Roberts Sums Up the Climate Change Debate

Sorry for the long hiatus. Other priorities have been taking my attention; after a concentrated obsessive bout on the Peter Gleick “trial”, I’ve experienced a not-atypical mental backlash.

One article I read today seemed very worthy of posting, though: From David Roberts: Watch the climate conversation run aground. He describes a recent debate in the Iowa state legislature concerning climate change, and sums up as follows:

Hogg and Johnson are both a little confused, though obviously Hogg much less — and much less detrimentally — so. But neither perspective is the one that does most damage to the prospects of progress.

No, the most dangerous perspective is expressed at the end of the rambling and fruitless hour-long debate, by Republican Sen. Randy Feenstra:

“Honestly, on that subject I think we should just agree to disagree because it’s not going to get us anywhere.”

This is the climate conversation in miniature. The problem is raised. Conservatives forecast economic doom. The economics show that we can do a great deal at comparatively moderate cost (certainly moderate relative to the cost of climate change impacts), but it’s very difficult to overcome fear with promises. So advocates make dramatic, often exaggerated claims about proximate impacts. Deniers dismiss the science altogether. And then people who aren’t committed to one “side” or another get sick of it and want to move on — to “agree to disagree.”

This is why conservative deniers have a built-in advantage on climate. They don’t have to win the argument. They just have to keep arguing until everyone gets sick of it.


9 Responses to “Roberts Sums Up the Climate Change Debate”

  1. knarlyknight Says:

    Re: the article, BINGO.

    Re: shcb’s comment, LOL.

    Brings to mind the old phrase, can’t argue with stupid.

  2. knarlyknight Says:

    Because #1 (your cyclical variations causes) is incoherent crazy talk and because #2 is yet another example of shcb fatur, ideo est falsus.

  3. enkidu Says:

    There was an article in the NYT about the ‘last bastion’ of climate change deniers: some meteorologist who claims we’ll be saved by the clouds. Despite lots of other scientists who say his conclusions are flawed. That he has a desired outcome that he is frantically fitting the facts around (sounds like the Iraq War bullish!t we were swamped with to gin up that boondoggle).

    But at least that guy allowed that he could be convinced by evidence. Evidence that he will consider compelling enough after 50 years (way too late). I suppose 50 years is better than wwnj’s infinite amount of evidence = still not convinced. Otherwise known as ‘belief’.

    Up is up.

    But just for a moment let’s say that it’s all cycles (sunspots! volcanos! socialism! etc). If we are in a ‘down’ part of the cycle and temps are still going up, the ‘up’ part of the next bit of the cycle is going to be a real b!tch. But nothing will convince the zealot, no science, no reason, no debate. Belief trumps all.

    Me? I’m reading about how to fix carbon using non-oil based solutions. Since the oil companies are pouring big bucks into bullish!t designed to cloud ‘reasonable debate’ enough to let business (profit!) continue as usual. For example did you know that agriculture produces as much GHG pollution (which is what GHGs are btw) as transportation? So if we do some simple things (rice paddy drainage changes, simple crop and other changes, mb some gene-hacked cow microbes to reduce methane) maybe we can start on ameliorating the situation (while making a profit or not costing a whole lot). I know, I know “SOCIAMALISM!”

    I’m just doing it to help blah people.

  4. enkidu Says:

    geez make up your mind if it is just one word or the whole post (actually I’m sure you’ll just shift the goalposts again and again [sideways! socialism! upside down, up is down! etc] until everyone else grows tired of playing ball with the clown squad).

    Now jbc is a ACC denier? lol, not. Perhaps he’s just decided that being polite and trying to understand the denier viewpoint would help him convince them of the error of their ways (or something). It was a few posts by reasonable ACC deniers, not thick-skulled partisan nincompoops like you that gave him some insight on reasonable denier discourse. Trying to just accept that no amount of scientific evidence will ever (never) be enough to convince the zealot is the first step in moving beyond their intransigence and taking action despite the deniers. Maybe it won’t be enough, but doing something now is better than waiting 50 years for more data. Or never/forever in your case.

    50 years ago we were having a similar debate about cigarettes. And the ‘Heartland Institute for Profitable Propaganda’ was there to help the killers get away with it. A few years later it was acid rain and the sulfur dioxide exchanges. Then CFCs and the ozone layer… there is a pattern here. All powerful industry and profit makes a mess, and reasonable government action/regulation cleans up the ensuing disaster (still working on the smoking thing, of course). In each case the cost was lower than the profit-at-any-cost-crowd’s doomsaying. I’m willing to bet the amelioration of human activities on the biosphere will be similarly inexpensive and effective. But only if we stop with the bullshit ‘debate’ and get moving on solutions, soon. The two sides aren’t always a push. Sometimes, most times, someone is right and someone is wrong.

    But then again you can’t convince a wrong wing nut job with anything so prosaic as facts, science, evidence and so on. Like this guy:

  5. shcb Says:

    I think the reason I like talking to you is you epitomize every liberal stereotype. I can never decide if you are fucking with me or just clueless, or if you are so blinded by your hatred you can’t engage in a civil conversation. Whatever the case it reinforces my biases.

    In your first paragraph you hit on either side of the target but still missed completely. I’m talking about both one word and a portion of one paragraph, the other half of the paragraph you left unaddressed, purposely. The you ask me if I’m talking about a or b when it is obvious I’m talking about c. Neat trick if you can get away with it.

    Second paragraph, do you think JBC would have linked to Pielke, Jr or Sr just a few months ago? Gleick really screwed him up, he lost a lot of faith in the scientific community with that whole event. What I find interesting is those guys & gal from Britain were screwing with you and JBC as much as I ever have and you didn’t realize it. Of course you would have to have read both sites and all the comments, and understood what you were reading to have gotten the full effect, something I doubt you did.

    You understand what Jr is saying don’t you? He is making the point that science and more specifically scientific journals can be corrupted by just a little money… repeatedly, and JBC is highly recommending this point of view. Seems he was calling me slightly mentally imbalanced just a few months ago for the same viewpoint. And remember, Jr is less a skeptic than Sr, some of that is just the surroundings, Sr teaches in a school that has a motto “trained to castrate” (my daughter graduates from there Saturday, go Rams!) And Jr teaches at the school where pot is the school flower.

  6. enkidu Says:

    Whatever the case it reinforces my biases.

    pretty much sums up every post you’ve ever made, anywhere…

    Thought experiment: if “scientific journals can be corrupted by just a little money” how much are other scientific endeavors ‘corrupted by a lot of money’?

  7. shcb Says:

    That is the question, there is a whole industry that has grown up over this whole “green” movement, and it is worth big bucks, so yeah, how much of the AGW science has been corrupted by these billions of dollars

  8. enkidu Says:

    for wwnj, up is down, inside is out
    red is grey and yellow white

    The amount of projection and cognitive dissonance is mind-boggling…
    but facts is facts and wishing doesn’t make it so

    The science will become clearer and clear with each additional year being added to the dataset: mankind is making impacts on our biosphere.

    You can blame sunspots or volcanos or tides or ghosts or gods or whatever, but the science seems to indicate that GHGs are having a decided impact (150%! sorry I just couldn’t resist pointing and laughing… again)

  9. shcb Says:

    That might be true, but that doesn’t answer the question of how much of the science has been corrupted. If the science becomes more and more clear that man is having this huge impact on our biosphere is that because we are making an impact or is it because the science has been corrupted by the huge amounts of money poured into the industry and the impact is merely being reported but doesn’t exist, like the ivory billed woodpecker. Why do you not trust the science of the oil industry but you do trust the science of the environmental industry?

    This is the dilemma JBC has been dealing with since Gleick. You, not so much.

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