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I've never really considered myself an environmentalist. I don't live a particularly "green" life, though I recycle, don't litter, and don't leave lights on or other electronic devices running. But I increasingly find opposition to climate science (I don't think they are skeptics as much as scoffers) infuriating.

I don't even know quite what is motivating this post at the moment. But I have a family member with a science based Ph.D. who consistently raises his opposition to the findings of climate scientists every time he sees me. He argues that he's "read the science" and that his work has always been about modeling and that the models they use cannot hope to capture the complexity of the phenomenon of climate change and that ultimately belief in anthropogenic climate change is nothing more than belief, even religious belief. This last point resonates with those who often compare the dire predictions of climate scientists and environmental activists to the apocalyptic speculation that has occurred so frequently across western history.

Now, apocalyptic speculation is something I actually know about and have studied from different angles, both professionally and as it intersects with my own cultural practices. I can take you through Joachim of Fiore's tripartite division of history and the ensuing distinctions between pre-millennial and post-millennial dispensationalisms. I've read Carion's Chronicle and the Testament of Elias, which blended Jewish and Christian eschatologies in the 16th century and can hold forth on the role of the Fifth Monarchy men and Menassah Ben Israel's The Hope of Israel in 17th century English politics. I can explain the kabbalistic underpinnings and talmudic calculations of Nathan of Gaza and Shabbtai Tzvi, and then the subsequent anti-nomian movement of Jakob Frank. And I can testify that climate science has nothing to do with these imaginative extrapolations of prophetic texts into particular historical contexts.

Climate science isn't about applying authoritative religious texts to historical contexts in apocalyptic, i.e. revelatory ways. It's based on the best interpretations of observable phenomena and employs the scientific method. Sure, predictive modeling is not as precise an application of the scientific method as the diagnosis of cause. It entails more inference. And if the scientific method never claims to be beyond the possibility of error, predictive modeling is an application with even more potential to get it wrong until it self-corrects. And yet, if 97% of cardiologists agreed that I needed a surgical procedure or my cardio-vascular system would blow itself out within a short time, and that this situation was already one they would classify as an emergency, would I hesitate? Would you? It wouldn't mean that they were correct beyond any doubt or that the procedure would succeed. It would mean that they were far more likely to be correct than not and that the procedure would be far more likely to engender health than impair it. Would any of us dismiss them as a self-interested and/or self-deluding community of mystics?

I accept that global climate history is an exponentially more complex system even than the body's cardio-vascular system. And I don't think any form of science should be accepted uncritically or without true skepticism. For the scientific method requires a healthy skepticism as constitutive of the mechanism of its process. I don't suggest anyone accept authority blindly. But if 97% of cardiologists told me I needed that procedure immediately, would it be wise to say "hold on, I'm going to med school and then do a cardiology fellowship and read all the journals and analyze the methodologies of every article on the subject and then get back to you"? Science entails humility, the humility to admit that we may be wrong on this or that point and that we are certainly going to be wrong on some points. It entails respect for the scientific community, even as we acknowledge its fallibility. Healthy skepticism among lay folk within a democracy means not accepting the findings of a particular researcher, no matter their reputation, on its own. It means listening to more voices within a community of authorities.

So let's go back. And let's get a bit more dramatic. If 40% of cardiologists were to tell me that my son's heart murmur was dangerous and required an invasive procedure, I would certainly be concerned, to hazard an understatement. And I would have to consider the minority opinion as significant. I might not have the procedure done. But I certainly would begin to consider it. If 51% were to tell me that, I'd consider it seriously, even knowing that almost half the community of authorities, of trained experts, believes otherwise. If 60%, I'd have trouble gambling on the 40% being right, even as I'd acknowledge the healthy possibility. At what point would I sign the consent form without hesitation? 65%? 70%? 75%? Would anyone in this situation really require 97% before consenting, even if consent entailed hazard and even if the procedure required significant sacrifice?

Originally posted to ortheother on Mon May 12, 2014 at 07:34 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Denial of Man-made Global Climate Change (19+ / 0-)

    is connected to the apocalyptic belief systems. It is the perfect excuse to do nothing. Otherwise one would be thwarting their god's will.

    If they cannot believe that humans are capable of causing climate change via air pollution (mostly) then they cannot accept that we can change it back or mitigate those changes either.

    So it's just easier for them to sit and wait for the end.

    All and all, some day when we are looking back at this period of time, when Historians of various disciplines are pouring over the relevant text, I do believe they will find irrefutable connections between the Fossil Fuel Industry and the current incarnation of religious climate change denial. Money using religion, to manipulate the masses by sowing the seeds of doubt delivered from the publishing house and the pulpit.

    Science says, "We understand enough of the mechanism of climate change, that we can mitigate the worst of these changes."

    The Fossil Fuel Industry says: "There goes our profits if we allow Scientists to call the shots"

    We don't have Science Centers on every corner where the majority of people meet once a week to be edified.

    But we do have churches.

    Drawing upon congregations is the quickest way to reach the most amount of people for any movement. And because of the nature of religious belief, and the need to belong, the best way to utilize those adherents is to make sure that your political agenda appears to be one and the same with their religious beliefs, and to deviate from one is to also abandon the other.

    That's why environmentalism is seen as a threat to religion, because its framed as an alternative to it (like a rival belief system), and not as a complimentary.

    "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

    by GreenMother on Mon May 12, 2014 at 07:50:38 AM PDT

    •  I actually don't think that (11+ / 0-)

      deniers on religious grounds are nearly the problem that deniers who create the false equivalences between scientific inference and prophetic eschatologies are.   I think the latter group is both larger and more persuadable.  My frustration is with those who accept science and then dismiss climate science as quasi-religious hysteria.  I think they do much much more damage.

      •  Maybe they aren't being as truthful about their (8+ / 0-)

        belief system as they could.

        There is enough hostility generated between religion and science at this point that I am sure there are plenty of people who secretly hold the views of the other but will not own up to that for fear of being cast of out of their current societies.

        I live in a state where the Apocalyptic mindset is normalized. It's not seen as a deviation from the norm. And so that every time we have some kind of natural disaster that can be connected to Climate Change--its immediately reframed in terms of "End Times" omens and signs.

        I find it ironic that these ascribe all environmental phenomenon like this to moral failings, when it's self inflicted failings in understanding just how powerful beings can be with gifted with free will and the capability of high technology.

        "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

        by GreenMother on Mon May 12, 2014 at 08:55:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  One thing to think about (5+ / 0-)

        Climate science denial tends to incorporate a number of fundamental attributes of social/theocratic conservatism.

        1. The ability to believe conflicting realities simultaneously.  There is a common theme in conservatism of society gone to hell, with end-times theology being the most extreme version.  So you can oppose climate change science, but

        2. As pointed out, a big part of the objection is that it is an apocalypse theory that comes with its own directions for remediation, which tend to work at odds with the deterministic world view.

        3. There is a "rational" group of climate change deniers.  They are either 70+ years old, or wealthy enough that they think they can afford to ride out the consequences.  (Climate change denial is very common among older people, as it really doesn't affect them but it does affect their hippie kids.)

        4. Ultimately, conservatives don't believe in anything non-deterministic.  There is no higher authority giving a precise timetable, because nobody knows.  There is a very miniscule chance that nothing will happen, and a small chance of a net benefit.  Conservatives don't tend to make the obvious decision here, e.g. why would you make a bet that is massively stacked against you, and that has a huge downside?  Instead, they'll assume that, if you do the right thing (e.g., ban the gays, send money to Pat Robertson, etc.) you will win that bet because good things happen to good people.

        5. Related to the above, there is a strong belief that costs accrue only to individuals, e.g. you're responsible for yourself and nothing else could possibly matter.

        •  Here's my compilation: (6+ / 0-)

          Right-wing sound-bites on Global Warming, and the responses:

          Right-wing says: It's not happening.  
               Sanity says: Wrong. It is.
          RW: But 2.9% of scientists can't confirm it.  Therefore it's debatable.
               S:  Those scientists lost the debate long ago.  
          RW: Some places got colder last winter.
               S:  Well, then, let's call it "Climate Change."
          RW: Still, some places got colder last winter.
               S: There is a difference between weather and climate.
          RW: But the Artic Ice Sheet just got 60% larger.
               S:  No. You are comparing summer and winter ice, and area not volume.  
          RW: It's caused by volcanoes, or solar cycles, or invisible planets.  
               S: Wrong.  And wrong.  And effing insane.  
          RW: It's not caused by human activity.
               S: Wrong. It is caused by too much stuff that we put into the atmosphere.
          RW: Earth's climate is always changing.
               S:  Not this quickly.
          RW: But what about the Permian-Triassic Extinction Event? That was quick.
               S: It also caused massive extinction.  That's why it's called an Extinction Event.
          RW: Nature can adapt.  It's called evolution.
               S: Never that fast.  
               S: Btw, just two years ago didn't you say evolution doesn't exist?  
          RW: 'Merkins can solve the problem.
               S: Not when you refuse to implement green technologies that already exist.
          RW: Then it's caused by Al Gore and lefties riding airplanes.
               S: No. It's the fossil fuel companies that refuse green technologies.  
          RW: The Bible says . . .
               S: Shut up.  
          RW: Well, we can't stop it now, so why even bother?
               S: Grrr.

          •  Sanity has a well known liberal bias (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Kevskos, Paul Ferguson, Eikyu Saha

            That's why Fox replaced sanity with Hannity.

            •  That's amusing (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Eikyu Saha

              Climate change is one of those things that ends up as a blurb in party platforms. Last night I went to my County party meeting and about 9:00 PM as people were getting ready to go home we tackled the party platform.

              I expect our chair thought " somebody already looked at this so lets not waste a lot of time on it."

              A Republican could have run on that platform. For those of you who don't belong to your state and county Democratic committees, or their executive committees, don't attend caucuses and get assigned to conventions as delegates, don't get involved with party platforms or the selection of candidates, don't bitch if you see nothing change.

              The way you get to be a part of the decision making process isn't voting, its volunteering to phone bank, to canvas door to door, to drive candidates around to meet voters, to coordinate the fourth of July parade, and the Lobster festival.

              Sometimes you have to be the one to find a band and a truck and a generator to make a float a candidate can campaign from.

              You have to be the one to volunteer to make yard signs and go door to door getting people to take yard signs for a slate of Democratic Candidates.

              You have to be the one setting up a table outside polling places to pass out pamphlets for clean elections to fight back against citizens united.

              Then you have to use your visibility in your community to advocate that people do something more about climate change than vote for a carbon tax and recycle.

              "la vida no vale nada un lugar solita" "The Limits of Control Jim Jarmusch

              by rktect on Wed May 14, 2014 at 01:31:08 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Sometimes maybe. Mostly not. (8+ / 0-)

      I've read a ton of denier blog posts, articles, comments, etc. and don't think that anywhere near a majority of deniers are motivated primarily by religious beliefs. What I do see is that they tend to be anti-expert/anti-enviro-regulation/anti-social-engineering-by-taxation/anti-anti-keep-driving-my-gas-guzzler, etc. and never once see any indication that these are people who are contentedly waiting for the apocalypse.

      They mostly just don't believe the science that supports AGW/climate change is solid. They seem to be certain they are correct. Many are not dummies. Many are actual scientists.

      23% of meteorologists in this survey aren't sure whether or not warming is is caused by man. 6% say it's "mostly by natural events". (89% think it is warming.)

      Cook et al report that 97% of climate scientists support the view that AGW is happening.

      •  It has become a tribal identifier (8+ / 0-)

        Climate change is an environmental issue, environmentalists are mostly Democrats. If I am opposed to Democrats then by default I take the contrary position on climate change.

        As an added benefit, once I define climate change as a Democratic issue I don't have to partake in substantive debate on the scientific merits. I don't have to offer competing evidence. I can dismiss the whole thing as a partisan power grab and go on my merry way.

        Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

        by Joe Bob on Mon May 12, 2014 at 06:35:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Gong one's merry way (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ortheother, greenotron

          " I can dismiss the whole thing as a partisan power grab and go on my merry way."

          Unfortunately, the environmental disruption caused by the excess heat that results from increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will make that increasingly more difficult with each passing year.

          At this point, climate change denial is more akin to playing Russian roulette, but deciding that one bullet in the chamber isn't enough and two are needed.  As the increasingly hotter summers and prolonged droughts and disruptions of food supplies make the already obvious even more obvious to the oblivious, adding a third bullet to the chamber will only hasten
          the inevitable.

          The strategy to win against climate change is to invest, invest, and invest in alternative forms of power generation and consumption until the point is reached that fossil fuels can no longer compete in the market place.  That way those who deny it will be at an increasing disadvantage going forward.  Make fossil fuels more expensive by any means at one's disposal and little by little it will become less and less relevant.  In reality there is only one way to address the current climate change issue.  Stop using fossil fuels in any way possible as often as possible.  There is no other solution other than human extinction.  Remember, its not just the heat or rising seas that will be the problem, it will be the droughts and ocean acidification that does mankind in.

        •  McCain and Romney accepted AGW (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joe Bob

          Now, none of the candidates do in spite of there being more and better science supporting that there is an urgent need for action on AGW.

          GOPers have shifted to a dumber, more ideological view thanks to TPGOP/Koch$$/Heartland/NYT historically shitty climate reporting/FNC/blah blah.

          One way or another we need to vanquish this element and do whatever it takes to mitigate anthropogenic CO2.
          It's a street fight that we need to win.
          Please help....I have an 11 year-old.

      •  And I have encountered intense Sexism (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        that isn't directly ascribed to "religion" but sure seems to mimic the talking points.

        Cultural conditioning can be a sneaky thing. Teasing those parts out takes time, and requires a deeply examined life.

        "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

        by GreenMother on Tue May 13, 2014 at 07:31:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sneaky is a good word here. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          When I was young it was a matter of obvious TRUTH (among the elderly) that the climate had changed.  Winters were far worse in olden times.  Too bad there was no clear evidence for any of that so young people automatically labelled the fogies WRONG.

          Well, here we are 50-60 years later and there is evidence.  Who is sure that climate change is a hoax? People who heard all these arguments back when they were blaming radio and motor cars for messing up the weather.

          Who needs to be convinced? Well, good luck!  These days only a handful of movers and shakers have any power whatever.  Move them and move the world.

          "Our problem is not that the glass is half empty or half full, but that the 1% claims that it is their glass." ---Stolen from a post on Daily Kos

          by jestbill on Tue May 13, 2014 at 11:29:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  A caveat (5+ / 0-)

      I am studying a religion that has, as basic tenets, a belief in cause and effect and a belief that change is a constant and universal - Zen Buddhism. There are numerous other religions that are based on a relationship with the Universe- Wicca, Hinduism, First Nations religions, for example.

      Please do me and other practitioners of non-Abrahamic religions a favor and use the words "Fundamentalist Christianity" if that is what you mean by "religion." In a way, you are agreeing with the fundies: their take on Christianity is the one true religion.

      •  Indeed (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Yonit, Mayfly, la motocycliste, greenotron

        And it bears mention that many many Christians and Jews (as far as Jews go I can attest an overwhelming majority) are not only not antagonistic to science but very supportive of science.  And if those who object to climate science on religious grounds are far from representative of Christians as a whole, they certainly do not represent religiosity as such in our world at this moment.

        Perhaps my diary does not go far enough.  While I argue that dismissing climate science by branding it a form of quasi-religious hysteria does a disservice to understanding it as science, it also does a disservice to religious faith by associating it with anti-rational mystical hysteria.  If all religions entail some degree of mysticism, they certainly do not all reject reason and science as ways of understanding the universe.  This is an anti-religious caricature that obscures both the history of religious systems and experience, and their varieties.

        A personal example: When my father, may his memory be for a blessing, was determined to have passed into a permanent vegetative state with no hope of recovering any but the most minimal brain function, I called my rabbi to consult him on Jewish law as ONE of the criteria among others to consider in determining whether and how to let him go.  His response, over the phone in the middle of the night, was to go to his shelf and open a text and read to me aloud an opinion by one of the  foremost Jewish legal authorities of our generation, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein z"l, universally respected among the most traditional streams of Judaism as well as many more modern ones.  This opinion engaged traditional principles and precedents in talmudic discourse and specific authorities in contemporary medical science within a paragraph to render what I considered a compassionate opinion permitting the termination of life support.  He had clearly consulted neuro-scientists and respected their work.

        So when we discuss religious objections to climate science, it's important to note that these objections neither represent all religions or religiosity as such.  And when non-religious scoffers resist climate science by slandering it as "a relgion" they slander religion as much as they do science.

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

          In the upper midwest, there are a number of smaller colleges and universities that are well known for science education, including preparing students for medical school, other medical profession schools, etc.  The ones that I know of personally are either Lutheran or Catholic.  I wonder how the science teachers at the more fundamentalist Christian colleges deal with these conflicts that are referenced in other comments.

          Tan is the new green. Maybe it will green up in two weeks.

          by Andy Cook on Tue May 13, 2014 at 12:29:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  The "we aren't powerful enough" canard (0+ / 0-)

      is particularly ridiculous. During the Cold War, it was a well-known and accepted fact that the U.S. and Soviet Union had enough of a nuclear stockpile to render the surface of the Earth uninhabitable several times over.

      So we clearly can affect the biosphere in very short order with a hellstorm of atomic fire, but somehow we couldn't possibly affect it in a far less extreme way, over a much longer period of time, by changing Earth's atmospheric chemistry? Anyone who maintains such radically contradictory positions is a very special variety of stupid who should probably be sterilized to limit the contamination of the gene pool. Or at least be slapped, Batman-meme-style.

      "You want weapons? We're in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world! This room is the greatest arsenal we could have—arm yourselves!" -The Doctor

      by quillsinister on Wed May 14, 2014 at 09:17:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The models were wrong, It's worse! (20+ / 0-)

    We can go back and look at some of the old models from the 90's and early 2000's, and a lot of them underestimated the impacts and timing of Climate change.  But like most things, they get better with time.

    What if your cardiologists, said we've taken an EKG, we've listened to your heart, we've measured your blood pressure, we've done a variety of blood tests, we've analysed your genome, we've looked at your ancestors, we've done a stress test...  And it ALL confirms you've got a problem.

    Ice cores, numerous satellite measurements in different bands, radar images, direct temperate measurements, CO2 measurements, tree rings, lake bottom pollen, glacier time photos...

    A gazillion scientists with a gazillion kinds of data, with a gazillion data points, and they all draw the same conclusion.  Only a fool will deny reality.

    •  Air, land, sea, and ice are all warmer (5+ / 0-)

      and the seas are more acid. But for the True Believers, additional facts are merely a motive for doubling down and thinking up excuses. It is, on the whole, only their children whom we can get to, and the children are falling away by the millions every year.

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Mon May 12, 2014 at 12:05:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Scoffers don't dispute warming so much (6+ / 0-)

        as our role in it.  Of course, the very simple datum proffered by a climate scientist I know should put that to rest.  Ice core samples reveal shifts in climate in the past, but never at the rate we are witnessing.  And the most likely variable by far that distinguishes this unprecedented rate of change is us our numbers and industrialization.  Is that proof?  No.  But it is the most logical inference.  So apply the logic of Pascal's wager and it's clear what side we should take.

        •  You need to remind them of the isotopic evidence (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ortheother, greenotron

          as it turns out the isotopic ratios in the carbon and oxygen atoms that make up current carbon dioxide now in the atmosphere and in the seas, shows that it is virtually all from the burning of fossil fuels.  There simply is no evidence for or need for an alternative explanation of how the ratios could be arrived at in any other way.

    •  Models are complex, but the basics are simple (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dallasdunlap, Yonit
      1) CO2 retains heat, so it should cause warming.
      2) CO2 is rising, and the world is indeed warming.
      3) Only rising CO2 can explain what we see.
      These are the simple facts.
      The models are about the details.
  •  This attitude angers me (15+ / 0-)
    belief in anthropogenic climate change is nothing more than belief, even religious belief
    As the Ken Hamm/Bill Nye discussion pointed out, all science needs is one incontrovertible data point to toss out an accepted theory and start from scratch.  In most religions that attitude is called "heresey" or "apostasty", and is generally not tolerated.

    So "belief" in science is far, far removed from religious faith.  In both practice and the amount of facts involved with fostering these "beliefs".

    •  Indeed (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RonK, WarrenS, Rogneid, Mayfly

      And I actually have great respect for religious faith.  But I think it occupied a different sphere of human experience.  

    •  The trick word is "incontrovertible." (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RonK, ortheother, FloridaSNMOM, Rogneid, Yonit

      But your point still stands.  Working science is far more amenable to well-evidenced dissent than other hierarchies for organizing knowledge.  It still takes some time for experts--who are human themselves--to come to terms with even raw data, a process that varies from question to question and field to field and can be quite ferocious professionally.

      Popular science, on the other hand...

    •  One data point is never enough to settle (6+ / 0-)

      a scientific controversy. In order to become incontrovertible, it must be confirmed many times and then generalized and tested further in every way that can be thought of.

      But one data point can be enough to start a controversy, and in the most favorable case initiate a new branch of science.

      The clearest case I know of is the first Michelson-Morley experiment that showed the speed of light to be constant in all directions, independent of the motion of emitter and absorber. They thought that they were going to measure the velocity of the Earth through the luminiferous ether, and instead demolished the entire concept.

      But the first experimental result could conceivably have been a coincidence. It took years of further experiments on their part to confirm the initial discovery under every circumstance they could think of, and years more for Lorentz, Fitzgerald, and others to start working out the implications, up to Einstein's Special Relativity, which then required vast amounts of confirmation and testing to extend it to every possible situation, including Relativistic Quantum Mechanics, and later General Relativity.

      For some scientists, Eddington's confirmation of Einstein's prediction for the bending of starlight in a solar eclipse is the best single-observation confirmation of a new theory ever. (Andy Serkis played Einstein in the TV Movie about this, Einstein and Eddington, opposite David Tennant.) But we are nowhere near done confirming and extending General Relativity.

      The initial data point that should have settled this problem was Fourier's discovery of the greenhouse effect in 1824, or Alexander Graham Bell's little-known prediction of global warming in 1917. But as with leaded gasoline and paint, acid rain, DDT in egg shells, seatbelts in cars, cancer from cigarettes, and a multitude of other such issues, the time it takes for good science to prevail as public policy is inversely proportional to the amount of money at stake for companies opposing it. Fossil carbon is bigger than any of those others, and it should not be surprising that this fight is as difficult as it is.

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Mon May 12, 2014 at 12:26:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  not sure what you're getting at (5+ / 0-)

    since the worst case scenario pretty much means the end of human civilization, and it looks fairly likely that the worst-case is what's going to happen so...

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

    by terrypinder on Mon May 12, 2014 at 08:02:32 AM PDT

    •  Well, to clarify (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rogneid, Yonit

      this is precisely the false equivalence to which I'm objecting, if I understand you correctly.  Even as both apocalypticism and climate science predict massive catastrophe, they should not be conflated.  As Frank Kermode points out, "the apocalypse can always be disconfirmed without being discredited."  It's a narrative structure some employ to organize human experience in various ways.  But climate science is based on the inference of predictive modeling that employs scientifically ascertained data.  It has an empirical basis that addresses the context of human experience.  Furthermore, most people, even many religious believers, misunderstand eschatology as predicting the end of the world.  Rather, "apocalypse" means revelation and describes an upheaval that sees the world re-made and perfected.  Climate science argues that there are observable trends that will very likely cripple human existence or obliterate it altogether.  The precipice won't be a painful transition to a better state, but a total collapse of the species in all of its forms of civilization and perhaps a crumbling into extinction.  Finally. not all eschatologies encourage quietism.  A central strain of Jewish eschatology suggests that we have a choice in how this even comes about, that a messianic advent is either the mechanism that steps in when absolutely necessary or the sign that we ourselves have achieved it (see BT Sanhedrin 98a).  Regardless, dismissing climate science as a form of apocalyptic speculation that can be disconfirmed without being discredited ignores the radical difference in premises.  Were the predictions of climate science to be disconfirmed (and who would cheer that even louder than climate scientists?) it would indeed be discredited, and we would rejoice.  And that is the major difference.  In the mean time, it's not about heeding prophecy or its application, it's about behaving in the most responsible way regarding the best interpretation of the best data we have.  When 97% of a particular scientific community concurs, and when more skeptics among them have recanted than advocates becoming skeptics, but you still go to have your teeth cleaned by a dentist and you still respect physicists and biologists, then you aren't being consistent in the least.  And you are being irresponsible.

      •  apocalypse has two meanings (2+ / 0-)

        the one you cite, and the other one that basically means catastrophe and ruin and the like. I don't think it's irresponsible to use the word apocalypse to describe what's probably coming with climate change, and I'd hazard a guess that the second meaning is the one people think of, not the religious one, although they might but they only know it for some vague reason. As conservatives often complain, biblical literacy is rather at an all time low.

        Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

        by terrypinder on Mon May 12, 2014 at 09:26:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sorry (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          But the second meaning runs counter the the term's etymology and to the texts that develop the concept.

          I disagree, more specifically, with the effectiveness of associating climate change with the popular MISunderstanding of the religious term.  In my view, it plays into a conflation that does immense harm to the discussion, as it suggests that climate scientists and activists are simply another version of religious mystics shouting that "the end is nigh" in the streets.  This "end" is distinctly more harmful and final than that which governs religious imaginations and historiography, as it does not entail a benevolent final cause and terminus.  But more importantly, its premises are fundamentally different, and that difference is crucial in this discussion.  Whether effacing that difference is "irresponsible" or not, I do think it distinctly harmful and disruptive of understanding.  And I've outlined precisely why.  YMMV.  But this isn't simply a "semantic" issue, nor do I actually believe that any semantic issue is simple or incidental.  For we engage one another semantically.  Therefore, I understand these issues as fundamental.  Climate change isn't leading us toward a potential outcome that is merely different in degree from the historiographic upheavals imagined by religious traditions, it is different in kind and not merely an issue of imagination and interpretation of prophetic texts.  I think these distinctions absolutely crucial and don't quite understand your insistence that they aren't.

          •  I'm not trying to evangelize (2+ / 0-)

            I just doubt there will be very much action taken, by any of the world's governments, on climate change.

            there will be, in 20 short years, 10 billion people on this planet. That plus an increasingly hostile climate equals disaster.

            I know what the science says; I'm certainly not ignorant of it. The science tells me apocalypse (or catastrophe, or the like) is coming eventually, because of the steadily warming climate. You cannot deny the impact that even one foot of  average sea-level rise will do, especially since sea-level rise isn't uniform. You cannot deny the impact that changing rainfall patterns will have on agriculture.

            I am not understanding why you're objection to the word usage. Word meanings change, and can be used for different things, and by the year 2100, climate change will be the end of the world for a great many people.

            Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

            by terrypinder on Mon May 12, 2014 at 10:04:38 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You may not agree with my objection (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Rogneid, itsjim, Agathena

              but I don't see how you could misunderstand it if you've read what I've written here.  But I'll try a final time.

              My primary objection is that it strengthens scoffers who cast climate science as a modern scientific apocalypticism as a way of discrediting it.  They cast the science as a predictive hysteria about a coming catastrophe that is repeatedly disconfirmed without being discredited over and over and over again.  It's a repeated cry of wolf.  Branding it apocalypticism discredits the alarm.  Furthermore, it suggests that the premises and mechanism of apocalyptic speculation and scientific predictive modeling are no different.

              Accordingly, I think using apocalyptic terminology does more harm than good to the cause of climate change policy activism.  I think for those reasons it's a distinctly counter-productive practice.  I don't see what is to be gained by it.  And I see what is lost in its usage.  YMMV.  But I think my arguments are quite clear.  While you may not accept them, they are stated with abundant clarity more than once.

              So I'll ask you, even if you don't accept my arguments, what is to be gained by conflating science and apocalypticism?  

              And just because meanings and usage of words change over time doesn't mean that all are valid or simply neutral.  Some are harmful and obscuring, as I think this one is.  And I think that ultimately etymology counts.  But semiological debate is secondary here.

            •  People deny both how much damage and how soon (0+ / 0-)

              The IPCC using 2100 as a when lulls  many people into complacency thinking well surely we will have a solution by then.

              Next the people lulled into complacency (Democratic politicians) propose some form of mediation. Carbon caps, carbon taxes, recycling, riding bicycles to work, using mass transit, alternative energy, solar wind, maybe nuclear.

              They generally don't propose to save the more than 100 Gulf and East coast cities threatened by rising sea levels that sea walls and levees can't save them from by relocating or salvaging what we can of their infrastructure and letting those parts that are 75 years old and crumbling be replaced.

              Recently flood plain insurance maps have begun to show that in category V rates will be $2.10 per $100 of value each year making flood insurance for all the pricy beach front estates impossible and at the same time discouraging public officials from attempting to save them with sea walls, jetties, beach replenishment or foundation reinforcement since none of those things is a good long range solution.

              Urban areas will lose their subways, tunnels, roads, bridges, high rises, water and sewage treatment, power plants underground utilities, seaports, airports, commercial districts, stores, manufacturing, entertainment districts, sports stadiums, communications, and distribution networks.

              Some things could still be saved by relocation, equipment such as turbines, generators, pumps, lab equipment, hospital medical equipment, manufacturing

              I'd love to be able to build some consensus that there is hope somewhere.

              "la vida no vale nada un lugar solita" "The Limits of Control Jim Jarmusch

              by rktect on Wed May 14, 2014 at 10:36:39 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Hurrah for positive science! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Long live exact demonstration!
    Fetch stonecrop and mix it with cedar and branches of lilac;
    This is the lexicographer or chemist...this made grammar of the old cartouches,
    These mariners put the ship through the dangerous unknown seas,
    This is the geologist, and this works with the scalpel, and this is a mathematician.

    Gentlemen, I receive you, and attach and clasp hands with you,
    The facts are useful and real...they are not my dwelling...I enter by them to an area of the dwelling.

    Walt Whitman - Leaves Of Grass.

    Taking the road less traveled since 1967 .

    by Paragryne on Mon May 12, 2014 at 08:10:39 AM PDT

  •  Scoffer: That's the word for it (16+ / 0-)

    As a scientist, I have been surprised by the number of otherwise decent and technically competent practitioners I have met who are dismissive of climate science.  They are more common among engineers and dentists than among scientists and doctors, and the surprise comes in two forms.

    One is that they exist at all, given the usual standards of deference to professional expertise granted by those outside the field in question.  Here it is important that the scoffers I have known are uniformly conservatives with a knee jerk hatred for anything the dirty hippies advocate.  That doesn't necessarily mean that they are wrong, it's just a tip off that they may be prone to sloppiness in their thinking.

    Two is the weakness of the arguments they advance.  The most common is the idea that global warming is a socialist plot to destroy America's competitive advantage in the world economy; this is an embarrassing logical error, the inverse of my favorite error that belief in some idea is permissible because you think it would be great if it were true.  Then there is the barrage of petty excuses along the lines of "well, what if it's CO2 from volcanoes?"  The rejoinder to that sort of thing is along the lines of "If you can think that up sitting here at your desk, don't you think the professionals might have thought of it already and have their reasons for rejecting it?"  Which is not to say that climate scientists are uniformly perfectly correct about everything, just that if you want to go up against the concensus you had better have your facts in order.

    After all, Wegner really was correct and continents really do drift.  But when Will and Krauthammer blather on about concensus and lone geniuses, they have it exactly backwards: they are not bravely cutting a path into the future, they are cowardly dead enders clinging to a discredited past.  They are the exact counterparts of the German academics who mocked Relativity as degenerate Jewish Science.  The Truth will prevail over the long run, but the question is how much suffering with the scoffers inflict with their sabotage and their delaying tactics.

    o caminho d'ouro, uma pinga de mel: Parati

    by tarkangi on Mon May 12, 2014 at 08:24:42 AM PDT

    •  Edit (4+ / 0-)

      the question is how much avoidable suffering will the scoffers inflict with their sabotage and their delaying tactics.

      o caminho d'ouro, uma pinga de mel: Parati

      by tarkangi on Mon May 12, 2014 at 09:12:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yep. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RonK, tarkangi, Joe Bob, Rogneid, Yonit

      Re:Two is the weakness of the arguments they advance.

      Yep but they have no idea.

      It's no surprise that the people who really know the science (climate scientists) are pretty much in consensus; the science is solid and they are quite familiar with it.

      On the flip side, the it's-volcanoes/17-years-with-no-warming/data-manipulation-required-to-show-warming/etc.  are classic examples of (climate science) Dunning-Kruger brought to you by those who aren't sufficiently scientifically literate and/or sufficiently immersed in climate science. They have no clue and most won't find one but that doesn't stop them from having strong views.

  •  The family scientist... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RonK, Rogneid, itsjim, Yonit

    Tell the family scientist to write it up and send it to Science or Nature and STFU until they publish it.

  •  Not Quite the Right Model: Both Sides Do Wrong (10+ / 0-)

    The conservatives are not saying we need to wait while they go to climatology school.

    They are saying that climatology school is wrong and that this is easily knowable by virtue of being a political conservative, business person or Christian.

    Where the left and Democrats are wrong is in debating climate change with deniers.

    We're wrong because we're not climate scientists any more than our opponents are.

    By debating the science itself, we are reinforcing their frame that conservative philosophy is equal or superior to technical expertise.

    As you suggest, it is not the role of the citizen to debate the technical expert, be it the climatologist or the cardiologist. Nor is it reasonable or timely for the citizen to go gain competitive expertise when the expert field is declaring we're already in crisis.

    The only proper debate is over the proper role of the citizen, which is what to do about the facts when expertise is so nearly unanimous.

    What's wrong about the conservative position is not their claim of atmospheric temperatures over the past 15 years, but their claim that they have a rational basis to make claims of any kind so far beyond their expertise.

    They don't belong in a dispute about glacier trends, ocean acidity or historic sea levels. The reason they don't is the same reason that we don't, but we validate their madness by joining them in the debate.

    Of course we should and must debate and fight, but we must fight the correct fight, the one both sides are qualified to fight.

    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 Mon May 12, 2014 at 08:42:17 AM PDT

    •  Their shit is weaker by far. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sagesource, Rogneid

      I've immersed myself at times. There is a huge difference in the quality of arguments put forward by Paul Krugman, Al Gore, Chris Hayes or even me and the standard fare of the deniers.

      I say study climate science and then argue. Go to, Climate Progress or and have at it.

      The worst case scenario:
      You won't change anyone's mind now but within 5 years you'll be able to say "i told you so."

    •  It is indeed fortunate that this turns out (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rogneid, Yonit

      not to be the case. We do not have to defer to the scientists on everything, and we should not. We should be able to tell which scientists are for real, and which are paid shills and ideologues and simply bright fools.

      It is not necessary to be able to do a scientific study in order to understand its principles, to evaluate the reliability of the researchers, and to understand its implications. It is necessary to know something, and not to be wholly under the spell of Creationism or Global Warming Denialism.

      The public needed to understand that Fleischman and Pons, respected chemists, had turned themselves into quacks by attempting to do nuclear physics, namely their supposed cold fusion experiments, without bringing in anybody trained in nuclear physics to set up correct systems for measuring their supposed effects.

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Mon May 12, 2014 at 01:15:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this well argued case against the (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ortheother, Joe Bob, Rogneid, Yonit

    skeptics, especially the skeptics without a "good" cause. Your analogy with the heart surgery is very apt. Although many people are skeptical of science they do not reject all science. They tend to pick and choose what they want to accept based on their affiliations, news viewing habits, and how acceptance or not will affect their pocket books. If the science is in fact good science and the 97% suggests that it is good, it is then out of the realm of "belief" or preference and in the realm of "lets get busy and do something." I am hopeful that this latest national report, given how authoritatively and regionally it was presented, will help move climate science out of the arena of political belief and into the arena of political action.

    "There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats ..." - Kenneth Grahame -

    by RonK on Mon May 12, 2014 at 08:54:43 AM PDT

    •  The 97% number is four years old (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RonK, liz, Joe Bob, Rogneid

      It is much higher now. If you out the paid shills for fossil carbon, it is 100% minus a handful.

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Mon May 12, 2014 at 01:17:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I would be curious to know (0+ / 0-)

        how many climate skeptics there are within geology departments. What amazes me is how many departments, and even government departments such as the British Geological Survey, are pro-fracking and proud of it. It would seem that the term "scientist" covers broad areas of expertise, but that individual scientists seem to ignore any area outside their own.

        "The 'Middle' is a crowded place - that is where the effective power is - the extreme right and left might annoy governments, but the middle terrifies them." Johnny Linehan

        by northsylvania on Tue May 13, 2014 at 05:35:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The most important Socratic principle (0+ / 0-)

          All of the early Platonic dialogues have Socrates questioning an expert in some field who has ventured into something he knows nearly nothing about and making a complete fool of him.

          This is one of several motives for railroading Socrates at his trial, allegedly for impiety. Also, one of his students, Alcibiades, became one of the Tyrants who took over Athens for a time, giving Socrates favorable treatment while oppressing pretty much everybody else.

          Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

          by Mokurai on Tue May 13, 2014 at 10:25:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Alcibiades! (0+ / 0-)

            I wish I had checked in soon enough to give you triple recs for that reference.

            "The 'Middle' is a crowded place - that is where the effective power is - the extreme right and left might annoy governments, but the middle terrifies them." Johnny Linehan

            by northsylvania on Fri May 16, 2014 at 01:35:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  There will always be people... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    who use a legitimate problem, such as AGW, to push their personal agenda. Typically, these agendas would never gain popular support on their own merits. For example, alcohol prohibition was a failure when it was tried in the early 20th Century. But prohibitionists scored a minor victory in raising the legal drinking age to 21, by tying the issue to drunk driving, which a majority of people of concerned about. MADD have lobbied for all sorts of new drinking laws since then, always making the case that drunk driving is ZOMG THE WORST THING EVER THE DRUNKS ARE GOING TO KILL YOUR CHILDREN!!! However, when you look more closely you find the laws the seek to pass may or may not have any effect on highway safety, but they sure do it make it tougher for people to go drinking with their friends.

    Some greens (and I emphasize some, not all) do the same with AGW. I have seen a few cases where vegans argued that people have to give up eating meat, or else global warming will kill your children. This sort of thing annoys me. I do not argue that greenhouse gases will cause a warming trend which will cause all sorts of problems for people. We should try to do something about it, and of course quite alot has been done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There are electric cars and hybrids, more energy efficient building codes, wind power et cetera. Also, when a solution is offered to AGW that does line up with with other aspects of the environmentalist agenda, such as nuclear power, then the bunny huggers come out swinging to do everything they can to prevent any nuclear power plants from being built anywhere. Ever. California is now increasing it's coal fired electric power output for this very reason.

    I suppose I could argue that due to declining testosterone levels in men, which may be caused by the widespread use of xenoestrogens and their contaminating the food supply, the government should compensate for this by encouraging the establishment of strip clubs and brothels in every neighborhood across the country. However, my true motives for making this argument would be somewhat transparent, and people would be annoyed by this... even if they themselves were very concerned with the possible harmful affects of xenoestrogen and other commercially used hormones on humans.

    One other thing that annoys me... the pervasive use of the term "deniers" to describe skeptics. To me, it seems this is an attempt to link AGW skeptics to holocaust deniers. When ever I think of the word "deniers", that's what first jumps to mind. It seems just a tad over the top to me. Anyway, the point here is: just because the science is on your side and you have legitimate arguments doesn't mean you aren't being a obnoxious asshole pushing an unpopular agenda. It's important to try not to do that.

    You can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.

    by Eric Stratton on Mon May 12, 2014 at 09:00:29 AM PDT

    •  You said: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      California is now increasing it's coal fired electric power output for this very reason.
      That alleged 'fact' certainly isn't true for the Los Angeles area since the electric utility there is in the process of divesting from coal fired power plants or is otherwise converting some coal capacity to natural gas, in addition to wind/solar.
    •  Yes, exactly (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      liz, Yonit

      They are precisely on the level of holocaust deniers, along with lead deniers, cancer deniers, acid rain deniers, DDT deniers, Keynesian economics deniers, and many more. They are doing it either for money or ideology, and neither facts nor human lives count with them.

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Mon May 12, 2014 at 01:21:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Holocaust deniers.... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rodentrancher, Rogneid

        ....are not usually doing it for money. Some do it for ideology. Some are simply perverse. It's this last group that I think they share with climate change deniers.

        By denying a fact that the "establishment" affirms, they put themselves in the position of saints and potential martyrs, at least in their own minds. The rebel (for your cause) is a much loved figure in Western mythology:

        Dare to be a Daniel,
        Dare to stand alone!
        Dare to have a purpose firm!
        Dare to make it known.
        You will note that there is no demand for the Daniel to make sure he has his facts straight first.

        Any universally acknowledged fact that can conceivably be doubted will be doubted by a few, as a perverse way of self-affirmation if nothing else. And when they are reminded, even very gently, that the facts are against them, they will feel themselves martyrs.

        This is the landscape that we understand, -
        And till the principle of things takes root,
        How shall examples move us from our calm?

        (Mary Oliver, "Beyond the Snow Belt.")

        by sagesource on Mon May 12, 2014 at 04:44:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Denier is a generic term (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rogneid, Yonit
      One other thing that annoys me... the pervasive use of the term "deniers" to describe skeptics. To me, it seems this is an attempt to link AGW skeptics to holocaust deniers.
      No, that is not intended. Denier is a generic term. It's used whenever someone dishonestly claims to be a "skeptic", implying that they could be persuaded by sufficient evidence, when in fact they suppress and distort facts to advance their argument.

      Though I will certainly grant that Holocaust deniers are the most infamous and repulsive examples of the phenomenon.

    •  What you term "unpopular agenda" is already (0+ / 0-)

      dated as more and more people realize we have to take some extreme steps to avoid extinction.

      There's no need to convince anyone of this, the climate will do that.

      •  So right you are (0+ / 0-)

        "There's no need to convince anyone of this, the climate will do that."

        Few seem to recognize the nature of the inconvenience about the inconvenient truth.  As a biologist who specializes in studying evolutionary trends in fishes that have taken place over tens of millions of years, I find the most frightening aspect of the current global warming is the rate at which it is occurring.  

        Few seem to pay attention to several indisputable quantitative facts: 1) the trend line for increase in global temperature is exponential not linear, since it results from the accumulation of carbon dioxide and is not simply a linear function of its current rate of carbon dioxide production, 2) over the last 40 million years the last time global mean temperatures rose abruptly it only heated at a rate of about 1/30th of the rate we are experiencing now, 3) the vast preponderance of the carbon dioxide being created is being dissolved in the oceans leading to a very rapid decline in pH.  The last time this happened during the Permian, at a rate of about 1/10 of that seen today, 95-99% of all species on the planet disappeared.  Put 1, 2, and 3 together and it is abundantly clear to all but the wilfully ignorant that humanity faces the greatest crisis of its geologically short existence.  Sadly, and frankly there is no reason for optimism presently.

  •  A Climate Message... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LaughingPlanet, Agathena

    ...from saxophonist and composer Ken Field, who speaks well to this situation:

    Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

    by WarrenS on Mon May 12, 2014 at 09:53:12 AM PDT

  •  97% deniers (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ortheother, rodentrancher, Rogneid, Yonit

    Yes. In argumentation on our newspaper's website one frequent commenter cites a newsbuster source that the 97% figure is derived from a very small number of scientists, and only 75 out of 77 support the climate change findings.

    oh and in case you decide to claim that 97% of climate scientists believe in man-induced climate change, let me provide you with this information
    "The number stems from a 2009 online survey of 10,257 earth scientists,
    conducted by two researchers at the University of Illinois,” he wrote in
    a 2010 article. “The survey results must have deeply disappointed the
    researchers – in the end, they chose to highlight the views of a
    subgroup of just 77 scientists, 75 of whom thought humans contributed to
    climate change. The ratio 75/77 produces the 97 percent figure that
    pundits now tout.”

    Fortunately there were far more reality based commenters in the thread, so any readers who remained undecided got a good dose of reliable information.

    “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

    by Catte Nappe on Mon May 12, 2014 at 10:14:26 AM PDT

  •  climate change vs nuclear holocaust (5+ / 0-)

    There's an obvious example to take from the not-too-distant past; that of the MAD days of the Cold War.
    We openly courted apocalypse back then, and nobody put a smiley face on it. sure, there were those who scoffed at the Nuclear Winter scenario, but nobody pretended that launching a cool few thousand warheads at a country we were a little bit angry with was a survivable thing (OK, not too many people; there are psychos and nihilists everywhere, I guess).
    Back then, apocalypse didn't have a "Property of God" sticker on it, and it was well understood that the human-caused destruction of a livable habitat was a real danger to humanity. Since then, we've collectively decided that anything is debatable, including the past. It's a very disturbing development. When a major political party clings to a 3% minority opinion on such a seminal issue, while clinging to similarly miniscule minority opinions on economic issues, social issues, really just about every issue, we have reached the other side of the looking glass. Is it unthinkable that today's Republicans just might use nuclear weapons, if they were mad enough about something? Really unthinkable??  Democracy was never meant to coddle insanity, or enshrine it as valid political position. And yet, here we are.

    Last full month in which the average daily temperature did not exceed twentieth-century norms: 2/1985 - Harper's Index, 2/2013

    by kamarvt on Mon May 12, 2014 at 11:09:35 AM PDT

    •  Another thread of the past.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kamarvt, Rogneid

      ....It was a tenet with some nature-lovers in the past that human beings were just too petty and powerless to have any effect on majestic Nature. One of the better-known expressions of this attitude is found in Sara Teasdale's poem "There will come soft rains":

      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.

      The birds and the trees are not going to be as exempt from the results of human actions as Ms. Teasdale thought.

      This is the landscape that we understand, -
      And till the principle of things takes root,
      How shall examples move us from our calm?

      (Mary Oliver, "Beyond the Snow Belt.")

      by sagesource on Mon May 12, 2014 at 04:57:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  thank you (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ortheother, rodentrancher, Rogneid

    You should write a weekly column- I have noticed lately that many Christians aren't really up on their theology.

    I buy and sell well trained riding mules and American Mammoth Jack Stock.

    by old mule on Mon May 12, 2014 at 02:40:03 PM PDT

  •  What Type of... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rodentrancher, Rogneid, Yonit degree does he have? I doubt he has intimate knowledge of the models used. Furthermore, most of the evidence for global warming is in recorded data, not models. Correspondence and differences between data and models are another debate, and are of course a principal means of improving the models. Such as climatologists' fairly recent realization that the ocean is absorbing far more heat than their models had allowed for.

    •  Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rogneid, Yonit

      Even headed up an R and D division at Ford where he worked on improving cooling systems to increase fuel efficiency.  Highly respected in his field.  And I believe he's looked at some models.  He's all for reducing emissions, as his career demonstrates, but he doesn't think the models are sufficient to support the inferences.  I think he's in part just a contrarian.  But it's irritating.  Generally, I don't bite when he baits.  It's not malicious.  Just annoying.

      •  Sounds like he has an emotional investment in... (0+ / 0-)

        ...the heritage of the internal combustion engine. With all due respect to him,  it could be that - deep down -  he fears that electric cars will be "the answer" to global warming, and  that his life's work will be remembered only as part of an historic "dead end"... or even "a mistake".

        “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
        he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

        by jjohnjj on Tue May 13, 2014 at 04:38:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Ask your scientist scoffer relative this: (6+ / 0-)

    - You do agree that CO2 and water vapor are transparent to visible light, right?

    - You do agree that CO2 and water vapor absorb across major parts of the infrared spectrum, right?

    - You do agree that the Earth radiates a portion of the energy it receives from the sun in the visible spectrum back into space as infrared, right?

    (He kinda has to agree with those three points, they're high-school level physics.)

    Then, ask him if he can please explain, how raising the levels of these gases could possibly NOT increase the temperature of the Earth? What is the mechanism he proposes that would keep these heat-trapping gases from trapping heat?

    Never heard a climate denier give a straight answer to that.

    •  Dunno (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      But with an undergrad degree in Physics from MIT, my guess is he'd have something to suggest.  He's really not the point.  But he does represent to me a very dangerous phenomenon that is significantly broader.

    •  Actually they do deny those points you mentioned. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rogneid, Yonit

      They either claim that Carbon Dioxide has no effect or that it only has a limited effect. They often mention how the Earth had huge amounts of CO2 in the primal past (without mentioning that the sun was colder thus requiring huge amounts of CO2 to keep it warm.)

      He kinda has to agree with those three points, they're high-school level physics.
      Nope, they don't have to agree with anything that's scientific or obvious. An example is an atmospheric scientist by the name of Roy Spencer who just happens to be a Creationist.

      A million Arcosantis.

      by Villabolo on Mon May 12, 2014 at 05:17:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Moron, the polar cap has melted! (1+ / 0-)
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    Moron, the polar cap has melted!
    ‘They’ lied and covered up for decades, then all of the sudden it was worse than we could have ever imagined—now get the chutzpah—they‘re still lying!  
    Is it too late? It seems so, especially since nothing is being done….

    The polar ice caps have melted faster in last 20 years than in the last 10000
    . Maybe it will melt your brain.
    Apocalyptic? That’s the population bomb or resource depletion. This is catastrophic!
  •  FYI (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ortheother, Rogneid

    For those wanting information on how to refute Global Warming deniers' arguments.

    A million Arcosantis.

    by Villabolo on Mon May 12, 2014 at 04:55:37 PM PDT

  •  at least it's a new argument, I'll respond (2+ / 0-)
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    Joe Bob, Yonit

    If I understand your family member's argument, at least it's a novel objection.  It also betrays ignorance of what has actually been going on in climate science research.

    As a computer scientist, I can tell you that climate science rests much more on physical and chemical "laws" than on the models used to try to "model climate".  That carbon has a certain warming effect when injected in the atmosphere is a chemical established result; that other alternatives do not explain the data is a combination of observation of their fluctuations and deduction from their physical properties of their approximate effects, confirmed if needed by further statistical analysis of data -- e.g., sunspot effects.  

    Here are the most recent findings that make it clear that your family member's criticisms of climate science based on modeling are wrong at best:

    1. Hansen et al. show that in a previous global warming episode, warming happened proportionately to the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, at a rate of 4.0 degrees C per doubling.  They note that today's models seem to show a "hysterisis loop" or "tipping point" phenomenon in which warming takes a big jump at a certain level, rather than steady proportionate rise; this, they note based on previous and present data, is clearly a flaw in the models that UNDER-estimates global warming except at the tipping point. Translation:  the models are wrong, but not because they are not complex enough, but rather because they overestimate unimportant factors.

    2.  One model of Arctic sea ice melt by Waslowski and all has just been confirmed to be exceptionally accurate except for very thin ice.  Its superiority lies in its focus on volume rather than extent, its continual minor recalibration based on sampling, and its greater emphasis on water as well as air temperature.  This model is based on observed human-caused global warming, and is predicting less that 5% average ice in September by the year 2020, far earlier than the other models -- and Arctic sea ice is a key domino leading to accelerated global warming.  So good models, which exist, paint an even darker picture than the ones your family member disparages.

    3.  No models take into account permafrost melt; but several studies are now confirming that it has started and is having a significant effect on global warming.  The Hansen study cited above therefore becomes a much better predictor than these more complex models, as permafrost holds large amounts of carbon and methane, and Hansen's predictor includes previous episodes of those effects.  In other words, the models he critiques have a built-in major underestimate of global warming, and he criticizes them as showing nothing, instead of dealing with Hansen et al's approach that fully incorporates all major effects.

    In summary:

    (a) Your family member clearly knows nothing of the best approaches to climate change assessment and prediction out there.

    (b) he believes without understanding the chemistry involved that climate science models must be complex to model the systems involved.  Maybe he is confusing it with the weather?  That used to be a frequent indication of climate change ignorance masking as scientific expertise.

    (c) As major effects such as permafrost finally get factored in, the predictions get much closer to the actual and much farther from "we can't tell if there's any effect".   By this point, your family member might as well say w=ma or E=mc**2 are based on models and can never capture the complexity of the real world.  The three statements are pretty much equally non-scientific and untrue.

  •  Brass Tacks Time (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maybeeso in michigan, Yonit

    Ask him if he believes the CO2 measurements taken at Mauna Loa, HI. Ask him if he's heard that the isotopic balance of carbon in the atmosphere is consistent with the increase coming from the burning of fossil fuels. Then ask him what magic sky fairy is going to prevent the increased CO2 from increasing the temperature.

    If he spouts some B.S. about how complicated it is, ask him how well thermodynamics works. You know, that bit of science we know about that allows us to turn burning fossil fuels into useful work in the first place.

    Point being, I don't have to know where every single water molecule in my glass is to know its temperature, volume, pressure, etc. Same relationship between weather and climate. Weathers the crazy, chaotic, unpredictable details, climate is the part that averages out over time and space, making it far more predictable.

    You might also want to point out that the models are actually working pretty well. For instance:

    Last, you might want to discuss something called the "argument from incredulity," or "argument from ignorance." They're formal logical fallacies that boil down to: just because you don't understand it, doesn't mean it isn't so.

    P.S. I'm only a month or two away from a Ph.D. in physics. I would love to point you toward research to back up my claims, but the sort of stuff I'm bringing up is textbook level.

  •  My family member's contrarian resistance (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    isn't really the issue.  And his position is far from novel.  There are plenty supposedly educated folks running around who us the analogy to religious apocalypticism to dismiss the evidence.  The absurdity generally then extends to imputing self-interested bias to climate researchers who are manipulating a politicized environment, or conforming to it, as this is the structure of their profession.  It's a terrible slander and it doesn't even approach the smell test.  Are we supposed to believe that they are simply chasing grant money for the sake of grant money?  And does this enable them to sit on yachts and sip martinis?  Yet those stoking the scoffers have direct and explicit economic interests in doing so.  They simply manipulate the possessive pronoun into an inappropriate plural and pose as defenders of "our" economy.

    So my relative is significant as a representative case study and an illustration of one of the thing's that is broken in this discussion.  I'm not going to expend effort correcting him.  I wrote this diary to address this phenomena.  Though it might be interesting to see how he would respond to some of the material offered here, I don't think it would be particularly useful as I think there are other "issues" at work within our family dynamic and in his psyche more specifically.

  •  Well, really .... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Leftcandid, Yonit, ortheother

    John Oliver nailed it exactly.

  •  virtually all credentialed deniers are among: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yonit, GreenMother

    1.  Paid shills
    2.  Octogenarians or older (in many cases, arguably senile)
    3.  Religious fanatics (possibly credentialed, but clearly not a real scientist)
    4.  The third tier (few or no relevant publications, citations, honors, etc.)

    The exceptions who arguably are doing good science are pretty much all serial devil's advocates, consistently on the losing side of scientific disputes.  And you could likely count them on the fingers of one hand.  

    In general, such holdouts serve a valid and useful role in science, forcing the rest to dot every i and cross every t, but their track record intrinsically gives them far, far less credibility than the 97% mainstream.

  •  Does anyone have statistics on movement (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    among climate scientists on this issue?  I've seen articles about high profile disputants who have recanted to endorse the consensus.  Have any gone the other way?  How many have moved in either direction?

    Of course the scoffers can always dismiss movement toward the consensus as "political".  It's one of the right wing's favorite trick.  "The reason so many economists back a higher minimum wage is that they are either guilty of 'group-think' or they are caving to pressure from the america-hating-commie-academy-that-controls-resources-and-silences-all-dissent."  The pivot to the ad hominem is always in their back pocket.

  •  Partially echoing Gooserock's important point, I (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    think we must recognize the basis for the conservative attack on climate science as somehow "religious," & that is our own basic scientific inexpertise as avg. citizens.

    The con position is this: "You don't understand the science, do you.  You are dependent on the handing down of the science by the scientists.  But you cannot trust the scientists, and we'll tell you why."  THEN they launch into their bullshit parade, their Gish Gallop.

    The knowledge gap between us & scientists today truly does resemble the centuries-ago knowledge gap between us & priests, or, going even further, us & our tribal shamans.  It is this old dynamic that the cons play upon, simply casting scientists as a mysterious class who hold secret knowledge that they dispense at their whim to manipulate us.

    That this reveals a powerful psychological projection of how they themselves wish to re-order the US as a theocratic culture, controlled by the rich who'd control the theocrats, is hysterically funny in addition to being awful.  But we absolutely must realize the essence of this dynamic if we are to then respond that the science is peer-reviewed, whereas the church dogmas of old were instead declared & debated by a bunch of dudes who were generally more interested in cultural power than in genuinely exploring spiritual experience.  

    This is to me the multi-part question to pose to your Ph.D. friend: what has eroded his trust in the peer-review process to the point that he can take his position, & how does he apply Occam's Razor to the disposition of the entire peer-reviewed atmospheric science community on one side of the scale, vs the obvious mega-profit motive of a global, polluting and ultimately doomed-by-a-finite-resource fossil fuel industry on the other?

    It's time to start letting sleeping dinosaurs lie, lest we join them in extinction by our consumption of them.

    by Leftcandid on Tue May 13, 2014 at 07:26:54 AM PDT

    •  Great point (0+ / 0-)

      And the insidious part of it, or at least one of the insidious parts of it, is that conservative attacks on quality public education and the academy are DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE for this gap that they then play upon.

      FWIW, as one who has taught rhetoric at the university level, appeals to authority are not always disingenuous, misleading, or fallacious.  An appeal to authority depends upon an ethical appeal by which one establishes the credibility of the authority.  So it's not of necessity anti-critical or manipulative and passifying.  It's an opportunity to engage in authority.

  •  I want the Diarist to know, that I really enjoyed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and appreciate this diary. I might not be in agreement in the comment section about some things, but the work is solid, and it has given me something to chew on.

    Thank you ortheother.

    "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

    by GreenMother on Tue May 13, 2014 at 07:52:31 AM PDT

    •  Thanks! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I don't ever write to elicit full agreement.  That's boring.  We all enjoy validation, but it doesn't teach us that much.  It's much more important to me to spark conversation with people who will offer interesting differences, and will push one's argument to recognizable limits.  If I push back, it's part of that process.  So thank you for your well considered thoughts, responses, and participation.  They are of great value.

      •  Looking forward to your next installation. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

        by GreenMother on Wed May 14, 2014 at 04:56:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  "Apocalypse" as my son-in-law explained it, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is not a final ending, it's a collapse and renewal. He's Eng. Lit. prof so i take his word on "words." According to climate science what we are facing is the possibility of extinction and that is completely final.

    The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

    •  Precisely (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The etymology of the Greek term translates as "revelation."  This is why the Book of Revelation (not RevelationS) is also sometimes entitled The Apocalypse of John.  The cataclysm is ultimately about the perfection of creation and the full revelation of the Kindom of Heaven and its establishment HERE ON EARTH.  The final vision in the book is the descent of the New Jerusalem to earth, not the evaporation of the faithful into the aether.  This is often stressed by foremost contemporary Christian theologians such as Anglican Bishop N.T. Wright and is employed as grounds for Christian environmentalism.  The idea is that Christians should not be working against God's plan to perfect humanity and the substrate of its existence.  That's precisely why it's not the end of the world.  The process in most traditions entails violent upheaval, but it's ultimately constructive, not destructive.  Climate science warns we are heading toward a collapse from which we will not recover...perhaps ever.

      PS. My own Ph.D. is in English Lit. and my work in the 16th and 17th centuries is the source of much of my knowledge of Christian eschatology.  I've also done advanced work in Jewish Studies and practice Judaism personally, so I can say much more about Jewish eschatology.  But it's not as relevant to the problem I raise here of conflating climate science and the history of apocalyptic speculation.

      •  Well done, the distinction is so important (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        My SIL wrote his thesis on Gertrude Stein. I'm imagining right now how she would compose a statement on what we are facing right now.

        "The end is the end is the end..."

      •  Here's a quote from the book of Revelation (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Please note the last sentence:

        “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
            the One who is and who was,
        because you have taken your great power
            and have begun to reign.
        The nations were angry,
            and your wrath has come.
        The time has come for judging the dead,
            and for rewarding your servants the prophets
        and your people who revere your name,
            both great and small—
        and for destroying those who destroy the earth.

        Revelation 11:17-18 New International Version

        A million Arcosantis.

        by Villabolo on Tue May 13, 2014 at 07:51:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Too many people don't know (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Too many people don't know how scientific theory and practice works.  Too many people think that if something follows something else, then the first action caused the second action.  [Nearly all alcoholics drank milk as babies, therefore milk causes alcoholism.]  So if I got a flu shot and three days later, I throw up, then the shot caused the "stomach flu."  

    Too many people don't know the difference between climate and weather.  So, for example, the upper Midwest had a "long cold winter" just past.  Yikes, it seemed endless.  There were no usual January Thaws. The snow didn't compact from a warm weekend.  It was a record number of of days of cold, BUT there were no records set for coldest days ever.  Here, we can easily "deny" climate change after going through this long cold winter, but that doesn't take into account that most of the world has been warmer and drier than average this past 6 - 9 months. .  

    The US is too US-centric.  We forget that these changes are very real to people in other parts of the world.  For example, in East Africa, ie Uganda and Kenya, they have been used to a wet season and a dry season, and they plan their agriculture around this variation.  But for the last several years, they are having a flood season and a drought season each year, making the food, which is mostly locally grown, scarce and expensive.  I don't know how many years it takes for a culture to establish a new cultural norm, or how many years of seasons that are not "like in the past" for a scientist to say that things have truly changed.  For the people on the ground in East Africa, they know it has changed and they have to allot much more of their meager income for food.

    Tan is the new green. Maybe it will green up in two weeks.

    by Andy Cook on Tue May 13, 2014 at 12:25:06 PM PDT

  •  The flaw in the "cardiology" analogy is this: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Everybody has seen a (real or simulated) heart attack. The consequences of ignoring the doctor are quite apparent.

    I suspect that the common response would be: "of course I'd follow medical advice from a cardiologist... but this climate thing is totally different".

    No one has ever seen disruptive climate change. There's nothing exactly like it in history. It's hard for people to imagine the consequences.

    There are somewhat similar events in history where people over-utilized natural resources in the name of "progress": The American Dust Bowl of the 1930's is the closest thing I can think of... but in the popular imagination it was local, the land eventually recovered, the Oakies all moved to California and started new lives, "we learned our lesson" from it and life went on.

    Some folks may think that we'll have a similar experience with climate change in the next century... I am not among them.

    Even 20th-century history is too remote, and too abstract for most people. The "personal" analogy is still the best way to get through to the knuckleheads.

    The "heart attack" analogy is a good attempt.  But I think tobacco-smoking is a better one. The consequences are familiar and widely accepted. Cancer from any cause gives most people the willies. Those who still smoke are mostly indulging in "it won't get me" fantasies, and I think most non-smokers recognize this.

    The analogy to climate change goes one step further: to avoid dire consequences, we're going to have to give up a pleasant, but unhealthy addiction.

    "If 97 doctors told you to quit smoking, and 3 said that the connection between nicotine and cancer is not yet settled, what would you do?"

    I think that hits closer to home.

    “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
    he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

    by jjohnjj on Tue May 13, 2014 at 05:31:24 PM PDT

  •  The oceans acidity is not a model (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It is not the Apocalypse, but the situation is dire.  

    Rate of ocean acidification due to carbon emissions is at highest for 300m years Oct. 2013

    The oceans are becoming more acidic at the fastest rate in 300m years, due to carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels, and a mass extinction of key species may already be almost inevitable as a result, leading marine scientists warn.

    In the starkest warning yet of the threat to ocean health, the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) said: "This [acidification] is unprecedented in the Earth's known history. We are entering an unknown territory of marine ecosystem change, and exposing organisms to intolerable evolutionary pressure. The next mass extinction may have already begun."


    Phytoplankton produce 40 per cent of the oxygen in the atmosphere, for example, and 90 per cent of all life is in the oceans.

    The oxygen starved ocean is going to cause mass extinction of sea life

    “We can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all the other possibilities.” - Winston Chuchill

    by se portland on Tue May 13, 2014 at 07:39:50 PM PDT

  •  It will become Apocalyptic if nothing is done (0+ / 0-)

    to stop it, and to rapidly transition to green energy sources, as in solar, wind, etc. The two party corporate owned system is not cooperative with solutions needed. The people are going to have to decide for themselves if the planet is worth saving, and to take the necessary actions to do so.

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