Boehner on GOP and Environment: “I Think You’ll See a Plan From Us”

“… Just like you’ve seen a plan from us on the Stimulus Bill and a better plan on the budget.”

But, really, the money quote is this:

[T]he idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical. Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know, when they do what they do, you’ve got more carbon dioxide.

Don’t take my word for it, though. Watch The Boner do science and talk cows with George Stephanopoulos (via NYT‘s GreenInc blog):

Leave a comment

  1. MarshallDog · ·

    I think the next step should be for Boner to breathe from a tank filled with pure carbon dioxide to prove that it’s absolutely harmless. What could possibly go wrong for him? Remember on The Simpsons when Krusty proved those jagged metal Krusty-O’s weren’t dangerous by eating one himself?

    Seriously, we need to get someone who’ll ask him on camera, “Do you believe carbon dioxide is harmful?” When he says no, present him with a tank of CO2 and an airmask and tape his reaction. I guarentee it’ll be almost comical.

  2. The “C02 isn’t harmful” thing is SO ridiculous. Next he’ll argue that you can’t drown in water, because water is tasty and necessary for life. Maybe we could ask him to test that?

  3. By your definition salt water is harmful as well.

  4. I’m starting to see a pattern develop here and I think I know what the new GOP strategy is. Its “if we keep telling the same divisive lies long enough and loud enough eventually enough people will become too disgusted with politics to vote and we’ll win again.”

  5. Well, ozone (O3) is both good and bad. In the upper atmosphere, it of course forms the ozone layer, which protects us from large amounts of UV radiation. At ground level, it is a pollutant in smog and can cause respiratory problems. Likewise, there is such thing as fluoride poisoning, but in appropriate amounts, helps prevent tooth decay.

    The point is, it’s not black-and-white. Where and in what concentrations a chemical exists make all the difference. And sure, CO2 is expelled by many natural processes, but so is shit, and I don’t think Boehner would advocate abolishing sanitation services because shit is natural.

  6. The point we all know that Boehner is ultimately trying to make is that the science is inconclusive with regards to global warming and its causes.

    I think this line from Jello is kind of ironic:

    “..if we keep telling the same divisive lies long enough and loud enough eventually enough people will become too disgusted with politics to vote and we’ll win again.”

    Isn’t that sort of the same strategy with global warming? “If we keep telling people we have it all figured out then eventually enough people will believe us and pass whatever environmental feel-good legislation we come up with.”

  7. Mike, salt water at toxic levels is toxic. Same with Co2, same with water. Boehner and co are arguing against a tautology by taking out the middle step.

  8. In the global warming debate, one side is full of scientists and the other is backed by oil companies. Which one has the ulterior motives and the greater motive to spread falsehoods?

    I’m going to side with the scientists with reams of evidence as opposed to corporations with a business model built on the status quo. It makes far more sense than claiming the scientists are lying to further their interests while the oil companies are right and it’s only a coincidence that it won’t cost them their way of doing business.

  9. The point we all know that Boehner is ultimately trying to make is that the science is inconclusive with regards to global warming and its causes.

    Well, that would be a wrong point. But Boehner manages to say a wrong thing in an incoherent way, which sort of compounds the sadness.

  10. Kris, jre,

    There are hundreds of scientists who do not agree with popular global warming science. And I don’t mean climate change denialists. I’m talking about real scientists who disagree over the cause, the scope, the effects of global warming. I’m talking about some scientists who think it’s man made but not problematic to others that think it is a natural cyclical phenomenon. Both of you act like there’s some kind of universal consensus in the scientific community akin with gravity or plate tectonics and there’s just a few crackpots out there who don’t accept the global warming gospel. That’s extraordinarily wrong.

  11. Ames,

    Aren’t you taking the opposite position though, that CO2 is a very dangerous and harmful substance that we must fight at all costs? Boehner is guilty of downplaying the threat of CO2 emissions, but there’s a lot of reason to believe that certain others are equally guilty of overhyping the threat.

  12. Mike, taking arguendo that there IS some substantive disagreement, it’s not to the level that STILL justifies inaction, given the size of the consensus that global warming is dangerous. Isn’t the GOP the “responsibility” party? Then don’t put off a serious question until you can properly herd all the cats.

    And NO-ONE is arguing that CO2 is deadly dangerous omg stay away! The argument has only ever been that too much CO2, in the historic doses that we’re shooting into the air today, is troublesome.

  13. Then why not just be smart about it and quit beating the drum of global warming and focus on basic pollution and the negative effects of certain emissions?

    Here’s the simplest way to look at it:

    Contrary to popular liberal opinion conservatives are generally smart enough to be able to read the same scientific literature on ‘global warming’ and figure out that even the scientists who agree it exists as a phenomenon don’t agree about much else. there’s also hundreds of scientists who don’t think it’s a longterm threat. So we weigh that uncertainty against the economic impact of new regulations.

    If liberals would start couching this as a simple pollution problem and maybe talk more about health effects, cancer, etc then we have a new model and conservatives can weigh the effects of regulation against longterm healthcare costs and other more concrete factors. The potential for progress on that front is far greater than on the highly theoretical global warming front.

  14. Mike, are you saying it’s the responsibility of the left to couch the green agenda in terms of pollution and (relatively) short-term public health issues? Aren’t Republicans smart enough to read that literature on their own and act accordingly?

  15. Contrary to popular liberal opinion conservatives are generally smart enough to be able to read the same scientific literature on ‘global warming’ and figure out that even the scientists who agree it exists as a phenomenon don’t agree about much else. there’s also hundreds of scientists who don’t think it’s a longterm threat.

    To the extent that there is a “popular liberal opinion” on politically motivated climate denialism, it is that conservatives are not dumb, but self-deluding. So, you figure there are “hundreds of scientists who don’t think it’s a longterm threat”? Who, exactly? I’m guessing it’s not the IPCC, representing the view of nearly all mainstream climate scientists. That view is that climate change is (a) real, (b) predominantly human-caused over the past 50 years, and (c) likely to be much worse over the next 50 years. Most will go on to say that global warming is (d) deserving of some remediative public policies.

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that the “hundreds of scientists” to whom you refer are, in fact, these guys. Should we be impressed? If so, let’s get ready to call evolutionary biology “inconclusive” because — guess what? “Over 600 Scientists” don’t believe in evolution, either.

    I suspect you see the problem, too, but the end result (depending on your inclination) may be tough to face. If there is an honest way of evaluating the facts — that is, before considering their political implications — then it has to put some credence in those who have best mastered the facts. In the case of climate science, it is climate scientists. And those scientists are overwhelmingly agreed that global warming is (a) real, etc., etc. Don’t believe me? Pick up a copy of EOS, or Nature, or Science, or GRL, or any of the hundreds of peer-reviewed climate and general science journals in print. You’ll get the same answer. It is complex, and messy, and constantly being updated (that’s what makes science exciting) but the broad outlines are well defined. If you prefer the Cato Institute’s version over that of the climate science community, that’s your privilege. But if you do, you have chosen politically-driven baloney over science.

  16. I’m saying that everytime the Left enters into the highly theoretical arena of ‘global warming’ most conservatives roll their eyes and tune them out.

    I have no problem admitting that liberals are more active on environmental issues and could be the drivers. The problem is they choose to spend so much of their time on BS feel good legislation aimed at combatting global warming instead of taking things down to a more basic level. At the end of the day libs aren’t nearly as enthusiastic about simple pollution control as they are about the prospect of quite literally ‘saving the world’.

  17. My response is stuck in the spamtrap (too many links, I’m guessing). Pardon my ignorance, but how do you folks get mail?

  18. jre, i’ve learned to never insert more than one link when posting here.

  19. Thanks for the tip, Mike! It’s the world we live in, I guess. I’ll strip two of my three links, and repost. Here’s the Discovery Institute’s “hundreds of scientists” post. I’m sure you can find the IPCC on your own.

  20. didionsmommy · ·

    be free, linked comment! (i just released it from spam hell.)

  21. Contrary to popular liberal opinion conservatives are generally smart enough to be able to read the same scientific literature on ‘global warming’ and figure out that even the scientists who agree it exists as a phenomenon don’t agree about much else. there’s also hundreds of scientists who don’t think it’s a longterm threat.

    To the extent that there is a “popular liberal opinion” on politically motivated climate denialism, it is that conservatives are not dumb, but self-deluding. So, you figure there are “hundreds of scientists who don’t think it’s a longterm threat”? Who, exactly? I’m guessing it’s not the IPCC, representing the view of nearly all mainstream climate scientists. That view is that climate change is (a) real, (b) predominantly human-caused over the past 50 years, and (c) likely to be much worse over the next 50 years. Most will go on to say that global warming is (d) deserving of some remediative public policies.

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and suppose that the “hundreds of scientists” to whom you refer are, in fact, these guys. Should the rest of be persuaded by that list? If so, let’s get ready to call evolutionary biology “inconclusive” because — guess what? According to the Discovery Institute “Over 600 Scientists” don’t believe in evolution, either.

    I suspect you see the problem, too, but the end result (depending on your inclination) may be tough to face. If there is an honest way of evaluating the facts — that is, before considering their political implications — then it has to put some credence in those who have best mastered the facts. In the case of climate science, it is climate scientists. And those scientists are overwhelmingly agreed that global warming is (a) real, etc., etc. Don’t believe me? Pick up a copy of EOS, or Nature, or Science, or GRL, or any of the hundreds of peer-reviewed climate and general science journals in print. You’ll get the same answer. It is complex, and messy, and constantly being updated (that’s what makes science exciting) but the broad outlines are well defined. If you prefer the Cato Institute’s version over that of the climate science community, that’s your privilege. But if you do, you have chosen politically-driven baloney over science.

  22. All,
    First, as a practicing scientist, can we all agree that AGW is no longer a scientific issue and now a policy/political issues? We have consensus, good. SO stop blaming scientists.

    Second, Mike, what you see in the popular press, bloggosphere, and elsewhere is as close a sscientists ever get to agreement or consensus on anything. Never, on any issue, will you see every scientists in every discipline agree on every topic. Doesn’t happen. That’s what make science such a good field – lively debate.

    Third, we “liberals” do favor basic pollution control – most Republicans do not because they tink it imposes too high a cost on business for use of common resources. Personally, I think the regulation of emissions that the EPA is headed toward is a long overdue completion of the work they started by regulating acid rain producers in the 1980′s. Seems, as I recall, that economic doom was predicted then too, and didn’t come to pass.

    Businesses will adjust. Some will develop and market innovative new producst to help other comply with the regulations. Others will fold. That’s capitolism at its finest.

  23. Initiation of glacial conditions may be triggered by surprisingly rapid climate changes. Therefore, the minor global cooling trend of recent decades…is being carefully watched and studied. Already the effects on food production are severe in many parts of the world….We are now in a relatively warm period (“interglacial”) following one of several major glacial periods. It is not certain when the present interglacial period will end but…imagine the impact of another full scale glacial advance like that just a few thousand years ago!

    Sign at the Smithsonian, 2003.

    http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2003/10/climate_change_.html

  24. I’ll state the obvious which is that I suspect 30 years from now we will be reading reports entitled, “The Myth of the 2000′s Global Warming Consensus.”

  25. And, in defense of the Smithsonian, we should note that the Institution is aware of the sign.

    [A]ccording to Bill Fitzhugh, an anthropologist and director of the Smithsonian’s Arctic Studies Program, the panels have remained there for a simple and non-controversial reason: people forgot about them.

    Fitzhugh was one of the designers of the ice age exhibit in 1975, and said he was reminded of the panels about a month ago when an employee in the exhibits department saw them while researching materials for a new exhibit on human origins. “None of us had actually gone back and read those labels that you saw in a long time,” Fitzhugh told me.

    “We don’t have a lot of staff running around and checking on the old labels and this one just sort of went below the radar,” Fitzhugh said. “It certainly shouldn’t be looked at as the museum deliberately sending different signals.” He added that the “scientific evidence is overwhelming” on global warming, and said the original exhibit was planned at a time when some data was coming out that pointed to the possibility of rapid climate shifts back into extremely cold conditions.

    (emphasis added)

  26. I’ll state the obvious which is that I suspect 30 years from now we will be reading reports entitled, “The Myth of the 2000’s Global Warming Consensus.”

    Yes — it is unsurprising that you suspect that. For my part, I suspect that 30 years from now, CO2 will be way over 400 ppmv, sea ice will be mostly gone from the Arctic in the summer, arable zones will be moving to higher latitudes (and out of lower ones) and changes in weather patterns will be striking enough that no one can ignore them. Why do I suspect that? Well, because the CO2 trend is a fact, as are the physics of radiative equilibrium and climatic heat transfer.

    And you suspect the opposite … exactly why? Surprise me, and admit that it’s because it makes you feel good.

  27. Or more likely it will read “The Conservative Myth about the Evil Liberal Scientists’ Conspiracy to Destroy America with the 2000’s Global Warming Consensus and How Laughably Wrong and Ridiculously Paranoid It Was Even Then”.

  28. I recall being on a cruise ship in Glacier Bay, AK in 2004 and listening as the park ranger on board told us about how the glacier we were viewing retreated an average of several dozen feet per year. “Global warming’ and few people muttered under their breath. Then she proceeded to tell us that the glacier was first measured sometime in the early 1800′s and had been retreating since then.

    Global warming is not a FACT…. it is a theory and one with a lot of holes in it.

  29. There are a few reasons why there was a “global cooling” scare in the 70s – it wasn’t even called that until more recently, after “global warming” became popularized – and yet was so quickly tossed aside in favor of global warming.

    For one, there wasn’t any sort of scientific consensus that there was global cooling. There was some data pointing to the possibility, but most scientific publications concerning the data contained caveats cautioning that though it may point to cooling, it’s inconclusive, more data is needed, etc. Popular culture and the media got ahold of it and perpetuated the ideas with these caveats.

    At the time, there had been a cooling trend for the past couple of decades, which made the whole possibility easier for people to believe. Yes, we have been on a general warming trend more recently, and one could conclude that we should dismiss global warming now for the same reason that global cooling didn’t actually happen after that cold spell. But the correct interpretation is that short-term trends mean nothing without other evidence.

    One thing that was seen as evidence for global cooling was aerosols. At that time it was already known that aerosols produce a cooling effect just as CO2 produces a warming effect. Some scientists believed that the effect of aerosols would outweigh the effects of CO2 for a net cooling effect. With revised numbers, we now know the CO2 effect is dominant, especially as we have reduced aerosol output but have not been able to do as much with CO2.

  30. Global warming is not a FACT…. it is a theory and one with a lot of holes in it.

    Hogwash.

    It is extremely well supported by the evidence, and uncontroversial within the scientific community.
    There’s an old saying among lawyers:

    If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table.

    On the issue of global warming, certain conservatives have neither law nor the facts on their side, and so are reduced to petulantly insisting that global warming IS SO just a theory, IT IS IT IS IT IS!

    Hmmm … come to think of it, that “just a theory” line has a familiar ring to it. Are you sure you’re not from the Discovery Institute after all?

  31. If you want a good, solid, and easily intellectually accessible place to read about climate change science, I strongly recommend Bob Grumbine’s place. And yes, Mike, the vast majority of scientists in the climate, oceanographic, ecological, biologicla and zoological sciences agree that climate change, forced by Carbon Dioxide, is real, and that humans are the primary responsible party. Many physicists and engineers do not.

  32. Phillip,

    Do they agree on the longterm effects of the problem? Do they agree on the severity? Do they agree on the best way to stop it? Do they agree on how much of the gloabal warming we are seeing is related to normal inter-glacial changes and how much is related to increased CO2 emissions?

  33. Mike -
    The answers to your questions are: Yes, Yes, Yes and Yes.

    Now, I realize that it grates on conservatives to hear it stated so bluntly, but rest assured that it is at least as exasperating for anyone who follows developments in climate science to hear it described dismissively as a “theory” that is “full of holes.”

    Go here to learn more. Pay special attention to the “Uncertainty Guidance Note” and keep in mind that uncertainty is not the same as disagreement.

    Now, back to the exasperation. The reason I and many others find climate denialism so annoying is that it seems so resistant to factual argument as to lack intellectual integrity.

    In my view, an honest conservative approach to climate change might sound something like this:

    I have been what most people call a conservative for all my adult life. I believe today, as I have for years, that social progress is the result of individual virtues: honesty, loyalty, courage, self-reliance. I believe that attempts by government to achieve progress by enforcement of those virtues are at best ineffective and at worst harmful. The issue of climate change concerns me because it seems a convenient excuse for those who would implement sweeping changes to the economy and seize power best left in private hands. I am troubled by the exaggerated and emotional arguments employed by environmental activists in an attempt to stampede the rest of society in their chosen direction.

    However, I also recognize that the physical world doesn’t care about my political leanings. It is my responsibility, as a citizen and as a rational human being, to try to find the truth without regard to what I hope it might be. I have reviewed the published climate science so far as I have time and ability to understand it. The scientific argument for global warming is compelling. Although there remains a good deal of uncertainty as to its severity and consequences, even the lower ends of those uncertainty bands are worrisome enough to warrant some action. Accordingly, I see it as my role to support public policies likely to mitigate the effects of human activities on climate, while I resist those policies likely to be extreme or inefficient. I decry the exaggerations and distortions of the science on both sides, whether it is the attribution of individual hurricanes to global warming, or campaigns aimed at discrediting the very idea of a scientific consensus. Honest liberals and conservatives can agree to play by the rules, and accept the facts as they are discovered, no matter what their political implications. Only by so doing can we build the broad support needed for effective action to meet the real challenges we face.

    Now, anyone voicing those sentiments shall be my brother; be he ne’er so right-wing. This post shall gentle his condition.

  34. I think you exaggerate the consensus greatly jre.

    Here’s another government link that carries some weight as well:

    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=83947f5d-d84a-4a84-ad5d-6e2d71db52d9

  35. didionsmommy · ·

    jre linked to a working-group report by the **INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE** administered cooperatively by the World Meterological Organization and the UN Environment Programme.

    and HE (!!!) is exaggerating the consensus?!

    mike, you link to a minority report from the senate environment and public works committee, where james inhofe (R-OK) is the ranking republican and about as big oil as it gets.

    the title page of the report is hilarious!

    it blazes (bold mine):

    U. S. Senate Minority Report: More Than 700 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims Scientists Continue to Debunk “Consensus” in 2008 & 2009

    (Updates Previous Report: “More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims”)

    Original Release: December 11, 2008
    Presented at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland

    Updated: December 22, 2008; January 27, 2009 & March 16, 2009

    (Update of the 2007 Report: “Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007”)

    wow! from 400 PROMINENT scientists to more than 650 INTERNATIONAL scientists and now more than 700 international scientists!!! impressive!

  36. How many were on the IPOCC DM?

    It’s amazing how the dissent gets ridiculed. The fact remains, a LOT of scientists are skeptical of either the reality of climate change, it’s longterm effects, or the proposals on how to deal with it. But once that liberal train leaves the station it’s hard to put on the brakes, isn’t it?

    Can anyone say TARP I?

  37. didionsmommy · ·

    the ipcc is an organization that provides meta-analysis. here is its mandate:

    The IPCC was established to provide the decision-makers and others interested in climate change with an objective source of information about climate change. The IPCC does not conduct any research nor does it monitor climate related data or parameters. Its role is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the latest scientific, technical and socio-economic literature produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change, its observed and projected impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. IPCC reports should be neutral with respect to policy, although they need to deal objectively with policy relevant scientific, technical and socio economic factors. They should be of high scientific and technical standards, and aim to reflect a range of views, expertise and wide geographical coverage.

    (and you have consistently referred to TARP as a liberal effort. TARP came at the gratuitous and adamant behest of the bush administration, particularly as the best legislation that could be assembled in response to henry paulson’s and ben bernanke’s “do this NOW or face IMMINENT and IRREVERSIBLE DOOM!!!!!!”

    further, many, many republicans were part of TARP negotiations EVERY STEP OF THE WAY. it was only a last minute jumping of ship by house republicans that all of a sudden ignited new populist rage.)

  38. TARP was rushed…just like the Stimulus Plan. That’s what happens when you think the sky is falling.

  39. didionsmommy · ·

    (give me a break. the cbo report — the one the republicans are creaming all over because of the tales of deficit doom under obama it foretells — says explicitly that if the stimulus plan were not enacted, things would be so very much worse than they are now. the problem with the stimulus is not that it was rushed; it is that it was too small and was too consumed by stimu-less tax cuts. but although too small, the stimulus bill has not failed.)

    let’s face it, you buy the GOP line that wait-and-see is the best policy towards climate change, that we will never be able to know how much man has contributed to it, if anything at all, and therefore, we shouldn’t fret about slowing the rate of climate change because it’s inevitable and natural anyway. your mind is made up.

    what kris, jello, philip, and — especially, jre have provided in this very interesting thread is insight on how to read and weigh scientific research. your expectation of 100% consensus is strange, especially in light of your complete non-support of I.D.

    also, i think your “theory full of holes” accusations sound very much like the arguments tobacco-company lawyers made throughout the decades of trials against their clients. in reading a lot of this thread, i have often thought you, mike, sound like an attorney for phillip morris.

  40. No you dint.

    Actually link approvingly to Marc Morano’s page at the Inhofe Senate site, I mean.

    When I saw that, I realized the cause was hopeless. If you really, honestly believe that page and the IPCC’s are in the same galaxy, then your capacity for self-delusion is far beyond my poor powers to persuade.

    As I read some of this, I was reminded of an excellent, thoughtful post by the libertarian blogger Julian Sanchez. He hits the nail on the head as to the difficulty of arguing with anyone who is more interested in talking points than evidence. Take-home quote:

    [A] general aversion to regulatory solutions has left libertarians too prone to hope the problem can be wished away as long as someone out there with a Ph.D. remains unconvinced. But it also seems as though, at least in recent years, they’ve grown out of that a bit and we’re starting to see more useful debates about exactly how bad it’s going to be, exactly how much cost is worth bearing to ameliorate or delay it to such and such an extent, and so on.

    Would that there were more like him.

  41. DM,

    I don’t advocate a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude at all. I advocate a ‘more research before we subvert the EPA and a host of other agencies to address a problem we don’t fully understand’ attitude.

    jre,

    The IPCC has been criticized openly by more than one former member as being overly-politicized. Their reports are written by scientists and politicians. How you put so much stock in a climate reports written by elected officials is a bit boggling in itself.

    As for the senate site, I’m well-aware of Morano’s reputation. Are the quotes he lists fabricated?

  42. Oh, for crying out loud. Care to point to one or more specific “climate reports written by elected officials”?

    This is what I’m talking about. Comparing a nakedly political grab-bag of complaints with an honest, detailed exposition of the state of climate science is like saying you doubt the Encyclopedia Britannica’s date for Elvis’ death because you just read an account of the King’s recent sighting in the Weekly World News and hey — was that quote fabricated?

    In other words, go ahead: say that you think Marc Morano is as credible as the IPCC. I dare you.

  43. didionsmommy · ·

    DM,

    I don’t advocate a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude at all. I advocate a ‘more research before we subvert the EPA and a host of other agencies to address a problem we don’t fully understand’ attitude.

    o.k., david brooks … explain to me the difference between these two …

    essentially what you are saying is that no policy should be initiated until the scientists are absolutely sure what is going on …

    i interpret that to mean you are looking for 100% consensus before the government takes action …

    how is that not ultimately a wait-and-see strategy? … considering there will NEVER be 100% consensus …

    face it, mike, this is the same approach you take on a lot of issues: gay marriage, adoption by gay couples being the two issues that come to mind right away … until you are absolutely sure the fabric of society is not going to completely unravel as a result of gay men marrying and adopting unwanted children, you cannot support either.

    it’s your prerogative to have this approach.

    likewise it is jre’s, kris’s, ames’, my, etc. right to want action now on climate change.

    and it is also our right to CORRECTLY believe our position is born out of careful scientific analysis and reasoned weighing of facts.

    and lucky for us, the pendulum has swung our way.

  44. From the BBC:

    The IPCC is an unusual organisation in that the evidence is supplied by scientists, but the summaries of its reports are agreed between scientists and representatives of governments.

    In other words, the language in the reports is scrubbed to meet the political desires of the governments involved. You might know that IPCC4 was almost derailed in a lengthy debate over language, lead by government officials.

    To address just one of your earlier statements. I asked, “Do they agree on how much of the gloabal warming we are seeing is related to normal inter-glacial changes and how much is related to increased CO2 emissions?”

    You answer was, yes.

    From John Christy, IPCC contributor and lead author on the 2001 IPCC report (emphasis mine):

    The signature statement of the 2007 IPCC report may be paraphrased as this: “We are 90% confident that most of the warming in the past 50 years is due to humans.”

    We are not told here that this assertion is based on computer model output, not direct observation. The simple fact is we don’t have thermometers marked with “this much is human-caused” and “this much is natural”.

    So, I would have written this conclusion as “Our climate models are incapable of reproducing the last 50 years of surface temperatures without a push from how we think greenhouse gases influence the climate. Other processes may also account for much of this change.”/i>

    In the same article Christy also points out how flawed the computer modeling is that the IPCC relies on.

  45. didionsmommy · ·

    and while we are concerned with protecting the sanctity of the EPA, not wanting to “subvert” it …

    might we remind ourselves of some of what a priority the agency was during W’s tenure …

    from WAPO in sept. ’07:

    The Environmental Protection Agency’s pursuit of criminal cases against polluters has dropped off sharply during the Bush administration, with the number of prosecutions, new investigations and total convictions all down by more than a third, according to Justice Department and EPA data.

    The slower pace of enforcement mirrors a decline in resources for pursuing environmental wrongdoing. The EPA now employs 172 investigators in its Criminal Investigation Division, below the minimum of 200 agents required by the 1990 Pollution Prosecution Act, signed by President George H.W. Bush.

    “Environmental crimes are simply not in the U.S. attorney top 10 priorities,” said one senior EPA official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the news media.

    Prosecutors counter that the EPA has fewer agents and is bringing them fewer cases. “We’re not turning away environmental crimes in order to prosecute other crimes. They are just not being presented in the first case,” said Don DeGabrielle, the U.S. attorney in Houston.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/29/AR2007092901759_2.html?sid=ST2007093000317

    and who can forget PHILIP COONEY (a former lobbyist for the american petroleum institute), W’s chief of staff of the “council on environmental quality” who had to resign his post after ALTERING “government climate reports to downplay scientific consensus about climate change.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Cooney

  46. So – as you correctly point out DM – governmental agencies can be impacted by politically-drive agendas. Likewise, ‘scientific’ reports can be impacted by those same politics.

    John Christy shares one anectdotal story of hearing IPCC scientists saying, “We need to make this sound really bad so the US signs on to the Kyoto Protocol”

    Everyone has an agenda. Given the uncertainty of climate modeling and the diversity of opinion among IPCC contributors as to the effects of global warming, prudance dictates not shaping US policies around climate change. As I said earlier, if the Left wants to push for pollution controls, why not use more solid data, like health effects? I’ve never advocated doing nothing, nor have I ever advocated we not protect the environment. Once upon a time when you visited my blog you might have stumbled across this:

    http://progressconservative.com/2008/11/19/taking-the-environment-back/

    Here’s a quote:

    The truth is that sometimes companies, even well-intentioned companies, harm the environment. The close association of conservatives with business means we also get a black eye when Acme Manufacturing dumps toxic waste into a public landfill or when Acme Oil spills a million gallons of crude into Hudson Bay. If we are going to take credit for the success of businesses then we must also share the blame when they pollute.

    It is my belief that conservatives do not necessarily have to push for new environmental regulations for businesses but we must be leaders on enforcement. We must also be open to regulation when it becomes necessary. Our previously fierce opposition to any new regulation has put us at odds with the goals of some well-intentioned conservationists. Many conservationists want to protect the environment from the few companies out there that knowingly or unknowingly do it harm.

    Right or wrong, the perception among many Americans is that conservatives (i.e. Republicans) will always favor business over environmental concerns. We are doing little to dispell this notion when we refuse to acknowledge even the possibility that man-made pollution may be impacting the planet in some way. We also give the appearance of being in bed with oil companies when we do little to spur innovation in the area of alternative fuels. We lose potential allies when we use profit as an excuse for de-regulating industries that are chronic polluters.

  47. didionsmommy · ·

    that’s all well and good, mike … nice words backed up by what i assume to be down-the-ticket votes for republican candidates who ARE in bed with the oil companies, etc.

    at no point in this ENTIRE thread have you ever once given any indication that hey, there might be something really substantive here. instead you have given the possibility that climate change might be 99% natural and 1% manmade equal weight to the probability man’s impact is much, much greater. (further, if you read climate-change modeling, they talk about the “push” they are applying … it’s the whole basis of the modeling!!!)

    bottom line, while you say some nice, pie-in-the-sky things on your blog, your party isn’t listening, and until party members like you walk your own talk, the GOP is never going to listen.

  48. DM, I’ve never voted a straight ticket in my life. As for politicians ‘in bed with big oil’…the President and the Sec. of State took over $500,000 from Big Oil during the Presidential campaign. And Big Oil does not = pollution. To the contrary, their environmental record is pretty good and continually improving (directional drilling?).

    What i have consistently stated is that there isn’t enough certainty on climate change to shape policy around it. i stand by that. one can be a champion of the environment and still not be on the global warming bandwagon. Those aren’t mutually dependent positions. As for walking the walk, i donate quite a bit of money yearly to environmental protection, plus the volunteer time i log with DU, QU and the state. How much are you doing other than environmentally-friendly kitchen remodels?

  49. didionsmommy · ·

    i’m done with this conversation.

    jre, i hope you come back to participate in future discussions. you and philip — as scientists — offer a lot, and readers can learn a great deal from your contributions.

  50. The decided turn to the personal here is unfortunate. Bad form, Mike. As to your substantive points, what we have is a matter of error deflection. Assuming without conceding that man-made global warming is “uncertain,” would you prefer to accidentally spend money, or accidentally irrevocably ruin a planet?

  51. Thanks, didionsmommy and ACG. By the way, my last comment (regarding attribution and climate models) never appeared, though your site noticed when I tried to submit it a second time. Ah, the mysteries.

    I can speak only for myself, but Mike’s “turn to the personal” seemed more silly than offensive, and I wouldn’t want to see him held back in his comments. Although (as you may have figured out) I have no respect for the intellectual honesty of his arguments, I do admire his willingness to step into the lion’s den, and hope that he does not feel turned away.

    There’s also a selfish reason for my saying this, which is that I treasure the freedom to be blunt. In the past, I regret to say that I’ve sunk to a Peggy Noonanish level of coarseness — a weakness I hope I’ve overcome. On the other hand, it’s important for me to be able to describe a particularly weak or deceptive statement as “baloney” or “hogwash.” Or, in the case of some contributions to the present thread, as a fetid, reeking, sky-high pile of hooey.

    There. Well, I feel better, anyway.

  52. Oh Ames – give me a break. DM posted those details in her public blog. It’s there for consumption. She felt okay making inferences about my ‘personal’ voting habits and my lack of ‘walking the talk’. I merely pointed out that I don’t see a lot of environmentally friendly activity from her. It’s also hard to take your sensitivity seriously when you make such a habit of attacking everyone from Schaflay to Glenn Beck.

    jre,

    My comments are 100% ‘intellectually honest’. I think it’s more honest to admit to doubt than ignore it. Not to derail this conversation in another direction, but it’s interesting to me how valuable dissent was to the anti-war folks in 2003 but so roundly criticized today.

  53. My comments are 100% ‘intellectually honest’.

    I beg to differ. From the Smithsonian anecdote, to the “hundreds of scientists who don’t think it’s a longterm threat” to the citing of Morano’s list, to the claim that ““climate reports [were] written by elected officials” you have displayed a fierce and unshakable determination to reject any evidence contrary to your views, and an eagerness to fasten on any factoid, however flimsy, that might support them.

    Consider, for a moment, how creationists prosecute their losing battle with evolutionary biology: they inflate trivial problems into paradigm-shifting crises; they manufacture lists of (non-biologist) scientists to dispute the science; they complain that the science has been politicized and that their guys have been persecuted.

    I will submit that this is exactly how climate denialists operate, and how you have argued in this thread. I will also restate my own opinion — that it is fundamentally intellectually dishonest to do so.

  54. What I am pointing out isw that there is a lot of alternate info out there. How do you explain the points made by John Christy, who is not a ‘climate change denialist’ but IS critical of the IPCC process that you seem to think is the Gospel and has pointed out very real flaws in the climate modeling being relied on? Christy is a very real scientist who isn’t denying climate change but IS denying the hype.
    You’ve yet to demonstrate that the quotes from scientists that Morano lists are fabricated. Are they?

    Christy points out in his statement above that there is no way to determine how much of global warming is man-made and how much is normal inter-glacial warming. You said that we CAN determine that. Which one of you is correct?

    If you want to talk about ‘intellectual honesty’ then address the skepticism. Don’t just keep beating on the IPCC report and pretending it’s a closed case.

    If we were talking ID this would be an easier conversation. I have a degree in anthropology so i have plenty of experience with evolutionary biology. talking climate change means i have to rely on what i read. what i read is a convincing case for climate change but also a lot of honesty from some of those scientists who admit that climate change science is very hard and there is a lot we don’t know. the meat of our disagreement is not about the reality of climate change, it’s about the lack of certainty surrounding the specifics. ‘Intellectual honesty’ would at least allow you to admit there’s a diversity of opinions among even those who contributed to the IPCC.

  55. Let’s take your points in order:

    1) As we both know, there is a staggering amount of “alternate info” available online on any subject. Staying sane in a wired world depends critically on one’s ability to assess the quality and reliability of information. I use heuristics such as:
    Does this source appear to have an axe to grind?
    Do I have independent confirmation of anything from this source?
    Do other sources I respect also respect this source?
    Does the tone and style of this source indicate that he/she/it is trying to be careful and accurate?
    Is the information from this source broadly consistent with everything else I think I know?

    On these and other criteria I will step right up and say that I think the IPCC reports are pretty good sources of information. Not “the Gospel”, but probably the best available summary of what we presently know about climate. One reason is that the IPCC, since its inception in 1988, has been careful to state bounds of uncertainty for its estimates and predictions. These were quite broad in the beginning, and have become narrower as understanding of science has improved. Another reason is that the underlying research is there for all to see. You can read the bibliography for the IPCC report, get the papers, read them, choose some cites, read them, and repeat the process until you understand enough or you can’t stand it any longer.

    Of course, the IPCC only reports a summary of research already published. If you think the IPCC’s report distorts the science for political reasons (it doesn’t, but let’s suppose that you think that), there’s nothing stopping you from reading the original stuff. In fact, for the next round of this dialogue I think I’ll do a search for “climate change” on Science, and report what I find. After that, the fun is just beginning. There are hundreds of peer-reviewed climate-related journals out there.

    What “alternate info” would you consider more reliable than the sources I’ve mentioned?

    2) You have cited John Christy — excellent! We both know that you did not pick his name out of a hat. Christy is a respected climate scientist and, with Richard Lindzen and Roy Spencer, among that handful of active climatologists considered to be contrarians. It is possible to quote-mine Christy, and come up with something that seems to challenge the consensus. It is also easy, for example, to find this:

    “It is scientifically inconceivable that after changing forests into cities, turning millions of acres into irrigated farmland, putting massive quantities of soot and dust into the air, and putting extra greenhouse gases into the air, that the natural course of climate has not changed in some way.” (“Earth warming at faster pace, say top science group’s leaders” SF Chronicle, December 18, 2003

    Christy’s estimates of expected warming are at the low end for climate professionals, but does not claim that the climate is not warming, or that human activities have no effect on it. He has been critical of the IPCC’s release process, but even he does not claim that any IPCC report (including the one for which he was a lead author) was “written by elected officials.” You have chosen one of the most extreme and intensely political figures in the climate science community (over the hundreds of others you might have picked instead) and even he does not support your case.

    3) You ask

    You’ve yet to demonstrate that the quotes from scientists that Morano lists are fabricated. Are they?

    to which I can only respond you have got to be kidding me.

    Do you believe for an instant that Marc Morano was trying to shed light on the topic, or do you think he searched all over for anyone — anyone — who would give him a quote he could use? How much credence do you think we should give to the statements of climate luminaries such as Louis Hissink and Zbigniew Jaworowski? How valuable do you figure that list is to anyone trying to learn more about climate science? Take the Morano list and put it up beside the IPCC report and consider the insanity of trying to equate the two as sources of information. And you figure it’s a telling point to demand to know whether Morano’s quotes are “fabricated.” Do you even know enough to be embarrassed?

    4) Of course there is a “diversity of opinion” among climate scientists. It is a rich and active field. It would be astonishing if it did not contain a broad spectrum of views. But on the broad outlines of what we know there is substantial agreement. To recap: the majority of climate scientists agree that the globe is warming, that human activities have been for decades the primary cause of this warming, and that if we continue on our present course the consequences are likely to be adverse. Don’t take my word for it. Go look in the scientific literature and see if that’s not true. Think about what intellectual honesty demands in the light of what you’ve found. And if, understandably, you don’t have the time to try to become a climatologist, call on your anthropology degree and ask yourself how you would respond if someone threw up that Discovery Institute list of scientists who don’t believe in evolution, and then demanded that you say whether those quotes are fabricated.

  56. Let’s just keep this simple:

    I asked you to explain why you are correct that we CAN measure the amount of global warming attributable to humans and Christy is wrong. If you could answer that question it would be productive.

    As to the Morano quotes, why not just keep it simple and instead of talking in circles make a declaritive statement that sounds something like, “The Morano quotes are real but I don’t respect the sources..” Then you can explain why others know more than someone like Jaworowski.

  57. In the case of the Morano list, I thought the reasons for my contempt were obvious. But OK; let’s spell them out. In compiling a list of climate skeptics and their comments, Morano’s motives were openly political. Anyone can get on the list, so long as the quote is juicy. Here’s a sample:

    Meteorologist Chris Allen of Kentucky Fox affiliate WBKO dismissed what he termed “consensus nonsense” on global warming. “But, just because major environmental groups, big media and some politicians are buying this hook, line and sinker doesn’t mean as a TV weatherperson I am supposed to act as a puppy on a leash and follow along,”

    Now, I don’t have anything against Chris Allen, but he’s a TV weatherman, for crying out loud. And he is just one of the “400 International Scientists” who dispute the consensus on global warming. Here’s another sample:

    Gwyn Prins of the London School of Economics and Steve Rayner of Oxford authored a report prominently featured in the UK journal Nature in October 2007 calling on the UN to “radically rethink climate policy,” and they cautioned against a “bigger” version of Kyoto with even more draconian provisions.

    But Steve Rayner is highly cheesed that Morano included him in the list, and has asked (so far unsuccessfully) to be removed. From a NYT article April 9th:

    Dr. Rayner, however, in no way disputes the existence of global warming or that human activity contributes to it, as the report implies. In e-mail messages, he said that he had asked to be removed from the Morano report and that a staff member in Mr. Inhofe’s office had promised that he would be. He called his inclusion on the list “quite outrageous.”

    Asked about Dr. Rayner, Mr. Morano was unmoved. He said that he had no record of Dr. Rayner’s asking to be removed from the list and that the doctor must be “not to be remembering this clearly.”

    Many of Morano’s quotes were from unqualified sources. Others were brutally ripped from context. All were chosen not to inform or enlighten, but to make a political case. Do you want me to go on? Because I would really, really enjoy talking about the Morano list

    As to the question of measuring “the amount of global warming attributable to humans”, go here and thumb to pages 38-41. You’ll find several paragraphs summarizing the present state of our knowledge with explicit statements of confidence and a couple of figures. Here’s the caption for figure 2.4:

    Global average radiative forcing (RF) in 2005 (best estimates and 5 to 95% uncertainty ranges) with respect to 1750 for CO2, CH4, N2O and other
    important agents and mechanisms, together with the typical geographical extent (spatial scale) of the forcing and the assessed level of scientific understanding
    (LOSU). Aerosols from explosive volcanic eruptions contribute an additional episodic cooling term for a few years following an eruption. The range for
    linear contrails does not include other possible effects of aviation on cloudiness.

    It sounds as if climate scientists do have a pretty good idea of how much warming is due to natural and anthropogenic forcings.

    Now have a look at Figure 2.5:

    Comparison of observed continental- and global-scale changes in surface temperature with results simulated by climate models using either
    natural or both natural and anthropogenic forcings. Decadal averages of observations are shown for the period 1906-2005 (black line) plotted against the
    centre of the decade and relative to the corresponding average for the 1901-1950. Lines are dashed where spatial coverage is less than 50%. Blue shaded
    bands show the 5 to 95% range for 19 simulations from five climate models using only the natural forcings due to solar activity and volcanoes. Red shaded
    bands show the 5 to 95% range for 58 simulations from 14 climate models using both natural and anthropogenic forcings.

    It appears that, pace John Christy, the “computer model output” is credited explicitly. The models are already quite good (as gauged by the accuracy of hindcasts) and getting better all the time. Note also that the estimates of natural and anthropogenic forcings do not rest on individual runs from a single model, but on ensembles of runs from as many as 14 models. Saying that the attribution of climate change to its respective forcings is based on “flawed” computer modeling is a bogus objection, given the success of these models and the agreement among them.

    Yes, the community of climate scientists agrees as to how much warming (within a band of uncertainty) may be attributed to anthropogenic forcings. Computer models were already good in 2001 (as acknowledged in the report co-authored by John Christy) and much better today.

  58. I’m not sure why it is so hard to distill your thoughts into a couple sentences.

    Let me see if I can summarize and maybe you can just answer yay or nay.

    1) The Morano list is flawed because many of the sources are suspect.

    2) Christy is wrong and yes, we CAN determine how much of global warming is man-made and how much is naturally occuring.

    Are those two statements accurate reflections of your feelings or do you another 778 words to try and answer two straight-forward questions?

  59. We can do better than that:

    1) The Morano list is worse than flawed for many reasons, one of which is that many of the sources are suspect.

    2) You have misunderstood Christy, and yes, we can determine how much warming is man-made and how much is natural.

  60. So let’s ignore the Morano list. How about this one?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scientists_opposing_global_warming_consensus

    A lot of these guys have some pretty impressive-sounding credintials. Care to comment on them?

    As for Christy, I disagree. His comments were very straight-forward. he says the models are flawed and there is no way to measure the amount of man-made global warming. But since I’m not a climatologist, why don’t you enlighten me? How am I misinterpreting him?

  61. Not so fast.

    Now that I’ve answered two direct questions from you, in as few words as I could muster, you owe me two:

    1) Do you believe that there was a scientific consensus in the 1970s that the globe was cooling?

    2) Do you believe that there are hundreds of climate scientists who don’t think global warming is a long-term threat?

    Feel free to use a few extra words if you want.

  62. 1) No. I don’t believe in using ‘consensus’ when referring to climate study.

    2) I don’t have a count on the number of scientists. The number keeps seeming to grow though. Am I am extremely impressed with the credentials of many climate change skeptics.

  63. 1) Good! We may then dismiss your link at #23, stating

    [T]he “scientific consensus” on global climate change has been much more variable than the climate.

    as so much smoke.

    2) Even better! We may also dismiss your repeated assertions that “hundreds of scientists” disagree with the basics of global warming as more smoke.

    The picture is beginning to clear. Now, I assume that those skeptics in Wikipedia are among those with whose credentials you are “extremely impressed.” Correct me if I’m wrong. I have had a look at the list, and if you believe me on anything, believe this — at least one of us is about to have a lot of fun!

  64. I’m still waiting for an explaination of why Christy is wrong and you are right. Before you start trying to discredit a whole bunch of your fellow scientists (you must be one hell of a scientist to be able to do so) maybe you could just try and explain your superiority over one of them?

  65. Here’s a hint: Go back and read your Christy quote. Then read the detection and attribution section from the IPCC AR4.

  66. I didn’t ask for a reading assignment. I asked you to explain why you are right and Christy is wrong. At this point I’ve asked 3 or 4 times with no direct response. Are you sure you don’t want to throw in the towel on that point?

    While skimming the IPCC report I DID find this quote, which was interesting:

    Difficulties remain in reliably simulating and attributing observed
    temperature changes to natural or human causes at smaller
    than continental scales.

  67. Yes — you do not want a reading assignment. But that is just my point. This is a big and complex topic. It is difficult to understand in detail, although the basics may be mastered without too much trouble. You want to discuss it without studying it, and who can blame you? You resent even the implication that others understand it better than you do, and may have some objective basis for opposing your political views on the subject. That’s only human nature. But Mike — you’ve gotta try to learn something. Otherwise you’re stuck.

  68. When I was in college we were encouraged to read all kinds of stuff. When we found positions that conflicted with something our professors had mentioned usually the professor took the time to explain himself. They didn’t say, “Now read this report and see if you can figure out why I am right and they are wrong.”

    The point is that I asked YOU to explain why you know more than Christy on the subject I mentioned. Asking me to read through a 52 page report and locate your answer is laziness if nothing else.

    Maybe you see this as some sort of guided teaching opportunity, but I finished school a long time ago. If you want to back up your claims, please do it directly.

  69. You don’t have to read 52 pages and locate anything. I pointed you to pp. 38-41 back in #58. Mike, it’s less than four pages. and half of the material is in pictures. You won’t read that much. You won’t even read one of my comments all the way through , and you accuse me of laziness. I’ll give you points for chutzpah, at least.

    I will be happy to shed what little light I can on the Christy quote, but only when you have some background.

  70. Please correct me if I am wrong but the report doesn’t seem to have a table of contents. How would I find that info without skimming the entire report?

    I really don’t have the energy for this conversation. I asked you to explain yourself, you refuse. I’m done. Feel free to raise your hands in victory if it makes you feel better. If I wanted homework I would go back to school.

  71. How would I find that info without skimming the entire report?

    By going to pages 38-41. Sheesh.

    I am actually kind of interested in picking up the Christy question again at some point, but there is a larger issue here that deserves some discussion, viz.:

    Principled, informed alternate points of view on climate policy have been drowned out by the goofball right wing.

    Harking back to the opening post, recall that John Boehner said

    [T]he idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical.

    with a straight face, as if we were having a discussion as to whether carbon dioxide is a carcinogen. Michelle Bachmann (R-Mars) has said similar things, but even sillier. James Inhofe once called the late Michael Crichton to advise his senate committee on climate.

    Watch Energy Secretary Steven Chu patiently explain to Joe Barton how “all that oil got up there” and it’s a little like seeing a teacher try to get a point across to a slow second-grader. An extremely powerful second-grader.

    I think this is a problem, and here’s why. We in the US, like everyone else in the world, need to make some decisions damn soon on what, if anything, we are going to do about climate change. We can’t duck it; not deciding is the same as deciding to do nothing. Decisions with that kind of impact ought to be made with the informed participation of the entire political spectrum. But we now have an entire segment of that spectrum just splitting off and deciding to create its own reality. I suspect this is a direct result of the great disinformation campaign started in the 1990s by the carbon industries and patterned after the tobacco lobby. That campaign continues to poison the climate discussion, and it has now isolated the true believers to the point that their views are increasingly irrelevant. Marc Morano’s baloney is sliced thin and well packaged, but it is still baloney, and most people have come to recognize it immediately.

    If you’re an advocate of immediate and vigorous action on climate, the temptation is to say “WOO HOO! The loonies have built their OWN BIN! We have the votes, now let’s fix things!” But I think there is a real danger that, once principled opposition has vanished, action on climate will be poorly thought out, inefficient and festooned with Christmas tree ornaments to please every faction. Like John Rogers, I miss Republicans. I wish we had some of them back.

    So, OK –it was fun to refute some of your goofier arguments, the “hundreds of scientists”, the global cooling consensus, the “written by elected officials.”

    I look forward at some point to talking about glacial retreat and Christy’s thermometer.

    But, after the entertainment is over, I find myself troubled that there are smart people out there who not only do not respect the scientific enterprise, they have forgotten that it is even possible to respect it.

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