I'm here to do yours.

You're the one that's making an assertion that scientists are in a corrupt conspiracy. All I ask is that you back it up a bit =)

You don't seem to be able to follow my argument very well. I said they have a sef-selection bias, and I provided evidence.

But don't take my word for it (that would be anti-science!) Check the self-reporting of the climate scientists, and for that matter the Tiljander series.

Obviously not what I was referring to. Please provide a reference for your attempt to poison the well.

Please provide a reference that states they did not get into an environmental science field to help the environment. This seems fairly obvious on its face, and is strongly evidenced by the ClimateGate emails.

Also, please try to include "poisoning the well" in your response, the desperate repetition is becoming quite amusing.

TallDave, its equally tiresome for you to say that those damn scientists are just in a Communist conspiracy to institute global socialism. Time. After time. After time.

And it remains a sad attempt to poison the well. Please provide the damn cite instead of saying "well I imagine it might be true!"

And the Communists appear! Wow.

Take a few deep breaths, and then ask yourself if there could, reasonably, be a self-selection problem in a highly politicized field.

I don't have a cite in front of me, but I've seen some self-reporting #s, and I've seen the ClimateGate emails. Do you have a cite which suggests climate scientists are free of self-selection bias on this issue? I'm guessing you do not.

So, we disagree over a plausible, but poorly evidenced claim. Gosh, this seems familiar somehow...

Look, I'm not the one whose fevered imagination is coming up with some shady Left-wing conspiracy to institute global socialism through... scientific research of climate change.

As far as poorly evidenced: yours is a random thing you pulled from your ass. Climate change has thousands of scientific, peer-reviewed articles establishing the evidence for it.

Unless your ass is more intelligible than the scientific community, you're on slightly ridiculous ground.

With all the Communists and asses and fevers and poisoned wells flying around in your comments, I think we'll need to declare a Severe Metaphor Warning for this thread.

I'll just note you do not have a cite or a plausible counter-argument, while I have a plausible argument and evidence from ClimateGate. 2>0.

Have a great day!

Sorry that you had to leave in such a huff, TallDave =)

+1. We should also take into account one-sided incentives these scientists face (no AGW = no funding). They are only human, no Zephyrus?

That incentive only exists in the febrile imagination of Glenn Beck, I'm afraid, Jamie.

Scientists are quite human, but it comes down to much more mundane things like professional reputation.

Here's a trick: whenever you're about to launch an attack against a particular subclass of scientists who are publishing inconvenient results for your ideology, ask yourself: would creationists do the same? In your case, yes.

Humans are not incentivized by money?

Yes, we can see the pro-AGW arguments are on sound footing.

Of course people are, but the giant moneybags in the debate are 95% on one side, TallDave. You keep insisting that AGW is some scientific conspiracy foisted on us by a power-mad socialist federal bureaucracy, but that's just not how things work.

You don't need a conspiracy to experience confirmation bias.

Also, the whole "you crazy anti-AGWers are claiming a conspiracy!" line sort of fell apart when the ClimateGate emails found... a conspiracy.

Wow, you really think there is more money being spent on the skeptic side? Just wow. It's not even close, by about 100:1.

Ooooo, a conspiracy!

Good counterargument. I can see you really care about the integrity of the scientific process.

Zephyrus is right. The fossil fuel industry's money absolutely dwarfs the grant money available from environmental organizations. This is not a valid argument.

Little of the fossil fuel industry’s money is being spent spent to combat AWG proponents. But I like how you compare it to grant money available from environmental organizations. Let's leave out the other 95% of money coming from all the governments of the world. TallDave is correct that the AWG side has close to 100x the money from the reports I've seen. Of course the control of 'peer review' may be worth more (for the argument, not there ambitious travel schedules).

I am unconvinced if there is warming or not. I used to think so, but frankly , if they had a case, they would not have to manipulate the data so much.

Yes, and in fact fossil fuel companies are spending money on the pro-AGW side (BP didn't change their name to Beyond Petroleum for nothing).

It's a great opportunity for rentseeking: develop and patent a "green" technology, then get regulations passed that subsidize it and/or force people to use it.

Add in GE also. How much will they earn on all those new jet engines, windmills, ect. This is a boon to many corporations.

yes, people are motivated by money.

Oil companies continue to fund anti-global warming groups

Last time I checked (and I've spent too much time in both) energy companies' offices are much more luxurious than academics. Considering that offices are a non-essential, I'd guess they have lots of cash to spend on defending their business.

Records show ExxonMobil gave hundreds of thousands of pounds to lobby groups that have published 'misleading and inaccurate information' about climate change

Well, that certainly offsets the billions that the pro-AGW side is getting, especially when you find out what they actually meant:

These include the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) in Dallas, Texas, which received $75,000 (£45,500), and the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC, which received $50,000.

I've witnessed individual reputable hard scientists fighting viciously behind the scenes for grant amounts as small as USD 10 000. If the stakes were raised (like, funding of the entire branch of faculty and possible layoffs), the collective mindset easily switched into full conspiracy mode.

Granted, it was in a not-particularly-rich post-Communist country, but still.

Zephyrus is only partially right when it comes to incentives of scientists. The hard-core researchers are usually more interested in professional reputation - yes; but, in every academy I know, there is a sizable proportion of professors who aren't particularly keen on research anymore (or never were), but who build and run their positions as small fiefdoms. And these people fight for money with viciousness fully comparable to the private sector, if not more, because their resource fight is usually a zero-sum game.

No, the incentives do exist. Of course they do.

Incentive denialist!

Kidding of course, but come on. Promise to stop claiming they are angels and I'll get someone to stop claiming they are devils.

Do the incentives matter? I would say yes in something like the paper that Ezra links to. In the actual data of the researchers, not as much.

The problem has always been that the Left wants to use global warming for political purposes, and the Right is going to naturally oppose this. Now, it probably makes more sense to centrists and leftists for the Right to accept the fact of human-induced global warming, but then oppose the measures proposed to rectify it, but I am not really sure how that actually works. So, the Republicans end up denying it, and denying the need to rectify it.

I think the rectification is a complete and utter fantasy right from the start. Until I see nuclear power plants built to just replace our present baseload generating capacity, it isn't possible to take the alarmists seriously. We will just have learn to live in a warmer world. And note, I believe humans are warming the planet.

Fair point, but if you accept anthropogenic climate change and negative externalities associated with it, aren't you compelled to get co-partisans to change their attitudes and come up with different solutions?

I'd love to see a pro-nuclear and anti-carbon pollution Right face off against an anti-nuclear and anti-carbon pollution Left (indeed, I'd side more with the Right in that scenario), but that just can't happen until people stop spewing denialist garbage to poison any conversation from the start.

Which externalities? The acceleration in sea level rise?

What about the positive externallities? Does the historical record suggest warmer or colder periods are generally better for humanity?

Interesting. The entire Europe was several degrees warmer in the Middle Ages. Especially the Nordic countries benefited from that fact.

On the other hand, it meant spread of tropical and subtropical diseases farther north.

but if you accept anthropogenic climate change and negative externalities associated with it, aren’t you compelled to get co-partisans to change their attitudes and come up with different solutions?

Not if I don't think the other side is even open to any different solutions, and I don't see that reasonableness on the Left. I am close to certain that this is one issue that can't be solved given the philosophical divisions and the practical problems of energy generation, and Fukashima probably put this day of cooperation further away. And here is the thing- Republicans feel no political pressure- even Democrats with the presidency and both houses couldn't pass a cap and trade, or even a modest increase in taxes on fossil fuels, and are now in the process of trying an end around the legislative process that is almost sure to be slapped down by the voters within 5 years. Seriousness is missing on both sides here.

Here are the charts:

- Atmospheric CO2:
- Lower atmosphere temp anomaly (UAH):
- Surface temp anomaly, since 1880* (HADCRUT3) -
- Surface temp anomaly, since 1998* (HADCRUT3):
- Hurricane activity:
- Sea level:
- Global sea ice anomaly:
- Arctic sea ice:
- Antarctic sea ice:

* From Great site for doing your own climate series.

You should go back farther. CO2 was invented before 1998. ;^)

When exactly was CO2 invented? Does CO2 warming start in 1880? Then why the cooling subsequently? Or maybe in 1920, but then why the cooling from 1940-1980. Or maybe 1980, but then why the temp stagnation from 1998? Note that the big run ups in CO2, for example, the booming of autos from 1940-1970 is not accompanied by a temp increase; same for the post-2000 period. So, yes, I'm interested in when CO2 warming actually started.

Steven, the temp graph you linked to is a classic bit of nonsense in this debate, and I think you know that. You are saying "I can't get these numbers to make sense to me, so I don't believe it."

For my part, I'm willing to accept the judgement of experts in the field. I can't know everything, this is something very complicated that I need to have an opinion on because it is important, and I think it's rational to accept their opinion on the matter.

I don't need get ASE certified and watch the mechanic fix my car to be rational about driving it away assuming it is safe.

You mean the 1998-2011 graph, that shows no warming? Yes, it's cherry-picked. It's also true. At a time when CO2 output was soaring (you can't really see that in the Muana Loa numbers), temperatures--either HADCRUT or UAH (or RSS, for that matter)--stagnated.

So you want to believe the experts, do you? OK, let's take a prominent alarmist, Jim Hansen of NASA. Hansen feels that CO2 is the dominant signal, ie, it drowns out everything else. OK, then temp should incease with CO2, but it hasn't. There is a greater signal in the 1998-2011 period. Hansen thinks that's wrong somehow. Hansen also said in 1988 that in 20 years, FDR Drive here in New York would be under water and the wind would be howling through the streets. On most days (but not necesssarily this weekend!), that's not true. So should we place our faith in Hansen? Or in other AGW proponents who feel that the signal could be dominated by some other source (eg, weak solar cycle) for some time?

Similarly, Lindzen of MIT is both a climatologist and leading skeptic. Should we then believe him? He's an expert.

There are lots of experts, and even within a single ideological perspective, there are significant differences of opinion.

Here's the one that, for me at least, is the difference. Science should be empirical above all else, and the prediction failed pretty badly.

If the rise in the satelllite record met or exceeded the model A prediction, I would agree there was a serious problem meriting serious intervention (and I stand by that if it happens in the future). I would still disagree with emissions control as the solution, but I would consider the theory much better evidenced if it's predictions were more accurate.

I wonder how many believers would put money on the satellite-measured temperature even touching the model A predicted temps within 10 years (not matching the trend, mind you, just touching the line, once).

Global warming falls into the category of knowledge that includes Keynesianism, supply-side economics, the Laffer curve, and other theories that heavily favor one political ideology over another. The people who stand to gain from the acceptance of the theory immediately embrace them and expand its scope far beyond the limits of the science, and the people who's political goals would be emperiled by the theory immediately reject it.

Take the Laffer curve. It has usefulness within narrow ranges of taxation, and with specific taxation. But looked at broadly, it is a justification for cutting taxes without compromising revenue. Thus, the left rejects it utterly, and the right embraces it for all tax cuts, regardless of the type of cut or the current level of taxation.

Keynesian stimulus is really only applicable in special cases where demand is down for specific reasons and stimulus applied to idle resources can prevent a demand spiral that takes the economy down farther than the fundamentals would warrant. But because Keynesian economics implies big government and central control, the left wants to apply it in a sweeping manner at any time, and the right rejects it completely.

Anthropomorphic global warming is a boon to the international left. If you tried to come up with a crisis that more neatly fit into the goals of that community, you'd have a hard time finding a better one. If all the predictions of the alarmists are true, that implies the need for central control of industry within countries, and international governing bodies to regulate output between countries, and wealth transfers from rich northern countries to poor equatorial countries. All these remedies dovetail perfectly with what the internationalists are trying to do anyway. So they accept it unconditionally and elevate the alarmist models beyond where the science is. Furthermore, they treat scientists who have real and serious issues with the models as heretics who must be destroyed, rather than as scientists whose ideas must be evaluated objectively.

On the other hand, climate-destroying AGW would be a devastating blow to small government conservatives and libertarians and people distrustful of international regulatory bodies, so it gets rejected completely, even to the extent of rejecting the basic science for which there is ample evidence. 'Scandals' like the East Anglia e-mails get elevated from poor practice to being devastating evidence that the entire theory is bankrupt. And so it goes.

It's all about protecting your ideology and attempting to deny your opponents an issue that give them power over you. If it turned out that AGW was caused by big governments, you'd see the roles reverse - conservatives would be embracing it, and the left would reject it. The science behind it doesn't really matter.

Anthropomorphic global warming

This was a very amusing malapropism.

Also, a good and true comment.

That is amusing, and a good catch!

I wish you could edit posts here. I made a few errors in grammar and spelling that I didn't correct before saving. Ah well. I didn't catch the malapropism, but it's awesome. Of course I meant anthropogenic.

I know, it kills me. I tend to omit words and miss the omission when I go back and read it.

I really like the Disqus system, where you get the benefit of rating feedback, which I think really improves things overall.

Hey... isn't this blog all about markets? (nudges Tyler)

There are plenty of Democrats who accept the Laffer curve. Club for Growth sees it as a fricking' perpetual motion machine. Democrats frequently see it as, wait for it, a curve. You know what you can do with this curve? Move the tax rate down (AND UP) and see how it affects revenue. You may remember that President Obama has frequently favored lowering taxes (and even signed those tax cuts into law). He just favors doing so only for those who actually work. The problem is that we frequently attempt to monkey with the taxation rates at the wrong time. In 2006-2008 we should have been jacking taxes up and generating surpluses as long as the economy kept going, just as right now taxes should be low to spurn spending. The flaw is in anyone who thinks our economic policy should be the same specific theory at all times.

Now if we could only sell them on the Rahn curve.

The analogy would be if people said those who didn't believe in the perpetual-motion form of the Laffer curve were against economics.

Good summary, and "‘Scandals’ like the East Anglia e-mails get elevated from poor practice to being devastating evidence that the entire theory is bankrupt" because one side tries to present the evidence as "beyond debate" and proving the need for drastic action SO they can call the other side knaves.

For example, Ezra Klein misrepresents a paper so he can call Perry a knave (who doesn't know Perry is a knave?). I have to correct him on this. Simply correcting him on this is reflexively seen as apostate to science. Rinse, repeat.

If the AGW advocates had science on their side, why all the fraud?

No fraud:

Wow Penn State found itself innocent and can continue receiving millions in government research funds. I'm sold. Maybe next time they allow someone from the other side testify too. But I doubt it.

Two days, and they only talked to Mann. Not a great day for scientific integrity.

NSF and NOAA also found no fraud.

"Fraud" or "No Fraud" is moving the goal posts.

What came out of the e-mails was scientists acting like I have been saying scientists act like since I started talking about this.

When democrats admit they are confusing science with scientists and the brick-and-mortar institutions of science I can shut up and get back to the lab.

'Cute rhetorical trick, TallDave, but it falls a bit flat. Yours is the same argument that people who reject evolution and think relativity is a Jewish conspiracy use."

At least Zephyrus has proven one scientific principle correct today:

Godwin's law is getting to the point where it's even more obnoxious than Nazi references.

Actually, that's a current theory even today... plenty of people, the vast majority non-Nazis, believe that relativity is some anti-scientific conspiracy foisted on us by secular Jews.

Which is trying to avoid the point that there was a claim that denialists are some Promethean figures fighting against those stodgy scientific authorities and that they're the true independent thinkers, and people who believe the scientists are just foolish sheeple.

This comment board reminds me of Climate Debate Daily, where you can read an article from each column on the latest Climate kerfuffle.

Aside: Prof Cowen sure is cavalier about what constitutes "evidence". Would a survey of economists living 40 years after its birth (or even in 1920) constitute "evidence" of the truth of the things asked and answered?

When I clicked on the link, I was expecting a paper showing temperature plots or other science, not what that paper was. You can't even really call it a survey because they did the opposite of randomization.

Again, I don't have a problem with the paper, just how thin some people spread the evidence in such papers to cover their assertions. For a skeptical person who isn't a top climate research, it does not build confidence. It is just funny how they retort "well, if you really were for science, you'd just ignore those details." Maybe I will get around to really digging into the raw climate research, but only after I take a break from doing science.

I feel like I should add something irrelevant to this discussion.

Unless one's "solution" to global _______ is to insist that billions of people in the developing world remain in poverty and (literal) darkness, there is a grand total of one technology that has any chance of adequately addressing global _________ in the foreseeable future.

Guess which party remains adamantly opposed to utilizing that technology?

There is also biochar?

The science and evidence say that nuclear power is safe but Democrats reject that science, so I would not say that they do not believe in science more than republicans. They are also big believers in the blank slate idea when it comes to education and IQ.

Also I bet that most of those union democrats reject AGW and jump ship if a carbon tax were imposed, which BTW I support.

Try to answer these questions:

Why does more frost form on the roof of a car than on the doors?
Why is carbon dioxide a greenhouse gas?

If you can't answer, you don't know enough science to evaluate climate science.

97-98% of African American Studies researchers believe racism is the primary cause of social disparities between blacks and non-blacks.

97-98% of Wymyns Studies researchers believe sexism is the primary cause of social disparities between wombyn and men.

97-98% of Climate Scientists believe....exactly what they need to believe to justify their raison d'etre and personal political beliefs.

It's always amazing when overwhelming evidence magically presents itself to justify political ideology. Of course! The life blood of capitalist industrial society - cheap, reliable energy - just happens to be killing the planet, justifying government control of industry and massive transfer payments to developing nations.

From what I see it is not that democrats are more scientific and so are more likely to believe in AGW but that they are less concerned with economic freedom and so feel free to believe in AGW. Republicans do not reject the science and then argue against AGW they reject the science because they support economic freedom. Democrats reject science when it gores their ox also.

Quoting Ezra Klein on the validity of climate science is like believing in the documentaries of Al Gore and Michael Moore; there might be a truth in there somewhere, but it is undoubtedly skewed beyond its purpose and you have to wade through too much shit to get there. Honestly I'm confused by Tyler's fascination with the guy. Perhaps it is a mutual linking thing for popularity.

We at least know one thing; the climate models are truly, horribly wrong. Nevermind the virtually irrational prescriptions that supposedly ensue.

Extraordinary claims - and attempts at extraordinary policy measures - require extraordinary proof. No such proof has yet been demonstrated.

Too many libertarians here are mincing their words. If global warming were real government action would be a good thing but government action is never a good thing so global warming can't be real. End of story.

The majority of posts here indicate the desperate need for a false equivalence between "republicans"/ AGW and "democrats"/iq-heitability, nuclear power, etc...

But the equivalence simply isn't there. Sure there are stupid democrats because people in general are stupid (w/r/t rhetoric and policy-relevant knowledge). But there is simply no equivalence between the professional left and right on science-related matters.

I simply don't know who commenters here are referring to when they tar lefties/democrats with denying the science of nuclear power generation or the heritability of iq. Notice the lack of examples. Where's the quote from Michael Moore saying "IQ is purely environmental" or Al Gore saying "nuclear power is a hoax dreamed up to raise money for nuclea physics research".

And yet, among college-educated righties, climate science denialism is not a figment of the leftist imagination: it's prominent among leading pundits and politicians.

I keep thinking maybe I'm too focused on myself here: I identify as left but in no way defensive about the various ideas I'm supposed to be a denialist about: the Laffer curve is obviously plausible and may even be relevant someday; there are clearly alleles which affect IQ; nuclear power generates a lot of power at low CO2 emissions.

But I'm not some original, contrarian leftist. I'm not really smart or dedicated enough an intellectual to do much more than simply reflect my influences. Its not just me: science denialism simply doesn't play a prominent role on the left. All the gratifying appeals to the contrary come without evidence.

Yet the right clearly consists of some quite broad-brush denials of policy-relevant.

Who are the Rick Perry's and George Will's of the left?

I agree b9nd10. I am trained as a scientist, as a physicist. In addition to almost weekly peer reviewed articles on climate that I try to skim in "Nature" and "Science", the two top science journals, there are around 10,000 peer reviewed articles each year on climate science. I have yet to see or hear of one that cast any doubt on the reality of large and serious changes to the climate caused by human activity. The evidence is incontrovertible and growing by the day.

I find the denial of science by so many people who are otherwise rational really hard to understand. It shows a great ignorance not only of science but also of the incentives of individual scientists. You don't win fame and fortune in science by going along with the crowd. You win it by showing everyone they are wrong and backing it up with lots data. If there were compelling evidence that human caused global warming is a big hoax, and you were a climate scientist that had that evidence, you would make your name (assuming you are right) by publishing it.

I also find the general distrust of climate science by so many people very scary because the stakes are incredibly high. It's also depressing because if the kind of intelligent people who read a blog like this are science deniers, it's hard to have a lot of hope for the rest of the population understanding the issue.

Lest I be branded a leftist, I am economically rather conservative, and in many ways incline libertarian. My preferred solution is nuclear power in the intermediate term, plus a gradually phased in carbon tax, offset by reductions in employment and income taxes, or else a carbon tax and dividend (tax is raised and the distributed back to all citizens prorata). imports would get a carbon tariff unless the exporting country has a similar tax.


Then where did the paper Ezra links to find ANY unconvinced climate researchers? In the paper, some of the top publishers have HUNDREDS of papers published on climate according to the paper's methodology.

Noone is a science denier. You bought the bill of goods in my mind.

If any other global issue was simplified down to "for or against" the way this has been, it would be so obviously laughable. That is why I wonder what the hell is going on here.

Who will be the recipients of this tax on a universal element? I'm just guessing but I'd go long on climate scientists, government bureaucrats and 'green' energy companies.

Will the government with its huge air and land fleets mobilized to provide voting booths in Central Asia be assessed this carbon tax? Will Al Gore move into an apartment? Will Tom Friedman and David Brooks stop hectoring us to grow, grow, GROW?

If AGW is the threat they say, then the steps needed are obvious: remote worksites, a moratorium on coal-burning, many, many less cars (by-bye GM and UAW), lots more nukes unless we're planning on living like the Hobbits in Bag End.

Instead, we get this incredibly complicated 'cap-and-trade' scheme that (shockingly) stands to enrich the people for whom AGW is an absolute article of faith.

Remember all the furor for funding HIV/AIDS research? Scientists swore solemnly that HIV was a freight train of a virus poised to slip the leash and KILL US ALL. When the only people who got it were the ones engaging in toxic drug use and unhygienic, exponentially promiscuous sexual practices, they had to go to Africa to gin up their stats, despite surging populations which refuse to die of AIDS.

Cui bono.

A straight carbon tax levied at the source (coal, oil, gas) could offset income, employment, corporate, or capital gains taxes. You'd just be substituting the source of the tax, not the recipients.

In the tax + dividend alternative, the government would tax carbon at the source and then distribute all the proceeds prorata to every citizen on a regular (say biannual) basis.

Who would benefit? By design, those who take steps to reduce their carbon use. That's the point of the tax.

So just outlaw the use of coal, oil and gas.

Someone clearly did not read the Climategate emails.

The evidence is incontrovertible and growing by the day.

The evidence of what? That we're in a warming trend since 1850? Sure. That trace levels of CO2 drive climate? Not so much. That feedbacks are strongly positive? Ha. Just this week CERN found strong support for the cosmic ray nucleation hypothesis.

I find the denial of science by so many people who are otherwise rational really hard to understand. It shows a great ignorance not only of science but also of the incentives of individual scientists. You don’t win fame and fortune in science by going along with the crowd. You win it by showing everyone they are wrong and backing it up with lots data. If there were compelling evidence that human caused global warming is a big hoax, and you were a climate scientist that had that evidence, you would make your name (assuming you are right) by publishing it.

Unfortunately, reality begs to disagree. Ask McKittrick how his entirely correct criticisms of Mann were received. Ask Watts how his entirely reasonable questions about siting problems with the GISS stations and bias in the adjustments were received. When Steig's Antarctic paper was challenged, he was appointed a reviewer of his critics' paper. Guess how that went?

Evidence that burning fossil fuels is warming the climate.

It sounds like you don't believe that trace levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gases drive the climate. I don't want to get you wrong, so let me ask directly. Are you saying that the concentration of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have do not affect the average global temperature of the planet? And if that is what you're saying, are you claiming that as a fact about planetary physics in general or do you think it just applies to the earth? And if you're claiming that the level of C02 and other gases don't matter, could you refer me to some peer reviewed papers which explain how that works? Because it seems to contradict the basic laws of physics, so I think this is quite interesting.

You cite a CERN paper on the that "provides strong support for the cosmic ray nucleation hypothesis". Could you do us all a favor an explain in layman's terms what the paper is about? And when you've done that, could you explain exactly what it means for the climate? And finally, I realize that this is asking a lot but judging by the number of comments you leave it seems like you have a lot of time on your hands, could you explain what assumptions you need to make in order for the results of this paper to have a significant bearing on our understanding of the climate, and then give your assessment for what you think the probability is for each of those assumptions being true?

You mention how McKitrick's criticisms of Mann were received. I assume you are referring to the Canadian economist Ross McKittrick, and his co-author Stephen McIntyre, President of Dumont Nickel Inc, and the former president of Northwest Exploration Company Limited, well known centers of research in atmospheric physics. The Ross McKitrick whose is a cosigner of the "Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming" the first principal of which is "We believe Earth and its ecosystems—created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence —are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying His glory. Earth’s climate system is no exception. Recent global warming is one of many natural cycles of warming and cooling in geologic history." Is that the guy you mean? If it is, then his three criticism of Mann's paper were received badly (Nature rejected their submission) because they were all demonstrably false. Here's a review:

If you really want to understand what's known and what's not known about the climate, and not just parrot the denialists latest talking points, I suggest you broaden your reading list a bit beyond Evangelical declarations and papers written by economists and miners to include books and papers by trained scientists who are actually doing research in the field and publishing peer reviewed papers.

Do you not understand the first thing about the AGW argument? The direct warming from CO2 is not a point of major dispute, it is the feedbacks that are quite emphatically unproven (which is why, btw, they are parameterized functions).

You clearly did not read the papers or make any attempt to understand them, but instead decided to smear the authors with religion -- pretty hilarious, given the excessively cultish aspects of AGW. Mann has even admitted the M&M criticisms of his use of PCA were more or less accurate -- and he is still inverting the Tiljander series, despite the objections of the originators of the data.

If you want to really the understand the serious objections of the skeptics and not just parrot the latest talking points of the alarmists, you should probably broaden your reading beyond the risibly tendentious RealClimate and laughably ill-trained "climate scientists" publishing papers with statistics and forecasts they are not qualified to do, while incestuously peer-reviewing each other and suppressing skeptics.

The CERN paper basically says cosmic rays have a large influence on cloud formation, which affects the climate because cloud cover affects the Earth's radiative balance (this is noncontroversial; the issue is whether this and and other feedbacks are strongly positive). I don't know why I'm having to explain this to you, you claim to be trained in physics and science but have not demonstrated much grasp of either. Perhaps you do not have enough time on your hands.

I apologize, you did not parrot the latest alarmist talking points, you parroted seven-year-old talking points. My God, you're not even up to the Wegman report! Now I just feel sorry for you.

You might try Googling William Connelley, while you're at it. Still think skeptical views are welcomed? Well, ask Wolfgang Wagner.

(You do realize, btw, the only reason you do not see that 2004 blog post you cited utterly annihilated by commenters is that RC regularly cleanses its comments of dissent? Does that also fill you with brimming confidence that these are serious, obejctive people who welcome skepticism?)

I simply don’t know who commenters here are referring to when they tar lefties/democrats with denying the science of nuclear power generation or the heritability of iq. Notice the lack of examples. Where’s the quote from Michael Moore saying “IQ is purely environmental” or Al Gore saying “nuclear power is a hoax dreamed up to raise money for nuclea physics research”.

What a fabulously illustrative comment. I don't care what politicians say. I care about what they do. Or rather, what they direct a particular governing unit to do. And, if gauged by conduct as opposed to the happy talk that satisfies those who work feverishly to maintain a limited understanding of the topic, the Democratic party is wholly uninterested in nuclear technology and has worked tirelessly to retard it's development. There is zero evidence-based analysis that supports any other conclusion.

Of course, if you don't actually care about a legitimate address of global warming, but concern yourself only with what Church's Bishops make more pleasing statements- then I will concede that the Democratic Party isn't anti-science in the nuclear context. But that doesn't do a whole lot in terms of actually addressing global warming now does it?

If you're seriously concerned about global warming, you support nuclear energy and have no patience with those who impede it's development. There is no serious, scientifically based approach, outside of that one, that squarely addresses the concern. Period.

1) Dealing with global warming is about managing risk. Therefore, it is rational to go all in for nuclear if you're certain that climate change will be catastrophic. But that's not the consensus. The consensus is a human catastrophy is becoming more likely due to AGW. That alters a rational assessment of responses: nuclear power carries it's own risks. Perhaps my (hypothetical) fear of nuclear accidents, proliferation, and nuclear pollution is poorly calibrated to actual risks, but I have a (hypothetically) well calibrated fear of AGW. These (hypothetical) information asymmetries would produce the behavior you decry, but they're hardly a malicious denial of scientific consensus. To put it another way, you're clutching your pearls at the idea that people defined in part by political ideology have ideological biases...which is silly.

2) At any rate, my claim is not that the professional left is free of intellectual consistency in a strict sense. It is, rather, that nowhere do I see science denialism among the professional left nearly to the degree that I see it on the right ("who are the Rick perry's and George Will's on the left").

You argue that beliefs are irrelevant: who cares if you believe in AGW if you're not a tireless advocate of nuclear power. Besides my response above ("1"), I'll stick up for considering professed beliefs-independent of actions- as relevant: they can foreshadow or prepare the way for actions in the future.

More broadly, a society that is nourished by science and technology would be wise to show a degree of ideological humility before a scientific consensus. Throwing around baseless charges of an international conspiracy among climatologists everywhere and doing nothing about AGW is not equivalent to respecting the scientific consensus on AGW and doing nothing. The former needlessly diminishes trust and increases paranoia. Detached from policy, the right's unwarranted attack on science and scientists signals to other intellectually insecure ideologues that self-discipline (of the intellectual variety that demands we be flexible with our understanding of the world in the face of new evidence) is unnecessary.

Just a quick comment. I agree with your statement about risk control. That's totally right. It's also right to say that we should go all in for nuclear if we are certain that climate change will be catastrophic. But's it's not right to infer from that that that we shouldn't go all in for nuclear even if we aren't certain that climate change will be catastrophic. I buy fire insurance for my house even though I think it is quite unlikely that it will burn down. There is a very real danger that the nonlinear feedbacks in the climate system will make climate change far more severe even than the best current forecasts which are already scary enough. There are risks with nuclear, but they are a) manageable and b) will likely not entail the end of civilization. I'm not at all sure if we get into some of the more extreme but non-zero probability climate futures that we can say that about the risks of burning coal. One sentence summary: it's precisely when the stakes are high and you are uncertain that you need to manage risk and buy insurance. All of the serious studies that have examined how we can get to a carbon free energy system say that we'll need nuclear in a big way in the next fifty years.

That's right. 100% nuclear could be best in other contexts besides "we know we're facing a catastrophe". But I wouldn't exclusively equate moving towards 100% nuclear with climate insurance. The 4 goals for US industrial energy production are 1) match US demand while 2) responding to domestic geopolitical disruptions within the US and 3) indirectly engender human liberty and 4) positively influence other polities towards a reduction in emissions. It's not obvious that nuclear energy is optimal for each of the four goals, even after more heavily scoring successes with 1.

2 3 and 4 are much weaker for nuclear, I would think.

That's a whole lot of typing in order to effectively say, "it's cooler when we do it."

To put it another way, you’re clutching your pearls at the idea that people defined in part by political ideology have ideological biases…which is silly.

No. What I'm saying that the manifestations of scientific ignorance are much more important than the blathering of politicians. In truth, I highly doubt you would ever object to such a claim if you were not forced to do so in order to excuse the scientific ignorance of those whom you support politically.

Here's a question for you. Imagine your spouse (or some other important person) needed brain surgery in order to save his/her life. And there were only two Doctors who could perform the surgery. The consensus of all relevant experts is that Doctor A would save your SO 3 out of 10 times, whereas Doctor B would succeed 9 out of 10 times. Only Doctor B is a champion denier of gravity who speaks (foolishly) on the topic every time he finds an audience, whereas Doctor A faithfully parrots the scientific consensus in that area despite having no informed basis for doing so (he's a Doctor and knows very little of physics.) Which one of those doctors are you going to select to perform the surgery? The one whose statements regarding gravity make you feel better about his relationship to scientific "consensus", or the one who can actually accomplish the task at hand and save your SO's life? Obviously you would choose Doctor B- unless feeling good about the gravity discussion was more important to you than saving the life of your SO. And if you felt that way, very few people would take you seriously on any topic. And rightfully so.

To be sure, I'm not pleased when Republicans (or anyone besides) reject legitimate scientific findings. But I'm not so desperate to establish the superiority of my "team" that I abandon all perspective on what's actually important. I also think you should cite an authority for your claim in Point 1- I'd like to see evidence in support of the specific claim of consensus you make therein.

As for cite: just regular IPCC reports.

Your doctor analogy does well at elucidating your point. I don't think it applies very well to policy formation. That is: nuclear may be great, but so is cap n trade, removing subsidies for fossil fuels, subsidy of wind n solar n conservation/efficiency measures. So is supporting urban development and removing subsidies for rural and suburban sprawl. Intentions matter: pursuing nuclear and supporting every other conceivable form of pollution-enhancing policy doesn't seem like a workable, rational response. For one, it makes other energy sources to become more efficient. Secondly, should advances in solar, wind, etc...materialize, a political regime that's hell bent on nuclear and denies AGW will fail to pursue the optimal policies. Thirdly, an anti-science, pro-nuclear agenda would come bundled wih a host of external (to AGW) reactionary, authoritarian, and class-warfare-based policy preferences.

This is not to deny that anti-nuclear absolutism is a problem. I just don't think it's as large an impediment to climate policy as you do (I could be wrong).

Summarizing: anti-nuclear isn't necessarily anti-science. Disagreements about the utility of nuclear power technology aren't based on denying any well-established scientific findings about the nature of reality. Quite apart from being a huge handicap towards dealing effectively with AGW (a handicap that is NOT balanced by an isolated and aconsequential pro-nuclear agenda), anti-science demagoguery and denialism has a host of other negative consequences for a range of public policy goals.

Another point: the Democratic nuclear policy seems more nuanced than reflected in your comments. Waxman-Markey was strongly criticized by Secretary Chu. Furthermore, proponents of Waxman-Markey argued, when pressed, that their bill took a number of steps to incentivize nuclear power. Critics were not assuaged, but proponents did not dispute the central point that more nuclear would be desirable.

I know you want to say "Ah hah! There's democrats talking up AGW but doing nothing really effective about it". But look this up: Chu is a Democratic appointee, and Waxman-Markey did promote nuclear (just not enough, critics said). And the not-enough part may have been out of pragmatic concerns for the bill, not out of a reactionary denial of nuclear's promise.

If my characterization is accurate (I just googled "Waxman nuclear power" and read one HuffPo story) then your story about Democrats isn't.

I simply don’t know who commenters here are referring to when they tar lefties/democrats with denying the science of nuclear power generation

You've really never heard of Greenpeace?

I think you misunderstand.

I've never heard Greenpeace claim that nuclear physicists have been making up stories about radioactive decay to line their pockets with govt research grants.

Nor do the anti-vaccine folks

You really aren't familiar with Greenpeace, are you?

Another George W. Bush clone: The mormon son of a billionaire businessman who cut taxes and increased spending in Utah.

SCARE 20.12.2012

(Stop Corruption And Repression Effective 20.12.2012)

Banks were given a very important privilege to create money in the form of extending credit. This function requires diligence and careful consideration in regard to individual credit risks as well as to overall credit levels in the system. The financial crisis revealed that the banks were operating at too high a leverage and with too much risk. They were used to be saved by the Central Banks and certain that in times of difficulties the Central Banks were there to save them. They were like trained dogs and their master Greenspan or Bernanke would always be there to rescue them when unforeseen difficulties arose.

That may be true but that does not absolve them from their obligation to monitor overall debt levels in the system as well as being diligent in evaluating the debtors ability to not only service a debt but to be able to repay it over time. The banks clearly failed in this function that is the core function of banking but focused mainly on their compensation packages. The way these bankers enriched themselves in the process of driving the financial system into a wall was appalling and the average income earner was never able to comprehend their schemes but preferred to simply ignore them. Of course, the bankers explained their outrages income levels with free market principles of supply and demand, where the best simply could be hired with those kinds of benefits only. In hindsight those superior managers seem to have missed their mark considerably. The most interesting aspect of all of this is the fact that, after we have been more than 3 years in this financial crisis, the bankers continue to loot the system as if nothing ever happened.

True to form the Central Banks “saved” the financial system by saving those great financial institutions without whom the system would have collapsed, as was argued. Hardly were we out of the danger of collapse, the banks immediately went back to their old ways and were certain that this was a problem that would occur just once in a lifetime and now all was clear again. The real problem, however, had not been addressed but had simply been muddied.

In actuality, the losses produced of extending unsustainable levels of credit by the banks have been transferred to the public. Different ways were chosen to achieve this task in the form of free money for the banks, injection of government funds into some institutions, increase of basic money supply and so on.

The threat of system collapse would have been labelled blackmail if it would have occurred in another setting. However the bankers were able to influence the media, the legislators and regulators in their favour with all the financial resources available to them. Nobody was made to take any responsibility and no one was taken to account.

This represents a serious violation of the spirit of the Rule of Law that is the basis of western society. It seems that now the new rule is Might is Right. This changes many parameters in the compass of the social system within the western world. No one can be sure on what level and when one will be subjected to the financial abuse of those elites. Presently, the people in charge are trying to enhance financial repression of which one form is to keep interest rates below the level of inflation which affects mainly those that lived within their means over the past many years; another clear violation of the spirit of the Rule of Law as it transfers losses from bad investments to the innocent and decent part of the population. In addition, the increased level of government debt puts in doubt all those benefits promised by governments the world over.

It is interesting how the banks were able to confuse the public who was/is unable to grasp the actual situation. But considering the banker’s great financial resources, it seems not that much of a miracle to influence the media and the legislator and having politicians do their bidding. The question is what the heck can WE, THE PEOPLE do about it.

Usually, we could address such things on a political level as we are a democracy, right? But it seems that the system has been corrupted by all the money sloshing around and it is extremely difficult to find any electable person that will act against those powerful interests. In addition, it will take many years until sufficient numbers of persons with the new thinking and with integrity not to be corrupted by those lobbying efforts will be elected to office that will implement the changes needed. So, what should we do? Start a revolution?

Well, the blackmail used by the banks may be the only way to address the injustices that have occurred over the past few years. They showed us how to leverage one’s limited resources to achieve one’s goal. Therefore the following proposal to start the movement “SCARE 20.12.2012” should be seen in this context. The idea is that if by that time (20.12.2012) some serious injustices have not been removed from the system, people will start to withdraw their money from all financial institutions driving them into default. And it might work, because those who hesitate to support this threat may be left with no money as the banks will have to close down before all has been paid out.

Now, what demands are made if that scenario is to be avoided.

1. Bankers and past Bankers (all those working in the financial industry that earned in excess of $500k plus annually for more than 2 years during the past 15 years and this without any downside risk i.e. risk of financial losses, except the possibility of losing their job) have to be made personally accountable for their past activities and be removed from any such position that might directly or indirectly have influence on the money creation and lending aspects of the economy (this includes regulating agencies and politics) before 20.12.2012.

2. Present and past regulators have to be made personally accountable for their past activities and be removed from any such position that might directly or indirectly have influence on the money creation and lending aspects of the economy (this includes financial institutions and politics) before 20.12.2012.

3. Politicians that accept any financial support from institutions that are involved in the money creation and lending aspects of the economy will have to face a jail term of no less than 2 years without the possibility of parole.

When these 3 points are implemented before 20.12.2012, we the public will not destroy the financial system but support the way to find back to the RULE OF LAW and away from the idea of MIGHT IS RIGHT.

It's almost like if you aren't willing to swallow the entire proposition before seeing all the evidence and judging for yourself you are against science. That's backwards to me.

Sorry to double, but by this I mean, it seems like on this issue in particular (and a few others) they are saying "if you don't believe the word of some expert scientists, you are against science." Well, I'm a scientist and I for damn sure don't trust other scientists. I'm not a great scientist, and I'm too focused on my bailywick to peruse climate research on a frequent basis. But as a scientist, I understand that most of the things we do are because we don't trust each other. Peer review? Long time for graduation/tenure? Reproducing results? These things exist because trust is such a short supply, we forget why we implemented these traditions and processes in the first place. Every day I resist the temptation to falsify data, as does every other good scientist. And it would be really easy to do and not get caught. Keep in mind, I"m not suggesting anyone has falsified data. The point is, it would be easy, and scientists do not take other scientists merely at their word. Maybe this point has been well-worn. It certainly has by me.

"It’s almost like if you aren’t willing to swallow the entire proposition before seeing all the evidence and judging for yourself you are against science."

I think the idea that a person sees themselves as a better judge of something than the experts in the field is foolish.

And someone responding to a scientific consensus that's been building over 40 years with "that's all bs" when they really know not a thing about it is anti-science.

Also, sometimes the obvious must be said. Perry knew he could come out and call Ben Bernanke treasonous and throw a wet blanket on global warming and gain supporters. Huntsman, needing to differentiate knew he should now step out in the opposite direction. News flash - it's politics and politicians. Neither mean anything.

I'm a scientist who works on DNA (genomics)
I know that I don't understand the really , really complicated math, and the huge amount of work that climate scientists have done, eg the hockey stick controversy, so far as I can tell, is about use of principal components analysis, how many people on this blog can comment on PCA?
The point is, you don't argue with an automotive engineer about how much chromium is needed to harden a crankshaft; why are people arguing with climate scientists ?

Because the automotive engineer is not asking for a trillion dollars. He knows he has to create value for you. He's got to win in the marketplace, not in the halls of Congress.

And I suppose in genomics the science is all consensus-based, no? And everyone agrees on every bit of it? Your conferences must be quite dull.

As for the hockey stick, this is one of the central issues of ClimateGate. In turns out that the tree rings didn't match the modern temperature record. They were showing a temperature decline when the measured record was showing a temp increase. So they got rid of the recent tree data and replaced it with the measured temperature record. This was the reference to "Mike's Nature Trick" and "hiding the decline", if I understand the story correctly. But, of course, if the tree data was wrong in recent times, then in ancient times, it could also be...

A large component of climate science is statistics. Most of the really valid criticisms I've seen are from statisticians who know this (large portion of climate science) much better than the climate scientists. If DNA research relied so heavily on another discipline, I would think you'd consider valid criticism form a member of that other discipline to be valid also.


Climate scientists produce statistics, and the statisticians tell them they're doing it wrong.

Climate scientists produce a forecast, and the forecasting scientists tell them they're doing it wrong.

And then the believers say, "Well, we should trust climate scientists, they're the experts."

To further my point, you've made an excellent criticism, very valid for this argument.
"The point is, you don’t argue with an automotive engineer about how much chromium is needed to harden a crankshaft". Point is, I'd ask a metallurgist.

This discussion has gone pretty much off the rails from the original post. The main point that Klein makes is that Perry is blatantly misrepresenting certain facts. Andrew likes to say that there is a larger number of deniers than Klein reports. So what? Perry's argument is that the trend is in the direction of the deniers, that new ones are coming out "every day." This is just totally false, irrespective of what is actually correct about climate science or how many deniers there currently are or how much it would cost to do anything about it or whether it should be done or not.

Perry is just a liar, and a flagrant one at that.

No, Perry is absolutely correct.

Just keep scrolling down.

I also note that Huntsman repeats the lie of conflating default and reaching the debt limit, as though the GOP had not insisted debt payments continue to be made with the revenue that was several times interest payments.

I think he filled out the wrong paperwork, clearly he meant to run for the Dem primary.

I suspect jdm knows what he is talking about but not one comment here demonstrates knowledge of basic science.

I would urge you Tyler to stay up on the latest research on the field and not depend on the scientific Mr. Klein. As has been noted, this is a case of the data not matching the theories. Check out this research from the lead scientist at NASA on global warming.

I'm not concerned. The seas stopped rising and the earth began to heal in 2008.


Sorry, but your stuff does not remotely prove that Perry "is right." The first story is that Hurricane Irene might not be as strong as forecast? So what? In fact, there is no broad consensus on the influence of global warming on hurricanes, despite some people claiming there is. This proves nothing at all.

The second one is that the warming might not be as fast as forecast by many. It does not question that there is warming, nor does it say anything about the role of human activity. So, cosmic rays might influence things, fine, that does not rule out human influence. And the people involved in those arguments have been making them for some time. They are not fresh recruits to the skeptic camp.

Let us be clear about what Perry claimed. He said that there were scientists stepping forward regularly to join the skeptic camp. This is simply false. I can name quite a few of the leading ones whose views have been steadily tilting more to the warming camp. There is basically nobody going the other way, nobody. Perry is dead wrong.

The only question is whether he is imitating the previous TX governor who became a president when making false statements that are easily shown to be false statements: Is he lying or is he delusional?

Perry said new studies supporting AGW skepticism are coming out every day, not new scientists (seriously, what is it with AGWers and their inability to understand the important difference between scientific evidence and the opinions of scientists?). If you read the link, you will see this is true.

You can also check... the temperature, which does not agree with the Hansen 1988 predictions.

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