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Global Warming denialism ... from a "D" Senate candidate!

by a siegel Tue Oct 14th, 2008 at 05:58:15 PM EST

In South Carolina, the "Democratic Party" candidate is Bob Conley, who must be mentioned was recently a Republican, on a county GOP committee until winning the Democratic Party primay, and Ron Paul supporter.  On the Repulbican side, Lindsey Graham.  In this race, Saturday's debate could well be a telling one for anyone who cares for science and issues of Global Warming.

Conley, in Inhofe-scale like terms, very "firmly proclaimed his denial of global warming science".  In face of a question as to whether Global Warming is real (come off, is this a real question people?), Conley's response:

CONLEY: It really is the arrogance of man to think that we are having any effect.

These are not words of someone interested in reality-based policy making.

CONLEY: It really is the arrogance of man to think that we are having any effect. I'm an engineer. So I understand that we don't have constant things in the physical world. We have a lot of fluctuations.

And when we see, looking back how we have had fluctuations in temperature over time. And when we see how when I was a child we were told whether it was global cooling. We've been told in recent years well there's global warming. Well then last year was the coldest -- the coolest record in the recent trend. It's something. I don't think we ought to be making really haphazard statements of policy or trying to change policies on this side.

It is hard to overstate the number of falsehoods, deceptive elements, and traditional denialist concepts fit into these few paragraphs.

  • It is "arrogance of man" to think that we can have an impact on God's creation.  There are many responses to this, but how about this one:  if there were all-out nuclear warfare, would that have an impact on weather and climate?  If someone answers yes, then they believe humanity can have an impact on the earth's systems.  If they answer no then, well, it is hard to see how one can hold a meaningful conversation with someone living so far distance from reality.
  • That there are "a lot of fluctuations" in "the physical world" and, therefore, somehow, it is impossible that humanity could have an impact on that natural fluctuation.  No one who is serious in the study of climate change / Global Warming would ever argue that there are not natural factors at work.  The conclusion of the science, to date, is that there is an over 90 percent chance that humanity / human activity (not just burning fossil fuels, but cutting down rainforests, paving over land, etc) is responsibility for the majority of the warming globally in recent decades. As noted over at Think Progress,
  • Of course, the reality is that the international scientific consensus, as embodied by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has assessed that there is a 90 percent certainty that human activity contributes to global temperature increases. Even a White House climate report has acknowledged this fact.

  • That scientists were warning about global cooling 30 years ago is a frequent canard from the denier / skeptic community.  As discussed in Confronting a Global Warming Skeptic

    The canard `oh, those scary scientists, they predicted global cooling 30 years ago, now its global warming.  They're just loony environmentalists who want to scare us and do bad things to us.'  Well, today there is a widespread consensus (which will be, again, demonstrated with the coming IPCC report) as above, about Global Warming.  In the 1970s, there was a popular science book on Global Cooling (The Cooling) that fostered some reaction in the popular press. There were magazine articles (includingNewsweek ), and some scientific speculation due to developing knowledge of glacial cycles combined with noted cooling trend from air pollution particles blocking sunlight.  On the other hand, there was no IPCC, not 1000s of peer-reviewed studies, no ... Now, to understand just how strong the agreement was in the scientific community on Global Cooling, we have to go no further than the Professor Reid Bryson's (not the book's author) introduction to The Cooling:

    The Cooling will be controversial, because among scientists, most of the matters it deals with are hotly debated. There is no agreement on whether the earth is cooling. There is not unanimous agreement on whether is has cooled, or one hemisphere has cooled and the other warmed. One would think that there might be consensus about what data there is - but there is not. There is no agreement on the causes of climatic change, or even why it should not change amongst those who so maintain. There is certainly no agreement about what the climate will do in the next century, though there is a majority opinion that it will change, more or less, one way or the other. Of that majority, a majority believe that the longer trend will be downward. Nevertheless, it is an important question, as this book points out, and it is time for some of the questions to be settled. Lowell Ponte has summarized the data and theories very well, and has reasonably concluded that a rapid change in Earths climate is possible, perhaps even likely, within the next few decades, and that this would have serious consequences for mankind.

    The introduction to Ponte's book raises many questions and doubts about Ponte's work but says that this is interesting work, an interesting theory, and that this merits examination. Hmmm ... a scientist who is saying "interesting theory presented here, let's figure out if he's right and what it means".  Isn't that how science is supposed to work with hypothesis / theory and testing?  Well, Global Warming/Global Climate Change is far advanced beyond this test a theory/concept stage. And, pointing to one book and Newsweek article to discredit the Global Warming work is shallow efforts to create doubt rather than serious examination of issues that should be taken seriously.

  • By the way, as to cold 2007?  According to NASA,
  • The year 2007 tied for second warmest in the period of instrumental data, behind the record warmth of 2005, in the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) analysis. 2007 tied 1998, which had leapt a remarkable 0.2°C above the prior record with the help of the "El Niño of the century".

    Membership in the global warming denial know-nothing wing of the Flat-Earth Society merits condemnation, no matter the letter after a candidate's name.

    And, where does Conley's know-nothingness leave him: as a supporter of do-nothingness:

    It's something. I don't think we ought to be making really haphazard statements of policy or trying to change policies on this side.

    Okay, Conley is a man who shouldn't be allowed to give a talk to a High School science class let alone be in the US Senate.

    And, while far from a leading defender of the planet, Lindsey Graham showed himself closer to reality than Conley. Lindsey Graham's comment:

    I  do believe man-made emissions are hurting the planet. I believe global warming is somewhat man-made.

    While not exactly a full-throated statement about humanity driving Global Warming and about an urgent need to act, at least Graham's comments suggest that he has at least a toe in the reality-based world.

    For some more background on Conley, see Flattop Bob Conley vs Lindsey Graham: Republican vs Republican in SC Senate Race including discussion of his 'neo-confederate' and separatist links/leanings.

    And, for some relief, perhaps you might want some Blue Man Group to wash your hands of Bob.

    George Monbiot: This stock collapse is petty when compared to the nature crunch
    The two crises have the same cause. In both cases, those who exploit the resource have demanded impossible rates of return and invoked debts that can never be repaid. In both cases we denied the likely consequences. I used to believe that collective denial was peculiar to climate change. Now I know that it's the first response to every impending dislocation. [...]

    Ecology and economy are both derived from the Greek word oikos - a house or dwelling. Our survival depends on the rational management of this home: the space in which life can be sustained. [...]

    by das monde on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 06:41:57 AM EST

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