Reply to a skeptic

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

I came across this wonderful quotation on a blogsite called Wibble!  It was a comment to a post with the compelling title of It is vitally important not to make connections and explains that the quote was made by Dr. Seuss in the film The Lorax.

For me that quotation sums up how I would like to reply to not only my dear friend, Dan Gomez, who is a denialist of anthropogenic climate change, as last Monday’s Post illustrated, but also to skeptics everywhere else.

I should also add the important qualifier that I am neither a scientist nor have any expert skills in the relevant areas.  But, then again, neither does Dan.  He and I are both citizens of Planet Earth with a passion for the truth.

So where to go from here?  There is no question that the Earth’s climate is complex and endeavouring to understand ’cause and effect’ relies heavily on mathematical models.  But many complex aspects of our world are treated similarly, therefore so what!  Dan and I share with millions of others a lack of scientific competence, ergo we have to be rely on the scientific views expressed by those who do have the scientific competencies.

Would one challenge the competence of Scientific American magazine, that in an article on March 18, 2007, (five years ago!) opened thus,

Paris–The signs of global climate change are clear: melting glaciers, earlier blooms and rising temperatures. In fact, 11 of the past 12 years rank among the hottest ever recorded.

and continued later with this, [my emboldening]

For example, after objections by Saudi Arabia and China, the report dropped a sentence stating that the impact of human activity on the earth’s heat budget exceeds that of the sun by fivefold. “The difference is really a factor of 10,” says lead author Piers Forster of the University of Leeds in England: compared with its historical output, the sun currently contributes an extra 0.12 watt of energy for each square meter of the earth’s surface, whereas man-made sources trap an additional 1.6 watts per square meter.

Or what ‘influence’ might be at play when the British newspaper The Guardian reported earlier this year that,

Wall Street Journal rapped over climate change stance

, US environment correspondent

The Wall Street Journal has received a dressing down from a large group of leading scientists for promoting retrograde and out-of-date views on climate change.  In an opinion piece run by the Journal on Wednesday, nearly 40 scientists, including acknowledged climate change experts, took on the paper for publishing an article disputing the evidence on global warming.

The offending article, No Need to Panic About Global Warming, which appeared last week, argued that climate change was a cunning ploy deployed by governments to raise taxes and by non-profit organisations to solicit donations to save the planet.

It was signed by 16 scientists who don’t subscribe to the conventional wisdom that climate change is happening and is largely man-made – but as Wednesday’s letter points out, many of those who signed don’t actually work in climate science.

Later in that article Suzanne writes, referring to the 40 scientists, [again, my emboldening]

The letter goes on to note that some 97% of researchers who actively publish on climate science agree that climate change is real and caused by humans. It concludes: “It would be an act of recklessness for any political leader to disregard the weight of evidence and ignore the enormous risks that climate change clearly poses.”

There’s much, much more evidence that shows that the science is clear – mankind is risking the future viability of this planet for the species homo sapiens and countless other species!

One of the important points made by Dan in that Post last Monday was about the book, written by Senator James Inhofe, The Greatest Hoax.  Dan wrote, “This is all about money and power, not weather.

There are a number of independent websites across the world where one can quickly research the credentials and background by name of any person.  Try Skeptical Science as an example.  A quick enquiry using Senator Inhofe’s name came up with this: Quotes by James Inhofe – Climate Myth/What the Science Says.  Read It!  And read this on the website Think Progress.  There are other websites where one can do that type of research.

In an email just a day ago, Dan wrote, “My message/warning remains the same: “Follow the Money”.  When the “End-of-the-World” is the message, what politician can resist?”  If only it was that easy.

OK, I’m going to start rounding this all off by first asking you to watch this 4-minute video that I came across thanks to Pedantry’s blogsite Wibble.

A link between climate change and Joplin tornadoes? Never!

Next I’m going to repeat something that I have previously mentioned on Learning from Dogs.  There’s a saying in the aviation industry, “If there’s any doubt, there’s no doubt!”  That saying underpins the culture that has turned commercial air transport into one of the safest means of travel in history.

Let’s ponder that idea of doubt.

There is no question that there is a great deal of doubt.  Back in 2010 Gallup Poll reported that “42% of adults worldwide who see global warming as a threat to themselves and their families in 2010 hasn’t budged in the last few years“.

Would you get into a commercial airliner to fly from ‘a’ to ‘b’ if 42% of the passengers saw the flight as a threat to themselves?  No, of course not!

So one certainly wouldn’t fly then if 62% thought it was risky!  From here,

The newest study from the National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change, which is a biannual survey taken since fall 2008 and organized by the Brookings Institute, shows that 62 percent of Americans now believe that man-made climate change is occurring, and 26 percent do not. The others are unsure.

So back to the theme that started this Post.  For the sake of all of us on this planet, for all our children and grandchildren and beyond, we need to start caring deeply about the future, changing our life-styles in as many ways as we can and demanding that our politicians and leaders are similarly committed to the future.

Not because the future is anything like certain – but to reduce the risks of a global catastrophy.  I have a grandson who will be one-year-old on March 21st.  I want to be certain that he has a viable life ahead of him for many, many years.  That means caring ‘a whole awful lot‘, letting hope motivate me to change, and recognising that change is already taking place, as the following trailer so superbly demonstrates.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

22 thoughts on “Reply to a skeptic

  1. Hi 🙂 Firstly, thank you for your kind words about <a href="http://pendantry.wordpress.com&quot;.wibble.

    Concerning:

    Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

    I agree with you that these are wonderful words. I’d like to point out that I was pointed to them by a signature of a frequent poster on the Manpollo Project forums (which is, perhaps, a resource you may find of interest).

    These words make even more sense — and bear even greater relevance to our current predicament — when seen in the context of Dr Seuss’s ‘The Lorax’, a classic short story in poem form. Many versions are available on YouTube — such as:

    1. Thanks P. That reference to the Manpollo Project is great; I will most certainly follow that. Jean and I will watch the The Lorax video this evening. “So much to do, so little time!” 😉 Really appreciate your comment. Paul

  2. Ordinary citizens do well to try and be informed on such an important issue as Global Warming, however not all the information available is easy, how many people know that although the world average temperature has only gone up by 1 Degree Celsius in the last 100 years, in some areas of the world local temperatures have gone up by up to 11 Degrees.

    The truth of AGW is easy to find, one only needs to look in between many of the stories which are told out there in documentaries, news articles and so on, science is not the only way to learn the facts.

    Here is something that will surprise you, it will take a while to watch but it is worthwhile because everything being said in this link is easy to verify by yourselves thus showing the truth of AGW and other environmental issues.

    http://dogsofdoubt.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/strange-days-on-planet-earth/

    1. PS, those 4 Nat Geo films that you link to look fabulous. After watching the Dr Seuss clip (see above) we’ll watch the first of those films this evening and the other three over the coming evenings.

      There are times when the scale of change taking place scares the living shit out of me (technical expression!) but I given myself a strong talking-to that I and everyone else can only take so much tough news. It HAS to be tempered with hope. Big thanks for calling by and offering that perspective, Paul

  3. Forgive me re-posting this from Judith Curry’s blog (where I believe the house of cards has now been dented) but it seems very apt:

    I should like to draw attention to the near co-incidence of yet more record-breaking tornado strikes in Oklahoma and the impending release of Senator James Inhofe’s new book:
    http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2012/02/27/432986/james-inhofe-climate-conspiracy-statereels-from-record-heat/

    Therefore, I wonder how many in this forum would now agree that:
    1. Sen. Inhofe deserves to be unseated because he is clearly not representing the interests of those in his constituency; and
    2. He should cancel the publication and sell all the stock to the Tea Party movement so that they have something to destroy at their next anti-intellectual book-burning ceremony?

  4. The people of Kiribati are already feeling the effects of climate change — here’s a link:
    http://www.juancole.com/2012/03/big-coal-and-big-oil-wipe-kiribati-off-the-face-of-the-map.html

    I don’t understand why we spend our time arguing about who or what causes climate change, why aren’t we doing more about it — i.e. as in the trailer above (Transitions) and/or pressuring our governments to make important changes as well, but in the meantime, we can all make big changes to our lives/lifestyles that do impact the earth.

    Another interesting reference, “The One Straw Revolution”, by Masanobu Fukuoka, a plant pathologist who spent a lifetime practicing sustainable farming or the farmers in Africa who each year save natural seed in a farm co-op in defiance of the big agri-companies (their seed is more adaptable and viable to dramatic climate change), developing algae to take the place of oil, or spectacular research in energy alternatives at MIT to name a few examples.

    1. Wen, I’m certain you voice the frustrations of millions of others as well. Not sure if I’m being naive (have a great tendency to so do!) but I do sense that more and more are embracing the need to take an active part in change. Brings to mind the old expression, “By the inch, it’s a cinch. By the year, it’s hard!” Will follow up that reference to Masanobu Fukuoka. Big thanks for contributing your thoughts. Paul

  5. A constant drumbeat of denial is a potent weapon for those who prefer their personal fantasies or are more interested in supporting financial interests than the reality of how our fragile garden planet actually works as an integrated system.

    1. Thanks Lamplighter, I’m pretty sure you saw Patrice’s comment on Monday, the comment that closed with him writing, “It of course goes with the defeat of reason.” Strongly supports the theme in your own words. Paul

  6. ok, this was a really long and unfocused reply to a skeptic. So in summary, the reply to a skeptic is?

    1. Klem, Big thanks for leaving your comment. Let me reply thus,

      First, the Post was a reply to a long and unfocused Post from Dan as was published on Monday.

      Second, the theme of my reply should be crystal clear – if you are confused by anything in the above Post, shout out and I will do my best to clarify it.

      Finally, what was the overall message that you took from the Post?

      Look forward to hearing back from you, Paul

      1. The overall message is the Precautionary Principal I guess. I think it means we should reduce our carbon emissions to zero just in case those emissions will kill the planet sometime in the future.

        Does this summarize your response to the skeptic?

        No offence Paul but you look alot like my neighbours dog. Is that you Rusty?

  7. To Klem and those skeptical about brain change:

    Before we can focus, we have to be unfocused. That is how those who know how to use their eyes do it. And even more so, for those who know how to use their mind’s eye.

    Sometimes too much focus on the beetle in the bark on the tree, makes one incapable of encompassing the dying forest.

    The reply to climate skeptics is this: why do you cling to straws? Why do the chickens cackle away that it is not so hot today, and call that “profound’? On the Judith Cury site, someone replied to one of my comments by “nothing but us swine here…”. That was really profound.

    Why do you talk about “climate change” when the real problem is the poisoning of the atmosphere by CO2, and of the oceans, by carbonic acid? Those curves are going straight up, and accelerating. Same for the rise of the oceans. Those “skeptical” about that have got to have spectacularly low IQ. No skepticism there.

    The latest number is 393.9 ppm of CO2, an absolute record. We are about 460 ppm in CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases (versus a pre-industrial of 280 ppm).

    We cannot wait for the fossil lobbyists to drown in Washington’s rising seas. The biosphere is being poisoned, and it does not have that kind of time.
    http://patriceayme.wordpress.com/

    1. “Why to you talk about “climate change” when the real problem is the poisoning of the atmosphere by CO2, and of the oceans, by carbonic acid?”

      You can’t be serious, you don’t truly think that CO2 is poison surely? C’mon, deep down inside you know there is something preversely wrong about calling CO2 poison. The earth’s entire biosphere relies on CO2 to sustain itself and folks call this poison. It makes no sense, its bizarre.

      “The latest number is 393.9 ppm of CO2, an absolute record…versus a pre-industrial of 280 ppm.”

      True, it is a record. Over the past 250 years we have added an additional 1.14 ten thousandth more CO2 to the atmosphere than pre-industrial times. That is believed to be correct. And that proves?…Well it proves that it has taken 250 years of continuous carbon emissions to add a bit over 1/10,000th more CO2 to the air. I think what it demonstrates is that alarmists are making a mounain out of a mole hill.

      1. Klem, thank you for both of your additional comments. You are most welcome to your thoughts, and your mathematics. According to my calculator, 393.9 compared to 280 is a 40.67% rise. But let’s leave it at that. If you are not convinced by the overwhelming evidence of the damage that modern man is causing the planet he lives on, then nothing on this Blog is going to change your attitudes. Best wishes, Paul.

      2. “CO is plant food” – I can barely believe Klem dares to come here and spout such nonsense. Maybe he did so because he thought he could get away with such a tired old myth on a non-science-focused blog.

        The simplest way to defeat this kind of nonsense is to consider that if fossil fuels took 100s of millions of years to form, and we are currently burning them at a rate many orders of magnitude greater than that at which the CO2 produced can be recycled. In fact, think of all life on Earth as being inside the Command Module of Apollo 13 and we have just broken the CO2 scrubbers.

        I can’t speak for the US EPA (which I believe may still be under the malevolent influence of Dr S Fred Singer) but, in the UK, the EA requires all industrial plants to provide annual reports of pollution emitted – including CO2. This is because, as with many other things, there is a recognised threshold over which CO2 effectively becomes life-threatening. James Hansen believes that threshold was 350 ppm.

        We are therefore already well into the danger zone; and we have no Lunar Landing Module we can crawl into in order to complete our journey.

  8. Dear Klem:
    The talking point that surely CO2 is not a poison because it’s necessary to life is as intelligent as saying that surely a raging fire is good for you, because, without warmth, we would freeze.

    Way too much of a good thing is a bad thing. That is one of the first thing to teach toddlers.

    Water is no poison either, but ingesting too much is not comfortable (it was a standard torture). And actually beyond a point, one more glass will kill someone (good torturers would know when to stop).

    As Paul pointed out delicately, your math is off by a factor of 10,000 times, or so. No wonder you are skeptical. When I do math, and i am off by 10,000 orders of magnitude, I become skeptical too. But then I search for my error, that is what research mathematicians do.

    It’s actually worse than that, because we have created other greenhouse gases. Too much cattle since the neolithic has brought a lot of CH4 in the atmosphere, and monster gases mentioned in:
    http://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2009/10/30/biosphere-collapse-not-climate-change/

    Those gases have to be included to compute the greenhouse.
    With them we went from 280 to 460 parts per million. In other words, it will take about 15 years at most for a doubling (so 100%, not a tiny change!)
    http://patriceayme.wordpress.com/

    Patrice Ayme

    March 9, 2012 at 10:08

  9. WOW! Paul what a post and what lovely replies love it when folk get their teeth into a subject… Now lets ALL get our Teeth into changing our World… and it will not be the Green-house effect that will be worrying everyone if leaders of nations do not come together in Peaceful solutions to the way this world is heading…
    Let us unify our thoughts to bring about less suffering around our world also..

    I have been monitoring Earthquakes recently and there is a real problem with our Earths crust as it is moving now more rapidly than ever… I Pray my own visions do not come to pass..
    Send your collective thoughts of love to our Earth Mother Also in your prayers, for many do not understand she holds consciousness also.. Each light added in love helps us ALL overcome those who rule by greed and control..

    Blessings to all here… ~Sue

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