Speak Up, David, Goliath Has A Hearing Problem

Wed, 2007-10-17 06:10Ross Gelbspan
Ross Gelbspan's picture

Speak Up, David, Goliath Has A Hearing Problem

David Suzuki, Canada's best-known environmentalist, has spent a generation encouraging Canadians to look after the environment, but it seems they have not been listening.

While Canada ratified the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on limiting greenhouse gas emissions, the current, Conservative government says the standards cannot be met, reopening a debate he thought had been won.

“We've already been here before, and that's the thing that breaks my heart,” he told Reuters during one of his frequent trips to Toronto from his home in Vancouver. “If we had taken it seriously and done something, we would be so far past the Kyoto target today, and the problems would be infinitely simpler and cheaper.”

Comments

I have never really understood why some people take such an aggressive dislike to David Suzuki. He has worked like a dog for decades and yet even devout environmentalists find him irritating. The old fruit-fly chestnut keeps popping up, or he gets labelled self-serving and arrogant. For my money, the Nature of Things and various other initiatives with which he has been involved have helped to create a general awareness of how important the natural world is in our lives, whether or not we actually venture out into it individually. That awareness, built slowly but steadily over the years, is hugely important in the current climate situation. Canadians are more prepared to see how we might be having an impact on the natural world – indeed, to accept that we are PART of the natural world. Kudos to Suzuki! Keep up the good work.

So why the F&$%@@### doesn’t our PM get it????? The throne speech is such a disgrace I don’t know where to spit all the vitriol! I can only conclude that he really, REALLY wants the Opposition to defeat the speech so he can call an election & win a majority (heaven help us!). Before I pop an artery, I am going to get started on letters to my (Conservative) MP, MPP (PC), local councillor (former Reform) and Mayor ( Business First) and vent my spleen.

I actually believe the conservatives when they say we cannot meet out Kyoto targets. Canada has had no real action (other than that Rick Mercer commercial) on clime change since signing Kyoto. Both the Liberals and the Conservatives are to blame.

Of course that doesn’t explain why the conservatives keep insisting on emissions intensity, rather than absolute levels.

I agree. We’ve gone past our own national “tipping point” re: Kyoto targets. The Liberals were a big bust in terms of actually doing anything about it.

So here’s an idea: Rick Mercer for Prime Minister!

“Suzuki has a PR problem”

But then, look at who’s doing his PR: http://www.hoggan.com/index.php

Who bloody cares who does his PR? Dr. Suzuki’s been THE scientific mind in Canada for decades and has done far more than focus on climate change. His “The Nature of Things” has changed the way Canadians think of science in a very positive way and his many books have educated thousands, even millions, of people around the world about many things like genetics (his specialization), wildlife, ecosystems, and all things in between.

Any disparaging remarks about Dr. Suzuki are, therefore, uncalled for, and are a sign of ideological madness of those maligning his reputation.

Rob lives in North Dakota. He has probably never seen “The Nature of Things” and he would probably have no idea who Suzuki is unless he reads the rightwing Canadian forums and blogs which regularly express hatred of Suzuki and of all environmentalists. Canadian rightwingers attack Suzuki for the same reason they attack Gore, because he popularizes science, and they mistrust science because science interferes with their dogmatic view of the world. They prefer their fantasy to reality.

“Suzuki has a PR problem”

But then, look at who’s doing his PR: http://www.hoggan.com/index.php

“…reopening a debate he thought had been won.”

Besides, when has that blowhard Stalinist, Suzuki, ever engaged in an open debate on the subject? Never.

Calling Dr. Suzuki a “Stalinist” shows very poor judgment, Mr. Dot. Nobody calls Richard Lindzen a Nazi sympathizer (which would be an appalling thing to do). It’s time for the “denier” crowd (and some of us “warmers” who may get carried away at times, myself included) to be polite and respectful.

As for an “open debate”, I’d be all for one if there was something to debate. However, the science of AGW is pretty much locked up in the favour of the “consensus view” matching the conclusions of the IPCC. All that is left are minute odds and ends that need to be tied up, but the main principles of AGW are solidly backed up by the scientific evidence.

“As for an “open debate”, I’d be all for one if there was something to debate.”

In other words, you’re completely against any open debate.

Thanks for clearing that up.

What is there to debate scientifically? Its been done in the literature and continues to evolve as science always does accumulating greater understanding of climate and the role of its various aspects. Hense the conclusions of the IPCC and its contributing scientists. Really now all thats left to debate is stratagies for emissions reductions, and mitigation policies etc

. let’s have an “open” debate right here.

I’ll start by asking a few questions. Please give us your answers and reasons for your answers.

1 Is carbon dioxide a greenhouse gas?

2. Is its concentration increasing over the past 100 years or so?

3. Is a large part of this increase due to the release of “fossil carbon”?

4. Do you understand how it is known that this increase is due to “fossil carbon”?

5. Is the average global temperature increasing?

If you answer these questions correctly (as determined by scientists of all disciplines, not just climate scientists) then please explain how AGW is just a hoax.

Now, I’ve given you your chance to show how more informed on this subject you are than the rest of us. Please accept this challenge and provide us with never before seen “scientific” facts that show you are correct and we are wrong.

How long will we have to wait? My guess is that you are just another blow hard and you will not accept the challenge.

Ian Forrester

6) Why should any of these hypothetical claims constitute a crisis, which can only be remedied by increased government control and erosion of individual freedoms, as promoted by Global Warming alarmists?

Before you can answer your question you have to answer the five that I asked. That is the way science works, observe, understand then predict. Once you have answered the five questions we can discus your question.

But you acted just as I predicted, evade the answers to the real science. Are you frightened of science or do you just have a basic dislike for scientists since they tend to show that your business friends are greedy, hypocritical and quite prepared to cause hardships for others to fatten their bottom line?

Ian Forrester

Besides, what dubious “science” there is to support your claims is easily matched with an equal amount of science which directly contradicts your claims. Your imaginary “consensus” does not exist.

The bottom line is that this is a political issue, not a scientific one. In either case, it’s clear that you are superbly unqualified to argue either one.

So it is also abundantly clear why Global Warming cultists avoid the real debate at all costs. Based strictly on facts – and not your feverish hysterical predictions – you are bound to lose.

You haven’t cited any science at all. Ian doesn’t have to “argue” it anyway – the 900+ scientists in 150 countries whose peer-reviewed work contributed to the consensus of the IPCC have already done that. If you’d care to listen, the people who are superbly qualified to argue the science accept AGW as a given, and are focusing their debate on finer points within that framework.

Generally speaking, I find that the tone of comments by people who have followed the science and are convinced that AGW is a fact is very rational and relatively free of invective. For feverish hysteria, I can always count of the deniers who routinely claim world-wide conspiracies, “commie” plots, and all kinds of nonsense. I have been called a Stalinist, a left-wing “moonbat”, an eco-Nazi, a racist, and a lot of other things. It’s actually kind of amusing, really. But also kind of sad. What are you afraid of?

Femack the commie nazi, just because you can be both at the same time apparently!

Wait for Rob or someone to come along and point out that USSR and Nazi both have “socialist” in their names. :)

Earlier today I remarked to someone that I had cut myself loose from my ideological moorings and am drifting around among several possible anchorages.

But Carl, I hope you haven’t coined a new Frankenstein’s monster!

Fern Mackenzie, aka FEMack

You could follow the method used by Douglas Adams’ character, Dirk Gently the holistic detective. He would pick a random car and follow it; it might not lead him to where he meant to go, but it got him to where he needed to be. :)

follow someone who looks like they know where they are going. You might not get where you thought you wanted to go, but you will be somewhere you needed to be sooner or later.

The entire Douglas Adams collection resides on my bookshelves in a place of honour. 42

. you know nothing about what you are arguing about.

Why do you use the . as a name, are you trying to tell us something? Does it reflect the size of your brain?

The political response has to be based on solid science. That is why the deniers are so fervently saying that the science is unsettled and wrong so that the politicians can delay making any decisions or make the wrong decision. The politicians are now coming round to the fact that the science has been right all along but they are still balking at making the right decisions which can do something positive in avoiding the worst effects of global warming.

It is thanks to idiots like you that they have taken so long in accepting the science. I wonder how you will feel in a couple of decades when your children or grandchildren are faced with huge payments to clean up the mess people like you have inflicted on them.

Ian Forrester

Dot has completely ignored anything to do with the science and gone straight to his paranoid conclusion (delusion?) that this is all a conspiracy to deprive him of his rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” There is a similar thread running through the posts of Rob out there in Bismarck – “It’s all a commie plot.” A bit passe, actually, but at least he’s consistent.

Here are some answers and follow-up quesions:

1) Yes
- What are the other greenhouse gases?
- What other factors influence climate changes?

2) Yes
- Has the CO2 level increased before in earths history?
- Do the historical records indicate that CO2 rises before or after temperature increases?

3) Most people assume so, but I don’t know for sure. (Would be interested how to determine, so I would appreciate a good reference.)

4) No (see above)
- Do you (i.e. without cheating)?

5) Depends on the time period you select:
- For the last 10 years there is a negative trend (while CO2 has increased about 5%)
- For the last 30 years there is positive trend (and CO2 increased about 15%).
- For the 40 years before that (from 1938 to 1977) there was again a negative trend (and CO2 increased about 7%).
- Historically, the global climate has changed several times (MWP, LIA, etc).

So it seems to me one must conclude that the catastrophic, CO2 induced, AGW cannot in any way be taken as a fact.

Sorry JIK, but only 2 out of 5 correct answers is a failing mark. Better read up some more before pretending that you know anything about global warming.

Ian Forrester

but you (is your real name really Ian Forrester?) can only come up with some lame statements without any basis in reality. You challenge someone, but you don’t have the decency to follow up on yout brave words. That’s weak, Ian, really weak.

Cherry picking of data is not being honest. If you cannot be bothered to go to the actual papers in the scientific literature to find out what is real information about AGW at least read the reports by IPCC and spend some time at Realclimate.org

Once you have read some real papers (and not the fishwrap put out by the AGW deniers) you will fully understand why the temperature has varied over the past 100 or so years (hint, not all of the temperature change is attributable to changes in CO2, a number of other factors are involved, some causing increases, some causing decreases).

Ian Forrester

Evidence, Johann. Do you know what that is? Try to find some.

Which statements do you want evidence for? That CO2 is a greenhouse gas? Something else? Please specify.

If you doubt the temperature trend information I provided, I would encourage you to see e.g.:
i) http://www.remss.com/pub/msu/monthly_time_series/RSS_Monthly_MSU_AMSU_Channel_TLT_Anomalies_Land_and_Ocean_v03_0.txt
ii) http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/ftp/trends/temp/jonescru/global.dat
iii) http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/ftp/trends/co2/lawdome.combined.dat
iv) http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/ftp/trends/co2/maunaloa.co2

Have you ever looked at the actual data?

What do you do with all the cherries you have picked? I wouldn’t eat them all, since they will give you a real bad dose of the runs, oops you already have a bad dose of verbal diarrhea.

Ian Forrester

‘Cause you don’t seem to reason that coherently. Come back tomorrow, after a couple of cups of strong coffee.

Apparently so stupid that you do not know what cherry picking is all about. It is a deplorable technique used by AGW deniers like you and shows that you are no scientist, even though you work for the nuclear industry.

Ian Forrester

So does Homer Simpson …

That kind of remark is very revealing, JIK.

As for making a coherent argument, you just seem to go around in circles, ignoring the legitimate developing new work being done in the field of climatology and falling back on the same discredited material. It’s all been considered, JIK – considered and found wanting under scientific scrutiny. The folks at ICECAP etc seem to have stopped thinking years ago, admitting no line of research that casts doubt on their dearly held beliefs. William Gray is a perfect example – he’s been left behind by his students and has become a pathetic relic. Science has moved on. You’d be well advised to catch up.

So you consider these sources discredited?

i) http://www.remss.com/pub/msu/monthly_time_series/RSS_Monthly_MSU_AMSU_Channel_TLT_Anomalies_Land_and_Ocean_v03_0.txt
ii) http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/ftp/trends/temp/jonescru/global.dat
iii) http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/trends/co2/lawdome-data.html
iv) http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/trends/co2/sio-mlo.htm

Raw data without context is not particularly helpful. I rely on experienced climatologists to interpret the data and place it in the context of a very subtle and complex system. That is their job. Yours, I believe, is Product Manager for Metals CPM. When I have a question about metallurgy or metals project development, I will consult you for your opinion. Feel free to ask me about cultural history whenever you like.

is, in my opinion, a good approach, and so is to generally “trust but verify”.

To rely on the elite to serve you with ready-made opinions is never healthy, especially not in such a politicized issue as global warming.

I have looked at the issues from several angles, and find that those toiling away producing peer-reviewed work are consistently in harmony with the consensus revealed by the IPCC. On the other hand, the opposing position (“deniers” for lack of a better word) can’t pass the test. Their work does not stand up to the critical eye of science, and they end up being published in obscure and/or contrarian journals (Journal of Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine), not published at all (Dr. Klaus-Martin Schulte’s paper that didn’t even make it into Energy and Environment), or published as a thinly disguised OP-Ed piece (can’t lay my hands on the reference just now – can anyone provide?). Usually, though, this stuff appears on their own web sites with a lot of whinging about being shut out of the club, dubious methodology at the IPCC and censorship etc.

I don’t fall for every half-baked theory that comes across my screen. I have spent an enormous amount of time reading and questioning. The evidence is piling up as fast as the pack ice is melting.

with my sources or the observations drawn from them?

Instead of yours and Ian’s (“if that is his real name”) generic statements about circular arguments, vomiting, half baked theories, etc, why don’t you actually continue the “open debate” that Ian initated?

Your points are all addressed in the scholarly literature. Check out the IPCC reports, work by individual climatologists (for example, compare William Gray’s recent work with that of Kerry Emanuel).`

I am not going to pretend to be able to make any kind of a case on the basis of isolated blocks of data or conclusions taken out of context. I am not a scientist. The debate about the science takes place among the scientists through the process of peer review. Show me the conclusions of someone whose views you espouse that have been through that process and stood up to scientific scrutiny, and I will be glad to consider it as part of the “debate”.

I suppose. Neither you nor Ian seem up for it. Whatever.

But can you at least tell me which of my views you find so disturbing?
(And please refer to the five specific topics/questions originally posted, and my subsequent responses.)

your reluctance to consider that CO2 and methane emissions resulting from human activity are the most significant factors in the current warming trend, or that fossil fuel consumption is the primary source of CO2 emissions. These truths are self-evident even to me, after the most cursory of investigations (which have been followed up, I assure you, by an exhaustive investigation into the IPCC and peer-reviewed scholarly literature).

“What other factors influence climate changes?” All kinds of things from natural forcings and sunspots to aerosols, but these have been taken into consideration in the models and other research. Taken by themselves they cannot explain the current rate & degree of warming. Only by reckoning in the human factor can that be explained.

“Do the historical records indicate that CO2 rises before or after temperature increases?” This is one of the deniers’ arguments that you see all the time. It has been countered by the qualified people at RealClimate, for one (you’ll have to search their archive). I do not pretend to be qualified to debate this point. However I have read both sides and my position has not been changed.

Is the average global temperature increasing? Your answer: “it depends”. Well, no. It doesn’t. Look at it in the longest possible timeframe. What is happening is happening at a rate unprecedented in the observed or proxy record, unless accompanied by some cataclysmic event such as meteor impact.

It’s not change, in and of itself, that is worrying, it is the rate at which it is occurring, arguably faster than evolutionary selection can handle.

The blade of that hockey stick is about to deliver a slapshot that nobody – not Johnny Bower, Gump Worsley, Jacques Plante, Vladislav Tretiak, not even Ken Dryden – can deflect. The acceleration of melt in the Arctic, the movement of glaciers in Greenland that can be observed over an hour or two rather than weeks or years, the thaw of the permafrost, drought conditions in the southern North American continent, tornadoes moving north, hurricanes getting worse – how bad does it have to get before you ask yourself “WHY?”

Here’s a thought. Buy yourself a few goldfish and put them in a tank. Give them food,let them excrete what they must, and just watch. It’s a closed system. Feed them, let them pee, let them “breathe” and see how long their “atmosphere” holds up. I’m guessing you will have a whole lot of dead fish very soon.

J I K it is not your views that I find disturbing but your attitude. The answers to all your questions are provided by climate scientists in all sorts of places. Obviously, the best place is the peer reviewed scientific literature but for the layperson that can be intimidating and hard to access. Fortunately, there are other places where the information can be found. Some of these places even give results and information tailored for the general public who are mostly not highly knowledgeable on scientific details. One of the best places for the scientific neophyte to find information that has been put into easily understandable language is realclimate.org. This site is run by some of the best climate scientists around and is the best place to get a basic understanding of what is going on in climate science. Their threads all contain references to the actual scientific papers so you can dig further into the scientific details if you so desire. Unfortunately, people like you continually diss realclimate.

Once you have a basic understanding, a second place to go is the various IPCC reports. These are compilations of a large number of peer-reviewed papers.

Anyone who claims to have visited these sites and still tries to argue that AGW is a hoax is not being rational. Unfortunately, most of the AGW deniers are in this category.

Places not to go for information are the right wing blog sites such as AEI, CEI, FOS, NRSP, WSJ Op/Ed pages, climatefraudit etc. If you visit these sites you will see they lack one very important factor, they do not refer to the peer reviewed scientific literature.

As I said in a previous thread you got 2 out of the five questions right.

Yes, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. There are a number of other greenhouse gases but CO2 is of critical importance because it has the second highest effect after water vapour. It is also the one that is being added to the most by human action.

The big difference between the effects of carbon dioxide and water vapour is that one is a forcing, the other a feed back. Thus if we were to suddenly remove all of the CO2 from the atmosphere there would be a sudden (geologically speaking) cooling, the water would precipitate out and the earth would be a very cold place.

Yes, carbon dioxide is rising.

Your further comments are strawmen. CO2 has been quite a bit higher in the past, however, we are talking the very long ago past. Most of that CO2 became plant material and was buried and turned into fossil carbon i.e. it was taken out of circulation for a very long time. Only recently have we started to burn it and put it back into the atmosphere. We are undoing in a matter of several centuries what nature took tens of millions of years to do.

Your comment on CO2 lagging temperature is fully discussed here:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/co2-in-ice-cores/

Fossil carbon can be detected because of its isotope fingerprint. By checking the ratio of C12, C13 and C14 you can tell how much fossil carbon is accumulating in the atmosphere.

Just what do you means by “cheating”? That is a typical insulting comment that you seem to always use when discussing science and scientists. You are a very small-minded person.

Your comments about time periods in regard to earth’s warming are again an insult to any intelligent person. Anyone who is genuinely looking for answers knows that we are talking about a rise over the past 100 or so years, the same years that have shown an increase in CO2.

I have taken far more time in this matter than you deserve, but I am doing it, not for your sake, but for the sake of newcomers to this site who may be looking for intelligent responses and not the insulting comments by the likes of you.

Ian Forrester

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