"This is not the atmosphere I grew up with."
April 5, 2012 10:09 AM   Subscribe

A Message from a Republican on Climate Change: I'm going to tell you something that my Republican friends are loath to admit out loud: climate change is real. I'm a moderate Republican, fiscally conservative; a fan of small government, accountability, self-empowerment and sound science. I am not a climate scientist. I'm a Penn State meteorologist, and the weather maps I'm staring at are making me very uncomfortable.
posted by spacewaitress (120 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Climate change is real. Also, the earth is round.
posted by growabrain at 10:12 AM on April 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


This is interesting because typically the GOP talking point is a big ol' list of 'climate specialists' who if you look are meteorologists and not climate scientists and my understanding has been that meteorologists tend to have a ridiculously distorted view of overall climate and its change.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:15 AM on April 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'm a moderate Republican

You mean a "soon-to-be Democrat". He'll find out soon enough that there is no place in his party for acknowledgment of facts. I'm predicting that this piece is going to get him tons of death threats/hate mail from wingnuts.
posted by MattMangels at 10:16 AM on April 5, 2012 [38 favorites]


Limbaugh extrapolated about Norgaard further on his website: “This is the kind of person that Obama would hire,” he said. “This the kind of person Obama has hired. This is the kind of thinking that Obama believes and sponsors.

“It’s what he believes. It’s what he was taught.”


A University of Oregon climate scientist gets the treatment. . .
posted by Danf at 10:18 AM on April 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


More accurately, MattMangels, a "soon-to-be-ex-Republican".

There's room for more than two POVs.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:18 AM on April 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm an umbrella salesman and I'm telling you there's nothing to worry about.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:18 AM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Where's that picture of Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka?

While I am glad the author has taken a rational approach - hey, better late than never - I think he will be disappointed in the reception his message gets.
posted by Xoebe at 10:20 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wonder if this Republican meteorologist will realize that his party might be taking counterfactual stances on a lot of stuff that's outside his area of expertise, as well.
posted by Joey Bagels at 10:21 AM on April 5, 2012 [32 favorites]


Would it be trite to say that this gave me chills? I think this past "winter" has been a bit of a wake-up call for some people. Perhaps we're finally ready to turn a corner on public opinion - the point where everyday evidence overwhelms denial. Unfortunately, it also seems that we're ready to turn a corner on climate change - the point where the the damage becomes irreversible.
posted by crackingdes at 10:24 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I suspect he does, Joey Bagels.

Anyway, Paul Douglas, the aforementioned Republican meteorologist, has a follow up post, based on a talk he heard, and recent tornado events, Tornado Warning: "One of These Days a Single Tornado Will Claim Over 1,000 American Lives" .
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:24 AM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


You mean a "soon-to-be Democrat". He'll find out soon enough that there is no place in his party for acknowledgment of facts.

It's not clear that Democrats have any particular claim on or support for notions of scientific truth, either, especially when it's not politically expedient.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:27 AM on April 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Another Republican, Richard Nixon, launched the EPA.

Or "Republican in name only" as Nixon would be called today. The problem for small government types is that there is no - none - nada - solution to the problem of climate change without some sort of heavy-handed government intervention.

"Cap and trade" is the closest you can come to a "market" solution, but the result of this is a huge transfer of wealth from wealthy, CO2-producing nations to deadbeat countries that don't produce much of anything including CO2, I see how it is not popular among the party built on opposition to socialism and communism. (I can also see how climate change is wildly popular amongst those who do believe in socialism and communism.)

I get that solving climate change is just too much government for many Republicans to ever support and I get that denying the problem is the easiest way to avoid any of those big government solutions, but they should denying the problem and address their opposition on principled terms.

I can accept - but maybe not agree - with a more traditional GOP argument that a tyrannical, socialist world without climate change is worse than anything climate change can dish out to mankind. At least then we'd could have an honest debate about it.
posted by three blind mice at 10:27 AM on April 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Dude is SO going to be shit on by his party's talking heads. I sort of feel sorry for him, but he has to know what's coming for him.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:28 AM on April 5, 2012


It's interesting to read through this and start to see him mulling over some of the other various pillars of Republican belief and support, the nascent spark of illumination possibly starting to twinkle, but not quite there yet.

Bill O'Reilly, whom I respect, talks of a "no-spin zone." Yet today there's still a very concerted, well-funded effort to spin climate science. Some companies, institutes and think tanks are cherry-picking data, planting dubious seeds of doubt, arming professional deniers, scientists-for-hire and skeptical bloggers with the ammunition necessary to keep climate confusion alive.

"I respect Bill O'Reilly, it is imperitive that I make it clear that I mean him absolutely no doubt in order to maintain my 'Republican' cred. Bill is known for his truth-telling posture. Huh, here is a ton of evidence that it is utter bullshit."

He doesn't follow up with any conclusion that Bill may be less than respectable, but the spark is there.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:29 AM on April 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


We are just as likely to get extreme cold winters now, as happened in Europe, due to wild gyrations in the jet stream caused by the arctic warming.
posted by stbalbach at 10:29 AM on April 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


The Committee on Climate Change report, with the hairy-sounding title “Statutory Advice on Inclusion of International Aviation and Shipping,” says that in 2050, the UK’s emissions reductions across the whole economy will cost 1-2 percent of the total GDP.

THE PRICE IS TOO HIGH LET THE PLANET BURN
posted by gerryblog at 10:30 AM on April 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


I have no words... just agreement followed closely by fear.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:32 AM on April 5, 2012


It's not clear that Democrats have any particular claim on or support for notions of scientific truth, either, especially when it's not politically expedient.

Any references for this equivalency? Because in the current day, it doesn't really seem accurate to me.
posted by inigo2 at 10:32 AM on April 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


Paul Douglas is a good guy, he spends 4-5 hours on his blog 7 days a week! I have met him and hes very nice to talk to.
posted by wheelieman at 10:34 AM on April 5, 2012


KQED's Forum yesterday morning had an hour on "liberal bias" in the UC system. Someone noted that until recently Earth Science departments skewed Republican, but this had recently changed due to frustration at the anti-science slant of the party's climate change and evolution rejectionists. I remember how frustrated my moderate Republican friends were at the anti-tax zealots when they hijacked the party. This must be 10 times worse for the scientists as at least one can have an honest debate about economics.
posted by Blue Meanie at 10:35 AM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I meant that the amount of hate this man is going to receive from his fellow R's and their media noise machine is probably going to make him a Democrat out of spite, if nothing else.
posted by MattMangels at 10:36 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


You mean a "soon-to-be Democrat"
I hope for everyone's sake that he stays a Republican.

The worst thing about the Dem/Rep divide is that it's not a political divide, it's an identity divide. This is bad for everyone involved. Why can't we all have a debate in which the issues at stake are overall economic concerns for the health of our country?

Instead you have this party system that further generates divisions along fiscal, social, religious, cultural, legal issues. A capital-D Democrat believes in economic regulations, social welfare, separation of church and state, diversity, personal liberty and rights, gay marriage, the arts and humanities, scientific research, stem cell research. A capital-R Republican believes in the free market, the American Dream, traditional values, the sanctity of marriage, etc.

The conflation of meanings between "Liberal" and "Democrat" and "Conservative" and "Republican" is a symptom of this all. If you think of the power struggle between the two parties as a fundamental identity struggle between two quasi-tribes within a larger legal entity, it makes a little more sense. It also makes it clearer that things are shittier that way.
posted by suedehead at 10:36 AM on April 5, 2012 [24 favorites]


If anything is actually going to get done about climate change, it will need a broad and long-lasting consensus for action. We're not doing to get squat done if the policy changes every two years, or four years, or eight years. The changes needed could plausibly be something on the scale of fighting WWII, and needing to stick at it for 20, 30, 50 years.

For a consensus to be formed, US Republicans need to be convinced and that is not likely to happen except through Republicans convincing other Republicans. (cf "Only Nixon could go to China.")

At the moment it takes considerable courage for a Republican to stick their neck out and make the case that climate change is a big problem and needs to be tackled.

Guys like this are therefore to be applauded, and encouraged.

You may now go back to your regularly scheduled culture wars. Just know that when you indulge in them, you are not going to be helping solve the climate change problem any.
posted by philipy at 10:40 AM on April 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


...a huge transfer of wealth from wealthy, CO2-producing nations to deadbeat countries that don't produce much of anything including CO2...

Yeah, fuck those deadbeat children growing up in countries first ravaged by colonial powers, then brutalized by cold-war satraps, then drained of resources under the guise of globalization, then withered by climate change from the emissions of the same economic powers benefiting from all that. All they do is beg for reparations for wrongs that I have nothing to do with and in no way ever benefited from. That and they produce NOTHING of value, just these crappy socks I bought from Target. It's a real shame they couldn't inherit the same Protestant work ethic that made America what it is today, but why is that my problem?
posted by [citation needed] at 10:43 AM on April 5, 2012 [27 favorites]


Slightly off topic but thought this news was cool.
Large releases of carbon dioxide, primarily from oceans in the Southern Hemisphere, were the main factor in ending the last Ice Age, according to a study that confirms the key role of CO2 in warming the planet. Researchers from Harvard and Oregon State University collected 80 samples from ice and sea sediment cores to reconstruct CO2 and temperature levels as the last Ice Age ended beginning about 20,000 years ago. Previously, ice cores from Antarctica showed temperatures rising on that continent before CO2 levels started to climb, leading global warming skeptics to contend that CO2 was not the main driver of warming. But the new study, published in Nature, says that Antarctica was an anomaly and that the global ice and sediment cores unequivocally show that CO2 rose first, which then sparked temperature increases of 6 degrees F. The initial trigger to the end of the Ice Age was a change in the tilt of the Earth’s axis, which warmed land masses in the Northern Hemisphere and melted Arctic Ice, releasing huge amounts of cold, fresh water that changed global ocean circulation. That in turn warmed the Southern Hemisphere, which melted sea and terrestrial ice there, releasing CO2 trapped under the ocean and land, the study said.
The Earth is a Rube Goldberg machine, or pool table. Hit one ball and 9 others start bouncing around in complex though ultimately predictable patterns. Physics is good like that.
posted by stbalbach at 10:43 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually, they probably shouldn't be applauded and rewarded, but attacked and demonized. That way their party can see them as truth-talking martyrs. It'll help the party save face.
posted by Seamus at 10:45 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm amused to see he still identifies as a "moderate Republican." See you soon in my Independent camp for Rs who have realized there is no longer any place in the party for anyone but hard rightists, sir.
posted by bearwife at 10:47 AM on April 5, 2012


This is your hint to switch parties.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 10:49 AM on April 5, 2012


You rubes. Penn State is part of the conspiracy to fake global warming. How can you take this guy seriously? It's all an act.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:51 AM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


If Mr. Douglas was a denier, I'm pretty certain most of Mefi would be questioning his objectivity given his ownership in a hypothetical company that maybe provides seismic survey data to the oil extraction industry. Luckily though, the company he owns, WindVision™, "provides user specific information to the most important industries associated with renewable energy." As a seismic survey consultant, he would just be another capitalist tool, but luckily for him, his objectivity remains unquestioned.
posted by otto42 at 10:53 AM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Your strawman needs a hat, otto42.
posted by Floydd at 10:55 AM on April 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


gerryblog: I think the reason why the apparently small 2% of GDP is a problem for a lot of people has to be seen in the context of our economies' relentless need for growth. If we are achieving 1% growth without carbon emissions caps and it costs 2% of GDP to fix that it means stagnation or recession. Because everything (mortgage rates, pensions, loan availability due to reserve ratios etc. is tied to growth, even an apparently small percentage cost becomes politically impossible because of the knock on effects.

This is why growth is a problem; we are all trapped because we have borrowed billions against the expectation that it can happen, and writing down those debts seems cataclysmic. Personally I think mangling the ecosystem is worse than mangling the economy, but lots of people haven't realized yet that the economy is a subsystem of the ecosystem anyway and cannot accept the necessity of hurting the economy to save it in the longer term.
posted by larkery at 11:03 AM on April 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


) sorry, forgot my parenthetical balance.
posted by larkery at 11:05 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a seismic survey consultant, he would just be another capitalist tool, but luckily for him, his objectivity remains unquestioned.

Here's the thing: When someone says 'Actually thousands of scientists are wrong about science, trust me I read maps for a living!' it doesn't really matter what company he works for or what his policies are, I'm going to judge him based on the stupid shit coming out of his mouth. On the other hand if he says 'Hey from my perspective it appears that, yes, thousands of scientists are right! About science!' then I'll probably smile and nod regardless of his motivations because he isn't saying stupid shit.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:06 AM on April 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


If we are achieving 1% growth without carbon emissions caps and it costs 2% of GDP to fix that it means stagnation or recession.

Define "costs"? When money is spent on new, greener processes, transportation, infrastructure and the workforce to implement it, isn't "cost" kind of another word for "growth"?
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:06 AM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


If Mr. Douglas was a denier, I'm pretty certain most of Mefi would be questioning his objectivity given his ownership in a hypothetical company that maybe provides seismic survey data to the oil extraction industry. Luckily though, the company he owns, WindVision™, "provides user specific information to the most important industries associated with renewable energy." As a seismic survey consultant, he would just be another capitalist tool, but luckily for him, his objectivity remains unquestioned.

That's a fun little imagination story you wrote, but this thread is about real things.
posted by clockzero at 11:16 AM on April 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Define "costs"? When money is spent on new, greener processes, transportation, infrastructure and the workforce to implement it, isn't "cost" kind of another word for "growth"?
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:06 AM on April 5 [+] [!]

The benefit derived from the cost has to exceed the cost in order for there to be growth. Cost and growth are not the same.
posted by otto42 at 11:21 AM on April 5, 2012


Careful what you wish for because the Republicans are going to acknowledge climate change one day, and they are going to claim it is the lord's revenge for gay marriage, unchecked abortions and legal pot, and the only penance will be lower taxes, small government and drilling for oil.
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:21 AM on April 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Paul Douglas! I remember him when he was a broadcast meteorologist in Minneapolis a long time ago!

Here is Paul Douglas reporting on a tornado event in the Twin Cities that I remember fondly!
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 11:28 AM on April 5, 2012


I knew there'd be at least one skeptic in the comments....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:29 AM on April 5, 2012


Where's that picture of Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka?

You mean the one that approximately 193 quadrillion people have pasted sarcastic text over, despite the fact that in the scene from which that screencap is taken, Wonka is sincerely delighted, not sarcastic?

Sorry, peeve of mine. Carry on with the topic at hand.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:30 AM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


You mean the one that approximately 193 quadrillion people have pasted sarcastic text over, despite the fact that in the scene from which that screencap is taken, Wonka is sincerely delighted, not sarcastic?

This is indeed the case but that face is JUST SO PERFECT.
posted by Slackermagee at 11:31 AM on April 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying decarbonising is too expensive. I think it's the only option, but + doubt we can do it without considerable sacrifice. I have to go catch a train, but briefly I think the questions is about the capital costs of building the new infrastructure required and the special issue of embodied energy.

Energy is the true primary currency of a modern economy, as it is an input to all economic processes. If new infrastructure has a net energy cost for a decade before it breaks even, the rest of the economy is poorer by that cost for that decade, during which there will be discomfort.

This is compounded by the fact that a lot of our growth up until now has been tied to growth in the total power used by the economy and that other resource limits are starting to make continuing even that power growth by conventional means difficult. Rising energy costs are politically hard and increasing them further by diverting power to building stuff with a long payoff is even harder.
posted by larkery at 11:33 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think folks forget that climate change is largely out of the United States' control. This Republican/Democrat stuff is small potatoes; the real challenge is telling China and India to halt rising living standards in those countries.

Frankly, even if the US political establishment presented a united front to the rest of the world on this issue, I can't see how it gets solved.
posted by downing street memo at 11:34 AM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also on HuffPo: Republican Environmental Group Drops 'Republican' From Its Name
posted by MattMangels at 11:40 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


The worst thing about the Dem/Rep divide is that it's not a political divide, it's an identity divide.

Bingo. Humans in general are bad at talking about concrete issues and solutions and good at back-patting and smugness.

If Mr. Douglas was a denier, I'm pretty certain most of Mefi would be questioning his objectivity given his ownership in a hypothetical company that maybe provides seismic survey data to the oil extraction industry. Luckily though, the company he owns, WindVision™, "provides user specific information to the most important industries associated with renewable energy." As a seismic survey consultant, he would just be another capitalist tool, but luckily for him, his objectivity remains unquestioned.

There are two possibilites here that would lead Mr. Douglas to the same answer:

1) His beliefs on the evidence have nothing do with where he makes his money and he happens to agree with the scientific consensus; or
2) His beliefs on the evidence are shaped by where he makes his money and he happens to agree with the scientific consensus.

I guess that you have an issue with the second possibility, but bear in mind that bias does not itself invalidate an argument. To pick a familiar example, a hypocrite's condemnation of a certain behavior is not invalid because he is a hypocrite; the only thing discovering hypocrisy tells us is that the speaker is a hypocrite.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 11:45 AM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


The benefit derived from the cost has to exceed the cost in order for there to be growth.

[Citation Needed]. Define "benefit". Jobs are benefit. Manufacturing is benefit. Exploitation of new resources is benefit. Development of new technology and new areas of expertise, industry and a new workforce sector are all benefit.

Hell, wars create economic growth (particularly, though not necessarily, if they're fought on someone else's soil) and wars are technically all about destroying shit and killing people. Green tech can improve on that quite a bit from the start.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:46 AM on April 5, 2012


*Sigh*.

The real heartbreak about this is that, really, climate change was known as a very strong possibility in the sixties and seventies and there was a broad consensus that it was real and needed to be combatted, in the same way the degeneration of the ozone layer was finally tackled at the same time.

And then the fscking tobacco companies started to pump money in the nascent denial movement as a deliberate strategy to undermine trust in science in general, which sounds unbelievable stupid and b-movie like, but has been verified through their own internal documentation which had to be made public in the wake of the anti-tobacco lawsuits in the late nineties.

We've wasted almost thirty years out of greed and stupidity, made the problem that much worse and making it that much harder to solve.

The Committee on Climate Change report, with the hairy-sounding title “Statutory Advice on Inclusion of International Aviation and Shipping,” says that in 2050, the UK’s emissions reductions across the whole economy will cost 1-2 percent of the total GDP.

For better, faster results, elect a Tory-LibDem government.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:47 AM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, on the subject of bias, credibility and logical arguments, scientific commentators should probably pick a venue other than the Huffington Post to publish their commentary. It's easy for interesting topics to get lost in a sea of "I shoved these crystals up my ass and cured my brain cancer!"
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 11:50 AM on April 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


"I guess that you have an issue with the second possibility, but bear in mind that bias does not itself invalidate an argument. To pick a familiar example, a hypocrite's condemnation of a certain behavior is not invalid because he is a hypocrite; the only thing discovering hypocrisy tells us is that the speaker is a hypocrite."

Actually, I'm not questioning his objectivity, as you said,

"1) His beliefs on the evidence have nothing do with where he makes his money and he happens to agree with the scientific consensus; or
2) His beliefs on the evidence are shaped by where he makes his money and he happens to agree with the scientific consensus."

Similarly, points 1 and 2 should still hold true if he did not happen to agree with the scientific consensus.
posted by otto42 at 11:58 AM on April 5, 2012


Any references for this equivalency? Because in the current day, it doesn't really seem accurate to me.

Sure, I'll give you a couple recent, current-day examples. No sweat.

As far as the subject of global climate change goes, the Democrats are getting behind the construction of an oil pipeline to Canada, as witnessed by this latest photo op. Then you have drug policy (recent discussion), over which the Democrats have favored paramilitary response to reasoned, scientific inquiry about medical efficacy.

So there are a couple of examples. Inconvenient examples, true, but no false equivalency. Indeed, it's about as far from false equivalency as it gets, especially during an election year.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:01 PM on April 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


So-called "conservatives" have been becoming more anti-science for the past 30 years.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 12:01 PM on April 5, 2012


I think we need to stop saying "conservative" when we mean "neo-feudalist". The word "conservative" had an honorable meaning not very long ago, even if it often signified someone whom you were likely to disagree with; and there are still people like this man trying to use it to its original intent. Both sides need to deny this word to the movement that's hijacked it and call them what they are.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:06 PM on April 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


Similarly, points 1 and 2 should still hold true if he did not happen to agree with the scientific consensus.

Absolutely. Although, as I think you argued in part with your first post in the thread, people are often lazy in refuting arguments that come from minority positions, on the assumption that the work has been done for them. This is not to say that reasonable people are required to correspond with every crackpot letter-writer at length (or that every holder of a minority position is a crackpot), only that they should engage the first crackpot of a particular type to verify that he or she is in fact a crackpot.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 12:06 PM on April 5, 2012


"[Citation Needed]. Define "benefit". Jobs are benefit. Manufacturing is benefit. Exploitation of new resources is benefit. Development of new technology and new areas of expertise, industry and a new workforce sector are all benefit.

Hell, wars create economic growth (particularly, though not necessarily, if they're fought on someone else's soil) and wars are technically all about destroying shit and killing people. Green tech can improve on that quite a bit from the start."

"Citation Needed." Why? This is the "interwebs", not a book report.

Don't over think what a "benefit" [no citation required.] Did you get more out than what you put in?

It's not just quantitative. It is also qualitative. That is why wars are not always beneficial even if they cost a whole lot. An increase in the cost does necessarily result in an increase in the benefit, as you seem to surmise.
posted by otto42 at 12:12 PM on April 5, 2012


An increase in the cost does necessarily result in an increase in the benefit, as you seem to surmise.

Oh, for heaven's sake. I said
"When money is spent on new, greener processes, transportation, infrastructure and the workforce to implement it, isn't "cost" kind of another word for "growth"?
This was rhetoric. I was not literally equating the words "cost" and "benefit" in any general sense. If it helps, I readily concur that the words are not synonyms.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:24 PM on April 5, 2012


The whole cost/benefit thing really depends on your utility function, which is a problem with GDP (broken windows fallacy, for a concrete example). As far as I can see, we have some raw materials and energy, and we allocate these to try and increase some notion of what is good.

For the first ten or twenty years, until energy payback, building a new energy system will feel just like spending money on breaking windows to fix them to most people. Throw in the fact that we also need to shut down our existing infrastructure (coal plants etc) to really make the impact on carbon that we need to and you're looking at a real-terms reduction of free energy in the system and a resultant rise in energy prices and increased costs for all energy-dependent goods and services, i.e. Everything. This is at odds with the future we have been promised, where everyone gets a new car and a new iPad every year and all that. I think maybe we can keep the pain to the upper levels of Maslow's hierarchy, and maybe it will improve everyone's psychological wellbeing to to do so anyway, but it's a tough sell to The American Consumer.
posted by larkery at 12:34 PM on April 5, 2012


As far as the subject of global climate change goes, the Democrats are getting behind the construction of an oil pipeline to Canada, as witnessed by this latest photo op.

I don't necessarily agree that pursuing a gas + non-gas approach to be non-scientific like denying global warming. Problematic and short sighted? Possibly. But anti-science?

Then you have drug policy (recent discussion), over which the Democrats have favored paramilitary response to reasoned, scientific inquiry about medical efficacy.

Can't disagree with this one.

In my opinion, one party is more anti-science. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.
posted by inigo2 at 12:38 PM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]



Yeah, fuck those deadbeat children growing up in countries first ravaged by colonial powers, then brutalized by cold-war satraps, then drained of resources under the guise of globalization, then withered by climate change from the emissions of the same economic powers benefiting from all that. All they do is beg for reparations for wrongs that I have nothing to do with and in no way ever benefited from. That and they produce NOTHING of value, just these crappy socks I bought from Target. It's a real shame they couldn't inherit the same Protestant work ethic that made America what it is today, but why is that my problem?
posted by [citation needed]


i cannot favorite this enough.
posted by liza at 1:00 PM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


For the first ten or twenty years, until energy payback, building a new energy system will feel just like spending money on breaking windows to fix them to most people. Throw in the fact that we also need to shut down our existing infrastructure (coal plants etc) to really make the impact on carbon that we need to and you're looking at a real-terms reduction of free energy in the system and a resultant rise in energy prices and increased costs for all energy-dependent goods and services, i.e. Everything. This is at odds with the future we have been promised, where everyone gets a new car and a new iPad every year and all that. I think maybe we can keep the pain to the upper levels of Maslow's hierarchy, and maybe it will improve everyone's psychological wellbeing to to do so anyway, but it's a tough sell to The American Consumer.
posted by larkery at 12:34 PM on April 5 [+] [!]


The energy payback period is going to be an infinite period if the switch to a new energy system is done artificially.

That is, unless the cost of fossil fuels rises through a real reduction in supply, which can only happen through growth, capital will not flow to alternative energy sources. The government can outlaw the use of fossil fuels, tax it into submission, and throw every oil executive in North America into the salt mines, but if the fossil fuel still exists in the ground somewhere, capitalists won't commit to the alternative.

Who here want's to invest in building a whole new alternative energy infrastructure when they have to rely on the promises of a politician that they will not open the oil spigots when gasoline hits $6.00 / gallon?

Growth and consumption will reduce global warming trends much faster than the policies favored by the left.
posted by otto42 at 1:10 PM on April 5, 2012


Growth and consumption will reduce global warming trends much faster than the policies favored by the left.

Citation needed.
posted by ged at 1:14 PM on April 5, 2012


*Citation

The Koch Brothers, Wall Street Financiers, money grubbing Republicans, A Coven of Evil Conservative Economists, The Rand Corporation, the Rosicrucians, Standard Oil's Board of Directors, Opus Dei, the Ghost of Jack de Molay, The British Royal Family except for the two ugly sisters with the funny hats, and many more.
posted by otto42 at 1:24 PM on April 5, 2012


[citation needed] is a MeFi username.
posted by slogger at 1:24 PM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


In my opinion, one party is more anti-science. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.

Many climate scientists are pretty much in unison that extracting oil from Canada's tar sands is a stupid idea, as far as controlling climate change goes, so I'll chalk this up to an anti-science position on the part of the Democrats, in the name of political expediency. Say what you will about Republicans, at least where it comes to being anti-science, they aren't out and out hypocrites when election year rolls around.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:24 PM on April 5, 2012


His manic rant, based on and illustrated by a US map and US data charts, is like a blind man ranting out a description of an elephant by having his palm on it at only one point.

There's a whole world out there, and thousands of years of data showing cooling and warming trends over time. And a lot of fake fraudulent data.

I'm still waiting (not) for the Coming Ice Age predicted in the 1970s.
posted by caclwmr4 at 1:25 PM on April 5, 2012


Time is not a peer reviewed journal. Scientific consensus in the 70s agreed on global warming.
posted by stavrogin at 1:32 PM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's only a leak in your end of the boat. My end is just fine.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:33 PM on April 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Growth and consumption will reduce global warming trends much faster than the policies favored by the left.


Not so. The only thing that put a dent in the otherwise constantly increasing carbon output to the atmosphere was the worldwide recession of 09-10.

Only if energy intensity can increase faster than growth will growth be accompanied by lower emissions.

There's a whole world out there, and thousands of years of data showing cooling and warming trends over time. And a lot of fake fraudulent data.

I'm still waiting (not) for the Coming Ice Age predicted in the 1970s

This is silliness. There was no 'coming ice age' predicted by climate and atmospheric scientists in the 70s. This has been debunked by an exhaustive search of all relevant journals which found no such claim.

There is a lot of fake, fraudulent data out there. Much less of it in the papers that have survived peer review, and multiple duplications and tests. The amount of times that Michael Mann's so-called hockey stick graph has been vetted and disected over the last decade is incredible. I can think of no comparable example in the last 20 years in my own field (geology, plate tectonics) And yet it stands, more confirmatory data than ever.

Finally, disclaimer. Big evil oil companies cut me paycheques every month. And yet, atmospheric physics and paleoclimatoligical data don't seem to care.

posted by bumpkin at 1:45 PM on April 5, 2012


The global cooling myth
posted by bumpkin at 1:46 PM on April 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


caclwmr4: His manic rant, based on and illustrated by a US map and US data charts, is like a blind man ranting out a description of an elephant by having his palm on it at only one point.

Yeah, I can see the similarities. In one case, a blind man is touching an elephant, and in the other, a meteorologist is discussing the implications of a global scientific consensus on climate change in conjunction with trends he's personally investigated. It's nearly impossible to tell the two scenarios apart!

There's a whole world out there, and thousands of years of data showing cooling and warming trends over time. And a lot of fake fraudulent data.

Leave aside for a moment the baffling and epistemologically problematic assertion that there exists a lot of "fake and fraudulent" data: your suggestion is basically that since something can occur without human intervention, it can't be caused by human action, which is obviously untrue. Surely you don't believe that this inferential principle is sound?
posted by clockzero at 1:50 PM on April 5, 2012


SCIENCE IS WRONG BECAUSE OF INTERNET NONSENSE SCIENCE
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:51 PM on April 5, 2012


Time is not a peer reviewed journal. Scientific consensus in the 70s agreed on global warming.

That is a late 2000s (decade of 2000-2010) revisionism by biased writers. Basically more fraud which seems to selectively use second hand information.

It was not that long ago. Get thee to a real library and look over popular and "peer reviewed journals" of the actual time from 1965-1979. Time and other "popular" magazines, and television, all emphasized the "We're going to turn into ICE by 2000" angle, all based on the "peer-reviewed" science journals of the time. And those tried to put down "deniers" and those who, using some of the same data, came up with global warming at the time.

On preview, "The global cooling myth" is just more of the same. Save that page and reverse its words in 2045.

Or consider that "The global cooling myth" of the 1970s could be exactly like "The global warming myth" if the 2000s.
posted by caclwmr4 at 1:53 PM on April 5, 2012


And then the fscking tobacco companies started to pump money in the nascent denial movement as a deliberate strategy to undermine trust in science in general, which sounds unbelievable stupid and b-movie like, but has been verified through their own internal documentation which had to be made public in the wake of the anti-tobacco lawsuits in the late nineties.

Can I get a cite on this? Not quibbling, just fascinated.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:54 PM on April 5, 2012


That is a late 2000s (decade of 2000-2010) revisionism by biased writers. Basically more fraud which seems to selectively use second hand information.

Do you have any way to substantiate your accusations of fraud, revisionism, and bias?

It was not that long ago. Get thee to a real library and look over popular and "peer reviewed journals" of the actual time from 1965-1979. Time and other "popular" magazines, and television, all emphasized the "We're going to turn into ICE by 2000" angle, all based on the "peer-reviewed" science journals of the time. And those tried to put down "deniers" and those who, using some of the same data, came up with global warming at the time.

Actually, this is totally untrue! A cursory google search shows that global cooling was nothing more than a conjecture that had little scientific support. So your argument is based on incorrect information and irrelevant.
posted by clockzero at 1:58 PM on April 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Big Energy wants to keep us addicted to carbon-based fuels indefinitely;

This is a bit like saying that Big Agriculture is trying to keep us addicted to food.

There is really no effort required in getting us to keep using carbon-based fuels. It is there in the ground and as long as it takes less energy to harvest than the energy that can be retrieved, we will keep on burning those fuels. It's like a natural law. No international treaty is going to change that.
posted by sour cream at 2:00 PM on April 5, 2012


It was not that long ago. Get thee to a real library and look over popular and "peer reviewed journals" of the actual time from 1965-1979.

Somebody's already done that: "The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus" (.pdf)
posted by Floydd at 2:01 PM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


trends he's personally investigated

What trends are those? He got swayed (suckered) by "global warming", then looked for some US data to have a manic rant. He didn't personally investigate a thing as far as I can see in his own writing. Oh, he's a "Penn State Meteorlogist" but he doesn't have any personal investigation other than seeing the weather where he is every day.

Please, can't you people see through this stuff? Who pays his salary? What would happen to him personally at this point in time if he did take the "denier" or "I don't know" stance?

I think the guy is dangerous.

Maybe he could tell me what the weather will be next week or next month. He has a 50% chance of being right.
posted by caclwmr4 at 2:02 PM on April 5, 2012


[Citation Needed]. Define "benefit". Jobs are benefit. Manufacturing is benefit. Exploitation of new resources is benefit. Development of new technology and new areas of expertise, industry and a new workforce sector are all benefit.

HAI GUISE! I was AFK cuz my toast was burning.

You're wrong. Jobs aren't "benefits". As we all know, "productivity growth" is the only thing that is a "benefit" in the long run, and productivity is GDP divided by labor, so therefore, ceteris paribus, jobs are undesirable.

No need to thank me, just happy to clear things up.
posted by [citation needed] at 2:02 PM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


A blind man could see in a minute that anyone still saying, There's absolutely nothing wrong with the atmosphere, is either a fool or a liar. It angers me that there are still people claiming nothing is wrong or that it's all made up.

I don't mind as much scientific arguments such as, Are we sure we have temperature data accurate to a tenth of a degree going back to the early 20th century? This is mainly because, as a cautious person, I'd like to be sure we have our data accurate to three significant figures before we run another uncontrolled experiment on the atmosphere.

Finally, I'm sure this has been linked dozens of times in climate change posts in the past, but it doesn't hurt to link to How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic again. Specifically in this case the article They Predicted Global Cooling in the '70s.
posted by ob1quixote at 2:03 PM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


A "cursory google search" and wikipedia is hardly substantial or stable information.

The original journals of the time are available in libraries and not all of them are available on the web. The television news programs of the time, including 60 Minutes, 20/20, and PBS stuff, MUCH less so.

Om preview. Nuts, I hate to repeat myself.

And I don't want to threadsit. I'll look in later this evening. I stand by what I just wrote.
posted by caclwmr4 at 2:06 PM on April 5, 2012


I stand by what I just wrote.

By ignoring the cites and quickly running away....
posted by Floydd at 2:09 PM on April 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


the "We're going to turn into ICE by 2000" angle, all based on the "peer-reviewed" science journals of the time.

Even if this were true, saying 'Some people were wrong previously!' is not a counter to the idea that people are capable of being right about anthropogenic climate change.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:16 PM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


The original journals of the time are available in libraries and not all of them are available on the web.

Many, if not most are all indexed electronically, however!

The television news programs of the time, including 60 Minutes, 20/20, and PBS stuff, MUCH less so.

Ah, 1970s television.... that's where I go for a good understanding of science!

And I don't want to threadsit. I'll look in later this evening.

Good idea, take a rest. Moving goalposts is hard work.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:17 PM on April 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


A "cursory google search" and wikipedia is hardly substantial or stable information.

Google is a thing that helps you find information. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia full of substantial information.

The original journals of the time are available in libraries and not all of them are available on the web. The television news programs of the time, including 60 Minutes, 20/20, and PBS stuff, MUCH less so.

You don't understand what you're talking about. There's no reason to take what you're saying seriously, because you don't understand the situation.

Right now, there's overwhelming, global consensus among thousands of professional scientists about anthropogenic climate change. In the 60's and 70's, there were a few speculative articles and one book about global cooling. It's just not comparable, in any way.
posted by clockzero at 2:17 PM on April 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


yea but.. 60 Minutes, 20/20, and PBS .. that makes it true.
posted by stbalbach at 2:30 PM on April 5, 2012


Isn't this guy making the same mistake as climate-change deniers who claim we can't have global warming b/c "look how cold this winter was?" i.e. equating local weather data with a global climate shift?
posted by mrgrimm at 2:56 PM on April 5, 2012


I stand by what I just wrote.

By ignoring the cites and quickly running away...


Romney/Ryan 2012!
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:58 PM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Growth and consumption will reduce global warming trends much faster than the policies favored by the left.


Not so. The only thing that put a dent in the otherwise constantly increasing carbon output to the atmosphere was the worldwide recession of 09-10.

Yes, and I'm sure a lot of people decided to put solar panels on their roofs and trade in their perfectly fine SUV for a new hybrid SUV, because during a recession, people care more about the long term impact of fossil fuels on the planet then they do about paying the mortgage next week.

Growth is the default state of the economy. You can stagnate and reduce emissions over the near term, but you forgoe investment that will have a positive impact in the long run.

Alternatively, you can grow, reduce the supply of fossil fuels, and make alternative energy economically viable.
posted by otto42 at 2:58 PM on April 5, 2012


> I think this past "winter" has been a bit of a wake-up call for some people.

Not in Toronto, where most people I talked to thought this past winter was a gift from God; "I only had to shovel my walk twice!"
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:17 PM on April 5, 2012


I'm a ... fan of small government ... I'm a Penn State meteorologist, and the weather maps I'm staring at are making me very uncomfortable.
Those wouldn't be NOAA weather maps, would they?
posted by Western Infidels at 3:33 PM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Folks? MetaTalk. Quit with the name-calling.]
posted by jessamyn at 3:55 PM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Calcwmr is definitely doing it wrong.

The left undermines its position though by advocating mandates that will make the world a more miserable place both economically and environmentally. Deniers see the alarmists as using global warming to advance a left of center agenda. People want a higher living standard, which is what growth provides. To suggest people should adjust to a lower standard and that they should like it is as infantile and idiotic as anything the deniers can say
posted by otto42 at 4:03 PM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm sure a lot of people decided to put solar panels on their roofs and trade in their perfectly fine SUV for a new hybrid SUV, because during a recession, people care more about the long term impact of fossil fuels on the planet then they do about paying the mortgage next week

They didn't do those things. They drove less. [cite]

I swear I saw graphs someplace that linked VMT (vehicle miles traveled) decreases to unemployment rates (if you don't have a job you're not commuting) and/or gas prices. Can't find it now though.
posted by epersonae at 4:26 PM on April 5, 2012


Oh, I see Mr. Douglas mentions HAMWeather, a company that sells weather widgets to websites, a company he apparently founded.

Still, I wonder how that works. Where does the weather data ultimately come from? The website doesn't make it clear.
posted by Western Infidels at 4:32 PM on April 5, 2012


I remember Paul well from when I lived in the Twin Cities. Pretty accurate as weathermen go and quite sharp. I met him once at a Springsteen show (Rising tour) in St. Paul where he seemed to know a disturbing amount of Bruce lyrics for a Republican.
posted by Ber at 4:54 PM on April 5, 2012


To suggest people should adjust to a lower standard and that they should like it is as infantile and idiotic as anything the deniers can say

Who's saying that?
posted by box at 5:22 PM on April 5, 2012


Alternatively, you can grow, reduce the supply of fossil fuels, and make alternative energy economically viable.

If fossil fuel externalities were internalized through taxation, wind energy would already be economically viable.

It is likely that given enough time, fossil fuel energy will be replaced, despite the fact that externalities of fossil fuels make the market inefficient. But why should we put up with an inefficient market? We could get to where we should be a lot faster by properly regulating energy.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 5:26 PM on April 5, 2012


If fossil fuel externalities were internalized through taxation, wind energy would already be economically viable.

I'm pretty sure if you net the negative externalities with the positive externalities they will sum to zero at the least. Then we can avoid the whole never worked before idea, except in the minds of mefites, of taxing negative externalities.

Maybe when I have a few hours to kill, I can name all the positive externalities of burning cheap fossil fuels, you can name all negative ones and then we can figure out if Exxon would be owed a refund or will have to pay on April 15th.
posted by otto42 at 6:45 PM on April 5, 2012


In more news, water is wet and fire is hot.
posted by PuppyCat at 6:49 PM on April 5, 2012


Otto42:

What are the positive externalities of which you speak? (I wouldn't want to take a few hours of your time, so how about some of he largest, most important ones.)
posted by JKevinKing at 6:49 PM on April 5, 2012


I didn't mean that parenthetical to sound snarky ... I was trying to be funnt & failed.
posted by JKevinKing at 6:51 PM on April 5, 2012


Cheap oil increases the general health of society by allowing for the cheap production of food. Net pre-oil nutrition levels against current rates of air pollution and I'm pretty sure I am much better off now. If you account for the negative externality of burning peet moss or dung in the pre oil age, then any negative externalities of burning oil now are easily offset by the positives, by a huge factor.
posted by otto42 at 7:24 PM on April 5, 2012


Dear Moderate Republicans,

What happened to you, man? I was never one of your tribe, but once upon a time, I actually respected you guys. You were the guys who always kept things from getting out of hand. But lately, it seems like you all lost your minds or lost your spines.

You know that William Butler Yeats poem they keep teaching in those Advanced Placement classes? You know the one about how the center cannot hold and the worst are full of passionate intensity? Dudes, you're now the reason that the center cannot hold! You were the center, and you guys just walked off the field!

And it's not like we don't like you any more. Why is Mad Men so popular? 'Cause it's about old-school moderate Republicans. Dudes who wear suits and kept shit running smoothly. Sure, they overindulged in the three-martini lunches and the occasional un-p.c. joke, but shit actually got done.

When Goldwater was jabbering about nuking the Ho Chi Minh trail, you shut that motherfucker down. When Richard Nixon refused to face the music on Watergate, you pulled the plug on that shit. You were cold motherfuckers, but it was all for the greater good. You crushed so many utopian hippie dreams, but you didn't do it because you were trying to be a dick, you did it because you knew shit just wouldn't fly.

In short, you guys were the realists. If there was an asteroid hurtling toward the earth, you guys would nuke that bitch without thinking twice. In fact, if you moderate Republicans were doing your damn jobs, you would've have had this global warming shit solved yesterday. You'd come up with some market-based solution, convene a big-ass commission of white-coated MIT scientists, make a few phone calls to some venture capitalists, invent some crazy thingumajig that scrubs all the toxins out of the atmosphere, and celebrate victory by giving everybody extra 10% tax cut before lunch.

Instead, what happens? You fold like a cheap suit while all the lunatics in your Grand Old Party deal with global warming by going "La-La-I'm not listening!" like they're a bunch of eight-year-olds on a sugar rush. In fact, this is all just the tip of the melting iceberg. I mean, do you realize what you have be against to be a Republican these days? I mean, it's not just taxes. Republicans have always disliked taxes. But now, it's like you have to be against random shit. Like public libraries. Or firemen. Or going to college. Or married women on the Pill. Damn, you even had Republicans in opposition to "the reality-based community." Republicans against reality? What kind of Bizarro planet shit is this?

So, you moderate Republicans, if there really are any of you left these days, you need to fight against your own extinction. We understand if you don't have enough resources to solve the global warming problem these days, but I'm just saying, I think you need to join everybody else to left of Sarah Palin and Attila the Santorum against the reality-destroying lunatics of Right, or otherwise we are all going to get seriously fucked.

Your old friend,

America
posted by jonp72 at 7:54 PM on April 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


otto42: "To suggest people should adjust to a lower standard and that they should like it is as infantile and idiotic as anything the deniers can say"

Who said that we should? It would be idiotic and unnecessary to do so. We could stop burning fossil oil in the next five years if we felt like it, but we lack consensus due to people spewing the same bullshit you're repeating in this thread.

On what planet will massive expenditures on useful infrastructure result in a reduced standard of living? It's not as if we'll have to stop making consumer goods or something idiotic like that to have the productive capacity necessary for large scale solar, wind, tidal, and nuclear power buildouts. It's not as if we can't manufacture oil from all sorts of feedstocks.

This is completely an issue of will. There are no major obstacles standing in our way. Even money is not an issue. The government can borrow basically all it wants for almost no money. If it felt like it, it could even turn around and lend it to private companies so they can own the generation, if it would appease the Inquisition.
posted by wierdo at 8:12 PM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Moreover, we don't even have to stop using oil. Response to global warming need not include shutting off the spigot. We can, and should, continue to make fertilizers, plastics, and all the other useful stuff we make from oil. Just not the products intended to burn. We should grow or manufacture from carbon already in the carbon cycle the things we want to burn. Or, again to appease the Inquisition, we could keep burning coal as long as we capture the harmful effluents.
posted by wierdo at 8:15 PM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let's keep in mind that we are commenting on the article in the subject, aren't we?

Mr. Douglas exposes himself by noting/promoting "One of my companies is Smart Energy, with a new level of wind forecast accuracy for global wind farms." A "company" providing weather data to wind farm operations. His whole article is a ridiculous self-serving rant. Imho.

Pretty sure you're standing by your paymasters, or the blind cowardice of the theories your favourite think-tank has drip-fed you.
That statement applies 100% to all global warmingers, including Mr. Douglas. I think for myself, based on my knowledge and my experience. I'm not paid to promote global warming like they are.

yea but.. 60 Minutes, 20/20, and PBS .. that makes it true.
I threw PBS in because it seems anything PBS puts up is Absolute Truth for a certain kind of person. It's not necessarily. And Misterogers always wore a sweater, you know. He was cold and getting colder at the time.

It angers me that there are still people claiming nothing is wrong or that it's all made up.
It angers me to see something like a question that was posted on the green side, where a young mother was worried about the effect of global warming on her new baby.

If fossil fuel externalities were internalized through taxation, wind energy would already be economically viable. [blah blah]
Wind energy IS NOT economically viable now. How about the direct effects, not externalities, of wind energy, killing tens of thousands of birds (and so conveniently overlooked by the EPA bird kill regulations and this current government), vibrating the hell out of the earth killing or mutating unknown amounts of ground life, and noisy as hell, and money losing as hell? Plus, Teddy Kennedy didn't want to look at it. Get your direct visible measurable costs and losses correct first before you spout off about amorphous externalities.

...the fact that externalities of fossil fuels make the market inefficient. But why should we put up with an inefficient market? We could get to where we should be a lot faster by properly regulating energy.
The market of energy is fairly efficient now and would work far better if government would stay far out of it. Regulate pollution - sure. Regulate to promote a money wasting and corrupt ideology is utterly wrong. If and when "clean energy" is marketable, it will be. Government subsidies on one hand and government penalties on the other, are not needed.

The current President wants to raise gasoline prices by withdrawing tax deductions used by the oil companies. Most are standard business tax deductions that all businesses use. (I am all for reducing a lot of tax deductions across the board.) The government already receives massive tax revenue from gasoline and fuel sales at the point of sale, and taxes on profits by oil and fuel companies. The government, at all levels, collects more tax from oil than the oil companies keep as profit. This President wants to tax profitable companies and "invest" in unprofitable, never-will-be profitable, "companies". Meanwhile, this President's BFF's company, GE, pays no taxes.

And by the way, a tax deduction is not a "subsidy", it's keeping your own in-hand money. A government subsidy is a subsidy, where the government gives you somebody else's money. A charismatic Pied Piper can't change this.

The various solar "investments" by this current government are collapsing faster than the media is willing to report, dumping massive losses on taxpayers.

It's a shame that people here don't seem to comprehend a difference between primary historical sources, contemporary sources, secondary sources, and biased blogs of second and third hand fantasies. And by design or by technological "progress", or both, primary publications of the 1960s and 1970s are fairly difficult to obtain. How convenient. The five years of comments on that They Predicted Global Cooling in the '70s page repeatedly note the widespread 1970s global cooling scare, and those comments were shouted down on that page by deniers of THAT fact.

this guy making the same mistake as climate-change deniers who claim we can't have global warming b/c "look how cold this winter was?" i.e. equating local weather data with a global climate shift?
No. In recent years I have a laugh at people who tell me (in person), in all seriousness, things like:
"How about all this rain for the last 10 days! It must be Global Warming!"
"How about this drought? No rain for a month! It must be Global Warming!"
"The tsunami was Global Warming!"
"We got four feet of snow! It's Global Warming!"
"No snow all winter! It's that Global Warming!"
"That earthquake proves Global Warming!"
"The volcano eruption shows Global Warming."
"Bird [dung] on my windshield! It's Global Warming!"
"Look at all these acorns! Global Warming!"
"NO acorns this year! That's Global Warming!"
"THREE people won the MegaMillions! Global Warming!" {ok I made this one up. But not the others.}

But, all that also makes me very sad, and angry.

I am not denying anything. All Global Warming propaganda is highly suspect. It's highly suspect directly, and behind the scenes, and the way it is all funded.

(And, please don't try to tag me as Republican, or Democrat. I really do not fit closely with either as they exist today.)
posted by caclwmr4 at 9:29 PM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Cheap oil increases the general health of society by allowing for the cheap production of food. Net pre-oil nutrition levels against current rates of air pollution and I'm pretty sure I am much better off now.

In what sense is the benefit that you describe external to the price of oil?
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 9:36 PM on April 5, 2012


Wind energy IS NOT economically viable now.

Which is why I said it would be if the market were efficient. It isn't efficient right now, so wind energy is not economically viable right now.

How about the direct effects, not externalities, of wind energy, killing tens of thousands of birds (and so conveniently overlooked by the EPA bird kill regulations and this current government), vibrating the hell out of the earth killing or mutating unknown amounts of ground life, and noisy as hell, and money losing as hell? Plus, Teddy Kennedy didn't want to look at it. Get your direct visible measurable costs and losses correct first before you spout off about amorphous externalities.

If they are direct effects, then they are already part of the price. Also, I don't care one little bit about what Kennedy wants to look at.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 9:41 PM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


"The tsunami was Global Warming!"
"We got four feet of snow! It's Global Warming!"
"No snow all winter! It's that Global Warming!"
"That earthquake proves Global Warming!"


Some people you know gave some bad reasons for why you should believe in Global Warming. Therefore, good reasons for believing in Global Warming don't exist.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 11:46 PM on April 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Mr. Douglas exposes himself by noting/promoting "One of my companies is Smart Energy, with a new level of wind forecast accuracy for global wind farms." A "company" providing weather data to wind farm operations. His whole article is a ridiculous self-serving rant. Imho.

I agree to the possibility that it could be self serving. But I also think it's much more likely he is seeing the way climate is changing and investing in something that takes advantage of renewable energies. This I think would be a fair thing for a business person to do, which many republicans are.

I however disagree with your characterization that his article is a rant. It is a level-headed look at what he is observing and his concerns as a republican, whether correct or not. I do not see emotionally charged language or phrasing that I would characterize as a rant. Your comment, however, I think would be fair to classify as a rant because it does contain emotionally charged language along with hyperbole and claims with no evidence to back those claims up. Plus Mister Roger's sweater. (?)

I find your criticism the article as a rant strange in the midst of your own rant.



>Pretty sure you're standing by your paymasters, or the blind cowardice of the theories your favourite think-tank has drip-fed you.

That statement applies 100% to all global warmingers, including Mr. Douglas. I think for myself, based on my knowledge and my experience. I'm not paid to promote global warming like they are.


I assume a global warminger is someone that agrees with and possibly promotes global warming? I would probably be classified as a global warminger then, however I am not paid to promote it - therefore your assertion is incorrect. I think it would be fair to say that the majority of "global warmingers" are not paid in anyway regarding that position. Another piece pointing that what you have is a rant - a grandiose claim that is incorrect and nearly impossible to be correct.

I also find your statement that you think for yourself on this issue suspect as you are using exact talking points of republican climate change deniers. You also do not cite said sources about global cooling which you insist exist but do not provide evidence of. Leading me to believe you are just repeating what you have been told without investigating it. Supporting the previous assertion that your ideas on climate change and global warming are, in fact, drip-fed to you.


>yea but.. 60 Minutes, 20/20, and PBS .. that makes it true.

I threw PBS in because it seems anything PBS puts up is Absolute Truth for a certain kind of person. It's not necessarily. And Misterogers always wore a sweater, you know. He was cold and getting colder at the time.


Mister Rogers? Weird and irrelevant and reminds me of your point about how Mr. Douglas is ranting, making me wonder if you understand what a rant is. You nailed it, but not sure if you are aware of it.

I can't respond to the rest of your comment because it's mostly a non-sensical with very little fact and wild tangents. Plus it's nearly 3 in the morning. I would love to have an honest discussion on this, but you'd need to stop with the hyperbole and emotionally charged language and start citing sources for your information - otherwise I take your points as either disingenuous or just plain wrong.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 1:06 AM on April 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


otto42: one way to promote the development of new infrastructure is to use enough fossil fuels to make it economically attractive under the current economic model. The question is whether emitting the relevant tonnage of CO2 to achieve that effect will be safe for the climate. There are feedbacks which, if started, are enormously hard to stop. These are visible in the climate record; we really don't want a repeat of the younger dryas event or anything like that.

The best scientific understanding gives us a maximum safe emissions budget and we have to build our new stuff with that budget.
posted by larkery at 1:12 AM on April 6, 2012


weirdo: the reduction in "quality of life" (as measured by cheapness of iPads etc) is not permanent, but I don't see any easy way to avoid a decade long hike in energy prices whilst making the transition, and energy prices are a big constituent of the prices of everything else.

As long as resources and energy are going to a project which has a long payback, it will cause some pain. Normally this pain is absorbed by growth, but if the required rate of investment exceeds the amount of growth some retrenchment is required. That is (as I said above) the apparently small 2% cost is so hard to pay.
posted by larkery at 1:35 AM on April 6, 2012


otto42: I think you are being a bit acerbic calling the notion (and by extension people who suggest it) that we may have to accept some reduction in quality of life "infantile and idiotic". We have a problem to solve: build and switch to a low-carbon energy infrastructure without emitting more than the scientific best-guess for maximum safe tonnage emitted, and we have real, physical constraints on the amount of energy, manpower and material resources that can be deployed to solve that problem.

It is not self-evident that this can be done whilst still providing everyone with all of the comforts they are accustomed to, because those comforts also require energy, resources and manpower, and there is a limited total quantity available for use in the time window we have to work in.

By analogy, consider WWII. In WWII, there was had a problem to solve: if we don't stop the growth of Nazism now, we won't be able to stop it later and most people will have much worse lives as a result. Consequently, our parents and grandparents chose to forgo the allocation of resources to their short-term benefit and accepted real, material reductions in their standard of living, because they recognised that the only feasible way to stop the growth of Nazism before it became irreversible was to redeploy significant resources to a solution (war).

If they had instead chosen to wait for the economy to grow large enough that it could sustain both the solution (war) and provide the standard of living that everyone was accustomed to, it seems likely that the Axis would in the mean-time have become unstoppable, or at least much harder to stop.

Going by scientific consensus, the analogy here is not unreasonable. We aren't killing Nazis, but we do have physical limits to what we must do and what our range of actions are, and it seems like getting what needs to be done done will involve spending some of our resource and energy budget on stuff that is not as fun as more cars and iPads. This is not some leftist moralising position about whether cars and iPads and free markets are right or wrong, because it appears that if we don't address the problem in the time one way or another, the question will be immaterial: there won't be any cars, iPads or free markets if the ecosystem doesn't want to play ball in making them.

Just like our forefathers, we need to defer gratification a bit, and sacrifice some pleasure now to ensure future prosperity. It is not a hard idea, nor an especially partisan one, and in fact the ability to defer gratification is lauded on all sides as an admirable trait. We need to display that trait now.
posted by larkery at 2:43 AM on April 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am kind of in love with the idea of a deadbeat nation.

I know it is supposed to be pejorative but somehow even just considering the possibility makes me feel hopeful and relaxed.
posted by srboisvert at 3:16 AM on April 6, 2012


How about the direct effects, not externalities, of wind energy, killing tens of thousands of birds (and so conveniently overlooked by the EPA bird kill regulations and this current government), vibrating the hell out of the earth killing or mutating unknown amounts of ground life, and noisy as hell, and money losing as hell?

All but the last of these are externalities.

And, please don't try to tag me as Republican, or Democrat. I really do not fit closely with either as they exist today

Given the misunderstanding of what an externality is, I'm going to plump for 'libertarian'.
posted by pompomtom at 5:38 AM on April 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


By analogy, consider WWII.

I think there's much to be said for this analogy.

But my fear is that the US won't get its act together until there is a Pearl Harbor.

And unfortunately, unlike WWII, by then it will be too late to do much to reverse the situation. Putting CO2 in the atmosphere is more like we've been selling boatloads of weapons to a future adversary every day of every year for decades. And because they haven't declared outright war yet, but have just been steadily encroaching on our interests, we've said "Hey, no problem, let's keep selling them more weapons. Y'know it would hurt business quite a bit to cut back on that trade."

Well in this case, by the time a Pearl Harbor comes, the enemy will outgun us 100 to 1, and saying "Gee, we'd better not sell them any more battleships" won't be a big help.

And to be even more realistic, there won't be an actual single dramatic episode like Pearl Harbor. It'll be more like an enemy that at first captures a street here, or destroys a building there, but keeps going for decades at an ever accelerating pace. So we'll have to contend with boiled frog syndrome.

But there is also a plus side compared to WWII.

Sure there is some pain involved in no longer making and selling battleships to our future enemy. But it turns out we can make and sell other things to other people, and stay prosperous. And we don't even have to stop making those battleships-for-the-enemy all in one day, we can take time to transition our economy away from that industry.

Just don't get too complacent. Because this enemy is already heavily armed, and we are selling them truckloads more weapons every day.
posted by philipy at 10:23 AM on April 6, 2012


caclwmr4: "It angers me to see something like a question that was posted on the green side, where a young mother was worried about the effect of global warming on her new baby."

Do you mean to imply that a prudent person making long-term plans spanning several decades shouldn't take the observed effects of changes in the atmosphere into account? Even the re-insurance industy disagrees with you.
Cynthia McHale, the insurance program director at Ceres, issued a more unequivocal statement: “Our climate is changing, human activity is helping to drive the change, and the costs of these extreme weather events are going to keep ballooning unless we break through our political paralysis, and bring down emissions that are warming our planet. If we continue on this path, extreme weather is certain to cause more homes and businesses to be uninsurable in the private insurance market, leaving the costs to taxpayers or individuals.”
posted by ob1quixote at 1:57 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


larkery: "weirdo: the reduction in "quality of life" (as measured by cheapness of iPads etc) is not permanent, but I don't see any easy way to avoid a decade long hike in energy prices whilst making the transition, and energy prices are a big constituent of the prices of everything else."

Then you're not looking. We've already had the decade long hike in energy prices. That's precisely why it has become economical to make massive investments in renewables. Nobody is advocating shutting off the spigot tomorrow.
posted by wierdo at 3:21 PM on April 6, 2012


I guess it's rants all the way down.
posted by JKevinKing at 3:45 PM on April 6, 2012


wierdo: we've had a bit of a hike, and it has helped, but the installed base of renewables is still small. To keep below our safe gigatonnage of CO2 we will need to build hundreds of times what we already have, and construct a tonne of additional distribution and control infrastructure because it is such a different model. There are also unknown scaling costs associated with building 100x as many windmills and PV cells as we are now, or building enough of the super-forges required to build fission reactors fast enough (which again have huge embedded carbon if constructed with fossil fuels).

On top of this is the downstream heavy industry which will need rebuilding - most metalworking except aluminium refining depends on high intensity heat from fossil fuels. This all needs electrifying, or replacing with solar concentrators, or we need to build massive synthetic diesel plants and even more nuclear stations to run them.

Not only that, we'll have to shut down a whole load of productive equipment. It's not going to be safe for china to keep running the new coal stations they are building every month up to their lifetime CO2 output - that alone will push us over the limit.

No way this will be easy, we are just approaching the inflexion on the roller coaster.
posted by larkery at 1:17 AM on April 7, 2012


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