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CLIMATE SCIENCE AND STUPIDITY February 21, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in Natural Environment.
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Believe it or not some people are proposing ignoring the evidence on climate change.

Stupidity can be defined as ignoring those things or circumstances of which we should be aware. The evidence for global warming, as far as I am aware, is not been rejected on the basis of scientific evidence.

John Holdren is President Obama’s science adviser, and he is proclaiming that he is “relishing the opportunity” to confront a sceptical Congress. I wish him luck. He may find that rational and evidence based thinking will have no traction to whom truth is a stranger if it does not conform with their preconceived ideas. Pallab Ghosh, Science correspondent for BBC News, quotes Professor Holdren as saying:

“Any objective look at what science has to say about climate change ought to be sufficient to persuade reasonable people that the climate is changing and that humans are responsible for a substantial part of that – and that these changes are doing harm and will continue to do more harm unless we start to reduce our emissions.

“If Congress wants to have a series of hearings to illuminate these issues, they are going to get illuminated.”

Professor Holdren accepts that confidence in climate science has been dented by recent scandals.

But he believes public reaction was temporary and short-lived.

“I’m not so sure there’s a lot of new scepticism in the climate change debate,” he said.

“People are seeing the impact of climate change around them in extraordinary patterns of floods and droughts, wildfires, heatwaves and powerful storms.

“I think it is going to be very hard to persuade people that climate change is somehow a fraud.”

I doubt that the good professor has quite understood the mentality of those who proclaim themselves to be sceptics. There are positive implications of the internet technology but it gives expression to the tendency to frame political debates, and what are taken to be political debates in emotional frames. Let us keep in mind that personal attacks against anybody are a form of violence. There are separate and contrary dynamics associated with violence and nonviolence depending on which parts of our brains are engaged -or so I propose.

Perhaps personal vindictiveness combined with black and white conception is the way that human beings have always behaved, but has now become more apparent. The fact of a changing global atmosphere and consequent climate change can be established by a scientific process that necessarily has to be thoroughgoing. I expect mistakes to be made. Who understands the weather, let alone the climate system? The policy debate should be about what has to be done given the evidence, not clever PR spin and emotional responses. Debate more fundamental to democratic process than discussion (apparently which has a common etymology with percussion). Debate is far more difficult.

ELSEWHERE:

Stephen Leahy reports:

Thawing permafrost is threatening to overwhelm attempts to keep the planet from getting too hot for human survival.

Ice melts in the source region of China’s Yellow River outside of Maduo on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, known as the “Roof of the World”, in 2010. Global warming could cause up to 60 percent of the world’s permafrost to thaw by 2200 and release huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere that would further speed up climate change, a study released Wednesday warned.
Without major reductions in the use of fossil fuels, as much as two-thirds of the world’s gigantic storehouse of frozen carbon could be released, a new study reported. That would push global temperatures several degrees higher, making large parts of the planet uninhabitable.

Once the Arctic gets warm enough, the carbon and methane emissions from thawing permafrost will kick-start a feedback that will amplify the current warming rate, says Kevin Schaefer, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado. That will likely be irreversible.

Rafe posted at Catallaxy and the responses there set me off. I thought it best not to comment.

The thing is, it is not left and right -whatever those terms mean – or Liberal and Labor our responsibility is to think as best we can and to insist on the search for truth and take a stand on the moral demarcation lines, otherwise we are easily manipulated to the purposes of others and lose our humanity. I advocate in pragmatic and experiential terms the resort to compassion as the default option rather than anger, or scorn.

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