Tag Archives: DotEarth

Is Promotion Of Environmental Causes Bad For One's Mental And Physical Health?

Bill McKibben of 350.org stars in the latest Cancún blog plus video by Andy Revkin, with puzzling results.

  • Most interestingly, McKibben is adamantly dismissive of Andy’s concerns about an “energy challenge”, small stuff really when “whole freaking countries” are “washing away“, and “the planet right now is…disintegrating“. All of that doesn’t elicit much of a reaction from the dotEarth’s author. Does that mean Revkin fundamentally agrees with McKibben, also about statements such as “it is going to be a miserable century or an impossible one” and “the science is very clear“? I don’t think so.

Other questions:

  • If the underlying engine is “the science“, what are the scientific basis for choosing 350ppmv as the ultimate goal of any climate policy?
  • It’s also a mystery how a “long-distance climate campaigner” manages to be around Cancun rather than do the right thing, connect from afar in order to emit far less CO2 than “living strenously” implies. It would also make a lot of sense, given the lack of money 350.org keeps lamenting. What do we get instead? Latest news is a boat trip with a free dive out of Cancun, not exactly cheap stuff.
  • Finally, it’s great for McKibben to worry about the rest of the century, but by the look of it, he risks not being around for much of the rest of the century, looking quite old, tired, almost haunted (yes, Revkin _is_ older than McKibben). Is promotion of environmental causes bad for one’s mental and physical health?

ps Oh my…McKibben uses “that” WWII analogy again…Godwin’s Law alert! Godwin’s Law alert! Godwin’s Law alert! Godwin’s Law alert! Godwin’s Law alert!

pps “The most interesting thing about the pictures and everything from 350 is everybody in them almost is poor, black, brown, Asian, young“…are the Africans alright then? What about older Asians?

Embarrassing "Skeptical Science" or The Return Of The Aristotelians

I was meaning to write about the cringe-inducing website called “Skeptical Science” and today’s Revkin’s piece at dotEarth finally pushed me forward.

I feel embarrassment for John Cook, Skeptical Science author, for two reasons (neither concerning his rather disturbing photograph). First of all the very existence of such a site seems to be a loud scream at all that has gone wrong with the IPCC. If Mr Cook feels it necessary to spend as much time as he does on the topic, obviously he should be the first one to agree that the IPCC has been a communication failure.

(not that he’s really any better himself at that: by stating that “eventually, the scientific reality will be so in our faces that inaction will be impossible“, Cook is confirming that “the scientific realityis currently notso in our faces” as his scholarly lists of scientific papers appear to suggest)

The second reason I find Skeptical Science a disaster is that all it is ever going to tell us is that AGW is a self-consistent theory and there has been plenty of papers written on the topic. That can only highlight what will forever be missing: the science that was prevented to be published, the open questions, the competing claims within AGW orthodoxy.

In fact, one of the comments at dotEarth (#15) pretty much reveals the kind of person that would find the Skeptical Science site of high interest. The point is not to understand the world as it is, but to accumulate evidence for one’s own rationalization of what the world is presumed to be. Hence no space for any doubt whatsoever of any sort, not even for competing AGW interpretations, let alone for non-orthodox scientists (by definition, their work is “crap“).

Simplicius (*) would have been proud of that. “Science” it is not.

(*) the defender of the Aristotelian (geocentric) view of the world in Galileo’s “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems

Glaciergate "Faulty Communication" Explanation Makes Things Even Worse For The IPCC

Andy Revkin has just published on dotEarth a James Kanter article titled “Explanation Offered for Error in U.N. Climate Report“. Apparently,

Faulty communication allowed an unsubstantiated estimate of the melting rate of Himalayan glaciers to make it into the landmark 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a senior scientist and panel official said Monday. […] The official, Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, a vice chairman of the climate change panel, said that a glaciologist, Georg Kaser at the University of Innsbruck, in Austria, had sought to correct the information about the glaciers before it was published by the panel but that the correction came too late and never reached the people who could fix the statement.

This “explanation” obviously explains very little and simply opens up a series of new questions:

  • Why didn’t Dr Kaser think it worthwhile to voice his concerns in any form (public, or private) after the publication of the IPCC report in 2007?
  • What made Dr Kaser place more importance on his colleagues potentially ill feelings about being criticized, than on scientific truth?
  • And if a relatively well-known published scientist such as Dr Kaser finds himself forced into some kind of self-censorship and reluctance to speak out, how poisonous, impermeable to criticism and ultimately anti-scientific has the world of the IPCC become?

Words of wisdom to the big cheeses at the IPCC: please stop digging!

Nothing to Show: AGWers' Big Stumbling Block

UPDATE NOV 29: William M Connolley says he is not impressed by Romm’s list either

There’s an underlying feeling of desperation in Joe Romm (ClimateProgress)’s “What are the near-term climate Pearl Harbors?, a list “of what might drive action strong enough to avoid the worst“.

The list includes the Arctic “ice-free before 2020“, “superstorms like Katrina“, “a heatwave as bad as Europe’s 2003” , and the 2012 IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (perish the thought it might be less catastrophiliac than the Fourth Assessment Report…).

Note that Romm’s blog has been echoed by Heliophage, on Andrew Revkin’s Dot Earth, and in Nature’s Climate Feedback. An unwise move, if you ask me: one wonders what people would make if they knew that those claiming to work towards saving Planet Earth, are actively hoping disasters of all sorts befall upon us.

Talk about striving for unpopularity!!!

The desperation is evident in the fact that a person allegedly as well-informed on climate stuff as Romm, comes up with wholly inappropriate examples. Katrina was a big storm but not more superstorm than other hurricanes (Romm even acknowledges this point), and the destruction of New Orleans was evidently a matter of bad engineering and incompetent relief management. Didn’t he have anything better to put forward?

Likewise for the European heatwave of 2003. And even more importantly: neither Katrina, nor the European heatwave, can be linked to Climate Change and/or Global Warming. And so if, say, another heatwave will materialize, it will tell us absolutely nothing about Climate Change and Global Warming.

Actually, looking at the list of 9 items posted by Romm, the only ones that may provide ammunitions to the AGW cause may be the ice-free Arctic, and “accelerated mass loss in Greenland“.

Most likely, Romm is simply and perhaps unwittingly acknowledging the fact that for all the huffing and all the puffing, there is very little that AGWers can show to support their claims.

Look at when Revkin (a journalist I am grudgingly but steadily learning to respect) makes a very clear point to Romm:

As I [Revkin] wrote in 2006 (”Yelling Fire on a Hot Planet“) problems that get people’s attention (and cause them to change) are “soon, salient and certain” and the dangerous aspects of human-forced climate disruption remain none of those things

In other words, the dangers of AGW are not about to happen, they are not strikingly conspicuous, and they are not sure or inevitable.

And what has Romm got to reply to that? Very little. Actually, almost nothing: he spells out some kind of humanitarian deathwish, a desire for a big climate crisis; makes a critical point against journalists (who doesn’t); and decries how he understands things but most people don’t:

Multi-hundred-billion-dollar-sized government action happens only when there is a very, very big crisis […] labeled as such by very serious people who are perceived as essentially nonpartisan opinion leaders […] bad things must be happening to regular people right now […]

Better journalism would help. […] We simply don’t have a critical mass of credible nonpartisan opinion leaders who understand the nature of our energy and climate problem.

Revkin’s “soon, salient and certain“, by the way, is a quote originally from “Helen Ingram, a professor of planning, policy and design at the University of California, Irvine.

Won’t Prof. Ingram be excited upon hearing that salience is not a problem, but persons not being bright enough is…

The supreme pinnacle of irony, in the Romm/Revkin exchange, lies in the former’s misunderstanding of the latter’s point about “certainty“. In 2006, Revkin noted that:

Projections of how patterns of drought, deluges, heat and cold might change are among the most difficult, and will remain laden with huge uncertainties for a long time to come […]

While scientists say they lack firm evidence to connect recent weather to the human influence on climate, environmental campaigners still push the notion […]

Romm’s reply? Another accusation, refusing to acknowledge Revkin’s first point (emphasis in the original):

You [Revkin] understand this but you don’t convey this to your readers: Doing nothing or doing little eliminates the uncertainty.

Romm’s near-term climate Pearl Harbors post, actually, does look suspiciously as a way of “pushing a notion” the non-scientific notion of connecting recent weather to (future?) climate change.

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The above doesn’t look very promising for the AGW movement.

I am actually starting to think that the problem is in the fact that most AGWer haven’t grasped the nature of the issue they are concerned about. And so they use the tools learned to protect pandas or clean up the Hudson river. And for most intents and purposed, they fail: because, as Revkin has realized, Anthropogenic Global Warming, aka Climate Change, truly is a completely different beast.