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Cole writes: "Skeptics can be convinced by solid data and argument; contrarians are either harder to convince, or impossible to convince. Some contrarians are committed to their position because it is central to their business model."

Despite the mounting evidence, some still deny climate change. (photo: Getty Images)
Despite the mounting evidence, some still deny climate change. (photo: Getty Images)

The Collapse of the Climate Change Contrarians

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment

01 August 12


t is not proper to speak of "climate skeptics," since all scientists (including we social scientists) are skeptical of all data and theories every day, all the time, and are willing to change our position if enough information and analysis emerges to challenge the old paradigms. But beyond just skeptics, there are always in any debate "contrarians," people who challenge a theory with little more on their side than radical doubt and deep suspicion, and who unsystematically latch on to every little thing that the theory hasn’t yet accounted for, or which seems to challenge it. Skeptics can be convinced by solid data and argument; contrarians are either harder to convince, or impossible to convince. Some contrarians, as with the billionaire Koch brothers who fund propaganda against climate science, are committed to their position because it is central to their business model.

Climate change skeptics and even some climate change contrarians have increasingly become convinced by the accumulating data that the average surface temperature of the earth is in fact increasing, and that the increase is mainly due to the release by human beings into the atmosphere of masses of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that traps heat from the sun and interferes with it from radiating back out into space

The latest skeptic to become convinced by the evidence is Richard Muller, a physicist at the University of California Berkeley. Muller was obviously a skeptic and not a contrarian, because he is open to evidence. Ironically, his studies were funded in part by the Ur-contrarians, the Koch brother oil magnates.

Muller’s study analyzed all the weather data available since 1750 and found that the average temperature of the earth increase by 1 degree F. from 1750 to 1850, and has increased another 1.5 degrees since 1850, for a total of 2.5 degrees since the beginnings of the industrial revolution.

Muller looked at various natural causes of temperature variation and found that statistically they could explain only a tiny amount of the changes. In contrast, human carbon dioxide production tracked closely with temperature increases to the extent that it almost complete explains the warming observed, just by itself.

One surprise of Muller’s study is that he was able to show fairly rigorously that the human-generated changes began in a steady way in 1750, not, as many climate historians had thought, in 1850 or even more recently.

Humans had ever since the invention of fire and then agriculture put some extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and during times when they burned a lot of trees to clear land for other purposes, they may have caused small temperature spikes. But volcanic rocks and the oceans wash the CO2 back out of the atmosphere if it isn’t in huge quantities, so in the old days humans could only really cause blips. Still, mass deaths of humans, as during the Black Plague or the European-induced epidemics that killed off most of the Native Americans, probably caused colder temperatures for a while in the aftermath.

Since 1750, humans have begun altering the climate in a steady and systematic way, overwhelming the ability of the earth to absorb the CO2 and causing it to build up steadily in the atmosphere, producing long term effects on surface temperature. Human activity in the past 250 years has interrupted and reversed a 2000-year long natural climate tendency toward cooler temperatures. If we go on the way we have been, spewing ever more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, we will produce a tropical planet with no ice on it and will forestall any further ice ages for at least 100,000 years. Since there are places humans now live, such as cities in Sindh, Pakistan, that already reach over 130 degrees F. in the summer, likely the planet we are creating will have large swathes of uninhabitable scorching places on it. Climate change will involve extreme weather events like massive storms, and these in turn may damage the ozone layer, sunburning us all to death.

For a historian, the date 1750 as the beginning of the human-induced Great Warming is full of significance. And that significance is coal.

Britain turned to coal for energy after a long period of intensive forest cutting, which reached its height in the 1600s. Wood and charcoal were used for heating, cooking and industrial processes such as iron-making, and as population grew and recovered from the Black Plague, the British isles were largely deforested. The British then reluctantly turned to coal for energy. Coal is smelly, produces clouds of unpleasant smoke, is relatively expensive to transport, and in every way worse than wood and charcoal. But poor management of forests and substantial population growth (British population doubled 1500-1800 and then tripled in the nineteenth century) pushed people to coal. With the development of a practical high pressure steam engine through the 1700s, coal was adopted as the fuel for these machines.

And off we went on the Great Human Warming experiment, fueled by coal and later on petroleum and natural gas.

One obvious lesson of Muller’s study is that coal should be banned immediately and its mining and distribution should be criminalized. We put people in prison for a little pot, but let the coal industry destroy the earth. A few brave souls are protesting environmentally destructive ways of mining coal. But we should all be protesting the poisonous stuff itself.

By the way, there are only 80,000 workers employed in coal mining in the US. There are 100,000 workers in solar energy and a similar number in wind. I suspect West Virginia and western Pennsylvania could have a lot of jobs in wind turbines, and those states and the federal government should help brave coal workers make the transition.

The other obvious lesson is that we need a global Manhattan project to move to clean energy immediately. We don’t have much time. Carbon dioxide emissions were up 6% last year. Massive government-funded research and tax breaks could bring down costs of solar and wind quickly and make geothermal more practical. We need to redo the national electricity grid and put hydropumps in hilly or mountainous regions to keep solar- and wind-generated energy flowing during down times. This task has to be our number one priority, more important than fighting a small terrorist organization in distant lands, more important than spending 20 times on the war industries what our closest ally does, more important that imprisoning people for a few tokes, more important than tax breaks for the wealthy, more important than reproductive issues. Our Congress is a latter-day Nero, fiddling while the world burns, and any of them that doesn’t get it should be turned out in November if you care about the fate of your children and grandchildren.

Ronald Reagan used to fantasize that an alien invasion could unite human beings across capitalist and communist systems. Well, Reaganites now have their chance: Climate Change is a kind of alien invasion, threatening the human species, and here is an opportunity to put aside differences and unite to meet the biggest challenge we have faced in our 150,000 years of existence as homo sapiens sapiens. And, yes, this is an issue and a research that could and should unite Arabs and Israelis, both of them among the peoples most endangered by climate change (Egypt’s delta and Tel Aviv won’t be there after a while if we go on like this).

What we are doing in this generation and the next to the earth will affect it for tens of thousands of years, and we could well be putting our survival as a species at risk. We are certainly likely to kill off most other species. Unfortunately, the worst consequences of our current high-carbon way of life won’t be visible for a hundred years or more. I suppose if we’re unable to look that far ahead as a species, or if we let a few Oil billionaires boss us around, it could be argued that we deserve to go the way of the dodo. But I believe in human beings more than that, and believe it is possible for us to mobilize around this task. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

-23 # cordleycoit 2012-08-01 21:50
This is real easy. It's getting hotter and drier in the West. Again where is Obama? Is he cashing those big checks from big ag?
He's more than likely talking with the Fed trying to give another trillion to the Big Boys Bankers. Is he helping the bankers burn their excess housing after having his cop clear the "rabble" away. We know Romney's evicting somewhere. Where is Obama on this emergency?
+1 # wwwes 2012-08-08 05:43
First comment, first implosion.
+48 # Gnome de Pluehm 2012-08-01 22:01
You can't get a man to believe an idea if his income depends on his not understanding it.
+15 # Yakpsyche 2012-08-01 22:19
Yeh, but the "aliens" still look normal. You have to wait until they ravage a pretty good swath before we become alarmed enough to rally together and actually do something. Humans are big into denial until its about to destroy us. Then, and pretty much only then, do we really get activated. Its too soon yet. Wait till New York City subways flood or Venice disappears.
-44 # LonnyEachus 2012-08-01 22:39
Juan is not the one to be caught by this propaganda.

Despite Muller's PERSONAL opinion, the Berkeley study has ONLY helped to confirm PAST temperature data. You can see this for yourself. Go to the Berkeley website:

... and read their description. But read the WHOLE description, not just the summary.

They haven't even measured PAST OCEAN TEMPERATURES yet, which are a far vaster store of energy than the land surfaces they have looked at so far. To say his claim is premature is the understatement of the decade.

Also, take a look at what Judith Curry (Chair of Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology) has to say about Muller's comments:

(The Tucson Citizen article is itself mildly misleading, in that it compares graphs at two different scales. Nevertheless, its description is still accurate and it is still more soundly based on science than Muller's claims.)

The ACTUAL Berkeley study, so far, has ONLY estimated past temperatures. It has NOT examined the actual climate models, and it has NO predictive value of its own. Muller is out on a limb, making statements his own data does not back.
-1 # LonnyEachus 2012-08-04 11:26
Once again, voted down not for giving opinion, but for pointing out easily verifiable FACTS.

I think that says a lot more about the average reader here than it does about me.
+1 # mdhome 2012-08-01 23:08
Possible, but not very likely sad to say.
+12 # marstob 2012-08-01 23:32
I disagree with the statement the worst consequences will not be visible for a hundred years or more. In actual fact, the glaciers in Jasper National Park had from the fifties been slowly disappearing and, now almost totally. The icebergs on the Labrador shelf falling away is telling so we know the earth cycle is changing with the Northern arctic warming. The picture of the Polar bears is showing exactly what is happening in the arctic. However, Stephen Hawkings, Scientist, claimed this is due to the earth slowly turning on its axis.
+5 # Bob P 2012-08-02 10:38
Doesn't make sense? The earth turns on its axis a completer revolution every 24 hours. What is changing? If the coldest spot is moving, then whichway? Looks like everywhere is melting up there. Scary. Doesn't sound like Hawkings to me.
+7 # ericlipps 2012-08-02 11:04
Quoting marstob:
I disagree with the statement the worst consequences will not be visible for a hundred years or more. In actual fact, the glaciers in Jasper National Park had from the fifties been slowly disappearing and, now almost totally. The icebergs on the Labrador shelf falling away is telling so we know the earth cycle is changing with the Northern arctic warming. The picture of the Polar bears is showing exactly what is happening in the arctic. However, Stephen Hawkings, Scientist, claimed this is due to the earth slowly turning on its axis.

Not sure what you meant about the earth "slowly turning on its axis" (it does that every day), unless you're referring to gradual shifts in the earth's orbit. If that's it, it's unlikely to be the cause of present-day warming, since those orbital shifts happen over thousands of years, not hundreds. And Stephen Hawking (no final "s"), hhowever brilliant he is, is in any event a particle physicist and cosmologist, not a climatologist.
0 # Billy Bob 2012-08-02 13:44
Maybe you should give us a link. I don't know who "Stephen HawkingS" is. Are you sure you're quote is real? Is it misquoted? Was it misunderstood? It's hard to respond to it otherwise.
+17 # Smiley 2012-08-01 23:35
Thank you Juan. It's time for people to pull our heads out of the sand and start working to save our grand children. The real tin hat nutcases are those who won't.
+30 # Regina 2012-08-01 23:54
Dr. Muller is a scientist. The rabid deniers have no concept of scientific analysis and evaluation. The conniving industrialists are trying to sell their contrarian views as a scientific rebuttal, but their views are tainted by their finances in addition to their lack of real independent research, which Dr. Muller did achieve.
+19 # bmolloy124 2012-08-02 00:59
Wonderful article. Thanks. I wonder if the November election will be decided by "contrarians" vs. skeptics vs. the rest of literate humankind!?? My personal take is that Mitt Romney represents the "final twitchings of a corpse," as they say when describing persons whose anachronistic views are literally being held up by shards and shreds of a time "gone by." Romney is, of course, pro-oil and coal... his wealth depends on both. And that means he depends on Americans continuing to treat climate science as a political issue--i.e., left wing conspiracy. The current Pres., may not be working hard enough on this matter, but he is by no means as harmful for the future of sensible discussion on this issue as Romney and the Republican Party at large. Thanks again for this "to the point" article. http//.www.dear Please visit my blog(s). I may want to reprint this on my blogsite. Cheers! Barbara
+7 # postpen 2012-08-02 02:21
This is outdated and weak. Shame on you, Juan Cole. Read McKibben,
It's not a question of who's to blame; it's a question of "wake up" NOW, as each part of our country and the world is obliterated by the shifts in air and water and temperature flow. It's no longer a question of losing "civilization"- - it's question of how can we save each other's lives, NOW!
+13 # Ralph Averill 2012-08-02 02:25
The author, like many, many others, in his list of actions to be taken to avert catastrophe left out the the single most important factor; human population. Wind, solar, geothermal, etc. will be of no avail as long as population continues to increase.
"Some contrarians .... are committed to their position because it is central to their business model."
I think it was Harry Truman who said that it is difficult to get a man to believe something if his paycheck requires him to not believe it.
0 # wolflady52 2012-08-02 14:01
Quoting Ralph Averill:
The author, like many, many others, in his list of actions to be taken to avert catastrophe left out the the single most important factor; human population. Wind, solar, geothermal, etc. will be of no avail as long as population continues to increase.
"Some contrarians .... are committed to their position because it is central to their business model."
I think it was Harry Truman who said that it is difficult to get a man to believe something if his paycheck requires him to not believe it.

Right on all counts. Overpopulation. .. the elephant in the room no one will look at. And until this hits our pocketbook or our very lives....we will do nothing.
+2 # Texas Aggie 2012-08-03 12:26
Excuse me. The Bush Doctrine was an example of dealing with overpopulation as is the existence of the whole US empire. The more people we kill, especially of reproductive age and younger, the fewer there will be reproducing. That's why we have to invest in the Pentagon, not in health measures.

Of course we could invest in contraception availability and knowledge of how to use it. After all, every survey in the developing world shows that women want to have many fewer children. But contraception is so unsatisfying when compared with blowing people away with missiles and bombs. Just ask the neocons.
+16 # Lawrence Boxall 2012-08-02 02:46
The fact that what happens in the next 50 years will affect the earth for tens of thousands of years should cause us all to spring into action but essentially very little is happening. Could this be because we are afraid to acknowledge the elephant in the room, the "free" market which depends on continuous expansion in order for the economy to be healthy. Why is this so seldom addressed when it is obviously key to a successful response.
+20 # dovelane1 2012-08-02 02:59
On a different blog site, someone mentioned that many people believe what they are told, and not what they are seeing with their own eyes. It's as if people learned to not trust their own experiences, which to me says they cannot think critically, and are the outcome of the dumbing and narrowing of the education system.

And then there are the people in charge of the media that want to keep the people ignorant. They mightbegin to lose control of people if they weren't kept ignorant.

And then there are the people themselves who have learned to think there is something wrong with conflicts, and so, avoid it at all costs, even when it means losing everything, including the earth.

As someone on another blog site put it, "the new normal may be one of increasing climate volatility and diasterous weather. How long does a society constucted in a fairly predictable environment survive in one of dramatic and chaotic change?

I think we need to do everything we can to rescue people from ignorance, and we all better learn how to deal with conflicts. As we lose resources, conflict will become the the new modus operandi.
0 # Texas Aggie 2012-08-03 12:20
Amen to that!
+15 # dovelane1 2012-08-02 03:05
Also, it's been written in many places that the people in power, the ones in charge of the oil, gas, and nuclear power companies have never been held accountable for the cost of cleaning up the consequences of our dependence on fossil and nuclear fuels.

I say we start tallying up the cost of cleaning up the carbon dioxide problem, and the cost of what it will take to get this country and this world into renewables, and charge it to them, as they are the ones keeping us dependent on fossil fuel and nuclear energies.

Remember, there are more of us than there are of them.
-5 # rsb1 2012-08-02 03:29
Congratulations on a good article ! I too believe it is possible for the World to mobilize around the task of implementing alternative energy solutions that will result in clean, and hopefully 'free', energy for every person on the Planet. This being said, humankind is not the culprit responsible for climate change, and any claim to this fact is nothing more than an egregious display of supreme arrogance. There is confirmed historical record since 989 documenting revolutions of the magnetic poles and lines of no variation and maximum declination that reoccur in a 666 year cycle. This is one complete cycle of difference from the date of 1750 noted by Mr. Muller. In fact, the revolution of the magnetic poles are currently 18 degrees 'off' our picture of 'TRUE North' and 'TRUE South'. This fact, of great importance in explaining Arctic and Antarctic melts is not being taken into account by either side of the man-made-global -warming debate. This being said, while some areas are melting, others are cooling rapidly and freezing, so this is almost an 'offset'. At the end of the day, adaptation is required to meet the coming climatic changes - but the World has been through this cycle before, and will go through it again. The greatest unspoken travesty is the sequestering of thousands of proven alternative energy patents by those Oil Billionaires mentioned in your article - to protect their monopoly and wealth generation. This should be a crime punishable by death. Thank you
+2 # handmjones 2012-08-02 12:25
If you're referring to pole reversals you better check that 666 year cycle.
+3 # ericsongs 2012-08-02 04:00
Corporations, are like a Medusa's head of vile serpents. We cannot eliminate only the one or two heads that threaten us in the most extreme fashion.
All corporations of every type and size must be eliminated NOW. De-chartered, criminalized and forever outlawed. They are the cancer of the planet.
Medusa must be beheaded.
0 # xflowers 2012-08-02 04:08
Sign me up!
0 # Vern Radul 2012-08-02 04:24
>> "I suppose if we’re unable to look that far ahead as a species, or if we let a few Oil billionaires boss us around, it could be argued that we deserve to go the way of the dodo. But I believe in human beings more than that, and believe it is possible for us to mobilize around this task."

Is thee any evidence that would lead you to "believe" in human beings more that that, Juan?
-12 # handmjones 2012-08-02 05:11
As with so many other papers this one leads us to the conclusion that we must do something but does nothing to assure us that there is a solution and does not even hint at the World government that would be necessary.
Additional carbon would be given off during the build-out of solar and wind.
Methane from rice farming and animal husbandry would not be reduced.
The large proportion of C from forest burning would not be reduced.
Present warming is releasing methane from tundra and sea with nothing to stop this.
Cement production releases CO2 even if you put in place a non-carbon heat source.
Cultivation releases CO2.
Production of biofuels releases somewhat less C but still significant.
Papers such as this lead the public to think that if we take the suggested steps by 2050 then the warming will be stopped. I suggest that the predicted warming to occur by 2100 will be delayed not stopped and no evidence has been presented to show that it will be delayed by any significant amount. Misery now to delay warming by a year or two?
+1 # NeilBlanchard 2012-08-02 05:25
I agree with most of this article, and do think that the reality around us is convincing more and more people.

But the author is not correct about burning wood adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The trees had to pull carbon dioxide out of the air as they grew, so burning them doesn't add any to the air.

Similarly, organic farming methods -- as we have used for the ~10,000 years before we invented chemical fertilizer and insecticides -- do not add any carbon to the atmosphere.

Fertilizer is made from natural gas, and the nitrogen is water soluble -- it is not fixed. It runs off in the first rain, and causes a myriad of problems like dead zones -- and ends up forming nitrous oxide which is a strong GHG. This is about 25% of the warming that we are causing.

We humans started adding carbon to the atmosphere only when we started burning fossil fuels. These are "old" carbon that has been accumulated in the earth over millions of years in slow processes. So-called "short-cycle" carbon does not add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere; but "long-cycle' carbon does.

So, I think you are accurate on much of what you wrote, but some of your article need more research.

-5 # handmjones 2012-08-02 12:37
Rice farming has been giving off methane for thousands of years thus increasing the greenhouse effect long before fossil fuel adoption. Also cement making.
+5 # Texas Aggie 2012-08-03 12:19
The point being that the extent of greenhouse gases caused by rice farming and cement making before the industrial revolution began were very minor compared to what is happening now. Furthermore, they were so small that they could be compensated for by other processes such as use of CO2 by plants.
0 # handmjones 2012-08-02 05:51
Ever since reading this I have been puzzling over the author's statement that, "volcanic rocks......wash the CO2 back out of the atmosphere". ???
It seems to me that volcanos are the original source of our carbon not a sink.
Can someone explain?
+4 # turtleislander 2012-08-02 06:05
Good article, but maybe too mild. If parts of the world are already reaching 130 degrees routinely, then the calamity is upon us NOW. Not for our grandchildren. If something is far enough off in the future, many people will be able to push it out in the future in their minds as well, and not see the urgency. I've been in Death Valley and Palm Springs at 120 degrees. That's already too hot, and is able to kill the unprotected and under-hydrated who are out in it for as little as a couple hours.
+3 # Barbara K 2012-08-02 06:23
If we allow the continuation of the destruction of our planet Earth, where will we live?
+1 # Vern Radul 2012-08-02 08:48
In museums?
+13 # humactdoc 2012-08-02 07:52
I welcome anyone who acknowledges the reality of climate change. Muller is not an independent expert and his transformation benefits the Koch brothers.
In the last few days, I've seen Rachel Maddow and Elliot Spitzer interview Richard Muller. As a physician, scientist, advocate and skeptic about a Koch Industry "scientist" proclaiming his climate change transformation in neon lights. He claims to have performed scientific studies that reviewed the alternative reasons for the escalation in rising climate temperatures. These alternative "theories" have be debunked for may years by many energy industry independent and well-respected scientists.
Yes the use of coal for anything needs to stop. Muller's "expert" opinion is that natural gas is the optimal energy source rather than coal. What about renewable energy such as wind and solar? What energy source is Koch Industries heavily invested in? Coal? No. Wind? No. Solar? No. Natural gas? YESSS!!!!!!!
As the US populous is finally recognizing the reality and severity of climate change the Koch brothers want to Capitalize in $ and votes to maintain and strengthen their power and control.
+3 # hammermann 2012-08-02 08:55
Don't think Muller ever believed AGW wasn't happening,he just tired of being a prostitute, realized which way the wind was blowing (hot!), and understood he was about to be read out of the scientific community. That's what's necessary- a concerted attack on all the deniers: expose their corrupt funding, drive them out of any Universities, lobby media to not use their lies as an equal counter argument to real scientists and experts.

The yearly increase in CO2 emissions averages 3.2% - though it varies alot due to fires, weather, natural variations or emissions: says: * CO2 emissions grew 5.9% in 2010 to reach 9.1 GtC (33.5Gt CO2), overcoming a 1.4% decrease in CO2 emissions in 2009. - writing about AGW for over 30 years
-3 # Philothustra 2012-08-02 09:35
Its good to have a skeptical discussion of a scientific fact, such as AGW. Even if there are no realistic solutions, we
need to be thinking aboyut alternatives and preparing for the worst- downsizing of the human population to maybe 2 billion. On the volcanic issue, volcanic rock was (and is) a continual source of oxygen in the atmosphere (oxidation reduction created it in the first place) and volcanoes create clouds and ashes that can have a long-term cooling effect.
+3 # handmjones 2012-08-02 15:27
??volcanic rocks would seem more likely to absorb O2 than emit. There's usually iron to oxidize. The ash from an eruption cools for a time but the CO2 emitted hangs around much longer.
0 # glennwarne 2012-08-04 18:09
The ash cools for maybe a year. Acting like a cover. Depending on the amount.
+9 # wrknight 2012-08-02 09:40
There is another factor that is not getting much attention, namely the loss of oxygen rejuvenating vegitation on the planet. As the human population continues to rise, and as it continues to encroach on and destroy the forests that restore our oxygen supply we accelerate the greenhouse gas accumulation.

At some point in time, we have to address a highly emotional topic, namely population control. It takes no great brains to figure out that if we continue to propogate as we have indefinitely, we ultimately will be walking on each other's heads. Obviously, something will prevent that. But if we don't prevent it voluntarily, something else will. And that's likely to be very very bad. Just use your imagination.
+5 # Stephen 2012-08-02 10:54
"But I believe in human beings more than that, and believe it is possible for us to mobilize around this task."
I wish I shared your optimism Juan. I'm afraid we will keep going until disasters pile up and catastrophe is on our doorstep. Even then, the solutions will probably not be widely distributed local renewable energy (solar, wind) but big corporate geo-engineering ; if we don't first tame the corporate monster, it will drive us over the cliff, then offer solutions which are designed to further increase their stranglehold on society, nature, and humankind.
+6 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2012-08-02 11:42
When a great idea is presented to the citizens there are usually 3 reactions: 1. Deny the evidence. 2. "It is against the bible." 3. "We knew it all along." (of course they now see the evidence as they lose their beachfront estate.)
+4 # wolflady52 2012-08-02 13:57
This goes beyond politics, beyond borders, beyond religion, beyond profits. This is the moment when we must decide our fate. I feel we are already too late. Why would we not begin something, anything that will have some impact on climate change. Better to err on the side of caution than stick our heads in the sand until the last moment. It boggles the mind. Yes, changes will need to be made to our way of life. A small price to pay for continued existence. I fear that by the time we truly see the writing on the wall anything we do will be too little, too late.
-9 # handmjones 2012-08-02 15:31
Who will make a sacrifice if the slack they give the Earth will just be taken up by another country (China?). World government is the only way and I'd just as soon fry!
+5 # Texas Aggie 2012-08-03 12:13
What you just described is called the "tragedy of the commons." If you continue to follow your bent, then you will indeed fry. Unfortunately so will everyone else, even those who have worked to save you and your kind.
-1 # Cappucino 2012-08-02 19:19
You know, there's a silver lining to continued climate change... it WILL reach the point where all the crazy people will be forced to admit it's real!

(It's important to keep a positive attitude, don't you think?)

Anyway. If everything goes as predicted, there is really only one part of the continental U.S. that will ultimately be a viable place to live. We can't fit everyone here in the Pacific NW. And there aren't enough filberts to feed everyone!
-4 # handmjones 2012-08-03 06:27
Good for you! Another paper tiger destroyed!
The skeptics and deniers are not saying there is no warming. It's measurable and they are not saying there's no anthropogenic component any more than you are saying there's no natural component.
We think that the non-fossil fuel component is so large that warming will continue on virtually the same path even if we eliminate fossil fuel.
On your side the assumption that accelerated elimination of fossil fuel use will stop warming in 2050 is rediculous.
0 # James-I Am 2012-08-03 00:15
A small but important report from NPR; apparently the oceans currently absorb half of the CO2 we generate. So, what do you think happens when the oceans become saturated with CO2? What is the saturation level, and when do we reach it?
+6 # Texas Aggie 2012-08-03 12:11
From what I understand it has already been reached. The pH of the oceans is starting to become more acid and at least in the Antarctic, the water has become as saturated with CO2 as it can be. Part of the reason that coral beds are going all over the world is that the acid water has reached the level that the coral organisms can't lay down CaCO3. Another part is that the organisms that create coral are dependent on cyanobacteria for energy production in a symbiotic relationship and the cyanobacteria are leaving the relationship because of temperature change.
-1 # glennwarne 2012-08-04 18:07
I would be more worried about them turning the ocean more acidic! Also killing off the fish by overfishing and the killing of us from the fish with mercury..Mercur y which comes from COAL BURNING.
The other thing to worry is the algae, this produces 80% of the oxygen.
+6 # Texas Aggie 2012-08-03 12:31
The argument about global warming is between a political stance (the denialists) and a reality stance (everyone else.) The denialists clothe themselves in Brooks Bros. by calling themselves "skeptics," a term of approval signifying one who thinks for himself, totally ignoring that they are being led by the nose by the fossil fuel industry. Since we have to fight on both levels, science and politics, it might be more effective to label these nay sayers as "contrarians" rather than "skeptics."
+4 # Buddha 2012-08-03 16:28
It no longer matters if there really are no serious scientists remaining who are Climate Change "Contrarians". The point is FAUXNews still is, which means tens of millions of ignorant sheep still are too, along with the elected representatives we are in deep doo-doo.
0 # frankscott 2012-08-03 18:36
the "over population" problem is very real in that we are over populated with people still following the malthusian religion of noticing too many "others" and missing our own overuse and abuse of just about everything and everyone...

bulletin for racial supremacists who think there are too many of "them": material development and the emancipation of women leads to less, not more babies..duh?

in the developed - too often material without accompanying spiritual and moral, but wadda ya gonna do - world, most women and men plan families and don't and are not forced to play cosmic roulette roulette..resul t? less people...

but really, our problem isn't the number of people but the number of people who are still thinking and acting according to the dictates of profit and loss other words, like malthus's employers...
0 # Elroys 2012-08-04 09:38
Juan talks about solar, wind and renewables as the answer. Only partially correct. Climate change. oddly, offers us huge economic, national security and job creation opportunities. The most significant of all is immediate creates good jobs that cannot be shipped overseas. It's called "energy and resource efficiency". The bad news is we Americans are THE most wasteful people on the planet, by far. The good new - we are the most wasteful people on the planet. Retrofitting and insulating our homes, buildings, businesses, using high gas mileage vehicles, and so much more, are just a few of the very real opportunities to reduce our waste and therefore reduce our costs and our carbon emissions. We need massive and immediate energy / water / resource efficiency initiatives to get people to work on this massive opportunity.
Yes - renewables are critically important. Even more important, "shovel ready" and cost effective is energy efficiency. We can reduce our energy use in America by at least 50% and more, with current technologies, and not diminish our "lifestyle", improve our quality of life - right now. Energy efficiency is up first. As we decrease our energy demand we can then install the solar and wind at a much lower cost - we'll need far less.
The plan - focus the next 10-20 years on massive energy / resource efficiencies; begin building the renewable energy systems for the world while vastly reducing carbon emissions. Let's get to work.
0 # glennwarne 2012-08-04 18:01
I remember reading the cover of a National Geographic 1976. On it was the picture of a large frozen tundra and the caption "The Next Ice Age".
That was in 1976, In 1986 was mag, it showed a large continet in flames with the caption "Global Warming".
We are headed for a melt down. If Hawkins(I doubt it)thinks whats on the surface effects the spin then we show all move to the east. Then that will keep the earth off balanced.
0 # sadiegirl 2012-08-20 10:06
An anthem for the climate-change movement:

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