Mann: A Changing Climate Doesn’t Have a Political Agenda


The body of evidence for climate change is strong and convincing, and multiple lines of evidence show the changes are caused largely by human activities. The consensus among scientists about the reality of the phenomenon is also convincing.

But from the nature of public discussions on the subject today – at least in the US – that consensus might not be apparent. And somehow the discussion has become a “debate,” which is often divided down political party lines.

“We have to make it clear that the ice sheets are not Republicans or Democrats – they don’t have a political agenda as they disappear,” said Michael Mann, a physicist at Pennsylvania State University, who has been at the recent forefront of climate research. “Certain facts cannot be denied. We have to find a way to steer the conversation to a good faith debate about what we can do about the problem, not this bad faith debate about the reality of it.”

Mann spoke to over 600 writers and journalists on November 7, 2010 at the combined meetings of the National Association of Science Writers and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, held at Yale University this week.

Why has the public discourse become so polarizing and why is there a fair amount of legislators and the public who now think that climate change is an elaborate hoax?

Michael Mann, Professor Director, Earth System Science Center, Pennsylvania State University. Credit: PSU

Mann said there has been a large, well funded campaign to manufacture misinformation about climate change, similar to how tobacco companies muddied the waters in the 1960’s on how smoking causes lung cancer and emphysema. It’s no secret that many climate change deniers have ties to the fossil fuel industry.

Mann referred specifically to an infamous memo sent out by GOP political consultant Frank Luntz in 2002 to President George Bush, “which basically said that if the public comes to understand the reality of this problem they will demand policy action to deal with it,” Mann said, “and so you need to manufacture doubt and controversy and uncertainty and cultivate a set of scientists who can act for advocates essentially for fossil fuel industry. And that is what is happened.”

And the science became politicized. “If you can politicize something in today’s political environment,” Mann continued, “you can immediately get half the population on your side. Unfortunately the forces of anti-science — those who deny the science — have been very effective in politicizing the framing.”

Line plot of global mean land-ocean temperature index, 1880 to present, with the base period 1951-1980. The dotted black line is the annual mean and the solid red line is the five-year mean. The green bars show uncertainty estimates. Credit: NASA

But thousands of scientists from almost 200 countries around the world agreed on the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report which said most of the observed increases in global average temperatures is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations. Additionally, the US National Academy of Sciences, the National Academies of all the G-8 nations, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and several other scientific bodies have all issued equivalent statements of consensus of the reality of human-caused climate change.

“Certain facts cannot be denied because you don’t like the implications,” Mann said.

Mann is probably best known for known for his “hockey stick” reconstruction of past climate, (Nature, 1998) which shows the world is warmer now than it has been for at least 1000 years. The “hockey stick” has been attacked by climate change deniers, and while new research has better defined the data, it has not been disproven, nor is it the only line of evidence for global warming.

“The hockey stick is not ‘the’ pillar of evidence for the reality of climate change,” Mann said. “There are multiple pillars that include just the basic understanding of chemistry and physics. But it is one of the more visually compelling pieces of evidence for warming.”

The 'hockey stick' chart from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Third Assessment Report in 2001.

Mann conceded that various other studies and reconstructions of past climate data don’t agree entirely and that there are uncertainties of how much warming will continue because the predictions are based on models, which attempt to predict the future.

“There are legitimate uncertainties, but unfortunately the public discourse is so far removed from where the scientific discourse and controversies actually are, “Mann said. “There is not an uncertainty of the reality of climate change, that sea levels are going to rise, that arctic sea ice will be gone in a few decades or a whole lot of other areas, but we do have an uncertainty in our ability to project regional climate change.”

Mann said scientists don’t completely understand the El Nino and La Nina affects, how cloud feedback will influence the warming and other modeling issues.

However, Mann said, the science has improved over the past few years, and still, there is enough evidence for not just a hockey stick, but an entire hockey league.

“Every reconstruction reveals that the warming is indeed anomalous in a very long term context. Global temperatures are running the highest they have ever run. The twelve month running averages are warmer than they have ever been in documented history. There is no cooling of the globe and no decline to hide,” Mann said referring to the “Climategate” emails that were stolen from East Anglia climate research center and leaked just a few weeks before the Copenhagen climate summit in late 2009.

“Hackers stole thousands of emails –private correspondences between scientists,” said Mann, “and their words were cherry picked, taken out of context and distorted to make it sound like scientists were engaged in some sort of hoax.”

‘Hide the decline’ actually meant the scientists were going to remove unreliable tree-ring data, not cover up any decline in temperatures.

Mann said the real crime was the illegal theft of private correspondence, in addition to the moral crime of intentionally distorting what scientists believe and think.

Mann took his audience to task by saying, “I’d like to say the mainstream media recognized the manufactured controversy for what is was, but they didn’t, entirely.” He also admitted that scientists have not done all they could in the past to make the science clear and their words convincing.

But looking at the current political climate, Mann asked for journalists’ help in the future.

“No doubt we are in for a period of months or even years where climate science is likely to be subject to the sort of politically motivated inquisition that we haven’t seen, frankly, since the 1950’s,” he said. “It is necessary and important for the scientific community to do the best it I can to defend itself from this oncoming attack, and frankly, we are entirely reliant on the willingness of the mainstream media to serve in its role as the critical and independent arbiter and not just report the two sides of the so-called debate, but to actually establish what is fact and what is fiction. The scientists will not be successful against the attack that is coming unless the media is serving its role.”

Mann ended his talk with a picture of his daughter enthralled by a polar bear at a zoo. “I don’t want to have to tell my daughter that polar bears became extinct because we failed to counter a well funded effort to distract the public,” he said.


Note: For any reader who thinks they need to leave a comment to debate the climate change science, before posting, please take a look at the following information:

Mann’s (and other scientists’) data are entirely open and available for anyone to view. –– Mann and other climate scientists answer questions and discuss climate change data

NASA’s Global Climate Change Website. Lots of graphs, images and information.


77 Replies to “Mann: A Changing Climate Doesn’t Have a Political Agenda”

  1. Just because there is a correlation of rising CO2 to global warming does NOT means that it is the cause.
    Consider that the Greenhouse effect says that when you add an energy photon to a Greenhouse gas, then you get warming. Why is it that the GHG causes it? Why isn’t it that the addition of the extra energy photon causes the warming. After all a simple common gas like CO2 or water vapor can NOT create warming energy.

    Now consider that when you add more water vapor to the air when it rains the temperature does NOT get warmer. ALso consider that there is excess water vapor and CO2 in the air, and that all the GHGs in the ocean have NOT been vaporized by the incoming photon energy. The reason is that there is excess GHGs in the air. We use up or occupy all the energy photon available in creating the 33C of the GHE and we have left over GHGs. This means that the idea that “More GHGs menas more warming” as used in the climate models and IPCC & Mann studies, is JUST PLAIN BACKWARDS.. It is wrong. The only way to get more GHE warming is to add more energy photons. as described in the paper Gravity causess CLimate Change in The variable gravity we are subjected to due to the eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit, results in energy flowing from potential energy to kinetic or heat energy & back again. This results in climate changes. The amount of GHGs like water vapor and CO2 has nothing to do with it, because there is so much more available on Earth.

    CO2 does NOT cause warming. Manns conclusions are backwards.

  2. ‘atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution’ . . . but it was increasing prior to the IR also.

  3. I think most of the climate change is a natural occurance, but humans are adding to its effects.

    I believe the real, and mostly ignored cause of climate change is deforestation. Rain forests remove CO2 from the air. If there are fewer trees, then there will be more CO2, even if the rate of release is the same. Just look at sat photos, and see how the tropics have been destroyed in vast ares. Not to menion all of the dead trees and plant material, which itself is releasing CO2, and the fires that are burning.

  4. Should have said the real cause of Man made Climate Change is deforestation, just to be clear.

  5. @ JDoddsGW: I’d like to hear your explanation of why a greenhouse is warm. A plain, simple garden greenhouse.

    @ Dark Gnat: deforestation sure doesn’t help, but as far as I remember ocean plankton is far more effective at pumping CO2 from the atmosphere than rain forests.

  6. “ocean plankton is far more effective at pumping CO2 from the atmosphere than rain forests.” because there’s so much more of it than forests, I meant to add.

  7. I lurk on this site alot and I always look forward to LBC comments.

    I don’t believe this story is appropriate for this site there are many good blogs for dicussing the nuances of climate science.

    The address from Michael Mann is wholly political stating that there are influences stopping people realising how important climate change is. This denigrates peoples ability to make decsicions effectively stating “I am right but the public are too stupid to see it”.

    For what its worth I consider myself a “lukewarmer” ie. climate change is happening but it aint going to be as bad as stated. Now get back to the Astronomy!


  8. jdoddsgw, quack, dark gnat, sad that none of you read the article, which clearly explains how there is no scientific debate about AGW happening.

    Especially jdoddsgw should benefit from learning about actual science, as for example CO2 is the greenhouse gas that makes earth habitable in the first place (“CO2 does not cause warming” (O.o)). I’m certainly not going to repeat the science, because it is so easy to find in the article.

    As Mann says, science blogs and other have to make the good faith debate, now that we know the phenomena exist and we caused it, what if anything should we do? If you don’t want to participate, take your bad faith lunacy elsewhere.

  9. flashman, you too. Science blogs is about science, Mann is all about science and its social responsibility, and what we learn on Earth climate is useful for modeling exoplanets and vice versa. We _are_ discussing astronomy!

  10. On the good faith debate (finally!), I believe Mann overlooks some things.

    First, the manufactured “debate” doesn’t mean that all the people that denigrate science doesn’t “understand the reality of this problem”.

    It likely makes many comfortable to have a sign to stand behind when they don’t want to take action or pay 0.5 % today (estimated cost to avoid AGW) for 50 % tomorrow. IIRC it is believed future costs of AGW is at least two order of magnitudes larger than todays avoidance costs – though of course modeling this isn’t as mature as understanding AGW in the first place.

    Second, Mann is US centric.

    “If you can politicize something in today’s political environment” … “you can immediately get half the population on your side.” applies to US only. It doesn’t help understanding world wide response to the nowadays very visible threat.

    Third, he may need to catch up on some developments.

    “Every reconstruction reveals that the warming is indeed anomalous in a very long term context.” As I believe I have mentioned on UT before, this year a reconstruction review (in WIREs, Stott et al) reveals that the AGW signal now is so strong that a) one can reject the idea that known mechanisms beside AGW can explain it, because the model coefficients are natural (sums to the order of 1) in AGW and non-natural else b) the uncertainty in attribution of cause to AGW is less than 5 %.

    In fact, from b) one can extrapolate that AGW becomes a bona fide _physics_ science 3 sigma tested hypotheses somewhere around the next IPCC release or a few years after. I give it ~ 50 % chance to make it to the release.

    The difference between medical and climate science is that the former has to make decisions with 80 % certainty on diagnosis and 60 % individual outcome on treatment. Yet people want treatment, fancy that. While the later has a patient that can become very sick indeed; now 95 % diagnosis and rising.

  11. I’m not denying AGW at all. I’m just saying that deforestation is having a huge impact and has had a huge impact for a long time. Many of the vasts forests in North America have been cut down in order to clear space for farms and strip malls. Surely, this must have an effect on the amount of CO2 in the air.

    Human activity is certainly adding to the effects of GW, but I think we are too focused on alternative fuels, etc and forgetting about the damage we’ve done to the ecosystems.

    Yes, reducing CO2 emissions is great, but what about the CO2 that’s already in the atmosphere? Most of it is in lower levels IIRC, so wouldn’t reforestation have a great benefit for future generations, in more ways than one?

  12. There will not be any action on global warming until the situation becomes dire. Largely I have abandoned any hope or prospect that we will avoid what could be the worst of this situation. This does not mean we are doomed, and there are things we can, and in the future must, do about this. However, the disinformation over this has been politically powerful, just as the Tobacco Institute’s efforts blocked health legislation over tobacco use for decades. If I were to use that analogue with smoking I would say our future will be like the smoker who gets lung cancer and then struggles with complex and expensive treatments from then on.

    For those who say AGW is a hoax or that this is a big scientific delusion, frankly I am beyond arguing with you folks. It still makes me rather angry, for it amounts to the perpetuation of a mendacity, which puts it largely in the same class as creationism. The case for evolution is simply overwhelming, but the disinformation persists, and it persists in order to keep a certain belief system propped up. Similarly, for CO_2 induced global warming the scientific evidence has monotonically increased and mounted in favor of that hypothesis. The anti-global warming message industry has been promoted to blunt this environmental problem so that it does not besmirch the secular religion of the marketplace or capitalism. In fact the conservatives generally oppose any sort of environmental issue for must the same reason.

    I suspect that the United States will do nothing on this in the foreseeable future. The Obama administration is dead in the water for at least two years, though he might survive what I think will turn out to be a disastrous obstructionist Congress, and so he might be re-elected in 2012 — time will tell. The current crop of Republicans will have nothing to do with any environmental issue, and most of all not with AGW. The GOP will likely be firmly in power by 2017, so any efforts along these lines might not take form until at least after 2020, and frankly I see that as unlikely. I also suspect that in 20 years this CO_2 climate heating problem will become too much to ignore. It will reach a point where the anti-AGW camp might as well be trying to declare that the sky is colored green. Their days are limited, and I frankly hope they get the embarrassment and ridicule they richly deserve.

    By that time the climate cat may be out of the bag and there is no way to reverse what we have started. Methane clathrates or hydrates and permafrost melt will start to runaway on us. So the only option will be to engage in climate engineering. As I said with the tobacco analogue, this is the same as getting chemotherapy, radiation and the rest to manage the disease after it is too late to avoid it. I frankly do not see any other possible outcome. I would be surprised beyond measure if the American people, who are frankly very ignorant and superstitious, had this decade some sort of collective rational epiphany on this and other matters and we radically changed course. So I suspect that in the 2020-30 time frames the situation will simply force a change of direction, one which will involve considerable expenditures to reduce solar irradiance on the Earth by up to .5watts/m^2.

    Geo-engineering requires that we put SO_2 particles in the upper tropopause or up in the stratosphere to reflect solar radiation out. We might go so far as to place large screens woven with nano-carbon fibers into orbit or at L1 to deflect more solar radiation outwards. Other strategies may be developed to reflect as much solar radiation back into space, such as reflective roofing or trapping solar radiation with algae-fuels, to compensate for the climate warming. All of this will be not only chancy from a planetary climatology perspective, for things might be perturbed in unexpected ways, but it will also mean nations will compete for their stake in the climate engineering game. Also if some nations suffer unexpected consequences from this it could lead to a fracturing of any global agreement we might arrive at with regards to geo-engineering. It would also be something we are captive to. If we abandon these efforts then climate heating will run away on us. The half life of a CO_2 molecule in the atmosphere is 700 years, so we are caught with this almost for good. We will have a very serious tiger by the tail, where it will not be easy to keep a hold on, but if we do let go the tiger will turn on us.


  13. The Graph at the start of the Article is trying to make a point the data can’t support. When you show 100,000 year cycles, high frequency noise (such as over the past 50 years) won’t show up 100k yrs ago. The data gets more smoothed at 200k yrs than at 100k yrs. If there were occasional spikes in data in the distant past, the graph couldn’t show it.

    I wish this would remain an astronomy news site, rather than trying to convince people we know the precise effect of each cause of Global warming, and calling religious people stupid.

    When I was a kid a half century ago, we tried to get people to stop polluting to save the fish in the rivers, and have clean air to breath; people weren’t willing to sacrifice much for those. When early models of global warming effects caught the headlines, the environmentalist jumped on the band wagon as a way to stop pollution (a worthy goal by itself), and funding for Global warming increased to help scare the public into doing what it should have anyway (reduce pollution). There are suspect motives for preaching on both sides of the Global Warming debate.

    (And yes, there are real scientist, who disagree with part of the data, significance of the causes, and magnitude of the predictions, without disagreeing that the icecaps shrinking; and people that deny that educated people could question any aspect of Global warming, have their heads in the sand just as much as people denying glaciers are shrinking).


  14. Good stuff! cept I’d underline the fact the acidification of the oceans might wipe out far more of the oxygen producing organisms on this planet than cutting down all the trees would, which is bad enough!

  15. JDODDSGW said;

    “Just because there is a correlation of rising CO2 to global warming does NOT means that it is the cause.”

    Who says it is the only contributor or cause? However, it is probably one of the significant contributors, along with methane and even atmospheric water vapour. The real issue is that increasing CO2 etc. is that they add net energy to the atmosphere, which has the averaging effect of increasing temperature.

    Just cherry picking facts does you know favours. It just looks like wishful and poorly organised thinking.

  16. @RGIBBONS, Forget the high freq, the main point of Shaviv is that the CO2, temp correlation is not necessarily a mechanism but might as well be a bi-product; while the Solar activity does provide a mechanism.

    “… Earth’s global temperature sensitivity is also on the low side. Thus, if we double the amount of CO2 by 2100, we will only increase the temperature by about 1°C or so. This is still more than the change over the past century. This is good news, because it implies that future increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases will not dramatically increase the global temperature, though GHGs will probably be the dominate climate driver.”

  17. The conclusions by Prof. Mann seem to echo the information published by Billy Meier…since 1951. Of course there has been much derision of Mr. Meier and his claims regarding the source of most of it but it really can’t be argued that he’s presented the largest, most specifically accurate body of scientific information, consistently publishing up to decades in advance of “official discovery”.

    This is freely and easily verified by perusing the information and documentation at and linked form my site, theyfly.

  18. “Why has the public discourse become so polarizing and why is there a fair amount of legislators and the public who now think that climate change is an elaborate hoax?” – well my opinion is, that this happens mainly because of the style (not content) of Mr. Mann’s statements. I don’t like anybody playing God and that’s exactly what is happening in the fight for/against climate change. He should have been expecting this when he started it. (OK, maybe he didn’t started it, but his name is the first that pops in my mind when you mention climate change evilness). How can he say “The consensus among scientists about the reality of the phenomenon is also convincing.” when it simply isn’t like that? I haven’t seen a single convincing proof that CO2 is the cause and warming is the effect. Besides, nobody can tell how 1 degree change will reflect in local temperatures. And if someone somehow manage to predict this, there could almost no correlation with temperature rise of 2 degrees. It surely matters where does the warming comes from (i mean location on earth), where the temperature gradients will arise, where they will be diminished… HOW on earth could they predict ONE number??? My opinion, which I’m absolutely sure about is, that climate change needs bottom-up modelling. When we don’t have the capacity or understanding needed, all simplified conclusions are just a chit-chat.

  19. My opinion is that Mann is no longer a scientist, the proof is in the request for assistance to the media (always mostly in favor of the AGW theory) and in his obsession about a well funded “mass-dstracting weapon”.

  20. I have been a reader of this site since the very earliest days, and have never commented until now. Unfortunately, this will be my first comment, but last visit.

    Mr. Cain, I have enjoyed this site immensely, but I no longer enjoy it like I once did. The reason for this is posts like this one. As an amateur astronomer, I have had chance to recommend this site many times when someone showing an interest about ASTRONOMY. Now I regret those recommendations, and will never do so again. In fact, I feel I must do the opposite.

    The insistence of posting stories trying to persuade people to believe global warming / climate change seems almost pathological amongst people that post stories on this site. I do not understand how highly intelligent people such as yourselves can: 1. Not understand that this is not what people come to this site for, and 2. How any of you can act like ANYONE has proven ANYTHING about Global Warming, when the “Settled Science” is anything but.

    Whether AGW is true or not is irrelevant. This sites “need” to try to rehabilitate AGW’s reputation is my problem. I come here for astronomy news and to be around others that share my love of it. PERIOD. If I want AWG news, I’ll go to any of the 1000’s of sites and blogs that are about that subject.

    I have contemplated this move for over a year now. This post is the last straw so to speak. I am just one, so I’m of no consequence to you I am sure. I just wanted you to know that the people who are posting here now are destroying what you so carefully built. Even though I will not see it, I hope this site one day goes back to what it is supposed to be, about astronomy, and our love of it.


    JD Hart

  21. Wow. Look at all the comments!!!
    I am not going to advocate one way or the other but Micheal Mann is Pro AGW as Fred Singer is Anti AGW.
    He was responsable for the “Hockey Stck” graph without supplying any methodology. He was a main player in Climategate. He seems to always be involved in contoversy related to AGW.
    I’m just sayin’…
    If you’re going to present evidence of Global Warming, Micheal Mann is not the guy you want promoting it. You might as well have Mike Tyson write a paper on how to treat women.


    man i love coming on here and seeing that you have left a comment on almost every story. i always look for yours haha, you definaetly know your stuff. Fraser kane should give you a column on this site. Thanks and have a great day. good article too!

  23. Mr. Mann you need to use real science not political science to determine the root cause of the warming.
    Start with determing which comes first: CO2 or warming?
    I think that as a planet warms up that life ‘explodes’ as life increases so does CO2 levels. Please to include all forms of life especially ocean life.
    Next take a look at the sun’s output. Just because a 1 or 2% change in solar output doesn’t look like much it is probably more than enough to make changes on our planet.
    And as a conclusion I’d also like to add that there is absolutly no proof that CO2 causes anything other than higher taxes by the democrats.
    So before you go down this politically charged avenue again start by using scientific FACTS not your misguided politically driven opinions. I want to see an R squared of more than 95% linking CO2 to warming. Besides the only people complaing about this warm weather we are having this 2010 November are the ones trying to steal our tax dollars.
    Almost forgot…… With this warming trend there is a positive spin that you so thoughtlessly forgot to mention. With this warm weather we are using far less fossil fuels in our homes but not having to heat them. So warm weather equals going GREEN. Perhaps you overlooked this small tidbit of information because tax increases were in your eyes.

  24. This needs to be said as well.
    You are correct Climnate Change does not have a political agenda but the people, like yourself, seem determinded to push this agenda down our throats. Where is it written that warming or change is bad? Polar bears can travel much farther when it is a warm climate compared to colder claimate. This effectively increases their hunting territory. Besides when I look up polar bear populations they all seems to be increasing proving that a warm climate is better for polar bears.
    Plus I guess I don’t get it … aren’t you the same group of people that want change? That embrace change? Well this is change. Go get a four wheller and enjoy the change.
    Besides one volcano spews more CO2 than all of the automobiles have contributed since Henry Ford invented the automated production line of the Model T, Another little bit of nformation you forgot to include. Come on if you want to reduce CO2 tax a volcano.
    So stop all of the doom and gloom and look for something positive in the warming liike longer growing seasons and shorter winters.

  25. The warming of the planet is considerably more complex than just extending growing seasons. This will result in changes in weather patterns, and unfortunately the models and even early indicators from data on the ground point to more drought conditions worldwide. The general rule appears to be that for every 1-deg C warming that takes place a 10% drop in agricultural production is expected. The world population is growing, more nations will have nuclear weapons in the coming decades, and a decline in agricultural output should be worrisome. Starving people if nothing else vote with their feet, and desperate governments might in time use their new found nuclear guns. When it comes to nations developing nuclear bombs, it is unlike the US will be able to endlessly use its military to bomb other nations into stopping. So the trends are disturbing.

    The current political trend in the US do suggest there will be no action along these lines anyway. The change will of course come, and AAAS and the NAS have published a large body of literature on this problem and have as a matter of policy statement come out and concluded CO_2 production by humans is warming the climate. The American Physical Society as come out on this as well. Sorry, but the science is weighing in on this, and arguing we need more is beginning to sound like the missing link argument against evolution. In other words it is nonsense. However, politics of the small minded tends to rule the USA, and frankly I don’t see any change in this soon. When it does change it will either be because climate change becomes too much to ignore, or that the United States continues to relegate itself into irrelevance in the 21st century and the rest of the world in effect takes the bull by the horns. The US has been on the decline for about 30 years, which is about the time the nation began to shift to the right.

    It is worth noting that the Pentagon is concerned about global warming from a national security perspective, and Lockheed-Martin has developed a large sophisticated dirigible (F-791) meant to seed the upper atmosphere with sulfur particles. So in spite of the dumb headed politicians from the GOP and the knuckle headed Americans who vote for them, there are behind the scenes plans and activities going on.

    It is likely as I said above that by the mid 21st century we will have large scale planetary engineering projects going on. This will happen with or without the United States, where the US might well relegate itself to a neo-third world status. Unfortunately I doubt we will transition to a renewable and fossil fuel reduced energy economy in time, and when things become dire it will be too late to transition in time. We may well already be at this point. To avoid the 1-deg C warming we need to reduce our carbon use by 50% by mid-century, which I find unlikely. So I advise people to consider where the real science is, junk the political nonsense and conspiracy mongering, and prepare yourselves or you children for what could prove to be a difficult future.


  26. It is very sad that Universe Today has chosen to go off of their core competency and write up global warming.

    It is even more sad that it is focusing on one of the most discredited people in the area. His “Hockey Stick” has been proven to be an artifact of his statistical methodology in peer-reviewed studies. He has shown himself to be without ethics in the behavior documented in the leaked e-mails from CRU.

    I’d recommend Universe Today stay away from this topic.

  27. JD Hart,

    I too have been a long time reader and I agree with you that constantly seeing global warming/climate news on this site got old a long time ago. Like you, I come here for astronomy news not someone constantly trying to push an agenda. I actually believe we are having an influence and are likely warming the planet BUT that doesn’t mean we constantly have to settle for the most extreme predictions and it sure doesn’t mean it needs to be plastered all over a website that is supposed to be dedicated to space news. It’s to the point that I don’t visit this site nearly as much and might to just stop altogether.

    With regard to the actual issue of climate change, One of the most annoying things about the entire debate to me is those who think that these relatively minor changes to our planet is truly that big of a deal. This planet, like it or not, is going to end up one day either a burnt and dead planet or swallowed up from the sun..but long before that the sun is going to cook this planet and it’s not that long into the future, at least geologically speaking. And no matter what we cause, it’s going to be infinitely less worse. And there is nothing we can do to stop it. So why sit here and worry to death about a few degrees of warming?

    This planet has faced far worse and will face far worse and to me it’s silly to get everyone all worked up into a frenzy about it. Oceans might rise but people will move. Places might dry up, others will become wetter. People will adapt. But if you didn’t know better, the global warming alarmists would make you believe the end of the world is coming tomorrow. It’s childish fear mongering.

    Climate change is a repetitive cycle and whether we are influencing it some is so tiny compared to the big picture in that in the end, this planet is going to come to a fiery end, whether we like it or not. And obsessing over this in light of these facts is to the point of being silly.

    Regardless, from a global warming believer, I’m tired of seeing these doom and gloom predictions and I’m tired of seeing it pushed on this site. If you guys want to talk about it so much, make another site and leave this to what it’s supposed to be about..astronomy and space news.

    I’m sure though our voices won’t be heard. They are hell bent on pushing this and indeed It’s their site and they can do what they want but I wonder if they know how many people are tired of it and are not visiting this site because of it.

  28. Did I see in the article that there’s no debate among scientists? That statement alone indicates the level of credability. There’s ALWAYS debate among scientists!

  29. Please look at the scale of the CO2 content in the first diagram – the “famous hocky stick graph”. It is in ppm – parts per million. 300ppm = 0.03% of the earth’s atmosphere. This concentration of CO2l simply cannot influence world climate or the pH of the oceans to any real extent. It’s a trace ingredient of the atmosphere.

  30. Good grief people, especially concerned troll JD. UT posts dozens of astronomy related articles every week and perhaps one on global warming, what…? once in a blue moon? In any case GW is a thoroughly legitimate subject for an site called “Universe Today” — last time I looked, Earth was a planet in the Universe too.

    There is a very simple solution to not getting upset about these occasional postings on global warming — don’t click on them — just pass on by and focus on the next article about something that’s happening a million light year away instead of under our noses. We’ll all be happier if you do.

  31. CO_2 has a large cross section to IR radiation. Yes, it is a trace component of the atmosphere, but it has a large effect. The physics is well established.

    Earth is one of the planets, and in that sense it is an aspect of astronomy or astrophysics. NASA even had a “return to Earth” program, so this is in principle a legitamate topic.

    To see how ignorant these people are, check out:

    One of the greatest powers and civilizations in history has been captured by the most puerile and small minded.


  32. The planet will cope just fine with AGW, it’s survived much worse. In geological time, all this will be just a blip. It’s just that humans will not be around to see the end of it. In a few tens or hundreds of millions of years, the next intelligent species will be wondering what caused the latest mass extinction. Mind you, as far as survival of a species is concerned, I’m not convinced that intelligence is a desirable attribute.

  33. Some links are provided below. I can anticipate certain responses but it won’t matter, the source of this information has proved to be impeccably accurate…for almost 60 years. The second link is to a compilation of nearly 100 specific scientific and environmental events/discoveries published by Mr. Meier up to decades in advance. And yes, most are contained in copyrighted, dated, published books and articles.

    …and you should know some of the scientists quoted here:

  34. My problem with government action is that it’s always too little, too late, and targets the wrong things.

    Obama wants higher CAFE standards, which is good, but automobiles do not account for the majority of CO2 being released in the air. Plus, these standards push automiblie manufacturers to get better mileage out of smaller cars, but in general, small cars get good milage anyway, while large SUV’s and (more importantly) diesel trucks remain unaffected. New clean diesel engines will certainly, help, but there will still be plenty of old out there for years.

    I say start with the biggest CO2 producers first: Coal power plants. Then look at other industries that release vast amounts of CO2, such as the airline industry.

    The common political response is to simplky tax people and businesses (i.e. carbon tax). The problem with that is that it creates a lot of burden and hardships on the populace, and businesses cannot always afford higher taxes, resulting in cost cutting (layoffs, for example).

    We need X-prize type motivators to develope more efficient power sources, vehicles, and wider availability of mass transit (which most Americans, especially in my area simply do not have as an option). I would like to see solar panels become cheap and efficient enough that every home could have one installed (providing local climate is favorable) so that families can buy one, and live off the grid, reducing output from power plants. Once people realize there is an affordable, reliable alternative, they will jump on it. Right now, working people simply cannot afford solar panels or wind generators – that needs to change. I want to be able to go to Home Depot and get a solar kit for a couple of hundred dollars, so that I can recover my investment faster. If I can do that, then I will be reducing my CO2 footprint, and save money at the same time.

    As of now, the only energy technology that can replace coal and provide enough electricity is nuclear. Setting up new nuclear power plants is expensive and risky, so few companies are willing to make the investment. Why can’t the government provide assistance here? Would it not have a faster, more widespread effect?

    Sure, taxes can make dirty power sources less attractive, but in order for it to work, there must be practical alternatives first.

    If you want to get rid of an ant nest, you cant kill one ant at a time. There will always be new ones to take its place. Start with the queen first, then you can tacle the rest. The same applies here.

  35. What causes global climate change?
    Bad politics.
    Why is global warming all bad?
    The earth warming up which is far preferrable to the disease and death caused by an ice age like around the Maunder Minimum.
    Just pass a couple of laws that doesn’t include raising our taxes. Why is that concept so difficult for you to understand? Lets go electric. I’m all for it. The problem is the VAT and CAP and Trade taxes that come along with it. The government owned GM all they had to do was stick to the original VOLT design and I would have bought one. But they in their infinite wisdom ruin the design by making it look like a prius. I dislike like drsign of a prius the way you dislike the GOP. Fix your percieved warming by not blindly following a hypocritc like algore that didn’t lead by example.
    Prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that anthroprogenic CO2 is the main contributer to the total produced CO2 and you might get me a little bit interested. But in business we usually go after the ‘LOW HANGING FRUIT’ first. I believe it’s volcanic activity is the #1 producer followed by CO2 generated by ocean life. Automotive emissions are kinda down the list. Your argument is very good if my language was Sheeple but I deal with statistics on a daily basis so can the political science. Why is it you ‘intellectuals’ always aim for the tail pipe? It’s been this way since the 70’s. Hey! Have you noticed that plant life really likes CO2?
    All you have is a science fiction future of doom and gloom based on bad data. Try repositioning your thermometers away from airconditioner heat excahnges. BTW I have no ties to any oil companies. But I am forced to listen to CNN at every Kioske at my work and I really don’t like having only one opinion shoved down my gullet. So please look at the bright side I have given you some very good insights as to how to improve the planet and how to reduce taxes.

  36. Tramman said, “The planet will cope just fine with AGW.” That is indeed the case. 50 million years from now life on this planet will be teaming and thriving just great. The question ultimately involves us. A rapid and nonlinear change in a geologically short time frame might put us in the rubbish heap. It could do so pretty quickly and long before 50 million years.

    The one thing I can always count on with conservatives and anti-AGW types is “cut taxes.”

    There is another way of looking at this from one of the great prophets of our age:


  37. I think we need to ask a few additional questions. How long have we had accurate thermometers to measure temps on a million year old planet. Why has NASA already admitted to the universe going through a warming trend? How much CO2 is released with an eruption of a volcano of which we have had plenty lately? Agreed there is not a political aspect to Global Warming or any other scientific finding until it becomes time to deal with spending money on how to correct it. Anyone that has had the opportunity to offer data can influence it’s outcome by omission when asking for money.

  38. Therei is little doubt that there is global warming.

    What about the active volcanoes above sea level and deep below sea level?

    The amount of greenhouse gasses they emit is tri-normous and makes the human quantities seem trivial.

    The warming of the oceans would be effected directly by any increase of deep sea volcanic activity

    I bet that even if we reduced our emissions to zero. The temperature will still rise. because of the volcanic activity world wide.

    This is no excuse for adding to the problem . We must do what ever we can to help and not hinder the situation.


  39. T. Trenton: Nope, volcanoes produce remarkably litte greenhouse gases. Check out RealCimate on that. Solar fluctuations, volcanoes Maunder Min and so forth — all have been ruled out.


  40. Michael Mann gets some things right:

    “… there has been a large, well funded campaign to manufacture misinformation about climate change …”

    Yes, indeed, and Mann just picked up a $1.3 million research grant last year to manufacture more misinformation. At least he can’t complain about not getting his cut of the $5 billion or so a year…

    “… Certain facts cannot be denied because you don’t like the implications,” Mann said.

    Well, that’s certainly a nice change of attitude from a man who has spent the last decade denying that all of the mounting available actual scientific evidence says that the CO2-driven AGW theory is complete nonsense.

    “… arctic sea ice will be gone in a few decades …”

    That’s the bad news. The good news is that Michael Mann will be gone in a few decades.

  41. Fraser Cain, I can only support what some commenters said. Stay away from climate warming, and report about astronomy!

    Regarding Michael Mann …

    He said we should not have a political agenda, and he uses the words “good faith”. I contrast this with that (a) he accuses his opponents of being part of a conspiracy, (b) he speaks against a certain party in the US, and (c) he disgustingly exploits a picture of his daughter (by the way, a certain Universe Today author did this too in an article here some time ago, “those” people are …).

    Well, I think, we should take care about the climate not warming too much, and we have reasons for this, but *not* with Michael Mann on our side. For me he does not have a reputation as a scientist any more.

    Is this astronomy? No.

  42. I concur with the weight of responses in that this article has no place on an astronomy website.

    Regardless of his position, Mr. Mann’s dismissive and politically confrontational style does little to promote meaningful discussion. This gentleman needs a basic 101 course on effective communication techniques. As demonstrated by the above comments, such articles merely further polarize positions on a contentious issue.

  43. As this goes on I might concur it does not belong here. The main reason is too many of the responses are very embarrassing.

    Will humanity survive Americans?


  44. rgibbons
    November 9th, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    The Graph at the start of the Article is trying to make a point the data can’t support. When you show 100,000 year cycles, high frequency noise (such as over the past 50 years) won’t show up 100k yrs ago. The data gets more smoothed at 200k yrs than at 100k yrs. If there were occasional spikes in data in the distant past, the graph couldn’t show it.


    This is a perfect illustration of the concept “a little bit of knowledge is dangerous”.

    If rgibbons understood the basics of the carbon cycle on Earth, he would not have made such an error. An extremely short-lived atmospheric “spike” of this magnitude is physically impossible on Earth. There is no physical process that can remove CO2 from the atmosphere quickly enough to produce a such a large “spike” that is still too short to be detectable in the geological record.

    Neither the oceans nor land-based vegetation have the capacity to absorb as much CO2 as has been generated by fossil-fuel combustion over the past century or two.

    The only reservoir big enough to do the job is the carbonate reservoir, and the rate of CO2 uptake by that reservoir is limited by the silicate-rock weathering rate. CO2 reacts very slowly with silicate rock material to produce carbonates that wash into the ocean. The carbonates are gradually taken up by plankton to produce calcium carbonate shells, which ultimately end up in sea floor sediments.

    But this process will require 100,000 years or more to absorb all the CO2 that humans have released so far. A short-term “spike” of the magnitude generated by humans so far is physically impossible. Limitations in the rates of the physical processes that remove CO2 from the atmosphere guarantee a very long “tail” (i.e. slow decay) in the atmospheric CO2 concentration.

    This is all basic “Earth Science 101” material, something that global-warming skeptics really should take the trouble to learn.

  45. Let me replace “geological record” with “ice core record” in my post above, which is more appropriate for the time-scale over which rgibbons is concerned.

  46. For those here who are concerned about Michael Mann’s attitude, let me say this. He is treating his detractors with far more respect than they deserve.

    I’ve read two of the papers skeptics have repeatedly used to attack Mann (Soon/Baliunas 2003 and M&M 2005). Both papers contain very fundamental errors.

    The Soon/Baliunas paper would not pass muster as an undergraduate term paper at any respectable university. Google that paper up and read through its methodology to see for yourselves. Anyone with a “common sense” level of understanding of basic statistics and Earth science should be able to flag a couple of “show-stopper” blunders in the S&B 2003 paper.

    As for M&M 2005, M&M committed multiple blunders. First, when they went to compute the noise statistics of the tree-ring proxy data, they neglected to remove the long-term (low-frequency) global-warming signal first! That means that their noise model was contaminated with a low-frequency signal component, which produced an excessively long correlation time for their model (something like 300 years). Given that the total length of the tree-ring time-series data they were looking at was on the order of 600 years, their assumption that they could treat their synthetic tree-ring “noise” data segments as uncorrelated was invalidated.

    Second blunder: They did not compare their eigenvalues with Michael Mann’s “hockey-stick” eigenvalues. Had they done so, they would have seen from the eigenvalues that Mann’s data really did contain a coherent global-warming “hockey stick” signal and that their simulated noise didn’t. The fact that half of M&M’s “hockey stick” PC’s were upside down should have given them a clue that their “hockey-stick” PC’s were not generated from a coherent “common signal” in their noise data. Their little simulated-noise exercise was therefore completely irrelevant.

    Mann is rightfully pissed off about having papers that he would have flunked his students for being used as political weapons against him.

  47. This has to happen. In many controversial discussions at least one commenter comes along with the notorious pseudo solution of “If you don’t like it, stay away, be quiet!”.

    And, of course, you couldn’t resist continuing the meta-discussion (while misrepresenting what I said). I never said “be quiet”, and I am certainly aware that not everyone who follows UT is going to agree with everything they post, and thus will want to voice their opposition — that’s what makes for a healthy site.

    What I was addressing was the “I don’t like you any more, so I’m talking my toys and leaving” attitude, which is just silly, especially since I can’t even remember the last time UT posted on global warming. If one single post on AGW–one that reflects the scientific consensus (right or wrong) — is enough to declare that the site is no longer what it was and that you are leaving then fine, but if you’re going to make a big fuss over it, then you should expect others to point out how ridiculous you are being when you could have just skipped the whole article with a click of the mouse and continued to enjoy the other 99% of UT’s output.

    And I will reiterate — it is also ridiculous to claim that GW is off-topic for a site like UT. NASA spends billions on missions and science to study the Earth, and that simple fact alone (even ignoring the fact that studying Earth is just as much planetary science as studying Mars or the latest exoplanet) is enough to qualify climate change as a completely valid subject.

  48. This has to happen. In many controversial discussions at least one commenter comes along with the notorious pseudo solution of “If you don’t like it, stay away, be quiet!”.

    I will not follow the policy of “either affirmative comments or no comment”. I will not shut up, when Universe Today reports about something I’m concerned about — especially not in order to make somebody happy, or to make something simple, and independent of the frequency of various topics –, but I will continue expressing my opinion.

    If you read my comment above, you will recognize, that my point is, that Michael Mann is a bad scientist. Above that you will recognize, that I’m indeed concerned about climate warming. Michael Mann is “not useful”, if you know what I mean.

  49. Mann’s attitude is not really an issue.
    His hypothsis is at best questionable.
    His data is full of holes……
    What is the percentage of anthroprogenic CO2 production compared to the percentage of natural CO2 production?
    Why is climate change always bad?
    Historically everytime the earth warms up man’s productivity increases. And disease drops considerably.
    Down side is that the ‘leaders’ can’t handle the masses and so they institute war to make the numbers more managable.
    I think you are taking advantage of the dumbing down of america.
    Use your knowledge for good – not evil. Taking or stealing of tax dollars without making an improvement to your concern is not ethical.
    If you want the masses to follow like a herd of so many sheep you might want to take a job in a high tech assembly position. You are perhaps not aware that even lowly assemblers have to take and pass statistical classes to work in todays high tech (vanishing job) market. So when you try pull the ‘wool’ over american eyes and when we don’t say anything it doesn’t mean we agree with you… you do know that right? We take the time to look up data on the internet and then evaluate the data on our own. I frankly don’t see any negative to glimate change. We are having an unseasonably warm november in MN and the only people complaing are the ones that also complain about the cold winters. They basically complain alot. They also benifit from higher taxation.
    Seriously I’m not entirely against the idea but what YOU need to do is compile all of the data… ALL OF THE DATA.
    1) SOLAR – Sunspot data, Dendrochronology, historical written human history including health issues and crop information.
    2) C02 from ocean life. What is the percentage does ocean life contribute.
    3) What is the base line of CO2…. Before human contribution to the CO2 levels.
    4) Stop using computer modeling without showing all of the input parameters used to generate the computer model…..and the basic mathamatical model equation used.
    5) Prove one of two situations: Rising CO2 Leads Warming, Warming preceeds Rising CO2.
    6) Prove that CO2 acts like a one way filter. Heat goes in but it can’t escape.
    7) Prove that your purposed actions will improve …stabilize the climate. That should be a good trick since climate always changes.
    8) Are we sure that climate change is the issue not a larger number of video cameras and bad reporting by socialist CNN reporters?
    9) Beside Mann looks alot like my ex brother in law that was a used car salesman, and nobody like him.
    OK # 8 has no bearing but it made me laugh anyway.

    If I was the president I’d want a comprehensive study done on the main contributers to climate change aka CO2 and then grab the lowest haning fruit (Largest contributer) That’s what we do in business so why wouldn’t we use that same thought pattern with this issue?
    I really think that ocean life and volcanic activity are by far the largest contributers.
    Not a Sheeple

  50. caerbannog666: You say that it will take 100,000 years for all the human produced CO_2 to be absorbed. It is my understanding that a CO_2 molecule remains in the atmosphere about 700 years. I would then think human produced CO_2 would largely be removed from the atmosphere within 10,000 years. Of course that is a lot longer than historical time frames, and future geo-engineering programs are not likely to have that sort of duration.

    Over all your assessment of these data and ice cores conforms to my understanding as well. The problem I must confess I have with this topic is I am not that familiar with it beyond a “Perspectives” page in the AAAS “Science” or a Scientific American article. In a sense I am a climatology “dummy” of sorts, but it irks me to no end to hear and read the nonsense which flies around over this topic.


  51. Jan Crab: Most of your questions have been addressed. You can go to “RealClimate” website and search through for answers. I don’t have time to tap on a keyboard all day over this.

    I will say one thing; CO_2 has a large cross section to IR radiation. CO_2 has molecular quantum vibration states that resonate with electromagnetic quanta (photons) in the IR spectra. This is one reason the first lasers were CO_2 lasers in the IR band, for it was easy to configure in a lab. CO_2 “loves” IR and has a large cross section for scatter, absorption and re-emission. So think of an IR photon flying around with CO_2 molecules around. Every time it encounters a CO_2 it gets scattered around, with a good probability of being scattered in any direction. This means a photon has a good chance of remaining in a gas longer with some CO_2 in it than a gas without CO_2. In fact without the natural level of CO_2 in the atmosphere this planet would be about 20-deg C colder than it is.

    Even with 380 ppm of CO_2 it scatters IR considerably, in an gas with a mean free path 68nm. So a photon will travel about that distance before encountering a molecule in the atmosphere. So an IR photon will travel about 179000 nm = 179 microns or .1mm before encountering a CO_2 molecule. So it does not take a lot to see an IR photon will encounter lots of CO_2 molecules during its sojourn through the Earth’s atmosphere.

    It is interesting to note that natural CO_2 lasing has been found in nebula and even the atmosphere of Mars.


  52. No its not ridiculous to claim that GW is off-topic for a site like UT as there is more than enough sites devoted to it (probably nearly half of internet at this stage).

    Its the same stupid points and counter points we hear in any case, frankly I’m sick of it all and its always ends in someone ready to kill someone else over there points of view.

    I read the articles on this site to see what is new and exciting because the general media doesn’t report most of these stories.

    Nancy you write some great articles about astronomy and space, don’t spoil it with this sensationalism, there’s enough of that in the daily papers.

  53. JanCrab said,

    1) SOLAR – Sunspot data, Dendrochronology, historical written human history including health issues and crop information.
    2) C02 from ocean life. What is the percentage does ocean life contribute.
    3) What is the base line of CO2…. Before human contribution to the CO2 levels.
    4) Stop using computer modeling without showing all of the input parameters used to generate the computer model…..and the basic mathamatical model equation used.
    5) Prove one of two situations: Rising CO2 Leads Warming, Warming preceeds Rising CO2.
    6) Prove that CO2 acts like a one way filter. Heat goes in but it can’t escape.

    There’s an old saying: To ask an intelligent question, you first must know some of the answer. Your questions above indicate that you have not put forth an honest effort to learn enough to ask intelligent questions. Especially question #6. If I were your science teacher, I’d give you an F, not because you are stupid, but because you are LAZY.

    Regarding question 6, come back when you have taken the effort to learn the difference between visible/UV light and infrared radiation.

  54. I dont know what are you talking about guys, but I can tell you one thing for sure.

    It has been raining at my geographical area more than ever, the winters are becoming shorter and snow levels decreased significantly. Sometimes there is no snow during a winter at all – unprecedented occasion. I live in northern Europe and it is truly impossible to have a winter without snow (“Russian Winters” a common term that used to describe our snowy winters). Moreover, seasons became irregular, and climate irregularities became frequent. This summer I experienced a warm sun light (temperature approx 30C), rain and hailstorm just in flippin’ 5 mins.

    So… Don’t tell me there is no climate change. And don’t tell me that it will be quite good. More seasonal irregularities? More climate chaos? More rain? More clouds? Bah…

    Here is an advice peeps – grow up and take up responsibility.

  55. *RAVENAS——I have read about the greatest heat wave in Western Russia centered in Moscow. It was a record heat since measurements started about 150 years ago- I checked the temperature records, and the record high minimum temperatures was terrible. The much above heat lasted until early August, this started early July There was several occasions Moscow reached 104F 40C and had a high minimum of 77F 25C on several occasions.
    I try to stay neutral about this ‘Global Warming’ controversy, and know the Earth has been warming more or less since the end of the Little Ice Age. However, there are those people who try to sensationalize ‘Global Warming’ for their own ego and for monetary gain-this I do not agree with, and I will not pay taxes to give these people a lobster tail/cavier/mansion lifestyle at my expense and the expense of the US taxpayers and the vulnerable US economy
    I’ve gone through the internet and know about the change of the Pacific Ocean
    to La Nina events that will change the Earths’ weather pattern-I read articles about Russian scientists who predicts a cool winter for Western Russia 2010-2011. The Earths’ weather will do what it will do regardless of humans’ activities. I agree we should decrease the amount of the nastiest polluter which is coal, however, ever increasing population growth means these new people will require the burning of coal for cooking/heating/ living and the cutting of forests for buildind materials and for food growth. These people have a RIGHT to use their natural resouces to live!!!! I’ve read NOTHING from the pro ‘Global Warming’ people about this population growth issue.
    The Sun controls 98% of Earths’ climate, the Earth itself controls nearly 2% and humans are responsible for a small fraction of the remains.
    The shape of the continents will change as the climate heats up or cools off in the future. Nothing stays the same on Earth forever and humans better realize it and move according to natures ever changing conditions.

  56. Well, in my region, we’ve had more snow in the past few years than I can remember in my lifetime. I’m not sure if it actually colder in winter though. I’m betting we are simply getting more moisture during the winter.

    Droughts were less severe or even nonexistant in the last couple of summers, which seems to gel with the additional moisture idea.

    So far, AGW has been good for us….except for the mosquitos. They will be reaching Biblical plague-like numbers in the next few years – again due to the extra moisture and breeding ponds.

    Even if our CO2 contributions have little effect on GW, we should be looking for cleaner, renewable and domestic energy alternatives. At least then there would be less chance of war and oil spills, although if the climate gets bad enough, countries will be fighting over food-producing land.

    Our government totally botched up the Katrina response, and totally botched up the oil spill cleanup, so I’m not really expecting much of a AGW fix, even if the most “liberal socialist green party” were to take over the three branches. Hmmm…..I just got an idea…

    “Green is the new Red”….oooh, I should make a T-Shirt and sell it. Surely, I can make lots of money, make a false political statement, and support capitalism all at the same time. That is the American way. Take that you tree-hugging pinkos! 😉

  57. ****Comes back after a quick Google search*****

    Son of a *****! Whay are all the good Ideas taken?

    Oh well, I guess I’ll have to resort to my dehydrated water pyramid scheme…

  58. Mr. caerbannog666,
    First of all why are you getting so defensive over number 6?
    You make it sound like CO2 is some kind of super polarizing filter that lets in heat (infrared 700-1400 nm) but won’t let is pass back out. No insult intended this is just my limited experience working with light waves….. I have to apologize I had a very long page written because you slammed me but rather than retalliating which is a huge waste of time….. All I want is before a goverment or any special interest group gets a hugh portion of my tax dollars I want to know where my dollars are going and what I’m going to get in return and that they are beiing spent effectively.
    So before we as a world go off reducing automotive contributions of CO2 I’d like to see a written agenda of:
    1- How it is CO2 going to be reduced.
    2- How is progress going to be measured.
    3- At what point are CO2 levels acceptable.

    the larger scientific community needs to prove that
    #1) Identify all CO2 contributers and their respective percentage of contribution. #2) Prove scientifically that Anthroprogenic CO2 is the largest contributer.
    #3) Prove that by reducing automotive emissions alone will improve or reduce climate change. (BTW Good luck with this one.)
    #4) Climate change is caused entirely by CO2.
    Then hold this up to a real scientific debate. (Don’t make a handpicked panel to ensure your outcome)
    Please we cannot move forward as a nation unless we can all get together and work together. All I’m asking for is just a few seemingly simple items of scientific information. Trust me if you can convince me that anthroprogenic CO2 is the main contributer I’ll jump on board but since I have been asking for the this tiny tidbit of information on many different websites and I have yet to recieve a credible answer. So I have done my homework, I have looked through history books and I have read that the best times in history correlates to the warmer times on the planet and conversely the worst times in history are during colder climates. I’m sorry but those are factual historical events. You need to tie more that a snipit of CO2 information into a poltically charged environment to get me to believe in this.
    I do believe the climate is changing. I don’t belive mankind is the main contribuuter to the change. I also do not believe that climate change is all bad. I rather have more of my income to purchase the things I will need to survive that upcoming climate change than to give the federal government more tax dollars to feed the fat cats in washington caviar and steak while the rest of us wither and die hopelessly on welfare and foodstamps.
    And on another note I know am asking the right questions because you are getting upset that means I’m on the right track.
    And finally you have forgotten one of the largest CO2 contributers which frankly frightens me…. What about home heating?
    So when I, a lowly subserviant worker with a family and two children gets upset because you want to feel good about your life by making a change …Please sit back and think of the ramifications of your change. Not just to the environment but the reduced income of the families that will be impacted by increased taxes specifically VAT and CAP and Trade. Both of which reduce my income significantly and provide me very little in return.

  59. Thank you for posting this article. Unlike some others here I appreciate that Earth is a planet and that understanding the physics and parameters which underly the warming of Earth increases our understanding of how all planetary bodies respond to changes in radiative forcing. This is astronomy.

  60. JAN CRAB,

    #1) Anthropogenic CO2 is identified by the isotopic ratio between C12/C13. The growing CO2 concentration carries an increasing C12 abundance proving it’s origin in sequestered, fossilized carbon. Prior to the industrial revolution CO2 likely never exceeded ~280ppm over the past several 100,000 years. It now stands at 390ppm due to fossil fuel burning and deforestation.

    #3) We need to significantly reduce fossil fuel burning from all sources, not just from automobiles. Even if we halted all burning of fossil fuels today, the climate would continue to warm several tenths of a degree Celsius because of the lag in warming the oceans given the current radiative forcing.

    #4) Climate change is not solely caused by CO2. Chances in the Earth’s orbit, intrinsic output by the Sun, coupled oceanic/atmospheric oscillations, geography, the thermohaline circulation and more have caused past climates to change. However, the only factors changing significantly over the past century in such a way that heat energy is added to the system are intrinsic solar and greenhouse gas concentration along with deforestation. The 20th century contribution to warming by each goes something like this…solar 10%….deforestation 20%….long lived greenhouse gases 70%

  61. JAN CRAB,

    6) Prove that CO2 acts like a one way filter. Heat goes in but it can’t escape.

    All greenhouse gases impede the escape of infrared radiation to space. They slow down the eventual loss to space, thereby increasing the energy contained within the lower atmosphere (troposphere). The heat is not trapped, but rather slowed in it’s escape as the atmosphere is opaque to IR in the lower levels due the the presence of greenhouse gases such as CO2, water vapor, ozone and methane.
    As a result, the surface of Earth is about 33C degrees (59F) warmer than it would otherwise be. Greenhouse gases do not interact with the visible wavelengths from the Sun which are most responsible for warming the surface during daylight hours. Greenhouse gases impede the progress of IR day and night.

  62. Jan,

    Science is not about proof. Proof is the domain of mathematics. Science is about evidence, measurements and data which support theories. Those theories may have some element of internal consistency or mathematical proof, but these theories are never proven to operate in the world.

    The data most adequately supports the theory that our rapid production of CO_2, the increased CO_2 in the atmosphere is correlated with and the cause of increased temperatures in the climate. Nobody will be able to prove this to you if you are adamant in rejecting it. Unfortunately this is a trend in American society, where many millions of people reject an array of science, where now not only is cosmology under the cross hairs, but Einstein’s physics is as well. American’s are electing to become a mulish and ignorant society of people. Ultimately the outcome will be this nation is relegated to irrelevance in the world. For me these trends are a source of deep disappointment in my nation and its people.


  63. Watch “The Road Warrior”. Before long, this film will be a documentary.


  64. LC, there is little point trying to be rational here. When it comes to my (very close) American friends, I’ve decided it’s best to steer a climate conversation away and onto something else. For Americans this topic has become far too muddied with politics and stoic ideology to be worth arguing over. I avoid this discussion with Americans (particularly Boomers) in the same way I avoid evolutionary discussions, gay/lesbian equality, immigration/multiculturalism and discussions about religion.

    This is deeply troubling as I remember a time when American society was less insular, ideologically bent and more progressive as a whole.

  65. Your summary of American society is pretty spot on. This nation has transformed itself into a Christiological form of Iran. All that we lack is the theocratic regime, but I suspect that is coming before long.


  66. *LC-I;ve been a environmentalist for a long time, back to the late 60s’ and try to do my part to keep the US clean. My biggest dream is for the US to constructe the greatest wind powered system in the world, and that would be the Western Great Plains where the winds are more/less as steady/stronger than most seashores.
    The Western great plains are barely inhabited-this area suffers the most violend weather for a temperate area. I am talking about 10’s of thousands of windmills and will many redundancy because an outbreak of tornados will knock out hundreds or a few thousand mills, however, I was always thing about redundant power plants so the system will continue to operate. This windmill system will easily generate many hundreds or not thousands of GIGA-watts of clean power.
    Unfortunately,this will not happen because the US has been playing world ‘police man’ for decades costing trillions of dollars. The entire US infrastructure is old and will require trillions to fix and upgrade-but, the money has been spent on military adventures costing trillions and other crazy spending.
    One of the things that I see that boils my blood is some ‘self proclaim environmentalist’ buying an electric car and use it for show and telll, but, this is a neighbor about a few blocks from me and this so called ‘environmentalist’ have a 1 ton Pickup with dual rear wheels and the biggest load was a weeks worth of groceries, and they have an 8 year old Ford Excursion, dispite the family only having 2 people in the household. Many of these so called ‘environmentalist’ trys to tell the masses ‘do this’ buy smaller vehicles-perhaps a hybrid’ but don’t do what I do. In other words , the US citizens sees/hears this ‘DO THIS, BUT DON”T DO LIKE I DO HAVING GAS GUZZLERS’.
    It will be easy to say quit making large pickups, however, this would affect the local economy and the suppliers and that is a lot of peopel.
    The US is truely wasteful and a petroleum guzzing Country and running out of money to fix its own house due to overseas adventures that took Trillions out of the US economy. But, you can see, there is infighting and serious disruption of local economies trying to change the US to be more energy efficent
    *LC I have to say I disagree about saying I’m into Christiological- I am an athiest.
    The main theme of this post became the most protracted, take no prisoners blogging I;ve seen for this controversial issue.

  67. I am sorry I didn’t have my spellcheck on- geeeez I am sloppy in my writing LOL
    I hope you understand what I did say
    Take care all

  68. No worries. We’ve been begging for an edit button for a while. 🙂

    I understand ho you feel about “feel good environmentalists”. There are a lot of folks in my area that have bought hybrids, and give an “I’m helping the environment, but your not” kind of vibe, yet they fail to realize that coal powers most of the nation’s electricity, so even a plug-in hybrid will result in CO2 production, and no one seems to be questioning the batteries, and the toxic chemicals they contain – how will they be disposed?

    There’s also some “do as I say, not as I do” types who drive SUV’s and live in huge houses (or fly around in private jets, like Al Gore).

    There’s only one group of people in America that really are living in a truely environmentally friendly way – the Amish. Everyone makes fun of them, but in the end, they may the only one who make it. Perhaps we can learn a lesson or two from them.

  69. *DARK GNAT I told co-workers that Ted Kaczynski (the unibomber)was an environmentalist in its pure form,people thought I was crazy because Ted is as loony to the max but ultra ntelligent, unfortunately he was a killer. When the laughter ended, people thought good and agree he is a pure form invironmentalist but a real nutcase.
    I agree about the Amish being truely environmentally friendly-I never really made fun of them, their lifestyle amazed me and how they kept it quite intact dispite modern conveniences wherever they go.
    Yes, people in general don’t know how toxic used batteries are- what I understand is, they ship boatloads of spent batteries to 3rd world countries so they can tear it apart for valuable parts but these people are getting poisoned and many die a nasty death- batteries are really not the answer. Wind, solar,water power is the way to go-it’s too bad it will take a very long time before the infrastructure is in place to benefit a large part of the US

  70. To be honest what upsets me the most about this is just the mendacity of those who are in the denier camp. The main problem is that it is just yet another example of how some area of science is being stomped down in the social-economic sphere because it raises some issues with our political and economic system. That is the main reason there is this passion. Here at UT a climate change posting can get over 60 responses, sometimes up to 100, because this subject raises these political passions. For me topics on cosmology or black holes are more interesting, and topics I know a whole lot more about, but those do not usually get the tidal wave of responses you get with a climate change topic. This clearly illustrates how this topic strikes heavily at a mostly an emotional or gut level for most people, and the nature of most of these responses betrays that as well.

    The politics of environmentalism gets strange in some ways, just a politics in general does. It has in recent times been equated with Nazism or totalitarianism by the yellowish media journalism, or what passes for journalism. Of course lots of things are being satanized and labeled with political four letter words, such as socialism. Anything the right wing media and political machine does not like is labeled with these terms, appropriately word smithed according to F. Luntz, and you can get your average American knucklehead to react negatively to it.

    The point of environmental concerns is not to save the Earth. Earth will be doing fine a million and 10s or 100s of millions of years from now. The point is ultimately to save our own butts. We risk crashing the life support system we depend upon. We are engineering a mass extinction, maybe one as large as the KT or Permian extinctions, but certainly a moderate extinction period as large as the Miocene extinction. We run the risk that in this process we will be thrown off the Darwinian game table of evolution along with the millions of species we are pushing off now. The extinction rate is about 50 to 100 times the standard rate right now, and 20,000 species are being exterminated each year. If we do that long enough we will be hoisted by our own petard. If this is where we want to go, well fine —- we will really just prove that we are little more than a transient and dysfunctional fluke.

    To be more focused on that, we may have already broken the planetary energy/entropy bank. The global warming process is probably going to run away on us as it is. We may in a few decades begin to do more geo-engineering to reverse these trends. But to prevent global warming from running away we will probably need to do this planetary engineering for several thousand years. We humans almost never engage in anything beyond a century, and most civilizations or empires last not much longer than 500 years. So even if we start geo-engineering in the 21st century it is likely it will be abandoned later on. Either a war will end it, or conservative types will rail on about lowering taxes and ending wasteful spending, or some religious movement will sweep the world or …, well you get the picture. Our goose may already be cooked.


  71. It’s amazing how much time, money, resources, and lives have gone into wars that really haven’t made much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. Imagine if we had used those resources to develop a new energy infrastructures. What better way to stick it to OPEC than to say “we don’t need you anymore”.

    The problem is that battery technology isn’t where it needs to be in terms of reliability and safety. Fuel cells would be a much better solution, but the waste product is water vapor, which is actually a more potent greenhouse gas, so it will need to be contained. Also, production of hydrogen will be a challenge – especially of it will b done cleanly.

    As a stop-gap, I think biodiesel and propane would be the way to go. Both burn cleaner, and propane can be stored for long periods of time without going rancid. It’s not perfect, but by relying on domestic sources, we wouldn’t have to import oil from hostile regions, Plus oil tanker use fuel as well. This is something that could have been done rather quickly, had the politicians not been bought out. I’m not talking about just Republicans, btw.

    Right now the best thing we can do is try to limit our gasoline consumption, recycle, and plant trees. Too bad the American people don’t have lobbyist.

    Next time some right-wing politician or AGW denier quotes the Bible, simply respond with “The love of money is the root of all evil.” In other words – Greed.

  72. @ LC.As this goes on I might concur it does not belong here. The main reason is too many of the responses are very embarrassing.

    This is a rather patronising reply which is always directed at anyone who dares question the received orthodoxy. The pro AGW conveniently lump together the deniers with those who are prepared to question the cause [not the evidence]. Anyone who is prepared to ask questions is labelled a planet-killer; a child-killer [you should see some of the rabid comments by the fascist left here in Britain] and be brought before the War Crimes commission at the Hague for Crimes Against Humanity. Reasonable debate will NOT flourish when we have responses like that and the above ones. The pro-AGW people who stand there with their fingers in their ears shouting, “Lalalala, I can’t hear you” are just as foolish and pointless as the ‘oil company’ deniers. They do NOT own the moral high ground and they do not have exclusive rights to wanting the best for humanity. Their self-righteous indignation is getting tiresome.

  73. Truthfully, I too am having problems with accepting the Global Warming hypothesis based on GHGs, especially CO2. Evidence does exist from the past (millions of years ago) that CO2 levels were 10 to 15 times more than today’s levels without catastrophic warming. We now know that CO2 levels rose after the past climates warmed and therefore are not the driving cause.

    If man has increased CO2 in the last 100 yrs or so, from 285 to about 385 ppm (100ppm), and is responsible for roughly 4% of all the CO2, bearing in mind that
    only half of it remains in the atmosphere, then shouldn’t it follow, that only 2% of all the accumulated atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic. So, 2% of 100 ppm means we are responsible for just 2ppm of CO2 in today’s atmosphere.

    I have looked at the mean annual temperatures from NASA and East Anglia (where those from the cities were excluded). I could not find a single case for the last 30 years or so where the plotted line actually angled upwards showing global warming.

    There is a strong inclination for me to conclude that the global greenhouse
    effect (GHE) cannot get noticeably warmer without a major increase in our solar
    sunshine. The GHE as it stands historically, is near or at maximum warmth. The
    GHG molecules are not saturated, but there is not enough energy left in the required wavelengths to cause any additional warming even if we doubled it all.

    Now we are observing a repeat of the Dalton minimum, where the sunspots are greatly diminished. At the same time, the solar gauss is falling and will be below
    1500 by about 2016. Some believe that the sunspots will then wink out and we will flip from a Dalton to a Maunder like minimum. In 5 years we will know more of the truth about all this.

    Looking at the Milankovitch Cycles, we are on the forward falling slope of the previous interglacial warming period. If the earth is still warming, then this theory
    may not be applicable. However, the slope indicates that planet earth is sliding down in temperatures toward another ice age. Again, in 5 years or so, a great piece of the climate puzzle will slip into place.

    I think now is a time for waiting and weighing what all the scientists are trying to tell us. Lets make the rivers and air clean for all. Lets restore the bounty of the oceans and forests. But lets prepare for the changes that are coming, whether it be more warming or cooling, for the benefit of all.

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