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Basic Math and Representative Blackburn

math-1+1=3Ok, I watched the interchange between Bill Nye and Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN/Vice Chair, Energy and Commerce Committee) on MTP today.  As such “debates” go, it was pretty typical.  I was struck, however, by two things.  One was general and one was very specific.

First, Blackburn’s main argue (so to speak) was (and Nye noted this) to simply sow doubt. Not to provide evidence or argument, but rather to simply state things like the following:

“there is not agreement around the fact of exactly what is causing this.”

[...]

“there is not consensus”

[...]

“we have to look at is the fact that you don’t make good laws, sustainable laws when you’re making them on hypotheses or theories or unproven sciences.”

This is all designed to make it sound as if we (in general) do not really know anything about this topic.  I am no climate scientist, certainly.  However, I do know what a basic scientific consensus looks like, and there is a pretty strong one on climate change.  And while I do not know what the proper policy prescriptions should be, I am to the point where I find the utter denial of the situation to be borderline farcical, if not plain dishonest.  I can understand skepticism about specific polices.  However, I am well past the point where I find the skeptics as a group that can be taken seriously (at least when they “argue” like Rep. Blackburn).

Second, the bit of data that she did share was as follows:

REP. BLACKBURN: Well, I think that what you have to do is look at what that warming is. And when you look at the fact that we have gone from 320 parts per million 0.032, to 0.040 four hundred parts per million, what you do is realize it’s very slight.

This refers to the amount of C02 in the atmosphere.

Rhetorically she was clearly trying to minimize the numbers by going the “zero point zero three two” route because it sounds smaller that “three hundred and twenty.”

More importantly, however, she either willfully ignores the percentage because she wants to avoid it or because she doesn’t understand the implication.

Going from 320 to 400 parts per million is a 25% increase.  That is a significant increase.  In simple terms, 25% more of something is a lot.

A 25% raise?  Awesome!

A 25% larger slice of that delicious cake?  Yes, please.

A 25% increase in the fuel efficiency of my care?  Bring it on.

25% more cancer?  No, thank you.

25% interest on my purchases?  No way.

Now, it may well be that 25% more CO2 in the atmosphere does not matter (although the evidence suggests otherwise).  Maybe the climate is unaffected by such a change, but it is not a number that can be dismissed as “slight” in an of itself.  A 25% increase is not “very slight” and one would like to think that someone who is the Vice Chair, Energy and Commerce Committee would know that.

Beyond the percentage change is the general trend line and then what questions one begins to ask and answer after that (you know, science).

By way of counter-example, if the Denver Broncos had scored 25% more points in the Super Bowl, that would not have made any difference on the outcome.  But to know that one, has to know how many points the Seahawks scored.  In other words, it requires some additional data and research.

Nye did respond, noting the following:

MR. NYE: [...]  When you said you asserted, congresswoman, that a change from 320 to 400 parts per million is insignificant? My goodness, that’s– that’s 30 percent. I mean that’s an enormous change, and it’s changing the world. And that’s just over the last few decades. You go back to 1750 with the invention of the steam engine– I mean, everybody’s been over this a lot– but it’s gone from 250 to 400.

Again:  it is theoretically possible that a 25% increase in C02 concentration is no big deal (although then again, it very well might be), but to either a) not understand the basic math, or b) willfully try to obfuscate it means that one is not adequately equipped to even attempt to discuss the matter.

This is depressing, if unsurprising, situation for someone in an important position in the US government.

Update:  Put another way, the Representative does not appear to understand the difference between absolute change and percentage change.

Related Posts:

About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. He is the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and is currently working on a comparative study of the US to 29 other democracies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging at PoliBlog since 2003. Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    Well…she is blonde.

    You’re exactly right. We can discuss what to do… But there is no real question that it’s happening.
    The problem is that you can’t even get to the discussion about what to do because the Republican Party chooses to do what the blonde did…obfuscate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  2. C. Clavin says:

    Ignoring science…not a Conservative position.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  3. Stan says:

    “For how can you compete,
    Being honour bred, with one
    Who, were it proved he lies,
    Were neither shamed in his own
    Nor in his neighbours’ eyes?”

    Yeats, showing that he understood the nature of politics.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  4. walt moffett says:

    From here, sounds like Blackburn gave the usual politician’s dazzle/baffle performance and protected Tennessee’s coal industry.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Again: it is theoretically possible that a 25% increase in C02 concentration is no big deal

    Steven, “Theoretically” if I broke your legs, broke your back, shot you through both your elbows and took a hammer to both your hands, AND took all the money you had in the bank, all the valuables you had in your house, burned it to the ground, killed your wife and all your children….

    Well, “theoretically”, you could go on to live a long and happy, prosperous and fulfilling life. Something tells me you would not say, “Sure. Go for it.”

    On one hand, we have the known quantitative properties of certain chemicals and gasses, and we have scientists who are able to calculate their effects on the atmosphere, even if they can not quantify the full and complete end results on the planet. On the other hand we have people who are incapable of basic math.

    I have a suggestion: I propose we move all the nuclear waste in the world right next door to the climate deniers because as they have said…. repeatedly…. Science really can’t predict what will happen with these materials.

    PS: All the coal plants and refineries? Chemical storage facilities? Them too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Stan: Yeats… Gotta love him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. @OzarkHillbilly: All I am saying is that it is true that just knowing something increased by 25% doesn’t mean anything by itself. I recognize that in this case we have ample evidence to suggest that it does.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  8. Tillman says:

    This is all designed to make it sounds as if we (in general) do not really know nothing about this topic. I am no climate scientist, certainly. However, I do know what a basic scientific consensus looks like, and there is a pretty strong one on climate change. And while I do not know what the proper policy prescriptions should be, I am to the point where I find the utter denial of the situation to be borderline farcical, if not plain dishonest.

    A segment of the population conflated global warming with earth-loving hippies and turned it into a culture war issue. This is an improper framing, but the one we are stuck with nonetheless. We don’t have enough scientists out there saying they’d love to keep driving SUVs but the models are too terrifying to consider it.

    There’s another segment that believes (somewhat blindly) technology will save us. They don’t help the situation.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Steven, in theory, I knew that. In theory, Jesus is going to come down and make pigs kosher any day now. My only point was that saying, “In theory….” is as pointless as saying “I just flew in from Philadelphia and boy oh boy, are my arms tired.” It may or may not make people laugh but it does not mean anything in the real world.

    In other words, saying “In theory….” gives them way too much credit and I am really tired of giving these idiots anything more than the ridicule they so richly deserve.

    Also, I apologize for using you in the example in my original post. I could have just as easily used myself and my point would have been just as sharp. After I hit “post comment” I thought, ” whoa, that could come off as a threat.” My apologies, Nothing could ever be further from my mind…. which, I suppose, explains why I hit post comment. That and the fact that sometimes I say really stupid things.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  10. Ben Wolf says:

    @Steven Taylor,

    If the good representative thinks small things can’t be a problem then perhaps she shouldn’t bother washing her hands or using antibiotics. After all, such a miniscule addition to the biota of her body couldn’t possibly cause any harm.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  11. @OzarkHillbilly: I take the point. I am just trying to be true to basic logic in the hope that someone might learn from it. It is true that the change itself, by itself, does not tell us enough, but it certainly suggests that more research is needed. It is not a change that should be so cavalierly dismissed as the Representative tried to do.

    And, of course, we know that by studying this situation that there is far more to know.,

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  12. @Ben Wolf: Indeed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    It is true that the change itself, by itself, does not tell us enough, but it certainly suggests that more research is needed.

    I have to disagree with this point, but only to this extent: The change itself, by itself, tells us terrible things are happening. But climate is a very complex thing that we are only beginning to research and understand and the full extent of the damage we are doing to our planet are yet to become clear to us. But we do know this much: We are changing our world and the consequences of it are beyond our knowledge or our control, but they are irreversible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  14. @OzarkHillbilly: Taken as a single bit of information, a change may not be consequential. Noting the change should lead to additional study, however.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. john personna says:

    I was somewhat surprised to hear that the Prius has been the best selling car in California for two years running.

    YMMV

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  16. al-Ameda says:

    I watched it too. With respect to Blackburn it’s one of two things: (1) she is not smart when it comes to science and thinking analytically and critically, or (2) she’s just another hack, pandering to a dumbed down conservative base. For now, I’m going with (2), and I thought her performance was a par-for-the-course-these-days disgrace.

    Also, many people use the term “theoretically” as a way of saying that the probability of an occurrence is next to impossible. In science, a theory is usually an explanation of natural phenomena that is proven out by a documented record of observation and measurement. “Theoretically” is not used to indicate that everything is up for grabs, or that because a theory cannot explain or predict everything it is invalid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  17. mike shupp says:

    There’s only one way for climate change believers to win this argument: do nothing, shut up, let the world go to hell, and then point out that cimate change denialists were in charge of things for the preceeding 60 or 70 years. And realistically, who’s going to care in 60 or 70 years if no one’s heard a word from climate change believers in all that time?

    Suppose instead people worried about global warming seize control of the US government, pass a variety of carbon taxes, mandate ever increasing mileage standards for automobiles, pour government investment into wind and hydroelectric power generation and the like, push similarly agressive climate intervention on third world nations, and just generally do things that make good conservatives scream and moan for the next 60-70 years. And global warming is much reduced in importance, and the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere begin falling, and other good stuff happens.

    How would conservatives respond? My guess: They’d point to the fact that temperatures had been held down as PROOF that global warming was never a threat to begin with, and that all the climate intervention the climate change believers had engaged in had just been stupid, expensive, wastefullness in defiance of all economic and democratic principles. And they’d run — successfully — for political office for the next century on that platform.

    So, the argument about global warming can’t be won on logical grounds. People who really want to win that argument sooner or later have to consider measures that are irrevokable and that don’t involve routtine politics. Nationalizing and shutting down coal mines, for instance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  18. ernieyeball says:

    Screw the Spam Filter. This is from the Mojave Desert Blog Nov 2013
    The filter will not let me post the link.

    SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2013
    Waking up to the Solar Power Tower Threat
    As BrightSource Energy began to bulldoze approximately 5.6 square miles of pristine desert to build its Ivanpah Solar power project, we quickly learned the impact on terrestrial species – rare wildflowers, long-lived yucca plants, and desert tortoises were displaced or killed. Now that the Ivanpah Solar project is powering on, thousands of mirrors focusing the sun’s rays at three towers have burned or battered dozens of birds in the first couple of months of becoming operational.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. michael reynolds says:

    The great strength of conservatives is that they are able to simply ignore reality. You’d think it was a weakness, but given our political system, no, it’s a strength. They simply do not care what reality is. They have no difficulty just making things up. Reality is whatever they need it to be.

    The weakness of liberals is that we are tied to (and tied down by) reality. Not to say we aren’t often wrong, but if you demonstrate that we are wrong we’re helpless, whereas the conservative simply ignores reality and repeats his talking points.

    They have the strength of schizophrenia. We have the weakness of sanity.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 1

  20. Ron Beasley says:

    I am about half way through The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert. It’s even worse than I thought and I’m really glad I’m old and don’t have any grandchildren.
    Marsha Blackburn (R-TN/) is dumb as a stick, the lying tool of the coal industry or probably both. Most animals don’t shit in their own dens – something the human race has failed to learn.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  21. cleverboots says:

    Blackburn is an ignorant individual. Whatever the topic, her comment is sure to
    highlight the fact that she merely repeats what she is told and knows nothing.
    It would be funny if she were not a sitting member of Congress with the power to vote.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  22. HiPlanesDrifter says:

    @C. Clavin:
    “The problem is that you can’t even get to the discussion about what to do because the Republican Party chooses to do what the blonde did…obfuscate.”
    Why is a ‘discussion about what to do’ necessary? You’re free to do anything you want about so-called ‘climate change’ w/o a discussion. Are you still using fossil fuels? You seem to say you are prevented from doing anything until conservatives acknowledge & accept your position that global warming is occurring. If it is happening, do whatever you want to stop it.

    And the Republican party obfuscates? The only ostensible fact I see presented in this article is that the CO2 level has risen 25%. Okay, I’ll accept that as a fact for a moment. How does that cause or correlate to a rise in temperatures? And if it does, has it done so, and how? That’s not addressed in the article. Am I to blindly presume that nothing else affects the earth’s temp except CO2 levels & the argument is therefore settled? What are the current sizes of the arctic ice caps & how has that varied over past decades? And how that does correlate to rise in temperatures elsewhere on the globe? Not addressed. Interesting how you accuse those who disagree of ‘obfuscating’ but I fail to see much else from your side.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 21

  23. J. Winston says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    I read your comment twice and I still do not understand what you are getting at. What I can tell you is, you sir, need help.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. HiPlanesDrifter says:

    “However, I do know what a basic scientific consensus looks like, and there is a pretty strong one on climate change. And while I do not know what the proper policy prescriptions should be, I am to the point where I find the utter denial of the situation to be borderline farcical, if not plain dishonest.”

    You know what a basic scientific consensus looks like? Then show it! Is it 4 out of 5 scientists agree – that chewing sugarless gum helps prevent cavities? Tell me, please! What exactly IS the consensus and to what is it exactly they are consenting? Some, if not most, of the data global warmer ‘scientists’ offer has been proven to be fraudulent, or unintentionally flawed at best. I would also be interested to know the financial interests of those who offer alleged ‘consensus.’ If it exists, you omit crucial details of a ‘basic scientific consensus’ to which you refer.

    And you don’t know the proper policy prescriptions? Then why are you calling Blackburn’s position farcical or ‘plain dishonest’? That’s akin to saying, ‘well I don’t know what the answer is, but I know your answer is wrong or you’re lying.’

    “. . .but to either a) not understand the basic math, or b) willfully try to obfuscate it means that one is not adequately equipped to even attempt to discuss the matter.
    There’s at least one more choice: she could be correct. The only alternatives you offer are that Blackburn is either stupid & thus wrong, OR she’s dishonest & thus wrong. Not good enough. Do your homework & show it before you accuse others of being only wrong or dishonest.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 31

  25. argon says:

    @HiPlanesDrifter:There’s at least one more choice: she could be correct.

    That’s not a choice. Whether Blackburn is correct is orthogonal to whether she is competent on the subject. She is anything but a reliable authority, hence her opinions are flapdoodle.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1

  26. cleverboots says:

    @argon: Excellent analysis! I have yet to hear a cogent comment in any of Blackburn’s TV appearances.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  27. dennis says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    Agreed, Ron.

    And quit insulting sticks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  28. Tillman says:

    @HiPlanesDrifter:

    You know what a basic scientific consensus looks like? Then show it! Is it 4 out of 5 scientists agree – that chewing sugarless gum helps prevent cavities? Tell me, please! What exactly IS the consensus and to what is it exactly they are consenting?

    First off, the Internet is your friend. Second, from this link, under the “Advanced” tab:

    Surveys of the peer-reviewed scientific literature and the opinions of experts consistently show a 97–98% consensus that humans are causing global warming.

    Further…

    Some, if not most, of the data global warmer ‘scientists’ offer has been proven to be fraudulent, or unintentionally flawed at best. I would also be interested to know the financial interests of those who offer alleged ‘consensus.’ If it exists, you omit crucial details of a ‘basic scientific consensus’ to which you refer.

    Provide some evidence on this point. Links would be nice. The “climategate” emails from 2009 don’t count.

    There’s at least one more choice: she could be correct. The only alternatives you offer are that Blackburn is either stupid & thus wrong, OR she’s dishonest & thus wrong.

    Given all those shiny links and the shiny information they hold above, she is either stupid and wrong or dishonest and wrong. She is far, far from right.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 1

  29. Tillman says:

    @HiPlanesDrifter:

    The only ostensible fact I see presented in this article is that the CO2 level has risen 25%. Okay, I’ll accept that as a fact for a moment. How does that cause or correlate to a rise in temperatures? And if it does, has it done so, and how?

    How CO2 causes or correlates to a rise in global temperature.

    How CO2 has been shown to contribute to climate change by being emitted into the atmosphere.

    Seriously, this stuff has been around for years. The only people maintaining a defiant posture against action on this issue are those financially benefiting from it (which would be all of us, since gas is neat) or people who have a culture war stance to maintain against dirty hippies.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 2

  30. dennis says:

    @HiPlanesDrifter:

    Wow. Let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that your questions are valid.

    Are you proposing that human activity has NO effect whatsoever on environments, ecologies and ecosystems? Do you hold that agricultural land use alone doesn’t affect the atmosphere, as a variety of greenhouse gases from soil tillage and fertilizer utilization emit into the air? Not to mention the gases from mobile and stationary combustion power sources. It’s a fact that CO2, Ozone, and nitrous oxides have a deleterious effect on human and environmental health.

    Hell, that’s reason enough itself for us to take measures to curtail the negative impacts of industrialization on the planetary systems on which we depend without even having to couch the debate in terms of climate change. At the very least begin the discussion that you dismiss as unnecessary at the beginning of your post. Do you hold as acceptable the extinction of flora and fauna species in furtherance of industrial economic goals? Do you not consider that ecosystems have inherent value and that they support all biota, including us?

    What are you willing to pay and what trade-offs are you willing to make to preserve and sustain the systems in which you live and breath?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  31. gVOR08 says:

    Once again – Where do Republicans find these people? And why?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  32. gVOR08 says:

    @HiPlanesDrifter: If you want to survive on these threads you’re going to have to have at least a basic grasp of current events. To do this, you may have to go outside the Conservative Entertainment Complex.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  33. cleverboots says:

    @gVOR08: They hold a contest to find out who is the dumbest and most willing to repeat the Party line, no matter how untrue or inane it is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  34. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Ron Beasley: Thank you Ron. I was just about to point out to @Steven L. Taylor: that I thought that was pretty consequential. Steven, the thing is, there is no one single bit of information. We have thousands, hundreds of thousands of bits of information. Climate deniers like to pick a single data point and say, “AHA! SEE?” while ignoring all the other overwhelming amounts of evidence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  35. ptfe says:

    I would also be interested to know the financial interests of those who offer alleged ‘consensus.’ If it exists, you omit crucial details of a ‘basic scientific consensus’ to which you refer.

    Ah, the uselessness of discussing this with a partisan goon. It’s one thing to point out who financially gains when you, say, go to war. Science isn’t a war: the winners in any scientific endeavor are those whose theories stand up to experiments, predict results, and don’t get washed away with data. Anybody arguing that science falls one way or another along financial grounds has never dealt with grants, never dealt with publications, never dealt with anything of substance in an academic field. Results win you prizes, get you a leg up, give you credibility in your field and exclusive career opportunities. Clear evidence that global climate change is not happening or has non-human causes would shake the entire climate science field and bring you rapidly to the top of your field. Your publications would be known to everybody in your field, dissected and parsed for every bit of material that could be reproduced and expanded on. You would (briefly) be able to get grants by sneezing on a paper and signing your name.

    Then again, with thousands of signs pointing the way to the Grand Canyon, if you assume that all the sign-makers and sign-installers were motivated by greed (they’re getting paid! those hacks!), you might just be searching for the Grand Canyon in Nebraska.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  36. gVOR08 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I admire precision in language. I admire Steven’s statement, which shows the Representative is condemned by the illogic of her own words, without needing to reference any external context. I guess it’s the academic in him showing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  37. Stan says:

    @Tillman: I must defend Representative Blackburn. One definition of consensus is

    “a general agreement about something : an idea or opinion that is shared by all the people in a group”

    I know of at least two atmospheric scientists who disagree in part about the degree of global warming, Richard Lindzen of MIT and Roger Pielke of Colorado State. Neither of them deny the role of human activity in causing climate change, but they think the quantitative predictions of the IPCC are inaccurate. Lindzen’s argument is that existing atmospheric models underestimate atmospheric feedbacks that mitigate increased warming caused by the so-called greenhouse effect. I haven’t read Pielke’s papers, but I gather his disagreement with the IPCC centers more on interpretation of atmospheric observations. I don’t know Pielke. When I was younger I knew Lindzen very well. They’re both good scientists, and I believe both of them are sincere in their views. So technically speaking, Representative Blackburn is correct, even if she doesn’t know it. Not every atmospheric scientist is convinced that the IPCC estimates are accurate. The overwhelming majority do, but not everybody.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  38. dennis says:

    @ptfe:

    “Science isn’t a war:”

    Ah, that’s where you are mistaken. Everything is a war when it comes to fighting the Libruhl agenda. Onward, Christian soldiers!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  39. Tillman says:

    @ptfe: Really, I’m wondering where all the money to pay off 98% of all climatologists is coming from. At least when someone alleges Big Oil is obfuscating climate science you’ve got a source of capital to do it with. Who’s running the giant foundation that pays nearly every working climatologist in the world to keep up the scam?

    There’s no way in hell the U.S. Government is doing it, because I find it really difficult to believe Republicans going over the budget with a fine-tooth comb looking for something to slash wouldn’t catch it. Then again, basic science grants have taken a hit…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  40. C. Clavin says:

    @Stan:
    The ditsy blonde’s argument isn’t about degree…it’s wholesale denial and obfuscation.
    You admit that the two guys you mention agree that it’s happening. They are in consensus with the scientific community. Blackburn says there is no consensus.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  41. C. Clavin says:

    @HiPlanesDrifter:
    So you are a member of the cult that ha the dubious honor of being the only group in the world that disagrees with the science. 97% makes a pretty clear consensus. However you do agree with the dumb blonde form Tennessee…so you have that going for you…which is nice.

    A peer-reviewed survey of all (over 12,000) peer-reviewed abstracts on the subject ‘global climate change’ and ‘global warming’ published between 1991 and 2011 (Cook et al. 2013) found that over 97% of the papers taking a position on the subject agreed with the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. In a second phase of the project, the scientist authors were emailed and rated over 2,000 of their own papers. Once again, over 97% of the papers taking a position on the cause of global warming agreed that humans are causing it.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-scientific-consensus-intermediate.htm

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  42. DA says:

    @C. Clavin: your arguments would be stronger without the misogyny.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  43. Tillman says:

    @Stan: That’s the beauty of the science, really. This takes me back: years ago on another forum I was debating climate change with this dude. He wasn’t denying it, but he claimed microclimatic shifts caused by changes in the hydrologic cycle were to blame. The solution? Change how we irrigate our farms. Water vapor is the glass of the greenhouse effect.

    So technically speaking, Representative Blackburn is correct, even if she doesn’t know it. Not every atmospheric scientist is convinced that the IPCC estimates are accurate. The overwhelming majority do, but not everybody.

    Ah. She is technically correct – the best kind of correct. You’ll note as time has passed, the IPCC estimates do change due to revised models and ongoing research. It used to be we’d all be dead in twenty years, and it’s gone from that to fifty or so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  44. C. Clavin says:

    @DA:
    I’m sorry…this woman is a ditz…and she proved it once again in this farce of a debate.
    Acknowledging that she is an idiot does not in any way constitute misogyny.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  45. DA says:

    @C. Clavin: Associating being an idiot to the fact the she is a woman with blonde hair is misogynist. Just calling her an idiot would not be.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  46. Tillman says:

    @C. Clavin: As someone who’s been called out for using loaded terms before, I feel absolutely no hypocrisy in saying “ditz” is kind of a loaded term when applied to women. “Idiot” isn’t.

    Edit: Or, what DA said right above me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  47. @OzarkHillbilly:

    teven, the thing is, there is no one single bit of information.

    Yes, I understand that. However, that wasn’t the point I was trying to make. If one is going to say that people are engaging in poor reasoning, then one has to demonstrate how.

    The focus of this little post was to focus on one specific error. Now, this error may point to others, to be sure.

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  48. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: Yes, and my complaint is that it gives people like her cover by making them sound reasonable when they are anything but.

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  49. @Stan: I don’t think consensus requires unanimity.

    Beyond that, however, I think we can agree that the nature of scientific inquiry, even in the context of consensus (or even unanimity, if such a thing ever fully exists) means that there is an openness for ongoing experimentation and debate (as well as the very real possibility that conclusions can change).

    Under what I would consider consensus in this context includes the potential for dissent and for change, even with a dominant approach or paradigm being in place.

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  50. C. Clavin says:

    @DA:
    @Tillman:
    Fine.
    She’s a f’ing idiot.
    Please disregard any comments above that imply anything more than that she is a world class imbecile.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  51. @OzarkHillbilly: Then I think you do not understand my point.

    If part of the underlying issue here is getting people to think more scientifically, then we have to be precise. It is absolutely, positively, the case that observing a 25% increase in CO2 is not, in and of itself, enough to tell us anything save that there has been a 25% increase in CO2. Now, as I have repeatedly noted, this should lead us to further research (and it has).

    However, I am not talking here about the further research. I am talking about getting anyone who thinks Blackburn is correct that the change in CO2 has been “very sleight” doesn’t understand basic math. Indeed, a first step in getting where you want the argument to be requires understanding that there has been a significant increase in CO2, rather than a sleight one.

    Focusing here (in a very brief blog post) on the one point is an attempt to get people to think a bit more systematically.

    If I say that observation X tells us Y, Q, and Z just because, I am hardly modeling systematic thinking, now am I?

    Further, I am utterly unclear on how this post “gives people like her cover by making them sound reasonable” when the underlying thesis is that she doesn’t understand the difference between a percentage change and absolute change.

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  52. @C. Clavin: I have to agree with DA and Tillman, calling out her hair color and calling her a ditz doesn’t forward an argument at all.

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  53. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I know Steven, I know. I find it really hard to engage in reasonable debate when I am met with blatant lies and obfuscations. Your way is far more persuasive to the undecideds than mine. But than, you have a doctorate and I don’t. ;-)

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  54. rudderpedals says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I suppose I won’t help by noting her qualifications include “beauty pageant winner”.

    In answering the subhed:

    Lack of understanding or basic dishonesty?

    I’d suggest it’s not an exclusive-or.

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  55. mattbernius says:

    @Stan:
    The issue is that when you parse what Blackburn said, the fact is that she’s in fundamental disagreement with the two scientists you mention. As you yourself note:

    I know of at least two atmospheric scientists who disagree in part about the degree of global warming, Richard Lindzen of MIT and Roger Pielke of Colorado State. Neither of them deny the role of human activity in causing climate change, but they think the quantitative predictions of the IPCC are inaccurate.

    In other words, both believe that the data show (a) that accelerated climate change is occurring, and (b) that there is a human component to it.

    It’s worth noting that Blackburn actually appears to accept proposition (a) — she spends no time trying to deny that climate change is not happening. But she clearly does not agree with proposition (b) – that there is a human component to it.

    What one has to understand is that CO2 in that discussion is a specific reference to Anthropomorphic Global Warming. In fact, if you look carefully at the transcript, at no point does Blackburn *ever* specifically say anything linking human activity to those numbers (she was clearly well coached).

    As I’ve written many times, we’re at a point where there is consensus on two aspects of the climate change debate: (a) that it’s happening, and (b) that human activity is playing a role in it.

    As you point out Stan, there’s a lot of room for debate on the degree of the role human activity is playing (though that’s getting less and less) and on the degree and ramifications of Climate Change. But that’s not the debate that Rep Blackburn was attempting to have. If anything, those are the debates she was actively trying to stop.

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  56. grumpy realist says:

    @Stan: Then I guess we don’t have consensus on anything and we can ignore all science, right? I suggest you stop going to your doctor and talking any medicine because whatever treatment you’re being prescribed I’m sure if I root around enough I can find a self-proclaimed “expert” who has a different opinion.

    Feh.

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  57. C. Clavin says:

    @HiPlanesDrifter:
    This is what consensus looks like.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Climate_science_opinion2.png

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  58. gVOR08 says:

    @mattbernius: I always struggle with the debate over whether it’s anthropomorphic. What difference does it make? If you concede: that there is warming, that it will cause major problems, and that we can mitigate it by reducing carbon emissions; why does it matter who or what is responsible?

    I think this arises because conservatives seem to frame everything in terms of simple morality. This leads to believing the solution to all problems is to punish whoever’s guilty.

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  59. gVOR08 says:

    @DA:

    @C. Clavin: your arguments would be stronger without the misogyny.

    But they wouldn’t be near as much fun.

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  60. Stan says:

    @grumpy realist: You’re being unduly grumpy. The problem with atmospheric modeling is that microscale processes can’t be be treated properly using existing computational technology, and it’s unclear whether even quantum computing would help that much. Treating droplet formation in a cloud and incorporating it into a global forecast model is one example, atmospheric turbulence is another. So there are uncertainties in present general circulation models. Sensitivity studies show that these uncertainties don’t invalidate the main conclusions of the IPCC report, and so I think being a climate skeptic is no longer tenable. However, I’m unable to ignore arguments presented by the other side that strike me as valid. Not that Blackburn presented any.

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  61. mattbernius says:

    @gVOR08:

    I always struggle with the debate over whether it’s anthropomorphic. What difference does it make? If you concede: that there is warming, that it will cause major problems, and that we can mitigate it by reducing carbon emissions; why does it matter who or what is responsible?

    The issue is pretty important IMHO. While I agree with your pragmatic view, one can argue that leaving out the entire anthropomorphic thing leads us down the path of “God’s will” or more agnostic-ally “Earth’s will” — i.e. that this change is what is supposed to happen.

    Beyond that, the fact is that demonstrating an Anthropomorphic link also opens up the possibility of Anthropomorphic correction. If we are the ones who are causing the change, then it stands that we also have the ability to correct or at least mitigate the change. It also aids our ability to predict the change.

    The stumbling point in all of this — beyond the struggle with the implications of what mitigation would actually mean to our lifestyles — is that responsibility is, for better (or most likely worse) in most cases, inexorably bound up with blame. And if there is anything that conservatives, if not all humans, really suck at, it’s accepting with blame. In fact, I think most of the culture war stuff is largely fought over blame more than anything else.

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  62. mattbernius says:

    @Stan:

    However, I’m unable to ignore arguments presented by the other side that strike me as valid. Not that Blackburn presented any.

    That is, at least for me, the issue with your initial post.

    I have never denied the possibility of viable counter arguments on these issues. Heck, every time a climate “skeptic” (by that I mean denier) pops up here and links to a crappy article from the Heartland Institute, I point them in the direction of Judith Curry to appreciate what an actual scientific skeptic sounds like versus regurgitating lies from a propaganda machine.

    The issue is that Blackburn was doing on MTP wasn’t true skepticism. As Nye correctly pointed out, she was simply throwing out “doubt noise.”

    To that point, suggesting that “technically speaking, Representative Blackburn is correct” misses the actual substance of what she was saying. It’s giving her talking strategy and points far too much validity.

    I’m more than willing to listen to Curry or Lindzen. But I’ve also read enough of them to know that they are not saying what Blackburn suggests that they are saying in this particular clip.

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  63. KP says:

    @Ben Wolf:
    That’s interesting. A newer doctor-led movement suggests that antibacterial soap is not a good thing anymore, and should only be used by surgical teams to prevent exposure when cavities are opened.

    By extension, a little biota would be good.

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  64. There appears to be some sturm and drang over whether Nye should even be doing this, given how outgunned people like Rep Blackburn have become. It is a tedious exercise in letting the world hear Rep Blackburn speak to us as if we’re all fourth-graders and really offer no defense whatsoever. Watchers of such a debate are educated, as the contrast with Nye could not be more stark.

    The denial born of unchallenged greed allows people such as Rep Blackburn to put on the acts they do for us. Hers would be rejected even by community theater.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  65. KP says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    There are a few points about this that bear consideration.
    1) Historically, CO2 has trailed temperature by about 100 years. It wasn’t until around the industrial revolution that CO2 led temperature change. In this respect, we are sailing uncharted.
    2) Despite the mere correlation between CO2 and temperature (as a greenhouse gas, it constitutes a small amount. Normally greenhouse gases are spoke of with exception to water vapor, which makes up about 80% and has a much higher heat capacity – but noone seems to be mentioning water vapor levels) the maximum CO2 level over the past 600,000 years has been surpassed (http://www.ipcc-data.org/figures/ipcc_ddc_co2_scenarios_zoom.jpg). This should cause concern, for the fact that we have no idea what we are doing besides increasing a greenhouse gas.
    3) Increases in greenhouse gases cause temperature increases. While we may not really know the capability of the ocean to absorb CO2 as a CO2 sink, we do know that the pH will change, and that will change the ability of plants to absorb nutrients, which will affect growth and reproduction. And once the ocean is maxed out, after altering the chemistry there, it will warm up the planet.
    4) Any potential increase in temperature could be offsetting the planets natural ice-age rhythm. If we knew what we were doing, this might be desirable.
    5) Increases in atmospheric CO2 will increase global temperature, will melt landlocked glaciers, and will raise ocean levels. This could result in the ocean being able to absorb more CO2, and terrestrial plants to become much more prolific. yielding more per acre, and decreasing global food insecurity. If we knew what we were doing, this might be desirable.

    As an aside, during hot summers the climatists come out in mass. During cold winters, like this one, they seem to be stuck inside by the fire.

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  66. gVOR08 says:

    @mattbernius: Especially when some of the people who would be blamed (I’m looking at you Exxon, and the Koch Bros) can spend massive amounts of money to avoid both blame and any impact on their business model.

    (I believe Exxon has backed down some, at least in public, but are still not conceding the validity of AGW. At the same time, they’re investing heavily in oil off the Russian north coast. It really is impossible to do parody anymore.)

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  67. Rob in CT says:

    As an aside, during hot summers the climatists come out in mass. During cold winters, like this one, they seem to be stuck inside by the fire.

    Rather, they note that California has no damned snowpack, Alaska is ridiculously warm for this time of year, Australia is burning, etc. The Winter of 2013-2014 in the eastern half the continental United States != The World.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  68. Stan says:

    @mattbernius: The sad thing is that Blackburn’s argument probably goes over better with the party base than the kind of scientific argument that Curry or Lindzen would make. And when I talk about the party base I’m not referring to the average voter. If you read the comments in sites like Megan McArdle’s, you’ll see that a lot of well-educated conservatives have worked themselves into a situation in which they believe what they want to believe.

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  69. KP says:

    @Rob:
    Yes, but D.C is on the East coast. And we are down from last year: http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/UAH_LT_1979_thru_January_2014_v5.61.png

    What should be noted is the arbitrariness of the 320 ppm measure. By any reasonable argument, we began dumping CO2 around the industrial revolution. Pegging this between 1760s and 1820s, you may note that global CO2 in 1800 was around 280ppm. This would be the point at which CO2 began to lead temperature change, so I propose we use 280 as the starting number for comparison, which makes 400 over 40% higher.

    Of course it is human induced. I suggest that CO2 in the atmosphere and ocean is a greater hazard, as decomposition into carbonic acid will alter both the ocean’s pH and soil pH, which affects nutrient uptake. The question is how much is too much, and when will we be in a position to control the dial, so to speak – adjust at will. I can tell you that a soil pH between about 5.5 and 6.5 is desirable, but more or less will affect yield and survivability, ignoring effects from temperature change.

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  70. C. Clavin says:

    @Rob in CT:
    http://xkcd.com/1321/

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  71. C. Clavin says:

    @Stan:
    Well…yes, of course…this is true of the Republican Party on almost any issue.
    Shrinking Government and slashing taxes is the secret to a booming economy. When that doesn’t happen the Republican answer is not to re-examine their ideology…but to indulge in a little revisionist history and then simply double down on the stupid.

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  72. stonetools says:

    Particularly appropriate here, I think:

    The Adventures of Fallacy Man

    Marsha Blackburn is another one of Fallacy Man’s archenemies:

    The Conservative Politician

    and her weapon is the same: just repeating fallacies, as if they have not just been refuted.
    She is , btw, not idiotic at all. She is excellent at keeping the flow of coal company money pouring into her PAC coffers. Serve the rich, kick the poors , and keep that fossil fuel PAC money coming.

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  73. Woody says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Shorthand for “faith”.

    Just as the early Christian martyrs showed their faith by refusing to acknowledge the Roman Emperor’s divinity, our modern worthies proudly proclaim their undying fealty to their New! And Improved! faith in Fox News Christianist Conservativism.

    To deviate is to sin, you see.

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  74. Argon says:

    @mattbernius: Heck, every time a climate “skeptic” (by that I mean denier) pops up here and links to a crappy article from the Heartland Institute, I point them in the direction of Judith Curry to appreciate what an actual scientific skeptic sounds like versus regurgitating lies from a propaganda machine.

    Dr. Curry is not above regurgitation without deep thought. I’d follow her comments skeptically.

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  75. Andre Kenji says:

    @mattbernius: The problem is that far more complicated than that. The late Aziz Ab´Saber(One of the biggest geographers of Brazil) used to say that Human made Climate Change was real, but that the idea that the Amazon Rainforest would become a desert or even a Savannah was ludicrous;

    Richard Miller, the so called former skeptic that wrote a op-ed to the NYT some years ago saying that climate change was real also wrote:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/30/opinion/the-conversion-of-a-climate-change-skeptic.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    It’s a scientist’s duty to be properly skeptical. I still find that much, if not most, of what is attributed to climate change is speculative, exaggerated or just plain wrong. I’ve analyzed some of the most alarmist claims, and my skepticism about them hasn’t changed

    There is a good argument that even the possibility of Global Warming means that curbing Carbon Emissions and planting forests is a good public policy. But there is nothing close to a scientific consensus about the effects of Climate Change, and about how it should be dealt.

    True, many arguments from movement conservatives about Climate Change are dumb, but there are also exaggerations on the other side:

    http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2013/12/judith_curry_on.html

    Climate change is a complex issue, and dealing with that with optimal results is not going to be easy.

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  76. Mu says:

    For those that are making fun of global warming in a cold winter, the BBC has a nice new article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26023166 . Basically, it’s cold where you are because it’s warm somewhere it’s not supposed to be.
    And I really liked this line

    The only ostensible fact I see presented in this article is that the CO2 level has risen 25%. Okay, I’ll accept that as a fact for a moment.

    After this achievement, can I suggest other facts to accept, like “the earth is not flat” or “the sun does not circle the earth”? Luckily, facts don’t depend on acceptance by the ignorant.

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  77. KP says:

    @Mu: Not sure what you are getting at. It is colder this year than the year before, despite regional variations.

    http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/09/28/article-0-185ABB0700000578-394_634x325.jpg

    Since the high in March 2008, which posted a 0.8 C increase over a 14.5 C average, we are sitting pretty at 14.5 C. I’m confident that if global temperature increased 0.8C over 5 years, it would be getting more play by the global climate change folks. Since 2008, we have increased CO2 emission by about 1 billion metric tonnes, or about a 13% increase. This is also an increase from 387ppm to 400ppm, or a 3.3% increase. And average temperature is down.

    I don’t think it will last, I don’t think there is no relationship, I just think that given 80% of greenhouse gases are water vapor, there are other, more significant hands in the pot.

    Either way, if we can regulate anthropomorphic CO2 emmisions in order to control natural Milankovitch cycles, that may be our best defense against the next glaciation which should be somewhere between year 3,000 and 29,000. I don’t think we want to get so far behind like the Broncos, that a comeback is out of the question. As such, we need to weigh, without the politics, the value and risk of temperature increases, and attempt to implement mechanisms to regulate the temperature.

    Also, in the absence of a regulation mechanism, massive volcanism will far outweigh the cumulative effect of human-induced, so getting a handle on this is really in our best interests.

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  78. KP says:

    @Mu:
    Strictly speaking there is no inertial reference point, it hasn’t risen by 25%, and the earth is flat from a 2D perspective (and we line in a 10 or 11 D universe – so it isn’t an oblate spheroid either)

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  79. C. Clavin says:

    @KP:

    As such, we need to weigh, without the politics, the value and risk of temperature increases, and attempt to implement mechanisms to regulate the temperature.

    As the old ad says:

    You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.

    AGW is going to cost us one way or another. One way might be a carbon tax now. Another way might be increased building structure costs in the future due to increased snow-loads (yes…more warming means more moisture in the atmosphere and warming temperatures makes that snow heavier).
    But with clowns like Blackburn making up the Republican party we’ll never get to weigh those values and risks.

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  80. Ben Wolf says:

    @KP:

    I don’t think it will last, I don’t think there is no relationship, I just think that given 80% of greenhouse gases are water vapor, there are other, more significant hands in the pot.

    Water vapor is a feedback, not a forcing. It can’t cause a planetary climate shift.

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  81. MarkedMan says:

    You know, if a giant boulder breaks loose from the mountain and starts tumbling down towards the sleepy little town, well, it might hit the high school full of kids, it might hit the hospital full of sick people and newborn babies, maybe it will go through the center of main street and miraculously miss almost everyone. The Repub reaction to this boulder? “We don’t know enough about what it might hit so lets not do anything until there is certainty.”

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  82. KP says:

    @Ben Wolf:
    Of course it can. Infrared radiation bounced through water vapor increases the temperature of the water vapor. Water has a very high heat capacity; hence, heat is retained more in water than carbon dioxide. That is why when the sun goes down in the desert, it tends to get really cold really fast – even mid-summer, but in good old Savannah, GA, the heat just sticks all night long.

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  83. KP says:

    @C. Clavin:
    Your assumption is that it will be negative. My assumption is it is occurring and we need to be able to determine the quantitative effect (the current global temp hit the bottom of the 90% of the model so the model lacks enough degrees of freedom), determine the ideal level to induce greater crop yields, ocean pH, etc., and absolutely get a hand on the dial to alter temp -both up and down- at will.

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  84. Grewgills says:

    Small pet peeve:
    Anthropomorphic means to being like human beings in appearance, behavior, etc.
    Anthropogenic means caused by humans
    Anthropogenic global climate change not anthropomorphic climate change

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  85. Console says:

    @KP:

    I just think that given 80% of greenhouse gases are water vapor, there are other, more significant hands in the pot.

    You put more water in the air and it rains out 2 days later. You put more CO2 in the air and it gets absorbed by the ocean FIFTY YEARS LATER.

    Plus we have an explanation for increases in CO2. The only way water vapor can increase in the atmosphere is if the atmosphere is warmer. That’s why it’s a feedback loop and not a driver of anything.

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  86. KP says:

    @Console:
    i think you demonstrate it does drive. Yes, this is all a feedback loop. More water vapor, hotter water vapor, hotter rain, hotter climate, more hotter water vapor. Of course it drives. The heat doesn’t disappear, it is added to the system. And 4/5 of it is water vapor.

    Maybe take a look here and note the last quote:
    http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/vapor_warming.html

    And of course CO2 is increasing temperature. But even in the absence of a leading CO2 figure, Milankovitch cycles, and the whole related lot, water vapor is more significant. The question is to determine how much change is caused by CO2, how much change do we want, and can temp be manipulated both positively and negatively through CO2 emission adjustments?

    @Gregwills. I know I’ve been busted for that!

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  87. Console says:

    @KP:

    No, more water vapor = more precipitation. The only way you get more water vapor to stay in the atmosphere is for the atmosphere to already be warmer.

    It doesn’t rain CO2.

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  88. KP says:

    @C. Clavin:
    Please explain more how warmer temperatures make snow heavier. Wouldn’t an increase in water vapor just make it snow more if it got cold enough, or is this that crappy kind of snow that comes down in slushy globs? I haven’t been exposed to this one before, so any refs would be good reading.

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  89. KP says:

    @Console: It rains carbonic acid, and it will be hotter due to the increased water vapor, which happens in the absence of CO2 increases anyway. Yes, CO2 increases will probably make it amplified more than a constant CO2, but global temp changes cyclically anyway, and historically CO2 has lagged. I’m not sure what you are trying to get at anymore.

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  90. KP says:

    Let me try again here.
    Water vapor is the most significant greenhouse gas. As water vapor increases in temperature, when it rains, the rain will be warmer. It adds heat to the system. It amplifies any effects from temperature increases. As temperature increases, the atmosphere can hold more water vapor, and that vapor in turn can absorb more heat from the sun. When it rains, it will rain warmer, and so on.
    Historically, CO2 has lagged temperature change by ballpark 1k years. Methane has led temperature change. Both undoubtedly contribute to global temperature change, and any change in these is magnified by the water vapor. They are not independent.
    The feedback loop is correct, and yes, it drives faster global temperature change. Even in the absence of methane and CO2 spikes, global temperature goes through cyclical increases and decreases. So far, the feedback loops have self-corrected. I suspect this is due to the reflective IR quality of water vapor at very high altitudes. When there gets too much, I suspect it is pushed higher, the whole pv=nRT thing, or V1/T1=V2/T2. The vapor expands as it gets hotter, and when it gets to altitude, basically reflects heat until global temperature drops, water vapor decreases, and the cycle begins again.
    The issue with CO2, and not knowing its exact contribution to temperature change, is that unlike water vapor, CO2 takes a really long time to be flushed out of the atmosphere. When it comes down, it comes in a few forms, one of which is carbonic acid. Acids added into an already acidifying ocean due to being a carbon sink alter the pH of the ocean and affect the distribution of life.
    Thats the basics. Water vapor is more significant as a driver/amplifier/accelerator/feedback cycle. Hot water stays hot and makes things hotter. Those thing make hotter water. That makes the temperature get hotter. And while that water vapor will cycle twice a month, hotly, that CO2 and carbonic acid, and all the other CO-stuffs take 1,000 years to adjust. Hence, the historic 1,000 year CO2 lag. Now that CO2 is leading, and increasing at alarming rates, the general increase in global temperature up until the mid nineties, and sporadic increase and decreases since then, is a cause for alarm. CO2 is absolutely increasing the global temperature, as it is a greenhouse gas, albeit minor compared to water vapor. How much of an increase is from CO2 is a very important question. As we are either at the precipice of a global cyclical cooling (or it is still 27000 years off), knowing how to control global temperature with the manipulation of CO2 levels, and water vapor as a secondary effect, is critical. We need to know how much will cause a change of what magnitude, what the lag is in the change, and how long that will last in order to maintain a comfortable global temperature that maximizes agricultural output and insures the ocean is equally productive. If global temp starts getting too high, we need to be able to turn it down. Conversely, if it starts getting really cold, we need to be able to turn it up. This isn’t simply a case of all change is bad.

    We need to quantitatively understand how we can influence global temperature through introduction and reduction of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.

    If we could get back to Blackburn pretending it is only a 25% increase instead of 40% since the Industrial, and get some ideas flowing for how to deal with this (both the misinformation and the issue) I would be grateful.

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  91. Console says:

    @KP:

    A: where is all this extra warm water vapor coming from? We have a cause for CO2 increases.

    B: You’re still missing the point. Putting extra water vapor in the air is contingent upon the air being able to hold it in the first place. Not the other way around.

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  92. James Pearce says:

    By way of counter-example, if the Denver Broncos had scored 25% more points in the Super Bowl, that would not have made any difference on the outcome.

    OUCH!

    Let’s not talk about the Broncos in the Super Bowl….ever again. (Hangs my head in shame.)

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  93. C. Clavin says:

    @KP:
    Snow at freezing runs about 10″ to 1″ of liquid or 10% density. At 20 degrees it can be 30:1 or roughly 3%. 6″ of 10% snow weighs more than 6″ of 3% snow. Now there are many, many, other factors that influence the snow-pack. Most would be affected in some way by increasing temperatures. Not the least of which is moisture content itself…which global warming is increasing. Ask any skier about the snow in California or the Cascades, versus the snow in Utah.

    Look: There are a lot of ways to look at this. I am a native Vermonter, so I have the green gene in me. But after years of being concerned about the environment, I’ve come to this. It doesn’t really matter what you think about AGW: the planet is warming and has been for decades, and the political party that consistently denies science of any kind has no interest in even acknowledging it, much less acting on it…and who knows if that is even possible at this point? So the bottom line is that we are stuck with the consequences of Climate Change and it does not matter if humans are causing it or not. I call this “The Anthropocene Epoch: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the AGW.”

    Water Capture systems in places they were not needed before.
    The ability to ride out power outages that last for extended periods…I’m talking about weeks.
    Changes in building configuration to deal with greater extremes of heat or cold.
    Design for flood resistance and moisture resistance.
    Design for higher wind speeds…most of the East Coast will soon be building to Miami-Dade building codes. (More regulations for you small Government zealots.)

    As a professional in the building industry…it all just means more money in my pocket.

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  94. john personna says:

    @KP:

    Your problem is your meta-logic. You are one in a long line of people who thought “forget PhD studies and the rigors of peer review, I can prove this thing right here, in a comments thread.”

    Well, no.

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  95. john personna says:

    (I guess we could honestly ask, if KP has honest questions about water vapor, why does he bring them to a political blog? I would think anyone questioning NASA, should be asking NASA.)

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  96. ernieyeball says:

    “I guess we could honestly ask, if KP has honest questions about water vapor, why does he bring them to a political blog?”

    Everything is politics. Thomas Mann

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  97. john personna says:

    @ernieyeball:

    Politics takes from everything, but it does not generate basic knowledge.

    The best political discussions (and the only ones to have) are those without definite, factual, answers. We cannot look up in a Handbook of Politics the future economics of a tax or benefits change. We can look up, in a Handbook of Chemistry, all kinds of things.

    What should unemployment benefits look like? It’s a good question because no one knows.

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  98. ernieyeball says:

    From OTB Policies page:
    While any comment deemed abusive or offensive may be deleted without warning or appeal by the post author, the following will almost always be deleted:
    Comments that are completely off topic.

    Despite your disapproval, apparently KP’s comments are not “completely off topic.”

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  99. mattbernius says:

    @Grewgills:
    Thanks for the correction sir. The “Anthropomorphic” thing on this thread was my fault and I should have known better.

    @KP:

    5) Increases in atmospheric CO2 will increase global temperature, will melt landlocked glaciers, and will raise ocean levels. This could result in the ocean being able to absorb more CO2, and terrestrial plants to become much more prolific. yielding more per acre, and decreasing global food insecurity. If we knew what we were doing, this might be desirable.

    Moving away from the entire “water vapor” debate, it’s worth noting the problem with this sort of “climate change could be good for us in the long run.” The issue with rising water levels and increased drought is that it will disproportionately affect poorer nations. So any food security benefits are most likely going to be under cut by mass forced migrations, which themselves promote food insecurity (see the issues with feeding Syrian refugee communities for example).

    @Andre Kenji:
    I agree that there can be a lack of nuance on both sides of the equation. To some degree, I have to wonder how much of that has to do with the media and a general attraction to broader and bigger statements (see the various reporting of so called future “Ice Ages.”).

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  100. john personna says:

    @ernieyeball:

    I think you’ve missed my meaning.

    I understand KP’s right to post here.

    I understand OTB’s interest in retaining him.

    I just think KP is foolish for thinking that a post at OTB will right the wrongs he sees over at NASA.

    To be honest, I’m only half sympathetic to people who choose to defend NASA in these pages. Sure, studying and knowing the twists and turns of the latest “climate argument” may be rewarding, but it does fuel this false narrative … that back-thread climate debate matters.

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  101. john personna says:

    I really think this is the smartest answer:

    I trust NASA.

    This for the same reason I take my Lipitor: for me to seriously out-argue a domain expert, I should first educate myself to the level of a domain expert.

    If I’m not willing to be fully as knowledgeable as an MD, or as a PhD in Climate Dynamics, I should defer to those who are.

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  102. Grewgills says:

    @KP:
    You are missing an important intermediate self limiting step with water:
    Increased heat -> more evaporation -> more clouds -> more solar energy reflected back into space

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  103. george says:

    I trust NASA.

    It comes down to that for most of us. Why do we believe that atoms exist, that there are photons, that computers work based on what solid state physics claims rather than just being filled with magical gremlins? Very few people have personally done the experiments that give evidence for those claims, and even those who have typically have done so using lab equipment that they couldn’t design and make themselves (ie they’re taking someone else’s word that the equipment isn’t just a magical gremlin house).

    The skeptism about climate science is very select; people want proof that they don’t ask for any other scientific claim.

    For that matter, why is the risk of global warming (no absolute proof it will go as predicted) considered to be something not to be taken seriously because it isn’t completely certain (and no scientific theory is ever 100% certain), but the risk of Iran using nuclear weapons (far less certain than climate change) is something we’re supposed to worry about and act upon?

    If AGW isn’t proven, Iran dropping nuclear weapons is a hundred times less certain. Why aren’t the same people saying the first has to be completely proven to be acted upon (and again, no science is ever completely proven, ever), saying the second has to be absolutely proven to be acted upon?

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  104. @george: Now I want a magical gremlin house. ;)

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  105. C. Clavin says:

    @george:
    And you can bet your sweet bippy that Blackburn is all for bombing Iran…or whatever Israel wants.

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  106. dennis says:

    If AGW isn’t proven, Iran dropping nuclear weapons is a hundred times less certain. Why aren’t the same people saying the first has to be completely proven to be acted upon (and again, no science is ever completely proven, ever), saying the second has to be absolutely proven to be acted upon?

    george wins the interwebs for today.

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  107. Barry says:

    @Grewgills: “You are missing an important intermediate self limiting step with water:
    Increased heat -> more evaporation -> more clouds -> more solar energy reflected back into space ”

    Which has been covered; go to Real Climate and look it up.

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  108. mattbernius says:

    @Barry:

    Which has been covered; go to Real Climate and look it up.

    To that point, I highly recommend that everyone always check http://www.realclimate.org and http://skepticalscience.com whenever you come across a climate science claim.

    Which *again* isn’t to say skepticism isn’t possible (again, I do think Judith Curry is worth reading). But those two sites, which are updated regularly, both cover a lot of the more dubious (albeit reoccurring) claims, and do so in a non-hysterical fashion.

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  109. grewgills says:

    @Barry:
    I understand that. KP left that out of his/her argumentation about why he/she thinks water was more of a driver than a follower of global temps. CO2 doesn’t have a similar rate limiting step and so is a better candidate as a driver of climate.

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  110. C. Clavin says:
  111. stonetools says:

    @grewgills:

    KP reminds me of thecreationists who ask psuedoscientific questions THAT THE EVOLUTIONISTS CAN’T ANSWER on discussion forums like Talk. Origin. You know the ones-”If humans evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?”
    Of course, scientists can and do answer these questions, but they can’t answer them everywhere, and so they either go from forum to forum, or just repeat their fallacies after a decent interval.

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  112. rudderpedals says:

    The Guardian’s interview with James Lovelock today http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2008/mar/01/scienceofclimatechange.climatechange is relevant. The nut is his belief that the climate shift is irreversible and inevitable and trying to slow or stop it is pointless. Good read.

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  113. john personna says:

    @rudderpedals:

    That’s pretty much my view.

    AGW is real, but won’t be stopped for a variety of human reasons.

    One way of boiling it down is that AGW is a test, and we as a species fail.

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  114. stonetools says:

    @john personna:

    Gotta have faith in humanity. Humanity is like the USA-it’ll do the right thing, but after exhausting all other options.

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  115. al-Ameda says:

    I actually do believe that most climate change deniers (conservatives pretending to be anti-science) actually do believe that climate change is occurring and that human industrial activity is contributing to it, however they do not want to have our government take measures that tax activities that contribute to accelerated climate change.

    I think it’s 73% a matter of opposition to more regulation and taxation, and 27% a matter of simple ignorance.

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  116. ernieyeball says:

    @john personna:..AGW is a test, and we as a species fail.

    …every man wants to write a book…

    28th century BCE
    The oldest known prediction of the end of the world is recorded on Assyrian tablets: “Our Earth is degenerate in these later days; there are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book and the end of the world is evidently approaching.”

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/List_of_predictions_of_the_end_of_the_world
    Jim Morrison had it right all along. He just didn’t live long enough to tell us when. I’m certain he knew.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGmAmJFUvzM

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  117. john personna says:

    @ernieyeball:

    By “fail” I don’t mean extinction for us, I just mean a less bountiful world.

    Ron Beasley referred to The Sixth Extinction above. That isn’t about us dying, it is about us doing it to the world.

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  118. ernieyeball says:

    …it is about us doing it to the world.
    Like we could:

    The planet is fine. Compared to the people, the planet is doing great. Been here four and a half billion years. Did you ever think about the arithmetic? The planet has been here four and a half billion years. We’ve been here, what, a hundred thousand? Maybe two hundred thousand? And we’ve only been engaged in heavy industry for a little over two hundred years. Two hundred years versus four and a half billion. And we have the CONCEIT to think that somehow we’re a threat? That somehow we’re gonna put in jeopardy this beautiful little blue-green ball that’s just a-floatin’ around the sun?

    http://www.icomedytv.com/Comedy-Videos/ID/335/George-Carlin–The-Planet-Is-Fine-Transcript-0739.aspx

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  119. john personna says:

    @ernieyeball:

    What the people who really believe that miss is timescale. Sure, there were 5 previous extinction cycles, and “the planet” came back each time, over millions of years. But that doesn’t mean it was fun and games IN each extinction cycle.

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  120. ernieyeball says:

    @john personna:..So now humans are entitled to “fun and games”…whatever that means…

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  121. Grewgills says:

    @ernieyeball:
    What most people mean (whether they realize it or not) when they talk about humans destroying the planet, or whatever trite statement, isn’t so much actual damage to the geosphere or to the long term existence of life on earth in some form. What they mean is severe damage to the biosphere that makes the planet a much less comfortable place for people and other current species. We haven’t yet invented a planet buster nuke, though if we put our minds to it we could in short order (relative to geologic time).

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  122. Grewgills says:

    @ernieyeball:
    I certainly want fun and games and I want fun and games for my daughter.

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  123. ernieyeball says:

    @Grewgills: What most people mean (whether they realize it or not)…

    How do you get to speak for most people “who talk about humans destroying the planet…”

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  124. Grewgills says:

    @ernieyeball:
    I base that on what they talk about when they talk about people ‘destroying the planet’

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  125. Rob in CT says:

    @ernieyeball:

    Oh for f*ck’s sake. It’s obvious that is the meaning. Clearly, the planet itself will remain (at least until the Sun goes Red Giant, I suppose). Almost certainly, life will continue, and even thrive (on a geologic timescale – in the short term, “thriving” might not be the right word). The issue is fouling our own nest. It’s about US!

    Damn this stuff pisses me off so much. Maybe it’s my job (environmental cleanup claims). People make messes of their environment, often. The worry isn’t so much that there is harm to a cute critter (though that can and does happen), it’s harm to Humans. When the EPA regulates stuff, the primary criteria is “threat to human health.”

    Grow the F up, Ernie.

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  126. Rob in CT says:

    Also, that Carlin quote is misleadingly truncated.

    Carlin understood perfectly well:

    …environmentalists don’t give a shit about the planet. Not in the abstract they don’t. You know what they’re interested in? A clean place to live. Their own habitat. They’re worried that some day in the future they might be personally inconvenienced. Narrow, unenlightened self-interest doesn’t impress me.

    The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles … hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worldwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages … And we think some plastic bags and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference? The planet isn’t going anywhere. WE are!

    We’re going away. Pack your shit, folks. We’re going away. And we won’t leave much of a trace, either. Maybe a little Styrofoam … The planet’ll be here and we’ll be long gone. Just another failed mutation. Just another closed-end biological mistake. An evolutionary cul-de-sac. The planet’ll shake us off like a bad case of fleas.

    Note that, while he throws some invective at environmentalists and liberals, Carlin agreed with Grewgills and I about what people mean when they talk about saving the planet. The vast majority of environmentalist types mean “save it for us” not “save it in some abstract sense” or “save it for the cute critters” (there are a very small number of misanthropic environmentalists who think humanity is a disease and all that. They are of little consequence).

    And Carlin also agreed with the idea that we’re screwing ourselves.

    He was a comic. A very, very good one. And he was a cynic (with good reason, most of the time). He does not, however, support what appears to be your position very well. Not that we should take advice from a comedian about such matters generally, but that’s another matter.

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  127. ernieyeball says:

    @Rob in CT: ..that Carlin quote is misleadingly truncated.

    I provided the link so anyone could read the whole thing. Yours is “misleadingly truncated” as well with no link. What are you hiding?

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  128. ernieyeball says:

    @Rob in CT: He does not, however, support what appears to be your position very well.

    So Mr. MindReader Rob tell me and everyone else what my position is.

    The vast majority of environmentalist types mean “save it for us” not “save it in some abstract sense” or “save it for the cute critters”

    Yes and wouldn’t it be far more honest for folks to say “Save the Planet For Us” instead of “Save the Planet”?
    By the way what have you got against the “cute critters”?

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  129. ernieyeball says:

    @Rob in CT: Damn this stuff pisses me off so much. Maybe it’s my job (environmental cleanup claims). People make messes of their environment, often.

    I worked for more years than I care to remember at a Municipal Wastewater (Sewage) Treatment Plant.
    Had to deal with everyone’s shit in town. This when some folks still did not want to give up their outhouses.
    Get over yourself Rob.

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  130. grewgills says:

    @ernieyeball: @ernieyeball:

    So Mr. MindReader Rob tell me and everyone else what my position is.

    Much like your earlier career it is about stirring shit. ;-)

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  131. ernieyeball says:

    @grewgills: I am an anarchist at heart. Again I defer to Carlin.

    Question Everything

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uo-QIY7ys-k

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  132. Rob in CT says:

    @ernieyeball:

    This is a really dumb claim. The bit that I didn’t quote is the bit you already posted. Posting it again would be duplicative.

    @ernieyeball:

    I’m not “mindreading.” I’m reading your posts. Your posts strongly suggest that you reject the idea that human activity is causing global warming.

    Also, most people who are trying to get action on global warming argue primarily about its impact on human beings. Even those who tend to focus on non-human impact connect it back to humans (e.g. ocean acidification. The impact on humans is indirect, but potentially huge). If you actually read and considered such appeals, you would know this. I have nothing against cute critters. I rather like them.

    @ernieyeball:

    Um, that’s nice.

    @grewgills:

    Well played.

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