Skip

Irreversible
June 6, 2012 5:37 PM   Subscribe


 
Counterpoint: LIBERAL DEMOCRATS ARE SHRILL AND, BESIDES, GOD LIKES WARM WEATHER.

This has been another edition of "Viewpoints To Which The Media Will Give Equal Credence."
posted by delfin at 5:40 PM on June 6, 2012 [29 favorites]


When is the next IPCC report due out?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:42 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


But what do the geologists at the oil companies think?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:43 PM on June 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


'Gaia' scientist James Lovelock: I was 'alarmist' about climate change

He previously painted some of the direst visions of the effects of climate change. In 2006, in an article in the U.K.’s Independent newspaper, he wrote that “before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.”

However, the professor admitted in a telephone interview with msnbc.com that he now thinks he had been “extrapolating too far."

posted by republican at 5:52 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


In other news, the "geoengineering will fix it, don't worry" meme...not so much.
posted by CosmicRayCharles at 6:00 PM on June 6, 2012


clathrates, yo.
posted by exlotuseater at 6:00 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's amusing, republican, but to be clear we should note this opinion obviously did not represent the scientific consensus.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:01 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hey republican, do you know how much peer reviewed climate science literature James Lovelock has published recently? Not to disrespect him, but he's no authority on this matter, not at all.
posted by wilful at 6:03 PM on June 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


.
posted by shortyJBot at 6:13 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Only dirty liberals live close enough to the coast to be affected.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:14 PM on June 6, 2012


HOLY SHIT WHY ARE WE ONLY HEARING ABOUT THIS NOW????!?!
posted by nathancaswell at 6:16 PM on June 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


BECAUSE AL GORE AND MICHAEL MOORE ARE FAT CASE CLOSED
posted by Ron Thanagar at 6:17 PM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


But what do the geologists at the oil companies think?

My Geo 101 teacher back in 2000 was ex-Big Oil, and he figured we were already past the tipping-point. (his words)
posted by lekvar at 6:17 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


But what do the geologists at the oil companies think?

Depends on whether they've spent a bit of time reading the literature. This particular geologist who works for an oil company is deeply impressed by the huge volume of evidence on anthropogenic climate change and associated corollaries: ocean acidification, regional desertification, disappearance of permanent snow in the mid-latitudes, possibly intensification of tropical and extra-tropical storms and so on. Fair to say that it will be a very different world in a matter of generations.
posted by bumpkin at 6:18 PM on June 6, 2012 [15 favorites]


Yesterday was our last chance to see Venus pass by the sun this century, but if we play our cards right we can have Venus weather right here on Earth!
posted by hypersloth at 6:21 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


In other news, the "geoengineering will fix it, don't worry" meme...not so much.

That study is in regard to geoengineering techniques that involve reducing the amount of sunlight reaching Earth's surface, and not the more, imo, viable techniques that involve sequestration of CO2.

It's not "this'll fix it, don't worry." It's more about what can be realistically done to save our civilization. At the moment we're doing nothing at all to mitigate emissions, and it's hard to imagine how (barring some enormous disaster) that will change, so something else will have to save our bacon until more sustainable technologies become widespread.

Actually, that report is even more depressing than it sounds, since they're talking about how the world is failing at 86 out of 90 different environmental goals. We could forestall global warming but still most of the life in the sea, or too many species to habitat loss, and so on.
posted by Kevin Street at 6:22 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Still lose most of the life in the sea. Sorry about that.
posted by Kevin Street at 6:24 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wonderful business opportunity! An entire continent soon open for development! No need for invasion, just a few scientists to evict! Three words: untapped oil reserves!

Antartica - the new Amercia!
posted by likeso at 6:25 PM on June 6, 2012


I wonder if the next dominant species on the planet will have this annoying self destructive streak built in.
posted by Mooski at 6:46 PM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


At his TED talk earlier this year, NASA Climate Scientist Dr. James Hansen says "The last time CO2 was at 390ppm, today's value, sea level was higher by at least 15 meters."

It seems like this could be interpreted to mean that climate change isn't modeled well by CO2 levels, if sea levels are not as high given similar conditions. Is there a better context for this pull quote, without watching the TED talk?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:49 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, I guess its time to close the border and let the American's deal with the new dust-bowl.

Hi ho, to the Territories!
posted by Slackermagee at 6:50 PM on June 6, 2012


It seems like this could be interpreted to mean that climate change isn't modeled well by CO2 levels, if sea levels are not as high given similar conditions.

I dunno BP, it would seem self-evident to me that previous changes took place in the context of thousands of years, not two hundred, so naturally it will take some time playing catch up, as it were.
posted by smoke at 7:05 PM on June 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


>It seems like this could be interpreted to mean that climate change isn't modeled well by CO2 levels, if sea levels are not as high given similar conditions. Is there a better context for this pull quote, without watching the TED talk?

BP, try this paper by Hansen et al or this video of him talking about the issue.

Here's the denialist view on the Hansen paper.

See also Real Climate on the issue generally, and Vermeer and Rahmstorf 2009.
posted by wilful at 7:07 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Climate doomsayers: "The end is nigh."

Well, if the end is nigh, and the planet is fucked, and the damage is done and irreversible...???

They're just giving the OK to continue with the earth-murder, no?

So, uh, anyone happen to know who pays these people?
posted by Sys Rq at 7:10 PM on June 6, 2012


I dunno BP, it would seem self-evident to me that previous changes took place in the context of thousands of years, not two hundred, so naturally it will take some time playing catch up, as it were.

Self-evident to you and me. Not so obvious to the sort of people who think a couple of cold mornings means climate change is a global Communist conspiracy.
posted by Jimbob at 7:12 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sys Rq, I'm not sure I understand your point (rhetorical as it may be).

You know as well as I do who pays these people. They're academics so indirectly or directly governments pay for this advice.

This isn't some on/off, black/white earth is fine today, fucked tomorrow thing. There are shades of depth to the amount of damage we can and will do. We can still influence the future. Even in twenty years, when humanity has truly fucked the environment and we are looking towards inevitable mass human deaths, to say nothing about biodiversity, ameliorating actions can still have some effect, some species can still be saved.

But we're well and truly past the point of no consequences, and the cheapest and most effective changes are becoming harder to implement. It's all fading to black.
posted by wilful at 7:16 PM on June 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


The US National Snow and Ice Data Centre has a daily image of extent of sea ice. Here it is today. Good news! It's well above 2007.

When summer ice disappears in the Arctic, this represents a tipping point, as dark sea absorbs far more heat than white snow and ice, so it is unlikely to recover from this easily, and will push more climate change.

But I don't know why I bother typing this, you either already know this fact, or you don't care/don't believe it.
posted by wilful at 7:21 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, uh, anyone happen to know who pays these people?

Why does it matter? If you're asking because you suspect some sort of sinister agenda, then seriously quash those suspicions. Objective science for science's sake is almost completely without the sort of bias that moneyed interests can create. These people are beholden to fact-and procedure-checkers, not accountants, political officers or shareholders. The only research that is usually found to have monetary consequences are projects with enormous price tags (Livermore / CERN level stuff and NASA).

Scientists, almost to-a-man, are simply after knowledge for knowledge's sake. Most of these people who are suspicious of scientists do not understand the scale of this. People look at denialists of all kinds and say something like 'Well Forty Scientists Feel That This Theory Thingy Is All Wrong'

Forty Scientists is the staff of a small university. The biology department of my school had almost forty scientists in it and it wasn't the largest STEM-area department. Almost every single scientist in every department was involved in research.

Why? Because they are curious. Because they ask why. They need to know. It isn't about pay or about clout or about brownie points or self-validation, it's about the fundamental drive to understand how things work. Like you need water, they need understanding.
posted by Fuka at 7:28 PM on June 6, 2012 [15 favorites]


Sys Rq, I'm not sure I understand your point (rhetorical as it may be).

My point was that the stuff linked in this post is all "the sky is falling" FUD that does nothing but instill a sense of defeatism in the general public, which is of value to no one but business interests.

(Which may be why it was highlighted in Bloomberg Businessweek.)

You know as well as I do who pays these people. They're academics so indirectly or directly governments pay for this advice.

Ha ha ha! No, seriously.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:32 PM on June 6, 2012


Scientists, almost to-a-man, are simply after knowledge for knowledge's sake.

Indeed, sometimes to a fault.
posted by Shit Parade at 7:37 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


> My point was that the stuff linked in this post is all "the sky is falling" FUD that does nothing but instill a sense of defeatism in the general public, which is of value to no one but business interests.

The psychology if how to "sell" the facts of climate change is indeed an interesting question, and a lot of people have looked at this. Proving that modelling people's perceptions is more subjective and unknown/unknowable than modelling climate, there is no definite way forward here.

Do you tell the unvarnished truth? No, it's too complex. Do you tell the simple truth? Yes. But it's too scary, too doom laden. Do you shout it? Al Gore did, Tim Flannery did, this doesn't seem to generate respect or conviction. Do you go quietly? The IPCC are doing that. Governments then ignore them.

If you've got the answer, lots of people would be interested to hear.
posted by wilful at 7:38 PM on June 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


btw funding is listed in the report on page iiv, pasted below:

The Governments of Canada, Norway, Republic of Korea, the
Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the Gwangju Metropolitan
City, Republic of Korea, together with the UNEP Environment Fund,
GEO-5 Funding
provided the necessary funding for the production of GEO-5 and
subsequent outreach activities. Contributions were also provided
by GRID-Arendal and the Development Bank of Latin America.
posted by Shit Parade at 7:39 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's going to end sometime, and we're not going to be able to do much effectively to stop it, especially now. Humans are most certainly going to be a blip on the earth.
posted by agregoli at 7:39 PM on June 6, 2012


previous changes took place in the context of thousands of years, not two hundred, so naturally it will take some time playing catch up

This reminds of a quote I read on another thread, applying to Americans vs Europeans in its original context, but which I reckon that applies to many people in developed countries nowadays and is one of the major blocks with the understanding of environmental issues: they interpret 100 km as a short distance, and 100 years as a long time period.
posted by Bangaioh at 7:42 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Self-evident to you and me. Not so obvious to the sort of people who think a couple of cold mornings means climate change is a global Communist conspiracy.

Just to be clear, that's not what I'm suggesting. Just trying to parse what seems like a poorly-phrased or easily-misquoted sentence.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:44 PM on June 6, 2012


Jimbob: " the sort of people who think a couple of cold mornings means climate change is a global Communist conspiracy."

The best rebuttal of that is, of course, just because you're not drunk *right now* doesn't mean you're not an alcoholic.
posted by notsnot at 7:54 PM on June 6, 2012


The Governments of Canada, Norway

Leading with two of the top 10 oil exporting nations does not help their case much. (And as for Korea...)
posted by Sys Rq at 7:57 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the next dominant species on the planet will have this annoying self destructive streak built in.

I don't think it's a "self destructive streak" as much as a "lifestyle preservation streak" and I would be surprised if it wasn't built in. If they can only muster just a little more forsight they might just make it though.

"O, wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, That has such people in't!"
posted by wobh at 7:59 PM on June 6, 2012


It's not really, FUD, though is it. I mean, Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt, is what FUD stands for. This is really just F.

Additionally, the raison d'etre of FUD was that it was to prevent people from making changes that would arguably benefit them, or cost very little. In this context, denialism is the only FUD around climate change.
posted by smoke at 7:59 PM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well, pretend I said 'fearmongering' then. Point still stands.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:16 PM on June 6, 2012


Bit it's not really "fear-mongering" if the fear is actually rational & real, and no one's making the point just for profit. I dunno, dude, I think the whole analogy's fatally flawed.
posted by smoke at 8:26 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, so much about this biodiversity business and yet we really rely on monocultures for feedstock.

We'll be fine...
posted by Slackermagee at 8:33 PM on June 6, 2012


Yesterday was our last chance to see Venus pass by the sun this century, but if we play our cards right we can have Venus weather right here on Earth!

An idea I have for a science fiction novel/movie that I will never write or make involves some sort of exploration of Venus (I realize it is like 800 degrees there -- not sure how we could even explore) or some sort of findings on Earth. This exploration would reveal to us that Venus (closer to Earth in distance and size than Mars) actually contained advanced humanoids many millions of years ago when the climate on Venus was not too different than Earth's is now. The Venus humanoids did almost the exact same thing we are doing now until they turned their formerly hospitable planet into its present oven-like state. Perhaps they tried to colonize the Earth when they realized they were killing their planet.

Of course, it wouldn't surprise me if this idea has already been used. I have a good record of inventing things that already exist.
posted by flarbuse at 8:50 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't see how they can get people to care about this stuff by saying that it's going to cost us "tens of billions of dollars". That's chicken feed. Chump change. A pittance. The U.S. spends more than that every year just killing people in other countries. On purpose.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:04 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think the biggest issue now is: what will be the exchange rate between crown bottle caps and plastic screw caps?
posted by Seiten Taisei at 9:34 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


In Steve Coll's new book, he reports for the first time that Exxon's internal scientists have understood since the late 90s that global warming is real and happening. And the company is engaged in research how to exploit it, such as melting in the Arctic opening up new reserves.
Exxon has also been lobbying Congress for a carbon tax and investing millions in synthetic bio fuel research. They also have funded global warming denier groups.
posted by stbalbach at 10:04 PM on June 6, 2012


However, the professor admitted in a telephone interview with msnbc.com that he now thinks he had been “extrapolating too far."

According to these new calculations, professor Lovelock may need to revise his opinion once again.

Maybe someone needs to tell him about the Twinkie.
posted by j03 at 10:20 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, so much about this biodiversity business and yet we really rely on monocultures for feedstock.

We'll be fine...


Haha, that was a joke, right?
posted by j03 at 10:21 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is a UN report, and it reads more like a political document than a scientific one.

I mean, seriously:
Little or no progress is being made on 24 of the goals, which range from indoor air pollution to wildlife protection, while eight categories are actually worse than before, it said.

So the world is coming to an end because we aren't controlling indoor air pollution?

I downloaded chapter 1 of the report and on page 7 it had:
Education is recognized as a basic human right included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR 1948). Achieving universal primary education is MDG 2, linked to the improvement of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

There are a number of research articles I've read that have convinced me that it is entirely possible that environmental systems "are being pushed towards their biophysical limits", but this document is just a mess of political platitudes. Maybe if I download the whole thing I'll find some good information hidden within the mess, but I really shouldn't have to read about how education is a fundamental human right in a document purported to be about the 'Global Environment'. The message is too important to be buried and diluted like this.
posted by eye of newt at 10:46 PM on June 6, 2012


How much more money does the UN want this time?
posted by caclwmr4 at 11:13 PM on June 6, 2012


I wish I was wrong about this, but I'm firmly of the opinion that humanity is largely incapable of taking major action unless something breaks. Until then, we'd prefer to wait it out.

It reminds me of something Al Franken said... There is no liberal bias in media, there's a bias toward laziness. That applies to humanity in general, not just media.
posted by gern at 11:14 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


The thing that kills me is that the people most invested in denying climate change tend to have large families and claim to be all about their kids.
posted by maxwelton at 11:55 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


eye of newt, I mean seriously, your human right to an education has been infringed. This report, entitled Global Environmental Outlook, includes focus on both climate change and indoor air pollution. It isn't saying that indoor air pollution is threatening the global climate. Though it does kill two million poor people every year. This is of course a problem.

As for it being political, erm, this is all political. Change cannot happen without political will. But everything in that report should be defensible and objectively provable. Which I suspect it is. It's no ones fault that reality has a well-known liberal wing bias.
posted by wilful at 12:03 AM on June 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


The thing that kills me is that the people most invested in denying climate change tend to have large families and claim to be all about their kids.

Well, they truly believe it's a vast international conspiracy between the librul media and money grubbing scientists to destroy the worlds capitalist economy and usher in a new socialist dystopia with jack booted United Nations president Al Gore making everyone drive hybrids and wear sweaters.

As absurd as my scenario is.. there's probably someone reading this right now who thinks.. "Yeah! That's exactly what's happening!"

You can't change their minds because all "facts" come from tainted, untrustworthy sources called "Scientists."
posted by j03 at 12:10 AM on June 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes education is important. Indoor pollution is important. Heck, Alzheimers, cancer, vaccines, cat declawing, and clean toilets are important too.

The point is the lack of focus dilutes the message.

A focussed "Looming Environmental Catastrophe" is more useful than an 'everything but the kitchen sink'' Global Environmental Outlook.

But it is the UN. They do these things. As I said, it is more political than scientific.
posted by eye of newt at 12:18 AM on June 7, 2012




>But it is the UN. They do these things. As I said, it is more political than scientific.

You've heard of the UNFCCC? A creature of the UN. I think it would be fair to say that they have tried every possible level of communications effort from A5 flyer right through to the many thousand page fully referenced and refereed report. If people in charge don't yet know the significance and risk of anthropogenic climate change, god help em, it's certainly beyond human powers to persuade them and it is certainly not a failing of the UN system.
posted by wilful at 3:50 AM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


A focussed "Looming Environmental Catastrophe" is more useful than an 'everything but the kitchen sink'' Global Environmental Outlook.

It's possible you are getting this mixed up with the IPCC reports which are specifically about climate change.

This is actually a big umbrella look at the state of environment/s as a whole: climate change being a large part of that (because, well, it's kind of important), but not purely climate change related by intent or definition. It also is explicitly political, as in it is meant to guide and inform policies: it's the science translated into politicalese for the hard of thinking politicians.

Their about-me page.
posted by titus-g at 4:07 AM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]




> A creature of the UN. I think it would be fair to say that they have tried every possible level of communications effort from
> A5 flyer right through to the many thousand page fully referenced and refereed report. If people in charge don't yet know
> the significance and risk of anthropogenic climate change, god help em, it's certainly beyond human powers to persuade them
> and it is certainly not a failing of the UN system.

Case in point, they haven't even been able to communicate the urgency to the very liberal and progressive Metafilter user base in a way that gets them to remember it in THIS ECONOMY SUX threads. In those threads we're all about "what can we do to get things moving again? More jobs! More employment!" -- in spite of the quite evident fact that actually getting the national and world economies back into high-employment mode would make everything relating to environmental degradation and climate change worse faster.

People in general just aren't very good at keeping two fundamentally opposed goals in mind at once.
posted by jfuller at 9:45 AM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I mostly agree, jfuller, except that IMO high employment is a red herring. It's just wasteful having loads of people doing nothing. Full employment with much shorter working hours is what should be aimed for.
posted by Bangaioh at 12:32 PM on June 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Bangaioh, I'm with you, but...

Socialism!
posted by sneebler at 6:00 PM on June 7, 2012


Also, labour intensive can mean less resource intensive, e.g., local food production rather than centralised and trucked out. Higher employment + lower fossil fuel usage = A Good Thing.

It's not even like there's going to be a marginal increase in food consumption to offset the calories burnt working for the most part (modern diets being what they are).

Employment or AGW is only a true dilemma if ur doin it wrong; admittedly, history suggests...
posted by titus-g at 11:39 PM on June 7, 2012


Warming nears point of no return, scientists say

Approaching a state shift in Earth’s biosphere, Barnosky et al Nature 486, 52–58 (07 June 2012) doi:10.1038/nature11018
posted by wilful at 11:45 PM on June 7, 2012


Also, labour intensive can mean less resource intensive, e.g., local food production rather than centralised and trucked out. Higher employment + lower fossil fuel usage = A Good Thing.

Yes and... no. Being more labour intensive is always a point against, not for. Note: I'm not knocking local food production, in fact I think that particular disadvantage is far outweighted by the other advantages. Just pointing out that making people work more to obtain the same end result (something to eat, in this case) is not something we should count as an improvement.

Jobs are NOT good, what's good is that everyone can enjoy a decent standard of living, and right now we only have access to that because "No food for you if you don't work!". That's fine if we look at it from an angle of "OK, there's two of us and we need to clean this mess, so we share the burden instead of my doing all the work and you sitting there doing nothing", which was what I implied above, but not if we take the position of "I'll clean this mess myself; meanwhile, grab this shovel and dig a hole and fill it up again just so you have something to do."

Unless you think most people would be bored out of their minds with, say, a 16h work week (I doubt it) we already have more jobs than we'll ever need (and could probably do without quite a few of them altogether - Hello, advertising!). The most frustrating thing about all this is that we could all be living like kings even more than we already do and are squandering a one-use only fossil fuel inheritance by working not much less than we did a few centuries ago just so numbers can go up (and, of course, bosses have something to threaten workers with: "Complaining much? Well, there's three more like you out there who'd just love to fill your shoes!").

Is this the most linked article in MetaFilter yet? Because it should be.
posted by Bangaioh at 4:09 AM on June 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I possibly a little bit too terse explaining there.

I was meaning more that there are cases where more labour can be substituted for fossil fuel usage (and hence lead to an overall reduction in climate change forcing), not that working harder is a good thing.

Hence the idea that there is a direct link between higher employment and higher greenhouse gas production isn't an absolute.

I am actually completely in agreement that we need more a sensible and productive arrangement of employment, not simply more jobs.

In fact I'm all for paying people a living wage merely because they don't feel like working that year, or they want to finish their novel. Without the upwards welfare system, a downwards one would be far more affordable.
posted by titus-g at 5:20 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]








« Older The world's greatest comedienne.   |   Bobby Bittman Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post