Student’s Corner

(From the St. Louis Post Dispatch)

Enjoy the Student’s Corner global warming perspective political cartoon of the day. My favorite is the “Humans Don’t Exist” bear – it emphasize the absurdity that there is still a discussion over the existence of global warming. The sign underwater says “Read the E-mails” by the way.

 

By Alanna Scheinerman, Class of 2013

4 Comments on “Student’s Corner

  1. Polar Bear is walking? Thank you for the Image you have with the polar bear. I agree in Student’s Corner and i will support with the Student’s Corner for the global warming.

  2. It appears that I put too many links in my original post, so I’ll try this one instead:

    Interesting choice to use Polar Bears to illustrate the fact that you think discussion should be stifled and ended (who, by the way, is really debating that global warming doesn’t exist?). If, in any case, the case for global warming is so rock solid, you should be enjoying the stupidity of people claiming it doesn’t exist. Why limit yourself from such entertainment?

    In any case, I decided to check out what scientists seem to think about Polar Bears as it relates to climate and it turns out there is an entire site dedicated to it by a Polar Bear scientist. It is at polarbearscience dot com

    Now, I know nothing about polar bears except that I have never seen one live, but according to this scientist, it turns out that polar bears have shown a remarkable ability to adapt to changing climate conditions and that if there is too much ice and cold it could actually spell danger for the polar bears. Here is an interesting observation: polarbearscience dot com and the post on July 26th.

    “I’ve been looking at the scientific literature produced by polar bear and Arctic seal biologists for some time and I’ve found it contains some rather interesting and potentially important facts that are being left out, glossed over, or misrepresented in statements and publications generated by polar bear advocates of all kinds. ”

    “this new academic paper by Stirling and Derocher makes a similar statements to one I took serious exception to in Stirling’s book — both misrepresent the facts regarding ringed seal and polar bear mortality events that occurred in the early 1970s in the southern Beaufort Sea. As I pointed out in my review of Stirling’s book, what both of these accounts fail to mention is that these well documented mortality events were associated with especially cold winters and heavier than usual sea ice.”

    The discussion and follow-up posts are “fun” reads.

    Thanks for encouraging me to learn more about the “consensus” today.

  3. Interesting choice to use Polar Bears to illustrate the fact that you think discussion should be stifled and ended (who, by the way, is really debating that global warming doesn’t exist?). If, in any case, the case for global warming is so rock solid, you should be enjoying the stupidity of people claiming it doesn’t exist. Why limit yourself from such entertainment?

    In any case, I decided to check out what scientists seem to think about Polar Bears as it relates to climate and it turns out there is an entire site dedicated to it by a Polar Bear scientist. http://polarbearscience.com/

    Now, I know nothing about polar bears except that I have never seen one live, but according to this scientist, it turns out that polar bears have shown a remarkable ability to adapt to changing climate conditions and that if there is too much ice and cold it could actually spell danger for the polar bears. Here is an interesting observation: http://polarbearscience.com/2012/07/26/cooling-the-polar-bear-spin/

    “I’ve been looking at the scientific literature produced by polar bear and Arctic seal biologists for some time and I’ve found it contains some rather interesting and potentially important facts that are being left out, glossed over, or misrepresented in statements and publications generated by polar bear advocates of all kinds. ”

    “this new academic paper by Stirling and Derocher makes a similar statements to one I took serious exception to in Stirling’s book — both misrepresent the facts regarding ringed seal and polar bear mortality events that occurred in the early 1970s in the southern Beaufort Sea. As I pointed out in my review of Stirling’s book, what both of these accounts fail to mention is that these well documented mortality events were associated with especially cold winters and heavier than usual sea ice.”

    The discussion and follow-up posts are “fun” reads.

    Thanks for encouraging me to learn more about the “consensus” today.

  4. This is worrisome. Is it the consensus perspective that “skeptics” are knuckle-dragging neanderthals? Is it really a learning opportunity and a way to engage in serious debate about the issue of climate change?

    Two questions: first if colleges are supposed to be places that celebrate diversity, is it OK to openly mock someone for their beliefs, even if they happen to be wrong?

    Second, can you articulate what the actual “skeptic” position is? I’ll buy you lunch if you can thoughtfully try. Because the straw man of the science-denying neanderthal may be a fun rhetorical trick, and a way to signal what group one belongs to, but it is inaccurate, misprepresentative and dangerous to the very cause that presumably you care about.

    It is child’s play to torch the Straw Man of a few loud-mouthed ignoramuses (perhaps like Senator Inhofe) who deny the basics of climate chemistry. But that just takes anyone away from engaging seriously in a conversation about what to do (if anything can be done). Or because a few nutjobs deny the existence of a greenhouse effect, or deny that small concentrations of CO2 can alter climate, does that mean this is “your opponents” position? And isn’t it some sort of taboo “-ism” to apply to an entire group your impressions based on a few particular members of a group.

    I thought we were at a university.

    Well, I suppose we can play this stupid game if you want. So if some member of a group that I am a part of (or better yet that I am not part of but that you imagine I am part of) adheres to some stupid, wrong, (or right) belief, then that means every member does? It means that every member is an idiot? You know, I once met a progressive-liberal that believed in aliens. Seriously. That seems pretty anti-science and pretty “stupid” to me. Good, great, so all progressive liberals are stupid anti-science idiots. How mature. And here I thought we are all supposed to celebrate the diversity of thought and ideas that is out there in the world.

    But let’s consider some other serious scientific evidence. What share of “progressives” believes that the minimum wage is an effective way to fight poverty? Because even if you take the best of the literature that shows the minimum wage has small or no negative impacts on employment, that’s a far cry from helping. That’s like saying, “great, so drinking a lot doesn’t kill you.” What proportion of “progressives” believe the minimum wage helps the poor? That’s a totally anti-science position to take. Or better yet, how about the idea that centrally planned economies work better? What share of “progressives” believe in that fantasy? And how does that compare to the share of “stupid, old, white, conservative people” who reject evolution or climate chemistry? I actually don’t know, but surely such things can be estimated, no?

    This does not mean that the appropriate strategy is to spend time smearing people who disagree with you on these kinds of grounds. Rather the point again is to demonstrate the utter nudity of these emperors. These arguments might rightly be mocked out of existence, as they have little place in a serious conversation.

    But, who, again is the denier? And what is the real, not imagined, position of skeptics? (live links at the site: http://theunbrokenwindow.com/2012/02/24/whos-the-denier/

    Here are some facts are about the climate that are part of the consensus:

    1. The planet has warmed about at about 0.7 degrees centigrade over the past century. Who is denying that? It ain’t the true skeptics.

    2. Carbon dioxide has been demonstrated to be a greenhouse gas. Who is denying that? It ain’t the true skeptics.

    3. Our basic climate understanding (i.e. the models) indicate that if we doubled CO2 from pre-industrial levels (which were close to 280 ppm, we are very near 400 right now) then temperatures, knowing what we know about carbon dioxide, should double. The 0.7 increase does seem to be in line with that (mostly, I have seen, even among alarmists, “concern” that this number ought to have been larger). Hence if we continue to double CO2 over the next century, the planet will warm by 1 degree centigrade, all else equal. Who is denying that? It ain’t the true skeptics.

    But that’s about where the real scientific consensus ends, and certainly where the major disagreements begin. Because as others have pointed out countless times, only to be slandered as anti-science lunatics, in order for us to need to roll back industrial civilization, in order for us to rapidly impose decarbonization, in order for us to retreat to the pre-civilization gift economies that so many folks seem to long for, one would have to demonstrate that:

    1. When CO2 concentrations increase, the planet will warm by much more than the basic greenhouse gas theory indicates. So, the climate models believe that there are positive feedback loops which will amplify the impacts of 1 degree of warming into something closer to 6 degrees of warming. There is absolutely no settled science here.

    Call this step 1a: we have to assume that even with our limited knowledge that we have any capability at all of modeling something as complex as climate – with really only 100+ years of data using measurements (even if all of those measurements are correct) and at best another 1000 years or so using temperature proxies (assuming no problems with those things). We’ve discussed this in the past in terms of how it compares to macroeconometric modeling. Let’s just say this is little more than a guessing game.

    2. Then we are going to have to assume that all of the warming that we have observed (and model) comes from humans. Of course it is almost surely true that humans are the reason why CO2 concentrations are higher today (there are some legitimate folks who do not think this is necessarily true, but ignore them). And by extension we’d have to argue that all of the potential future catastrophically bad warming will be solely because of human activities.

    3. Then we have to know, with some degree of certainty, exactly what will happen to the Earth as it warms. And we will have to argue that as this happens over the course of decades or perhaps a century-long time scale that the challenges will prove un-over-comeable. So, we’d have to draw linkages between warmer climate to rising seas (easy enough), expanding malarial ranges (almost as easy), changes in farm productivity (sort of easy) and so on.

    4. But not only that, we have to know with some degree of certainty that these changes caused by warming, are not only tough to deal with, but are catastrophically bad.

    5. But not only that, we have to know with more than some degree of certainty that rolling back industrial civilization is the way to best deal with (4).

    (6) All of this is assuming of course that in nowhere along the way is anyone motivated by political or ideological reasons either on the science or policy side, so that we actually could be having a serious entertainment of the inquiry. But I’m a 9 foot tall Nobel Prize winner if that is true. I keep coming back to this thought.

    I am skipping many steps, but this is neither a climate site nor an environmental economics site. The reason for the comment here is not all of that, it has been said by smarter and more thoughtful people than me many times and they still have been dismissed as cooks, cranks, anti-science deniers. One need not disagree at all with what the scientists truly understand yet vigorously reject the conclusions drawn by folks who hold themselves as the paragons of science, truth and reason.

    Here is the latest illustration. One of the most serious potential climate threats is the expansion of malaria around the globe. Already a horrific threat (after a conference we held, which included several scientists, I reported on the expected costs here), a warmer planet is expected to make this problem worse.

    No one I know of denies any of this. But few people I know realize that it doesn’t follow that we eliminate industrial civilization to fix the problem, assuming it is going to manifest. Here is a new paper from a UK scientific journal called the Lancet:

    “Global malaria deaths increased from 995 000 (95% uncertainty interval 711 000—1 412 000) in 1980 to a peak of 1 817 000 (1 430 000—2 366 000) in 2004, decreasing to 1 238 000 (929 000—1 685 000) in 2010. In Africa, malaria deaths increased from 493 000 (290 000—747 000) in 1980 to 1 613 000 (1 243 000—2 145 000) in 2004, decreasing by about 30% to 1 133 000 (848 000—1 591 000) in 2010.

    Our findings show that the malaria mortality burden is larger than previously estimated, especially in adults. There has been a rapid decrease in malaria mortality in Africa because of the scaling up of control activities supported by international donors.”

    In other words, in just a six year period, the number of malaria deaths around the world decreased from 1.8 million to 1.2 million. You read that correctly. Malaria deaths fell by roughly a third. And remember folks, not only did these deaths fall by a third, they fell by a third during a time when the consensus agrees that global temperatures are at record highs (at least during the instrumental record) and showed no signs of tapering off to lower levels. In other words, in the presence of global warming the malaria problem has been considerably improved. Note that this does not mean that the warmer planet did not expand the population at risk for exposure to malaria. That may or may not be an interesting fact. But it does mean that something else, aside from ending industrial civilization as we know it, had a hand in reducing global malaria death, and those trends are not just gains in rich places, the biggest gains have again been happily in Africa – which continues (it appears) its run of a decade of very impressive economic growth.

    The point of all of this? One of the most fundamental reasons for being alarmed about a warming planet, disease spread, has no business at all (in a real model of human behavior) being included among the unique problems of global warming. Or if it does, then somehow someone ought to model what has just happened in the last decade around the globe – because that sure ain’t what you see in the IPCC’s 4th assessment report, and I’ll bet more than a cup of coffee that it ain’t what you’ll see in the forthcoming 5th assessment report. And the fact remains is that this sort of observation and understanding need not be limited to malaria spread. The impact of the consensus/agreed upon problems that are likely to be caused by a warming planet may not be large enough as compared to our human ingenuity at dealing with it.

    I’ve told my students for years that regardless of the temperature record or CO2 concentrations (which at best are markers for potential damage) I’ll convert myself to a “true believer” when I see measures of human well-being obviously suffering. Yet despite the warming planet, and continued expectation of warming, infant mortality rates continue to fall, life expectancy continues to increase, crop-yields (though their rate of increase has slowed – sort of like how we think of government budget “cuts”) continue to increase, air pollution continues to fall (including ozone) and mortality related to factors like heat seems to be on the decline too (uh oh, that link was from a “free-market” energy blog, I am sure the Kochs paid the guy to make all of that up).

    So no one I know who is serious denies anything about what the consensus is about global warming. But then again I know of virtually no one in the alarmist community who recognizes anything about what I’ve written here today. Maybe I don’t go to enough cocktail parties. Sure. But who, I ask, really is the denier here?

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