isn´t it time we reframe the enviromental issue?

Feb 19, 2013


Discussion by: nico
I open the debate on the idea that, more or less 30 years have passed since the issue of climate change and global warming arised in the general press and mass media, and despite all the evidence and countless pier-reviewed articles on this subject a lot of people still don´t beleive that global warming is happening.  Isn´t it time we reframe the general aproach on this subject? Because most of the times  people just tune it down because they find it scaring and sort of fear mongering, and  some other times for personal convenience and political reasons. There actually is a very strong conection between a persons political inclinations and their thoughts on climate change, wich for me is a stagering fact. I think that maybe we present all the renewable technologies as a way of helping the economy and as a way to improve the general standar of living, that will make people more receptive towards taking action on changing the general policies. But, in any given case I think that it is time to try a different aproach in order we takle this severe problem on time and save our launch.

33 comments on “isn´t it time we reframe the enviromental issue?

  • Renewable technologies are already presented as way of helping the economy and improving living standards. Maybe it should be emphasised more… but maybe a different approach is needed.

    I wish people would stop using the term climate change… since it is a self-truth. The climate has always and will always change, and this is fine. It should be more like- what will we do about induced climate instability… or some better phrase. As a phrase ‘climate change’ is unfalsifyible.

    It reminds me of ‘mid-life crisis’, all you need is to have some sort of crisis somewhere between 30 to 55 and suddenly you’re labelled as having a ‘mid-life crisis’… even if you spend the whole 25 years with no crisis, since it isn’t supposed to happen to everybody, nothing it falsified.

    Back to man-made greenhouse emissions… what to do about it… VOTE GREEN. Seriously.



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  • 2
    leemachilles says:

    Truth is a pain to people 30 years before the event. Politicians have to realise that the best we can do for our children and ourselves at the moment is to turn away from the fuels we rely on now, and look towards rules of the future.



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  • I think that a problem is that Nature is still shown as detached from as humans. As we are hers owners. What stupidity! Obviously, creationism has done damage here also, because it prevented evolution to be taught and spread. In my opinion scientist do have to show realistic consequences of climate changes caused by humans, and these realistic facts are not very pretty. We all know that politic is a whore, and that politicians are half criminals; politics has never represented people! There is no democracy (if you are living in so called one), no concern for demos. Referent organizations have to show people facts about our environment how ever scary they are!! People have right to know the truth! No-body has a right to conceal information about someone right to healthy life,… to conceal information upon which someone life is depending is a crime! And such a persons should be regarded as life threatening criminals! No one has a right to pollute air or soil,…Nature that my life is depending on because it is not a property of individuals, and who does that needs to be convicted of manslaughter.



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  • In reply to #1 by conmeo:

    Renewable technologies are already presented as way of helping the economy and improving living standards. Maybe it should be emphasised more… but maybe a different approach is needed.

    Good post, but a couple of things – you have to be careful about terms like “improving living standards”. A net increase in economic activity will increase GDP, but that does not necessarily equate to an increase in quality of life.

    Secondly, I’ve given up voting green because they have a left wing big state agenda. How they square increasing govenment spending and reducing our impact on the rest of the environment, I’ve no idea.



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  • 6
    QuestioningKat says:

    The real problems are: People will not easily give up something they have or form a new habit. Look at the weight loss industry. Also, not enough is being done to encourage alternatives and make them readily available to the average consumer. Some of the green alternatives are more expensive than the other products. With everyone worrying about the economy, why buy it? and…gov’t and politicians are slow and behind the times. In my particular city, new ideas get stuck because politicians have to agree about it, talk about it, put it on the news, put it to vote, put it on the ballot…..no wonder businesses and industry leaves the area. In the meantime, a well-known hospital in the area has buildings going up left and right without a blink of an eye. They decide internally what to do and do it because they own the land. There was talk about putting up wind power, long ago, but environmentalist protested because it was feared that sea gulls and birds would be killed. The politics dragged the idea down. In the meantime, some guy who owns a scrapyard, put up a large turbine on his own dime.

    I think if we need to reframe the environmental issue, refaming it as independence. Independence on foreign fuel, independence from red tape, and self-reliance. I also like the Native American view that “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”



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  • 7
    Nodhimmi says:

    QK- “I think if we need to reframe the environmental issue, reframing it as independence. Independence on foreign fuel, independence from red tape, and self-reliance.”

    Absolutely. This should have been in train from the 1974 oil shock, when politicians of all stripes could have seized the moment to insure against dependence on Saudi/OPEC oil. Not one of them saw the herd of elephants galloping over their economies- it’s the same old same, pig-headed obstinacy and terror of change… and guess what, it’s still as bad 38 years later!

    PS- an unexpected bonus would have been reduction of funds available to Islamic nutjhobs



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  • “There actually is a very strong conection between a persons political inclinations and their thoughts on climate change, wich for me is a stagering fact”
    From this side of the pond I get the impression that there is also a strong correlation between a persons religious beliefs and their thoughts on climate change.
    There seems to be some sort of alliance of the oil industry,conservative republicans, Evangelicals and right wing media outlets like Fox.
    It can’t be a coincidence that the two topics that conservative Christians want to be taught in schools are anti-evolutionist and anti-climate change ideas.

    The tactics and verbage being put out seem depressingly similar.
    I think I heard somewhere that the reason why they think man made climate change is not possible is that they think another flood is not going to happen according to the bible or that only God has the power to change the planet or some such nonsense.

    It is disturbing to see the opposition party of the worlds most powerful country being so anti science. Besides Romney being anti climate change I read that 47 out of 48 candidates for the Senate are too.



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  • 9
    Nodhimmi says:

    Here again, the nation with most to gain was guilty of denialism and slowest to admit the truth- inconvenient or not.

    “My Country, right or wrong but still My Country” cuts no ice with Mother Nature.



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  • 10
    Nodhimmi says:

    Climate Change is the term to replace Global Warming because so many think : “Hey, how can the World be warming when we had a record cold winter?”

    I’ve had to explain to so many the cause is larger quantities of water vapour from summer warming leading to higher precipitation in winter and more cloud cover, plus ‘global’ not local, warming…
    D’oh!!!



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  • 11
    Nodhimmi says:

    In reply to #8 by mr_DNA:

    “There actually is a very strong conection between a persons political inclinations and their thoughts on climate change, wich for me is a stagering fact”
    From this side of the pond I get the impression that there is also a strong correlation between a persons religious beliefs and their thoughts on climate change.
    There seems to be some sort of alliance of the oil industry,conservative republicans, Evangelicals and right wing media outlets like Fox.
    It can’t be a coincidence that the two topics that conservative Christians want to be taught in schools are anti-evolutionist and anti-climate change ideas.

    The tactics and verbage being put out seem depressingly similar.
    I think I heard somewhere that the reason why they think man made climate change is not possible is that they think another flood is not going to happen according to the bible or that only God has the power to change the planet or some such nonsense.

    It is disturbing to see the opposition party of the worlds most powerful country being so anti science. Besides Romney being anti climate change I read that 47 out of 48 candidates for the Senate are too.

    Too true. Perhaps humanity’s intelligence has peaked & we’re on the downslope to oblivion thru stupidity.



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  • 12
    SaganTheCat says:

    i think part of the problem is in the past “environmentalist” meant “hippie” so right away you get people being prejudiced.

    i consider myself a bit of a hippie however, i am and always have been (to varying legnths) an advocate for nuclear power, for example which means other people often tell me not only am i wrong in my views but i don’t understand what i’m supposed to believe in. the environmental issue, like all political issues, has become dogmatised which makes it harder to have a rational debate.

    i think some people side with deniers because they’re politically aligned and are scared of being left in the cold lonely reality of having a personal opinion that might alienate some.

    there’s also the “rebel” factor. if you want to push a right-wing agenda, appeal to the non-conformist mindset; don’t worry about the lack of evidence on your side just spout the old mantra “but these days you’re not allowed to question the experts” and hey presto, you got people who think of themselves as a bit lefty doing the work of the oil shills.

    then you have the proper loons, the sort who’d gladly blow up a science lab to save some bunnies or any other idealistic beliefs muddying the waters

    the onyl argument worth having is economic. apeal to the self. say i want to live in a world…. then do some homework and chances are you’ll be on the side of what’s best. not what’s “right” but what’s best. growing your own organic veg for example: good thing. demanding all food is organically grown: with 7 billion humans? bankrupt the planet why don’t you?

    to understand any environmental issues science needs to be top of the agenda. too often science is painted as the problem. shooting the messenger so to speak



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  • 13
    Jos Gibbons says:

    In reply to #10 by Nodhimmi:

    Climate Change is the term to replace Global Warming because so many think : “Hey, how can the World be warming when we had a record cold winter?” I’ve had to explain to so many the cause is larger quantities of water vapour from summer warming leading to higher precipitation in winter and more cloud cover, plus ‘global’ not local, warming… D’oh!!!

    I hear you. I’ve explained to my brother that global warming doesn’t mean every point on Earth’s surface warms, to which he replied, why call it global then. I explained it’s because the globe has overall gained heat, so it’s an average.

    As for winter, it’s worth bearing in mind that:

    (i) Even if increased evaporation doesn’t lead to local cooling, we can get extra precipitation of all kinds, including snow;

    (ii) The Arctic Corridor effect of global warming can cause both types of accentuation of winters in the Northern Hemisphere.

    Also, “climate change” is about as old a term for it as “global warming”, because it was always realised an overall upward trend in the heat energy on our planet has effects on lots of things other than the temperature. But historical revisionists would have you believe CC wasn’t used as a term until temperatures started somehow not fitting the GW description, which hasn’t happened.



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  • 14
    canadian_right says:

    In reply to #4 by GPWC:

    In reply to #1 by conmeo:[snip]Secondly, I’ve given up voting green because they have a left wing big state agenda. How they square increasing govenment spending and reducing our impact on the rest of the environment, I’ve no idea.

    I guess it depends on where you live. Our greens are centre right on most issues not directly related to the environment.



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  • In reply to #14 by canadian_right:

    In reply to #4 by GPWC:

    In reply to #1 by conmeo:[snip]Secondly, I’ve given up voting green because they have a left wing big state agenda. How they square increasing govenment spending and reducing our impact on the rest of the environment, I’ve no idea.

    I guess it depends on where you live. Our greens are centre right on most issues not directly related to the environment.

    That’s interesting. In the UK, the Greens are very much on the left – some may argue further left than the Labour Party. I wonder if the Canadian Greens ever meet up with the UK Greens?



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  • 16
    Nordic11 says:

    I hate to be a pessimist, but I’ve been teaching about climate change in my science classes for 25 years, and I do not see much reason to be optimistic. Science has gone from being fairly certain climate change was happening in the 80s to very certain in the late 90s to absolutely certain today, but the parents of my students remain split on the issue with most coming from conservative backgrounds dismissing the topic. This trend persists throughout the US.

    I also think we’ve missed our window of opportunity. China, India and Brazil are not going to reduce their fossil fuel usage, and America will continue its fossil fuel dependence to compete. Unfortunately, I think we need to rephrase the issue from “How can we stop or reduce climate change?” to “How are humans and modern society going to adapt to the new changes in our climate?” I think we need to prepare as best we can and hope for the best. By the time we take serious action (because of some global or regional catastrophe), it will be too late.

    Sorry to be such a bummer. I hope I’m wrong!



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  • 17
    skeeter56 says:

    When it comes to global warming / climate change, are we worried about the planet or our own asses? Or possibly our shore house? I think we all can agree the planet will be just fine? I find myself agreeing with nordic11 that maybe we need to figure out how we will adapt to the new changes, rather than get everyone on the same side on this topic. It’s getting warmer, we all agree there. There’s enough evidence to show that. Is it dangerous? Not sure. How long will it continue to heat up? We don;t really know. We have computer models, but I have as much faith in those as most people in here have in God. Environmentalism certainly seems to be the new religion and vociferously defended. When will the Crusades start? Let’s figure how to deal with any change that may come, perhaps in the interim we’ll find we were barking at the moon, or some other futile exercise.



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  • 18
    Reckless Monkey says:

    No, the scientists need to keep doing what they do best, science. What we need to do is challenge people we know and meet on the issue to come up with good reasons to doubt when they come up, I have made myself a pain in the arse at my workplace because every time some Luddite or ignoramus comes up with some ridiculous statement about climate change I correct them, and ask them to justify their reasons. Guess what after they have made fools of themselves quoting conspiracy theories by well known frauds or scientists outside of their field of expertise and how refuse to publish (or publish in economic journals). It also gives me an opportunity to explain the peer review process and thereby strengthen the tide against this claptrap. Now I’m sure many are just don’t want confrontation but the tide seems to have turned and many who otherwise would not speak up are doing so. The only people who argue with me now are quite ignorant and that is exactly how they appear.

    It is our job to communicate and convince those less educated. Until we are prepared to stand up for our own skins this problem will continue.



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  • 19
    GospelofJudas says:

    In reply to #8 by mr_DNA:

    There seems to be some sort of alliance of the oil industry,conservative republicans, Evangelicals and right wing media outlets like Fox.
    It can’t be a coincidence that the two topics that conservative Christians want to be taught in schools are anti-evolutionist and anti-climate change ideas.

    Wow, there are so many good points on this thread already I don’t know where to start! This quote will do though.

    I absolutely agree; the ‘American Dream’ is sadly a vestige of Manifest Destiny, which was a take all you can, and damn the consequences to anybody else sort of attitude. Many of my Libertarian friends oppose climate change because they don’t believe that animals or nature have any sort of rights, nor do future generations apparently in the case of renewable or non-renewable resources, which is horrifically shortsighted (and ironically smacks of the humano-centrism displayed by monotheistic religions, even as most would-be Objectivists eschew religion). Towards the middle of the country I find that I have some friends or extended family who thump their Bibles and talk loudly about how climate change is a hoax, and is a plot to redistribute wealth through a carbon tax (do banks have a large carbon footprint? It seems that they’re the ones running wild in America), and so many of the same people cite Islam or alleged enemies in the Middle East as justification for oil-based Imperialism while we ignore the horrific excesses of human rights violations in, say, Africa. It’s all wrapped up in one delicious little bundle of propaganda and fed to old and young alike with the promise that politicians with no term limits will do their very best to keep the game going.

    Now that the rant is out of the way, what’s a practical solution? I agree that the Green Party here in the USA is a little too Big Gov’t for my tastes, though that doesn’t make it an irresponsible choice. Sadly, anyone who is passionate about stopping climate change in the USA seems to be lumped into one of two categories; hippie, or intellectual (both of which are frightening to people enjoying the propaganda mentioned above), and the former tends to hurt their own cause by adding a lot of bunk to the platform that only lessens their credibility.

    The biggest issue for most people is understanding climate change. This is a complex and interdisciplinary issue with MANY variables, and as long as they remain incoherent in the eyes of the unwashed masses, isolated reports are easily latched onto for confirmation bias. “Oh, the sea levels won’t rise, because as the ice melts it displaces less water, and I’m going to ignore every other factor that the ice affected because I LIKE this fact!” I read elsewhere on this site that a textbook had been written for undergrads explaining climate change. Why not follow in the footsteps of such minds as Professor Dawkins or Stephen Hawking, who were able to take challenging concepts that required years of study to understand, and publish them in a (reasonably) digestible volume? Other than that, working to speed the collapse of the Republican Party (or its conversion to a more libertarian platform – it’s worth noting that the Libertarian Party candidate for Prez this past election supported a no-compromise stance on clean air in our country) would likely help tremendously, in this area and others.



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  • 20
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #17 by skeeter56:

    When it comes to global warming / climate change, are we worried about the planet or our own asses? Or possibly our shore house? I think we all can agree the planet will be just fine? I find myself agreeing with nordic11 that maybe we need to figure out how we will adapt to the new changes, rather than get everyone on the same side on this topic.

    That kind of depends on if you think a human population is worth preserving! The planet Venus is “just fine”. It’s just not fine for humans to live on!

    It’s getting warmer, we all agree there. There’s enough evidence to show that. Is it dangerous?

    There is plenty of evidence that similar conditions in the past were extremely dangerous. Most people would recognise that a mass extinction killing over 90% of the life on the planet WAS dangerous!

    Not sure.

    Better informed people are more sure. There is a lot of wilful disinformation spreading false doubts using the “tobacco-strategy” of “debating the (false) controversy”.

    How long will it continue to heat up? We don;t really know.

    We don’t know because of the uncertainty of political and business decisions, rather than any problem with the science.

    We have computer models, but I have as much faith in those as most people in here have in God.

    The fine local details are uncertain, but the general trends are fairly clear. Tropical areas will dry out. High temperate areas will have increased rain or snowfall, sea-levels will continue to rise and climate belts will move towards the poles.

    Environmentalism certainly seems to be the new religion and vociferously defended.

    You should not confuse the media featured “hippy” environmentalism, with environmental science. The two are as different as astrology and astronomy.

    When will the Crusades start?

    Probably when the tropical farm lands turn to desert, and the coastal plains flood. The displaced persons will look to hold those responsible to account.

    Let’s figure how to deal with any change that may come,

    We are going to have to do that anyway. It is too late to do anything else. The changes from heating and CO2 will continue for centuries, even if we stop escalating them now.

    perhaps in the interim we’ll find we were barking at the moon, or some other futile exercise.

    .. and perhaps the Moon will suddenly grow an atmosphere, sprout a ladder to Earth and pigs will fly!

    There again – perhaps not!



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  • 21
    Joseph Wolsing says:

    What disturbs me mostly is the fact, that environmental issues are nowadays limited to climate change. To a dimension that causes very serious collateral damages e. g. by the support of nuclear energy as a climate saver. We should stay aware and teach the children in school that environment means everything outside oneself. And that this everything is interdependent and connected to us. When Frederic Fester opened his “Studiengruppe für Biologie und Umwelt Frederic Vester GmbH” in Munich 1970 the people of the state where he had to enlist his institute believed, environment means having a walk with your family on Sunday afternoon. A lot has changed since then. But if we take a close look today many things got worse. Sealing of the ground, cutting rainforests, mountaintop mining, deep sea oil drilling, oil sands mining and many other things influencing the environment negatively for us humans.
    But remember we all want to keep our standards and we don’t want to give them up for the environment. Being online is a part of the problem.
    Even solar cells include a lot of problems although they have a part in reducing the emission of climate active gases.
    As long as we practise industrial forms of production (which we can’t stop without presenting a lot of people to death by starvation and other things – who wants to be treated by a dentist with 200 years old methods?) we have to face the fact, that we will not save the earth for our grand-grand children. Honesty is not a virtue today especially not in business where profit is everything.

    But it is worth trying!

    J. Wolsing, Germany



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  • 22
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #22 by Joe Wolsing:

    What disturbs me mostly is the fact, that environmental issues are nowadays limited to climate change. To a dimension that causes very serious collateral damages e. g. by the support of nuclear energy as a climate saver.

    Because vested interests and politicians have caused delays in starting to address these climate issues, we do not have any choice but to use nuclear power generation. This does not however have to be the particularly dirty sort which has been chosen for military reasons. Thorium and advanced gas-cooled reactors are much less polluting. (see links @5)

    We should stay aware and teach the children in school that environment means everything outside oneself. And that this everything is interdependent and connected to us.

    We should certainly teach the “big picture” with joined up sciences.

    But if we take a close look today many things got worse. Sealing of the ground, cutting rainforests, mountaintop mining, deep sea oil drilling, oil sands mining and many other things influencing the environment negatively for us humans.

    Irresponsible and reckless exploitation of resources for profit has dominated politics, as those with the profits have ploughed some back via their media stooges, to con the populous (who are often apathetic anyway).

    But remember we all want to keep our standards and we don’t want to give them up for the environment.

    Only a privileged minority of the human population have the opportunity to be so recklessly wasteful and selfishly short sighted.

    Being online is a part of the problem.

    Not really! A great deal of unnecessary travel is avoided by being on-line. Renewables can provide the power for this.

    Even solar cells include a lot of problems although they have a part in reducing the emission of climate active gases.

    There is enough solar energy landing in the deserts of the world to replace ALL the carbon burning. There is enough tidal energy for two million years! (see links @5) There are many more ways to use solar energy than just photovoltaic cells.

    As long as we practise industrial forms of production (which we can’t stop without presenting a lot of people to death by starvation and other things – who wants to be treated by a dentist with 200 years old methods?) we have to face the fact, that we will not save the earth for our grand-grand children.

    There is plenty of evidence that industrial production can be managed with renewable energy and recycling of materials. It will simply be slightly more expensive than “chuck it over your neighbours fence”, method of waste disposal.

    Honesty is not a virtue today especially not in business where profit is everything.

    Unfortunately true.

    But it is worth trying!

    It certainly is!



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  • 23
    Red Dog says:

    I hear this a lot from some environmentalists. I definitely see the importance of framing arguments so that the average person can understand them, but I also think just asking this kind of question sets up a false equivalence, as if its somehow the fault of scientists and those of us that understand science for not communicating better and that is BS. Its only due to willful ignorance and the framing done by the main stream media that this (and creationism vs. evolution) is still considered a topic that rational people argue about. The real framing I like is that you are simply an idiot if you still don’t accept either one and we shouldn’t lend legitimacy to the “teach the controversy” people by blaming stupidity on the people who aren’t stupid.



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  • 24
    Nordic11 says:

    I agree with Smill in comment 25. Education is a key factor. There are many people out there who truly struggle to understand the science behind issues such as climate change (because they are just not science people and their intelligence lies in other areas), but resorting to name calling gets us nowhere (just look at the current American political system for example). We need to explain the data clearly and simply for those who are not science oriented. Regardless of the issue, we also need to show a basic respect for each other and continue presenting the evidence in the clearest way possible. We also need to realize that the world may choose to ignore the issue of climate change, and there’s little the rest of us can do about that.



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  • 25
    ComradeFrana says:

    @GPWC:

    “How they square increasing govenment spending and reducing our impact on the rest of the environment, I’ve no idea.”

    I don’t want to sound rude but I wasn’t aware there is a relationship between higher government spending and higher CO2 emissions.



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  • 26
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #27 by ComradeFrana:

    I don’t want to sound rude but I wasn’t aware there is a relationship between higher government spending and higher CO2 emissions.

    I would have thought taxing polluters and government investment in developing and expanding renewable energy technologies, would considerably reduce emissions. Similarly government initiatives in more efficient transport infrastructure and more energy efficient buildings.



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  • 28
    TheAllKnowingAgnostic says:

    ” growing your own organic veg for example: good thing. demanding all food is organically grown: with 7 billion humans? bankrupt the planet why don’t you?”

    Why does everything always have to be about extremes? Where I live oil reigns supreme, it’s pretty much the lifeblood of our economy. This is all fine except our government seems to think it is here to serve this industry and not the people who pay taxes and live here. There were three oil spills in one month last year. Main waterways were significantly polluted, America is no better, look at the BP spill. Anyways my point is people all seem to think we should either let big oil get away with murder, and hand over billions in subsidies every year, as we do, or that we should just ‘shut the f’er down’ (even the environmentalists are stupid rednecks here, myself included guess). Obviously we depend on oil, and even abolishing the industry would not deal with the demand for oil, so that idea is pretty stupid. That doesn’t mean we should go the other way and turn our environmental protection acts upside down to cater to oil companies, but that’s what we’re doing. Our economy is totally Dependant on oil and gas, and our social programs and other government initiatives suffer because of the instability that goes with that, despite us being an incredibly rich province. We need our government to plan for the future, to nurture other industries in addition to oil and gas, not instead of. In this way we can decrease our dependence on one industry (based around a finite resource) while not sacricing the oily black bounty which brings us such wealth, or letting our natural habitats be desecrated in it’s name. I feel that the issue of organic food has a similar issue of perception. There is a growing field of research into sustainable farming practices that work more cohesively with natural systems (eco-agriculture). We have a system of food production in place. You can’t just erase that and say ‘we’re doing all organic now’ I agree with that fact but not with the conclusion you draw from it. If we had a system based on wind power, or some other energy source that we somehow harnessed to grow food, if we had never developed oil based agriculture, it would be absurd to think we could suddenly switch everything to relying on fossil fuels, but no one would question that it is possible. Changes can come about gradually. As better techniques arise for growing food sustainably on a large scale, and people are exposed to more and more reasonably priced options that are also grown in a manner that does not have the carbon footprint or effect on future generations to match that of our current system, we could see a serious shift in industry standards. I resent and see nothing productive in your nay-saying. Like someone who asserts that another person cannot achieve some stated goal, as though they have some intrinsic knowledge of what someone else could potentially achieve or become. Your pessimism does nothing for you or for people or this planet. I think we owe it to future generations to at least try, who knows what gems modern science has yet to bestow upon us?



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  • 29
    Alan4discussion says:

    I see more climate feed-back effects are coming to the attention of researchers.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21549643

    Evidence from Siberian caves suggests that a global temperature rise of 1.5C could see permafrost thaw over a large area of Siberia.

    A study shows that more than a trillion tonnes of the greenhouse gases CO2 and methane could be released into the atmosphere as a result.

    An international team has published details in the journal Science.

    The evidence comes from analysis of stalactites and stalagmites in caves along the “permafrost frontier”.

    This is where ground begins to be permanently frozen in layers that can be tens to hundreds of metres thick.

    Stalactites and stalagmites only grow when liquid rainwater and snowmelt drip into the caves.

    So these formations record 500,000 years of changing permafrost conditions – including warmer periods similar to the climate of today.
    Cave Thawing of permafrost would have huge implications for ecosystems, says the team

    The records from a particularly warm period called Marine Isotopic Stage 11, which occurred around 400,000 years ago, suggest that warming of 1.5C compared to the present is enough to cause substantial thawing of permafrost – even in areas far north from its present-day southern limit.

    “The stalactites and stalagmites from these caves are a way of looking back in time to see how warm periods similar to our modern climate affect how far permafrost extends across Siberia,” said Dr Anton Vaks from the University of Oxford.

    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

    “As permafrost covers 24% of the land surface of the Northern Hemisphere, significant thawing could affect vast areas and release (billions of tonnes) of carbon.”

    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

    He added: “‘This has huge implications for ecosystems in the region, and for aspects of the human environment.

    “For instance, natural gas facilities in the region, as well as power lines, roads, railways and buildings are all built on permafrost and are vulnerable to thawing. Such a thaw could damage this infrastructure with obvious economic implications.”

    As this last paragraph says – there are potentially massive costs in infrastructure damage from these effects, even when only looking at the local permafrost areas.



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  • The real underlying problem is that the vast majority of people truly have no idea how the scientific method/community works. One of the biggest “Climate Denier” arguments is in fact “Its all a hoax by the scientific community to get free government funding!” This of course is non-sense on every account. As most of us here at Dawkins site should know, it would be virtually impossible for the entire community that studies climate change to pull of a “hoax” of this magnitude, and indeed it NEVER has happened. Sure they have been some small examples like the “Pilt-Down Man” hoax, but that was short lived, not widespread, and rather quickly exposed. To pull off this kind of “hoax” would involve virtually every meteorological society across the globe to be “in on it”, and allow the publishing of 100’s of peer-reviewed studies on the subject climate change over the last 30 some odd years. Nonsense of course to anyone who understands how science works. If you don’t, its easy to be duped into thinking this could be a “hoax”.

    I think taking the “soft-peddle” approach or to trying to make the subject more palatable would be AGAINST what The Dawkins Foundation and also “The Reason Project” by Sam Harris is all about; scientific understanding and intellectual honesty. The answer is simple if we follow that credo: Teach people science and then present the evidence honestly on ANY subject that science can weigh in. If they truly understand how science works (rigorous study of evidence with the concept of falsifiability, having your evidence rigorously peer-reviewed and published, and then only when many others follow that same path and the findings are never falsified does the community label something a “scientific theory”) they would come to the same conclusion as the scientific community.



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  • In reply to #1 by conmeo:
    I agree that the name is unfalsifyible and that it should be called some other thing like “anthropogenic global climatic destabilization” but climate change or global warming are the ones that stuck…

    I wish people would stop using the term climate change… since it is a self-truth. The climate has always and will always change, and this is fine. It should be more like- what will we do about induced climate instability… or some better phrase. As a phrase ‘climate change’ is unfalsifyible.

    It reminds me of ‘mid-life crisis’, all you need is to have some sort of crisis somewhere between 30 to 55 and suddenly you’re labelled as having a ‘mid-life crisis’… even if you spend the whole 25 years with no crisis, since it isn’t supposed to happen to everybody, nothing it falsified.

    Back to man-made greenhouse emissions… what to do about it… VOTE GREEN. Seriously.



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  • 32
    BobInPennsylvania says:

    I find it interesting that on this web site, posters often virulently attack and ridicule religious persons, whom they claim stick to their beliefs despite any evidence whatsoever to the contrary. And yet, from an outsider’s perspective, that is exactly what global warming looks like. If local or world-wide temperatures increase or decrease, then global warming supporters say, “I could have told you that!” If there are more or fewer storms, then global warming supporters say, “I could have told you that!” Why don’t you try to produce a highly accurate model, which is validated over a number of years, and then perhaps you will increase your following.

    You may believe that you have done so by the “hockey stick” graph, or by having a number of scientists and movie stars ridicule those who are “global warming deniers.” However, I am talking about an accurate model that predicts local and global temperatures as a function of whatever inputs are required to produce an accurate model. Remember, you are suggesting that we spend trillions of dollars to avert catastrophe. Analagous to the atheist argument to the Christian, the default position is to NOT spend trillions of dollars on some baloney unless you can show overwhelming evidence that (1) you have an accurate model of the earth and its atmosphere and (2) that some feasible solution will have beneficial effects that are worth the cost. You might try thinking like an engineer rather than a scientist.

    If global warming science is really as rigorous as those who promote it suggest, then there could be generated and published ONE model that would be agreed upon by all of those proponents. Publish this model, and then show after a few years how accurately it predicted the temperatures of the earth as a function of time and other input parameters that could potentially be adjusted in the future to “avert this crisis” (the things we are supposed to spend trillions of dollars on). And publish all of the global warming data on the “cloud,” including regularly updating all measurements, so others could attempt to find better models than the lousy ones that are described in the literature. Obviously many wrong steps were taken with regard to the early global warming data, such as not keeping original data or making what appear to be somewhat questionable “corrections” in the data. Decide ahead of time exactly what corrections will be made in all measurements of both inputs and outputs. Decide ahead of time exactly how you are going to determine unknown quantities, of things you cannot measure, such as the amount of various gases generated from certain countries or locales that will not cooperate with the study.

    If we are to spend trillions of dollars on this, then I do not want to hear something like, “Oopsie! We had to reduce the predicted level of the sea level rise by a factor of fifty,” or “Sorry! I meant to say that my model predicts an INCREASE in ice growth, not a decrease.” As an engineer who specializes in dynamic systems and controls, if I ever tried to promote some model that had the inaccuracy and poor predictive powers of the ones presented by global warming “experts,” I would be laughed off the podium. I am not willing to attribute to man-made causes all disagreement from the model between the known and unknown contributors to global warming. In my field, such a difference would be called “model error.” In global warming circles, the difference seems to be considered evidence that man has significantly contributed to global warming.



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  • 33
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #35 by BobInPennsylvania:

    I find it interesting that on this web site, posters often virulently attack and ridicule religious persons, whom they claim stick to their beliefs despite any evidence whatsoever to the contrary. And yet, from an outsider’s perspective, that is exactly what global warming looks like.

    That would be “an outsider from the scientific studies”!

    If local or world-wide temperatures increase or decrease, then global warming supporters say, “I could have told you that!” If there are more or fewer storms, then global warming supporters say, “I could have told you that!” Why don’t you try to produce a highly accurate model, which is validated over a number of years, and then perhaps you will increase your following.

    The details on the models are variable because of the complexity of climate and weather patterns, but these are local details.

    There is no doubt whatever that the planet is warming and that the billions of tons carbon burnt every year by humans is a very substantial factor in this.

    You may believe that you have done so by the “hockey stick” graph, or by having a number of scientists and movie stars ridicule those who are “global warming deniers.”

    The graphs produced have multiple confirmation from reputable sources. There deniers antics are comically incompetent wishful thinking, with ignorant disinformation being promoted by the vested interests of the carbon industries.

    However, I am talking about an accurate model that predicts local and global temperatures as a function of whatever inputs are required to produce an accurate model.

    The models are clear on the main trends. The equatorial zones will get hotter and drier. The high temperate zones will get wetter. and the climate belts will move towards the poles. The sea-levels will continue to rise and the oceans will continue to acidify!

    Remember, you are suggesting that we spend trillions of dollars to avert catastrophe.

    Ah! The money diversion blinkers which blank out the huge cost of damage to agriculture and infrastructure by putting heads in the sand!

    The long term cost of doing nothing is huge. It is doubtful if diverting investment money to renewable power-generation will have any long-term overall costs at all! It will cost a lot of profit to the obsolete polluting industries who are propagating the the scare stories to discredit alternative investments in technologies which have already been proved to work

    You might try thinking like an engineer rather than a scientist.

    And presumably ask climatologists for expert advice on building bridges and machinery – as part of this backwards thinking of asking engineers for opinions on climate! !

    Obviously many wrong steps were taken with regard to the early global warming data, such as not keeping original data or making what appear to be somewhat questionable “corrections” in the data.

    You really should study the science rather than picking up doubt-mongering junk from denialist publications. The data have been checked multiple ways by reputable investigators – but that has not muted the denial songs!

    Decide ahead of time exactly how you are going to determine unknown quantities, of things you cannot measure, such as the amount of various gases generated from certain countries or locales that will not cooperate with the study.

    The figures on global production and combustion of coal, gas, and oil have been available for years, and have been used in calculations. C + O2 = CO2 It is not rocket science!

    If we are to spend trillions of dollars on this, then I do not want to hear something like, “Oopsie! We had to reduce the predicted level of the sea level rise by a factor of fifty,” or “Sorry! I meant to say that my model predicts an INCREASE in ice growth, not a decrease.”

    As a comment on high standard scientific studies this is truly comical. It’s like claiming that 50 or so airline pilots are so incompetent they are likely to forget to lower the undercarriage before landing! It is just assertive ignorance of the subject.

    As an engineer who specializes in dynamic systems and controls, if I ever tried to promote some model that had the inaccuracy and poor predictive powers of the ones presented by global warming “experts,” I would be laughed off the podium.

    I think your evaluation of the climatology has just been laughed off the discussion. There is such a demonstrable lack of any research into the subject combined with repetition of denial nonsense.

    I am not willing to attribute to man-made causes all disagreement from the model between the known and unknown contributors to global warming.

    So your arithmetic is not up to adding up volumes of CO2 from global carbon combustion as a proportion of the atmosphere, and you cannot understand the basic physics of the greenhouse effect?

    In my field, such a difference would be called “model error.” In global warming circles, the difference seems to be considered evidence that man has significantly contributed to global warming.

    Competence is needed in understanding the underlying climate patterns and trends in order to calculate the differences caused by the billions of tons of man made CO2. You have demonstrated no understanding of these whatsoever!

    If you want to understand the science, there is abundant evidence on this earlier discussion

    http://old.www.richarddawkins.net/discussions/642733-why-the-laws-of-physics-make-anthropogenic-climate-change-undeniable

    If you want engineering solutions , there are some here;

    http://old.www.richarddawkins.net/discussions/643310-water-cooled-nuclear-power-plants-aren-t-the-only-option

    and here;

    http://old.www.richarddawkins.net/discussions/632627-harness-the-sea-national-geographic-june-2011-tidal-wave-power-generation

    Or look up Solar power-towers.



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