Contesting Climate Change Denial

I set out an approach to climate change using scenario based futuring in my post at link.

However, after feeling rather weary about all the climate change denial ricocheting round the net, driven by a combination of ‘we don’t like the solutions because they would involve an increased role for government, so it can’t be happening‘ and cherry picking evidence, by people who probably haven’t done a controlled experiment or built a scientific theory in their lives, I found the verve of this site invigorating:

http://www.grist.org/article/series/skeptics/

It starts with each denialist argument and connects you to the relevant refutation and peer reviewed research. And no the rise in global temperatures did not stop in 1998 which was a trend line outlier, and not a good place to start measuring, according to my recall of Statistics 101. Yes clouds and water vapour are important which is why they are in the climate models and so on. And all science involves creating and testing models, so good luck with model-free scientific theory. Done intelligently and civilly.

Of course as you will have read my other posts, my real problem with climate change denialists is their certainty about the future: human induced climate change is definitely 100% not happening. The web site above just provides the data without rubbing any noses in it or stating it is all 100% locked up.

And you may also recall, I prefer the term climate change, as what we are probably facing is not a linear increase in temperatures, but a more chaotic picture, including for example perhaps the Gulf Stream slowing that might make Western Europe much colder, droughts in many places, floods in others, and more extreme weather generally. Global Warming is far too comforting a phrase.

And the reason I include Climate Change in this blog, is not only as a good example of bad methodology and incivility on science/political controversy, but for the same reason the Pentagon is watching climate change so closely: it is likely even at the lower end of temperature rise (1-2 degrees C), to spawn major conflicts, wars, water shortages, species extinctions, and refugee movements. We live on planet already environmentally highly stressed and this will get worse as global population rises from 6 to 9 billion, and more people have middle class consumption patterns. Climate change is a magnifier of such problems which we could very well do with out.

Greening the ‘burbs with native plants:

About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
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2 Responses to Contesting Climate Change Denial

  1. Victor says:

    I am increasingly hearing the following argument from many “realists” at this point after the meltdown of IPCC. It was unfortunate that the issue became so partisan but that is in part Gores fault—because he aimed his messages at the 20% in the US who are on the left, in fact 40% are conservative and the rest are moderate in the US and he did not socialize his message with those 2 constituencies.

    Here is the “realists ” argument– for good or bad

    Adaptation can work, mitigation can not

    There will be no international carbon market or constraint for some very practical reasons:

    The West does not control global industry, energy use or carbon emissions;

    The IEA has just reported China and India will double their already prodigious coal consumption by 2030 and increase global annual consumption from 6.7billion to 10billion tons;

    China, India, Brazil and Indonesia will not keep their people in poverty by neglecting development (nor should they) and their only achievable means of powering that development is through coal-fired electricity generation;

    No amount of Western austerity or any local action can make any appreciable difference in atmospheric CO2 levels;

    Regardless of whether enhanced greenhouse will or will not cause detrimental change the correct response is to maximize availability of reliable, affordable power so the populace can defend themselves against temperature extremes and to maximize wealth generation so we can afford to develop and harden infrastructure against any adverse events.

    As the issue is now so partisan the “realist” argument is becoming more attractive to the 80% of the US voters.

    Of course there are v

  2. Al Gore is very unpopular to put it mildly in environmental circles because he is seen as hypocritical: urging austerity while not practicing it. And I guess as a figure head he was divisive and has a lot of ego. One of my friends has a book written by Secret Service agents who assess the private character of Gore less than favorably. Actually as I recall only Reagan and I think Greater Bush and Clinton when he was behaving, passed the test of being personally decent to the agents apparently. Carter was famous for carrying an empty suit case pretending he carried his own bag. 🙂 Lesser Bush was a bully.

    There is something to be said for the realist argument: at least it is not in denial on reality. At very least we should (in line with scenario based thinking) build a lot of resilience into our economies, infrastructure and military stance. I think the power issue, as you note, is key and I favor a combo of immense effort to reduce the ratio of power to GNP by improved physical efficiency, insulation, and standards for efficiency of equipment, cars etc. I think Japan halved that ratio after the oil shocks in the 1970s. Then I think we need fast nuclear power programs, and other alternative fuels ramped up to reduce our dependence on coal and oil. Rail too. This way you salami slice the issue: cut the overall need and bite into what remains in different ways. The reduced dependence on oil would be good strategically as well. In the longer run, we need some major technological breakthroughs in fusion or whatever, but can’t count on that. I am an optimist not a collapsitarian.

    There is an interesting geographical issue for the US. The sun belt was built on air conditioning and cheap power. The South was a backwater until that arrived. And also the South West will have massive water shortage issues as the aquifers run out and droughts extend, melt water diminishes and rivers run dry. The Great Lakes states here have passed laws banning shipping water south. I think I might buy some land here in case the Sun Belt starts reversing or move to Canada. 🙂

    China is now apparently the leading producer of alternative power: solar panels, windmills etc. and they are looking for sources of uranium. I think they get it more than we may think, but are on a roller coaster of ‘getting rich before they get old’. They are also drowning in their own toxins as you noted in an earlier comment. Their rail program is an example of how they get the power/GNP ratio game to some extent.

    Personally, I doubt that infinite GNP growth is either possible or desirable. I have never come close to consuming my income all my career and beyond. There are better things to do than accumulate useless baubles, and the most rewarding things are time rather than dollar intensive. One of my friends who loves sailing used to take me out from a marina, and even on the most fantastic of sailing days at the weekend, less than 10% of boats were in use. My friend said half the boats never left the marina. So the boats were either pure status symbols, or the owners were too busy earning the money to enjoy the boat, which seems nuts to me.

    The thing I loved about my mother’s extended conservative family who were small business people was that they hated waste. They worked hard, saved, and didn’t buy baubles. They would have got climate change in a heart beat. (And indeed one of my uncles told me in the late 1950s of the inevitable return of China to greatness.) Their approach (and they certainly used it during World War Two) would be to expect some personal and collective sacrifice for the good of their families, community and country. The current hedonistic conservatism would have amazed them. They thought socialism was all about irresponsible consumption; they would not have called what passes for conservatism today by that name. Credit card debt would have knocked them over.

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