Doubt – confusion leads to inaction and benefits status quo
When there is an enormous revenue stream at stake, actions taken to delay making any changes can produce a good return on investment. There is no doubt in my mind that people interested in prolonging fossil fuel dominance over the world economy have taken action to insert doubt in the public consciousness about the hazard of an increasing rate of atmospheric CO2 dumping.
Contrary to the often stated canard that addressing climate change would require a huge, expensive adjustment in our industrial economy, nuclear fission offers lower cost, safer, more reliable energy that does not produce any CO2. (Yes, there is a minor amount of CO2 production associated with initial plant construction and fuel manufacturing. It is approximately 0.5% of the amount produced by the lowest carbon fossil fuel on a per useful unit of energy basis.)
This short video titled “Doubt” offers a stark comparison between the actions taken by the tobacco industry to extend its profitable business for decades after there was no longer any doubt about the negative health effects of addictive consumption of cigarettes and the actions taken by the global hydrocarbon fuel establishment to sow doubt about the hazard of continuing to dump ever increasing quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere.
DOUBT from The Climate Reality Project on Vimeo.
For those with the time (about an hour), a more detailed discussion on the subject by science historian Naomi Oreski:
seems rather relevant. The 1st example of the shipowner seems particularly parallel to the climate denialists.
Hardly does this link apply to AGW “denialists”
When you look at the history of energy and you see the vast improvement of human life, longevity, education, leisure, communication and general comfort that have come from the use of vast amounts of energy, you must balance the claims for disaster – human death and discomfort against the known good that abundant energy brings.
I agree with Rod that Nuclear is the way forward for many reasons. For a person like me who has doubts about the “doomsday” predictions of climate change and some feeling that a slightly warmer earth might bring much good, Nuclear represents a way forward and out of the argument and into a long lived future for my children and soon grand children. I have a lifetime of listening to people exaggerate claims of disaster, watching scientists protect their turf in all kinds of areas, (physics being one of the most open), so that I have a simple question of “how do they know that?” whenever I see panic claims especially politically influenced ones. I also notice the effect on the poorest of the poor. I saw a presentation on Global warming in a 2nd world country that basically showed that every single chemical, and energy source that was available to make life easier would contribute to global warming. In other words – you poor people just need to lay down and die before you kill yourselves and the rest of us. I could barely contain myself.
“How do they know that?”… I don’t think they do either.
After reading your post, I can tell you’ve never read Nissam Nicholas Taleb’s book “The Black Swan”. For me, it may well be the greatest paradigm shift of my long lifetime, unless they finally describe dark energy and dark matter.
I doubt any model that attempts to describe any chaotic system out farther than a few iterations. What we will see as a result of carbon loading of the atmosphere and oceans, if I intrepret Taleb’s perspective correctly, is an unpredictable and extremely dynamic result. The result *will* happen eventually, and it won’t be pretty. It’ll be an event of the 4th quadrant, a black swan event.
Just as our “friends” the bankers were taking risk, building their house of cards for profit, which finally came to a head in 2008, with the 2008 financial black swan event, we also are becoming ever more precariously perched on attempting to maintain our fossil industries at the expense of energy progress and the climate health of our environment.
It’s not that we can predict the result, it is that we should be avoiding an event, or set of events that will be dynamic and unpredictable.
Canada Geese flying south over Ellensburg, Wa. this morning at about 7 AM. About 40 or 50 birds in all which is the first real sign of Season Change. And change it will be this year thanks to CO2 up where that UARS satellite is coming down.
The climate change is most evident in the deep..very deep troughs over continental land masses. It used to be the jet stream more or less was from west to east but now it is “Choppy” and the weather extremes are the result. This winter observe cold air mass flow because this portends the trend toward extreme cold due to CO2 snow seeding weather spawned by now split polar vortex. One is over Hudson’s Bay and the other over Russian’s southern Ural Mountains.
Mike what is the evidence that the rise in CO2 is causing a shift in the jet stream? Evidence not modeling? Frankly I am drawn to atomic energy because you can see from first principals the rationality of the physics and economics. On the other hand I was a teen in the blizzard of 78′ I note that many 100 year records still stand. What causes me doubt is the constant attachment of weather to CO2. I guess I am mildly pursuaded but not by “wild weather” claims. I read too much history to be impressed.
But I agree deeply that Nuclear is the way to go and with Rod’s contention that the over regulation and fear uncertainty and doubt come mainly from established interests. This is also historical. Some feel that it is a moral good to make energy expensive and their “morals” align with the establishment energy business.
Well, actually, there were a few articles published about eight or nine years ago that claimed to find evidence that the jet stream in North America was shifting northward due to climate change.
However, remember earlier this year when excessive tornado activity in the central states was blamed on “global warming” in the media? Anyone who knows anything about atmospheric science could tell you that, for this to happen, the jet stream would have to be moving southward, which contradicts the earlier scientific papers.
See … the climate alarmists try to have it both ways. They’ll claim one thing, but when the opportunity to scare people (i.e., promote Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) presents itself they’ll change their story and contradict earlier claims, hoping that nobody notices.
But then again, I might have been one of those doctors who preferred Camel cigarettes, so everything I say might be all part of a campaign of “phony science.”
For the record, I’ve never taken up the habit of smoking cigarettes, but you can choose whatever excuse you want to use to try to discredit me. I’ve seen it all before. I cross swords with anti-nukes on a regular basis.
Brian, this is the vast difference between the case against smoking and that for AGW. In the one, while not every person who smoked got sick, there was and is consistent evidence that many do get sick, and for many who have quit, the vast improvement in their health is it’s own evidence. There is no question the product is addictive as the universal testimony of those trying to quit shows. The benefit to the person from using it is mostly social, though there is some argument that it has some anti-depressant effects. Thus a product that has little redeeming value but is a cash cow for those trading on human weakness and sickness.
On the other hand, Electricity, liquid fuels and coal have contributed greatly to the extension of life. When I hear about the number of deaths from Coal – while perhaps true (but I doubt the methods used in calculation) I have to balance those against the number of lives saved by Electricity. On balance a positive impact – a greatly positive impact.
Could we do better? Yes, I have become convinced that the “dangers” of radiation are overblown. How does that NOT put me in the same camp as Tobacco company promoters? Am I denying a health risk? Am I just persuaded by industry insiders? Or do I arrive at my own conclusions after checking the evidence to the best of my ability? Or am I drinking Koch…
You see, this “denier” class can fit a whole bunch of things and no person has the energy and time to investigate them all with the depth necessary to become a true expert and must at some point rely on authority.
It is the “solutions” that lead me to say “you are promulgating a scam.” to the alarmist “world is ending tomorrow”, “you are a ‘climate denialist'” crowd. When I see video’s like the one above end with a Nuclear solution, I will be much more convinced they are serious about reducing carbon emissions and want to solve the problem they say we have. In the mean time, “solutions” that kill more people than they are trying to save make me deeply doubtful of their “science.”
By the way, when Thomas Edison invented the whole system of Electric Lighting with all the attendant and necessary devices in about 18 months, the gas lighting industry was greatly threatened and fought the invention for years after. These are not new issues. We can see the same problems in the early history of electricity.
David – you will always find me proposing nuclear solutions to the problem of dangerous fossil fuel waste disposal.
You will also hear nuclear solutions being proposed by Barry Brook, James Hansen, Stewart Brand, James Lovelock, Steve Kirsch, Charles Barton, Kirk Sorensen, Patrick Moore, Christie Todd Whitman, Lamar Alexander, James Webb ….
There are scammers out there who want to propose that wind mills, solar panels, and cap and trade will work. I do all I can to expose them as scammers who really do not care about solving the very issue that they promote – especially when they are greedy rich folks like T. Boone Pickens, Ted Turner, John Rowe, Jim Rogers, Jeff Immelt and Al Gore who personally lead heavily emitting lifestyles.
Which is why I follow and often link to this site. And, you have done more to persuade me about Global Warming than most of the media hype. I think the point that science can be manipulated in the minds of the general public is clear and also that establishment energy sources are deeply threatened by Nuclear power is also clear. Regulation – over regulation – based on fear is their main weapon. A while back DV82XL pointed out that wealthy NIMBY’s will likely be our most formidable opposition to the wide spread use of Nuclear. I agree with him. Until that group understands the real nature of the technology we will not make progress.
Sen Domenici has predicted that future nuclear plants will be built right next to the existing ones so that public acceptance won’t be a problem.
England is taking that path and so will the US and the Western World.
It is a lot of work to plot the average changes in the jet stream flow in the northern hemisphere. Deep troughs are generarlly north-south oscillations. The North Atlantic Oscillation recently changed to answer your question of evidence. Apart from being a green house gas,the cold return thermal cycle of CO2 seeds cloud tops to increase storm intensity. Take a look at these two URLs and consider the cold return cycle of CO2 from the Mesosphere in the NASA article. Dry ice snow falling in polar vortexes now located at Hudson’s Bay and Siberia. That builds Ice Age Cycles.
Evidence for jet stream shift is in the recent change in the North Atlantic Oscillation. The split in the Polar Vortex returns cold to land masses rather than polar region creating extreme deep troughs in weather circulations.
CO2 radiates heat and absorbs cold in the mesosphere that falls as dry ice snow. This in turn seeds weather circulations with extreme cold…and ICE AGES.
This is classic propaganda brought to you from the folks who work for Al Gore. It’s flotsam left over from his dismal “24 hours” of boredom that nobody cared about.
There’s not a single damn scientific argument in the film. It’s just a smear campaign designed to paint anyone who disagrees with Mr. Gore as a tobacco lobbyist. This is little better than painting someone who disagrees with you as a Nazi.
There really should be a Godwin’s law corollary for tobacco companies.
This is really disappointing … in fact, it’s an embarrassment.
If anyone is interested in hearing a real discussion about the science surrounding climate issues (rather than cheap propaganda), I recommend that you visit Dr. Judith Curry’s blog, where she is unafraid to critically examine all sides of the issues and often limits the conversation to strictly technical comments, thus keeping the quality of discussion rather high.
I could not agree more. The Marshall Institute got egg on its face over the tobacco issue but has it right when it comes to human induced climate change.
Even though the idea that carbon dioxide plays a dominant role in global warming is nonsense, I still support the reduction of fossil fuel consumption in the expectation that more will remain in the ground and that our children will find better uses for them.
Whatever your reason for cutting back fossil fuel use, a necessary first step is a vigorous campaign to build at least one NPP per day.
Although It is dawning on people that 20 years of developing “Renewables” has failed to even keep up with the rate of growth of fossil fuel generating plant capacity. However, the realization that renewables are inadequate does not mean that the public is ready to embrace nuclear power.
To the contrary, the nuclear funk in Japan and Germany will create a sharp uptick in coal and natural gas power plant construction. The momentum is entirely in the wrong direction. Let’s work to turn things around!
Bringing the name of “Gore” to a rational discussion on climate science is like mentioning “Godzilla” while attempting to rationally discuss radiation effects.
Both Brian Mays and Judith Curry have done so.
Rational discussion over.
Bob – It wasn’t me who linked to something from The Climate Reality Project. Have you been to their website? Whose face do you see?
By the way, where is this “rational discussion on climate science” that you talk about? It certainly ain’t here.
More about The Climate Reality Project (for those too lazy to follow the link):
That is, this is a PR campaign headed by a failed candidate for President of the US, who has no scientific training whatsoever.
It’s the 24 hours of ManBearPig!
The link is irrelevant…the information is factually correct. The YouTube link within my first comment contains more evidence to support it.
To bring up Gore because of the link is just an ad hominem attack. Either the information within the video from the link is erroneous or not.
You could provide no erroneous information within it.
You’re right…it certainly ain’t here within your comments.
Bob – Look … your reference to Naomi Oreski is nothing but a HUGE ad hominem attack. That’s the only thing that this woman is capable of. She is not a scientist that has any training that allows her to understand the theory of the ocean-atmosphere dynamics that affect climate. Her only claim to fame is to have done a biased lit. search and managed to get it published.
Oh, now an ad hominem attack against Oreski.
She is a Professor of History and Science (no qualification in atmospheric science, meteorology, geography, or any other climate-related field) who wrote a book that’s sole purpose was a total smear job.
You still haven’t brought up any real science before saying your goodbyes, but don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.
@Brian – please remember that you are not the host here.
Also remember that there are human endeavors that have value besides just hard science – history is one of them. So is the study of politics, propaganda, and the art of influencing by advertising.
The video that I posted to start this thread does not pretend to be about science – it is a demonstration of the way that clever marketing people can use discussions about science to confuse the public with the express purpose of continuing to sell a product that is being questioned.
Your continuing failure to recognize that the fossil fuel industry is not led by saints, but by greedy people who willingly let others suffer while they make hundreds of billions per year in revenue makes me wonder about your own ability to engage in critical thinking. Yes, you know your technology, but do you understand what motivates and inspires your fellow human beings?
Rod – I apologize for my response to Bob’s “bye” comment.
I have several questions, however:
Don’t you find it ironic when someone accuses me of an “ad hominem” attack against an academic who has recently written a book that can only be described as a grand “ad hominem” attack against people that she disagrees with? Or how do you describe an argument that, instead of focusing on what someone says, uses a rhetorical argument that ties people to various “evil” organizations?
It’s a classic example of “poisoning the well,” which is a well-known fallacy in logical reasoning.
So is Al Gore (your source) a saint?
“Let He Who Is Without Sin Cast The First Stone.”
Of course, the “fossil fuel industry” has hired PR folks to present their side of the argument. They have had a campaign going on (more or less) for the past twenty years. I’m not asking you to agree with them.
Your continuing failure to recognize that the other side has invested huge amounts of resources into putting forth their alarmist agenda makes your criticism of me ring hollow. It’s telling that some of the most prominent alarmist sites (e.g., desmogblog.com) are funded and staffed by professional PR companies. The main alarmist blog that is written by scientists is hosted by a front group for a PR company who also organized their original press release for them circa 2004. (By the way, the founder of this company produced the “No Nukes” concerts back in 1979 … perhaps you can explain his ties to the fossil fuel industry.)
The video that you have posted was produced by Al Gore’s organization. How are they any less evil than the “fossil fuel industry” (other than when it comes to your own personal bias)? Are they doing this purely out of the goodness of their hearts?
Or perhaps they are interested in making money in a way that will do none of us regular Joes any good. So why are you helping to promote their agenda?
Brian – do you really believe that the people behind desmogblog have resources that are even remotely comparable to those of the global fossil fuel industry?
I am with you regarding alarmists who want to trade carbon credits and promote wind mills, solar panels and natural gas.
However, just because there are crooks and idiots that are trying to make money off of trying to make people believe that the sky is falling tomorrow does not mean that we should ignore the warnings of people like James Hansen, Alvin Weinberg, James Lovelock, and Barry Brook and recognize that there is something fundamentally wrong with continuing to increase the rate of atmospheric CO2 dumping – especially when we have a readily available alternative that is more abundant, more affordable and more reliable than depending on scraping the bottom of the hydrocarbon barrel.
BTW, desmogblog’s relationship to the PR industry is akin to my relationship with federal bureaucrats that have control over budgetary spreadsheets. As participants in that endeavor themselves, they are in a position to point out how the tricks and techniques can be misused as well as beneficially used.
@Brian – one more thing:
Al Gore and many of his compatriots (John Podesta, Joe Romm, Ted Turner) love natural gas http://naturalgasforamerica.com/al-gore-is-on-board-with-natural-gas.htm
That is one of the two main products of the global oil&gas industry. If you read the annual reports of companies like ExxonMobil, Shell, and Chevron, they will explain how important that product is to their future growth.
In other words, Gore is a part of that energy establishment that I keep railing about. He just cloaks his advocacy in a different sounding message, but it is really a part of the same tune.
Rod – We agree on many, many things, but before you defend desmogblog too much for having a lack of resources, consider the following.
When has desmogblog.org ever stood up for nuclear power?
Now, compare the resources that organizations like the Nuclear (Dis)Information and Resource Service have at their disposal compared to the capital and revenue (i.e., resources) that the companies that we work for have at their disposal.
If you’re going to go for a “David vs. Goliath” argument, you have to realize that the sword cuts both ways. It doesn’t help your argument if you’re sometimes pulling for David and sometimes pulling for Goliath.
I have been thinking about the following quite a bit recently:
“Rod – We agree on many, many things, but before you defend desmogblog too much for having a lack of resources, consider the following.
When has desmogblog.org ever stood up for nuclear power?”
Here is a response – when a fossil fuel company starts advertising their interest in nuclear energy with resources that are even remotely close to what they spend to advertise wind, solar, and biofuels as part of an effort to move “beyond petroleum” then maybe I will stop beating the drum to point out how fossil fuel interests coincide with the interests of other people who apparently like it when the world has expensive, tightly controlled energy supplies.
Brian – my “defense” of desmogblog was only in reaction to your characterization of their effort as being remotely comparable to the sales and marketing efforts of the fossil fuel companies. Here is the specific comment that made me respond:
“Your continuing failure to recognize that the other side has invested huge amounts of resources into putting forth their alarmist agenda makes your criticism of me ring hollow. It’s telling that some of the most prominent alarmist sites (e.g., desmogblog.com) are funded and staffed by professional PR companies.”
I am not saying they are right because they are a David fighting some rather large Goliaths that are a significant portion of a global business with annual revenues on the order of $6,000,000,000,000 (six trillion dollars).
On the other hand, the resources at the disposal of NIRS, while admittedly modest, are not so many orders of magnitude different from the resources that our employers invest in sales and marketing. Your company is actually one of the very few in the nuclear industry that spends any money at all in trying to tell the public that what we do is worthwhile and makes life better. Even then, your company obscures the message by putting windmills alongside nuclear plants – giving people the false impression that the visible turbines are even in the same league in terms of power production as the turbines inside the buildings of the nuclear plants.
You asked the following question:
“Rod – We agree on many, many things, but before you defend desmogblog too much for having a lack of resources, consider the following.
When has desmogblog.org ever stood up for nuclear power?”
I did not have an answer off of the top of my head, but I did a little bit of searching around on desmogblog this morning to find a thought provoking piece about the differences in attitudes about about science between those classified as “liberals” and “conservatives” in US political rhetoric influences positions regarding various technologies.
It is also worth following at least one of the links in that piece to the following to read both the initial comment and the thread that follows.
Part of my effort here is to break down some of the stereotypes about “liberals” versus “conservatives.”
I proudly proclaim that I am a hard headed bleeding heart liberal.
I care deeply about the people who were not a skillful at choosing their parents as I was. I want to give them a steady hand up to help them become prosperous and less dependent.
Please recognize that I know that I had nothing to do with choosing my parents – it was a matter of genetics and pure luck. They happened to be smart people who were able to build a very nice middle class American life style after starting with very little during the Great Depression.
My good fortune was that they were hard working, well educated and life long learners. I was also assisted by the fact that Dad earned access to a college education by serving in the Navy during WWII and that Grandma was able to afford to send Mom and her sister to a good, low tuition state university, even as a single parent.
My own good fortune and comfortable lifestyle comes with many debts to the rest of the American public. I have tried to pay back and forward, but I cannot forget that they paid for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees, paid me while I was gaining my nuclear knowledge and now continue to pay me a pension as a result of my service. (They also paid for both of my children to obtain excellent publicly funded educations.)
I am in favor of excellent educational opportunities, well maintained parks available to everyone, good roads, low priced college education, good jobs with decent wages, and the power of organized workers to balance the power of capital. I do not believe that anyone succeeds based on their own skills without a lot of help from a lot of other people.
However, I am also strongly in favor of rational thinking, clear understanding of technology and its limits, and recognition of the value of continued questioning.
I’ll let someone else explain why they are a conservative.
Rod – Yes, I had seen that piece by Mooney when it first came out. He appears to be a little sensitive to accusations of “unscientific” behavior on the left, probably because he is the author of a book titled The Republican War on Science.
If your goal is to build bridges and break down stereotypes, then I have to admit, I think that Chris Mooney is a strange choice to use as an example. The guy has essentially made a career out of adding political polarization to issues that should be weighed by more technical considerations.
Well, I can’t speak to that, but I think that P.J. O’Rourke did a good (or at least entertaining) job of explaining why he is a conservative in his book Why I Am A Conservative.
“….the fossil fuel industry is not led by saints, but by greedy people who willingly let others suffer while they make hundreds of billions per year in revenue…..”
Isn’t it strange that the greedy folks who run industries are people that I cheerfully fork over my hard earned dollars to? They don’t hold a gun to my head or demand payment whether I receive service or not.
Thus my lights come on at the touch of a switch, there is gas for my car and my computer works most of the time. Do I resent the billions that the uncaring Bill Gates makes from people like me?
Hell no! It is the people who say they care who are ripping me off by demanding taxes for services I do not want and they have a merciless collection agency called the IRS.
You will answer that I can always live somewhere else; don’t worry, my parachute is ready.
Well, at least you have a choice.
When it comes to carbon credits (or carbon “offsets” or whatever you want to call them), some folks don’t have any choice other than to live somewhere else, at least according to the New York Times.
So the next time you hear about Gore relieving his conscience by purchasing carbon credits to “offset” the impact of his air travel or his large house, realize that he (or more likely his company) is paying only part of the cost, the easy part.
If Rod wants to demonize the fossil fuel companies (and I’m not here to defend them), then I feel it’s only fair game to demonize the source of his video above. I wouldn’t be surprised if the organization that produced it claimed that it was “carbon neutral” through the purchase of such credits.
The oil and gas companies might make you pay too much at the pump or at the meter, but at least they haven’t burned down your house and forced you off of your land.
@Brian – and who has “burned down my house or forced me off of my land?”
Feel free to demonize the source of the video. I am no fan of carbon credits or Al Gore.
It makes sense to me that there has been a serious propaganda effort to confuse people about the negative effect of CO2 emissions.
I am developing a bit of a theory that I will try out here. Have you noticed that there was far less disagreement in the public sphere about the effects of global warming through the 1990s and into the early 2000s than there has been recently? Sure, there were already the skeptics who were questioning the models, but there was less publicity about their efforts.
Throughout the 1990s and into the early 2000s, there was also general agreement than nuclear power was dead and fading out of the picture. Plants were being shutdown and decommissioned when they reached the end of their 40 year licenses or even well before that time (Zion). There was no little or no effort going on to design or build more. “Everyone” agreed that they were too expensive to compete against natural gas.
The people who were fighting global warming were focused on getting rid of coal and replacing it with “clean natural gas”. Nearly every power plant built in America for 15 years was a simple or combined cycle gas turbine that could not burn coal without a very expensive gasification process at the front end.
Then, the law of supply and demand took over and the price of natural gas skyrocketed far faster than predicted by Energy Information Agency and by the publicly available reports of companies like Daniel Yergin’s CERA. (Note: I have seen hints that the private versions of those reports were a bit more realistic about the inevitable effects of having “everyone” buying into “clean natural gas” as a solution to the ill effects of burning coal.)
Though there was general recognition at that time that the US supply of natural gas was limited, the multinationals had a solution ready – they had plans to ring the US with LNG reception terminals. They were making tens of billions in investments in LNG production infrastructure in places like Qatar, Sakhalin Island, and off the coast of Australia.
Slowly, the nukes started to recognize that they could compete against $8-10 gas and make a healthy profit doing so, especially since people were really concerned about global warming and other ill effects of hydrocarbon mining, processing, transporting and combustion product dumping.
Somehow, just as the Nuclear Renaissance started gathering a head of steam, the price of natural gas collapsed with the economic recession and has remained lower than expected for several years. At the same time, a big push has been made in the public sphere to confuse people about the ill effects of combustion product dumping and to devalue the zero emission feature that nuclear energy brings as an inherent part of its value to society.
Most of what I just wrote applies just as much to Europe and Japan as it does to the US.
I see a connection and it is not just “the oil companies” that I blame for the shift in propaganda. I assume that you are aware that the global gas exporting countries are an even smaller number than the oil exporting countries, and they are led by countries like Iran and Russia that do not think very highly of the US being a dominant world power.
I also assume that you have some awareness of the amount of capital that has to be invested to enable the shipment and reception of liquified natural gas in world trade. That investment requires large, sustained markets at prices that are significantly north of current US market prices.
BTW – knowing where you work, I would be surprised if this history sounds completely off base to you. I would also be surprised and disappointed if it did not upset you just a little to realize that some of your former colleagues’ or neighbors’ recent unemployment or displacement might be the result of competitive actions by the natural gas suppliers.
Rod – I admit that you have an interesting theory. However, please allow me to propose an alternative hypothesis that better satisfies Occam’s razor.
The increased public interest in the issues surrounding “global warming” after the early 2000s was due to a movie released in 2006 called An Inconvenient Truth. You might have seen it, perhaps?
The immediate public attention and ideological polarization that resulted from this (you must admit) overly political film certainly vaulted this issue to the top of the list of concerns in the public’s mind. If the film itself didn’t do the work then the Nobel Peace Prize and Academy Award that followed left no doubt that this was not an issue to be ignored.
The instant boost in publicity is obvious, but you’ve got a hard argument to make if you want to claim that the fossil-fuel companies were behind all of this.
@Brian – I guess I understand why technically focused people put so much credence in a theory that the simplest explanation is generally the right one. On the other hand, those of us whose training is in the humanities, strategy, policy, and politics recognize that there are often complex and intricate explanations whose discernment can require piecing together a multitude of hints and scraps of evidence. There is a natural desire among people executing strategy, marketing plans and propaganda to obscure their real objectives, means, tools, and motives.
All of that said, your explanation is not only wrong because you based it on simplicity when complexity is more to the point, but it is wrong because the sequence of events is illogical.
A movie released in 2006 could not have been the source of public concern about a growing issue that was big enough by 1997 to cause most of the world to sign an accord limiting emissions. It could not have caused Richard Nixon to put the issue on the NATO agenda in 1969 or Margaret Thatcher to emphasize it as a reason to dash to gas to reduce coal burning in the 1980s.
I admit that Gore’s promotion of the issue has caused it to be politically polarizing, and caused some people to reject the possibility out of hand merely because they do not want to ever be seen as agreeing with anything that a liberal democrat might do or say.
I hope you can see the absurdity of that kind of thinking. Liberal democrats, even for people like the banned Ionnes, do some things that we all have to agree are pretty intelligent – like breathing and eating.
Rod – Richard Nixon is now dead, and Margaret Thatcher later changed her mind, as she explained in her book Statecraft, which was published in 2003 (see the part headed “Hot Air and Global Warming”).
What we “technically focused people” realize that those in the “humanities, strategy, policy, and politics” often overlook is that nature does not care about what people think. A phenomenon is either happening or it is not. It is caused by a particular influencing factor or it is not. Even when an effect is observed, the magnitude of the effect matters. Are we talking about a huge effect or is it more like pissing in the ocean? These things matter, and they are not influenced by what you happen to think.
Nature doesn’t care about whatever simplistic reasoning you have rattling about in your head. The atmosphere-ocean dynamics that govern changes in climate is vastly complex, and entire journals are filled with scientific studies that try to understand and improve our knowledge of it. None of this changes simply because some politician decided to take notice.
This is why I recommended that you take a look at Judith Curry’s blog. She is not a so-called “denier” and she is not paid by fossil-fuel companies (her paychecks come from Georgia Tech). I think that she provides an even-handed evaluation of the latest buzz in the climate arena, particularly focusing on the more technical issues. The quality of the comments in her blog also tend to be rather high.
I realize that some things that she has to say don’t mesh well with your ongoing campaign against the evil fossil-fuel companies. All I’m asking for is an open mind, however.
@Brian – I am not really sure what we are arguing about.
I do not think that all fossil fuel companies are evil, but I recognize that there is so much money in the business that even a small portion of evil people in the mix means a very well resourced group of people with ill intent. It does not take any kind of perception to recognize that there are some very bad actors associated with the business of finding, extracting, transporting and refining hydrocarbons. Daniel Yergin’s books have been full of colorful characters who I would not want to invite to a pot luck supper or even share a room with.
It is difficult to be an observant human who has done a fair amount of traveling around the world and remain convinced that the cumulative effect of all of the world’s smokestacks and tailpipes has any relationship at all with “pissing in the ocean.”
The magnitude of an effect matters, but so does the balance in a differential equation where the rate of addition is always greater than the rate of subtraction – year after year. Even if the difference in the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is small from year to year, there is a difference with no indication that the rate of addition will decrease without an alteration in our current trajectory. I am not one who likes the idea of enormous sacrifice to avoid an uncertain risk, but if there is an easy way to avoid the risk by shifting to a better source of heat, I think that is a really good idea.
I recognize that some of those rich evil people mentioned above do not want to lose sales to a better product and will do everything they can think of to prevent that from happening. I know that groups of those people get together on a regular basis to trade strategies and establish marketing plans for the future.
Thank you for recommending Judith Curry’s blog. I found this post to be particularly interesting – http://judithcurry.com/2011/09/24/whos-anti-science/#more-5044
Please remember, I consider myself to be a hard headed BHL. I readily acknowledge that there are a whole bunch of quackery arguments and issues that have been taken up by the weird coalition of “leftists” that has formed over the past few decades. I do not base my philosophy on any particular platform or electable person. I do, however, tend to root for talented and/or hard working underdogs and celebrate when they gain success. I like what the middle class in the US was like when I was growing up and mourn the loss of hundreds of thousands of good manufacturing jobs and the ratcheting back of solid wages in an effort to enrich a smaller and smaller group of super rich.
Current Navy style football is a pretty good metaphor for the way I like the world economy to work. Not too much dependence on stars, a whole lot of discipline, willingness to share, and steady, grinding success.
@Brian – One paper I found as a result of my travels through various comments and links on Curry’s blog is quite fascinating:
The phenomenon that Manuel calls “Neutron Repulsion” sounds like neutron leakage from a critical fission reactor to me. I recognize many of the isotopes mentioned as fission products, some of which are quite strategically located on the Mae West curve. Others – H2 and He – are very common decay products. Hmmm
Regarding Al Gore, Let us all remember that he borrowed the work of Robert Socolow, head of the Carbon Mitigation Initiative at Princeton.
Socolow argues we need seven “wedges” to stabilize atmospheric carbon. He proposes: fuel switching, improved efficiency, energy conservation, alternate energies, reforestation, carbon sequestration, and nuclear power. He offers several other possibilities but nuclear is the only technology that can provide two wedges.
Yet when Socolow’s work is recited in Gore’s movie, nuclear has disappeared.
This resembles the ‘omission’ that Rod recently posted on his twitter that the Nobel Prize winner who was behind LNT had excluded crucial data. This data of course proved that LNT had no scientific basis and is therefore a fraud.
I disagree with regard to oil and gas companies. They take raw material out of the ground, often paying few, if any royalties to the owners of that ground. In many cases in the US, the ground that is mined is public land, so the owners are all of us.
They deliver a necessary product to filling stations. I have a great deal of respect for the technical people involved in that process.
However, if a disruption occurs somewhere in the Middle East, there is no effect on the cost of extraction from wells in the US, yet the oil companies, logically enough, I guess, immediately raise the selling price of their oil.
They have no qualms about cutting people off if they cannot pay, even when the people might be at risk of freezing.
As a guy who came of age between two oil crises, I have never had much love of the oil companies. I sat in way too many filling station lines and have read too many Daniel Yergin books. I also had too many friends involved in tanker escort duty and too many nephews and cousins involved in ground wars to protect their access to massively profitable fields abroad.
You may cheerfully fork over your hard earned dollars to oil and gas companies; I do not, especially when they are putting my country at risk by interrupting a nuclear renaissance with a price war by holding down the price of natural gas artificially for a short period of time.
So could the spike in Natural Gas prices after Fukushima help us?
Yes, especially as it demonstrates something that I have been saying for years – if you like cheap natural gas prices, then you should not assume that they will remain cheap if everyone buys into the myth and starts using more natural gas.
The law of supply and demand works for all commodities. If there is more demand than supply, the price will increase. When the commodity is as inflexible and difficult to store as natural gas delivered by pipeline, the price volatility can be extreme. Sure, price increases will result in more drilling activity and more pipeline construction, but that does not happen overnight. While the companies that can do the drilling get spooled up, vast profits are made by the people who already have their supply available.
This country would be at risk if the oil companies stopped doing what they do. You should quit demonizing the people who sustain our comfortable life style.
I used to live in Holland at a time when the Shell company and Philips Gloeilampen were viciously attacked daily in the Dutch newspapers. Talk about killing the geese laying the golden eggs! It makes no sense to ignore the good such companies do while fixating on their excesses.
While I recognize that nuclear power is the inevitable salvation of our industrial civilization one should still appreciate the efforts of the fossil fuel companies, “warts and all”.
It seems it’s a good time to emphasize the key cultural differences between the fossil fuel extraction industry and the nuclear power industry. It’s my impression that nuclear plant designers and operators tend to take great care in preventing catastrophic failure as well as mitigating the effects should one occur. This is in stark contrast to the fossil extractors who seem to only react once a neighborhood has been blasted to pieces and entire families vaporized or hundreds of miles of coastline contaminated. This key cultural difference, if maintained, is just as important as the technology itself. It is also why the U.S. needs to maintain its leadership role in nuclear technology so that we are in a position to serve as a role model for developing nations who wish to develop their own nuclear program.
I am not asking the oil companies to stop all the things that they are doing. However, I will demonize their warts because they are putting our strength as a nation at risk. In general, the leaders of those companies do not care much about that because they see themselves as above the daily struggles of the rest of us and because they consider themselves multinational companies, not American companies.
There is no reason why the head of an oil company should be given a $400 million departure gift. There is no reason why they should be able to extract oil from public land without paying royalties. There is no reason why we should accept their assurances that they will do fracking properly even without any federal regulation. When was the last time that an aquifer or a river stayed within the fake geography of state lines?
It was not my intention to sow discord on your fine site. What we have here is a difference of perspective.
I certainly agree with your objections to obscene golden parachutes (except the one I received), corporate welfare, polluting rivers and aquifers (especially the Thames that I spent several years helping to clean up).
Incidentally, I am still calling those folks you recommended at FP&L about arranging a visit to the Port St. Lucie nuclear plant. While I have no idea when/if that will be approved I expect to visit a Photo-Voltaic plant early next month.
Federal regulation is not the same thing as actual oversight, as was demonstrated in Deepwater Horizon.
Three words: “Hide the decline.”
Who’s really engaging in “false science” here?
Kind of funny how many “skeptics” are completely ignoring the point of the video. Here are the facts,
-No one here is a climate scientist, and very few of us have looked at the objective data on the temperature record (not that we’re qualified to do so)
-The scientific consensus on AGW is overwhelming. Almost every major scientific organization in related fields agrees http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change
Further, no major scientific organization disagrees, and the list of “notable” scientists who disagree is very short
-A reasonable person should believe the experts for a complicated, scientific issue, unless they have a very, very good reason not to.
What’s more likely? That the vast majority of scientists in the industrialized world are biased? Or that a politically conservative think tank like the Marshall Institute is biased? Amazing that we’re still talking about this.
you do know that Patrick Moore does not buy into the climate change theory. He is 100% pro nuclear still and for the right environmental reasons regarding health and air pollution.
Comments are closed.
Recent Comments from our Readers
The Clinton Nuclear Plant also in Illinois was shutdown essentially for almost 2 years before it was taken over by…
Good Podcast – Very informative One thing that was not discussed is how to deal with a particular fear that…
Renewables people are masters in marketing. Unreliable intermittent generators whose output is all over the place, and usually badly correlated…
Looking at their lineup, Westinghouse seems bound and determined to keep Gen IV in its “place” which is apparently the…
So they are developing a scaled down version of the AP1000, which is a scaled up version of the AP600,…