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For every scientific theory, every story on the news, there's a point where it pays to be cautious.  When a news event is still underway, the information is often jumbled or inaccurate.  When a scientific theory is fresh from the mind of its creator, it's might have rough edges, loopholes.  Heck, it could be downright loopy.

There was a point where it made sense to question the counterintuitive aspects of quantum physics.  String theory is still unproven, after years of mostly theoretical wrangling, many -- maybe even most -- physicists are still skeptical of this idea, no matter how good a job it does at simplifying the ever messier "standard model."  (I would add evolution to this list, but the truth is that when Darwin proposed it, the theory so neatly solved a problem that had been obvious for decades, and he presented it with such intellectual vigor, that there was little to do from the start but fill in the details.)

When science enters the public space, it's often presented as if scientists are slaves to existing theory -- guardians of the status quo, unwilling to admit that any current thought could possibly be wrong.  Nothing gives a better sense of the divorce between scientific academia and popular journalism than the ease with which this hoary chestnut is passed along.  Academia -- and especially scientific academia -- is a pool of sharks.  It's a collection of people who not only think they're smarter than everyone else, but must prove it to advance in their careers.    The scientist who goes through life dotting i's and crossing t's on someone else's theory is the scientist who is doomed to have "associate" forever hanging from the front of her title.  

If I could come up with a convincing, alternative theory to explain the diversity of current and previous life on Earth, one that could stand even a smattering of argument (and note, I'm not talking about "disproving" evolution, merely offering a reasonable alternative), I would instantly be the most famous person on Earth, bar none, politicians and supermodels form your wannabe lines on the left, thank you.  Scientists don't spend their time spackling over problems with theories, they go at them with axes.  Think of every scientist you can name.  They're the ones that chopped down some old theory and planted a new one.

However, there's also a point in every story, or theory, where those still standing in opposition are revealed as not dogged searchers for the truth, but (and there is no better term available) simply fools.  You can devote all the time you want to building a perpetual motion machine, but don't be surprised if you've got a wee bit of trouble leveraging that into even a part-time position at Podunk Community College.  Your hand-illustrated theories for that stack of turtles holding up the world is unlikely to be published in a leading journal.

There is no point at which a theory gains the certificate of "fact," and there's also no point at which it earns an official imprimatur of idiocy.  However, there are moments when you can see theories making their way through the gray area at the edges of respectability.

Climate change, the simple idea that Earth's climate is not stable over long periods, has been well demonstrated for decades (if not centuries).  The evidence of these changes is as varied as the remains of palm trees found at the poles, and the marks of passing glaciers that cut across America.  Global warming, the idea that we are in a period where the world's temperature is going up, has been almost as clear for the last twenty years.  Neither of these is disputed in any scientific forum outside the spit circle surrounding Rush Limbaugh.  Anyone standing in opposition to either of these points is simply in denial of so much evidence, that they've passed beyond the boundaries of reasoned debate.

The idea that much of this warming is the result of changes to the atmosphere made by human beings, has had a slower climb through both academic and public circles.  Some of the reasons for doubting man's hand in this mess are logical, based on looking at the scale of our production vs. massive natural events.  Others are simply emotional.  After all, the idea that we will be responsible for flooding many of the great cities, for turning broad swaths of forest into desert, and for sewing turmoil that could end the lives of billions is among the most hideous thoughts we have ever had to confront.  Stand on the Appalachian Trail and peer off across the rounded, ancient mountains cloaked in green blanket of trees.  Then think that, within your lifetime, this forest may be replaced  with patches of scrub land and scoured stone.  The cause?  Our thoughtlessness, our pursuit of comfort, our greed.  Is it any wonder there are so many who have not wanted to accept this idea?

That distaste for this idea is part of why it's been one of the most tested theories in history.  It's hard to find a climate scientist who hasn't swung their axe at this idea.  Sadly, all those blows have been deflected.  It's really only within the past few years that the idea of global warming as an effect of man's activities passed from interesting theory into broad belief, but capped by a series of UN reports, there really is no room for doubt.  Even the most skeptical scientists have been forced to lean on their axes and agree.  The world is getting warmer.  It's our fault.  And it's the biggest threat we've ever faced.  Even major oil companies have come to their senses on this point.

If there is any consolation in accepting such a horror, it's that -- now that those in opposition are left sharing a room with those still poring over the Zapruder film or hunting for Bigfoot -- we can work on the next step.  

The percentage of Americans who recognize the threat from global warming is growing.  There has even been a recognition that global warming is a security threat that both supports and exceeds terrorism.  But making the next step will require us to go beyond recognizing our culpability.  We have to accept responsibility for our planet.  For everything on our planet.  If we have it in our power to wound the sky, we have it in our power to nurse it back to health.  

With Earth Day coming tomorrow, this is a good time to not only rededicate ourselves to this world, but redirect our energies.  We've had an extremely unsuccessful go at playing policeman to the world.  Why not try doctor?

(Just a little note: I'd like to point out that one of the links above, one that goes to a discussion of global warming conducted by Kofi Annan and held in Norway, is from the Akron Farm Report.  That's a pretty good measure of how this issue has reached down to those directly affected in the US.)

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 11:47 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Physician heal thy self? nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Please Support Energize America (18+ / 0-)

    As my #1 suggestion for this weekend, I'd ask that every person here get involved with Energize America.  I don't make that suggestion because I've been involved since the early days of the project.  The truth is, there are so many people so much knowledgeable than myself who have joined in, that I've been consigned to the role of cheerleader (though I refuse to use pom poms).  

    EA is on the cusp of making a major contribution to the conversation about America's energy future.  It's becoming directly involved in drafting new proposals and working with legislators.  It's been a hotbed for ideas and for allowing ordinary citizens, like me, to have a voice in this conversation.

    Energize America is not only important for what they're doing, but for how it's being done.  It's an open process, bringing policy making out from the "smoke-filled rooms."

    Please join in.

    •  Thanks for the pitch ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Meteor Blades, Devilstower, tovan

      And, as you are aware, we're hoping to have our first Energize America-derived legislation introduced in the next month (or so ...): Neighborhood Power Act (pdf).  This, I could see having 300 co-sponsors in the House before things are finished ... and Kossacks will be (extremely) helpful in getting co-sponsors QUICKLY for the bill once it is ready to roll.

      Blogging regularly at Ecotality Blog for a Sustainable Future.

      by A Siegel on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 01:05:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Green the House Initiative ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tovan, mcmom

      Another sign that Pelosi is seeking to walk the walk on energy, she's Greening the House ... announcement Thursday, with some real interesting steps forward.  The House will be leading by example.

      Blogging regularly at Ecotality Blog for a Sustainable Future.

      by A Siegel on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 01:13:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  A practical question: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mcmom, MyBrainWorks

      I've wanted to install solar electric for some time, but the cost is so high.

      Is the "20 Million Solar Roof" act actually in Congress?  In other words, what are the chances it will be considered and/or adopted in the near term?  The finacial aid it would provide would make solar energy financially possible for me.

      And thank you for your efforts!

      if kindness is contagious, help start an epidemic

      by tovan on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 01:30:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes! And a hearty second-the-motion to ... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Devilstower, tovan, mcmom, MyBrainWorks

      ...the point about those who have joined to make this project so much more than the sum of its parts, but also for making the parts themselves so much more than they were when Jerome a Paris, devilstower and I set it in motion 20 months ago.

      After 3 years of direct work in the alternative energy field and 30 years of reading, I thought I knew a lot about energy when we started. Ha! I have learned far more in the past couple of years from the people who have contributed to Energize America than I ever knew before. Best of all, what we started without knowing how it would be taken by Kossacks, has now morphed through the hard work of a couple dozen people (and the contributions of a couple of hundred) from good ideas into good potential legislation - although there remains some considerable distance to go.

      So, follow DT's suggestion. Participate.

    •  Thanks for this piece (0+ / 0-)

      I love the way you've presented the science and then how you set the stage of our response.  We absolutely must find a way to solve this problem for the planet.

      "The less satisfaction we derive from being ourselves, the greater is our desire to be like others." - Eric Hoffer

      by Mary on Sun Apr 22, 2007 at 02:05:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We have two choices, Save our planet or find (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    billlaurelMD, TomP

    another one and try not to screw it up.

    From the Book of Horrible Questions , Would you push a red button for $10 million but 100 random people would die of natural causes, Survey said 55% would ?

    by FAUX GOP DEATH TV on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 11:49:49 AM PDT

  •  Hopefully, we can be as dedicated ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wishingwell, TomP

    to saving the planet as these folks are in destroying it.

    Every day .... will be a "Constitutional crisis" given we have a president who doesn't give a damn about the Constitution. Kos

    by billlaurelMD on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 11:55:33 AM PDT

  •  Great post, Devilstower! Timely, too. IMHO, (4+ / 0-)

    I believe it's in the best interest of this planet's survival to make it really profitable to get into the green energy business.  Solar roof panels, windmills, wave action generators, desalinization plants run on solar power.

    Harnessing solar power, IMHO, is the single best solution to making tons of money, creating sufficient power and reversing the destruction of burning fossil fuel.

    Supply and demand.  Just the basics.  Big, big money in alternatives to burning fossil fuel and saving the human race in the process.

    Oh, and let's not forget AL GORE 2008!!!

    •  "really profitable to get into... (0+ / 0-)

      ...the green energy business."

      More profitable than pumping oil out of the ground?

      Why would one company do this and chance being less profitable than some other company? They could lose investment dollars.

      This is something that needs to be encouraged by our government... as in regulation. The fair market system in action. A free market system will never do what is needed until we have a true crisis to force change, and by then it will be much, much harder to set up the new facilities.

      -- We are just regular people informed on issues

      by mike101 on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 12:12:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  When discussing energy ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Meteor Blades, Little Lulu

      must be sure to be holistic. Everything you mention are great Silver BBs, but you need to be mentioning/focusing on energy efficiency as well. We can be reducing our energy requirements for our current desired ends through more efficient systems (from design to actual technologies). (And, well, changed usage patterns as well...)

      Blogging regularly at Ecotality Blog for a Sustainable Future.

      by A Siegel on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 01:06:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Glad you're here (again) to say ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Siegel

        ...I am forced to say every time you're not here. ;) Too much of the focus of the energy discussion is on supply side instead of demand side. We all should have learned this lesson over the past 35 years; but most of us, it seems, have not.

        •  You're welcome ... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Meteor Blades, Mary, Little Lulu

          It is a drum that we must keep beating ... until we have it drummed back to us ... then we can drum in unison ...

          By the way, I think you'll like the reen the Capitol Initiative. Not perfect ... but a meaningful (and even, perhaps, good) start.  

          Now, all the experts that I know have not been draw in by the Architect of the Capitol (and such), but still it looks pretty good.

          Frustration is, from what I can tell, that this is not as aggressive and all-encompassing as it might be:

          • No discussion of trying solar for pre-heating water before boiling (reducing coal requirement)
          • No ice chiller for freezing ice at night to then use for air conditioning in the day (saves energy and balances load into the night, reducing peak requirements)
          • No discussion of water and relationship of water to energy use (e.g., no discussion of -- for example -- waterless urinals as a tool to reduce water use)

          Oops ... just realized that I need to write my next diary on Greening the Initiative -- tentative title:  "Paint the House a Darker Green!" ...

          Blogging regularly at Ecotality Blog for a Sustainable Future.

          by A Siegel on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 01:27:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Environmental News (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    retrograde, A Siegel, TomP

    to USE

    I'm not going anywhere. I'm standing up, which is how one speaks in opposition in a civilized world. - Ainsley Hayes

    by jillian on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 11:57:31 AM PDT

  •  Well, 'Akron' Doesn't Imply Deep Penetration (0+ / 0-)

    It's in the heart of longtime union blue northeast Ohio. I've left the state some years ago but I know Akron was never out in the boondocks or much related to the rural midwest once the industrial age got underway. It's in the Cleveland metropolitan media market which was top half dozen in the country when I was a kid. 80% of the North American market within a day's truck ride as I recall.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 11:58:00 AM PDT

    •  It's the farm report part (0+ / 0-)

      that I was pleased to see.

      Of course, there are few things as important in conversation among farmers as weather, so I shouldn't be surprised to see that they're following the issue closely.

      •  Here in Indiana (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Reynolds, Indiana, a town of about 550 people north of Lafayette in northern Indiana's red heartland, has decided to go 100% renewable.  They figured that since they are surrounded by corn, soybeans and hogs, it made sense to harvest their energy locally.  

        It's not perfectly green, but it is a great improvement.  Better to burn the methane then let it stink up the surroundings;  the greenhouse intensity of 1000 liters of methane at STP is about 20 times that of carbon dioxide.  

        If you don't mind Gov. Daniels (R) self-plugging, more information can be found here  


        And if you're a resident of the Greater Lafayette area, the Carbon Neutrality at Purdue class invites you to a presentation and forum where we will share the results of our (often-grueling) research and answer questions from the audience.  We are an interdisciplinary group of students, guided by professional staff and faculty, brought together to develop a plan to reduce Purdue's carbon footprint.  We studied the carbon footprint of our Big Ten University, measuring the impact of on-campus and off-campus power generation, transportation, material use and land-use practices.  Then we researched a number of ways to reduce carbon impact, many of which offer multiple side benefits such as reduced expenditure and increased comfort.  

        The presentation will take place at 7 pm EDT at Pfendler Hall in the Dean's Auditorium on the second floor this Monday, April 23.  Pfendler Hall is on the southeast corner of State Street (SR 26) and South University.  Refreshments will be served.  


        Dems in 2008: An embarassment of riches. Repubs in 2008: Embarassments.

        by Yamaneko2 on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 06:14:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Global Warming & String Theory (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    may be alike in that while controversy surrounds them and neither are, at present, provable; nor can either be tested; yet, there are no alternatives to them that account for everything they encompass.

    Global warming may be "messy" science at present, but that doesn't mean it's not "good" science.

    Messiness goes with science, but (perhaps fuzzy logic excepted) it doesn't go with technology.  As a culture, we're happily at home with breakthrough technological gadgetry whose functions we do not, or we imperfectly, understand.  This does not make us uncomfortable with the technology, however.

    That same condition of ignorance or relative ignorance regarding science makes us very uncomfortable.  Fearful, even.

    They burn our children in their wars and grow rich beyond the dreams of avarice.

    by Limelite on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 12:01:16 PM PDT

    •  Other related point THEORY vs theory ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Limelite, MyBrainWorks

      Devilstower did a magnificent discussion.

      But, it could be strengthened with highlighting a framing issue.

      There is a difference between a Scientific THEORY and theory of daily conversation.  Too many people get confused. They hear "Theorgy of Global Warming" or "Global Warming Theory" and sort of think it is like when they say "I have a theory as to why he always forgets to flush the toilet."

      A scientific theory is developed from hypothesis that has stood up to scientific enquiry and challenge ... it isn't a casual thing.

      Blogging regularly at Ecotality Blog for a Sustainable Future.

      by A Siegel on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 01:16:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Absolutely (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Siegel

        Thanks for elaborating on the "lack of understanding" point I was trying to make.  The fallacy of equivocation applied by (largely) religious opponents of science when it comes to the use of the word "theory" in discussing scientific topics is almost universal in that demographic.

        By the above I don't mean to imply that the same group doesn't fall victim to the same fallacy when talking about non-scientific issues as well!

        They burn our children in their wars and grow rich beyond the dreams of avarice.

        by Limelite on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 01:34:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But even beyond that graphic ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          It is a 'problem' with the english language (or the American variant ...).  Vast (and I do mean VAST) majority of people hear "theory" and probably think the common, everyday variant.  And, even among those who know the difference between the two, bet the majority have to pause when they hear the word to remind themselves which variant/definition of the word is at play.  

          PS: You're welcome ...

          Blogging regularly at Ecotality Blog for a Sustainable Future.

          by A Siegel on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 01:38:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Global Warming is TESTABLE (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassiodorus, MyBrainWorks

      As a climate scientist (who has been very lax on posting to DKos lately because of graduate school responsibilities), I have to correct you for your first statement (about global warming and string theory ("neither are, at present, provable").

      I don't know the current state of String Theory, but we can "test" different explanations for the current rise in lower atmospheric temperature. All of these point to human-induced warming from increased greenhouse gas emissions. I can point you to Thomas Crowley's paper removing "natural" variability from the recent temperature trend (i.e. variability in solar output, volcanoes, etc.) among many others (for instance Tim Barnett's work showing only greenhouse gases can explain global sea surface temperature increases) that show and in the layman's sense of the word, "prove" that global warming is happening.

      I also would steer clear of using the word, "provable." In the strictest sense of the word, we can never "prove" any scientific theory--we can only continue testing the theory to show that alternatives do not provide a better explanation.

      I would guess that String theory is a lot freakin' harder (and a lot more expensive) to test.

      Add Witty Signature Here...

      by The Scientist on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 02:06:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks! (0+ / 0-)

        Please post more often.  Are links available to Barnett and Crowley's works?

        And true about the loose use of "prove."  Appreciate your precision.

        They burn our children in their wars and grow rich beyond the dreams of avarice.

        by Limelite on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 02:19:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  What color is Carbon Dioxide? (0+ / 0-)

        If you could see infrared light, that is.

        People can't see infrared radiation, but they feel it as heat. Laboratory test show, beyond dispute that CO2 is quite transparent to short-wave infrared (given off by things that are really hot, like the Sun), but not so transparent to long-wave infrared, (given off by things that are merely warm, like the Earth).

        Window glass has similar properties. This gave someone the idea of building a "house" with a glass roof. According to theory, this should make the "house" warm enough to grow cucumbers in Scotland. Experiment proved they were right.

        So, to disbelieve in global warming, you need to believe one of the following:

        1. Greenhouses aren't warm.
        1. Smokestacks and tailpipes don't emit carbon dioxide.

        Of course, facts never convinced a wingnut, but I hope this may help someone win a debate.

  •  You may have confused hyposthesis with theory (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Devilstower, A Siegel

    "When a scientific theory is fresh from the mind of its creator, it's might have rough edges, loopholes."

    In science, the questions are called hypothesis and then become theories only after the evidence supports the hypothesis.

    Being an Obamiac, I liked Obama's carbon plan that he presented at UNH yesterday.

    1. Ethanol and bio-Diesel for 20% of current fuel.
    1. 40 mpg mileage standard for cars/trucks.

    Combo knocks US oil consumption by 50% and CO2 emissions by 60%.

    Even that is not enough.

    OSLO (Reuters) - The world will have to axe greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, more deeply than planned, to have an even chance of curbing global warming in line with European Union goals, researchers said on Thursday.

  •  One of many reasons we need (0+ / 0-)

    Al Gore to be taking the oath of office in January 2009.

  •  Damn (5+ / 0-)

    fine post DT. I'm proud to share the front page with you brother.

    Read UTI, your free thought forum

    by DarkSyde on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 12:05:12 PM PDT

  •  How can one get past that knoll... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel
    without knowing what exactly happened?

    You heard Rep. Conyers - we aren't even able to read the bill before voting yay or nay.

    How INSPIRING, yeah, let us buck up, swallow things which we aren't even clear on and move on ahead (ahead?), to even more insanity?

    What an excellent day for an Exorcism... SCI/Kenyon

    by DianeL on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 12:09:07 PM PDT

  •  excellent (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    northsylvania, A Siegel

    as always. Your words about how the scientific community works versus how the public perceives it working are dead on. We need to better explain the process behind how theories evolve. Like you said, a scientist would become far more famous by disproving a theory than by verifying one.

    •  "disproving a theory" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel

      Usually the science done that provides the data to question an existing theory gives the framework for the next generation theory.

      It's usually not outright disproval so much as an extension into deeper aspects of the subject. Classical mechanics wasn't 'disproved' by quantum mechanics, classical mechanics was just shown to be a (very useful) simplification of reality.

      But yes- Fame comes from breaking new ground.

      -- We are just regular people informed on issues

      by mike101 on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 12:23:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But scientists have a lot to win by (0+ / 0-)

        not questioning the status quo just filling in the gaps in the current paradigm, whatever it may be. It gives material benefits, as well as psychological comfort (it can be painful to see your world view crumble into pieces).

        See Thomas Kuhn "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" (Al Gore's favorite book btw)

        Hillary is like Joe Biden, only unelectable.

        by Joe B on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 01:09:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Overall, a good post, it touches on all (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Devilstower, LithiumCola, A Siegel

    ...the important points affecting the planet today, especially the impact of global warming and the role of human population in bringing it about.

    I must, however, take exception to your passing comments about Darwin's evolutionary theory. I found a bit amusing to hear you say that Darwin had presented his theory so complete full blown (and "with such intellectual rigor"), that all we have done since is "fill in the details"

    That is a extraordinarily misleading and ill-informed statement. There has been a wealth of new information that's been gathered and carefully analyzed since the publication of Darwin's "Origin of Species". These include enormous amount of advances made by population geneticists and molecular biologists in the past fifty years. Their findings not only reinforced the basic framework of evolutionary theory, they opened up entirely new avenues of research that were unheard of by Darwin and his contemporaries in the latter half of the 19th century.

    Modern biology is a legacy of both Darwin's evolutionary theory and Mendelian genetics. This foundation is now overlaid with recent discoveries in biochemistry, genetic sciences and molecular biology. Without the knowledge gained from these fields of research, we would be still living in the scientific dark ages of the past.

    "The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds. It was a small part of the pantomime." Wallace Stevens

    by mobiusein on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 12:15:13 PM PDT

    •  Well, as a evolutionary biologist (4+ / 0-)

      (wait a second, let me rummage through the old hat drawer, because it's been a long time since I put this one on and it's pretty dusty)

      I'd have to say that, while I have tremendous respect for those who have practiced in this field for the last century and a half, and there has been extraordinary work done on every front (filling in the genetic mechanisms, the amazing growth of the fossil record, the recognition of the varied pressure and pace of the process), that core revelation -- that organisms change over time and that the device driving diversity is the selective pressure exerted by their environment -- remains untouched.

      The best parallel I could draw would be Einstein's work in Relativity (warning: there's no physicist hat in my drawer).  His predictions have been superseded in a sense by theories and evidence that are far beyond that directly extrapolated from the initial calculations.  Generations have labored profitably in the fields he lined out.  However, those results bolster, rather than supplant the original.

      No matter how you punctuate your equilibria, no matter how hopeful (or hopeless) your monsters, no matter how fast you run on that Red Queen treadmill,  that doesn't dent Darwin's central tenant.

      Now, if you want to argue that Darwin was terrifically wrong on many of the areas where he wandered into speculation, I'm right there with you.  

      •  Alright, comparing Darwin's theory (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Devilstower Einstein's theory is fine. Both Darwin and Einstein made original, seminal discoveries that later opened new vistas of research.

        What I was quibling with is the remark you made about the "completeness" of evolutionary theory. Remember, its modern synthesis - neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory - is a far more rigorous scientific framework than its pre-Mendelian, 19th century model. It could not have happened without the laborious contributions of a myriad of outstanding population geneticists and evolutionary biologists, such as R. A. Fisher, T. Dobzhenski, Sewall Wright, Ernst Meyer, G. G. Simpson, to name the most prominent of this august company.

        You're right in claiming some parallels to relativity theory (I'll wear this hat now, since I also have a mathematical physics background). Even here one must be careful of drawing too close a similarity. Einstein's theory has not had the same controversial impact on society as has Darwin's evolutionary theory, especially among conservative christians in the US. Most people do not wish (or are unwilling) to understand relativity theory, but they all seem to have an opinion on evolution. Thus, biologists in recent years had a higher burden to show evolution's validity than did physicists in defending relativity theory. For these reasons, considerably more productive research work has occurred in evolutionary biology than in relativity theory. Today, most work in relativity theory is highly specialized and engage a very small number of researchers.

        By the way, Darwin's "rigorous" standards were stringent for its day - I'm not sure how it would pass muster today...

        "The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds. It was a small part of the pantomime." Wallace Stevens

        by mobiusein on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 01:36:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We all labor in the shadows these days (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Not merely because there are giants standing in front of us, but because it's flat out harder to make those baseline discoveries.  The easy stuff is taken, damn it.  We're left in a weird place where scientists today have much better knowledge of their subjects, much more information overall, and much better equipment, yet are still hostage to ideas kicked out by 19th century gentlemen thinkers.  

          On a personal basis, I know that I more than once had thoughts along the line of "He's famous for discovering  what?  Well, that was bloody obvious.  Who couldn't figure that out?  I work out to the third decimal point something he described in broad strokes, and who gets the credit?"  It can be frustrating.

          I certainly didn't mean to demean those who've done seminal work in the field.  

          Oh, and from my two-decades-and-more out of date viewpoint, I'd posit that the biggest advance in evolutionary biology over the last few decades was something not strictly related to evolution.  I'd give that prize to the general acceptance of cladistics over more arbitrary phylogenetic schemes.  It may my own prejudicial view, but I think this tool is hugely significant.

          •  I agree, modern cladistics is preferable (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

   traditional phylogenetic schemes that classified taxa mostly by morphological similarities in the past. It was certainly a tremendous advance in taxonomy. I'm sure you will also agree that improvements in cladistic trees today depend to a large degree on DNA sequencing and other molecular genetic data base. I think the discovery and placement of archaea organisms in current cladistic trees is perhaps one of the greatest achievements in modern biology. Somehow it's not been given the spotlight it deserves...    

            "The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds. It was a small part of the pantomime." Wallace Stevens

            by mobiusein on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 07:47:19 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Your mention of evolution is appropriate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    especially since there is really no rational way of arguing aginst it. Nevertheless those whose agenda it contradicts do not hesitate to attack and discredit it.

    Think how much more fragile, how much stronger the vested interests, against human-caused climate change. And tremble for our future.

    •  Okay, but if we're making historical analogies... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...then let's be properly historical. On The Origin of the Species..., when published in 1859, was not a slam-dunk QED moment. It neither convinced all natural historians, nor refuted other evolutionary theories, nor gave a mechanism for heredity, etc.

      It's no disrespect to Darwin to say that the full implications and significance of natural selection weren't realized (including by Darwin himself, during his life) until the so-called "evolutionary synthesis" of the 1940s. Based on what was known in 1859, there certainly were "rational arguments" to be made against it, and many biologists whom we still remember fondly today made them. What's more, the "vested interests" against theories of species change originated in the 1920s, long after natural selection had become fairly orthodox biology.

      There might be an overlap between anti-evolutionists and global warming "skeptics." But the analogy leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

      •  I let that aspect of the remark slide (0+ / 0-)

        on the grounds that the point I wanted to make was about today.

        Otherwise, agreed. Lamarckism for example was a force until WW2, not just due to Lysenko.

        •  One of these days (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          It would be fun to do an "evolution of evolution" post, done a variant of the branching-bush diagram, and showing the various theories (of which natural selection was, of course, only one) and their offshoots.  That Lamarckism branch would run strong for many years.

  •  Foot, meet bullet (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    Anyone with a memory that goes back a few decades will recall how environmentalists liked to belittle the effects of human action, bidding us to be humble in front of mighty Nature, the all-powerful force that hardly deigned to notice us.

    There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
    And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

    And frogs in the pools singing at night,
    And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

    Robins will wear their feathery fire,
    Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

    And not one will know of the war, not one
    Will care at last when it is done.

    Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
    If mankind perished utterly;

    And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
    Would scarcely know that we were gone.

    (Sarah Teasdale)

    No wonder it was a little difficult to convince people that yes, after all, things we do could affect nature.

    Through tattered clothes great vices do appear / Robes and furr'd gowns hide all. (King Lear)

    by sagesource on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 12:17:56 PM PDT

  •  Ma nature remains the ultimate decider (0+ / 0-)

    the human race is just an experiment going bad; a proverbial bump in the road for this earth.  The whole global warming thing remains a self-indulgent, innocent concept that we, the human race, can out perform a 4-billion year old plant.  This is not to say that I don't prefer clean air, water, and spick n'span streets & highways, but this narcissistic approach to global warming is merely a child's fantasy to reality.  The only hope to my fatalistic view of our environment is a belief that when this earth finally comes out of the next cycle of life, either warming up the cryogenic locker or cooling off the autoclave, there'll be enough genetic material left in the landfills and trash dumps to start things afresh.

    •  I hope you're not a monster. (0+ / 0-)

      According to Keynes, in the long run, we're all dead.  I've also seen statements that hold that the ever-brightening sun will snuff out all life on the planet through a wet greenhouse in about a billion years.  

      On a geologic scale, we humans are but a blip.  If Earth's history were a day long, our history as a species is not one-half a second.  Our mass is about 400 billion metric tons, that of an asteroid perhaps 3.2 km in diameter and 1/1,300,000,000,000 that of the planet.  In terms of duration and impact, we cannot aspire to be a flea who hops on an elephant, then hops right off.

      Within this tiny, transitory trajectory of human history is the whole of everything in material existence that humans hold dear, and everything that every human finds worth defending (deities needing no defense, by their nature).  

      Dems in 2008: An embarassment of riches. Repubs in 2008: Embarassments.

      by Yamaneko2 on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 07:00:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My reply to the deniers (0+ / 0-)

    Like you said, the fact that the globe is currently warming is not challenged by most people.  The question for some is whether man's impact is contributing to a degree that matters.

    I have had many a conversation with people who insist mankind's impact is negligible and does not matter.  We have all heard from these troglodytes.  "Cows emit more CO2 than cars."  Reagan's famous polluting trees.  Etc., etc., etc.

    My reply is to give the following analogy.  Say your bathtub is full to the brim.  The tap is running and the drain is open, but they both have exactly the same capacity, meaning an equal volume of water is always being added and drained.  Let's assume this is the "natural state" of being for your bathtub.  

    Now let's say you put something (anything) into your bathtub.  It can be more water; it can be your toddler; it can be anything.  It does not matter how "negligible" it is, when you add something to your bathtub, you are going to upset a natural balance and have water on your bathtub floor.

    The Democratic Party: Restoring democracy to America, one branch of government at a time.

    by Endangered Alaskan Dem on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 12:22:06 PM PDT

  •  Tipping Point: Sununu supports Cap and Trade (0+ / 0-)

    It seemed like just minutes ago that the NH Senator was not sure if humans were causing global warming.  OK it was really a couple days ago. He has signed on as lead Rep. co-sponsor of Tom Carper's "Clean Air Planning Act of 2007" which includes pretty stiff emissions reduction.

    I hope this isn't a clear signal that it's too late!

    Democracy isn't something you have, it's something you do! "Granny D"

    by chuck in NH on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 12:27:19 PM PDT

  •  Nature alone is fine but add man and you get a (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DarkSyde, BigiMac

    Yes nature has developed into what it is over billions of years but now add mans addition of sucking all the oil out of the ground and burning it putting some of that into the atmosphire and all the other fast changes , big change in a short 100 years. So its not the same.

    From the Book of Horrible Questions , Would you push a red button for $10 million but 100 random people would die of natural causes, Survey said 55% would ?

    by FAUX GOP DEATH TV on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 12:27:42 PM PDT

    •  Nature knows exactly how to respond (0+ / 0-)

      get rid of the problem & try something else.

    •  We (0+ / 0-)

      are part of nature. Mankind and our construction/destruction is as much a part of nature as a beaver destroying trees and building his dam. Nature can handle fast changes, in fact the idea of a natural equilibrium in nature is somewhat inaccurate. Nature is a complex system to say the least, it is in a constant state of chaotic flux, rife with interconnected and nested tipping points of all kinds. It's the way in which nature adjusts in the face of instability that is the problem for human beings.

      Thermally, there are at last two stable states for this planet. One is the snowball earth, which is ultimately self correcting because of natural greenhouse emissions. The other looks like the planet Venus. As far as I know, that one is a dead end for as long as the sun stays on the main sequence.

      Read UTI, your free thought forum

      by DarkSyde on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 12:36:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  An excellent diary but... (0+ / 0-) skimmed over one of the most significant factors in the development of scientific knowledge: the role of academic fashion. I spent enough years in academia, and have enough friends still there, to know how the game is played.

    Scientific paradigms change in part because elderly scientists die, middle-aged ones get positions of power, and the young ones finally get tenure.

    Warm-blooded dinosaurs, drifting continents, and fuzzy logic are all good examples of theories that were treated as heresy and kept from publication for their first decade or so.

    Now that anyone can publish their ideas on the internet, the (good and bad) roles that tenure committees and scientific journals have played as scientific gatekeepers are rapidly losing their power to promote or suppress science.

    The story as you present it is both idealistic and romantic—just ask the thousands of scientists and scholars who never got the chance to get their theories tested before they died or retired.

    First, oversight; second, investigations; third, impeachments; fourth, war crimes trials!

    by ibonewits on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 12:33:10 PM PDT

    •  I was there for part of that fight (0+ / 0-)

      Continental drift, like the impact theory of extinction, was a tough sell in part because its first proponent, Wegner, was not viewed as "real geologist," but was dismissed as a "German weather man."  Alvarez was, of course, another outsider to the field (a physicist -- even if his son was more acceptable to those of us hugging our rocks).

      But in truth, both those theories ran into the same wall: the old struggle between uniformity and catastrophism.  Having adopted an axiom that boiled down to "as it is, so it was" as the core means of evaluating geologic evidence, it was tough for anyone in the field to accept that there were activities on the planet that couldn't be demonstrated easily.  We were all wedded to our discussion of beach sands and river sands, carbonate banks and the slow reversal of synclines.  We were all so caught up in the minutia, that we'd stopped looking at the big stuff.

      So these guys came along and gave us a good conk on the head.  Did it sink in right away?  Not for everyone, though you better believe both theories had furious supporters from the start.

      Best of all, the system worked just as it's supposed to.  In the face of mounting evidence, scientists surrendered their most deeply held propositions.

      I'd argue that the issues you presented are the best evidence that science is open to new ideas, and that while "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" (even outside the X-Files), the system for science is more open than you'll find in any other area.

  •  Hey devilstower, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    String theory has been proven. String still exists.

    Okay, I apologize.

    "Many people did not care for Pat Buchanan's speech; it probably sounded better in the original German," Molly Ivins, 1992

    by jeffinalabama on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 12:43:21 PM PDT

  •  There's more to it than warming (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You hear arguments form the right that, "the earth always goes through cycles." But for me, it's not just the warming, it's the goddamn pollution of every way shape and form. We treat the oceans like our personal toilets, forgetting that we are polluting the environment of the species who live there. And we're killing off species with the destruction of the rain forests and pollution of the waters. And I haven't even gotten to the (cough, cough, air yet!).
    Anyone who denies man's toxic treatment of the earth is a lunatic in  my book. They're the same ones who said the earth was flat.
    Our rivers, streams and oceans are dying. And what we do does affect people on the other side of the world. It's time for ALL governments to get on board now, before it's too late.

    "Keep raisin' hell!" - Molly Ivins

    by MA Liberal on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 12:47:37 PM PDT

    •  I'm hopeful (0+ / 0-)

      That the effects of warming, far from being the "too complex to understand" issue suggested by the right, is so straightforward and demonstrable that it will lead to a greater acceptance of regulation, even when the results aren't so easily shown.

      We're losing big swaths of creatures for reasons we can't even grasp.  Without some kind of broad restrictions, we're going to be still scratching our heads when a large section of world ecology collapses.

      I suppose it might be possible to make it on a world populated entirely by cattle, rats, cockroaches, jellyfish, and slime.  But I'd rather we not make that experiment.

    •  how can we accept (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      that our water ways are too dirty to swim in, the fish and other critters living in our rivers and lakes are too toxic to freakin' eat? It's almost like we're becoming suicidal as a species.

  •  What we can do now (0+ / 0-)

    CO2 emissions are still rising unacceptably in the USA, despite the lying lies of the EPA in its latest report. (See my last diary for analysis of their recent CO2 figures and claim that Bush is making progress on climate change.) There are so many things individuals can do, right now, without waiting for companies and the government to start real action. Here's just a few of what I believe to be the biggest ones:

    • Around 50% of US CO2 emissions are caused by the use of buildings, and most of that comes from heating and cooling them. Try to live in a wider temperature range.
    • About 40% of US CO2 emissions are from electricity generation. Depending on where you live, a lot of that may be from coal. Find out if you have an option to pay more for greener electricity. I don't have the option to pay more for greener, because my elec co provides certified carbon-neutral 100% renewable as standard - but maybe you do. :)
    • CFL lightbulbs. Less important than addressing heating and cooling, but still a significant reduction and so easy to do.
    • Try to adjust your travel. Fewer trips for single errands. Try to make each short trip achieve multiple tasks. Is public transport available? Can you carpool?
    • City driving: accelerate slower, coast to anticipate stops, keep tires well inflated.
    • Flying somewhere in a commercial jet is anything from almost as bad to two or three times as bad as driving there alone in a gas-guzzling SUV, depending on whose estimates you believe. (Flying emits less CO2 than driving an SUV, but more dangerous non-CO2 GHGs.) Aviation is responsible for a small fraction of transport emissions and we don't need to eliminate flying completely, but it is the most damaging mode of transport per passenger mile. There are often alternatives.
    • Change your diet. Think about the energy used to put the food you eat on your plate - growing, feeding, slaughtering, processing, cooking. More vegetables, less meat and dairy. More locally grown, less overprocessed food.
  •  Thank you, (0+ / 0-)

    this is one of the most concise and level posts I've seen on climate change and the politics of science.  Well done.

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 12:50:37 PM PDT

  •  Are you going to be walking to work Monday morn? (0+ / 0-)

    If not, nice hand flailing.  You have supple wrists.

    •  I take the bus (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      After carpooling to the lot.  In a Prius.

      Oh, and while you're handy, let me say that playing the "unless the messenger is as pure as the driven snow, I need not listen to a word he says" game is right up there in the list of behavior that falls into the category of self-serving silliness.

      •  That wasn't my point (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I've grown weary of this political football.  I don't see any mass transit systems cropping up, I don't see any surge in bike paths, I don't see any serious effort in alternative energy outside of corn farmers in Iowa who plan on making a killing.  These types of articles not only need to point out the political football, they need to advocate SERIOUS CHANGE.  That's my bitch.

      •  what does your bus run on? (0+ / 0-)

        we don't have buses, or trains, its walk fifteen miles to and back or go by car!  Can you really dis-prove that Planet Earth is not sitting on top of a giant stack of turtles?  

        Seriously, about the best we can do is to educate ourselves, take the least harmful measure in the face of this specific moment's realities and do whatever we can to seriously reduce our personal useage of energy and install available and practical technology to boost our personal consumption (like your own personal windmill for example).

        We have serious winds almost all year round as well as a high quotient of sun. Plus the available sell-back deal with the local rural electric coop.  Changed over my old natural gas heaters for more energy effcient ones to heat my freezing old cinder block, un-insulated house, which is wonderfully cool in the blazing hot summers, so it balances out, and I am not quite ready for the alternative - which would be a yurt in my field.
        Have joined a group who will install solar panels when technology reaches a viable level.

        Start knitting more sweaters for warmth on those cold winter days.  I knitted my entire family long warm thick scarves (which of course they won't wear - not cool!).

        •  One of the most amusing things in recent years (0+ / 0-)

          Was when Ralph Nader came to town and complained about the odor from one of the buses.  He made a stink about the stink, and went on into a tirade over this as an example of the pitiful state of our public transport.

          The bus ran on biofuels.

  •  What motivates the deniers? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Devilstower, Dianna

    What motivates global warming deniers is endlessly fascinating to me. I think part of it stems from a perception that a very small, radical segment of society, "the far left," is imposing its values on the rest of society and forcing it to submit to an alternate lifestyle, very much different from how we live today.

    It's probably not unlike the contempt pro-choice advocates felt the other day when the SCOTUS ruled 5-4 on late-term abortion. How dare these conservative fringe groups impose their crazy fundamentalist ideas on the rest of us.

    In a similar fashion the denier might think, "how dare these lefty, liberal, anti-consumer, anti-capitalist environmentalists impose their nutty beleifs on my way of life."

    That's what I think is driving a lot of the denier's irrational dismissal of accepted science, as well as their endless quest for contrary evidence. That and sheer laziness. Because admitting global warming is due to human activity would require action and sacrifice. If it's naturally occuring, well, it's out of our hands.

    •  Isolation, Culture of Paranoia, Anxiety....... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and a host of well developed denial and defense  mechanisms that were finely tuned while they were still wearing short pants.

    •  CREATION SCIENCE & other religious myths (0+ / 0-)

      I harp on this them a LOT, but the so-called "factual" teachings of Christianity rot the brain. If you believe the earth is 6,000 years old, created by God, you won't believe in global warming. If you believe any other of the completely PREPOSTEROUS bible stories such as the virgin birth, you have allowed your critical faculties to turn to mush.

  •  Your view on science is directly contested by (0+ / 0-)

    most research - historical, anthropological, sociological and psychological - on science and scientists. I am sure that you have heard of Thomas Kuhn whose theories implied that science thrives on narrowmindedness and dogmatism.

    This is not to say that science is completely irrational. The truth probably lies somewhere in between.

    Hillary is like Joe Biden, only unelectable.

    by Joe B on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 01:06:01 PM PDT

    •  What is completely irrational though (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      is denying global warming. All evidence points in favor of it. And we should take preventive actions regardless of what might be true, since the outcome could be devastating if we don't.

      Hillary is like Joe Biden, only unelectable.

      by Joe B on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 01:10:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'll hold my ground (0+ / 0-)

      On a very simple proposal: the pace of change in the sciences compared to the pace of change in other areas.

      I can't speak to the last two decades, but when I was wandering the storied halls of (ahem) Murray State University, geology and biology was being battered by major revolutions on all sides.  There's barely an idea from those days that hasn't been overturned.  At the same time, economics was reading Malthus and Smith as holy writ.  So far as I can tell, they still are.

  •  However... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    both the Left and the Right don't want to admit that the single worst cause of everything from global warming on down is caused by overpopulation. If each successive generation had only children, the problems would eventually correct themselves.

    •  Not all population consumes the world equally (0+ / 0-)

      Given that 40% of the world lives on less than $2/day, most of "overpopulation" is far from creating an ecological footprint worth complaining about -- let's start with the consumer societies which are in fact consuming our planet to death...

      "This is an impressive crowd, the have and the have mores. Some people call you the elite, I call you my base." - George W. Bush

      by Cassiodorus on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 01:14:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  More specifically (0+ / 0-)

        Let's call 1 ton carbon per capita the norm -- a bit below China, a bit above India.  A fairly modest tax on each country's wealthy, distributed downward, would bring everybody in those countries above $2/day.  

        Carbon emissions from the US, Canada and Australia (about 10 tons per capita) fall from 3.6 billion to 360 million tons.  Europe, Mexico and Japan (about 600 million people, four tons per capita) fall from 2.4 billion to 600 million tons.  Emissions fall from 7 billion tons to 2 billion tons, which is approximately the amount absorbed by the biosphere and oceans every year over the last decade.  Problem solved.  

        Dems in 2008: An embarassment of riches. Repubs in 2008: Embarassments.

        by Yamaneko2 on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 07:21:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  have you ever thought what the world (0+ / 0-)

      would be like if men had the same amount of sperm to use each month as women have ova?

  •  Green TV programming (0+ / 0-)

    Lots of good news recently about eco-friendly TV programming.  Discovery recently announced they are re-branding Discovery Home as a full-time green channel:

    Last Tuesday was the debut of The Sundance Channel's weekly 3-hour block of environmental programming called The Green:

    And tonight and tomorrow night (4/21 & 4/22) at 10PM E/P on the Fine Living network, there is a 1-hour special called It's Easy Being Green, featuring actor Owen Wilson, motorcycle maven Jesse James, eco-model Summer Rayne Oakes, the rock band Guster, and lots more.  An entertaining look at the latest trends and technologies in the growing green marketplace, providing tips and information on simple things consumers can do to lead a more Earth-friendly lifestyle:

    Here's Treehugger on The Green and It's Easy Being Green:

  •  What's a sexy way to promote (0+ / 0-)

    vegetarianism? I'm actually not a vegetarian, but I enjoy healthy vegetarian meals, and wish more of them were available when I eat out (which is a lot).
    There's no reason people should stop eating meat entirely, but for personal health and for the environment, people should eat more meat.
    I'm blegging here, but someone can probably fill in the details on one particular aspect of meat consumption: the destruction of the rain forest to grow cattle. I understand this is a major reason rainforests in the tropics are being cleared. Meat production requires more energy and water, and more land, than any other food source. As other countries get richer, more people will want to eat meat.. and it just can't be done, keeping the environment healthy.

  •  Only a THIRD (33%) think global warming is (0+ / 0-)

    the greatest threat? OMG.

    Millions have their delusional ignorant heads deep in the sand.

    Of course, it follows that 46% of Americans think the world was created 10,000 years ago--thinking magic apples and talking snakes really existed.

    No wonder this country is so screwed. Roll up your sleeves, we got A LOT of work to do!

    If the Republicans will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.--Adlai E. Stevenson

    by vassmer on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 01:12:28 PM PDT

  •  nicely done (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The public sceptism towards global warming is a by-product of the self-correcting nature of scientific method that regularly abandons hypotheses upon the introduction of new facts.

    Normal folks dont tend to think of science like that and believe that all things  are set in concrete and are already known by scientists, so when hypotheses change they begin to question the value of science at all.

    The dialogue from Woody Allen's "Sleeper" where as he is awakened centuries later from cryogenic sleep and fed red meat, chocoloate and cigarettes.......because science found out after his time that they contributed to good, not bad health exemplies this ideally.

    As one trained in the physical sciences the author is right on in stating that most scientists believe that they are the smartest wolves in the pack, but acting so, adamently without presenting the fact that things are subject to change in an instant with the presentation of new data projects onto others a picture of science not unlike that of religious dogma, and I have seen in my own time very smart scientists hold onto debunked theories like life perservers, out of plumb egotism, which by the way appears is directly correlated to intelligence.

    The worst thing for scientists is not communicating clearly what scientific method is. it is not dogma, it is actually comon sense.....(except for quantum mechanics, that's just plain and ordinary magic).

    Global warming will happen and in my grandchildren's time and then the only polar bears will be in zoos. I will be glad I am dead then so I won't have to hear the curses in my ears of Earthlings in 2085 about how we fucked up their world.

    I just hope mankind will be able to leap to the stars before we destroy Earth.

    "There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience has brought it home." John Stuart Mill

    by kuvasz on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 01:14:19 PM PDT

  •  Global Warming is Not a Theory (0+ / 0-)

    Global warming, is a very serious problem that human must face or accept the possibility of millions of displaced and hungry people.  Perhaps many other horrible things.

    But global warming is not a theory.  First of all it is a measured fact.  Along the lines of looking at a thermometer, albeit the degree or so does not seem like much.  Now.

    Second, the models that predict dire consequences are not theories.  They are difficult models because the scope of variables is so large – namely the earth and the sun and every thing that effects them.  Some models are rough some are much more refined.  But they all predict increasing temperatures along the lines we have measured to date.

    Your discussion of theories was interesting, but not relevant to global warming.  As far as I know there is no aspect of global warming that is not grounded in well understood and measured phenomenon.  For example, we have measure repeatedly in chemical labs the ability of CO2 to capture the heat of infrared while it is transparent to the light that heats the ground which re-radiates the heat as infrared.  People have long measured the CO2 produced by volcanoes.  People have long measured the O2 – CO2 cycle of plants and animals.  In short, there is nothing here of a theoretical nature.  It’s all well established facts, as far as any scientific fact can be established.

  •  Science is mostly setteled, human identity isn't (0+ / 0-)

    and I think that is one of the most under discussed aspects of the problem facing us. Before the advent of modern science and the developments of the industrial revolution human power had exceeded that of other animals but not to the point that we have today.

    To consciously come to terms with the fact that we are now so powerful that conceiving of our relationship to nature as, a divine province, a hostile competitor, or a nurturing mother, isn't relevant anymore is something that is sticking in the gears of the change we need to engage. I think we need a new metaphor and then to change our political and economic systems to fit.

    I am working that through here for myself and anyone else is welcome to join in the process. One idea is to look at ourselves as a cell in the body of life. Our species would fit in the central nervous system and an area of the brain that is involved in consciousness and decision making. Would we then develop an economic and political system that had highly competitive individual cell body growth as a goal? Probably not, that is more like the logic of a cancer cell.

    Our economy sucks up our environment, people, and government. Redesign it at Beyond Political Center

    by Bob Guyer on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 01:16:51 PM PDT

  •  Good news for planet earth (0+ / 0-)

    The idea is to make it cool and acceptable to be concerned with our future. You have to spell it out for them.

    This sentence has threee erors.

    by MouseOfSuburbia on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 01:22:26 PM PDT

  •  If Global Warming theory is on the same level (0+ / 0-)

    of credibility as Oswald=lone gunman theory, I'll be taking the Exxon shills more seriously, I guess.

    •  Modern forensic techniques have shown .. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...the lone-gunman theory to be more plausible than it once seemed. Not that I expect to persuade anyone.

      •  Sure. One group of scientists declares (0+ / 0-)

        the Shroud of Turin definitely a fake.  Another puts the issue back on the table.  

        I don't actually doubt Global Warming.  But I doubt that we've been told the truth about JFK's death.

        •  If, by truth, you mean that there ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ...were two or more shooters in Dallas that day, then I think we have been told the truth - there was one. If, by truth, you mean there might have been somebody else in the background somewhere - not in Dealey Plaza, but spurring Lee Harvey Oswald to his action - that, I think, will never be known for certain.

          •  Can I confess (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            that this event only entered this diary to support my "Gassy Knoll" title?

            I fell in love with the pun to the extent that I shaped a paragraph around it.  Such is the low level of my humor.

            •  Gotta love "gassy knoll"! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Meteor Blades
            •  Low? Not in my book. Whatever one believes... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              ...about Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, "Grassy Knoll" will be with us forever as reference to the ultimate snowjob.

              I was once as avid an amateur conspiratorialist in the JFK murder as anyone who hadn't actually written a book about it. I read Rush to Judgment and followed it up with more than 100 other such books, including reading the unabridged Warren Commission report and closely following the 1978 House Select Committee on Assassinations in which acoustic evidence seemed to point to another shooter. The trouble for everyone who believed it was a plot had to deal with was "whose plot." Because the conspiracy theories contradicted each other. They couldn't all be true. So people made their choices: Cosa Nostra, Castro, anti-Castroites, CIA, CIA renegades, CIA and Cosa Nostra, FBI, LBJ, the Kremlin.

              Ultimately, even the seemingly solid theories fell apart on the forensic evidence. For one thing, the "magic" bullet wasn't so magic.

              •  Not to promote any particular theory, I would (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Meteor Blades

                suggest that interests can correlate in unexpected ways and loyalties can be other than what they seem to be and institutions can be non-monolithic.

                Quick example:  the US and and Israel conspiring to send weapons to Iran (Iran/Contra)!  

              •  What forensic evidence (0+ / 0-)
                I never bought the idea that a single bullet could not have made those entry and exit wounds. And just because a computer simulation demonstrated the possiblity that it could have, it doesn't mean that it did. And even if it did, it's still a pretty magic bullet to be found in such condition, if that's the same bullet.

                In other words, inconclusive.

                I just read rush to Judgement again. It still destroys the Warren Commission.

                The way the defense got those cops off in the Rodney King "trial", is by playing that tape over and over again. By the time they were done, the jury didn't know what they were looking at.

                This is a defect of human perception that an art professor first exposed me to years ago: the longer you look at something, the less you see it.

                I try to remember this as I watch the Zapruder film, clearly showing Kennedy's brain being blasted out the back of his head.

                And the grassy knoll everyone loves to mock? It wasn't conspiracy theorists who made it famous.
                It was the scores of people who were actually fucking there.

                Every time I hear some assclown on TV or the internet mocking the grassy knoll as though it's the realm of the paranormal, I think, 'Were you there motherfucker? '

                Cause the people who were there, they have some credibility. Assclown? Not so much.

                You need to read RTJ again. It doesn't put forth a conspiracy theory. But it systematically destroys the Warren Commission.

                It was my study of John Kennedy's presidency that made me interested in assassination research. Because the more I understood how much the entrenched power had to lose from his vision of America, the more I realized that if they didn't kill him, they should have.

                Kennedy was trying to do what many of us dream every day for in a Democratic president. He was about to level the fucking playing field.

                The Kennedy assassination is still an open case. There is no statute of limitations on murder and many of the people who were involved, or may shed light, are still alive.

                I believe the Kennedy assassination was the murder of our country. We've just been carrying around the corpse ever since. You have to know this MB.

                Forensic evidence? Please. That was the Dallas PD's product from day one. Who in their right mind would base any credibility on anything that they said?

                About the only evidence I trust is the Zapruder film and the eyewitness testimony. As for who did it, that's what a real investigation would have been for.

                God forbid the people should get a real investigation into who killed their president.

                •  We could, of course ,,, (0+ / 0-)

                  ...create an entire blog to discuss nothing else but the Zapruder film, clearly showing Kennedy's brain being blasted out the back of his head. In fact, it's probably already been done.

                  I do not disrespect those who believe JFK was killed by a conspiracy. He may have been. I do, however, find intolerable those who think it's impossible for Lee Harvey Oswald to have done this on his own, that only a conspiracy can describe what happened on November 22.

                  As for Lane's book, I still have my original paperback copy. Yes, he did find some holes in the Warren Commission Report - there were many to find, but these holes do not add up to a conspiracy.

                  For instance, chapter 12, which describes one of Lane's central claims, notes that a paraffin test for gunpowder did not show any residue on Oswald's cheek. He should have had some there if he had fired a rifle within the previous 24 hours. He didn't, according to the test. Voilà! Oswald couldn't have been the shooter. But the FBI had known BEFORE the assassination that paraffin tests are unreliable. A controlled study had shown negative results - no gunpowder residue - on half the men who had fired five shots from a .38 caliber revolver. Bad test. It was utterly inconclusive. And Lane knew this when he wrote  Rush to Judgment.


                  •  Indeed (0+ / 0-)
                    RTJ did not, as I recall, even assert a conspiracy theory. And finding "holes" in the WCR is not evidence of a conspiracy either.

                    But it is evidence that their investigation was unsatisfactory. At best. And this is the point. How in the hell could we allow the murder of an American president to be poorly investigated?

                    And, as a sidenote, since RTJ is still pretty fresh in my head, I will say that the term "holes" is inaccurate. Laned proved obstruction of justice, regardless of the flaws in his work. I found quite a few myself.

                    But a few flaws do not negate or discredit the overal work which is, for the most part, solid as a rock.

                    I won't discuss this topic here anymore but I will say, I've been studying it for 10 years now, and have not given up. In my assessment, the evidence, mostly testimonial, points to Texas. Most researchers get lost in the shooter mystery - Cubans and mobsters and E. Howard Hunt tramps. To me, this has always been a distraction. Motive, means and opportunity. Texas. Plus, I hate to say it, but Lyndon Johnson was an evil fuck. He's a blight on the party. And up against John Kennedy, it hurts me now to think of it.

                    It's not too late to write your book.

          •  For me, it's like 911. (0+ / 0-)

            I don't claim to know what really happened.  I do claim not to believe that we've been told the truth.

            I don't know how wide or narrow to make that frame.  To know that, I'd have to have a solid theory of the full story of what happened.  I don't pretend to that.  

            But, for my money, the folks who are pushing against Global Warming theory aren't much like folks poring over Zapruder films and are more like Arlen Spector proposing a magic bullet.  Even if Arlen has been proven by forensics to be possibley right, I'm thinking that he probably had no idea he was right.  

            •  I agree about Specter. We're never ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              ...he probably didn't know why he was right.

              I don't think we're ever going to know for sure about JFK's assassination. But Oswald was mentally and physically capable of killing Kennedy and J.D. Tippits by himself, he was in the right places at the right time to do so, he was the owner of the only two weapons associated with the crimes, he was carrying one of them and tried to use it when arrested. The bullets found were traced to those guns. The putative trajectories from the 6th floor to the Lincoln limo through JFK and Connally line up exactly.

              As for 9/11, the skeptics argue that the official story makes no sense and so cannot be true. Even if I accept that the official stories make no sense - and I don't - the skeptics themselves have had their own theories shredded by experts who have no motives for covering anything up.


              •  I'm dubious about conspiracy theories that (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Meteor Blades

                claim to explain everything.  By definition, they are founded on sketchy evidence and have to acknowledge that.  Thus, I have great respect for people poring over Zapruder films and films of 911, until they start claiming to know what happened.  

                But, either way, most of those are amateurs, sleuthng for love of truth, fun or profit.  It seems to me that GW skeptics are quite different.  They are experts, whose expertise seems to be for sale.

  •  It wouldn't be the first time... (0+ / 0-) the last couple hundred years when man has done some irreparable harm to his environment.

    Then think that, within your lifetime, this forest may be replaced  with patches of scrub land and scoured stone.  The cause?  Our thoughtlessness, our pursuit of comfort, our greed.

    If another species ascends following our demise, and they develop written language to record what they think happened to us, they might well write that we were a species so guilt-ridden we judged ourselves unworthy of our lives and took thousands of years to evolve the intelligence (against  God and nature) to destroy ourselves.

  •  We intertupt this thread for a bit of nonsense (0+ / 0-)

    Devilstower are you saying that my Yertle the Turtle Cosmological Theory is bogus. I'm telling you I can prove that the Earth is held in position because it's sitting on a huge stack of turtles. And I would prove it to if I could only figure out how to download my drwaings. Besides just because I wrote it down with a crayon. That doesn't mean it's not valid.

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled thread.

    "I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do." Robert A. Heinlein

    by Wes Opinion on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 01:43:21 PM PDT

  •  Boost to CO2 mass extinction idea (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It isn't by chance or some such thing that humans are sicker than ever before. Ah, yes, the neocons will point out the fact that we're living longer than ever before, but just take a look at how the bottom line has grown to Pharma's Wall St. numbers to view the real picture. Humans diverged from natural selection and natural population controls long ago, when some neurotic primate decided being a hunter and gatherer wasn't good enough. And, so, here we are polluting ourselves to death. You see we are oxygen breathing carbon units that are losing the 24/7 struggle called homeostasis that pretty much rules all life on earth, because of our never ending desire based poor living habits! Its too bad, because indeed we were living in paradise once upon a time.
    Sick and tired of the rats in this race!

  •  Quite a leap I would say (0+ / 0-)

    From the very obvious:

    "Global warming, the idea that we are in a period where the world's temperature is going up, has been almost as clear for the last twenty years."

    To the very speculative:

    "And it's the biggest threat we've ever faced."

  •  Maybe it's time. (0+ / 0-)

    I interviewed Stephen Schneider about climate change, about 20 years ago. A big issue then was how to cope with the uncertainties in the predictions. I remember him saying that if we waited to act until we were entirely sure the effect was real, it would be too late to avoid it.

    A full generation later ... are we ready yet?

    "We feel President Pelosi could manage." -- Doonesbury 4/12/07

    by North Madison on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 03:41:00 PM PDT

  •  Are you a fool? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    "poring over the Zapruder film or hunting for Bigfoot"

    You equate hunting for a mythical creature as though it really exists despite any credible evidence with trying to figure out who murdered the last great Democrat, man of the people, and president?

    Since this longwinded posts says very little that isn't obvious I can only assume it's just a vehicle to attack Kennedy assassination researchers.

    Speaking of when the sharks are just fools...

    You know, I have to endure so much misinformation, prejudice and, frankly, stupidity on the internet that I would expect to avoid that in one of your post.

    I won't engage a discussion on the merits of assassination research here. But I will say that mocking those who have the courage to seek the truth, against the stigma of being labed a "conspiracy theorist" by those very shark-like forces of the status quo, is the realm of sophistry. No, idiocy.

    Some people have enough sense to realize it matters who killed John Kennedy and why. Especially since we're living with the consequences of that murder to this day.

    There are two things that really piss me off. One is the defenders of the status quo who fail to acknowledge the environmental catastrophe we are going to leave behind to our children. The other is the idiots who think we should put the Kennedy assassination behind us and accept the verdict of the Warren Commission and the HSCA.

    Thank you for somehow managing to bring these two together into an annoying little tarball.

  •  love your diary, but hate the title. (0+ / 0-)

    i have to state my opinion on the "grassy/gassy knoll" --washington mutual has a grassy knoll reference in a silly tv ad, comedy central uses it in a new series, it's every where.  for us oldsters, it brings back really sad, sick feelings.  personally,
    i think it's tasteless.  but i defend your choice to use it.  i just had to speak up about it.  it drives me nuts.  sorry.

  •  Palm tree fossils at the poles do not prove (0+ / 0-)

    climate change necessarily.

    This is a quibbling correction maybe, but the existence of palm tree fossils in Antarctica is equally well explained by continental drift.

    In fact such fossils are explained by continental drift.

    The media is notoriously bad a reporting science and a fair fraction of what the media reports is written by people who have no scientific training, but it is important to note that many postulates once thought absurd have proved to be true.

    The theory of continental drift is just one of these ideas.

    In fact, the idea of carbon dioxide climate change is very old, more than a century old.   The state of affairs now observed with respect to climate change was predicted by the great physical chemist Arrhenius more than a century ago.

    The modern understanding of climate change was first raised by the great nuclear scientist Alvin Weinberg.   Since Alvin Weinberg was an extremely key player in the invention of several types of important nuclear reactors, including the type most widely used around the world, the pressurized water reactor, one would expect to hear from some people how climate change is a "nuclear industry plot."   It does happen that the tragedy of climate change has represented a huge boost to the nuclear industry, but it is not true that climate change is under discussion because of the nuclear industry.

    Of course any advantage to the nuclear industry has nothing at all to do with whether the mechanism of climate change was involved with carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by fossil fuel burning (which is, in fact, true) but a lot of people would nonetheless believe this because they want to believe this.

    It is easy to blame the media, but the best antidote to media representation is critical thinking by people who are exposed to what the media reports.   One must evaluate media reports to see if they are reasonable and whether or not they have represented the full set of facets of an issue.   The more educated the public is, the less easy it is to manipulate the public.

  •  Happy Earthday Birthday to my Hubby. (0+ / 0-)

    Green?  How do we count his 72 VW Rabbit, diesel, which he drives to work?  

  •  nonsense (0+ / 0-)

    The bit about evolution is utter nonsense.  Where to begin?  First, Darwin did not propose evolution.  Evolution has been noted since the ancient Greeks. Darwin proposed many plausible explanations for evolution.  Anyone who has read Darwin's so-misrepresented book would know this all too well, as Darwin discusses the fact of evolution, and prior attempts to explain it, at length. Second, the author seems to think that a "theory" is much like a fleeting thought one has while sipping morning coffee.  No, that is called an "idea." A theory is an grand explanatory framework that synthesizes many accumulated facts. A theory may not become a fact, as the author confusingly asserts.  A theory is an explanation of facts observed.   This post is a perfect example of how successful the right-wing propaganda machine has been in spreading its lies: even the well-intentioned are duped.  It's also a great example of why we need more science education in public schools.

  •  Excellent Post! One criticism for the commenters. (0+ / 0-)

    This was a great post!
    I should have written earlier, but I got caught up commenting on something else.

    I am a climate science graduate student and I've been thinking this precisely... if I could disprove global warming, I would be ultimately rewarded. Academia truly is a world of sharks (at the upper tier) and if I could make the case that there was an alternate explanation... damn, that would be good stuff. Great stuff!

    I couldn't think of a better career move (especially with the current administration--hello funding!).

    Unfortunately, the few remaining climate deniers like to think of themselves as the brave scientist with the right ideas, but in order to hold on to this romantic idea, they are forced to cite old, disproved evidence and hide behind science fiction writers.


    Ok, please allow me one comment about the commenters (sorry but I have to).

    Please stop referring to any future of global warming as "destroying the planet"! A little piece of me dies every time I hear this...

    The planet will do just fine with a little warming--it is the human race that will have a hard time. Sure, there will be some serious changes to the world's oceans (a guarantee) due to ocean acidification and some re-adjustment to various ecological niches. The polar bears will ultimately adjust to their new situation (similar to the previous interglacial--warm period before last ice age), but we may have made it an impossible situation. But even with the loss of millions of species, we are still not talking about "destruction of the planet," just change. Nuclear weapons is a much bigger worry for global destruction. Sorry, but I find it silly to continue referring to it this way.

    Add Witty Signature Here...

    by The Scientist on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 10:57:26 PM PDT

  •  econony subset of the environment (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I picked up Lester Brown's Eco-Economy and it provided a wonderful insight on the first page:

    "economists see the environment as a subset of the economy,  the ecologist, on the other hand, sees the economy as a subset of the environment."

    This difference in perspective is as shattering as the universe revolving around the earth, versus the earth orbiting the sun spining in the galaxy flying through space in a cosmic expansion

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