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Why Americans Don’t Buy Global Warming (Part I of II)

Americans aren’t very concerned about global warming, or at least not as concerned as the rest of the developed world.  A recent Gallup survey found that only a very slim majority of Americans see global warming as a threat, while over 43% claimed the seriousness of the issue has been generally exaggerated. What’s more, the research indicates Americans are becoming less worried about the consequences of climate change.

These results could spell trouble for the GreenTech industry.  The U.S. government has pledged $172 billion for green energy over the next five years. And according to a 2010 study by Verdantix, U.S. businesses will spend over $60 billion on sustainability initiatives by the year 2014 – a growth rate of nearly 20%. With all of the money flowing into the industry, GreenTech funds have been trading very well, climbing nearly 14% during the first quarter of 2011. With waning interest in global warming, however, there is significant risk that the American public will no longer support these investments. This would be a huge blow to one of the fastest growing industries in the nation.

The question is, why, despite the evidence that has been presented, do so many people in this country remain skeptical about global warming? As someone who works in the energy management field, I’ve given a lot of thought to this question. And while I don’t agree with those who deny climate change, I think I understand why they do. After speaking with hundreds of people about this topic, I’ve identified a few key reasons why so many Americans don’t buy in to global warming.

Reason one:  Climate Science is Complex

Let’s face it – the science behind climate change can be difficult to understand; and the United States isn’t known for the strength of its math and science education, at least not the typical K-12 curriculum. It’s been almost ten years since No Child Left Behind was signed into law, yet international evaluations show our students’ grasp of basic science is still subpar.

The average American, therefore, isn’t going to pore over scientific research just so they better understand the affect of increased CO2 on the environment. They’ll either trust that the science is valid or they won’t, which is why an issue like the Climategate controversy so damaging. These sorts of incidents shake the confidence of those who accept the validity of the science even though they don’t completely understand it.

Disputes within the scientific community only exacerbate this problem. Despite the general agreement that human activities are leading to global warming, news broadcasts still occasionally run stories about scientists challenging these conclusions.  Free speech is treasured in the US, especially the right to express a dissenting opinion. The small minority who disagree with the UN report are seen as underdogs, and American’s love underdogs. So the views of these scientists receive more credence than perhaps they should.

Reason two:  Personal Experience Trumps Global Events

Climate change is a global problem. Unfortunately, most people have difficulty comprehending anything on a global scale. We’re much better at understanding our own local community, the places where we live and work. They’re more tangible. Because of our geographic location, Americans also tend to feel insulated from events happening in other parts of the world. It’s easier for us to relate to local events than to something happening in another country.

Local conditions, therefore, tend to have significant influence on the average American’s perception of global warming. When we experience a hotter than normal summer, people are likely to pay more attention to climate change. Higher snowfall and lower temperatures in winter tend to have the opposite effect. A brief cold snap can even lead to wholesale discrediting of climate science, particularly among people who weren’t convinced to begin with. More than once I’ve heard someone say sarcastically, “Sure is cold. It must be global warming.”  Of course, statements like these are also further proof that our science education is lacking, as few Americans understand that the melting polar ice caps are actually causing our winters to be colder.

Reason three:  Americans Don’t like Being Told What to Do

Americans are generally an independent lot and don’t like being told what to do. We’re proud of our rugged individualism and dislike government interference in our daily lives. We’re really big on protecting our freedom to think, speak, and do as we like. This all harkens back to the founding of our country and the history lessons we learned in school. It’s the cowboy spirit that flows through our veins.

The problem is a lot of global warming messages come off as authoritarian. “You must reduce your carbon footprint. You must recycle. You must use less energy!” The commanding tone of environmental advocates is certainly understandable. Climate change is a critical issue and there is an urgent need to address the problem. We’re trying to save the planet and we want people to move – Now!  There’s simply no time for subtle discourse.

This intensity can backfire in the US, however. Americans aren’t going to change their behavior just because someone tells them to. Tell an American he has to stop using so much electricity, and he’s likely to start using more. Tell an American she has to conserve water, and she may start taking longer showers. It’s not that we’re contrary; we just don’t like being pushed around.

To recap then, Americans don’t buy into global warming because a) we’re not that in to science and we have a hard time figuring out who’s right, b) we’re more concerned about our own experiences than what’s happening in the rest of the world, and c) we’re not going to take orders from anyone.

Ok, maybe this isn’t a fair assessment of our country’s entire population. After all, at least half of us say we’re concerned about global warming. That still leaves a large group of people that don’t see the threat – that’s a real problem. How are we going to get them to understand the scope of the problem? How are we going to get them to do better? I’ll attempt to answer that question next time, in part II of this series.

Michael Nark builds successful organizations and leads companies to profitable growth. His executive leadership background spans several verticals, but he has never wavered from his goal of perfecting technology-enabled service delivery. As the current CEO and President of Prenova, the energy management services firm responsible for over $2 billion in annual energy spend across more than 30,000 locations, Michael’s extensive experience in leadership, sales, marketing, and operations means he has a unique, holistic perspective on issues pertaining to climate change.

69 thoughts on “Why Americans Don’t Buy Global Warming (Part I of II)

  1. Of course, the assertions that human activity is the primary (major, only, causative) factor in global temperature change is accepted by those who believe in the computer models that claim to establish these ‘facts’.

    The computer models don’t bother to comply with normal industry verification and validation standards (normal outside climate science), and cannot successfully predict the past, and have almost no success predicting the future, but somehow the problem is ignorant Americans.

    Your ‘facts’ are scientifically weak, and that is why your alarmist warnings don’t sell very well.

  2. Climate change denial is complicated too. I recommend Kari Marie Norgaard’s Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions, and Everyday Life from The MIT Press. Her sociological study of climate denial taught me a lot about how I use participation in social groups to manage uncomfortable emotions. There is also the issue of humanity not having evolved to perceive and respond to planet scale threats.

  3. There you go icecaps aren’t melting! Get your facts right THis is from a pro AGW scientific site site they cant lie! Check global ice notice how Antarctica is ABOVE ice anomaly for 3 years! Arctic only melted in 2007 its increasing ever year since!
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/
    and from Scandinavia
    http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/icecover.uk.php
    and current mean satellite world temps from NASA, NOAA (there FALLING BELOW anomaly)
    http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/600/dailyuahtempsmar312010.png/
    Check your facts that’s why less and less are believing. If I was you I would get out of any Carbon credit stuff ASAP my friend

  4. Well written article. I too have long wondered why the everyday Joe doubts the massive amount of scientic evidence and the overwhelming number of scientist that supports global warming and the ways that it is causing our climate to change. The sad part is that the climate will not wait for Americans to educate themselves and has no tolerence for politics or attitudes. The climate has already begun changing and will continue to do so even if it means the end of human exitence. People in America are already dying and tens of thousands, possiibly millions more will die in the U.S. in direct relation to climate change. No one will be immune.

  5. Another is that some religious fanatics believe that because God gave man “dominion” over the earth and all here below, there’s no possible way man could destroy the earth. Yet another is that some other religious fanatics don’t believe the one above, but they believe we are close to “end times” anyway, so what does it matter?

  6. Borrowing from Dan Ariely, author of The Upside of Irrationality, I think that climate change is a problem perfectly designed to make people do nothing:

    It happens far into the future;
    Its effects will be felt mostly by other people;
    The efforts of any one individual are miniscule.

    Add to this the programmed distortion from most of the mainstream press, and you have a receipt for disaster.

  7. How about another option: We DO understand the science–and we don’t buy it because the climate science “industry” is determined to hide their data and insult anyone who asks them for it, something that a scientist after the truth would never do.

  8. Another factor to take into account is the fact that politicians (especially Republicans) are in the pockets of lobbyists from oil companies and anti green organizations. The upshot of all of this is that they would rather keep those campaign dollars flowing to get re-elected rather than be truthful to their own constituents about the effect of global warming. This of course also damages any attempt to free ourselves from the power of the gas pump through alternative forms of energy because the companies involved do not want their massive profits to decrease… and neither do the milions of shareholders who profit from their investments in them. So what you have is a bunch of unscrupulous oil companies who claim they are working on alternative forms of energy while at the same time buying politiocians in order to discredit the very initiatives they claim in their many TV commercials to support. And it gets worse. Big emission producers such as the steel and chemical industries are moving their manufacturing operations to countries that would rather see the investment dollars than care about global warming. Because these companies do not stand to profit from getting hit by EPA initiatives, and also the average American would rather see the companies stay in the States so that the jobs will stay there too. Catch 22? Pollute your own air or lose your jobs… hence the lobbyists from those organizations who discredit the EPA as much as they can. Unless something is done to bring this to the average American in easily digestible, back-of-the-cereal-packet type chunks then America is going to be wearing factor 100 sunscreen and a gasmask for it’s daily commute in the not too distant future. Which means that more enlightened countries like Germany will have to do the same because it will affect the entire planet, not just the USA.

  9. That about sums up my experiences as well. Until mother nature throws something at us that has never been seen or recorded before, the average denier will just say that this has all happened before and is nothing to be concerned about or to change our lifestyles over.

  10. As stated –

    “The question is, why, despite the evidence that has been presented, do so many people in this country remain skeptical about global warming? As someone who works in the energy management field, I’ve given a lot of thought to this question.”

    Why you ask? The “Evidence” you refer to is suspect and often politically motivated. I am sure you have given a lot of thought to it as your lively hood is based on AGW and the resulting sustainability initiatives. It is about $$$ and always has been.

    Climate does change and will continue to do so despite what man may or may not do. Man can not control the Earth or the Sun, we can only adapt to what is presented to us, much like nomadic tribes and great migrations. It is about adaptation to food supply and climate.

    You are right however, that people do not want to be told what to do. We set up shop and become selfish to the extent everything should adapt to our location/area. We then look for blame when things change, like climate. There has to be a scapegoat and it is boils down to “Who has the money”. I applaud and support your efforts and do agree that if we can conserve we should – a no brainer, your business is based on it.

    I think we can agree that the Earth has been cooler and hotter that what we experience today. If that is that case I suggest one view the sun and the earth process’ as the drivers of climate change, and not AGW.

    http://www.cdejager.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/2009-episodes-jastp-71-194.pdf

    I await your Part II.

    Its always been about the sun.

  11. Actually, the reason many people are skeptical is becasue the evidence on both sides of the issue is equal; neither side has proven their case. Also, I do not appreciate the author’s criticism of our intelligence. Lastly, since his company will lose out on the spending decrease, it is certainly obvious why he wrote the article.

  12. “Actually, the reason many people are skeptical is becasue the evidence on both sides of the issue is equal; neither side has proven their case. Also, I do not appreciate the author’s criticism of our intelligence”

    a) the evidence is not by any means “equal”
    b) if you had bothered to inform yourself you would know that
    c)point b) validates the authors criticism not of intelligence of an ability to understand the maths and science behind climate change. This inability is either due to laziness or a lack of intelligence – take your pick.

  13. As someone with scientific and historical training I know global warming has been occurring since the end of the little ice age in about 1650. But we know Europe and North America at least were muck more hospitable places in the High Middle Ages when it was considerably warmer than it is now. I would like to see some more global warming.

    On the scientific level, I know science is never settled. It is just the best approximation we can make with what we know now. So when they told us the science was settled a lot of us were skeptical.

    Then they told us that snow in England was going to be a thing of the past. We know how that worked out.

    Then they told us any weather phenomena, including cold, was a sign of global warming

    After a while some of us started thinking we don’t know as much about this as people claim.

  14. Let’s, for one moment, take Climate Change out of the picture. Why wouldn’t Americans just want to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels from our enemies, or lessen our use of coal which pollutes our air and water contributing to everything from asthma to mercury in fish. Why don’t Americans care about their own water quality or dependence on pharmaceuticals for conditions they are creating themselves? Why don’t many Americans just care about not contributing more to the landfill or spending their hard-earned money on “stuff” from China, or eating food from fast food restaurants that literally makes them sick? Future generations will be astounded and disgusted by our selfish behavior.

  15. I see the deniers are out in force on this one – not much of a surprise.

    Most of their arguments fall into the camp of scientific illiteracy, the first of the points mentioned in the main article. They are thus proving that the author has correctly described one of the main motivating factors behind denialism.

    But the article misses out on an important, albeit secondary, reason why denialism still exists. Signs of this additional impetus can be seen by typical denier claims, including the above examples that climate scientists try to “hide their data and insult anyone who asks them for it”; and the name-calling like “climate cops” and “climate criminals”. Other egregious examples abound elsewhere. In general, some deniers take nearly every opportunity to cast serious aspersions on many people including on scientists, politicians, interested members of the general public who happen to disagree with them, etc. etc. It is interesting that such aspersions aren’t even about the issues at hand – they are merely attempts to outshout their competition, to degrade them publicly in the hope that their opposing viewpoints will likewise be degraded, etc. I conclude that deniers who engage in such behaviors are erroneously caught up in the concept of ‘winning’ some sort of personal battle or debate. It has become a personal fight for them – one that they will leave no stone unturned in order to ‘win’. Too bad – in so doing, they ignore the true issues, and threaten to drown honest public discourse in a sea of irrelevant noise.

  16. Doug is correct. Climate deniers exclusively invoke logical fallacy after fallacy as methods to “outshout” any real discussions. You only marginalize yourself with this behavior.
    Please, everyone who is not familiar with the word fallacy, or the difference between a discussion and an argument, you are not a bad person and you should not be ignored. But before posting, please visit:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_fallacy
    Do you argue on the internet? Did you study the content in the above link yet? No? Go do that. Go. Right now, for all of humanity’s sake – click the link.
    I think Nancy also makes an excellent point in stating the irrelevancy of climate debate with respect to the concerns of sustainable living in America. The behaviors that would slow and limit climate impact by humans would also make us a stronger, more self-reliant and smarter country. So if you believe in climate change or not, then preserving resources and investing in next-gen technology is the most reasonable choice.

  17. Good article. Unfortunately, people are going to believe what makes them feel good (Global warming is a lie and they don’t have to do anything, etc) until the evidence becomes too painful and obvious to ignore.

  18. Here is 100% proof that the “thousands” of consensus climate change scientists grossly, if not criminally exaggerated climate change:
    1- 100% silence from the disaster promising climate scientists when Obama didn’t even mention the crisis ONCE, in his state of the union speech in Feb/2011, the year climate change celebrated it’s 25th year of warnings,
    2-100% silence from the thousands of consensus and crisis warning scientists when all American IPCC research funding was pulled.
    3-110% lack of concern from scientists who, for predicting a comet hit of a global emergency, SHOULD have been crying all over CNN and all media and marching in the streets to regain concern for their cries of “catastrophic” climate crisis.
    4-120% lack of anger from you climate change believers, directed to the scientists who obviously enjoyed a gravy train of greed and condemned your kids to a certain death by CO2.

    And here is proof climate change was kept alive by a liberal ideological agenda:
    “Why would the left allow The World Bank, the UN, corporations and carbon STOCK MARKETS to determine how climate mitigation is managed in a fair way to the people of the planet?” Think of climate change being to liberalism what the Iraq Wars were to the Bush family name.

  19. Can someone explain why the parent company of climate change denying Fox News actually spends real money to purchase CO2 offsets reduce their greenhouse gas footprint? Why would they do this if they truly believe there is nothing to worry about? I think one side is doing what is right and reasonable (NewsCorp, the parent company) and other other side (Fox News) is stirring up controversy where there is none in order to get ratings and advertising dollars. Ignoring Fox News and not the climate scientists is the only rational way of dealing with this. Read more here -> http://gei.newscorp.com/carbon-analysis.html#offsets-tab

  20. As a person with both historical and scientific training I am aware that we have been in a period of global warming since the end of the little ice age in about 1650. Before the little ice age Europe and North America had a more salubrious climate than today and both food production and population expanded rapidly. So I would like to see some global warming, to get the temperature averages up to what it was in the High Middle Ages.

    But I am skeptical about the comments of the alarmists. First they told us that the science was settled. But science is never settled, it is simply the best approximation we can make with the available information.

    Then they told us snow was going to be a thing of the past in England and we know how that worked out.

    Then they told us that any weather phenomena, including clod wet winters were proof of global warming.

    At that point some of us began to think they did not know as much as they thought they did.

  21. Mr. Dennis, please elaborate on what “historical and scientific training” you have received, as it has apparently made you an expert at interpreting historical climate data in the context of vast amounts of current climate data and extrapolating that past climes were ‘salubrious’, or healthful. Please go on to explain what a ‘healthful’ climate is exactly.

    Also, because of your historical and scientific training, please go on to explain why one would frame a seemingly innocuous comment with subtle phrase repetitions like “they and us” and the use of “alarmists” to describe those concerned with AGW.

    Also, the link in your name links to nothing.

    Thank you, kind sir.

    “Love NOT CO2 FEAR”, your ramblings are always non-sequiturs and ad hominem attacks. You are a welcome addition of a perfect non-example to all our discussions here. Please continue.

    “NikfromNYC”, Linking to unsubstantiated infographics and unattributed quotes proves nothing about anything to anyone. Because Charles Manson is evil and he also believes in accelerated global warming does not therefor make accelerated global warming evil. To further explain this, imagine that Charles Manson likes pineapples. This does not mean that everyone who likes pineapples is a serial killer.

    Cheers.

  22. I think the main reason that people don’t believe climate change is happening is that it’s inconvenient for them. Admitting climate change is happening means that they are accountable for it, and if they don’t do something to stop it, they will be blamed. So to avoid this guilt, people deny that climate change is happening, or at least throw out there that there are questions about it, to alleviate their own guilt. I think we should have a very simply website where people sign up one of three options: 1) believe climate change is happening and is caused by humans, 2) unsure, and 3) do not believe climate change is happening and/or is not caused by humans. Putting people’s names to something will cause the accountability that future generations will want.

  23. I have degrees in both history and geology. My comments about Europe’s climatic variations and their impacts are taken from Professor Philip Daileader’s courses for the teaching company.

    I would respect your positions more if you concentrated on the accuracy of my assertions. For example we not told snow in England was going to become a very rare phenomena?

  24. Climate warming is VERY SIMPLE. Add more energy and it gets warmer. Adding CO2 does NOT add energy. If CO2 caused warming you could bottle it and create a perpetual energy machine. Coca Cola has not created this yet.
    Climate Change is real & natural. It is caused by variations in the amount of energy, not the CO2, that comes into the Earth. Man can NOT control the amount of energy coming in. Try stopping the gravity that comes from the moon that causes tidal energy for example.
    In short Americans are smarter than you think. They already know that man caused global warming is a fraud. It just does not make sense. How can “more CO2 mean more warming” per IPCC when it is obvious that it gets colder every night inspite of man spewing out more CO2? Do you think maybe that it is the energy that is involved in the greenhouse efect, and NOT the CO2. More energy photons from the sun means warmer in the morning, fewer photons means colder at night. But that doesn’t count the gravity energy from the moon. Maybe the Climate “scientists” are not capable of understanding real science. And Americans can see a FRAUD when it is ppresented.

  25. Much of the American and Canadian Rust Belts have not had one single smog day in over 5 years. Pollution? Does anyone remember the smoggy 70’s when a river caught fire in Ohio? A half century of environmental action has made our world better. Just think of how things would be now without Rachel Carson’s environmental revolution and the laws, standards and protections it has brought us.
    “We must be doing something to the planet” isn’t science, it’s primal superstition and modern day witch burning.
    Facing the future of energy, waste, and pollution with fear, like some trailer park intellectuals, makes neocons out of all of us. Yes, neocons because climate change wasn’t environmentalism, it was a specific CO2 death threat to billions of children and used by well intentioned voters to motivate responsible environmentalism. Meanwhile, the UN had allowed carbon trading to trump 3rd world fresh water relief, starvation rescue and 3rd world education for just over 25 years of climate control instead of the obviously needed population control. REAL planet lovers and REAL progressives and REAL civilized and loving people were happy and relieved the science was a mistake, a criminal exaggeration and one of mankind’s darkest eras.
    Relieve yourself of this burden of a dying planet from CO2 and look for the flaws and cracks in the perception of scientific consensus. The consensus among scientists stinks like a rat:
    -Why are the concerned scientists who warned us of catastrophic crisis not marching in the streets and demanding justice for the planet after all American IPCC research funding into climate change was pulled? Or why is this army of thousands of consensus scientists that I dare you don’t know one single name of, at least acting like it’s an emergency? Especially when Obama never even mentioned the “crisis” in his state of the union speech.
    -How do scientists always outnumber protestors? -Why do all scientists have a different and personal and unique definition of climate change? BECAUSE the IPCC promises that the effects of human CO2 will be from negligible to unstoppable warming. This sounds like a free pass does it not and considering there are now consequences for saying the crisis is real, when it’s not, it is all the more a free pass for lab coat consultants.
    Thousands of consensus scientists also produced cruise missiles, cancer causing chemical cocktails, land mine technology, nuclear weapons, germ warfare, cluster bombs, strip mining technology, Y2K, Y2Kyoto, deep sea drilling technology and now climate control.

  26. Change is what climate does! I don’t know anyone who denies climate change. Yes, a lot of poorly informed people, alarmists and skeptics alike, form their opinions based on political ideology or on the basis of authority rather than empirical science. The problem at the heart of climate science, and the reason so many of us are skeptics, is because the IPCC models (they’re hypotheses, not predictions and many don’t even understand this) is that it’s not possible to know what a temperature trend is until many years later, so therefore it’s impossible to know at present whether or not any of the dozen or more IPCC model projections will turn out to be correct. At present the global temperature trend is lagging behind all of the model projections. A scientific model or hypothesis needs supporting or invalidating empirical evidence which is the temperature record. Global temperatures increased significantly from 1978 until 1998, enough that many scientists, like James Hansen and many others, were worried, believing the increasing atmospheric concentrations of CO2 (from pre-industrial 275 PPM to 375 PPM by 2000) was the cause. However, the past 13+ years have seen a continuing increase in CO2 atmospheric concentration and NO increase in temperature, which has leveled off below 1998 levels. Couple that with the fact that there was slight cooling from the end of WWII (when the IPCC claims anthropogenic global warming became the primary forcer) until 1978 when the 20 years of warming began. What do you get? You have only 20 years of warming in the past 65 years and no warming trend recently. The empirical data, the temperature record, gives little support to the model projections of significant, let alone, catastrophic warming. It isn’t happening. However, the empirical data also does not invalidate the IPCC models—yet. We would need another 15 years or more of level or declining temperatures for that. Perhaps global temperatures will rise significantly and dangerously starting tomorrow, but today all we have is the record referred to above which you can easily verify at the NOAA, HADCRUT, Wood for Trees, and other sites. You will find that we have had uneven, but gradual warming now for about 300 years and that the warming of the past 50 or 100 years looks pretty similar to the warming of the previous 50 or 100 years. Those who are students of climate know the above and don’t show our ignorance by making grandiose statements about the future.

  27. There seems to be a psychological theme component here: that a significant percentage may have a collective cognitive dissonance – if it’s a certainty and I can’t do anything about it, then denial is a viable option I’ll use to alleviate the stress and guilt. Would even go so far as saying some are afflicted with something called the ‘Just World Hypothesis’ : the world is just, so bad things only happen to bad people; I’m a good person, so this thing that could be bad for my world cannot be true”.

  28. As a thought experiment; I wonder if the global heating threat was replaced with the threat of an asteroid or comet impact of say, 9 or 10 on the Torino scale some fifty years in the future. Different threats, but similar outcomes for life.

    Would there be such a vocal minority of deniers? Would corporate interests only think of short term gain? Would politicians base their responses on the next election cycle only?

    I think not. I think that people would quickly and fairly unanimously realize that acting now to avert disaster would be the only course of action.

    Maybe James Lovelock is right: “…but sadly I cannot see the United States or the emerging economies of China and India cutting back in time, and they are the main source of emissions. The worst will happen and survivors will have to adapt to a hell of a climate.”

    My grandchildren may yet ask “what did you do in the climate wars grandpa?”

  29. Many thanks to the following:
    Love not CO2 fear – for your ‘100% proofs’ that prove nothing, and for your name-calling and ridiculous comments (“neocons because climate change … was a specific CO2 death threat to billions of children” and other meaningless hype),
    William G. dennis – for your misquotes and misinterpretations, and for reminding us that “science is … the best approximation we can make with what we know now” (which means that we should follow the science backing up AGW, not ignore it or refuse to act on it because it isn’t ‘settled’),
    John Dodds – for your fallacious arguments concerning energy vs. CO2, that provide clear evidence that you do not understand the science at all, and last but not least,
    Doug Allen – for several false statements summarized by “You have only 20 years of warming in the past 65 years and no warming trend recently” (Doug, even the NOAA reference you cite (http://www.climate.gov/#climateWatch) shows 70/100 years of nearly monotonic global surface temperature rise (1910-1945 and again from 1975-2010)).

    Many thanks for providing yet more examples of the main reasons denialism still exists – just like the article states. As I noted before, I would add another effect – that of people who have taken the argument personally, and stand ready to defend their disproven opinions come hell or high water (AKA global climate change).

  30. Responding to Doug Allen – one does so love half truths. I would also wonder how many of the commentators here are paid by various lobby groups that want to see no CO2 reductions or indeed action taken by the USA. Extract from Wikipedia follows:

    The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) statement on the status of the global climate in 2010 explains that, “The 2010 nominal value of +0.53°C ranks just ahead of those of 2005 (+0.52°C) and 1998 (+0.51°C), although the differences between the three years are not statistically significant…”[25]

    Temperatures in 1998 were unusually warm because the strongest El Niño in the past century occurred during that year.[26] Global temperature is subject to short-term fluctuations that overlay long term trends and can temporarily mask them. The relative stability in temperature from 2002 to 2009 is consistent with such an episode.[27][28]

  31. @John Dodds | June 6th, 2011
    More energy photons from the sun means warmer in the morning… But that doesn’t count the gravity energy from the moon.
    Really – are you serious? Please tell me you write stories and where to buy your book cos that one had me laughing out loud.

  32. I am not a scientist but the heat that we currently experiencing in our country, the Philippines, was not at all present the last 10 years of our stay in this place. It used to be warm at daytime and cold at night time, but it’s now hot at daytime and warm at night time. This leads me to ask where are those CO, CO@, Methane and Nox going when they are released from the earth? If science tells us that there is a portion in the atmosphere that these greenhouse gasses accumulate and continue piling up every second, then, it could be very possible that it has an effect on the earth’s atmospheric condition because it will appear that the situation is not normal. Besides, there have been so many topics about the so called ozone layer which is correlated to the atmospheric condition. I do believe that mankind has really to address the issue on global warming. Mankind has done a lot of destruction to our mother earth, from Chemical fertilizers, chemical spray, coal fired power plants, vehicle emissions due to use of poor quality fuels, improper garbage disposals and the like. Let’s all unite to reduce greenhouse gasses emissions.

  33. The author may not be helping to alleviate the very condition he is bemoaning. People who are referred to as (Reason 1) dumb, (Reason 2) narrow-minded, and (Reason 3) stubborn may not take kindly to it and react from emotion instead of with logic and reason (as the author calls them to do). If the purpose of the article is to convince and not to inflame, perhaps a different approach is warranted. That is, if the American “deniers” are as dumb, narrow-minded, and stubborn as he insists. If the intent is to take snarky potshots at those who disagree with the author and receive validation from those in his camp…

  34. Does anyone think this puts global warming in proper perspective besides me?

    “Ian Rutherford Plimer (born 12 February 1946) is an Australian geologist, academic and businessman, and professor of mining geology
    at the University of Adelaide . You will appreciate his take on climate change
    aka: global warming). Professor Ian Plimer could not have said it better! If you’ve read his
    book you will agree, this is a good summary.
    Are you sitting down? Okay, here’s the bombshell. The volcanic eruption in Iceland , since its first spewing of volcanic ash has, in just FOUR DAYS, NEGATED EVERY SINGLE EFFORT you have made in the past five years to control CO2 emissions on our planet – all of you. Of course you know about this evil carbon dioxide that we are trying
    to suppress – it’s that vital chemical compound that every plant requires to live and grow, and to synthesize into oxygen for us humans, and all animal life. I know, it’s very disheartening to realize that all of the carbon emission savings you have accomplished while suffering the
    inconvenience and expense of: driving Prius hybrids, buying fabric grocery bags, sitting up till midnight to finish your kid’s “The Green Revolution” science project, throwing out all of your non-green cleaning supplies, using only two squares of toilet paper, putting a brick in your toilet tank reservoir, selling your SUV and speedboat, vacationing at home instead of abroad, nearly getting hit every day on your bicycle, replacing all of your 50 cents light bulbs with $10.00 light bulbs . . . well, all of those things you have done have all gone down the tubes in just four days.
    The volcanic ash emitted into the Earth’s atmosphere in just four days – yes – FOUR DAYS ONLY by that volcano in Iceland , has totally erased every single effort you have made to reduce the evil beast, carbon. And volcanoes on the planet spewing out this crud any one time – EVERY DAY.
    I don’t really want to rain on your parade too much, but I should mention that when the volcano Mt Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in 1991, it spewed out more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the entire human race had emitted in its entire YEARS on earth. Yes folks, Mt Pinatubo was active for over one year – think about it.
    Of course I shouldn’t spoil this touchy-feely tree-hugging moment and mention the effect of solar and cosmic activity and the well-recognized 800-year global heating and cooling cycle, which keep happening, despite our completely insignificant efforts to affect climate change.
    And I do wish I had a silver lining to this volcanic ash cloud but the fact of the matter is that the bush fire season across the western USA
    and Australia this year alone will negate your efforts to reduce carbon in our world for the next two to three years. And it happens every year.
    Just remember that your government just tried to impose a whopping carbon tax on you on the basis of the bogus “human-caused” climate change scenario.
    Hey, isn’t it interesting how they don’t mention “Global Warming” any more, but just “Climate Change” – you know why? It’s because the planet has COOLED by 0.7 degrees in the past century and these global warming bull artists got caught with their pants down.
    And just keep in mind that you might yet have an Emissions Trading Scheme – that whopping new tax – imposed on you, that will achieve absolutely nothing except make you poorer. It won’t stop any volcanoes from erupting, that’s for sure.
    But hey, relax, give the world a hug and have a nice day!
    PS: I wonder if Iceland is buying carbon offsets?”

  35. I add Jonathan to the list of people to thank. His statement that “CARBON TAX IS THEFT – PLAIN AND SIMPLE” is yet another fine example of the lies and hyperbole thrown out by deniers. They continually try to obfuscate the facts and to confuse the debate (taxes aren’t even a part of the debate here – and even if they were, his statement is still wrong).

  36. the answer is there is no evidence of man made global warming. The Hadley Centre latest temperature graphic 2000-2011 shows a cooling earth. the climate is changing but it is a natural change. human contribution is minimal and not significant

  37. This sad thread makes me laugh. I am currently sitting here guffawing, nay howling with laughter at this debate. The mere fact that there is ANY form of scientific evidence supporting global warming and warning of (fact) melting polar ice caps with the consequent rise in sea levels (just as one example) should be something that should be worried about amd measures taken to work together to find a solution. Instead you get fools arguing about who is right and who is wrong! Great job everyone, I am sure that future generations are all going to be SO proud of you all!

  38. I’m constantly amazed by the extent to which deniers are invested in so forcefully advancing their rhetoric. The ‘shouting’, the patently absurd ‘facts’, and especially the conspiracy theories.
    Do deniers really believe that scientists and those in the energy conservation and alternative energy industries are living the lifestyle of fossil fuel (oil, coal, gas) executives and magnates?
    The 400 Americans that hold more wealth than 50% of all Americans DID NOT get rich by advancing climate conspiracy theories, or by selling Solar panels or windmills.
    Glaciers and ice caps ARE melting, the snows of Kilimanjaro ARE dramatically retreating, and, yes, the climate does change on its own. 50 million years ago it was warmer and sea level was 200 feet higher than it is now, that doesn’t help the denier “argument” (neither does the nonsense about volcanoes, or global cooling in the 70’s. Maybe now that Al Gore’s divorced and Tipper has some of his money, him being rich won’t be such a crutch to the deniers). What we’re experiencing is climate change at previously unseen rates throughout the natural record (yes, we DO have access to that data, and it is reliable).

    We really do have Fox News and its political/socio-economic rightwing stance to blame for soooo many of the half-truths, short-sighted conclusion, and blatant lies – many of which have been parroted here. The deniers resemble teabaggers in that they don’t realize they’re shills for and have been duped by the monied elite (fossil fuel industry, Koch bros., et al…) in this country and the planet in general. For those quick to call me an Obama-lover, not so fast, I did vote, and not for him (not McCain either – Really, Palin? They must’ve just thrown that one…)

    The comments here, and the article, offer some helpful insight into this condition, thank you all, on both “sides”, for that.

  39. Congratulations to David D, for another big set of lies posted on this comment thread! Among his whoppers:
    1) “The volcanic eruption in Iceland … in just FOUR DAYS, NEGATED EVERY SINGLE EFFORT … made in the past five years to control CO2 emissions”. This is patently false. According to the US geological survey (http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hazards/gas/index.php), “Volcanoes release more than 130 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year” – but, wait for it, the US and China alone combined for more than 13 billion tons of CO2 emissions in 2005. It isn’t even close, folks. The same rebuttal applies equally well to David’s false Mt. Pinatubo claim.
    2) The “effect of solar and cosmic activity”, as well as other natural climate forcings, are well-accounted for by the climate change models – and they do not produce the current warming trends.
    3) The “bush fire season across the western USA
    and Australia this year alone will negate your efforts to reduce carbon in our world for the next two to three years”; is also a complete lie. David fails to notice that all natural sources of CO2 are roughly balanced out by natural absorption mechanisms. In this case, those very same burned areas will experience plant re-growth almost immediately following the fires, thus re-absorbing roughly equal amounts of CO2 that balance what was released. AGW is based on the extra human-caused CO2 – a whopping amount of it – that is injected into the system on top of all pre-existing natural sources. That extra CO2 is not so readily absorbed by any natural mechanisms.
    4) Another of David’s complete lies: “the planet has COOLED by 0.7 degrees in the past century”. False. I again refer to the NOAA historical records that show a clear warming trend over the past century (http://www.climate.gov/#climateWatch).

    And honorable mention goes to Avril – for repeating David’s false claim about a cooling trend, and for his head-in-the-sand denial of the overwhelming evidence in favor of the AGW hypothesis.

  40. Mr Nark,

    While you make some good points, you are way too kind to the deniers. ‘DAVID D’ is a perfect example.

    David is spouting outright lies. You often can spot folks like David because he does not give any references on the lies he is making. Just some vague claims and hand waving. That is the mark of a culture warrior (“Pappy allus said yo’ kin’t trest those sciency folks an’ der fanci words”). Perhaps David believes what he is saying, then again he might be getting paid to lay down the astroturf ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing )

    Here are some more links in addition to the ones Doug provided.

    The Mount Pinatubo eruption emitted 42 million tonnes of CO2. ( http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Projects/Emissions/Reports/Pinatubo/pinatubo_abs.html ).

    Human emissions in 1991: 23 billion tonnes of CO2. http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/emis/overview_2006.html

    Dave, you there? Notice the references? Oh, I forgot, it is just those science folks out to make a buck.

    The current assets of Exxon-Mobile as of Mar 11, 2011 is 319 Billion dollars, Chevron (184 billion) and ConocoPhillips (156 billion). It is money like this that always makes wonder if folks like Dave just might be a paid professional liar.

  41. One point not made in the article is that this level of denialism exists mostly just in the US. Pretty much the rest of the civilized world has moved beyond the question of climate change to the next question of action. (admittedly, the efforts are mixed).

    That aside, please raise your hand if you have ever engaged in one of these on-line discussions about climate change and have changed your mind about it because of something someone else wrote. . . . . . .

    I’m waiting . . . . . . .

    As I thought. It seems everyone (I guess myself included) is basically just wasting time and electrons in these “discussions.”

    Have a great day.

  42. @ icecap (June 6th, 2011)—Interesting that the data supports the opposite of what you claim. Perhaps you need to look beyond 2007, but the act of giving you advice is a moot exercise.

  43. How can releasing tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere that took millions of years to sequester and only 300 years to extract, not have a significant impact on the climate. Because carbon dioxide is such a friendly gas…

  44. The $182 BILLION that has been “pledged” to subsidize “Green Energy” over the next 5 years will first have to be confiscated from the citizens of this country through mandatory higher taxes. That is $182 billion that won’t be available for uses that might actually benefit somebody. Global warming (excuse me, “CLIMATE CHANGE”) is a religion, blinding its adherents to common sense and causing massive misuse of funds on a global scale, with no end in sight. Wake up, Warmists. You are all wrong.

  45. So, let’s see here. So far on this one comment thread, we have about 15 climate change deniers, each one posting various forms of nonsense. Admittedly, there may be subsets of multiple pseudonyms, each corresponding to just one actual person, among the list.

    And yet, none of the denier postings have addressed any of the valid rebuttals that have been presented to them. The deniers merely continue to spout their nonsense. They aren’t the slightest bit interested in participating in a discussion. They apparently merely wish to have the last word – right or wrong, relevant or not; it doesn’t matter. They are oblivious to all else – in particular, they are oblivious to the rebuttals presented.

    That in itself is an observation worth noting, although it is nothing new. In addition to the points made in the original article regarding the continued existence of denialism, two more possible explanations have been offered in the comments: 1) the deniers are too wrapped up emotionally in the debate to think clearly anymore, and 2) they are deliberately lying and spreading their other forms of hyperbole as paid shills. Either way, they are participating only in their own monologue – not in a dialogue with other unlike-minded people.

  46. Quote: “The $182 BILLION that has been “pledged” to subsidize “Green Energy” over the next 5 years will first have to be confiscated from the citizens of this country through mandatory higher taxes. That is $182 billion that won’t be available for uses that might actually benefit somebody. Global warming (excuse me, “CLIMATE CHANGE”) is a religion, blinding its adherents to common sense and causing massive misuse of funds on a global scale, with no end in sight. Wake up, Warmists. You are all wrong.
    Mike”
    Hey Mike, that’s great science there! I can tell that you have clearly thought out your arguments using well based scientific facts, taking into account all trhe factors cnd facts currently available… hey wait, no you didn’t, you’re just complaining about the god you worship (money) being taken from your pocket, you do not give a damn for the children to come (hey let them pay for your shortsightedness and lies with their health, they ain’t born yet y’aaaaalllll so why should you care?)… Go back to your Fox New, your lobbying firm and your tea party Mike, no-one needs people like you to save the planet, you just mooch around and try and look inconspicuous when you are proven wrong or your house floats away thanks to rising sea levels (god I hope that happens if that is what it takes for you to see what is staring you in the face)

  47. The reasons stated are exactly right but the conclusions could not be more wrong:

    1. Climate Science is Complex. The unstated inference here is that the cognoscenti who have the intellectual capacity can, of course, understand Climate Change, but us lowly carbon emitters are just really taking up space and polluting just breathing in and out. The arrogance of this mindset is typical. Does Climate Change? You betcha! Do people have anything to do with it? Who knows? There is definitively NO way to prove cause and effect and the people behind this kook movement know it. Nature’s caprice and climate change has been happening long before humans came along and will continue long after humans “sustain” themselves into oblivion. Humans barely show up on Nature’s radar. The arrogance of those “in the know” is stupefying.

    1. Personal Experience Trumps Global Events. You bet it does and that’s what’s important. The ultimate agenda at work here is to degrade our quality of life because of massive guilt over our success in improving our existence (many would say at the expense of all the remaining suffering cultures in the world). A little research will find that 99% of all greatly suffering cultures are suffering from self-inflcted wounds and the deadly self-destructive sins of envy and lust (for power).

    1. Americans Don’t like Being Told What to Do. A more accurate statement might be “Americans Don’t like Making Sacrifices for Something that could possibly, maybe, make a questionably infinitesimal difference that may be ultimately inconsequential.

    The environmental agenda has nothing to do with “saving” the Earth, or “sustaining” anything. It’s all about punishing America’s success, which is perceived as being achieved by “using” the Earth, it resources and poor people around the World.

    This article is a large Methane-emitting pile of Horse Hoo-Hah!

  48. Quote: “The reasons stated are exactly right but the conclusions could not be more wrong:
    1. Climate Science is Complex. The unstated inference here is that the cognoscenti who have the intellectual capacity can, of course, understand Climate Change, but us lowly carbon emitters are just really taking up space and polluting just breathing in and out. The arrogance of this mindset is typical. Does Climate Change? You betcha! Do people have anything to do with it? Who knows? There is definitively NO way to prove cause and effect and the people behind this kook movement know it. Nature’s caprice and climate change has been happening long before humans came along and will continue long after humans “sustain” themselves into oblivion. Humans barely show up on Nature’s radar. The arrogance of those “in the know” is stupefying.
    1. Personal Experience Trumps Global Events. You bet it does and that’s what’s important. The ultimate agenda at work here is to degrade our quality of life because of massive guilt over our success in improving our existence (many would say at the expense of all the remaining suffering cultures in the world). A little research will find that 99% of all greatly suffering cultures are suffering from self-inflcted wounds and the deadly self-destructive sins of envy and lust (for power).
    1. Americans Don’t like Being Told What to Do. A more accurate statement might be “Americans Don’t like Making Sacrifices for Something that could possibly, maybe, make a questionably infinitesimal difference that may be ultimately inconsequential.
    The environmental agenda has nothing to do with “saving” the Earth, or “sustaining” anything. It’s all about punishing America’s success, which is perceived as being achieved by “using” the Earth, it resources and poor people around the World.
    This article is a large Methane-emitting pile of Horse Hoo-Hah!
    Steve Bicker | June 8th, 2011 ”
    What a load of rubbish you do spout Steve. According to you a society’s success must come at the expense of the environment it lives in. According to you anyone who actually believes that we should be doing something to stop the ultimate decline in the quality of life by improving our environment is a kook. Well let me tell you something. I am not a kook, a nut, an intellectual nazi or even close to any of them. I am also not a liberal before you open your sewer and accuse me of being one. The only kind of person who would say that the environmental agenda has nothing to do with savng the earth but is all about punishing America is someone who is either industry, financially or politically motivated. And you have hit the nail on the head: people like you are so isolationist and ignorant that you fail to see that it is not just America that is being affected by climate hange: It is the entire planet. As for using the Earth, it’s resources and poor people around the world, Yeah you betcha! Of course it’s true!Remember Union Carbide? No? Bhopal in India? The screwing up of the environment there by an American chemical company? No? And nothing being done to clean up the leaking barrels of chemicals on an empty American owned site in another country? Ahhh who cares! They ain’t good old apple pie lovin’ republican voting yanks right? So who cares if they are still dying? What this article is actually about, is the fact that it is difficult to get the message of climate change across to a people that really doesn’t give a damn because it isn’t punching them in the face obvious. Bit like you really…

  49. “Wake up, Skeptics. You are all wrong.”
    @Mike
    Hey, was that convincing to you? I suspect not.

    Nor was your: “Wake up, Warmists. You are all wrong” convincing to me. After all, you are just some guy named Mike and I’m just some guy named Steve. Why should I listen to what you have to say. . .or you listen to what I have to say? Either of us could have some special interest agenda; how would anyone know?

    And so I ask you (and I’m not picking on you in particular; this applies to pretty much everyone who gets into these discussions), have you ever changed anyone’s mind?

  50. Mike Parr HA! So I’m paid by lobby groups! Try again, Mike. I’m a life long conservationist, environmental educator, teacher, and progressive. I’m still teaching field biology at age 70. Traditional conservation efforts to preserve tropical forests, wetland, other valuble biomes, and their biodiversity has been undermined by the global warming mania. That’s a principal reason I’m disgusted with the green movement and their doomsday hysteria which is destroying the conservation movement that has been so important to me. I find it tragic that money has flowed to the climate science fear-mongers and dried up for traditional conservation measures and even for known problems like water quality in third world countries. A third tragedy resulting from global warming hysteria is corn based ethenol which has increased food prices world wide and caused untold starvation. Even Al Gore admits this. The unintended consequences from UN and various countries’ policies to reduce CO2 emissions have been an unmitigated disaster for conservation and for the world’s poor.
    As to half truths- DO YOUR HOMEWORK and study the temperature record. The temperature record to which I referred, showing only 20 years of warming these past 65 years can be found at the NOAA and other sites I previously referenced.

    Doug- Yes the 1910 to 1945 warming you reference is true, but it occurs before 1945 which the IPCC, in their 4th assesment, declared was the beginning of AGW- global warming caused mainly by humans. Also, if you examine the recent record carefully, you will find that 1976 and 1977 remained cool and that the significant warming began in 1978 and ended with the 1998 El Nino. There has been no additional warming beyong that, these last 13+ year- thus 20 years warming the past 65 years. It’s correct to say that the past decade is the wamest in recorded history, but that’s not saying much. We have had 300 years of gradual (but uneven) warming since the Little Ice Age, so there have been very many “hottest years ever” and many “hottest decades ever” these past 300 years, as you would expect with a 300 year warming trend.
    The IPCC will issue their 5th assesment in 2013, and I expect they will pull back from much of their more alarmist rhetoric and show us models that reflect the recent 13+ years without additional warming just as they had to pull the alarmist “hockey stick” when the methodology and statistics used to create it was shown to be invalid. In an effort to find common ground with Mike Parr and others whose good will I do not question, the IPCC is already known to be emphasizing AGW that we all agree has caused warming, particularly in the Arctic, by changing the albido there. That’s carbon black or soot which has increased significantly in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere where there is little manufacturing and soot emission, the Anarctic has not lost ice like we all realize is happening in the Arctic. Let’s all get behind the effort to reduce carbon black emissions. Of course, I also supoprt continued efforts to develope safe and economical alternatives to fossil fuels, but definitely not corn based ethenol.

  51. It is difficult for me to get wrapped up in all of statistical patterns proving or disproving that human factors influence/cause climate change. Both sides of the argument are great at manipulating data, and it is nearly impossible to change a mind when it is already made up.

    Global warming aside, it is completely ignorant to cast doubt that various human generated chemical emissions DO negatively impact the environment: Smog in Los Angeles? Acid rain? Ozone depletion? Mercury levels skyrocketing during Bush 2’s “Blue Skies” environmental plan? My favorite was watching Olympic athletes exiting the planes in Beijing wearing respirators, even after government officials tried to minimize emissions weeks before the games started.

    Although these and many other instances prove that emissions negatively impact our environment, they do NOT prove climate change. Who cares? What more evidence do we need to see that our way of living cannot last forever? I personally think carbon credits are a joke, though I fully agree that real change is going to cost…a lot. I am unsure on how this inconvenience takes away responsibility to our children and grand children.

    Also, I am not sure why recycling, reusable grocery bags, or CFL light bulbs are being complained about in a Climate Change discussion. If someone feels that those are simply ways for the “tree hugger lobbyists” to intrude in our lives, I suggest either touring your local land fill, or asking your personal assistant to make a trend chart of your electrical bills over the last 5-years (I do not have an assistant, though I cannot imagine anyone who is in-touch with their energy bills thinking less of CFL bulbs).

    Regardless of whether climate change is manmade, or if it is truly even changing, the article hits the nail on the head: Gone are the leaders who said “…ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country…” or “…With great power comes great responsibility…”

  52. Steve Bicker is another typical denier. His post fits the mold that HawkOfMay noted: full of vague hand-waving and not backed up with a single reference or citation. It also happens to be typical of other denier tactics, such as conspiracy theories and irrelevant rantings.

    Twice, Steve reveals his conspiracy theory: 1) “The ultimate agenda at work here is to degrade our quality of life”, and 2) “It’s all about punishing America’s success”. What typical denier-conspiracy rubbish! He is hoping that these ridiculous charges will convince others; and/or he is merely venting his own warped sense of reality.

    And this astonishing admission proves that Steve is only out for himself: “Personal Experience Trumps Global Events. You bet it does and that’s what’s important”. Hah. Steve’s personal experience definitely does not trump global events. Steve is not more important than the rest of the world put together (except possibly in Steve’s own mind).

    The rest of his post is filled with irrelevant and largely incoherent ramblings. We are now up to 16 denier-types, and not one of their posts is worth the electrons spent on them.

    Steve’s post is a large Methane-emitting pile of Horse Hoo-Hah.

  53. @Doug Allen, round 2:

    1) Ignoring a significant warming trend because it happened after some arbitrary date (1945) is simply ridiculous. It is also extremely unscientific data editing. The warming took place – that is an undisputed fact. Don’t cast it aside or refuse to consider it’s implications on such arbitrary and capricious grounds.

    2) Picking out a two year period (1976 and 1977) is meaningless. ‘Climate’ describes average weather over decades to centuries. Near-random short-term fluctuations are completely irrelevant to the issue. The same can be said for your focus on the last decade plus – that is likewise too short of a timescale upon which to draw any conclusions.

    3) I stand by my point that the past century – which IS a long enough period of time to draw some conclusions from – shows warming for 70 out of those 100 years. That is clear evidence for the beginnings of global climate change.

    4) Albedo changes are caused only in part by black soot – they are also caused by ice and snow melting to expose darker, more absorbent layers underneath. And regardless of the actual mechanisms of albedo change, the fact remains that human activities are changing the climate via both those albedo changes as well as GHG emissions.

    5) Traditional conservation efforts have not been undermined by climate change. In many cases, those efforts have been greatly boosted. Some specific examples include a number of countries beginning to protect their remaining forests due to carbon offsets and other mechanisms directly related to efforts to address climate change.

    6) Your focus on traditional conservation is fine, but your lack of concern over global climate change is at the least puzzling. No matter how hard you and others attempt to conserve in traditional ways, your efforts will be undermined completely by the effects of AGW. Those effects are just beginning, but they are growing with each passing year. If you don’t wake up to the danger, all your previous efforts will truly have been in vain.

  54. Doug, I agree with your positions here but am curious as to one specific point. I’ve been under the impression that the 1940’s-50’s are significant as a measuring benchmark because of the huge human population growth during this time. I’ve seen arguements supporting AGW using climate data, oil consumption and population sprawl from this time to mark the beginning of the “Anthropocene” era. (quotes because while i love and use the term, its not universally scientifically accepted.) I’m just wondering why you’re saying this time period isn’t significant in this debate. If anything I feel it strengthens your case for AGW.

    I’ve seen the climate data you link to and do not dispute it. I’m just wondering specifically about why you consider this time period arbitrary. No doubt you know a lot that I don’t (not sarcasm) and I could learn from your observation.

  55. @Matt M

    I just saw your comment as I was about to post a further reflection on the topic:

    We all know that AGW is a slowly accumulating phenomenon. While some temperature rise can already be reasonably attributed to human GHG influence, the upward trend due to that influence will grow significantly in the future. First, human GHG emission is increasing by leaps and bounds; and second, there is a lag in system response (due in part to the heat capacity of the upper ocean layers, among other things).

    So, the temperature trend over the past century is a mixture of human causes and naturally ocurring influences. In the early 1900s, natural influences no doubt dominated, even though the human factor was already at work. In the early 2000s the human influence is much stronger, and even later into the present century the human influence will be stronger still – and so on.

    With respect to the 1940-1950 era, I do not believe that it marks any kind of watershed time. About half of all human GHG emissions have occured since the 1970 time frame. Due to the system lags mentioned, the observable influence on temperatures is still small. But a vast amount of heat energy has already been stored in the oceans by our impact, and that heat isn’t going away.

    A significant take away point is this. Ensembles of climate models do an excellent job of reproducing past climates. Many deniers attempt to claim the opposite, but the ability to accurately reproduce past climates is actually quite impressive. However, those very same climate models cannot reproduce the last half-century (at least) of temperature records unless human sources of GHGs are modeled along with the ever-present natural fluctuations. The most reasonable conclusion is that human contributions to climate change are operative, and are growing alarmingly quickly in strength. If there is any value in the mid 20th century as a benchmark, it is because from that point forward the actual temperature record departs increasingly obviously from what the models predict would have occured with just natural forcings present. But that in no way implies that AGW wasn’t already operating prior to that time – merely that the lagged signal was not yet sufficiently strong to be ‘seen’ above the ‘noise’ of the modeling uncertainties.

  56. Funny how the majority of the rebuttal from the denier camp, tread perilously close to ad hominem attacks. Every bit of dissenting scientific data they have shone thus far has been dealt with, they turn now to effects on the economy and livelihoods, which just shows an innate fear of change in the status quo. Fossil Fuels are finite, they won’t be around forever, the status quo will not remain static no matter how we choose to deal with it. Things will change, energy policy must change, and so will our lives adjust, deal with it.

  57. Americans don’t want “climate change” to be used as a false justification for setting up a new tax and international wealth redistribution scheme.

  58. @aed939: You have no idea what Americans want and what they don’t want. Stop putting your own opinions into the mouths of others.

    And one tax is pretty much like any other tax. And one “international wealth redistribution scheme” is pretty much like any other – for example, the massive international redistribution of wealth that takes place as America buys such incredible quantities of oil from other countries, many of whom don’t like us very much.

  59. Wow. What an arrogant way of looking at this. Perhaps, we “stupid” Americans actually have valid reasons to question the data when:

    (1) the two leading global warming scientists are caught in “Climategate” deliberately doctoring data to fit the global alarmists’ agenda,

    (2) the same two top global warming scientists strong-arming scientific journals to NOT print any articles by scientists who don’t buy the global warming alarmists’ views, and

    (3) yes, these same two receiving in excess of $13 million to repeat this information anyway, (no, money’s not bad, but when you have a financial incentive, it’s in my interest to double-check what you say) (oh yeah, before you say they were “cleared” by their universities, who also stood to gain some $30 million by their continued stay, the emails in “Climategate” show a deliberate data manipulation that any open mind can see — just do an internet search and read the PDFs)

    (4) completely ignoring the wide “measured” temperature fluctuation all the way from the Middle Ages (where it was both warmer and cooler than present)

    (5) ignoring their own insistence, though “unmeasured”, that several Ice Ages came and went, and of course, forgetting that if that’s true, this would require both cooling and warming long, long, long ago,

    (6) the year 1900 is randomly chosen as some “perfect” base, without justification, and comparing everything to that date so that if anything is warmer, it’s bad,

    (7) ignoring NASA’s own pro-global warming data that had to “readjusted” after it was found to be faulty, especially that cool-looking colorful globe that showed the severe “warming” areas — in which complete sections of data were (deliberately?) left out. Of course, after this data was corrected, it removed a large basis of their claims, though it hasn’t stopped them from repeating them anyway,

    (8) the complete ignoring of the statistically strong correlation between earth’s temperature and sun spot activity.

    (9) ignoring the thousands (and growing number) of scientists who do NOT go along with this nonsense.

    (10) the absolute refusal by the top global warming proponents to debate anyone skeptical — they’re scared!

    There are several other reasons, but these are just off the top of my head.

  60. Eddie, your post proved only that you can count to 10. If one were to look past the op-ed content of your comment, there is nothing left other than bad punctuation and grammar. You’ve shown up late, misinformed, and unprepared. Thanks anyways. If you’re lucky someone will do a line item reply to your nonsense – but don’t count on it.

  61. As Bob Dylan wrote a long time ago, “You don’t need a weatherman to see which way the wind blows” . . . to those who insist on following pseudo-science, simply look out the window wherever you are, earthquakes in the N.E., a doubling of the hurricane season, seismic events that knock the Earth off of its’ axis, etc., etc. . .

    And to those who insist that “it’s always about the money”, one reminder: money does not exist in nature, and will be a poor substitute for lacking fresh air, clean water, comfortable surroundings, or well-being . . .

    Man-made is not any answer, regardless the question, if we do not wake up. . . and very soon !!

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