Maurizio – Omnologos

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Climate Change Calamities’ (paper) Climax

with 5 comments

Jim Hansen is a renowned scientist and top NASA manager, apparently animated by reasonable objectives such as avoiding waste of resources and taking care of the natural world.

Why would he then have to resort to images of doom and gloom as in The Threat to the Planet” (The New York Review of Books, July 13, 2006)?

The article is a remorseless barrage of wanton destruction. We learn that animals are abandoning their roaming areas, migrating without a choice towards natural barriers ready to “spell doom” on their species. “For all foreseeable human generations”, the world “will be a far more desolate place”.

We should ready ourselves to ice sheets beginning to “collapse”, seas rising half a yard per decade, and “repeated [urban] retreats from transitory shorelines” translating into a “calamity for hundreds of cities […] far larger than New Orleans”.

If we don’t mend our ways, there will be a “sea level rise of eighty feet”, “global chaos” and (who would have guessed?) “fewer resources”.

As much as 60 percent, and no fewer than 20 percent of “today’s species” are going to go the way of the Dodo.

Remarkably, all available space is devoted to global warming calamities. Even if it were to happen as catastrophically as portrayed, surely we (and Dr Hansen) should be able to predict something good coming out of Climate Change, somewhere, for example, concerning areas such as northern Canada, northern Siberia and some of the present deserts?.

The disasters described by Dr Hansen are indeed so encompassing and overwhelming to fall squarely in what has been labelled “Climate Porn” by left-wing UK think-tank the IPPR (see my my article Saying No to ‘Climate Porn’?”, TCS Daily, Aug 16 2006).

The climax (pun intended) is reached when Dr Hansen writes that “if CO2 emissions are not limited […] all bets are off”.

Is the article’s very title seriously suggesting that Earth itself is under threat?

Not even the darkest forecasts can be used to make current climate change equivalent to, say, a 10-km size asteroid slamming against our planet: but I may be wrong.

I know Jim Hansen is one of many writing so dramatically about climate change. Without moving very far, similar questions could be posed to another article on The New York Review of Books, Tim Flannery’s “Endgame” (August 11, 2005).

In that case, alongside the usual “changes in sea levels, weather patterns, and the fate of many species” we are told that “continuing to burn coal […] is a threat to existence itself”.

Cue Paul and Anne Ehrlich writing about “ecological suicide in our time” (“One with Nineveh: Politics, Consumption, and the Human Future”, Island Press/Shearwater 2004).

For his part, Dr Hansen’s efforts to find ways to prevent the gloomy future so spectacularly depicted must be commended.

Anyway, he definitely loses this reader when the text verges toward close-minded paranoia.

Dr Hansen complains that in the media, “fringe ‘contrarians’ supported by the fossil fuel industry” are given “equal time” to express their skepticism (since when has Science progressed on consensus rather than real-world data?).

He then laments that fellow scientists are presenting climate change too “clinically” (before and after making plenty of citations from other catastrophists).

Finally, he states that somehow only climate change catastrophists such as Al Gore will be able to give the public “the information needed to distinguish our long-term well-being from short-term special interests” (of energy companies, above all).

One would hope for a more convincing set of arguments from a distinguished scientist, especially if Dr Hansen truly believes that the end of the world as we know it is near but we can still make a difference.

His forays into titillating catastrophism can only increase one’s skepticism, sounding as they do like the claims of some millenarian cult (a point recognised by the IPPR in the report mentioned above).

Faced with such a long list of absurdities, one is practically forced to put into question the very basis of Dr Hansen’s concerns.

Let’s ask ourselves then, are we really witnessing any significant change to the climate, caused by human activities?

Personally, I will be persuaded when and if “change” will be more meaningful and incontrovertible than melting glaciers, strong hurricanes, hot summers, cold winters (and one may add, wet water).

How about finding instead the one weather pattern changed anywhere in the world due to global warming?

Literally anything would do: recurring hurricane seasons in the South Atlantic; an alteration of prevailing regional winds in the Mediterranean; a different monsoon path; or any other stable weather pattern settling into a new status.

There is no report of any so far.

Remaining unconvinced of the upcoming perils of climate change and global warming, am I a “fringe contrarian”? Perhaps (but then I have no relationship whatsoever with the fossil fuel industry and energy companies apart than as paying customer).

But is it really too much to ask to leave catastrophism to the propagandists, and to keep a scientific debate focused on the real world?

Written by omnologos

2007/Feb/01 at 16:52:38

5 Responses

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  1. How about let’s leave the research and drawing of scientific conclusions to scientists and the criticism to other scientists with data that would seem contradictory (which is nonexistent) to the current conclusions and not to whiney bloggers who have an opinion on everything. You do seem to have a lot of opinions. Guess what? No one cares. Until you involve yourself in some scientific research and present some meaningful numbers, no one who takes science seriously is going to listen to you. Sorry =\. You should check out the song “Belief” by John Mayer: http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/Belief-lyrics-John-Mayer/C4C332AF209BCE84482571D900146EA6

    I have to ask you one question. How many of these studies have you actually read? Maybe you should try signing up for some journals like Scientific American or just browse around on some university websites. Read some of them. In detail. Know what they’re acutally measuring. Scientists are just trying to present facts. If you want scientists persuaded by other factors, read this article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,2004230,00.html

    Again, no one cares if you scream and hoot and holler about your disbelief. Maybe today’s society has just softened up so much. You hear cliché remarks about “just having faith”, “trusting in your heart”, and “you’ve just got to believe” that people just completely forget to reason. To convince me or anyone who is going to bother reading the “climate change” or “environment” section of your blog, you’re going to need some data.

    -Kerry

    PS: Before you call me a hypocrite, the process of scientific research in school has led me to read and study many peer-reviewed studies. Please don’t waste your time insulting me.

    Kerry Wang

    2007/Feb/05 at 01:35:13

  2. For Kerry: if you don’t care about something there is little meaning in posting a long comment to it

    About doing some research myself: if catastrophic climatologists had confined their discussions to labs and scientific papers I may have expressed less interest in their field. But as soon as they push to get policy changed in one direction or another, it’s everybody’s game.

    It is called “Democracy”, not “Technocracy”.

    Besides, if there is all this evidence on climate change, why can’t I get a positive answer on any climate pattern that has ever changed because… of climate change?

    As for the science behind it, rest assured I have been a keen reader of SciAm for years, have a scientific background and the odd paper published in peer-reviewed journals too, alongside several abstracts and conference presentations.

    Anyway, I don’t think I am making any point in this blog or any other of mine that can only be refuted with a complex analysis of the scientific literature. Please try to answer any of my specific points, if you wish, or do whatever you want to

    Take for example the “Sad State of Climate Science” blog. It is all about the way Climatologists move their science.

    You don’t need no data to understand that attribution-by-exclusion leads to the _wrong_ path (like, into acceptance of Intelligent Design as a science).

    And finally: your implication that people should write only stuff other people are willing to read, is absurd coming from a blogger.

    omnologos

    2007/Feb/05 at 02:33:09

  3. I had read that article already, pyre, but thanks nevertheless

    omnologos

    2007/Feb/11 at 22:56:41

  4. Concerning the multitude of “Global Warming” reports in the press….Research data on Greenland and Antarctic ice core samples reveal that the EARTH has a very periodic cycle of ice age followed by a warm cycle >90,000-100,000 with alesser27,000yearsub-cycle). We happen to be in the warm part of the cycle right now! 12,000 years ago 2/3 of N.America was covered with ice sheets over 100 ft thick and the Great Lakes were solid ice blocks….Furthermore, studies of
    the Martian polar caps over the last six years of recorded data show that they are melting at
    very high rates! Both of these effects are directly caused by the solar orbit cycles and any scientist
    of caliber will confirm this knowledge. This doesn’t negate the fact that we have increased the
    CO2 dramatically since the start of the industrial age ,but suggests that a far more important
    story is that the “oceans are not absorbing the CO2 increase”,which also can be directly linked
    to the vast die-offs and confirmed “dead zones” within our oceans…to quote a line from
    Soylent Green “IT’S PEOPLE”

    EDward

    2007/Feb/15 at 13:58:14


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