“My Land Boat”

24 08 2009


Global Warming Deniers Unite!

18 03 2009

Last week, global warming skeptics and deniers organized a conference in New York City to devise a strategy to counter the recent success of the green movement, according to the NYT. Interestingly enough, even as as polls continue to show a persistent majority of people, though with some notable variation, believe global warming is real and not an exaggeration there is still a growing minority of that remain fiercely skeptical about climate change. I suspect public opinion and our politics  will likely become even more polarized in the future and may delay decisive action on what to do about global warming.

Money quote from the NYT:

“The only place where this alleged climate catastrophe is happening is in the virtual world of computer models, not in the real world,” said Marc Morano, a speaker at the meeting and a spokesman on environmental issues for Senator James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma.

But several climate scientists who are seeking to curb greenhouse gases strongly criticized the meeting. Stephen H. Schneider, a climatologist at Stanford University and an author of many reports by the intergovernmental climate panel, said, after reviewing the text of presentations for the Heartland meeting, that they were efforts to “bamboozle the innocent.”

Yvo de Boer, head of the United Nations office managing international treaty talks on climate change, said, “I don’t believe that what the skeptics say should provide any excuse to delay further” action against global warming.

But he added: “Skeptics are good. It’s important to give people the confidence that the issue is being called into question.”

I tend to think that skeptics are not inherently good. Skepticism can also be used to unnecessarily prolong decision making and bold action. Many companies employ lobbyists, pseudo think tanks, and communications professionals to convince people that so-called intelligent design and evolution are of equal scientific value. Over time highlighting excessive skepticism in the face of compelling evidence only serves to undermine the will for action and gives people the false impression that the debate needs to continue indefinitely.

At any rate, below is a graph of Gallup polling illustrating shifts in public opinion on climate change across time. The crunch in 2004 was probably due to superior messaging on the issue by Republicans, particularly those in the Bush campaign.

The gap widens a bit in 2006 in small part because of the release of Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth and the wealth of media coverage on environmental activism. Greater parity among those who believe that global warming is “generally exaggerated” and among those who think its “generally correct” is probably due to it becoming a partisan issue once again, particularly after an election that featured such topics as cap-and-trade, promoting offshore drilling and other energy security issues.

We are All Eco-Pessmists Now

16 02 2009

George Will penned another column today declaring global warming a product of liberal scientific group think imagination. To make his case, Will argues that since past assertions about climate change were wrong so too are the ones we are hearing now even though the science to do is far more exact that it was several years ago. In tone and substance, the column is a firehose blast of oil and gas industry lobby talking points designed to subdue the any impulse to vigorously regulate green house gas emissions.

Money quote:

As global levels of sea ice declined last year, many experts said this was evidence of man-made global warming. Since September, however, the increase in sea ice has been the fastest change, either up or down, since 1979, when satellite record-keeping began. According to the University of Illinois’ Arctic Climate Research Center, global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979.

An unstated premise of eco-pessimism is that environmental conditions are, or recently were, optimal. The proclaimed faith of eco-pessimists is weirdly optimistic: These optimal conditions must and can be preserved or restored if government will make us minimize our carbon footprints and if government will “remake” the economy.

Hours later one of the University of Illinois’ Arctic Climate Research Center – offered to correct the record on what Will erroneously claimed concerning their data on global sea ice levels.

In an opinion piece by George Will published on February 15, 2009 in the Washington Post, George Will states “According to the University of Illinois’ Arctic Climate Research Center, global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979.”

We do not know where George Will is getting his information, but our data shows that on February 15, 1979, global sea ice area was 16.79 million sq. km and on February 15, 2009, global sea ice area was 15.45 million sq. km. Therefore, global sea ice levels are 1.34 million sq. km less in February 2009 than in February 1979. This decrease in sea ice area is roughly equal to the area of Texas, California, and Oklahoma combined.

It is disturbing that the Washington Post would publish such information without first checking the facts.

I suppose the researchers at the University of Illinois’ Arctic Climate Research Center are apart the vast left wing conspiracy spearheaded by the ” eco-pessimists.”