Gosh, what a choice. Should I believe Sarah Palin, who says that global warming is a fiction, or the world's top scientists and scientific organizations, who say that it is a fact?
I'll go with science, since Palin has lousy credentials when it comes to facts. She doesn't believe in evolution either, which makes her take on global warming even less credible.
Yesterday my daughter asked me what book she should get me for Christmas.
I told her, "Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity" by James Hansen, a NASA scientist and a leading climatologist.
The title of this book appeals to my grandfatherly heart. I've come to have zero patience -- none, nada, zilch -- with people like Palin who prefer to play political games rather than face the science of global warming head on.
Climate change is no joke.
My granddaughter's life, and that of billions of other people, is at stake here. If someone knows more than the scientific groups listed in the link above, prove the science wrong.
How likely is it that Palin can be trusted more than the...
American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Geophysical Union
American Meteorological Society
World Meteorological Organization
Society of American Foresters
American Medical Association
American Statistical Association
and many other well-respected organizations?
What's deeply irritating, and ethically unforgivable, is that Palin and other global warming deniers haven't come up with any solid evidence challenging two basic conclusions that represent the overwhelming scientific consensus:
(1) The Earth has warmed, and is getting warmer
(2) Humans are almost certainly responsible for the warming
Instead, they prey on the ignorance and gullibility of people with bullshit claims that the recent release of stolen emails from some climate change researchers undermines a huge body of scientific research supporting (1) and (2).
Al Gore knows that. The Union of Concerned Scientists knows that. The American Meteorological Society knows that. Anybody who has done more than meekly accept sound bites from Glenn Beck and other anti-science blatherers knows that.
Unfortunately, the United States is both the world's largest contributor to human-caused climate change, and the home of an uninformed electorate when it comes to scientific knowledge.
So "global warming isn't happening" ridiculousness finds fertile ground in the American citizenry. This morning I came across this disturbing fact in Richard Dawkins' new book about evolution:
Forty-four per cent of Americans deny evolution totally, whether it is guided by God or not, and the implication is that they believe the entire world is no more than 10,000 years old. As I have pointed out before, given that the true age of the world is 4.6 billion years, this is equivalent to believing that the width of North America is less than 10 yards.
Democracy is great. But scientific truth can't be left up to a majority vote, especially not when the survival of human civilization is at stake.
I'm not about to let uninformed people like Sarah Palin decide what sort of world my grandchild is going to grow up in.
Fundamentalist religion, I'm convinced, plays a big part in what the guy in this video calls "a fifth column of insanity" in the United States. He's a recovered evangelical who knows the craziness of the fundamentalist mindset.
I love what Frank Schaeffer said (at 3:44 of the video):
A village cannot reorganize village life to suit the village idiot. It's as simple as that. And we have to understand that we have a village idiot in this country. It's called fundamentalist Christianity.
Not all evolution and global warming deniers are fundamentalists. But many are.
They think that science is part of the Devil's deception, that catastrophes are good because they show that the End Times are near, and that God is in charge of Earth so there's no need to worry about how humans are screwing it up.
Sarah Palin is one of those people. When she spouts falsehoods about global warming, my reaction is: go to hell.
Which doesn't exist, I'm confident. But that's where she belongs, for wanting to wreck the planet my granddaughter will be growing up in.
Personally I neither believe nor dispute global warming. This is because I am not a scientist. I receive all of my information about this through the media, internet, ect. The problem is that these information tools are run by people, and people are horribly biased. You have Al Gore saying that the entire scientific community agrees with global warming and everyone else is an idiot. Then you have news stories with others saying that 30,000+ scientists disagree with Gore, and that he is an idiot. Scientists, politicians, news media are all divided on the subject. What makes you so sure you know the truth? Do you know climatologists personally? Cause unless you do, all of your information comes from third parties. Until you get the 100% honest facts, which may never happen for regular Joe's like you and me, you shouldn't go around damning people to hell.
Posted by: Brian | December 09, 2009 at 11:13 PM
Brian, facts are facts. There aren't 30,000 climate experts who challenge the facts about global warming. Most of the signers have no expertise in climatology. See:
Scientists are not divided on this subject. You're wrong. The clear consensus of climate scientists is exactly what I said in this post: global warming is happening, and humans are responsible for it.
Educate yourself. Face the facts. There always will be anti-science deniers. Some people deny evolution. Some people deny the big bang. Scientific truth isn't a matter of majority voting, or political debate.
Climate science isn't perfect. But until global warming skeptics come up with facts to refute the scientific consensus, I'm sticking with the facts as we know them. You obviously don't understand the scientific method. 100% truth is impossible. Only religion believes in 100% truth.
Facts always can be falsified. But not just by saying so. By better facts. Global warming deniers don't have those better facts. So they rely on Sarah Palin'ish sound bites to deceive people about the truth. That's dishonest and shameful.
Posted by: Blogger Brian | December 10, 2009 at 12:26 AM
Yeah, why focus on REAL environmental issues, like maybe cleaning up the islands of plastic trash in the Pacific, when we can throw billions of dollars at Wall Street and Al Gore to “solve” an IMAGINARY problem? Great thinking; makes me proud to call myself an environmentalist.
Posted by: DWV | December 10, 2009 at 12:39 AM
Great analysis and always good to see there are pockets of sanity amongst the raving lunatics!
Keep up the fight - because that's what it really is. We're fighting against the village idiot who wants to use the well as a latrine.
Posted by: DavidC | December 10, 2009 at 03:23 AM
The people who ignore global warming evidence, who get their 'facts' from talk radio and Fox News are the same ones who thought it made sense to not put secure doors on the cockpit of an airliner because they cost too much. By the time they wake up, it will be too late. Some are probably hoping they'll be among the few who survive but it's possible that no humans will. We need certain conditions to live on this earth; so yes, earth will last but is that our concern?
Posted by: Rain | December 10, 2009 at 06:35 AM
DWV, what imaginary problem are you talking about? I assume it is global warming. If you have solid evidence that global warming isn't occurring, you should tell the world's climate scientists. Until you produce that evidence, I'll ignore your "imaginary" claim.
Posted by: Blogger Brian | December 10, 2009 at 08:29 AM
I really like this post. I would like to know were you got this 44% poll from, about people saying the earth is only 10,000 yrs old. Oh yeah most polls interview people and they usually put into a demographic. I am glad that you turned this article about global warming religious article instead. Pull the reader in with a global warming. Nice!!!!!!!
Posted by: kevin | December 10, 2009 at 09:30 AM
Dear Blogger Brian,
Thank you for opening this dialogue on your website. Nothing I say here is intended disrespectfully, I just don't agree with your argument.
First, who cares what Sarah Palin is writing about; even a broken clock is right twice a day.
Second, demanding negative proof is neither sound nor scientific.
I have been ACTIVE in many causes I felt were of critical importance to the health of our planet: curtailing the ravages of acid rain in the Adirondacks, propagating municipal recycling programs across the country, etc. I don’t know what you’ve done in your lifetime to combat real environmental problems. Maybe you’re active, too; maybe you DO sincerely care. I won’t take that away from you.
But I will say this: the “man made global warming” cause rings hollow to me. It’s run by a bunch of financially and politically interested parties who have coopted the environmentalist model; who have imposed, from above, what is traditionally a groundroots-up dynamic; and who are using fallacies of relevance (bandwagon, appeal to authority, appeal to force, etc.) and blatant scare tactics in order to take advantage of people who do sincerely care about the environment.
Please understand, I don’t necessarily fault YOUR sincerity, just the sincerity of those pulling the strings here.
Posted by: DWV | December 10, 2009 at 10:17 AM
Kevin, the poll is by Gallup, which has been asking the same questions about evolution for many years. See:
When 44% of the adults in a country are so anti-scientific and fundamentally religious, it's no wonder that the United States is having increasing difficulty in dealing with complex national and world problems.
That's why religion is relevant to the global warming debate. If people can't accept facts because they conflict with dogma, this makes dealing with the reality of a situation very difficult, if not impossible.
DWV, who is asking for negative proof? I asked you if you have evidence that global warming isn't occurring, which can be accomplished by providing positive proof of constant or declining global temperatures.
If you can't do that, then global warming is indeed occurring, just as the consensus of the world's leading climate scientists say it is. The next question is whether humans are contributing to this increase in global temperatures.
Given the physics of greenhouse gases, this also is a near certainty. I believe the IPCC says a 90% certainty, and that group is conservative in its statements (the actual effects of climate change have been greater than predicted).
Your conspiracy theory, that some unknown people are "pulling strings" and controlling thousands of independent minded researchers all over the world, somehow faking temperature and other data, doesn't make any sense.
The scientific method is the best means we have for uncovering truths about the physical world. If you have a better means, I'd love to learn about it. You're welcome to your own beliefs, but beliefs aren't reality.
Posted by: Blogger Brian | December 10, 2009 at 10:28 AM
We can have a google war and come up with data and statistics to support ANY point of view. You come up with five, I'll come up with five more. Fact is nobody knows what is happening or will happen. I'm not denying climate change. I'm just skeptical that anyone understands all the variables involved in why it's happening, or that it is necessarily on a planetary level a bad thing. I mean forest fires burn homes but they also clear out unhealthy undergrowth and improve ecological balance. But, nobody considers that the fire was naturally caused by a lightning strike and that the smoke adds to the greenhouse soot. Blame it all on the SUV's.
Does anyone know the origin of the universe? Does anyone know how planetary weather cycles change or why the ice ages occured? Such arrogance of these "scientists" to pretend they do.
Anyway, maybe the only way to stop what people are doing to the earth is to kill off a few billion of the filthy, polluting, greedy parasites including me. Flood the hell out of Florida and wipe out millions of acres of homes that suck energy for air conditioning while the occupants head to the mall to fill every nook and cranny of their 2500 sq. ft. tract home with the latest techno-objects or remote controlled Santa Clauses which they could easily live without. Nature hates a vaccuum and the bigger the house the more shit you have to buy to fill it up. Hell, I say flood the place and hooray!!
I'm guilty too. I fart methane and breathe out C02 which supposedly contributes to the problem and I bought a bag of nuts and threw away the plastic wrapper not to mention the greenhouse CO2 laden belch I produced as a result. I ride a bike, but it was manufactured by a process that created carbon emissions and used resources that scarred the earth. Someday it will be useless and end up in a landfill. What a pig I am. Exterminate me please and save the planet.
Let's say that by some miracle we actually get all the world governments to agree to cut grteenhouse gases by 50%. Oh, what the hell, as long as we're at it, how about 95%? What are all the puffed up theorists going to say if Greenland still keeps melting? Whoops, maybe so and so was right and its the sunspots' fault after all. Oh well. At least we got the Chinese to clean up their coal plants and the people can breathe without wearing surgical masks.
I'm a futures trader. You know, gold, silver, wheat, lumber, pork bellies, etc. and I am constantly bombarded with computer models of economic trends, extended oscillator forcasts, wave theories, investment systems ad nauseum, technical and fundamental analysis up the wazoo of what prices will be months or even years down the line. All this by so-called experts. It's all crap in that sometimes they're right but certainly not often enough to rely on them. So, I do my own thing. Same with all these climate change bozos puffed up with their degrees and titles. They just have an agenda of self agrandizement of their pet theory or worse, like the fat cat hypocrite Al Gore, who's making millions by getting your money to follow his trumped up advice while he shoots around the planet in a polluting private jet when he's not in his 10,000 sq. ft. mansion. I wonder how much greenhouse gas is produced heating his house? Do you think he keeps the thermostat at 60 degrees and wears a thick sweater while he waits for his composting toilet to produce enough methane for the cook to prepare his meal? This is the stuff of comic books or a SNL skit.
That's what's going on in this Copenhagen deal. Do you think all these people have flown in there (producing tons of carbon emissions by the way) because there isn't an economic factor...meaning a way to profit? They don't care if theoretically sea levels could rise. They want to know what's in it for their businesses and economies right now. They want to make deals they can take advantage of. In other words, politics as usual.
Yeah, I'm a cynic but with good reason to be. Look at the state of most world governments. Corruption is rampant and the most amazing thing is that somehow life goes on without complete chaos, anarchy and mayhem everywhere.
You want to do something to clean up the planet? STop buying stuff. Sofa getting a little threadbare? So what. If you can sit on it don't throw it away and buy a new one. Throw a blanket on it and call it good. Turn the thermostat down to 60 degrees and wear a jacket in the house. Better yet, don't heat the house at all. The Inuit lived in igloos for generations without heat. Stop buying packaged goods and throwing away all the boxes, wrappers and plastic. Buy in bulk, carry it home in a reusable cotton bag and make your own food from scratch. Don't buy a hybrid car. What a joke those are. Keep the old gas guzzler running and fix it as necessary. This will use far less energy and pollution than manufacturing 10 zillion Prius's with those horribly polluting and toxic batteries that reguire enormous resourses to produce and end up in landfills seeping pollutants for 100,000 years.
Get my drift?
Posted by: tucson | December 10, 2009 at 10:36 AM
tucson, I agree that there is a difference between (1) the science of climate change, and (2) the politics of climate change. But we shouldn't mix them up. Facts come first. Then, when we know what is going on, we can decide what, if anything, to do about it.
This is common sense. In medicine (as in home repair) diagnosis precedes a prescription. I'm OK with someone saying, "the world is getting warmer; big changes (mostly bad) are happening; but let's not do anything and hope for the best."
I don't agree with that point of view, but at least that person has the facts of the situation straight. He or she is just apathetic about humans being able to do something about global warming, while I'm more optimistic.
Here's an A to Z look at how the Earth is being affected. Pretty disturbing.
Posted by: Blogger Brian | December 10, 2009 at 10:50 AM
Dear Blogger Brian,
Just a few gentle points.
First, you are correct that this argument—
"If you can't do that, then global warming is indeed occurring, just as the consensus of the world's leading climate scientists say it is."
—is not asking for negative proof; it IS, however, a bandwagon fallacy.
Second, regardless of what one thinks about the objectivity of the IPCC, global temperatures are presently declining, according to that organization's own data.
Third, I have never ascribed any intentional malice or complicity to your position; please return me the favor of not serving up any "conspiracy theory" accusations :) It is not a question of "unknown people" pulling strings: all those who stand to benefit financially or politically are, as far as I know, standing proudly and openly.
Our disagreement boils down to how much faith we each have in the independence of many climate researchers, and in the rigor with which those researchers adhere to the scientific method.
I think you are basing your position on faith, not science; you think the exact opposite. Alas, we seem doomed to disagree, at least for the time being.
Posted by: DWV | December 10, 2009 at 11:39 AM
DWV, sorry to keep correcting you, but you're wrong again. Global temperatures aren't declining, they're rising. The past decade is the warmest ever:
These are facts, not faith. It is you who are making up facts. Please show me the evidence that global temperatures are declining. As I said in this post, climate change is too important to allow untruths to be promulgated. We can disagree about policies, but the facts need to be accepted.
The earth is warming. Humans are causing it.
Posted by: Blogger Brian | December 10, 2009 at 11:54 AM
Dear Blogger Brian,
Thank you for drawing my attention to this article. I'm not sure if you've taken the time to read the whole article yet, but I just did. The only facts it presents about increasing global temperature trends are the following:
1) in the thirty-year period from 1980 to 2009, the last decade was, on average, the warmest of the three; and
2) over the same period, the penultimate decade was also, on average, the second warmest of the three.
All this article does is set up three trending data points within a given timeframe; a timeframe that is, in fact, relatively short when compared to the units of measurement.
This article presents no facts on longer term trends, other than the following tangential reference to an idiosyncratic 30-year trailing annual average, which both begins and finishes 19 years prior to the main timeframe in question:
"The global combined sea surface and land surface air temperature for 2009 (January–October) is currently estimated at 0.44°C ± 0.11°C (0.79°F ± 0.20°F) above the 1961–1990 annual average of 14.00°C/57.2°F."
This article also presents no facts on shorter term trends, other than, believe it or not, the very same downtrend in temperature which you have requested evidence of; please note that this 3-year downtrend is actually referenced twice within the article you yourself introduced:
1) "The current nominal ranking of 2009, which does not account for uncertainties in the annual averages, places it as the fifth-warmest year."
2) "The Arctic sea ice extent during the melt season ranked the third lowest, after the lowest and second-lowest records set in 2007 and 2008, respectively."
In summary, you appear to be misrepresenting (unintentionally, I assume) the title and conclusion of this article, by making a leap of faith from "The past decade is the warmest of the last three" to "The past decade is the warmest ever."
I do appreciate your attempt at "correcting" me, but I think it will take something a bit more substantial than this particular article which you seem to have misinterpreted.
Posted by: DWV | December 10, 2009 at 01:25 PM
DWV, you didn't click on the link at the end of the news release. It shows the global rise in temperatures since 1850:
The past decade is indeed the warmest ever:
Posted by: Blogger Brian | December 10, 2009 at 01:40 PM
Dear Blogger Brian,
Thank you again; that last chart makes a much more compelling case for long term global warming.
How would you interpret the following two charts, which come up—along with the chart to which you've refered me—in a cursory Google Image search for "historical global temperatures"?
According to your long-term chart, the last decade is indeed the warmest ever.
According to these even-longer-term charts, the last decade is not the warmest ever.
This is the longest-term chart I can find (in my admittedly cursory Google search), with global temperature deviations dating back 450K years.
According to this longest-term chart, the last decade is not even close to the warmest ever.
Perhaps this is what your other guest, tuscon, meant by a "google war"?
What might help convert me to your point of view, I suspect, is if you could explain what objective criteria you would use to determine whether or not a given chart, or data set, should be trusted as factual.
Posted by: DWV | December 10, 2009 at 03:21 PM
DWV, interesting that as soon as I proved you wrong, you dug up a whole different set of graphs, for a different time period. Guess you accept that global warming since 1850 is for real, and humans are responsible for it.
This is the main point. The Earth's temperature has gone up and down. No one disputes that. But this is the first time that human-caused global warming has occurred. Changes are happening unnaturally. Which means that now we can do something about the changes, rather than sitting by helplessly and allowing millions or billions of people to die and suffer.
Let's leave our comment exchange at this. You keep on agreeing with the global warming deniers. I'll keep on agreeing with the world's leading climate scientists. If we're both around ten or twenty years from now, and I'm still blogging, let's see who was most correct about what is happening to the Earth, and what needs to be done about it.
Posted by: Blogger Brian | December 10, 2009 at 04:00 PM
Like I said I don't want to get into a google war because I'm lazy, even with a computer at my finger tips.
But I somehow mustered the energy to google 'global climate cooling' and found dozens of articles. It seems that many high priests (scientists) actually think we are going into a period of cooling. That's right...cooling!!! Here is the first article that came up. Seems fairly well documented and reasoned:
What if he's right? Would we still have to be so freaked out about carbon?
But my point is not this article and many like it. It is just that the jury is out on what is happening and especially what will happen.
We are selective in what we listen to and believe. Once we come of a certain mindset contradicting information is subconsciously and consciously ignored or rejected.
Case in point: Despite evidence to the contrary, Revelation still would not believe that you tAo and I were not the same person.
Posted by: tucson | December 10, 2009 at 04:10 PM
Dear Blogger Brian,
This is a disappointing conclusion to our dialogue; I thought we were getting somewhere.
I was trying to follow your argument, and was hoping you could explain what objective criteria you would use to determine whether or not a given chart, or data set, should be trusted as factual. You seem to have now given up before anything worthwhile was proven.
As you say, we will hopefully both be around in 10-20 years, and perhaps there will be a more conclusive data set available by then.
All the best,
Posted by: DWV | December 10, 2009 at 05:18 PM
Well, I'll fill in (temporarily) for Blogger Brian. What those long term temperature charts are lacking are a parallel graph of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration.
Here is a good article describing the natural links between Milankovitch cycles, which relate earth's tilt in relation to the sun, global temperature, and CO2 levels.
"But there lies the rub. We are in an ice-melting phase of the Milankovitch cycle now, where the Earth’s orbit is closer to circular and the Earth’s tilt is closer to perpendicular. But CO2 levels aren’t declining – partly because we’ve chopped a lot of trees and forests down, but mostly because of anthropogenic CO2 production. Without the limiting factor of declining CO2 we’ve seen in previous Milankovitch cycles, presumably the ice is just going to keep on melting as the albedo of the Earth surface declines."
Posted by: Nw | December 10, 2009 at 09:46 PM
Here is the link:
[I copied the link into your comment above also.
Posted by: Nw | December 10, 2009 at 10:10 PM
Nw, thanks for the info. I should point climate change skeptics to the link that you previously supplied:
One of the skeptical arguments discussed on this informative site is "Does past climate change disprove man-made global warming?" Answer: no. In fact, it helps prove it, by showing the sensitivity of our atmosphere to CO2 concentrations.
Posted by: Blogger Brian | December 10, 2009 at 10:14 PM
good article and also good references from earlier poster.
i view the ongoing global warming hype in a difference direction, but mostly support the idea.
i view global warming hype as something can jumpstart human to do something to liberate us from being the OPEC slave.
i just hate OPEC. take a look at them, who run the OPEC?!!!
Do you see the people that are suspected of financing our old friend Osama and a lot more terrorists groups?
Do you see a pack of proactive anti-america? Do you see Hugo Chavez and the whole klan of Iranian fascist too?
We have seen them cut production to rise the price when we need the oil to be cheap before.
They are not in any mean being here to help us or the world.
when I talk about evil OPEC with the global warming skeptic folk, they seem to think the same way as me. “OPEC is BAD” for us. They are taking advance of us because they know we need their oil. on and on
But when we talk about new technology that will help us less use or even leave Oil as the main energy source, they will try to put the brake on the ideas.
Otherworld’s they switch to support the use of Oil which again we and the world buy most of oil from OPEC, then again “who run OPEC”?
Supporting any idea to stay with the old technologies that depend so much on the OIL, that mean directly supporting the OPEC. And to whoever support the well of OPEC, I will ask the same old question “who run the OPEC?” if not those anti American and the terrorist supporters.
Posted by: passingby | December 23, 2009 at 08:05 PM