It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Truth Continues to Lose Ground

While Russia burns and Pakistan drowns, political sentiment hardens in some groups convinced that the whole climate change business is meaningless. We continue to work ourselves toward the nightmare scenario. It would be good to do something different.
Ron Johnson, running against Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, is the latest in a line of Republicans to take a shot at the validity of global warming.

“I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change," Johnson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Monday. "It's not proven by any stretch of the imagination."

Former Republican Rep. Steve Pearce, running for his old seat in southern New Mexico, told POLITICO that climate scientists should be questioned more thoroughly because of the stolen e-mails.

“I think we ought to take a look at whatever the group is that measures all this, the IPCC, they don’t even believe the crap,” Pearce said in Artesia, N.M. “They’re the ones who say in the e-mails we’ve got to worry about this, keep these voices quiet. If they don’t believe it, why should the rest of be penalized in our standard of living for something that can’t be validated?”

Sharron Angle, the GOP opponent for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada, said on her website in June that she thought legislation to curb greenhouse gases “is based on an unscientific hysteria over the man-caused global warming hoax.”
At least one Republican candidate, though, holds what might be called a more realistic view
Charlie Baker, the front-runner for the Massachusetts GOP governor’s nomination, has taken a more nuanced stance. ... “You’re asking me to take a position on something I don’t know enough about. I absolutely am not smart enough to believe that I know the answer to that question.”
Ideally, this should cost the outspokenly wrong candidates votes, or even the election. But will it? Obviously they have calculated otherwise.

9 comments:

Dan Olner said...

Over at Romm's blog I was wondering: what would it take to get some of these people in a room for a couple of days with some climate scientists? The basic errors they're making, whether or not they're motivated by political expediency - could they continue when someone, perhaps with a camera pointed at them, takes them through some of the basics?

I read somewhere that a similar offer was made to the WSJ, but they refused. I just can't bring myself to believe these people's denial could stand up for very long if actually presented, carefully and systematically, with some of the evidence. Is that hopelessly naive of me?

And would anyone like to volunteer to sit down with one or two of them?

Michael Tobis said...

I think so. Hopelessly naive, I mean.

There is no shortage of volunteers for such a mission, but these guys can't distinguish real scientists from Heartlanders. And how would they be able to?

Dan Olner said...

I just wonder if any of them have even seen a basic CO2 experiment to show that, yes, look, it really does trap IR. And it really is increasing in the atmosphere. So, put those two together... would they really deny their own senses? A huge pile of climate science is low-hanging fruit: simple, not requiring any great prior knowledge. Even someone ill-disposed to evolutionary theory would have difficulty denying that CO2 does, in fact, have the effect people are claiming it does, if they were faced with it.

Australian elections on Saturday: interesting story on the greens getting a bigger share, but it looks like that might help a climate denier get in there...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/18/green-party-australian-elections

Michael Tobis said...

Dan, have you seen such an experiment? It turns out to be quite difficult to do.

Aaron said...

One of the very smartest men I know, was my house guest recently, and it turned out that he accepted the whole climate gate story including the accusation of climate guys colluding to delete data.

This a man that works with proprietary data under confidentially agreements and every month gets (and must refuse) demands to share the data with researchers at Land Grant Universities. So he knew and understood all the issues, but he had accepted the denialist version. I walked him through the documentation, and he understood that climate guys were just considering their legal duty to protect data that they did not own.

However, the denialists got their message to him, and the climate guys did not. The denialists may not be very good at science, but they are very good at messaging.

Dan Olner said...

I imagine you've seen this and there's a reason it's no good?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeYfl45X1wo

It only shows CO2 blocking IR, not trapping heat (though it is doing that). Is that the experimental problem?

Michael Tobis said...

I don't think that demonstrating that CO2 is opaque to certain infrared frequencies constitutes proof that the climate is being substantially forced, even to me, never mind to a person who has not thought about science since he or she was sixteen, and didn't think much of it at the time.

Dan Olner said...

Proof the climate is being forced? No, of course not - there's no experiment that could be done to do that. Evidence that CO2 traps heat? A really key first step in understanding that, and a visceral one - at least for me, I like that experiment a lot. I'll go away now.

David B. Benson said...

MT --- Its climate disruption, remeber?