Showing posts from September, 2014

Media Coverage Of Global Warming

The New York Times devoted an almost entire Science Section on Sep 23 to global warming.  And today (Sep 30), there are two strong articles, "California is Burning", and extreme heat in Australia. Both of these articles were characterized by explicit links of extreme weather to human-caused global warming.  Of course, I see it, but I'm afraid the evidence, as compelling as it is to people who already are convinced of global warming, won't have much of an effect on the global warming deniers.  It boggles my mind, thinking of all the evidence that currently exists, that more of it is needed to get some real action on preventing the worst (cough*carbon tax*cough).  But I'm not sure these articles are going to do it.

Some believe, like a frog cooking in a pot being brought to a boil, that many people will never acknowledge global warming, continuing to deny it as each small tick of data dribbles in.  So what we need is something undeniable, something so overwhelming …

Climate Change March in New York

Obama spoke at the United Nations about the urgency to fight climate change.  And on Sunday 300,000 people marched for climate change.   If something really is done about climate change, this week will go down in history, and people who marched will remember being there much as people remember being at the Civil Rights March of 1964.

However, if, as I fear, the oil and coal companies, the Koch Brothers, and the Republicans in Congress succeed in keeping anything from happening, the march and Obama's talk will be minor historical footnotes.

I hope that doesn't happen.

Solving Climate Change Would Be Good For The Economy

I've posted about this before, but it deserves repeating.  It is a point made by Obama in a State of the Union speech, and made again today by Paul Krugman:
I’ve just been reading two new reports on the economics of fighting climate change: a big study by a blue-ribbon international group, the New Climate Economy Project, and a working paper from the International Monetary Fund. Both claim that strong measures to limit carbon emissions would have hardly any negative effect on economic growth, and might actually lead to faster growth. This may sound too good to be true, but it isn’t. These are serious, careful analyses. Over a hundred years ago, the major way of getting around cities by horseback was becoming a problem.  Just keeping up with dung removal was a serious issue.  Then came the automobile solving all those horse problems.  Of course that created a new problem that we're now dealing with, but at that time, personal transportation based on horses was then a very seriou…

Snow in North Dakota in September?

One of the most common plot lines in novels and movies is where the guy sees his girl friend in a compromising situation with another man and is faced with a dilemma:  does she or does she not love him.  All the evidence looks the other way.  The rest of the movie or novel presents how he deals with this.  In fact, the more successful movie presents even more "evidence" that she's more interested in the other guy.  The audience, us, sees that all that evidence is thoroughly misleading, and we become more and more agonized as it appears that our guy is going to give up even though we know the evidence is misconstrued. What this narrative device emphasizes is how important it is to see through the evidence for the truth. If we don't, we lose the girl.

There's something far more important than getting the girl at stake in global warming.  Snow in North Dakota in September?  That looks bad for global warming.  Maybe we should be more worried about global cooling.  W…

The Ozone Hole

In the 1980's scientists raised the alarm about gases that were destroying the ozone layer that sits above our atmosphere, such as gases used in air conditioners, refrigerators, and aerosol spray cans, The ozone layer protects from the sun's ultraviolet radiation endangering life on this planet.  If the entire ozone layer were to have been destroyed life here wouldn't exist as we know it.

This situation was brought to the attention of governments which took action to eliminate or reduce the chemicals affecting the ozone layer, and today the ozone has recovered to 1980 levels.

Science spoke, the people listened, and catastrophe averted.  And now we have another looming catastrophe.  Science has spoken, but is anyone listening?

Solving the ozone crisis required manufacturers to change their methods.  Chemical sources had to be shut down.  Some companies went bankrupt.  Suppliers lost their customers.  But there was adaptation.  Suppliers moved on.  Investors moved on.  Cri…

Avazz - Organizing for Action Against Global Warming

Anyone 30 years old or younger should be paying very close attention to global warming.  It is their world that is going to be dramatically affected.  When I was young I thought the world would be very much like it was then.  I was very wrong, but in a good way.  From working with a slide rule in an undergraduate class in physics to smartphones and a computer on my desk with enormous amounts of power.  I could not have possible imagined my world today at that time.

But we can imagine a lot of what the world will be like in twenty or thirty years if nothing is done about our pumping CO2 into the atmosphere, and it will not be good.  Just as we were in the streets against the Vietnam War -- we even closed down Interstate 5 here in Seattle in 1972 -- so young people have got to be demonstrating against the oil and gas companies or they will be confronting a dire future.

There is an organization working to do just that, Avazz.
Avaaz—meaning "voice" in several European, Middle …

Zombie ideas

Paul Krugman today wrote about zombie ideas.  These are ideas that circulate among us which have no basis in fact.  The one he's describing is the one brought into existence by an
infamous 2010 letter accusing Bernanke of debasing the dollar in which
none of the people who signed that letter admitted to having been wrong or even a hint of reconsidering now four years later.  Despite all evidence to the contrary, not even are they able to admit to reality, they continue to believe the zombie idea is still alive.

The discussion of climate change is filled with zombie ideas, ideas that refuse to die in spite of all evidence against it.  A characteristic of a global warming denier is that they seize upon an idea that seems true at the time and packs that idea around like a warm blanket.  They don't follow how that idea is doing in climate science.  They don't really read any more about the idea to see if it stands up. Instead they bring that idea out whenever the topic comes …

Global Warming Denialism, Part 3

Cato Institute, one of the more important conservative think tanks, posted an article a few years ago claiming that global warming had turned into global cooling.  This was done using one of the more common methods for statistical lying called "cherry picking".  They started their time series of global temperatures with 1998, one of the highest of the last twenty years because of a major El Nino.  In other words, they did a time series analysis starting with a high temperature event that had nothing to do with global warming.  That is classical lying with statistics.

This year they gave the task of this analysis to someone else and were forced to conclude that the planet continued to warm.

So the global warming deniers at the Cato Institute have had to back off from complete denial to an alternate position, "adaptation" -- okay, it's increasing, but we will be able to deal with it.  The problem is that we aren't going to be able to deal with it.  The Cato …

Global Warming and GMO's

Industrial agriculture is working hard to defeat GMO labelling.  Despite what opponents say about GMO, this is a very complicated issue, one with implications for the impact of global warming.  There are reasons for opposing what industrial agriculture is doing with GMO.  It's capitalism doing what it can do, monopolizing food products in order to make (cough extort cough) more money from the consumer.  It's a lot like the pharmaceutical industry where drug companies, with their exclusive right to some medication, make huge amounts of money.  And where there is not much money to made, such as with antibiotics, and other medications for third world diseases, the industry basically says too bad, we're not going there because we won't make any money.

There will be 8 billion people to feed in twenty years or so and we will need GMO.  We will need drought-resistant crops.  We will need to help food plants adapt to new conditions.  GMO is critical for this.  But industrial a…