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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Burn the climate change denier

Maybe it's time to start burning the climate change deniers?

(thanks for the inspiration Ian Plimer).

Some scientists who have questions about climate change:
Wikipedia list
The Petition Project


Andrew said...

Fantastic! Do you know what this means? That a global conspiracy is actually possible! All the scientists getting together to fabricate or suppress results at every level in every country. All the politicians united in stooging the world into raising taxes. Or better: people en masse deceiving themselves into a religious fervour to... what? Clean up the Earth? Stop using coal and instead invest in solar? Ian wouldn't like that as he is on the board of a number of mining companies in West Aus.

Ardeet said...

I don't think a global conspiracy would be possible. I think that many falsehoods have been believed many times by many people.
Clearly all the scientists are not getting together as there are significant numbers of them that refute man made global warming either entirely or partially.
I would contend that most of the world's politicians are interested in taxing "their" citizenry. The current fervour over climate change merely provides another excuse for another tax. Look at how ineffectually government spends taxes now, do you believe that they will act differently with taxes from carbon credits?
As for solar (and wind, tidal, geothermal, nuclear, etcetera) I would *love* to see these technologies powering our world. The less pollution we have the better as far as I'm concerned.
I was disgusted with the lack of spending on alternative energy during the recent/current "stimulus spending" fiascos here in Australia. They are throwing money away so why not put it into areas that if the financial worse comes to worse then at least we still have that infrastructure. I don't believe that the US, UK and Europe did much better.
The currently insurmountable drawback to alternative means of producing electricity is that liquid fuel is not produced. Without liquid fuel the world's economy grinds to a halt. Alternatives must be possible in the future yet they are not on the horizon for the next 20 plus years.
A similar situation exists with coal fuelled power plants.
As for Ian Plimer it doesn't matter what master he serves, he still raised valid, common-sense objections to the current hysteria and chicken-littling that inspired my cartoon.
There are several points in this debate that give me cause for concern:

1) Many of the big multinationals like Esso, Greenpeace, Rio Tinto and World Vision are spending large sums of money telling people *how* to think. This often signals an agenda beyond what the public is given to digest.

2) Science is getting pushed aside by politics, name calling and a zeal approaching religious fervour. Rationality is leaving this debate.

3) Many of the world's governments are telling us that we need to give them more money. This is seldom a good sign.

4) The climate change computer models are not working.

5) The "brand" is being rebadged from Global Warming to Climate Change. When political organisations rebadge and spin then it is seldom a good sign for the people that they purportedly "serve".

Thank you for taking the time to comment.


Andrew said...

All good points. However, fundamentally, the question I think you are asking is whether climate change is real.

I recall an example a very good friend of mine once put up in criticism of creationism and defence of evolution.

"Imagine," he said, "That a deer's neck, generation on generation, get's longer by only 1mm. How many generations does it take before you have a giraffe?" The answer, of course, and he proceeded to demonstrate with a handy scientific calculator, was not very many.

Does it matter whether the evolution was by blind mutation or Lamarkian 'desire'. The end result is the same: longer neck by gradual degrees.

To me, climate change is the exact same argument. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is going up at an alarming rate. There is a significant time correspondence with industrialisation and the burning of fossil fuels. Coincidence? maybe. Completely unrelated to man and just part of some cosmic cycle that is out of our control (like God)?

The climate is changing. Don't confuse the short term posturing of the governments and the partizan nay-sayers to lose sight of the real issue.

Ardeet said...

No I'm not not asking the question "is climate change real?" as the answer is an emphatic yes. Humans have seen it before, quite strongly, in periods such as the Medieval Warming and the Little Ice Age.

CO2 records often show a lag when compared to global temperature rises. Additionally the increase in CO2 levels does not always accompany significant global temperature changes. I am concerned that what we see with temperature and CO2 *may* be correlation and not causation.

Regardless of the answer, there is not a majority scientific consensus on the issue.

I'm asking the questions:

1) Are humans responsible for the current state of our climate?

2) Would an increase in global temperatures be detrimental to humans and/or the earth?

3) Who is being served by carbon taxes and internationalising of government control?

Andrew said...

In the abstract, granted, it 'may', or may not.

But what evidence would actually convince you, given that there is never a consensus for anything, ever?

What constitutes a majority?

I'll source some stats on the number of papers produced for both sides - but if you fundamentally dispute that the published papers are any representation of the 'scientific opinion', then I put it to you that you yourself are acting on faith: a paranoid faith that 'they' are out to get you.

Fundamentally, I put it to you, the majority of scientific opinion is united. There are only a few qualified people who disagree (Plimer, arguably, being one of them). Your position that the minority is in the right, because majorities are always either corrupt, or mislead, or just stupid, I think says more about your own worldview than it does about the changing climate.

Ardeet said...


There is no abstract. My understanding is that a rise in CO2 levels is not always synonymous with global temperature rises.

I can accept that rising CO2 levels are currently (and previously) happening. What is anathema to me is that it is being touted as the only explanation for climate change. This forces the extremely dangerous conclusion that all "we" have to do is reduce man made emissions and everything will be okay.

Hopefully you can see that I accept evidence of CO2 levels rising (it's the conclusions and actions that I don't accept). In the same vein can I ask you if you accept that there may be other factors contributing to climate change such as the sun, natural cycles, volcanic activity, natural perturbations in the earth's orbit?

Your inference that it must be right because the majority says so is worrisome. As I recall, Copernicus was in the minority with his evidence that the earth was not at the centre of the universe.

I wasn't aware that the side with the most papers "won" the argument? How many times would you, myself and our friends have to repeat a falsehood in order to make it a truth?

I'll be interested in the figures that you source on papers produced for both sides. In the meantime I've modified my post to include links to two sites of opposing scientists. I don't think your argument that only a "few qualified people disagree" holds much water.

My position is not that the minority is in the right because the majority is corrupt. In this instance I am questioning a majority view. I don't think that exercising reason makes me a salivating paranoiac?

You may have missed my three questions in the previous post. I'd be very interested in your response.

Let's assume that you're 100% correct and human produced CO2 is the sole cause of climate change then what next?

Andrew said...

Let's look at your three questions.

1) As I understand it, the majority of scientists have stated that the evidence strongly correlates human activity with increase in CO2. These guys: http://www.ipcc.ch/index.htm draw together those findings and present them. If anything, they are conservative in what they report.

2) I think your real question is, 'will it make us extinct?' No, we won't become extinct. We will adapt. But the 'we' in that sentence are those people living in countries that are not going to be drowned in rising sea levels, parched in rainless areas, or suffer other 'natural' catastrophes. Given that we also show little sympathy for refugees, the chaos the mass displacement will cause to the economies, not to mention the societies of the world will be pretty dire.

Will mass extinction of some plants and animals be the end of the Earth? Of course not. But, as you know, replacement species are not likely to evolve in a real hurry. The potential loss of food plants and animals could pose a significant strain on our capacity to feed ourselves, particularly if arable land is simultaneously being lost.

3) I know the answer you want to hear is totalitarian governments who want to steal our freedom and pick our pockets. But I suspect that it is probably more likely to be the governments trying to figure out ways of avoiding the situation above, where they have to spend their treasure in defending their territory against hordes of displaced migrants.

I reflect that question back at you. Who benefits from NOT changing the current economic system and maintaining the status quo?

Ardeet said...

1) CO2 levels

You keep repeating "majority" yet I'm still waiting on the figures you were going to provide?

You point to the IPCC. Are you referring to their full assessment reports or the Summary for Policy Makers reports?

You also state that they are "conservative" in what they report - is this your opinion or are you quoting from other reports?

It's likely that you missed my earlier question rather than deliberately chose to avoid it, so I'll repeat it as I'm extremely interested in your response:

"Hopefully you can see that I accept evidence of CO2 levels rising (it's the conclusions and actions that I don't accept). In the same vein can I ask you if you accept that there may be other factors contributing to climate change such as the sun, natural cycles, volcanic activity, natural perturbations in the earth's orbit?"

2) Impact of climate change

Thanks for stating what my "real" question is. I'm sorry the conclusion you leapt to wasn't mine. :)

I was simply after your opinion on the effects of climate change. I think from your response that you see mass extinctions and wild see level rises.

My opinion is that nature will continue to wipe out life forms as she sees fit and as she has always done. Global warming and rising CO2 levels can be highly beneficial to plants and therefore humans. Greenland during the Medieval Warming was lush and productive.

I'm having trouble finding data that shows catastrophic sea level rises from times in the earth's past when temperatures were higher than they are now. Are you able to help me out here?

3) Carbon taxes and control

If I'm reading you correctly then you're saying that government is the only way to fix this problem?

If this is the case then I'm not sure why you think the organisation who couldn't (wouldn't?) tell what was coming and can't (won't) do anything to correct it are the organisation to place your hope in?

We could get into government regulations impeding/preventing electric cars, alternative energy sources and people living off the grid. We could get into lobbyists (from both sides) using the force of government to subsidise polluting industries, suppress green competition, fund coal fired power plants and suck tax dollars away from alternative energy projects. We could get into examples such as the US government being one of the biggest polluters in the US.

We could, but that would possibly be a whole other thread. Suffice to say that I don't think they're the organisation to pin your hopes on.

To answer your question - "who benefits from NOT changing the current economic system and maintaining the status quo?" - Governments and the power hungry benefit from this. Last I saw at Copenhagen was that it was basically full steam ahead on the good ship "Do Nothing".

To benefit humans and the earth the economic system needs to change - remove as much government as possible (for the inhibiting reasons stated above).

To benefit humans and the earth the status quo needs to change - remove as much government as possible (for the inhibiting reasons stated above).

In many ways I think we both want the same things:

I want a cleaner earth.

I want scientific discourse free of political interference.

Where we seem to differ is that I believe free people can choose to achieve this where you seem to believe that it should be solved by enslavement.

Andrew said...

Let's imagine that I do agree with everything you say.

I still don't see a long queue of the independently wealthy and huge private firms ponying up the money to effect any changes either. Or are they keeping it quiet and acting philanthropically?

And, parenthetically, I think we are the real issue: what is the best way to deal with these issues. And that is a different thread.

Ardeet said...

Maybe we're looking at a different queue?

Multinational corporations such as Greenpeace and WWF are putting a lot of time and money into effecting change.

Multinational energy companies such as BP and Rio Tinto are exploring and developing alternative resources such as hydrogen energy.

Virgin Airlines is experimenting with biofuel powered jet engines.

Al Gore is expending time and money getting his message across.

Consumers are purchasing more environmentally friendly products.

International car manufacturers such as Toyota, Honda and GM are producing hybrid cars and developing fuel cell vehicles.

Private bus companies are putting in Natural Gas powered vehicles and proclaiming greener credentials.

Vehicle use on private toll roads can be offset by purchasing carbon offsets.

Virgin Blue flights can be carbon offset.

Rather than keep their activities quite these companies and individuals are trumpeting it from the rooftops (in most cases) because it is economically beneficial to do so. People want to buy this type of product and do so increasingly.

When I look at the government queue all I see is talk, inaction, junkets, "accords" and "carbon intensity" doublespeak.

You're right when you say we are the real issue. I also believe that we are the real solution.

I look forward to another thread :)
Please have the last word and thanks for the discussion.