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Climate Contrarians Seek Leadership of House Science Committee 518

An article at Ars examines three members of the U.S. House of Representatives who are seeking chairmanship of its Committee on Space, Science, and Technology. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) said in an interview, "My analysis is that in the global warming debate, we won. There were a lot of scientists who were just going along with the flow on the idea that mankind was causing a change in the world's climate. I think that after 10 years of debate, we can show that that there are hundreds if not thousands of scientists who have come over to being skeptics, and I don't know anyone [who was a skeptic] who became a believer in global warming." James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has a similar record of opposing climate change, as does Lamar Smith (R-TX). Relatedly, Phil Plait, a.k.a. The Bad Astronomer, has posted an article highlighting how U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate's Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, has declined to answer a question about how old the Earth is, calling it "one of the great mysteries."
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Climate Contrarians Seek Leadership of House Science Committee

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  • Richard Muller (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @09:02PM (#42049703) Journal

    I don't know anyone [who was a skeptic] who became a believer in global warming.

    You mean like Richard Muller [] who quite famously denounced anthropogenic global warming [] only to come to the same conclusion by his own means? Yeah, that opinion piece by him opens with "Call me a converted skeptic."

    Oh, I get it, after it turns out that his research didn't back up your "beliefs", he must never have been a skeptic to begin with, right? Or perhaps when you made that statement you meant that you just don't know Richard Muller personally?

    Political word games have always been such a pain in the ass.

    But you are right that while peer reviewed journals move one way, the population moves the other []:

    The most striking result is the increase in the proportion of Americans who express strong doubt or rejection of the reality of global warming through their free associations. In 2003, only 7% of Americans provided “naysayer” images (e.g., “hoax,” or “no such thing”) when asked what thought or image first came to mind when they heard the term “global warming.” By 2010, however, 23% of Americans provided “naysayer” images.

  • My two cents... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @09:14PM (#42049831)

    I do believe global warming is happening, however, I am not sure mankind is responsible for a majority of it. However, I do believe we must cut pollution for the sake of pollution regardless of whether it puts a dent into the overall problem of global warming.

  • Re:Batshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @09:15PM (#42049851)


    "Look at all the skeptical scientists (that we retained as hied shills)! CLEARLY our side of the debate has won! (Nevermind that the basis of the global climate change scenario is firmly rooted in uncontested scientific principles and repeatedly documented characteristics of carbon dioxide, water vapor, and methane gasses. We assert that because humans are magical, that humans can release all of those gasses that they want, and NEVER release enough into the atmosphere to upset anything at all! Sure, we are releasing it faster than nature can re-sequester it, and the effects are sustained and cumulative, but damnit, a volcanic eruption spews out more "greenhouse gasses" in a few hours than mankind does in a year! Nevermind that volcanic eruptions are not a constant and growing emission source like human activities; and therefor our comparison is lopsided and specious-- don't think too much about that, it's our story, and we're sticking to it! No, those aren't the icebergs you are looking for! Move along!)

    Admittedly, that *is* a rather shameless strawman I just thrashed, but the likeness of that scarecrow to the real thing was alarming.

    Seriously, is this woman simply delusional, or does shw think she can bribe the weather when shit comes apart at the seams?

  • Re:Richard Muller (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @09:17PM (#42049865) Homepage

    My analysis is that in the global warming debate, we won.

    I'm not sure what he thinks the prize is going to be. But I'm willing to wager that it will indeed be a surprise. A big one.

    Although it sounds rather inflammatory and is really, really stupid, the fact that the House has jammed up that committee with people having the intellectual prowess of fleas really doesn't change things. It's pretty clear that the US government is unable and unwilling to be particularly proactive about this. It's also not very clear that we CAN do anything substantive about climate change.

    Hang on to your butts!

  • Re:My two cents... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pauljlucas ( 529435 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @09:26PM (#42049935) Homepage Journal

    I do believe global warming is happening, however, I am not sure mankind is responsible for a majority of it.

    At all other times in the planet's history when there have been periods of warming, it's taken orders of magnitude longer than the current period. The difference? This time is post industrial revolution and the wide-spread burning of fossil fuels. How do we know? Ice cores. But don't let the actual facts get in the way of your skepticism.

  • Re:Richard Muller (Score:5, Insightful)

    by microbox ( 704317 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @09:27PM (#42049941)

    Muller was never a skeptic.

    The minute he said something you disagreed with, he become "biased".

  • Re:Richard Muller (Score:5, Insightful)

    by microbox ( 704317 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @09:28PM (#42049953)

    he is just another person paid to read crystal balls.

    Paid by the Koch brothers.

    Follow the money -- science is a CONSPIRACY!!!!!

    the claims were exaggerated, studies were forged, and statistics were manipulated.

    And you know this because you read some conservative blogs? Gee, you must be really educated on the subject. Unlike those full-time scientists who have spend their life studying it. They're just a bunch of commies.

  • by Randym ( 25779 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @09:29PM (#42049959)
    Back in the 1980's, the [so-called] Moral Majority spent a lot of time stealthily taking over local school boards. By stealthily, I mean they concealed their true colors, while running, then used their winning of elections to argue that they had a mandate to undermine the teaching of science and critical thinking in public schools. The fact that people can be elected to Congress and make such fatuous statements with a straight face makes me think that they -- in a certain sense -- did "win": these Congresspeople are the children of that age. It's sad, of course, that people think that "winning" means one has the right to determine the conceptual course of the nation's children -- regardless of actual facts.
  • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @09:51PM (#42050083)

    If the choice is between having an iDevice and cheap transportation, and having a world outside that I don't need an environment suit to survive in, I will take the latter one.

    Unfortunately, that's not the choice most people are confronted with. Instead the choice is (1) have cheap tech, transportation, be able to waste resources, etc. NOW, or (2) have a world where your grandchildren or great-grandchildren might have to wear environmental suits many years from now.

    I think the general pattern of the debt crisis, people unwilling to plan for paying their mortgage next month, let alone planning for retirement or grandchildren, gives a general sense of where most people's priorities are. "If it makes my life easier or just more fun today, I'll worry about that other stuff later..." even if that othet stuff means complete financial ruin or disaster.

    If people are willing to gamble in these ridiculous ways with their futures just to buy the slightly larger sunmer house, you really think they're motivated to worry about the quality of people's lives a century in the future? A lot of people say stuff like how they don't want to ruin things for their kids or grandkids, but few of them seem to really do much about it other than buying a more energy efficient light bulb or recycling a tin can.

  • Re:My two cents... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sg_oneill ( 159032 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @09:57PM (#42050113)

    Serious failure of Occams razor going on here AC.

    Lets take three things we know;-

    1) You say climate change is happening. Well we agree on that. Lets put that into "Known knowns".

    2) We know CO2 significantly traps infra red radiation. This was known since the 1800s when researchers first started putting alarm bells out about climate change after Fourier first demonstrated CO2s effect on IR spectrum light in the laboratory.

    3) And we are putting staggering amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. Something in the range of 35000 teragrams per year.


    4) You dont think humans are responsible for most of the climate change.

    The question I ask then, is what mechanism are you proposing that is stopping physics from doing its thing here.

    This is the thing the "Humans are not having an effect" people seem to miss here. Thats a huge claim which breaks a tonne of very old and very established physics, and for the "we are not causing climate change" thing to be true, novel physics needs to be proposed to provide a mechanism that causes CO2 to stop absorbing IR light.

    I should note some caution here. If a mechanism is proposed, a LOT of things break. Huge amounts of our knowledge of chemistry , astronomy (absorbsion lines, etc) , and so on are dependent on our understanding of how gasses absorb light, and we'd be throwing out perhaps entire fields of science, because holy crap have we got a lot of things wrong? All that stuff we learned from staring at black lines on rainbows shitting out of our telesopes? Wrong wrong wrong. All the whacky stuff we've learned bouncing light through gasses in laboratories? Wrong wrong wrong. Chemistry wrong, physics wrong, astronomy wrong, biology wrong, its exaustive.

    To wit;- Big claims require big evidence.

    And I'm not seeing that evidence, instead I'm seeing frauds like "lord" monkton, a guy whos entire scientific/mathematical education was finishing highschool, being paraded around by right-wing think tanks as a "renowned mathematician". I'm seeing incredibly detailed frame ups of researchers involving multiple right-wing thinktanks pushing campaigns of deliberate misrepresentation of peoples emails. I'm seeing polls of scientists, in such dead-on fields as "political science" and "marketing" denouncing basic observational physics and not a single damn qualified climate scientist in sight.

    I'm actually not seeing shit. Theres almost no legitimate reason left to doubt climate change and our role in it anymore. Its happening, its real. That debate ended 150 years ago in Fouriers laboratory.

  • I don't believe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ygtai ( 1330807 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @10:03PM (#42050181)
    BTW, I don't believe in global warming. Facts just show that it is happening.
  • by Crypto Gnome ( 651401 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @10:07PM (#42050207) Homepage Journal
    I agree with what he says, "I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says.".

    However this is not what he (and his accomplices) actually mean.

    Despite what the words say, the underlying intention is radically different.

    - not "parents should be able to teach..." but "schools must be forced to teach"

    - and not just teach, but with every word imply ABSOLUTELY equal standing with science (eg Intelligent Design, which is nothing more than christian creationism with SCIENCE branded all over it)

    And, of course, the WORST part of their hypocrisy is that they want THEIR religion mandatorily taught everywhere, but not any OTHER religion.

    You want the worldview of your religion taught in schools, sure - GO AHEAD - as long as EVERY other religion also gains equal airtime and equal status.

    For Example:
    - Hindus
    - Buddhists
    - Mormons
    - Zoroastrians
    - and yes, even Scientologists.

    It's called having a secret agenda and they're doing the same thing with Global Warming.
    The entire "debate" has nothing to do with science, and everything to do with MONEY.
  • Re:Richard Muller (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gadget_Guy ( 627405 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @10:10PM (#42050237)

    I don't know anyone [who was a skeptic] who became a believer in global warming.

    It is a rather telling quote. If the skeptics are so entrenched in their beliefs that none ever change then they are not skeptics. They are deniers. If that term is deemed to be offensive, then they could choose disbelievers. But "skeptic" implies a willingness to be convinced, and this is obviously not happening.

    It also ignores the real skeptics: scientists. These are the people who do studies that reproduce other studies to see if their data matches so they can confirm or deny the original claims. These are the people who do studies to test their basic assumptions (that seem so obvious that the public often laugh at them), just in case they were false truisms. These are the real skeptics.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @10:10PM (#42050243)

    By that reasoning almost everything is a mystery because very little can be isolated to perfect accuracy and precision. Consider, "how long does it take you to bake chocolate chip cookies?" "Well," I reply, "it's a mystery: last time it took 14 minutes plus or minus approximately 20 seconds, so I can't say."

    Things we know are, outside the bounds of mathematics and pure logic, generally known only within reasonable bounds. If the earth is 4,540 million years old, a senator needn't stumble over the +/- 10 million error bars. What he means is that the age of the Earth is either a mystery to him because he's ignorant of such things, or just as likely isn't sure how to answer the question without fear of pissing someone off, so he chickened out. Maybe he believes the earth is 6000 years old but didn't want newspaper headlines the next day pointing out his conflict with all available scientific data suggesting this is wrong by approximately 4.54 billion years. Or perhaps since he's a Republican he didn't want to piss off his party's large fundamentalist wing by noting the scientifically indicated age of the Earth. It's a mystery.

    What's not a mystery is that the Earth is quite surely about 4.5 billion years old. Saying it's a mystery does a serious disservice to the overwhelming amount we do know about its age.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @10:11PM (#42050247)

    perhaps by allowing and in many cases embracing scepticism. AGW has replaced the christians as the biggest religious force in our country. Next it will be something equally arrogant.

  • by Grayhand ( 2610049 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @10:14PM (#42050281)
    The main reason for global warming denying is to avoid having to change how rich corporations do business. Energy companies want to keep burning coal and auto companies preferred to make gas guzzlers. The joke is the very ones denying global warming tend to be the ones buying beach houses. Those same beach houses won't be around in 50 or 100 years due to global warming. They can assume it'll happen after they are dead but like what just happened in New Jersey many will be lost in the next 25 years. In truth I think the majority of deniers believe it's happening they just don't want to change how they live so it's easier to just claim it's all a lie.
  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @10:15PM (#42050283)

    It is a pity when insane people are allowed to embarrass themselves in public so.

  • by rrohbeck ( 944847 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @10:17PM (#42050301)

    Watch this []
    and you'll know why you're a "skeptic."

  • Re:My two cents... (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @10:25PM (#42050361)

    I fall in the camp of reality myself which isn't listed by you. The UN's IPCC reports are entirely based on research by the CRU in England headed by Phil Jones. He illegally ignored FOI requests for years, to the point that when someone FINALLY got a prosecutator to go after him the 7 year statue of limitations ran out and they couldn't prosecute him. That is why most AWG people say he never did anything wrong because no one would prosecute. Even better is when he was months away from finally being forced to release his research for actual peer review, there has been none done on Phil's research to date, he deleted the data and claimed he didn't want skeptics finding something wrong with his research that he "knew" was right. Phil Jones was also the ONLY person to hold decades and decades of worldwide climate data, for example NASA only has US data. It has all been wiped to prevent actual peer review.

    So weather AGW is real/fake manmade/natural is irrelevant to this. The UN IPCC reports that claim it is real and proven, also used by EVERY AWG proponent, is falsified data. I have yet to see any actual peer reviewed research proving it. What they claim is peer reviewed is only reviewing manipulated data that Jones put out and is not valid.

    So feel free to call people like me deniers, but the reality is you are the denier. I probably listed out information most of you have never heard before, but I wanted to find the truth myself one day and that is what I ended up with. AWG is a religion and Phil Jones is their savior. In order to believe AWG you have to take Phil's word for it and he has admitted to manipulating data, results, and deleting researh to avoid peer review. Not the actions of someone who had undeniable proof.

  • Re:Richard Muller (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doctor_Jest ( 688315 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @10:40PM (#42050483)

    The reason our federal government is set up this way is PRECISELY for keeping the mob rule (House) or the aristocracy (Senate) from becoming a battering ram to shove whatever agenda they see fit through the process. The process is geared towards compromise. The Founders meant for it to be this way (ever wonder why it's so damn hard to amend the Constitution? Same logic.) If you read the Founders' writings (Jefferson and Adams in particular) you'll see that their purpose was not to create a "juggernaut" that trampled over anything in its path, but a slow tortoise that didn't rush into legislation and learned from compromise rather than intimidation.

    Granted, there are exceptions to the rule, but the point being, we don't WANT a speedy federal government (remember the PATRIOT Act?)... we want a lukewarm slow moving behemoth that doesn't fuck things up every 2 years.

  • Re:Richard Muller (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hondo77 ( 324058 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @10:56PM (#42050597) Homepage

    To be blunt, there's more money and power riding on proving AGW is an urgent problem than there is money against it from the fossil fuel side.

    WTF? Care to elaborate or cite?

  • by NEW22 ( 137070 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @11:00PM (#42050623)

    This whole business is a large part of why I can not vote for a Republican, at least in national races. Between the people mentioned in this story, and we all remember Todd "In the case of a legitimate rape" Akin and Paul "Lies straight from the pit of hell" Broun, both who were/are also on the House Science committee. I mean, a Republican can say, "Hey, yeah, that is looney, but we're not all looney!". But I have to ask, "Who let these people serve on the science committee, and what does that say about... their concern for the nation?" Its this unbelievable horror story that these people are in an elected office, just utterly baffling. Sometimes I expect Rod Serling to step out from around a corner and tell us all that this was all just an odd trip into the Twilight Zone.

  • Just trolling... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @11:30PM (#42050861) Journal

    Just asking.

    No, you're "just trolling". If you were "just asking" you would listen to (or at least respond to) the answers you have been given in the past. But that's not what you do, you keep repeating the same discredited claims over and over again like a broken record. Another possibility is that you have a learning disability, but I doubt that since you seem like a rational human being on politically neutral subjects.

  • Re:Richard Muller (Score:5, Insightful)

    by davester666 ( 731373 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @11:33PM (#42050881) Journal

    Except R isn't interested in compromise.

    For example, way back when Obama started with redoing health care, he invited the Republicans to participate and said "Lets start with the plan from one of YOUR people, John McCain." The response was that that plan was unacceptable and that they wouldn't participate AT ALL.

    For every issue that actually matters, R largely is "Either you do what we say or we will block everything you want to do".

  • Re:My two cents... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @11:36PM (#42050911) Homepage
    I believe the same. As I believe most skeptics do

    The issue I have (and many others) is the forced change being implemented at a what I would call a rushed time frame.

    the planet is billions of years old, humans have been here for a few hundred thousand years, in one form or another. We have gone from fully covered with ice to other climates over the ages. We happen to live in an ideal climate for us right now and it makes sense to want to keep it that way.

    The earth, even if we "ruin it" has an uncanny way of recycling itself over the years, the problem as I see it is that some humans tend to have a higher self worth of themselves than they deserve, especially in the entire earth timeline.

    recycling as much as possible is great, renewables are great. BUT ad this is a big but, why do we have to raise the prices, or outlaw some forms of fuel or other things to force adaption? When the cars came around 100 years ago and put the horse and buggy out of business, did the government force them out of business? did they say that you can still have a horse and buggy if you want, but we are going to charge you more money for using it over a car? NO! when the technology was mature enough it took over.

    I believe that with enough time wind and solar and nuke power and others will rid of us oil, but until that day comes, there is NO good reason to charge people more money for living, because raising the cost of gas artificially to get people to drive less doesnt hurt those who can afford it, only those who are lower middle class and poor.
  • Re:My two cents... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @11:37PM (#42050921)

    I tried being a climate skeptic and I thought the thermodynamics angle might have merit for a while.

    Then I realized that I couldn't explain how blankets worked, thermodynamically. At that point, I decided that maybe it was more likely that I didn't understand thermodynamics as well as I thought I did.

  • Re:Richard Muller (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gadget_Guy ( 627405 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @11:41PM (#42050953)

    The same ones who are just as skeptical as a Republican congressman, but just happen to be playing for the other side? Tell me more.

    Happy to oblige. On one hand you have the scientists who joined a profession where being skeptical and wanting more information is their entire raison d'être. There are no right or wrong answers in science, only supported or unsupported theories.

    On the other hand, you have a bunch of uneducated politicians who see that climate change is going to cost their supporters a lot of money. They didn't come to this debate with doubts about the science. They came with an agenda to discredit the science so their campaign contributors would not be forced to make costly changes to how they currently do business.

    If it was not for the fact that there is a lot of money riding on this, there would not be any "sides" to this issue. Why is it that the two major scientific disputes that have now have one side with a huge vested interest in keeping science down? Big business hates climate science and religion hates evolution because both have a lot to lose from the science.

    Scientists faced exactly the same forces in the past when they tackled the dangers of asbestos, as well as tobacco smoking. Even back then the motives of scientists were questioned to discredit the message. Who turned out to be right then? Your idea that there is more money in proving AGW is not backed by historical precedent. On the other hand, politicians doing the bidding of their wealthy supporters has a depressing amount of precedent.

  • Re:Richard Muller (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:02AM (#42051141) Journal

    The same ones who are just as skeptical as a Republican congressman, but just happen to be playing for the other side?

    Are you really so naive that you genuinely believe scientists and politicians are playing the same game?

  • by Arancaytar ( 966377 ) <> on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:04AM (#42051151) Homepage

    Why do we still pretend it is okay for uneducated people to make policy decisions?

    Before politicians are elected (and particularly before they get into any committee with science in its name) they should have to pass a written examination.

  • by rrohbeck ( 944847 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:19AM (#42051247)

    The people who call themselves skeptics are the deniers.
    Real scientists are the biggest skeptics. Skepticism is the basis of all science.

  • Re:Richard Muller (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:30AM (#42051295) Homepage Journal

    Perhaps it might help to point out that people are using "skeptic" with two rather different meanings in this discussion. The word means something different in common English than it does in technical/scientific English.

    In common speech, a "skeptic" is someone who actively disbelieves something. And note that in common speech, "disbelieves" and "doesn't believe" are synonyms.

    In technical English, neither of these is true. A skeptic is rather someone who believes that something should be challenged, even if there's pretty good evidence that it's true. There is a lot of scientific history showing the value of challenging accepted theory, and challenges sometimes turn up important exceptions or qualifications. The poster child for this is Einstein's Relativity, which was based on experimenters testing Newton's theories/equations/mechanics, uncovering a number of exceptions. Newton's mechanics are still taught in schools, with the qualification that they're only approximations that are useful under "ordinary" (here on Earth) conditions, but at high speeds or accelerations become inaccurate. Similarly, even the most "devout" believers in climate change will agree that a lot of further research is needed, and our understanding of climate is still rather limited. So there's a lot of room for skepticism withing the field of climatology, if skepticism is taken in its scientific sense of "needing further research" to improve the accuracy of the equations.

    The "disbelieves" vs. "doesn't believe" dichotomy is also important. In common speech, everything is typically either true or false. But scientists live in a world where a lot of things are in an "unknown" state. Disbelieving something therefore doesn't mean that you believe it's false. To a scientist, disbelief means that you don't think we know all the facts, and further testing is needed before we accept something as "theory". It's not uncommon for a scientist to express disbelief in even their own results, and insist that further research is needed. (Funding organizations are very familiar with this phenomomenon. ;-)

    One of the clear cases of a long-lasting state of disbelief was back in the 1980s, when as a result of recent paleontological discoveries, birds were finally reclassified as a branch of the dinosaurs. This wasn't a new idea; it was suggested back in the 19th century by none other than Charles Darwin, as well as by numerous colleagues. The similarities between those newly-discovered dinosaur fossils and bird skeletons couldn't be missed, and the discovery of the few Archeopteryx fossils in Germany just added to the suspicion that they were close relatives. But until the 1970s, no further ancient bird fossils were found. So scientists said "Yeah, it looks like a real possibility, but we need a lot more evidence." Most biologists expected that it would be found true, but they remained officially skeptics until more evidence turned up. Then Mao died, China opened up to field research, and several beds of ancient avian fossils were found there. After a few decades and a few thousand more avian fossils, the skeptics finally said "Yeah; we've got the evidence now", and what everyone suspected all along was made official theory. But this followed more than a century of skepticism on the part of most biologists.

    Also, note that some biologists continue to express skepticism about the bird-dinosaur link. It's mostly of a pro-forma nature, but it's generally considered proper if done scientifically. Compared to other kinds of critters, birds still have a very sketchy fossil record. Their thin bones just don't fossilize well. So various biologists continue to challenge the details of the classification, with the hope that funding will be found to collect the evidence. Thus, recent DNA studies have verified that the ratites are birds and not a separate branch of dinosaurs. Other studies have shown that cockatiels really are close relatives of cockatoos, and not an independent early bra

  • by microbox ( 704317 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @01:25AM (#42051583)

    and this undoubtedly involves a shake up in the economy,

    This is economic scare-mongering that is not born out by real-world evidence. Germany is doing it. China is doing it. Heck, 20% of the US economy is doing it (the greater New York area), and their economy is /growing/ relative to the rest of the USA, despite the apparent "burden" of a carbon tax. In fact, eletricity bills have come down for residents and businesses.

    Alarmists indeed.

    And it isn't the first time the economic scare-mongering was used to stave of regulation. Same happened with acid rain, and the ozone hole. Regulation was going to ruin the economy (esp. on acid rain). It was all baloney, of course.

  • Re:My two cents... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @02:10AM (#42051771)

    Sure, the Earth "regenerates" itself remarkably well - but it doesn't do so on a human timescale so it's not much use to us. The real question with global warming is, what will it cost us to deal with it - if we had started 50-100 years ago it would have only taken a fairly minor shift in culture and which technological areas were getting funding. If we start today it will take slashing fossil fuel consumption and pouring some serious R&D dollars into developing and deploying alternatives - and there are actually many technologies that are ready to start taking up the slack, even if they're not quite ready to take over completely. If we wait another 50-200 years to start doing anything (depending on which projection things follow - so far we've been trending worse than the worst-case scenarios) we'll have *real* problems on our hands - global famines and wars, massive unilateral geo-engineering projects with similarly massive potential unforseen side effects, not to mention the cost of deploying any fixes we come up with "today" instead of over many decades because we're out of time.

    As for keeping the price of fossil fuels artificially low (which they are in the US) - that actively makes things worse. Solar (for example) is already roughly cost-competitive with coal, so why don't we see it being deployed everywhere it's viable? Well, you're not actually *gaining* much, and you have to pay for all that energy up front as installation costs. Now imagine that electricity cost 3x as much - don't you think more people would start installing solar (and/or getting more efficient), even if they can only afford a low-power installation that just takes the edge off their bill? Does it hit the lower-classes harder? Yes, definitely, and that sucks, but if we want to move our society in the direction we need to go it has to happen, and there are options to make things fairer - for example tax fossil fuels to reflect the non-market costs and dedicate the revenue to subsidies for personal solar energy/efficient appliance/etc, which will also disproportionately benefit the lower classes. For that matter we could just turn around and give all that tax money back to the population equally - that way "average" consumers don't suffer at all, and efficient users end up with a nice fat wad in their pocket to spend on whatever they like, courtesy of the rich folks who don't want to bother with plebeian measures like using public transportation when possible or wearing a sweater instead of cranking up the thermostat.

      More to the point if coal/gas/etc. were 3x as expensive you can bet the energy companies themselves would start getting serious about investing in alternative generating capacity to bring down their generating costs and thus increase their profits. And as alternative energy starts getting deployed on the large scale it both drives down costs for the technology and drives innovation in the technology, bringing it within reach of even more people/communities. How else do you expect alternatives to catch on? These technologies won't get deployed until it's cost-effective to do so, and that won't happen while we keep fossile fuel prices artificially low.

  • Re:Richard Muller (Score:5, Insightful)

    by davester666 ( 731373 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @02:54AM (#42052007) Journal


    Obama had Plan A during the presidential campaign
    McCain says Plan A is crap and he would do Plan B

    Plan B was not rejected by the Republicans UNTIL it was presented to them as "Lets start with Plan B". Followed by "We will not take part in any way with any plan, and we will repeal any plan you may pass."

    To me, that is not anywhere in the vicinity of compromise.

    Hell, the current "compromise" by R w.r.t. tax increases is....let's hit poor people by killing the charitable giving tax deduction [which this tax deduction encourages]. But not even 0.01% tax hike for rich, they will just flee the US.

  • Re:Richard Muller (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xest ( 935314 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @08:49AM (#42053841)

    The scary thing is that even that may not be true.

    As Brian Cox pointed out once:

    "We have spent more money bailing out the banks in one year, than we have spent, on Science, in Britain, since Jesus."

    The amount of money in big business, particularly the fossil fuel mega-corps, is just on a completely different scale to that in the science/research industries.

    For what it's worth though I think there is a bigger problem than PR from the fossil fuel industries. I think the bigger problem is that people neither want, nor like change. Telling people they may have to change their ways a little is a far more difficult than simply proving the fossil fuel industries wrong. People are lazy and getting everyone to even do something simple like sort their rubbish and recycle more rather than mindlessly throwing stuff in the same old bin to be sent to a single landfill is far more of a problem than dealing with shills, the shills just make a tough problem tougher.

You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...