McKibben: Don’t Think About Climate Change

Bill McKibbon’s recent op-ed in the Washington Post: A link between climate change and Joplin tornadoes? Never!

48 Responses to “McKibben: Don’t Think About Climate Change”

  1. enkidu Says:

    nothing to see here folks, move along, move along…

    http://www.itif.org/files/2010-green-economy-myths.pdf

    The latest issue of Scientific American just dropped and there is an interview with ‘climate skeptic’ Rich Muller. My nine year old really enjoys SA, and probably understands more of it than say wwnj.

    I’m a skeptic about climate change, but I am waaaay more skeptical about the motivations of the anti-climate changers (perhaps not the same folks as the outnout deniers). I’m also even more skeptical that we don’t need to do anything (nothing to see here folks, move along, move along…)

  2. NorthernLite Says:

    You know, for me, it really all just boils down to my basic human instinct. There’s just something inside me — along with a little basic comprehension of science — that tells me that pumping billions of tonnes of a greenhouse gas into the atmosphere for decades is going to have some sort of effect on this planet and how it functions.

    That’s just a conclusion I came to quite a while ago before the issue ever became so political and polarizing. And I’m still confident in the conclusion I’ve come to.

  3. shcb Says:

    But the question is how much of an effect, using beetle kill as proof doesn’t give me a lot of confidence.

  4. knarlyknight Says:

    “using beetle kill as proof”

    What an idiot.

  5. shcb Says:

    How so?

  6. shcb Says:

    You see, the problem is you and Bill don’t understand the pine beetle, no problem there, I’m no expert either, but I know enough through life experiences for that statement to raise a red flag and then it’s just a matter of reading and thinking a little.

    The pine beetle is an integral part of the life cycle of a healthy forest, fire is another. Pine trees are fast growing and short lived, the beetle speeds up the death of the pine tree by killing it after the gets 40 years old or so, this allows the other vegetation to have a chance at sunlight. So now we have this stand of dead trees, enter fire. A fire burns a section of the deadwood killing many of the beetle, slowing down the beetle infestation. In a natural forest this leads to a patchwork of different trees, bushes etc.

    Now we bring Smokey the Bear into the picture, we fight every fire, we save the trees and bingo, we have a beetle infestation that kills 80% of the trees in a huge area as it did from about 1935 to 1945 in Canada. We’ve gotten a little better at controlling the beetle since then, mainly through prescribed burns so it looks like this infestation will result in a lower percentage of trees being killed than many decades ago. But high temps are just a contributing factor here, not a cause. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out there were mild winters in that area back in the 30s too.

  7. NorthernLite Says:

    From BC Parks:

    This epidemic is the result of a number of factors including natural beetle population cycles, continuous mild winters, and an abundance of uniformly mature pine forest stands.

    Q. Why do we have this epidemic and will the forests be destroyed?

    The epidemic is largely occurring because of favourable climatic conditions and favourable stands of pine.

    Q. When will this epidemic end?

    Severe prolonged cold weather or a loss of host trees is the only way to stop the spread of mountain pine beetle.

    —-

    Using shcb’s method of “reading and thinking a little” I’ve come to the conclusion that a prolonged warmer climate is the cause of the infestation and that only severe prolonged cold weather or the complete loss of trees is the only way it can be stopped.

  8. shcb Says:

    So you’re just going to ignore the uniform pine forest part?

  9. knarlyknight Says:

    shcb – Seems worse to just ignore the climate change part as you did.

  10. NorthernLite Says:

    No I wasn’t ignoring it, that’s why it was included in the top quote. I just wanted to highlight the parts that I think are key and more relevant to the topic: climate change.

  11. NorthernLite Says:

    I could’ve pulled a Sean Hannity and just cut uniform pine forest part out ya know :)

  12. knarlyknight Says:

    I got an interesting letter from the Premier, she seems to want to weigh in on this discussion:

    Climate change is having a major impact on B.C., whether it is the devastation of our forests by the mountain pine beetle, the impact on our water supply due to melting glaciers, or extreme weather events.

    http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/downloads/Letter_to_editor_May6-2011.pdf

  13. shcb Says:

    Ok guys, the difference here is what comes after the little line in NL’s 8:55am post. This is the same tactic that my old East Coast liberal friends used to use. They would say “there are some that say…” this give them the cover to deny being one of those “they” if the opponent makes a good point. Yes NL used the uniform forests in his quote but he didn’t even mention in his conclusion.

    But be that as it may, so NL thinks climate change is responsible and I think changing the natural pattern of forest growth is the primary reason the beetle kill is worse than it would have been without man’s intervention. We both have conceded man has an impact and we have both conceded beetle kill in Canada has been going on since before man even existed in Canada (save a few Indians).

    This still doesn’t change the main point, man made global warming started in the 1980′s if you believe the Faithfull’s priests, that is when we started pumping in so much co2 that we changed the whole atmosphere. But a major infestation happened a half century before that! Now what happened in that time frame? The Dust Bowl (1930-1936); now I haven’t looked up temperatures in Canada for that period but it would make sense that they were high during a drought of epic proportions. I don’t know what NL’s reasoning is but I think mine is pretty solid.

  14. shcb Says:

    Knarly, Ms Clark seems to be at odds with the Canadian Park Service where I have been getting my information. They don’t refer to this climate change being anything that can mitigated by taxes. They seem to think the best way to combat the beetle is to burn the forests, putting more carbon into the atmosphere. Is she going to tax the forest service?

  15. knarlyknight Says:

    You criticize NL then in the next post pull a stunt like this?

    Where does the Cdn Park say that climate change cannot be mitigated by adjusting taxes?

    Combating the beetle short term by burning infested forests is not the same as fighting climate change.

    As for taxing the forest service, two points: (1) forests are a renewable resource and on a net basis forests in BC are a carbon sink, so there is no reason to tax them; (2) as part of the provincial government the forest service would have to meet carbon emission limits by mandate, taxation doesn’t enter into it.

  16. shcb Says:

    The park service seems to be very careful to not blame this infestation on AGW, they seem to go out of their way to call the warming weather, and of course if this warming is natural taxation isn’t going to cure anything, we’re kind of edging into a when did you stop beating your wife discussion here.

    That last post was sort of tongue in cheek, I don’t think you caught the spirit of it. The park service seems to understand the problem isn’t man driving cars, it is man fighting too many fires. The remedy is to mimic nature by introducing fire in a controlled manner.

    The politician understands that to get reelected she needs to be seen as the savior of the forest and the way to do that with her base is to tax someone, anyone. But the people that are actually saving the forest are using a tactic that should under her plan be taxed. The trees they are burning are dead, they don’t produce any oxygen. Of course it makes no sense for government to tax itself, just like it makes no sense to give people that pay no taxes a tax break. That is the tongue and cheek part.

  17. knarlyknight Says:

    the forest service knows it is not its mandate to issue policy statements on climate change.

  18. NorthernLite Says:

    Well the WHO just released a report that says there very likely is a link between certain types of brain cancers and cell phone use.

    Is this just another socialist scheme to make us, um, stop using cell phones?

    FYI, the indsutrial revolution didn’t begin in the 80s lol. Wow.

  19. knarlyknight Says:

    “The trees they are burning are dead, they don’t produce any oxygen.”

    As each pine forest area is burned and replanted, it becomes a carbon sink again, and rates of carbon uptake eventually become greater as trees are growing than they are when a forest is mature. Overall carbon balance for an area should balance out if comparable re-growth occurs.

    But shcb is confusing cause and effect. The destruction of pine forests is a symptom of climate change, not a human induced change that must be taxed.

  20. shcb Says:

    “the forest service knows it is not its mandate to issue policy statements on climate change” and NASA has that mandate?

    NL, is there a controversy involving the dosage of radiation of cell phones?

    The priests have said AGW started in the 1980s, they kind of have to since they said we were headed for a nuclear winter just a few years before that.

    Are you going to blame the dust bowl on AGW?

    “But shcb is confusing cause and effect. The destruction of pine forests is a symptom of climate change, not a human induced change that must be taxed.” but you think climate change is human induced don’t you? So that would make the destruction of the pine forests human induced. Clark wants to tax climate change out of existence because she seems to think it (and the pine beetle) are human induced.

  21. NorthernLite Says:

    NL, is there a controversy involving the dosage of radiation of cell phones?

    Yes. The cell phone manufacturers say there’s no harm, but medical and radiation experts say there’s strong evidence. I tend to trust the experts in the field.

    Kind of like the fossil fuel industry telling us that increased CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are not causing climate change, but climatologists say there’s strong evidence that it does. I tend to trust the experts in the field.

    Yup. I tend to trust the experts in the field.

  22. shcb Says:

    You were certainly ahead of me on this one. My wife was flipping through the channels last night and the news was talking about this WHO report. I told here to go back! Go back! She asked me why but I couldn’t really tell here we were talking about it here, she thinks this little blog is a colossal waste of time, she’s pretty smart.

    One cancer expert from CSU they had on just kind of smiled and said there simply isn’t enough study to tell one way or the other. But this isn’t new, they have limited the power a handheld transmitter can produce for years, both CB and marine radios are limited to 5 watts as I recall and a hand held cell phone was limited to .6 watts (again from memory). This was considered a safe amount under normal usage. If you’re worried text, use a headset or the speaker phone feature.

    I don’t think anyone is talking about taxing the rich and giving to the poor over this issue at any rate so it isn’t really applicable to the socialistic aspect of AGW.

    Remember the WHO is 3 billion short of it’s 4 billion goal of donations from UN countries so they may just be wanting to make themselves relevant to get their coffers filled.

  23. NorthernLite Says:

    I don’t think anyone is talking about taxing the rich and giving to the poor over either issue.

    It’s just an example of scientific experts raising a red flag over something that is harmful and choosing whether to trust them or to trust the folks that would happen to be negatively impacted by what science has discovered.

  24. shcb Says:

    Sure they are! What do you think cap and trade and Kyoto are all about! Neither does much to reduce greenhouse gasses because China and India will ignore them and drastically exceed anything we save. Then the money that was taken from the industrialized countries was going to be funneled to the non industrialized countries with a little skimmed as a “handling fee”. Thank god Clinton saw Kyoto for what it was. In the case of cap and trade it’s just done on a more local level. Science has little to with either issue, other than science being hijacked.

  25. NorthernLite Says:

    Yeah yeah, just like you and Bush said – you can’t go green because it will destroy your economy and transfer wealth to China… thank gawd THAT didn’t happen eh…

    China is actually doing a lot more than many right-wingers think.

    The average temp is Canada has been rising for 25 years in a row; the last three years have been the hottest on record and they’re forcasting this summer to be another scorcher.

    Warmer temps means more violent weather – tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and more intense hurricanes.

    You reap what you sow my friend.

    There, I’m done.

  26. shcb Says:

    Yeah, the Chinese are quite environmentally friendly, I really mean that, but they are fighting a losing battle. Sure the people want to do the right thing, but they also want mobility and wealth and that uses energy.

  27. shcb Says:

    So what makes you so sure the Co2 makes the temps go up rather than the temps going up makes the Co2 level rise? Or a slinky effect, the temp go up making more Co2, which rises the temps, which makes more Co3… I was reading a piece yesterday, well, looking at the purdy pitchures more than reading since time was limited and those scientific papers use words and concepts people that use words like purdy find difficult to understand. That and most of the paper was about how they did the testing rather than their conclusions.

    The graphs went back about 5 million years (or a half million, don’t remember how many zeros there were). The Co2 levels almost paralleled the temps over that period. What I thought was interesting was the researchers thought the current high temps and Co2 levels were caused by human activity but the last 5 or 6 events that were very cyclical and way, way before the industrial revolution or 1980 were caused by things like wobble and rotation, in other words, the sun.

  28. NorthernLite Says:

    So what makes you so sure the Co2 makes the temps go up rather than the temps going up makes the Co2 level rise?

    The vast majority of scientific evidence by climate researchers.

  29. shcb Says:

    You mean theories of researchers based on evidence.

  30. NorthernLite Says:

    That sounds good to me. That’s what science is and when I see overwhelming consensus from the experts in the community I tend to follow their advice.

    Science has saved my mothers life and provided me with a great career, so I have to have faith in it.

  31. shcb Says:

    That’s what I’m seeing with this issue is people have a lot of faith in science, and the more you are involved in science the more faith you have. I suppose it’s the same as police have more faith in police officers being good and honest public servants than others. Same with military people, the past president of our HOA is a Viet Nam vet, chopper pilot. He and I were talking once and something I said made him assume I was in the military. After that I was on a different level in his eyes, I was trusted even though his new found trust was based on a white lie, I never actually said I was military, but I didn’t say I wasn’t either.

    I have read and heard interviews with so many people that have grave concerns about the way research was handled on this issue and yet they still believe the conclusions are accurate. It seems they feel the system itself is so strong that it can’t be circumvented. Maybe they (and you) are right but I just don’t think so in this case. I’m gong to have to read the articles I was referring to better because it seems they are doing the same thing, their research shows one thing but they profess to believe another because it is conventional wisdom.

    And don’t get me wrong, I believe in science and the scientific method, I use it most every day, but it can be circumvented, sometimes on purpose, sometimes by accident and other times just by shoddy workmanship.

    You say your mother has been saved twice, that’s great, my dad too. But I have seen arrogance almost kill a 16 year old girl when they left a staple inside her after an operation. All the paperwork had been filled out, the staples had been accounted for, the system said there was no way a staple was inside her. They treated her with massive doses of antibiotics for almost two days, wouldn’t even take an xray because the doctors trusted the system. Eventually they did open her back up and find the staple, she was better the next day.

  32. Anithil Says:

    I’m glad she was okay. But if you’re offering the staple story as a metaphor for how people are accepting “conventional wisdom” on AGW, then I don’t think it’s a very good one. The medical system in hospitals can be screwed up in so many ways, and doctors miscommunicate and make decisions based on trusting the system all the time, from personal experience. But I don’t think this applies to how climatologists are following the scientific method. The way diagnoses are made in hospitals can be very, very different from the way a scientific method is followed from a climate research standpoint.

    Who has grave concerns about the way research was conducted while still believing the conclusions are accurate? Specifically? And why do they have grave concerns about the way research was conducted if they still believe the conclusions are accurate?

  33. Anithil Says:

    I’m glad she was okay. But if you’re offering the staple story as a metaphor for how people are accepting “conventional wisdom” on AGW, then I don’t think it’s a very good one. The medical system in hospitals can be screwed up in so many ways, and doctors miscommunicate and make decisions based on trusting the system all the time, from personal experience. But I don’t think this applies to how climatologists are following the scientific method. The way diagnoses are made in hospitals can be very, very different from the way a scientific method is followed from a climate research standpoint.

    Who has grave concerns about the way research was conducted while still believing the conclusions are accurate? Specifically? And why do they have grave concerns about the way research was conducted if they still believe the conclusions are accurate?

  34. shcb Says:

    Analogies aren’t exact, if they were they wouldn’t be analogies. I think it is appropriate though. Research can be screwed up just as many ways as misdiagnosis in a hospital, probably more

    Roger Pielke Sr., Dr Grey (can’t remember his first name) and to a less extent Pielke Sr.’s son Jr.

    I’m not sure if I know the answer to your last question, I think they just trust the system so much they think if it has been peer reviewed it must be correct.

  35. Anithil Says:

    I disagree. Decisions made by one, two, or even a small group of doctors, don’t pose as an appropriate analogy for decisions made by the international scientific community as a whole. At that point, the individual human error factor comes into play. Hence the international scientific community.

    So one research group thinks the science was done poorly? Kind of like how one doctor can make a mistake and cause a 16-year old to be misdiagnosed?

  36. knarlyknight Says:

    nicely done, Anithil. Refreshing to read razar sharp logic against the bubbling muck …

  37. shcb Says:

    That is the system everyone trusts, but in this case there were only a couple dozen scientists that were doing the research on man made global warming, they were reviewing each other’s work. That was the finding of a congressional sub committee, sorry, don’t remember the name of that committee. From what I’ve read there weren’t multiple groups all over the globe working on this problem like say cancer research. Every official group that has looked into their methods has commented on how poor the organization of data was, and really how poor the research was.

    Maybe my fears are unfounded and global warming is manmade and real, that doesn’t change my view that this subject is a little surreal. If we were say talking about a study on the cancer causing effects of substance and the scientists didn’t release data, did sloppy work, cherry picked specimens etc you guys would be screaming bloody murder even if a bunch of other scientists said they agreed with the findings. Rather odd.

  38. NorthernLite Says:

    So one research group thinks the science was done poorly? Kind of like how one doctor can make a mistake and cause a 16-year old to be misdiagnosed?

    Pwned.

  39. shcb Says:

    Or one research group doing the science wrong is kind of like one doctor making a mistake to cause a 16-year old to be misdiagnosed.

  40. enkidu Says:

    A patient goes to the doctor and says “I’ve got a fever”
    The doctor says, yep, you’ve got a fever, I’ll refer you to a specialist.
    The specialist says, “you’ve got X”
    The patient says “I’d like a second opinion”
    The specialist says “OK, here’s an appointment to see Dr 1″
    The patient says “I’d like a another opinion”
    The specialist says “OK, here’s an appointment to see Dr 2″
    repeat for a total of 100 times.
    So…
    of these doctors, 96 say you’ve got X
    4 say, well, I don’t know what you’ve got but it surely isn’t X!

    I think I’d go with the 96 docs who say “you’ve got X”
    rather than the 4 guys who just know it isn’t X (who knows, maybe it’s the tides?)

    For wwnj it’s all about teh sociamalism.

  41. shcb Says:

    what is 40 said one thing and 60 said the other?

  42. enkidu Says:

    is that a Jeopardy answer?

    if I can translate your wwnj… are you asking what if 40 said X and 60 said anything but X? That isn’t the correct ratio. Not even close. The vast majority of climate scientists say it is X. You can quibble about whether it is 96% or 94%, but it isn’t 60/40.

    The answer isn’t tides or sociamalism.

  43. shcb Says:

    Actually, it is, always has been. That is the one thing that has remained fairly consistent. In the original poll of scientists and meteorologists ten years ago or so (there were about 2100 as I recall) around 40%- 50% said they had doubts about the way the data was collected and the way the models were configured. They still signed the paper but if you look at the internals about half of them had reservations.

    If you look at the article JBC linked to a few months ago the ratio was about the same 40% to 50%. I know you po poed then but that doesn’t matter, that is the reality. Now public perception hasn’t remained the same, that has dropped, more people doubt AGW than in earlier years but the scientific community has remained fairly constant as far as I can see.

    But just for grins what would you do if the ration was 60-40 (it is but you’ll never admit it)? There is a logical answer.

  44. knarlyknight Says:

    I’d respond to that but I’m in the Alamo Drafthouse & have to log off quick.

  45. enkidu Says:

    lol knarly!

    wwnj – perhaps over in the Wingnutoverse the opinion of climate scientists is 60/40 (or is it 40/60?) but over here in reality, I think about 95% of climate scientists (not meteorologists, astrologers, and oil co shills) think climate change is real and we are causing/contributing to it.

    I know this is useless, but please link to studies that show 60/40 or 40/60 of climate scientists believe your bs. thx

  46. Anithil Says:

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-01/uoia-ssa011609.php

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/306/5702/1686.full

    There’s a few for ya’ll. I had, like, 20 others, but they all pretty much say the same thing. So, shcb, you can link to studies that show 60/40 or 40/60 all you want (if you even do so), but to say “it is (60/40) but you’ll never admit it”? I actually lol’ed. It’s just wrong. Yes, I will never admit that the 60/40 ratio is correct, because I have sources that I trust that say otherwise.

    But for grins, to answer your question, 60/40 would make the cost-benefit analysis much less obvious than it realistically is. But you’re right, there is a logical answer, and it’s that the potential consequences of not taking action CONTINUE to far outweigh the consequences of doing so….even if scientists say 60/40…which, again, is outright wrong. Yup.

    I know it’s useless to argue at this point, it just provides such an effective way to procrastinate.

  47. enkidu Says:

    Your sciencemag.org link is from 2004. Despite being a few years old, I think the conclusion of that piece rings true:

    The scientific consensus might, of course, be wrong. If the history of science teaches anything, it is humility, and no one can be faulted for failing to act on what is not known. But our grandchildren will surely blame us if they find that we understood the reality of anthropogenic climate change and failed to do anything about it.

    Many details about climate interactions are not well understood, and there are ample grounds for continued research to provide a better basis for understanding climate dynamics. The question of what to do about climate change is also still open. But there is a scientific consensus on the reality of anthropogenic climate change. Climate scientists have repeatedly tried to make this clear. It is time for the rest of us to listen.

  48. enkidu Says:

    He and I were talking once and something I said made him assume I was in the military. After that I was on a different level in his eyes, I was trusted even though his new found trust was based on a white lie, I never actually said I was military, but I didn’t say I wasn’t either.

    a lil ol white lie about you being a vet… f!cking typical

    The only thing you’ve volunteered for is more cake. mmmmm cake

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