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Climate Skeptics: Reality Has Just Caught Up With You

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Arctic ice loss is “stunning” — total loss possible by 2030, scientists warn

The maiden over at Hells Handmaiden has been running a series recently about climate change and climate change denial. For anyone still sitting on the fence, how does that iron feel in your ass?

Cost of Energy has also linked to this original story, in which it’s documented that with the PAST WEEK, an area of Arctic ice TWICE THE SIZE OF THE UK has disappeared! H/T Climate Progress. At this rate, it will all be gone by 2030, well within our lifetimes. And the rate is not staying constant, it’s accelerating as ice-loss decreases albedo and leads to absorption of more heat into the ocean. Sure to follow at the very least is the Greenland ice sheet, which will no doubt raise ocean levels dramatically. And that’s not even talking about the big daddy ice-cap in Antarctica, which if it melts will completely change the face of the earth with sea-level rises of hundreds of feet.

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Many parts of the world will simply lose large tracts of coastline and arable land, leading to famine and untold numbers of refugees, just for starters. War won’t be far behind as the desperate scramble ensues over what livable areas are left.

James Inhofe, Michael Crighton, George Bush, where are you? Oh, right. Stepping over the bodies. Future generations will remember your names the way we now remember people like Hitler and Stalin. Scratch that. Even worse–those monsters couldn’t even conceive of the scale of devastation your denial and inaction will have created.

As I discussed earlier this year, and in 2002, the time to act is now. If there’s any hope of arresting this nightmare, we need emergency legislation on carbon taxation yesterday, and to immediately begin to reduce our emissions. Economy, shmonomy. To do otherwise is to commit global sui-genocide.


Comments (18 comments)

Yuma / September 5th, 2007, 10:15 am / #1

“Future generations will remember your names the way we now remember people like Hitler and Stalin. Scratch that. Even worse–those monsters couldn’t even conceive of the scale of devastation your denial and inaction will have created.”

This statement seems more unfair every time I see it. The statement assumes that these individuals actually believe in man-made global warming but are denying it out of some bad intent. That is a huge assumption. Stalin/Hitler/etc. KNEW that they were killing millions of people – that was their intent. I do not know that every person who denies that man-made global warming exists is necessarily lying and really knows deep down that global warming will kill a bunch of people.

Furthermore, where does the blame stop? What if you are a believer in man-made global warming, yet still drive a car, knowingly use energy made by coal powerplants, etc.? Are you not as culpabale because you knew the devastation that global warming would cause, but failed to do anything about it?

*This post should not be taken to be expressing my personal views on the varacity of man-made global warming claims (either its truth in fact or the predictions as its consequences). My views on the matter a completely irrelevant to my post.

BlackSun / September 5th, 2007, 10:32 am / #2

The statement assumes that these individuals actually believe in man-made global warming but are denying it out of some bad intent.

They do know. The scientists (who the government has hired to do that job, by the way) have been screaming about it for years. Decades in fact. The bad intent is the big money they don’t want to lose.

Furthermore, where does the blame stop? What if you are a believer in man-made global warming, yet still drive a car, knowingly use energy made by coal powerplants, etc.? Are you not as culpabale because you knew the devastation that global warming would cause, but failed to do anything about it?

Yes we are all culpable. Myself included–even though I purchase carbon offsets, it’s not enough. But no matter how much energy consumers are to blame, the leaders and public deniers are guiltier still. Because they create the illusion that what we are doing is OK.

People en masse won’t change their habits unless and until the leadership acts unequivocally. That’s where the Hitler and Stalin part comes in. And I stand by the comparison.

Yuma / September 5th, 2007, 11:36 am / #3

They do know. The scientists (who the government has hired to do that job, by the way) have been screaming about it for years. Decades in fact. The bad intent is the big money they don’t want to lose.

You could argue that some or even many scientists have been screaming about it for years. That does not mean all scientists agree on the “doomsday” predictions. My understanding of the “other” scientists position is that there is consensus on – (1) CO2 is a GHG, (2) all else being equal more CO2 (and other GHGs) should cause some warming.

I think many of the other scientists say that the predictions of the actual warming which will occur and the consequences of that warming are overblown by some scientists and that some scientists and models overestimate the sensitivity of the climate to additional CO2. In essence, they are arguing that it would cause more harm (in terms of economic impact, job loss, loss of wealth [and the attendant consequences of that], etc.) than what benefit would result from the reduction in GHGs. If they truely believe this (and I have seen no evidence from you or anyone else that they do not), why do they deserve to be put in the same category as Hitler?

Yes we are all culpable. Myself included–even though I purchase carbon offsets, it’s not enough. But no matter how much energy consumers are to blame, the leaders and public deniers are guiltier still. Because they create the illusion that what we are doing is OK.

If you admit you are culpable and that you know that GHGs are going to cause devastating global warming, wouldn’t you actually be more culpable than a person who consumes the same amount of energy but does not really believe (right or wrong) that catastrophic global warming will occur? It seems that you argument is – hey I know that what I am doing is going to contribute to the cause of unknowable devastation … but everybody does it. As long as the leaders don’t do anything about it, what I do doesn’t matter.

Again, I am not advocating any position on the issue of whether GHGs will cause devastating global warming. Please let me know why I am wrong about any of the above information.

(By the way, I wanted to post this in my first comment but forgot – I love your blog. I read it quite a bit. I first found it on the Planet Atheism site and it is one of the few for PA that I hit up on a regular basis).

BlackSun / September 5th, 2007, 11:53 am / #4

You could argue that some or even many scientists have been screaming about it for years. That does not mean all scientists agree on the “doomsday” predictions. My understanding of the “other” scientists position is that there is consensus on – (1) CO2 is a GHG, (2) all else being equal more CO2 (and other GHGs) should cause some warming.

If you read the IPCC report, it’s well over 90%, approaching 99%, and they actually tempered their predictions and understated the risks. And that was well before these latest episodes of dramatic ice melt.

wouldn’t you actually be more culpable than a person who consumes the same amount of energy but does not really believe (right or wrong) that catastrophic global warming will occur?

No. We are all equally culpable whether we know about something or not. If five people are sitting on a tree branch one of them is happily sawing off, does it matter whether or not any of them believes in gravity?

The leaders know that if they make a change, people will follow. Poll after poll have shown that people want higher mileage cars and would prefer to use renewable energy if it were offered to them. Most people are stymied and throw up their hands, concluding that there’s nothing they can do.

If the president and both houses of congress were to speak with one voice, people might grumble, but they would quickly change their behavior. It happened before with the 55mph speed limit (not that I’m proposing we bring that back.) It was hated, but it cut oil consumption significantly. There are better ways to cut, such as “across the board” carbon taxes, and let people make their own choices where they want to conserve. Further, we could demand China curb its CO2 pollution or threaten to slap punitive tariffs on all the toxic junk we import from there. And we could sign onto the Kyoto and other international climate protocols so that we didn’t remain a blatant hypocrite on the world stage.

Thanks for the nod on the blog :-)

Yuma / September 5th, 2007, 1:34 pm / #5

No. We are all equally culpable whether we know about something or not. If five people are sitting on a tree branch one of them is happily sawing off, does it matter whether or not any of them believes in gravity?

I guess I would agree that all people are equally culpable “in effect” in that every energy user would be contributing to global warming if it is true.

However, intent is important if you are talking about putting a person in the same category as Hitler. If a person truely believes that the mainstream global warming science is wrong and tries to point out its perceived flaws, even if they end up being factually but not intentionally wrong, how is this anything like what Hitler/Stalin did? I see your point if there are people that know that the IPCC is correct and are intentionally trying to distract or confuse people knowing that the consequences will be devastating to millions. However, I do not know that people like Richard Lindzen, Steve Milloy, Reid Bryson, et. al. or the folks at the Cato Institute or CEI trying to intentionally lead millions down the road to environmental collapse. Furthermore, without specific evidence showing that they are intentionally misleading the public, it is unfair to clasify them as “little Hitlers” as all that does is shut off debate, critical analysis and further scientific criticism.

Finally, I would pose one question to you. Suppose that the US and other countries were to severely curb CO2 emissions/energy production/etc. or imposed a real and effective carbon trading system and that caused real economic harm (which it probably would – hey I am not a scientist but I am an economist :) ). Now suppose that in 20, 30, 50 years it was shown that today’s scientists were wrong about global warming and that millions of people were made much poorer for no real reason. In what category would you put those scientists that were pushing so hard for those curbs on emissions based on the facts as they perceived them today (which turned out to be wrong)?

Couldn’t I, in hindsight, call them “little Stalins” who acted just like Stalin in depriving millions of people of economic stability (and, by extension, health care, food, education, clothing, homes, etc.)? I, of course, would not do this unless I knew that they were pushing a global warming agenda knowing that the science was flawed. That is really the point – unless somebody truly believes something the opposite of the opionion they are espousing today about global warming – they are not intentionally harming anybody, but trying to get the “correct” answer on the scientific question. In sum, it would not be proper to equate any of these people with Hitler/Stalin.

BlackSun / September 5th, 2007, 2:11 pm / #6

Yuma, I’ll agree that the Hitler/Stalin cliche is overused. But the magnitude of the problem is so large, nothing else seems to have the necessary gravitas. For example, the Stern report estimates that the global economic risk of climate inaction is 5% to 20% or more of global GDP. Not to mention the cost in human life.

Mitigation measures on the other hand would only cost 1% of world GDP, and could potentially create whole new industries and economic growth based on de-carbonized energy.

Whether or not the leaders who are dragging their feet have the “evil intent” of a Hitler or Stalin is not at issue. I’m sure they do not. But they are, for their own self-interest and short-sightedness, willing to take a giant and foolish gamble with the lives of others. (mainly in the developing world) That gamble doesn’t even pay off from an economic standpoint.

Liquid Egg Product / September 5th, 2007, 4:42 pm / #7

As a small note, the Antarctic ice will still mostly be around despite climate change (can’t find the links right now…grrr…)

One point that seems to be routinely overlooked is that our ability to stop climate change is nil. Even if all human GHG emissions are stopped now, the Earth will continue to warm for decades.

Not only are we not going to get emissions anywhere close to 0, we’ll be extremely lucky to get the rate of emission increase to 0 anytime soon.

It seems it would be a better use of resources to figure out how to deal with a future warmer Earth, instead of how to prevent it. And not all the consequences will be bad!

(I realize the counter: the point of GHG reduction would be to aim for an Earth that’s X degrees warmer instead of X + 3. Without the ability of clairvoyance, I can’t tell whether mitigating the change or being prepared to deal with larger changes would be the better long-term course. My opinion’s with the second.)

Liquid Egg Product / September 5th, 2007, 4:49 pm / #8

What will actually happen with regards to climate change is that there won’t be enough political fortitude to take any significant action, and we will have to deal with the consequences.

It’s been too late for decades. I’m hoping (and actually expect) that the worst-case scenarios won’t happen.

Gary H Johnson, Jr / September 5th, 2007, 5:23 pm / #9

It ia strange to me, this worry over ice cap meltage…has anyone considered the possibility that man has nothing to do with global warming? As I recall we used to live in an ice age…ten thousand years ago the Earth warmed and suddenly it was possible to stop foraging and being nomads and sit back and smoke our pipes and grow our corn…Did mankind cause the end of the ice age? Seems a little vain to believe that mankind can destroy so casually by fulfilling his needs. Seems to me a man-hating stance. If only it weren’t for mankind, the earth would be fine – Long Live PETA and the EPA! Down with considering prosperity and seeking to surpass our own needs…humans – greedy bastids.

This stance on eco-health…this global warming strain of unreason is the creation of the NGO phantom world…of reasearch thinktank freaks and Hannity recently noted the disparity of Research – Global Warming thinktanks received 50 billion dollars while those seeking calm appraisal and knowledge of the reality of the issue were provided 50 million. Quite a disparity – welcome to the brainwashing phase of your existence. He made the assertion when Newsweek had the Global Warming Cover – like 3 or 4 weeks ago I believe.

Think Black Sun. Think. Is this not the philosophical basis of self-sacrifice for the common good rhetoric of the Socialists and Fascists that libertarians hate? History is a study in Ethics my friend…the global warming scare, to me, seems like the logical outcome of socialists in the science lab, determined, at all costs…to defeat big bad Kapital.

BlackSun / September 5th, 2007, 6:04 pm / #10

@Liquid Egg Product

One point that seems to be routinely overlooked is that our ability to stop climate change is nil. Even if all human GHG emissions are stopped now, the Earth will continue to warm for decades.

What is important is the rate of warming which will have a significant impact on how we are able or not able to adapt.

What will actually happen with regards to climate change is that there won’t be enough political fortitude to take any significant action, and we will have to deal with the consequences.

Again, I don’t think it’s an either/or situation. There is a range of possible scenarios of action/inaction. As I stated (previous post) that kind of thinking provokes paralysis. “We’re screwed anyway, might as well just admit it.” I don’t think that’s the right response.

@Gary

Is this not the philosophical basis of self-sacrifice for the common good rhetoric of the Socialists and Fascists that libertarians hate?

This has long ago ceased to be a matter of philosophy. It is now a matter of survival. I think you know full well I’m not anti-capitalist. However I do think that people and industries should pay for the full consequences of their action/inaction. Hence the need for government regulation of our largest planetary commons–the atmosphere.

valhar2000 / September 6th, 2007, 8:37 am / #11

Gary, man-hating stances, “humility”, the evils of the EPA and PETA, have precisely nothing to do with the factual accuracy of climate change predictions.

Philosophical considerations regarding the motiviations, secret or explicit, of researchers are entirely beside the point. The motiviation of the researches is entirely beside the point. The agenda of environmentalist organizations is beside the point.

What matters, exclusively, is reality, what is actually happening, and bringing all this flotsam only confuses things.

Gary H Johnson Jr / September 6th, 2007, 8:52 am / #12

Blacksun

Survival? Seems we have more pressing matters than the temp rising a degree on average over 365 days some ten to twenty years from now. If it is possible that the planet has been in a warming cycle for the last 10,000 years, since the ICE AGE, then you must aquit man of his atmospheric gambit. We are in the middle of a war…with Terrorists of possible global reach…does it matter to those who are blown up or maimed that global warming occurs? Since 9/11 the world has been on fire with a US response and terrorist reactions. Those against the war are against government regulation of terrorism, which is an immediate, visible, tangible threat, with sources hidden in plain view…who is going to provide government regulation for global warming concerns? If we are the only ones, are we not fashioning a noose for competition…since other countries are not outfitted with as many research facilities as America, and will no doubt, in their opaqueness, not find as many failures as our investigators? Government regulation of the atmosphere – a planetary commons – under the UN Mandate? One World Government? Are we to be taxed as a people, soon, by an outside force, so that things like breeches in the Kyoto treatment might not offend those who are so worried? Are we going to be forced to pay more dues to the UN for the creation of another level of Bureaucracy in an already inaccessible bastion of anti-Democracy, so an outside mediator can disrupt our businesses in a regulatory forum?

This issue is why I have a problem with the ACLU – I consider it sheer madness that fear over Greenhouse gas emmissions and environmental concerns have made the American milieu so litigiously expensive and filled with red tape that American Oil Companies haven’t built a new refinery in the last thirty years…Our infrastructure is in sad repair, our electric grids are in Sad repair, we are watching our bridges crumble in the North due to thirty years of corrosion caused by salting in the winter time – and the chief problem for every company is meeting codes of global warming cluckhead laws, rather than having a focus on the needs of the people.

We are being held hostage by the GreenPeace world every time we pay timeshare dues to the Middle East by filling our gastanks… It amazes me this heightened level of hurricanes we have had since the twenty or so some that pummeled Florida and knocked Louisiana into the Swamp it came from, two years ago…we had what so far – 5 this year? This Global Warming issue is not about survival – it is about diversion of money, generating NGO wealth for already wealthy lawyers who seek a legitimate flag to wave in service of a better world (What is Bill Clinton’s book Title this week – hmmm…Giving…who do you give to, NGOs with agendas of poison and antiamerican hate but an inviting seemingly timely and worthy face on it) – it is about hamstringing and strangling the life out of business – whether it is true or not. It is about defeating America…not survival.

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was proving to the world that he didn’t exist. We have to decide as a nation who the devil is – or at least the most forward pressing unit of his demonic horde…so we can focus our efforts on immediate concerns. If Global Warming is the ultimate of evils then it will happen whether we defeat terror or not, right? It seems to me, you are trying to pay a mortgage fifteen years ahead of time, and doing without electricity, gas and food in order to pay off the thing in record time. Here’s a tip – the electric company may give you a month’s grace so you can get ahead and pay a little on the mortgage’s principle – but they will turn off the lights, eventually. Then what have you earned through your sacrifice and vision? Darkness.

BlackSun / September 6th, 2007, 9:10 am / #13

@Valhar2000

Gary, man-hating stances, “humility”, the evils of the EPA and PETA, have precisely nothing to do with the factual accuracy of climate change predictions.

Thank you.

@Gary H Johnson Jr

Survival? Seems we have more pressing matters than the temp rising a degree on average over 365 days some ten to twenty years from now.

You clearly don’t understand the nuances of global warming, tipping points, positive feedback loops, and how even 0.1 or 0.2 degrees affects ecosystems on which we all depend. I’m actually shocked at your comments. For all of your insights expressed elsewhere, you are starting to sound more and more like a conspiracy theorist. This is about evidence pure and simple. It’s not about someone trying to shut down American industry. Why would anyone want to bother with that if there wasn’t a problem?

This issue is not one of ‘environmentalism.’ It is one of natural capitalism. You need to read Amory Lovins’ book with the same title. We receive trillions of dollars in services from the natural world on which we depend for our lives. The ability of the natural world to continue providing these services is in jeopardy. That is why we need to act.

When you go off about NGOs, the devil, GreenPeace, the UN, and the one world government, it makes you sound like a complete conspiracy kook.

We are trying to deal in evidence here, and instead you trot out the devil. Sorry. There is no evidence of either god or a devil. We have fucked things up on this planet all by our lonesome selves, and only we can fix it.

John B. / September 6th, 2007, 10:13 am / #14

Gary said: “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was proving to the world that he didn’t exist.”

Let me explain his trick. Every bit of verifiable data points to the likely non-existence. Pretty smart.

Unfortunately, god decided to allow all of the evidence APPEAR to make HIS existence an unnecessary hypothesis. So one is left to decide whether to accept evidence or faith.

This returns us to all of your points about global warming. Do you choose to accept EVIDENCE, or will you create straw men like PETA and the environmental movement and have faith that this isn’t so bad?

Gary H Johnson Jr / September 6th, 2007, 11:48 am / #15

Well,

I apologize for making blanket statements, wide swaths and seeming kooky things. I am just not convinced of the validity of the environmentalist world…that is it. Do I need to support that? I might not be well versed in the nuances of our planet’s fragility in the natural world of depleting resources…but what I do understand is that resources are scarce. Scarcity is the determinant factor in Supply, Demand, and Price in Market economies. I will read the book you suggest BlackSun…but I will still hold my reservations, regardless of how convincing the arguments. The fact is – we have maintained public records of temperature and humidity and the meteorological sciences for how long? 50 years…100..150…200 years at most. Let’s call Ben Franklin the founder of these lines of study in modernity. And “scientists” are telling us about the facts of evidentia which will determine the fate of the planet, and blames mankind for the faults of the atmosphere and earth. I DON’t BUY IT! I probably never will in my lifetime. I don’t need conspiracy theories – I just need reason – to know that the public is being sold a bill of goods and a certain portion of them are buying it hook line and sinker. Put all the charts you want onto the issue…it won’t change the fact that the focus group of this scientific community is filled with variables like the sun and the moon and the rotation of the earth and magnetic polls and we have only been charting these things for a short while in terms of history and any leap of logic on the issue is nothing short of a leap of faith. That is my atheistic stance. As to all of those groups the UN, PETA (HA!!!), and NGOs – sorry, I read alot…and in general when a bill of goods is sold, someone gets paid – perhaps I got ahead of myself.

-Muhalo

Aaron Kinney / September 6th, 2007, 12:52 pm / #16

Wow, Sean.

That graph is stunning. Perhaps we should lobby Warren Buffet or Bill Gates to buy up all the pollution credits, or some other desperate measure to curtail the “death by heat” being waged by the governments and protection rackets across the globe.

Also, I wanted to say that your defensive plays in this comments section are amazing. Nobody can score a point when you are on the court, my man! Keep on rockin the reality :)

BlackSun / September 7th, 2007, 9:49 am / #17

Aaron, :-)

Challenge Religion - Today’s Top Blog Posts on Atheism - Powered by SocialRank / October 1st, 2007, 3:08 am / #18

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