Climate: Why I Believe, What It Would Take To Change My Mind

Climate: Why I Believe, What It Would Take To Change My Mind was created by ScienceChic

Okay, so y'all dragged me back into some science today. tongue: The recent cooling threads, plus, getting challenged by a friend on Facebook who claims that Global Warming is a complete hoax made me decide to go look up my old thread about why I believe and what it would take to change my mind since it's been 4 years, the IPCC AR5 has since been released, and maybe one of my 6 criteria for changing my mind has been fulfilled.

...Nope. :biggrin:

What I Accept Based on Statistical Probability of the Likelihood of Global Warming Being a Real Phenomenon, And What It Would Take To Change My Mind
So I was recently asked, since I obviously believe in man-made global warming (disclaimer - I use these terms with qualifications, as explained here rather well: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/ar ... l-warming/ ), what information would I need to see to change my mind or how much new information would be needed in order to counter the currently accepted science. Would establishing that global temps are higher today than they've been at different points in history seal the deal? I decided to begin my response with an explanation of why I've gone from being skeptical of the science to agreeing with the majority of climatologists that we do indeed have a problem that we need to address sooner rather than later. It's been suggested to me to share this around so I'm posting here so I can being a dialog with all of you as well, since the viewpoints on global warming run the gamut on this site as well.

I bet y’all are worried that this is going to be a science jargon-filled tome, huh? :) Let me say right off the bat that much of the technical details/methods of the peer-reviewed published papers sail right over my head when I try to read and understand them so I’m certainly not going to attempt to explain anything in that detail. So why and how can I believe?

When I started this journey I approached it as I do every science idea – skeptical of the views that were being pushed by global warming proponents but willing to keep an open mind and critically review the data (as best I can) from the scientists who had been studying this field for the bulk of their careers and then make up my own mind. I also knew of the backlash against it and was determined to flesh out the credibility of those claims as well and compare the two sides. In Greg Craven’s book, What’s The Worst That Could Happen , he takes you through an exercise where you rank the credibility/weight of your sources. Some of the examples are statements from professional societies (National Academy of Sciences, AAAS, American Geophysical Union, etc), government reports (IPCC), individual scientists, individual professionals, think-tanks/private organizations (Competitive Enterprise Institute, Sierra Club, the Heartland Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, etc), and sources that contradict their normal bias (National Intelligence Assessment, The Pentagon, Center for Naval Analyses, U.S. Climate Action Partnership*). This is an exercise that everyone must do for themselves. I will mention that when Craven ran this past both camps (he interviewed scientists and bloggers on both sides for information), he got complaints from both proponents and deniers that he was unevenly weighting the others position favorably so I guess he kept his bias to a minimum! My list pretty closely resembles his (My offer still stands to buy it for anyone who’s interested!) with more weight toward peer-reviewed published papers than he gives (which in his categories are individual scientists/professionals). If you stacked all the papers that have been published for global warming they would measure well over 10 feet in height. If you printed and stacked all the papers that have been published that dispute global warming, it wouldn’t even take one ream of paper (less than 2 inches).

As I delved more into it, I discovered that global warming has been recognized as an issue since the early 70s (that whole "but the scientists believed we were headed for another ice age in the 70's because of global cooling" hype was just that - hype by the media, not based on an accurate sampling of scientific papers published in the 70's). The first truly public attention brought to this issue was James Hansen’s testimony before Congress in 1988, and then An Inconvenient Truth in 2006. Yet we hear all the time that scientists are screaming hysterically that we have to do something now and doing so before the science is truly settled. Scientists as a whole are usually very conservative in their views of change, they do not find a single piece of evidence and start screaming from the rooftops immediately or they’d end up wrong most of the time and embarrassed and humiliated. So it was at least 18 years of quiet research conducted before this issue was brought to the forefront and that was the first element that sent me down the path of believing for if it was a non-issue for that long, then there was a lot of data collected in that time-span that continued to support that view otherwise it would’ve died a quiet death long ago. There’s since been another 20+ years of research and most of it has only continued to confirm the small changes that add up to evidence for global warming.

Global temps aren’t yet higher today than they have been in the past, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. See here for an [older] description of CO2 lagging behind temperature risings and what it might mean for our future and here :

A good place to find information is this site: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/ar ... /12/about/ Click on the index tab at the top and there are a ton of links to topics that run the gamut from reviews on science papers to discourses on mitigation to rebuttals on media stories, and all the comments are displayed at the bottom so you can read for yourself what issues other people bring up that don't agree with the site - it's quite comprehensive. Noor, this is a quick explanation of why CO2 is the main problem: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/ar ... asy-steps/

Along the vein of resistance to change, energy and transportation companies and governments are even more intransigent when it comes to change, especially change that could affect their bottom line in the short-term. So when I see the first two come together and release this report, http://us-cap.org/USCAPCallForAction.pdf , it lends much to my belief that global warming is a force to be dealt with soon (see their website, http://www.us-cap.org/about-us/our-repo ... or-action/ for more recent info, and this quote: "In our view, the climate change challenge will create more economic opportunities than risks for the U.S. economy."). And while it can be argued that energy companies are merely realizing that in order to continue rolling in those exorbitant profits to which they have become accustomed they will have to find a new cash cow (renewable energy) when their current one (fossil fuels) runs out (whether in 20 years or 100 years, it is finite), the fact of the matter is that they have embraced global warming as that reason (makes ‘em look all warm and fuzzy), but they have done it far sooner than necessary if there truly is a question that it might not be real. And when 191 governments, who all have their own agendas and distrust of one another’s motives, can come together to deal with one issue than again I will lend credence to that issue being serious enough to have made that happen. True, no binding resolution was passed at Copenhagen, but it was at least something.

Finally, the conservative think-tank, and previous vigorous denier of global warming, put out this policy paper in June 2008. If they can flip their thinking, than it must be for damn good reason. See here: http://www.aei.org/issue/28202

Next, I researched the deniers claims. As Greg Craven states, “we reflexively reject arguments that contradict what we would like to be true. We can’t get rid of that reflex…, but we can perhaps redirect it to better serve us. I suggest that each of us would end up better off if we trained that reflex to trigger a closer examination of our beliefs. In any disagreement between what we want to be true and what is true, physical reality wins every time.” (Hence my Peter Viereck quote in my sig line). We tend to unconsciously bias ourselves toward only reading and accepting that which validates our beliefs. I have tried, and am still trying, to apply this to the deniers’ claims by aggressively searching out their websites and published papers so I can debunk my own assumptions before anyone else. As I looked more into their sources, I have come to give less credibility to their ideas for this reason: most of their arguments come only from blogs and media outlets and from scientists who aren’t climatologists but meteorologists, astronomers, mining industry leaders, and economists. Very few peer-reviewed published papers are to be found, and most of those have been found to be lacking in the rigorousness of their methods. Now, it can be validly argued that there is a culture in science that represses contradictory research, both financially and socially. However, I also believe that once you start making a name for yourself, as Lindzen, Lomborg, Singer, Milloy, McIntyre and McKitrick, Spencer and Christy, and Soon and Baliunas have that it becomes easier to find funding (especially from private interests) and publish, as evidenced by the fact that they have indeed published. But the weakness of their work, and the fact that some of them (Spencer and Christy specifically) have come out and publicly stated that global warming is real, and man-made, lowers their credibility a lot for me. The tactics of the deniers also reminds me a LOT of the tactics used by tobacco companies to ward off attacks that smoking caused lung cancer. And by paint manufacturers that lead as an ingredient wasn’t harmful. The goal of those campaigns was to confuse the issue, inject doubt into the public’s mind, and stall legislative action and punitive damages as long as possible. That throws up a big red flag in my mind as well. If there were truly good evidence against global warming, I would expect to have seen it published by now. And what are they so afraid of/fighting so hard against? If global warming isn’t real, then it’s not like thinking hanta virus isn’t real – it won’t kill you if you get it but didn’t believe in it. I’ve heard the arguments that it will destroy our economy and country, and lead us to a world government, but where are the numbers to back up those facts? I haven’t been able to find any so if you run across something, please send it my way!

That being said, what would it take to change my mind?
1. A reversal of (and shown in peer-reviewed published papers):
a. warming temperatures of upper levels of oceans (lower levels aren’t measured accurately on a continuous, global level yet) and lower atmospheres
b. melting glaciers/continents and sea ice
c. plants and animals retreating back into their previously known habitats/latitudes/areas
d. acidification of oceans

2. Evidence and explanation of a previously unknown mechanism affecting climate that robustly explains the warming that we’ve seen to this point that negates or reduces the role of increasing CO2 levels.

3. A reversal of the currently held views of the majority of climate scientists, especially including the top level scientists


Why do I think there’s a huge discrepancy between scientist and public opinion?
As I posted in the Climategate U-Turn thread, 58% of the general public versus 97% of climatologists believe man-made global warming is real. I think it’s because scientists don’t know how, and, sadly, don’t realize it’s important to learn how, to talk to people. I also recently finished reading Don’t Be Such A Scientist: Talking Substance in An Age of Style by Randy Olson. He was a marine biologist who resigned his tenure and bought a one-way ticket to Hollywood to throw himself into filmmaking (he’s made many short documentaries and Public Service Announcements, one movie that is available thru Netflix called Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus and another I’m looking for that’s not available called Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy). Two passages in his book struck me deeply.

1. Following WWII, the U.S. government implemented federal funding for scientists. Prior to this, scientists had to regularly go out and give talks to the general public about their ideas and research in order to drum up their own [financial] support for their work. It meant that they had to be good at talking to the general public and conveying their ideas and the better they were at it, the more likely they’d get to continue to do it through donations. With the advent of the government giving them funds, essentially, they could retreat to their labs and not deal with people (a scientist’s dream!). They lost their motivation/raison d’etre/ability to communicate with ordinary folk. As he put it, “Intellectuals…intellectualize the world. They suck the life out of life. And that’s why nobody wants to watch an intellectual act.”

2. Scientists communicate so badly that we can’t even make a movie that gets the information across. Olson tells a tale of 2 documentaries that were made and released in 2006 almost simultaneously by the same producer who wanted to get the message out about global warming because she is an environmentalist. In the first one, the producer had interviews with several top climate scientists who discussed the evidence behind global warming and what it might mean for the future. For the second movie, she threw all the scientists out and brought in Hollywood types to make it. The first movie was greeted with enthusiasm from the science community for its depth and breadth of knowledge and the second movie was derided by the science community for its showmanship, flaws in the information, and incomplete science, although it wasn't called false, only inaccurate on some topics. The first has hardly been heard of by the general public; the second made over $50 million dollars, won an Academy Award, and garnered a Nobel Peace Prize. The names of those movies: Too Hot Not Too Handle and An Inconvenient Truth. The difference: the first has accuracy and substance galore, but its style is boring. The second has less substance, shortcomings on accuracy, but tons of style. Why? The producer stated when making An Inconvenient Truth that "global warming is too important a topic to allow it to get bogged down in facts, details, minutiae, excessive attention to detail, and poor storytelling." Now why spend the money to make two very different movies about the same topic? Because she understood that the general public isn't interested in sitting down and getting the facts the way a scientist is used to presenting it – we tend to think that if we just dryly and rationally throw all the facts out there, that everyone will be dazzled and immediately Believe. No, the audience wants to see drama, tension, excitement, etc. So she made both. What's my point in bringing this up? An Inconvenient Truth isn't fake, or a lie, it's merely altered to make it more palatable for the audience (although I will say that the statements that Gore has been making lately are, in my opinion, off the extreme deep end and his relevance is over). Scientists had been saying for 18 years that global warming is a serious threat and that we need to do something about and they were ignored until that movie. Sadly, it had to be made entertaining for people to get the message, but then because it was more entertaining than full of substance, it got a huge backlash for its data (well, that and it was hugely popular so it garnered a big audience that deniers suddenly had to counter).

What does this mean for where we go from here?
Science is never 100% resolved (there are still studies being conducted to test gravity for crying out loud), and, as a matter of fact, there is a new line (to me, not new to the science community) of tentative evidence for abrupt climate change that I’m just beginning to explore for which the implications scare the bejesus out of me (and I do not scare easily – I still think we’ll pull back from the brink in plenty of time, but I am an optimistic sort), but it’s way too early to discuss (I'm not sure yet that it applies to our situation). When you’ve got James Hansen, the first climatologist to go public and whose work was once repressed and his funding source threatened for his attempts to speak out, making predictions that keep coming true (and not based on climate models, but on paleoclimate data) and he says we need to get back to 350ppm CO2 to keep the status quo (we're currently at 388ppm* and rising by 2ppm every year) and climate models that keep consistently underestimating the amount of changes that we’ve been seeing in ice melt, etc then I have to say that we start trying to do something about it. Especially if energy companies say it can be done in a way that will benefit the economy. As Thomas Schelling, a Nobel Prize winner in economics said, “This idea that costly actions are unwarranted if the dangers are uncertain is almost unique to climate. In other areas of policy, such as terrorism, nuclear proliferation, inflation, or vaccination, some ‘insurance’ principle seems to prevail: if there is a sufficient likelihood of sufficient damage we take some measured anticipatory action.”

I would like to see some better economical estimates of action now (i.e. ones produced from both sides) and I would also like any policies that are implemented to be based on sound science and provide the most effective measurements to deal with this issue, not lobbyists trying to boost their state or company.

So what do you believe, and why, and what would it take for you to change your mind?

*now 396ppm

Whilst searching for climate change consensus tonight, I ran across this Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature
John Cook et al 2013 Environ. Res. Lett. 8 024024
doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024024
© 2013 IOP Publishing Ltd
Published 15 May 2013

After analyzing over 11,000 papers published from 1991-2011, they find that AGW is overwhelmingly supported. So your next argument is that they publish results that only enforce the current consensus of thinking so they keep getting funded.

That's not how science works. Yes, that can happen on a small scale, but not a world-wide, thousands of scientists, over decades of time scale. What has been predicted, more extreme weather events, species extinction rates increasing, plants and animals migrating from habitats to ones that fit better with where they had been, flowers blooming earlier and migratory animals giving birth earlier, oceans acidfying, etc - it's all happening. Insurance companies are already passing on the costs of recovering from disasters, and tightening their criteria for insurance policies (look at how many are pulling out of this area alone for wildfire risk).

We can't maintain our status quo and keep reacting - it will bankrupt our economy and kill millions more. The time has passed to get proactive and switch to renewable sources of energy and change our lifestyles to be more sustainable and less wasteful.
The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it. ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is. ~Winston Churchill

Your scars exist, but it’s your courage that defines you. ~Nalini Singh
11 Jan 2014 22:13 #1

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Replied by Jekyll on topic Climate: Why I Believe, What It Would Take To Change My Mind

Nicely posted!
12 Jan 2014 01:40 #2

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Replied by FredHayek on topic Climate: Why I Believe, What It Would Take To Change My Mind

The stereotype about conservatives is that they reject change, well now that the climate is changing around the world, it is the liberals who are rejecting change. Who says the climate of one hundred years ago is the desired one? The Earth has been warmer before and survived.
#35
12 Jan 2014 07:33 #3

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Replied by FredHayek on topic Climate: Why I Believe, What It Would Take To Change My Mind

Super Malta wrote:

FredHayek wrote: Who says the climate of one hundred years ago is the desired one?



:rofllol :rofllol :rofllol :rofllol

SC, can you believe it!?

#WTF!?

OK, everyone likes to talk about saving the environment but what are people who believe in global warming doing personally to reduce global warming? Recycling? Skipping flying?
One of the biggest things I have done is to not have children. Since Americans have a much bigger carbon footprint than most other Earthers, is it immoral to have kids? Or if you think we can't solve AGW, might even be cruel for you to have children in a heated up world.

And do you think your efforts do any good? And if not, is it time to take this to the next level and put our already slumping economy at risk by rationing energy? Any gas rationing would really cripple communities like the 285 corridor by not only forcing commuters to move but also discouraging tourism.
#35
Last edit: 12 Jan 2014 22:30 by FredHayek.
12 Jan 2014 08:04 #4

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Replied by whitegp on topic Climate: Why I Believe, What It Would Take To Change My Mind

Science Chic
Very good
Then this whole thread nose dives into the usual nonsense.
Decades ago I helped some students from Sweden pull Tundra cores along the Alaskan coast so they could compare the samples to the melting they were seeing along their own coast.
It mirrored my own observations that the Alaskan villages we were working in were settling into the not so frozen Tundra. I watched the Glaciers that I set my Commercial Fishing Drift retreat from the ocean and climb out of sight up the hillside, gone.
I have made my living outside from Skiing to Fishing to Construction. The changes are unquestionable.
The explanations are clear. Man made co2 is clearly a large part of the problem.

Like you, I have never come across a single reputable scientific report that refutes the evidence compiled by 191 countries, in every Univercity, for over two generations now.

I have also watched exxon spend hundreds of millions of dollars in PR campaigns that were completely bogus to outright lies just to clean up their image.

I find it interesting that so many are willing to swallow the entire story of the Fossil Fuels Companies, the very people who have and will profit the most if they can muddy the discussion.
Yet those same people dismiss the research from so many Univercities that they would be so pleased to see their children attend.
12 Jan 2014 08:36 #5

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Replied by homeagain on topic Climate: Why I Believe, What It Would Take To Change My Mind

I have lived in Alaska BEFORE it was a state (1955) and I have lived in Alaska most recently
back in 1999-2001. My brother is a "sourdough" having been born and raised and STILL living
there........HE (and I) have witnessed/still witness the changing climate up there...it is WARMER
the perma-frost is defrosting/thawing......the snow WAS measured in feet in Fairbanks (EVERY
winter).....Anchorage NEVER had to truck in snow for the Idiatrod...."rain" in the winter was
UNheard of in Anchorage back in 1955-60......Portage Glacier has dramatically receded since I
lived in Anchorage back in that timeframe.....the list goes on and on.......the moose populaton
in the upper northwest is DECLINING.....scientists have NOW found the reason.....an insect that
thrives in WARMER weather is infecting the moose population with a "virus"/illness that does not
allow them to absorb their food properly and they waste away....the bogs/marshes where WILLOWS (moose munchies) were prevalent are now shrinking.....(habitat is threatened)...WE,
as Alaskans see the dramatic difference daily, monthly, yearly.......JMO
12 Jan 2014 09:54 #6

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Replied by Arlen on topic Climate: Why I Believe, What It Would Take To Change My Mind

ScienceChic, climate change is a real phenomenon. What is a bunch of bunk is that climate change is man-made. THAT is the bone of contention.
And, global warming folks keep changing the narrative. Hot house effect; that is how it started. Then we were going into another ice age back in the 80's. Then they went back to warming and the ice cap is melting and the oceans are rising. Now we are back to a coming ice age.
Level headed scientists have always contended that the global climate goes through cycles over long periods of time and we do not have to collect punitive taxes because of it.
12 Jan 2014 10:00 #7

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Replied by MountainRoadCrew on topic Climate: Why I Believe, What It Would Take To Change My Mind

Some posts have been split out and moved here: http://mymountaintown.com/forums/the-ring/30524
12 Jan 2014 10:05 #8

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Replied by FredHayek on topic Climate: Why I Believe, What It Would Take To Change My Mind

Irony? Since I chose to not have children I am doing much more for the environment than the Climate Change supporters who are raising huge carbon footprints.
#35
12 Jan 2014 10:15 #9

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Replied by ScienceChic on topic Climate: Why I Believe, What It Would Take To Change My Mind

Arlen wrote: ScienceChic, climate change is a real phenomenon. What is a bunch of bunk is that climate change is man-made. THAT is the bone of contention.
And, global warming folks keep changing the narrative. Hot house effect; that is how it started. Then we were going into another ice age back in the 80's. Then they went back to warming and the ice cap is melting and the oceans are rising. Now we are back to a coming ice age.
Level headed scientists have always contended that the global climate goes through cycles over long periods of time and we do not have to collect punitive taxes because of it.

Yes, the biggest driver of the warming is the greenhouse effect - the CO2 and other gases that are increasing in the atmosphere cause the heat to be reflected back to the planet, rather than radiated out into space. That increased CO2 in the atmosphere is being absorbed into the oceans and causing it to acidify, it's directly measurable.

I don't recall any science that said we were going back to an ice age in the 80's, can you find a source for that Arlen? If you are looking at the actual science, and not the media or blogs sensationalizing one article or another over the last 30 years or cherry-picking a small time frame to try to claim that warming is a hoax as opposed to the longer time-frame that scientists have studied, the narrative has always steadily been that we are warming. That last paper I cited demonstrates that - the vast majority of papers/scientists from 1991-2011 have supported AGW.

Yes, climate goes through cycles and they've all been triggered by different causes. This time it's the 7 billion of us living wastefully, digging up the carbon that had been buried over the millennia and releasing it back to the atmosphere. We need to mitigate that.

What's more expensive, solar panels and wind mills, or more Hurricane Sandys and wildfires? When animal fisheries collapse, and storms and droughts make it hard to consistently grow crops, which affects our food production, how many will starve? The sea levels are already rising and will continue to do so, even if we start reversing course now - that slow yet powerful momentum has been plugged into the system, and will displace millions who live along coastlines and on island nations. When diseases that had previously only been seen in southern tropical latitudes start becoming more prevalent in warmer mid-latitudes, is the cost of millions of lives worth the continued delay because it was "too hard" or "too big" a problem? As I said, if implemented correctly, this can be a boon to our economy, not a harm. Yes, it will require a carbon tax, but we're already paying for it, whether you know it or not.

I still haven't seen any credible scientific evidence for my 6 criteria to refute AGW:
1. A reversal of (and shown in peer-reviewed published papers):
a. warming temperatures of upper levels of oceans (lower levels aren’t measured accurately on a continuous, global level yet) and lower atmospheres
b. melting glaciers/continents and sea ice
c. plants and animals retreating back into their previously known habitats/latitudes/areas
d. acidification of oceans

2. Evidence and explanation of a previously unknown mechanism affecting climate that robustly explains the warming that we’ve seen to this point that negates or reduces the role of increasing CO2 levels.

3. A reversal of the currently held views of the majority of climate scientists, especially including the top level scientists

If the above is still the case, and those who measured the above made projections that have since come true, it's still increasing, and say what is to come will be even worse, isn't it incumbent upon us to do something about it? Suggest solutions if you have ideas and dislike what's been proposed to date!
The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it. ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is. ~Winston Churchill

Your scars exist, but it’s your courage that defines you. ~Nalini Singh
12 Jan 2014 10:48 #10

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Time to create page: 0.577 seconds
Powered by Kunena Forum
sponsors
© My Mountain Town (new)
Google+