What does MIT Know?

Via Boston Magazine:  MIT to Trump: Stop Citing Our Climate Research If You Don’t Understand It.

FILED UNDER: Environment, US Politics,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Pch101 says:

    The hard right really excels in the art of dumbsplaining.

  2. al-Ameda says:

    From the last paragraph of the article:

    Asked about the discrepancy, a Trump official told reporters in a briefing after the announcement that, in fact, scientists agree with the president. “I think there is a consensus, not only in the environmental community, but elsewhere that the Paris agreement in and of itself will have a negligible impact on climate,” the official said, according to Reuters.

    They’re undeterred by their lies and misrepresentation, because they know that their base could give a good god damn about veracity.

    The Trump base is rightfully excited about the damage they can do to the federal government over the next 42 months. Unless Democrats can take back the Senate (The House seems hardwired right now for Republican incumbents) I see no end in sight to the damage these people can do.

  3. CSK says:

    In an interview with Jake Tapper to air tomorrow, Nikki Haley will apparently state that Trump does believe in AGW.

    I don’t know how that will be spun.

  4. SenyorDave says:

    @al-Ameda: The Trump base is rightfully excited about the damage they can do to the federal government over the next 42 months.

    People here have described Trump as dangerously unprepared to be president. I would add that he is also corrupt, amoral, and perhaps worst of all, malevolent. Trump thrives on revenge. He is like that entity on Star Trek that becomes stronger during conflicts. I have never rooted for a ;politician to have die in office, but a heart attack for Trump would be the best thing for this country.

  5. David M says:


    No need to spin anything. They don’t care about consistency in actions or statements.

  6. CSK says:

    @David M:

    Indeed. You are quite correct.

  7. MBunge says:

    Pop quiz!

    How many times in the last 60 years have predictions of environmental catastrophe been wrong? (Hint: Starting with “An Inconvenient Truth” and working backwards would be a good beginning.)


  8. David M says:


    You are oddly well plugged into the current GOP trolling arguments…


  9. Pch101 says:

    Bunge does a terrific job of offering original ideas that were copied from third-rate blogs.

  10. Franklin says:

    @MBunge: The answer is actually zero.

  11. DrDaveT says:


    Hint: Starting with “An Inconvenient Truth” […]

    Um, I wasn’t aware that An Inconvenient Truth made any claims at all about what was going to happen by 2017. Or 2020. Or 2050, for that matter.

    Which particular ‘wrong’ prediction am I missing?

  12. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Hey, not to worry. President Mush-for-Brains announced that we’re the cleanest country in the world. And when you’re getting that from a self-declared germ-o-phobe, I think you can take that to the bank…the Russian state bank, that is.

  13. Franklin says:

    @Franklin: Note: And to be clear, I am talking about claims that were widely supported by scientists who were studying the subject matter. I assume MBunge wasn’t talking about some prediction from his crazy uncle or whatever.

  14. rachel says:

    @SenyorDave: I don’t know if that would be better. Pence is also malevolent–even though he puts a nice face on it–and President Pence could get some pretty noxious stuff done that Presidunce Donnie has stalled out on.

  15. Mikey says:


    Which particular ‘wrong’ prediction am I missing?

    Well, you’re asking Bungle, so whatever that prediction is, it’s certainly made of straw and shaped like a man.

  16. gVOR08 says:


    The House seems hardwired right now for Republican incumbents

    Sean Illing at VOX had an interview yesterday with one David Daley, author of Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy, who knows why. It was the REDMAP project.

    The more consequential election would follow in 2010, however, and a handful of savvy Republican strategists figured this out. They realized they could use the gerrymander in a completely new way. They used it to lock in political control at the state level and at the congressional level. And they did it really inexpensively, for roughly $30 million, which is the amount of money invested in REDMAP.

    For example, the conservative politics right now in North Carolina, in Michigan, in Wisconsin, in Ohio, these are also a result of these maps that were drawn after the 2010 redistricting.

    A key to this was that big data could be used to draw almost perfectly optimized districts. They could what-if moving a boundary one block. That’s why Dems get most of the votes for the House and GOPs get most of the seats. For a mere 30M$ the GOPs bought control of the House at least through 2030. They are clever bastards. Too bad they don’t apply any of it to governing.

    I read that Obama’s heavily involved in redistricting. Good.

  17. teve tory says:

    A scientist friend of mine wrote this last week:

    Our Changing Oceans

    2017/05/29 Wesley R. Elsberry 0 Comments

    Even people who pay attention to climate change tend to think in terrestrial terms: aridity, extreme weather, crop management changes, and effects of sea level rise on property. But most of our planet is covered in water, and what happens in the oceans matters.

    Here is a meta-analysis of studies on biological changes in response to various factors associated with global warming, but not limited to temperature increase. A repeated theme is how there is little data on various factors and what coverage there is tends to be concentrated in studies of the North Atlantic, but even given how little attention has been applied to looking at these things, there is a burgeoning laundry list of how species are changing where they live, when they do things, and how well they live given the change in particular factors in their environment.

    We have instituted vast changes in the conditions of life for the majority of the planet and have failed to pay enough attention to even know exactly how much impact that is going to have. We landlubbers tend to take the oceans for granted, even though 50 to 70% of the oxygen we breathe comes from oceanic phytoplankton. If we overturn the ecology of the oceans and mess up the phytoplankton among other biota, though, I expect we will have a geologically brief collective moment to reflect on that mistake before going the way of the dodo. The analysis shows that change is happening, that responses are occurring, and we have essentially no clue what the total risk involved is.


  18. teve tory says:

    Remember the Cheney Rule? If there was a 1% chance of a terrorist attack happening, we should “treat it as a certainty”? The GOP has an equally dumb rule about climate change: “If we don’t understand the risks 100%, we should treat them as nonexistent.”

    Pumping 38 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year is, as Elon Musk said, the stupidest experiment in human history.

  19. al-Ameda says:


    How many times in the last 60 years have predictions of environmental catastrophe been wrong? (Hint: Starting with “An Inconvenient Truth” and working backwards would be a good beginning.)

    I know Mike, in the 70s we were warned of and made much more aware of, the serious threat to public health and our environment generally if we did not address the problems associated with polluted drinking water and polluted waterways.

    Thank god we ignored that overreaction and did nothing.

  20. teve tory says:

    By the 1970’s, 2/3rds of the waterways in the US were too contaminated to swim or fish in.

    2 out of 3.

    Rivers were catching on fire.

    Yeah, those stupid enviros with their dumb predictions that if we kept that shit up it would hurt us in same kinda way.

  21. teve tory says:

    (BTW, since the EPA was created we’ve gotten half those waterways back so far.)

  22. teve tory says:

    worse than increasing temperatures might be this:

    Over the past 300 million years, ocean pH has been slightly basic, averaging about 8.2. Today, it is around 8.1, a drop of 0.1 pH units, representing a 25-percent increase in acidity over the past two centuries. The oceans currently absorb about a third of human-created CO2 emissions, roughly 22 million tons a day.

    When CO2 dissolves in water it forms carbonic acid. We’re acidifying the oceans. What could possibly go wrong?

  23. teve tory says:

    I have a friend who grew up next to a refinery in Texas in the 70’s. Women in the area stopped wearing pantyhose because it would dissolve from exposure to the air. The paint jobs on the cars wouldn’t last 2-3 years. Everyone had a chronic cough.

    Stupid tree-hugging hippies thought that was bad for some reason. They probably just hated capitalism and read some propaganda, I guess.

  24. teve tory says:

    8 years ago trump signed a letter saying w/r/t climate change,

    “If we fail to act now, it is scientifically irrefutable that there will be catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet.”

    But then he decided to run for pres on the GOP ticket, so he had to act real dumb (and racist). Birtherism, climate change is a hoax by the wily chinee, ban the muslims, etc etc.


  25. Grewgills says:

    @teve tory:
    I know we’re not disagreeing, but…
    FYI coccolithophores and a variety of other phytoplankton have calcium carbonate skeletons. Part of what allows them to remain high in the water column (and thus able to photosynthesize efficiently) is the structure of their CaC04 tests. With increasing levels of carbonic acid their tests form less efficiently and they (on average) don’t remain as high in the water column and so photosynthesize less. This means less O2 production and less CO2 absorption exacerbating the problem.
    There is some evidence that this creates problems with test formation among phytoplankton with silica based tests (ex/ diatoms) as well.
    In the neighborhood of 2/3s of our 02 production and plant based CO2 sequestration comes from phytoplankton. Indeed, what could go wrong pumping more CO2 into the air.

  26. dmhlt says:

    John Reilly, the co-director of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change on the Trump administration use of the MIT research:

    “I think they are probably immune to fact.”

  27. Tyrell says:

    @al-Ameda: Let’s relax and take a sensible approach and analysis of this data. We are saturated with the “end of the world” hysterics from the main stream “news” media, misguided groups, and politicians (John Kerry voted against the Kyoto treaty – it would harm the economy and exempt many countries; about the same as the Prias treaty) ). In looking at the EPA date and from other sources we see that since 1980 harmful emissions (pollution) in this country have been in decline. The air is clean as ever. If these trends continue, the US will meet and surpass the Prias treaty goals. Also gas consumption continues to fall. A recent report showed that hydrogen fuel vehicles are increasing. Many car owners are adding hydrogen cells to their cars and cutting their gasoline use by 50% or more. People are building their own solar panels. They are not waiting on the government or Prais to take action. So everything is working out.
    In all this talk and sensationalism I have not heard much about ideas for jets*, trucks, buses, bulldozers, and other heavy equipment. What are some alternative fuels for those types of engines ? This is what we should be talking about. Not Trump, foreign politics, or what some of these professors say.
    Edison, Wright Brothers, Ford, Howard Hughes, and Diesel did not sit around waiting on the government or some treaty to come up with new ideas.
    * Al Gore’s private jet ?
    NASA: confirms that US air pollution in sharp decline
    Pollution from US manufacturing fell 60%

    MIT – Isn’t that the school where you can learn how to win at poker ?

  28. grumpy realist says:

    @Tyrell: Dearie, if you can actually Build Your Own Solar Panel from the ground up (including making the silicon ingot) I will be very much surprised. Or do you have a $2B chip manufacturing plant in your back yard?

  29. teve tory says:

    @Grewgills: Yep. If we were smart as a nation one of our top priorities would be how to rapidly decarbonize our electricity generation and transportation methods. This should be a top priority.

    Instead, the 40% of rightwingers are cheering complete morons like this:

    Tomi Lahren‏Verified account @TomiLahren Jun 3
    Hey liberals, this is what we are fighting against while you fight weather. #londonbridge

    I’m not a Democrat. I’ve never been a registered member of the party. But in our two-party system, if you’re not voting Democrat, you’re choosing stupidity and calamity.

  30. Tyrell says:

    @teve tory: Torey, take a look at the hydrogen powered vehicles. See the Honda Clarity hydrogen fuel car – First Drive (Driving Sports). Many people are building their own hydrogen cells from kits and outfitting their cars. Some of the aftermarket stores now sell kits and parts for those.
    No sense in waiting for the government. And the car companies do not seem to be much interested.

  31. Matt says:

    @Tyrell: I’m a car geek and I hang with other car geeks. I know of exactly NO one that is doing what you’re claiming. Same thing for your crap about people building their own solar panels.

    Feel free to prove me wrong with links though.

  32. teve tory says:

    @Tyrell: Hydrogen has too many problems. Take it from a guy with physics credentials. Storage is a horrendous problem. Then there’s the problem of a million cars a year ramming each other at high speeds with a combined 250 MJ of the stuff onboard. And have you ever tried to create a simple to use container which can open and close 100 times a year and still seal H2? I’ve seen the tech attempts to work around each problem. Just not feasible at scale when batteries are available.

    Basically all ground transportation will be LI-polymer-battery-based in a few decades.

  33. teve tory says:

    If Vaclav Smil is right, and energy transitions take at least 60 years, we’re probably boned.

  34. Tyrell says:

    @teve tory: Hydrogen – problems. Tell that to the Honda Motors Company. They are selling the Honda Clarity hydrogen car in CA, and with each car they are giving
    $15, 000 for hydrogen. Evidently CA is going big on hydrogen. There is a business in SC that uses hydrogen powered forklifts.