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Don't Worry About Global Warming, Say 16 Scientists in the WSJ 1367

Posted by timothy
from the no-true-scotsman dept.
An anonymous reader writes "According to an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, there's 'no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to 'decarbonize' the world's economy'. From the article: 'The lack of warming for more than a decade—indeed, the smaller-than-predicted warming over the 22 years since the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) began issuing projections—suggests that computer models have greatly exaggerated how much warming additional CO2 can cause. Faced with this embarrassment, those promoting alarm have shifted their drumbeat from warming to weather extremes, to enable anything unusual that happens in our chaotic climate to be ascribed to CO2. The fact is that CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas, exhaled at high concentrations by each of us, and a key component of the biosphere's life cycle.'"
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Don't Worry About Global Warming, Say 16 Scientists in the WSJ

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  • And Forbes shot back (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RichMan (8097) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @06:50PM (#38852045)

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/petergleick/2012/01/27/remarkable-editorial-bias-on-climate-science-at-the-wall-street-journal/

    Quote --
    The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board has long been understood to be not only antagonistic to the facts of climate science, but hostile. But in a remarkable example of their unabashed bias, on Friday they published an opinion piece that not only repeats many of the flawed and misleading arguments about climate science, but purports to be of special significance because it was signed by 16 “scientists.”
    --

  • by v1x (528604) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @06:52PM (#38852057) Homepage
    I recall reading about these sort of opinions before with regard to both climate change and evolution, and the common thread seems to be the amount of attention given by the American news media. Differences of opinion, although common in every field, don't quite seem to get that kind of attention unless someone conveniently benefits from giving them press. Would be interesting to find out years later, if this latest opinion-piece was somehow published in response to the recent interest by the NCSE to start educating people about climate change [ncse.com], also explained further here. [richarddawkins.net]
  • Relax (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 28, 2012 @06:53PM (#38852077)

    Useful reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quaternary_glaciation

    Yes, we're currently in an ice age. It's one of the relatively warm bits of an ice age (an interglacial period), but its still an ice age.

    The earth's been warmer than this on average - if we're breaking out of the current ice age early, so what? Better than the alternative - the interglacial period ending and the earth slipping back into the main part of an ice age. Most countries can't cope as it is when a bit of snow falls - imagine what they'll be like in an ice age.

  • by jmichaelg (148257) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @07:00PM (#38852127) Journal

    What if it's a hoax and we incur societal costs we can't afford?

    California is levying carbon taxes on business and as you might expect, businesses are leaving California. That means more unemployment in a state that already leads the country unemployment figures.

    There are very real costs to carbon reduction.

  • by Beelzebud (1361137) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @07:03PM (#38852159)
    Sorry, but I'll trust the climatologists, and not the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 28, 2012 @07:06PM (#38852189)

    The question in the cartoon got it wrong.

    A lot of people in the 3rd world will die because of higher food and energy prices, for nothing.

  • by ichthus (72442) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @07:07PM (#38852213) Homepage

    not even "that" hard - just stop burning fossil fuels that are just large amounts of carbon locked up in a solid as opposed to being in the atmosphere.

    In other words

    • - Stop heating our homes with anything other than wood (other avenue of pollution)
    • - Stop generating electricity with anything other than wind and solar (inadequate with current technology)
    • - Stop commuting to our places of work. (Of course, as a software engineer, I wouldn't have a place of work without adequate electricity)
    • - Stop producing plastics (stop recycling them too)
    • - Stop mining or refining metals (stop recycling them too)
    • - Stop large-scale farming (or, at least mechanical planting/harvesting)

    Wow, you're right. Sounds pretty easy. Of course, nuclear power would nullify many of these arguments, so maybe it would be somewhat practical.

  • by cgenman (325138) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @07:20PM (#38852343) Homepage

    According to the NOAA, [noaa.gov] 9 of the 10 warmest years since 1880 (the first year we kept records) have been since 2000. And they've all been in the top 13.

    But it's the personal anecdotal evidence that people really respond to. And this is the year where Winter skipped the east coast. The past few years have been off, but it's crazy now. Everyone seems to see the weather doing something bonkers.

  • by Gibgezr (2025238) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @07:28PM (#38852399)

    I read the rebuttal letter, it was printed in Science magazine. It wasn't a "comparable" letter, it probably was scientifically accurate, but it only stated claims, no actual arguments. The letter in the WSJ actually gave arguments. All the letter in Science did was rely on the weight of the names behind it. What they should have done was stated some facts and then drawn conclusions. I am a little confused as to why the letter was such a poor rebuttal (I believe in climate change, personally). Maybe next time they could show a little science. At least the original letter gave the reasons *why* they thought climate change was overblown, the rebuttal letter should have done the same, told *why* they believed in climate change. Instead, they basically just said "there's 255 of us and you better believe us or bad things will happen!"

  • by cgenman (325138) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @07:31PM (#38852443) Homepage

    just stop burning fossil fuels

    That's pretty hard. We'd need an alternative vehicle infrastructure, including either a way of getting sufficient supplies of rare earth metals or hydrogen power stations. We'd then need to convert electricity production to nuclear, and manage to build those in a way where contractors aren't walking off with gobs of money for building Fukushimabombs. Even with clean nuclear, we need something to do with the spent fuel that doesn't allow it to become rogue state bombs. And we'd have to do all that under the nose of companies so rich they get away without paying US taxes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 28, 2012 @08:02PM (#38852647)

    Right!? I mean Nir Shaviv, professor of astrophysics(?!), Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

    I'm getting my degree in electrical engineering. Could I sign it too?

    LOL. Looked him up on Wikipedia:

    He is most well known for his solar and cosmic rays hypothesis of climate change. In 2002, Shaviv hypothesised that passages through the Milky Way's spiral arms appear to have been the cause behind the major ice-ages over the past billion years.

    Well that sounds awfully like another "climate scientist" [wikipedia.org]. I'm sure he would have signed too.

  • by jc42 (318812) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @08:11PM (#38852719) Homepage Journal

    ... this is the year where Winter skipped the east coast. The past few years have been off, but it's crazy now. Everyone seems to see the weather doing something bonkers.

    Yeah, but here in New England, we're hearing even more comments from the natives, to the effect that they think global warming sounds like a fine thing. ;-)

    And on a very tiny scale, we have at least one good bit of "anecdotal" evidence of the growing problem, in our yard. We have a lot of herbs planted (some invading the neighbors' yards). One our our real successes was a infestation of a rather nice variety of thyme. But last spring, it was almost all dead. Last winter was one of the mildest on record, though colder than this winter has been. The only clump of thyme that survived was growing on a small ledge with a northern exposure, next to a sidewalk that didn't get much sun. Its root system was frozen solid for the entire winter, which is just what it likes. Everywhere else, conditions were milder, with repeated thaws every few weeks. The thyme couldn't take those conditions, and nearly died out. It's likely that this spring, that one remaining clump will also be dead.

    Of course, our side-yard thyme crop isn't what you'd call a serious problem to the world. Our Greek and Italian oregano are still strong and healthy, and we can probably get a more heat-tolerant thyme variety. (We still bring the pot of rosemary in, because it isn't frost tolerant, and we have had several mild frosts.)

    OTOH, an important commercial crop in New England is its apples, which require a good frost to develop their fruit. If an apple tree dies, you can't just plant a few sprigs of another variety and have a crop next year. Migrating apple groves will be a much slower process. The farmers in both the old and new apple-growing areas will have go through the long process of learning to make a new crop profitable.

    Also, humans have imposed national borders in the paths of most crops' migration paths. This will further slow down the adaptation to the new climate regime.

    But around here, we're looking forward to the plant nurseries supplying palm trees, to replace all the old cold-climate trees that are on the way out.

  • Re:Oh no, not again. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Snocone (158524) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @08:12PM (#38852735) Homepage

    > Then, WHY is there global warming?

    Short scale: We're climbing out of the Little Ice Age, just a hair above the three-century trendline right now, but not unprecedentedly so; early 1700s had quicker warming than the last half-century.

    Long scale: We're approaching the end of an interglacial period, and that's when it's warmest.

    > Regardless of the cause, that change must be stopped,

    No, we should do our damnedest to speed it up, and hope to God the alarmists are right in everything they say. The wildest forecasts I've heard are that a billion, maybe a billion and a quarter, will be killed off by AGW. Beats the hell out of the six and a half billion or so that would be killed off by the next Ice Age, which we're a bit overdue for already; and if they are right than we can get the average temperature up 6, hey that's just about the amount than an Ice Age lowers it. How convenient!

  • by benjamindees (441808) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @08:43PM (#38852941) Homepage

    * Breeding is a human right! ... among other things.

    Actually just reproduction is a human right. And that means one copy.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @08:55PM (#38853043)

    "(I believe in climate change, personally)."

    Um... you are conflating two different things. Actually, not even that: you are apparently misunderstanding the letter completely.

    The authors of that letter do not "disbelieve" in "climate change". On the contrary, they explicitly state that they know the climate is getting warmer. All the letter says is that it isn't getting as warm as the alarmists said it would, and that anthropogenic warming is probably not as big a factor as has been claimed by said alarmists.

    Belief has nothing to do with it. And this is not even remotely a "denialist" letter. They list some scientific facts. So far, nobody has refuted those facts. So... where does that leave your "belief"?

  • by icebraining (1313345) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @09:20PM (#38853235) Homepage

    Parent said belief, not faith.

  • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@NOsPam.hotmail.com> on Saturday January 28, 2012 @09:34PM (#38853337) Journal

    Given the bullshit the authors are pushing, I think it is likely they have had more than a sniff.

    Claude Allegre is the first scientist cited. This is from his Wikipedia entry

    Claude Allègre
    In 1996, Allègre opposed the removal of carcinogenic asbestos from the Jussieu university campus in Paris, describing it as harmless and dismissing concerns about it as a form of "psychosis created by leftists".[6] The campus' asbestos is deemed to have killed 22 people and caused serious health problems in 130 others.[7]

  • Scientists? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AftanGustur (7715) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @10:04PM (#38853535) Homepage

    The fact is that CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas, exhaled at high concentrations by each of us, and a key component of the biosphere's life cycle.'"

    With the same logic we can say that "shit" it not a polluant, and therefore we can dump it directly into lakes and rivers.

  • by rtb61 (674572) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @10:08PM (#38853563) Homepage

    Well perhaps because in this case quite a few of use can't read the article. Don't be an enabler https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/murdoch-block/ [mozilla.org] cut off the air supply before their greed cuts off yours.

    When it is part of the News Corp Empire, why bother, with so much advertising as news, blatant truth censorship and well all in all a PR=B$ (lies for profit). The Fox not-News network, why even bother to debate, they will have no qualms about spreading the biggest lies imaginable, basically a network whose motto is your pay it and they will spray it, fertiliser that is.

    Let's not get to sucked in by the lies. Don't forget burning fossil fuels does not just produce carbon dioxide but also carbon monoxide, Nitrogen dioxide, Sulphur dioxide, Benzene and, Formaldehyde, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon.

    So comparing the exhalation of people to a car exhaust, well perhaps if those who choose to do so would do us all of the favour of sucking on a car exhaust for a while, likely the pollution problem will be solved more rapidly.

  • by jc42 (318812) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @10:39PM (#38853741) Homepage Journal

    CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas, exhaled at high concentrations by each of us"

    Lie. Lie, and um Lie. I'd like to give the authors of that a sniff of pure CO2 to see how odorless it is.

    Hmmm ... I've smelled CO2 on a number of occasions. Of course, it wasn't actually "pure", it was in the form of the "smoke" given off from dry ice. But it should have been concentrated enough to be able to smell, and it didn't have a smell. It was just cold, even a foot above the ice. So what's the pure stuff smell like?

    Actually, on a number of occasions, the CO2 "smoke" did have an aroma. This was because I was working in some bio labs, where we had lots of dry ice "for research use". Some portion of it inevitably found its way into the punch bowls at various staff gatherings, where we'd have bowls of bubbly, frothing, smoking stuff that always looked sorta cool, and in fact was literally quite cool, due to the block of dry ice in the bottom of the bowls. I'd often nab a little chunk of the ice, drop it in my drink, and walk around with a glass of smoking, bubbling, evil-looking stuff, nonchalantly sipping it. The smoke smelled a lot like whatever I was drinking. It makes for some very interesting margaritas.

    But the high levels of CO2 seem to be entirely inert to the human nose. And unless you're exercising vigorously, your body can easily deal with the slight rise in blood CO2 level that this produces. Any effects you feel is more likely from the C2H5OH in your drink.

    And if I weren't so lazy, I'd go back and insert the <sub> tags in those formulae ... which the slashcode would strip out.

  • by tragedy (27079) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @11:10PM (#38853925)

    Absolutely agree. That's the scummiest lie on there. Just because something is natural doesn't make it not a pollutant. "The fact is that CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas, exhaled at high concentrations by each of us, and a key component of the biosphere's life cycle". The "high concentrations" bit is ridiculous. It's higher than standard atmospheric concentration, obviously, but they're completely icing over the fact that the carbon in the CO2 animals breathe out comes from a fairly closed cycle. We breathe it out because we got it from our food in the first place. Our vegetable food got it from the atmosphere. Our animal food got it from vegetable matter, or from other animals that got it from vegetable matter, etc. Some natural processes bring out more carbon from under the earth and the overall action of our biosphere is to sequester it under the earth again. Something that's already naturally present can be a pollutant if it's in the wrong concentration or in the wrong place. Too much oxygen would be a pollutant too (a very dangerous one since the world could catch fire). Ozone is a pollutant at ground level, but great for us in the stratosphere. The quote they give about CO2 applies equally well to excrement (well, minus the colorless and odorless part, and we don't normally exhale it, although those people who do are a great example of it being a pollutant when it's in the wrong place), but excrement is obviously a pollutant when there's too much of it in our water supply.

    Someone should see how many of these "scientists" are willing to spend an hour in a chamber with 10% CO2. Then we can ask them if they still think it's not potentially a pollutant depending on concentration afterwards. We won't get much of an answer since they will have died painfully, of course.

  • by smagruder (207953) <stevem@webcommons.biz> on Saturday January 28, 2012 @11:12PM (#38853931) Homepage

    Here's the thing: Real scientists don't write or say things like this.

    They don't talk about "embarrassment" of those who disagree, nor of anyone's "drumbeat". As I say in the title, these are right-wing dog signals.

    Secondly, CO2 has never been called a "pollutant" in the sense these "scientists" want to portray -- they are using tools of propaganda with how they describe CO2 juxtaposed with how real scientists discuss it.

    To top it all off, it's always been about _climate change_ -- there was no "shift" from "warming".

  • by wytcld (179112) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @11:18PM (#38853957) Homepage

    First off, glaciers are never just stable. They're always growing and shrinking locally, due to differences in local climate. So it's not proof that the Earth as a whole was warmer in some past period, just because something from that past period has been found as a glacier recedes now.

    Proof of the Earth as a whole gaining or losing temperature comes from looking at what the world's glaciers, as a whole, not individually, are doing. Right now they're rapidly melting, pretty much everywhere they exist. This is not entirely from greenhouse heating. Black soot from fires (largely ours) also lands on glaciers and cause them to absorb more heat from the sun. But it's happening, nearly everywhere, rapidly.

    Now, the thing about the Greenland glaciers is they can take ice cores and fairly accurately date the ice. And the current glaciers are far older than the Vikings. It's not plausible that Greenland had no ice just a few centuries back and then suddenly the glaciers formed, because those glaciers are known to be many thousands of years old.

    And, like glaciers just about everywhere, they're melting now with surprising rapidity.

  • by dbIII (701233) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @11:35PM (#38854037)
    The mechanism is very well understood - hard sharp stuff the body can't break down gets in the lungs, can't get out, and then irritates cells, giving a small chance of cancer with every trapped fibre. Enough trapped fibres and that small chance turns into certainty.
    It's also highly reflective and loose fibres drift in the breeze in the sunlight with a sparkling effect that looks very cool until you understand what it is. I've worked in a few power stations while it was being removed.
    What we know about asbestos is very well established by scientists despite attempts to muddy the water by Lawyers paid to obstruct.
  • Actually... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hankavelli (2547288) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @02:40AM (#38854945) Homepage

    When you said "notice a pattern", I looked at the numbers and thought: "no". Your subject says "in the past decade". Your argument provides good evidence that the past decade has been significantly warmer than other decades in the past 130 years, however it does not support the argument that significant warming has occurred during the past 10 years . I ran a quick regression of those rank order vs year pairs just to check my intuition that they were not noticeably positively related. Indeed, the coefficient was -0.0449. That is, later years on that list tended to have slightly (insignificantly) lower ranks than earlier years.

    That inspired me to go the next step. Instead of using the ranks you gave, I grabbed the global temperature deviations for those years off of the Wikipedia instrumental temperature record page [wikipedia.org]. Running another regression I got a coefficient of 0.001201 with a p-value of 0.7046 for an F-test. So, statistically significant warming was not detected in the sample of years you provided.

    Actually if we ran 2002-2011 (two very recent years, 2008 and 2011, don't make the top ten list) to check the last decade, we get a negative but insignificant relationship. So it's pretty clear that there has been no global warming in the past decade. The authors were, technically, correct. One could definitely argue that this does not constitute evidence against global warming. But that was not your approach.

    Not to be a dick. Just saying.

  • by Zontar The Mindless (9002) <plasticfish@info.gmail@com> on Sunday January 29, 2012 @04:45AM (#38855439)

    I live in Stockholm, where 30C is fucking hot, you insensitive clod!

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