If you can't stand the heat: Why Washington is stuck on climate change (Part 1)

Keith Gaby

Image by Vinoth Chandar/Flickr

There is no point in being coy about this: The issue of climate change is polarized along partisan and ideological lines.

Democrats and progressives think it is a dangerous threat to the world. Most Republicans and conservatives think the threat is exaggerated, or doesn’t exist at all. The divide among politicians is even more striking – less than a third of Republicans in Congress responding to a 2011 National Journal survey said climate change is causing the Earth to warm.

Against this political backdrop, many critics say that groups like EDF, which  seek to start a dialogue with conservatives on the issue, are  naive.  No conciliatory language, no middle-ground proposals, they say, will draw more than a few Republican votes in Congress. Conservative members of Congress will simply vote against us once Rush Limbaugh starts railing against the global warming “hoax”.

It’s a reasonable argument, but I think it misses an essential point: It may be hard to pass climate change legislation by working with conservatives, but it will be nearly impossible to do so without them. In fact, no major environmental law has ever been passed without large bi-partisan majorities.  The Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments all passed with lots of votes from both major parties. 

No important legislation can become law without sixty votes in the Senate.  And I think you will search in vain for a respected political analyst who thinks there will be sixty progressive, pro-environment senators any time soon.  On an issue that doesn’t allow for the long game – as the atmosphere loads with greenhouse gases and the ice caps melt – we can’t wait decades for that super-majority to appear.

That leaves us two choices: act without Congress, or open a conversation with conservatives and move towards an approach that can get widespread support.  President Obama has already used his executive powers to limit greenhouses gases, including a clean cars rule and proposed standards for new power plants. We hope he will soon add pollution limits for existing power plants and policies to limit methane leakage from natural gas production. 

All of that, along with actions by states like California’s AB 32, will be an important down payment on what we need to do. But in the long run it won’t be nearly enough to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.  Nothing short of a comprehensive solution to shift America to cleaner energy, and lead the world that way, will suffice. And that means Congressional action.


Excellent article Keith,

There is cause for optimism...consider how quickly public attitudes have changed on health care, marriage equality, and now universal background checks for gun purchases. Political and behavioral change don't always happen gradually and incrementally. We have plenty of evidence that pent up demand for change in policies can reach a "tipping point" and lead to a sudden new direction. Let's hope that after decades of misinformation campaigns, intense lobbying efforts and scientific illiteracy, that we are finally on the cusp of a new social compact about environmental stewardship, and a new honest dialogue about climate change. Preserving our planet's life support system is about as conservative as it gets, isn't it? I hope EDF can engage serious minded conservationists in the GOP and build on shared values to protect our planet and society from the worst impacts of a rapidly warming world.

Wiley Barbour
March 21, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Wiley -- I think you're exactly right, an "honest dialogue" is what we need. There are partisan and ideological hurdles, but I'm hopeful that most people are interested in following the facts. The challenge is to get people who mistrust each other on a range of issues to listen to the experts, and to try to find common sense solutions. I know there are people in both parties -- conservatives and liberals -- who want to find a balanced solution to climate change (I've met them). And I hope you're right that we're near a political tipping point.

Keith Gaby
March 21, 2013 at 2:41 pm

In reply to by Wiley Barbour

Whether we can agree on climate change is not important. Its ridiculous that intelligent humans can't recognize that desecration of the Earth is increasing at an alarming rate. Cintinuing unabated the oceans and land are being polluted and with the Earth losing its ability to support life, one would think that knowledgeble politicians with research and information at their disposal would wake up and decide that enough is enough! Greed and the madness need to stop!

Angela M. Garc…
March 22, 2013 at 3:57 am

I hope everyone will come to recognize the damage we're doing to the Earth by loading pollution into the atmosphere. But the truth is that most of the time people (including me) respond to the immediate pressures and incentives in their lives, much more than the long term health of the world. For consumers that often means prioritizing jobs and costs, and for politicians that means re-election. So our political task is to make sure both of these groups recognize that climate change is an immediate and important problem that we must solve.

Keith Gaby
March 22, 2013 at 9:35 am

In reply to by Angela M. Garc…

How can you possibly define CO2 as 'pollution' Keith? The only path to plant fiber is atmospheric CO2. There have been many, many periods on the earth where CO2 levels were ten times higher or more and life was super abundant.

This is not the kind of journalism I would expect of you, why are you making unjustifiable statement like this?

Jim Hodgen
April 7, 2013 at 4:00 pm

In reply to by kgaby

I'm a skeptic but will wait till more of this article is published before explaining my skepticism. You must however realize it is relatively easy to armchair quarterback major, gut wrenching and possibly economically disastrous changes to the American economy and life style. For the rest of us to live through such changes and afterwards to discover A. global warming did not occur or B. it was not "man made" and we have impoverished ourselves into third world status for nothing.... "Oops, we bad" on the part of climate changers would not suffice.

March 23, 2013 at 10:14 pm

It’s a fair question. We should always, on any issue, be careful that we've identified the problem before undertaking big solutions. I would offer two points. First, the National Academy of Scientists, the equivalent national scientific bodies of all the other major nations, and all the major American scientific professional organizations have studied this matter and firmly concluded that greenhouses gases are causing artificial changes to our climate. Thousands of scientists, decades of data, and many correct predictions back this up. If we had this kind of overwhelming consensus about a disease or a geological threat – or a threat in any other realm of science – we’d take action. The same is true with national security threats. Secondly, I’d cite the argument used by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, which is that many of the policies we’d pursue to solve climate change are worth doing for other reasons – including reducing traditional pollution, spurring new technologies and industries at home instead of in China, reducing reliance on Middle Eastern oil.

Keith Gaby
March 25, 2013 at 1:37 pm

In reply to by Anthony

It's also worth mentioning that if we got everyone in the political conversation up to your level--skeptical of overreaction but willing to admit there might be a problem--that would be a big step forward.

It's depressing, since just a few years ago Republicans were proposing serious action on this issue. But right now, the conversation in this country isn't between those saying "Let's take extreme action now" and "No, let's not overdo it...we'll start with something modest." It's not even between "Take action!" and "I'm pretty sure this is a hoax, but maybe we should take some steps as an insurance policy in case I'm wrong." Right now, we're arguing between "Let's do something" on the one hand and "Do nothing today, do nothing tomorrow, do nothing forever" on the other. The fact that virtually every elected Republican is opposed *in principle* to any climate policy, regardless of its scope or estimated cost, is a huge problem, and shows just how politicized the whole mess has become.

March 28, 2013 at 4:23 pm

In reply to by Anthony

I am a ninth generation South Carolinian, a hard nosed Southern secessionist, a stanch believer in small governmemt, and, for over forty years, an environmental engineer. Like George Jones(country before country was cool),I was an environmentalist before being so was cool. All of which, I hope,lends me some credence to the fact that I can think about our climate problems with an analytical approach. I believe we have a problem, although I'm not sure about the magnitude of the anthroprogenic side of it, except to say its some part of the overall.
I am inclined to believe there may be a partial solution that both sides of the political spectrum can get on board with. It is the cap and trade plan. Recently some big stack industries indicated they might favor this in lieu of further EPA rulings. If we use forest sequestration guidelines and sign up forest landowners with carbon banks, the Southern politicans, and some others, should go along with the idea because so much of the country's forest lands are in the South. It will bring a lot of prosperity into Southern rural communities.
Thats it in a nut shell. I believe I can influence my congressman. It will make the conservative groups look better, and will give the administration a climate boost.

Val Green
March 24, 2013 at 1:01 pm

We also think cap and trade is a good way to solve this problem, if you don’t mind having a hardcore Yankee* agree with you. It is a market based approach, so it reduces pollution by capturing the innovation and efficiency of free enterprise. Many environmentalists were skeptical of this approach when it was first signed into law by President George H. W. Bush (to combat acid rain), but it’s proven to be a great success. Unfortunately the term “cap and trade” was demonized during the congressional debates about climate change in 2009-10, but that is a political problem, not a policy one. If you believe climate change needs to be solved, it is a smart, market-based way to do it.

*though note a Yankees fan.

Keith Gaby
March 25, 2013 at 1:38 pm

In reply to by Val Green

I generally agree with the post and have three suggestions:

1. The 2016 election for US Senate will contest 24 Republican seats and 10 Democratic seats. That suggests the possibility of a large swing to more pro-climate Democrats, maybe even 60 Ds. No guarantee of that, nor that all 60 Ds will support the climate, but it does suggest 2017-2018 is the target period for legislation.

2. While we'd have to give up the chance for climate mitigation revenue, I think a revenue-neutral carbon tax or cap-and-dividend could be worth losing that revenue if it picks up Republican votes.

3. We really need to neutralize the US Chamber of Commerce. The key issue IMHO is that it's choosing one business grouping (coal) over another (renewables). Getting green businesses more involved in local chambers esp. in key regions like Silicon Valley could make this side-choosing too risky for the US Chamber and get them to stay neutral.

None of this is easy, but it may be a way forward.

For #1 and #2: http://rabett.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-time-window-for-revenue-neutral…

For #3: http://sustainablesv.org/ecocloud/index.php/solutions/view/221

Brian Schmidt
March 24, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Environmental Defense Fund is a non-partisan organization, so I won’t comment on the electoral suggestion, but this is the sort of strategic thinking that is needed to pass climate change. We need to demonstrate to politicians in both parties that there will be support if they take tough votes to protect our future – and political consequences at home if they don’t. I think you’re also right that creative policy solutions, and non-traditional coalitions, will be necessary.

Keith Gaby
March 25, 2013 at 1:39 pm

In reply to by Brian Schmidt

Also on #3:

Interestingly DIVEST caught fire, and this campaign from 350 did not (yet).

When I present on climate I always list The Chamber alongside Murray Energy and (RJ)Reynolds as one of the few remaining funders of Heratland's denial machine. And point out tht it has not official standing at all - it's just a lobbying firm.

March 27, 2013 at 1:32 pm

In reply to by Brian Schmidt

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March 29, 2013 at 10:08 pm

In reply to by Brian Schmidt

Why is it necessary to neutralize a voice? Could it be that the information you base your conclusions on is not enough to convince?

When Big Tobacco was defeated it was by information... truth that people could grasp and validate. The most powerful might have been the 'I am Joe's Lung' articles in the Reader's Digest. Truthful, matter of fact, irrefutable, deeply tied in to day to day reality as everyone could recall a relative or friend that had succumbed to a smiking related cancer or disease.

There is no similar information for CAGW. That is very troublesome to moving the controls forward, but instead of trying to silence questioners - especially those that are asking valid questions about cost and impact (you do believe in the value of environmental impact statements don't you?) why not hear them out and respond to the questions raised instead of silencing them.

there is much rhetoric about deniers... do you really want to take the role of the Auto da Fe (Spanish Inquisition) as you seek to silence those that doubt not the gospel... but the use of power?

Your language tells me far more than your espoused goals for the planet.

Jim Hodgen
April 7, 2013 at 3:49 pm

In reply to by Brian Schmidt

I am not a Republican and I am not a Democrat. I am an independent. I am trained as an engineer and as a result, while I am open to the possibility that those on either side of this issue are right, I want to see data before I take a firm stand.

Like everyone, I have a gut feel on the issue but I have found over the years that a gut feel is often originated in non-scientific influence. A gut feel is by definition, a belief whose origin you are not sure of. If that weren't the case, you'd call it something else. Advertising and politics often have a heavy influence on what seems to be to be experience and judgment. What you call a gut feel may be the manifestation of how you have been influenced by others - regardless of their motives, integrity,intelligence or competence. For that reason, I don't listen much to my gut feel on issues as important as this one. It is okay to use a gut feel to pick a restaurant, but not something as important as this issue because the consequences of being wrong - in either direction - are huge.

I have worked to become knowledgeable on this issue. I have read quite a bit. This includes several books and countless articles. I have been open minded and have intentionally sought out differing points of view. I have not been able to come to a conclusion that I feel confident in based purely on hard scientific data.

I find that there are far more political arguments out there than there are scientific ones. As an example, I have seen countless arguments that go something like this: Thousands of scientists have concluded that this is true. Anyone that disagrees is in denial and must be under the influence of the oil companies. My response to this (besides rolling my eyes) is that I find that insulting and coercive while completely lacking in any information useful in determining the truth.

The mere use of the word scientist in an argument does not make an argument scientific. That is a political argument, not a scientific one. To illustrate, imagine a scientist comes up with a new theory that goes against everything we have held to be true. For the sake of the argument, assume that the theory - as revolutionary as it is - ends up being correct. At the moment the theory is first put forth, it is likely that almost all of the scientists in the world will doubt that it is true. It will take a lot of data to prove the theory and only then will minds be changed. So, if you take a vote of the scientists early in this process, it will overwhelmingly be against the theory (even though the theory ends up being correct in the end). The vote isn't science. The examination of the data by open minded skeptics is what is important here.

In my readings, I have noticed a disturbing trend. I have been able to find several books that have hard data that is rigorously traced to its origins. The books go on to explain the context of the data and they make logical arguments based on the data that support a position. So what is the disturbing trend? All of the books I have found that meet this criteria are on one side of the argument. I cannot find a similar book on the other side. The books that I have found that apply this rigorous method are all on the side expressing doubts about the extent of the claims of the impact of global warming.

I would truly like to read a rigorous book on the other side of the issue. One that includes scientific data and method. If someone can point me to one I will be grateful. I remain open minded but I am tired of reading things that simply attack and seek to discredit the opposition and don't present hard data and logical arguments. There is way too much "everyone else is on board, what's wrong with you" writing out there and I am tired of trying to wade through all that to find an argument worth reading.

I often hear "the argument is over." Whenever someone says this to me, I ask them what they can remember about when the argument was taking place. I ask "what was the defining moment of the argument that convinced you that the position you now hold is the correct one?" To date, there have been two types of responses to this. One is nervous silence and the other is attacking me as a denier. As I said above, I am not firmly on either side. I am merely trying to find data and compelling scientific arguments and I am fine with wherever that takes me.

Calling me a denier when I haven't taken a stand on the issue simply because I ask a question is disappointing. I can't help but be reminded of the story of the emperor with no clothes.

I see a similar response to authors that make scientific arguments against the extent of claims of the impact of global warming. Some even agree, but only to a point. That is apparently not enough to protect them from being attacked personally. Their credibility is questioned on vague grounds and their arguments are rarely addressed by presenting a competing scientific analysis - only political assassination.

So please, someone tell me about a book that presents a rigorous scientific argument on the pro-global warming side of the argument. I will read it and I will be grateful for the reference.

I think there are a lot of people out there like me. We may have a gut feel but we want real data and proof (not the number of scientists that agree but real data and a scientific argument). We can be convinced but it will take hard work, not ridicule and coercion.

If you truly want policy decisions to happen and progress to be made, then you have to do the hard work of convincing the open minded people. There are closed-minded people on both sides of this issue. Railing against them will get you nowhere. There are enough in the middle to make the difference you want. You just have to do some work to get them.

March 31, 2013 at 11:23 am

I don't believe a word of what you wrote. It is simply not possible to 1) find data in books 2) discover that all the "rigorous" data points to denial and doubt.

1) Data is published in papers
2) All the data points to AGW

Nice try, but you're simply not paying attention.

If you only want to listen to deniers - try this one:

“Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming.
Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct.
I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.”
“These findings are stronger than those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations group that defines the scientific and diplomatic consensus on global warming.”

March 31, 2013 at 12:28 pm

In reply to by Bruce

I find you reply laughable. Go read my post again. I didn't say I only wanted to listen to deniers. I said the opposite. I also didn't talk about deniers at all. I talked about people that doubt the extent of claims - not that doubt the existence. Perhaps you don't believe a word of what you think I wrote. Too quick to the attack to actually read what I wrote.

Also, to say "All the data points to AGW" is absurd. All the data rarely points only one conclusion on any subject. I find it hard to take you seriously when you say things like that.

"It is not possible to find data in books." Really? You make this too easy. I talked about books that have hard data that is rigorously traced to its origins. In other words, they referenced papers or raw data published by the government or other research groups. I'm surprised that I had to spell that out for you.

I know my post was long, but please at least read it before you tee off on it.

April 1, 2013 at 3:02 am

In reply to by Quentin

Yes, the books you read may have referenced papers with data, but you did not read the papers and you do not understand the data. And nor do those books if the conclusion is what you say it is. If you and they did understand th4e data you would know what we all know:
- Co2 is a GHG
- We've emitted enough to warm the planet
- We are seeing that warming
- There is nothing to explain
1) what else could cause that warming
2) Why CO2 is NOT causing that warming

Your idea that all data cannot point one way is the worst moral relativism transposed into science. The hippie idea that every point of view is valid is BS. OF COURSE all good data points to the same truth.

And we know what that truth is with AGW. And if your books are saying something else we know they are either referencing bad data or they are misunderstanding it. So you are wrong - you have not reviewed the data and found it pointing one way.

In science if two people disagree at least one of them is *wrong*. Get over it. Meanwhile the rest of the world is inventing the industries of the future that will save our planet, save us all fortune, and make *them* a fortune.

Time to simply ignore the few remaining deniers, put a price on carbon and let the US free market do what it does best.

April 4, 2013 at 3:35 pm

In reply to by Bruce


The arguments you present as fact require quantitative information, supported by reliable, provable observations to ensure that the conclusions drawn are tied to the physical world.

Your passionate certainty... resembling religious faith and fervor in its intensity and basis, while admirable, is not a substitute for the necessary componets of SCIENTIFIC certainty listed above.

Bruce sought the elements of those quantitative, verifiable, falsifiable , empirically supported hypotheses. Your citations and attestations did not meet those criteria.

He is not doubting your intensity and conviction, he is stating that it is not enough to meet his criteria for validity.

Jim Hodgen
April 7, 2013 at 3:43 pm

In reply to by Quentin


Please be specific when you refer to books. they have titles and authors and main theses that explain what they are about and what value they bring to a discussion.

While it is apparent that you have great passion for this topic, passion cannot bring light, only heat. There needs to be more light on this topic, not heat.

All the rhetoric, and there has been mountains of it, cannot provide a single base hypothesis and indeed have not done so. If there is no mechanism - and you will not find a reference to a testable mechanism on thinkprogress.org - there can be no tests.

The failure to produce a base mechanism has focused the discussion on the global surface temperature datasets which have been exposed as unusable for the kind of sub-integer data quality required to find a warming signal.

To defend those inadequate datasets genuinely ridiculous postulates have been made (that siting a thermometer on the black tar roof of a building with air conditioning vents 10 feet away will produce only 0.1 deg C observation difference from the same thermometer in an open grassy field ), unsupportable processes have been invented (averaging data due to "...large dataset computational difficulties..." when the dataset size and computation could be handled on a current smartphone, then averaging sites that are primarily at airports on tarmac) that would receive federal indictments if they were done to business accounting data.

There is no basis for the conclusion, just a hunger to jump to the conclusion. That is the sad part. So much energy is being directed at the control of others that real problems like disease, drinking water, habitat loss, destructive agricultural practices that could be corrected, inadequate education that causes people in developing countries to remain in poverty and perpetuate that above bad practices...

These problems are thrown to the curd in order to get the money and power that climate change has promised. that is the largest crime... that the bad science has attracted attention away from real issues that could be solved for the benefit of the planet and the people on it.

Jim Hodgen
April 7, 2013 at 3:43 pm

In reply to by Quentin


You ask a fair question - what is the best source of unbiased scientific information related to climate change? I'm an engineer myself, and rather than trying to read peer reviewed articles in hundreds of journals specific to different disciplines, I find it more convenient to read the assessment of the literature which includes all the references you would want to double check for yourself if so inclined. This assessment is a massive undertaking performed periodically by scientists from around the world and organized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Here is the reference:

Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007. Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY

You can read this online at:

If you want a distillation of key findings written in plain English you can't beat the Summary for Policy makers which is presented at the front of the Work Group I report.


Wiley Barbour
March 31, 2013 at 4:40 pm

In reply to by Bruce

Thank you for the reference, I will read it. Also, thank you for not attacking me like others that read my post. I am honestly trying to find a source that has a scientific argument. I am willing to be convinced, but I need data. I appreciate your effort to convince me with data instead of attack me for not believing what you believe before I even have a chance to see the data. It is sad that so many people attack those that are not like them instead of reaching out to them. I think that is the real reason we cannot seem to come to a consensus on important issues like this. Again, thank you.

April 1, 2013 at 3:05 am

In reply to by Wiley Barbour

The IPCC unfortunately cannot be considered a viable reference for Bruce' question. It does not do original research. It uses sources that would never survive peer review or since peer review in climatology is now so deeply suspect (see Marcott et al) more appropriately open review.

A number of initial authors with strong credentials have abandoned the IPCC's efforts due to redaction of statements and forced alignment with the conclusions of the primary contributors. IT is more a political document, because it rejects contrary opinions, than a scientific document.

The sad fact of the matter is that there is more science on contrarian web sites than there is in the IPCC reportage. The weakness of the entire CAGW position is that it has no basis in testable hypotheses.

The idea tht there would be a mid tropospheric, mid latitude band of heat in the atmosphere that would push heat pole-ward due to CO2 buildup has failed to materialize over the 30-odd years since Hansen's testimony before Congress. This concept has been refurted even further by actual observations of an 'iris' effect where the upper atmosphere clears cloud cover and radiates heat to space when it passes a certain equilibrium point. Thus there is no evidence for this mechanism.

CO2 trapping heat in teh mid-atmosphere as a barrier and creating down-welling radiative forcings has also failed to find any evidence in the real world. Thunderstorms and other mechanisms that reach far higher in the atmosphere create powerful turnover that pumps heat past the 'greenhouse ceiling' where it is radiated to space. This mechanism is also invalidated by actual empirical observation.

All that is left at the moment seems to be the concept that the atmosphere heats the ground, and the greatest support for this theory is the output of the General Circulation Models (GCM) computer simulations. The problem with those tools is that they could not hindcast (predict the past) given data sets from the past without large tweaks and changes, thus casting essentially insurmountable doubt about their ability to predict the future.

The GCM's also have many areas in them where they use tables with assumed values instead of experimentally verified algorithms that model physical phenomena. Who creates the data values in the tables? the authors of the models. What are those values? Values that support the as yet unverifiable (after 20 years and uncountable billions of $) the 3.7 W/m2 of climate forcing predicted.

IT is obvious when looked at this way that this is a circular argument... the numbers validate the assumption... but the assumption is based on expectation, not on validation by observation. This is the antithesis of science and the epitome of activism.

That is why you can't find a good book on the subject Bruce. there isn't one that can stand the light of day.

Jim Hodgen
April 7, 2013 at 3:21 pm

In reply to by Wiley Barbour


Perhaps you would like to provide a scientific reference in peer reviewed scientific journals to support your alleged science based opinion that anthropogenic activities are not causing accelerated warming?

Bear in mind that the real question is - "What will happen if and when the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere doubles its pre-industrial age level of 280ppm?" Today's atmospheric CO2 levels are 391ppm, higher than at any time in the last million years and rising at over 2ppm annually.

Do you really believe this isn't cause for concern?

Wiley Barbour
April 7, 2013 at 7:36 pm

In reply to by Jim Hodgen

You seem to feel that a 2ppm annual increase is of great consequence but there is no reason presented why that should be the case.

The so called consensus that a magic number of 280ppm has been exceeded to mankind's detriment is speculation.

I would posit the following:

If our planet had become several degrees colder in the last 50 years the same people (catastrophists) would take the position that cooling was caused by man and must be stopped. In other words there is no way to appease catastrophists other than by total climate stasis.

Consider also that the orbit of the earth is at the outer bound of the habitable zone and is thus somewhat colder than what we would consider paradise - more people vacation in Hawaii than Labrador.

Don Nevin
April 9, 2013 at 10:05 am

In reply to by Wiley Barbour

No, no, no, no, no. YOU (if you believe that the world is warming dangerously) have to prove that CO2 is making a large enough difference to change the earth system.

There are no papers on the CAGW side that do that. No one - including me - can 'prove' a negative... what HAS happened is that all the CAGW supportive papers and hypotheses have been invalidated, in most cases quickly and comprehensively, by experimental data that removes support for mechanisms, impeaches the reliability of doctored surface temperature records and calls into question massive computer models.

The assertion / hypothesis that there is a clear and present danger is what needs to be proven. That proof has failed so far. Honest research should continue. Political power grabbing in the shreds of scientific consensus should be met with the scorn it deserves.

Jim Hodgen
April 10, 2013 at 3:54 am

In reply to by Wiley Barbour


I disagree that it is impossible to prove a negative statement (if you argue that gravity does not exist I can disprove that assertion readily enough). There are a small number of scientists who argue that increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases are not causing accelerated radiative forcing, but climate models routinely disprove their theory.

I follow the science as closely as I can, and when I saw way back in 2005 a joint statement from the National Academies of Science from the countries of Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America stating that "Increasing greenhouse gases are causing temperatures to rise..." and "...temperatures will continue to increase..." I can make a reasonable judgement about who to believe regarding the science in this "debate." Here is the link to the statement: http://nationalacademies.org/onpi/06072005.pdf

Since 2005 the data continues to confirm that human activities are increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases. The facts just don't support your position. There is cause for concern and the world's elite science academies are crystal clear in their consensus on this. The problem is getting worse and warming is happening faster than earlier forecasts predicted.

Its time to admit that we are taking a risk beyond our ability to manage, and waiting for more empirical evidence to convince the last doubters in not rational in my opinion.

Wiley Barbour
April 10, 2013 at 10:22 am

In reply to by Jim Hodgen

A sophisticated argument... but the context I was referring to was the impossibility of proving that there is no impact on global average temperature... when global average temperature is a wholly synthetic and essentially arbitrary metric.

The statements of scientists from around the globe is also irrelevant when they can posit nothing but their beliefs, not tested hypotheses with demonstrably correct predictions of the future... and where there is software modeling the publication of EVERY line of code and EVERY data point.

At that point - and these models are paid for on the public dime, so why aren't they public information? - then they can be used to hindcast against known data to estimate their error in forecasting the future... then they can be scientific tools.

The GCM's have not prospered in hindcasting without massive 'amendation' and the forecasts are not viable either. That doesn't mean we shouldn't keep looking it means that we need to shut down the faith-based prognostications and base public statements and attempts to influence political policy to factual (tested and re-creatable hypotheses) statements.

Consensus without experimental verification is faith. I am not a follower of GAIA, but I do want a clean world to live in... there is just no evidence that CO2 is one of the things that makes the world unclean.

Jim Hodgen
April 10, 2013 at 4:47 pm

In reply to by Wiley Barbour

I call B.S. on all of you. If you were truly serious about saving the planet you would not be relying on the government to pass legislation. I have some very depressing news for you; there is not a government on this planet that actually gives a rat’s rear end about the environment. The only thing they care about is procuring and holding on to more and more power. This whole posturing on saving the planet is all designed to dupe the “useful idiots” in to voting for them. This is on both sides of the aisle…hell on all sides of the isle including third party. You can’t win this by asking the government to dictate and legislate, by forcing regulation and proclamation from on high. In a sense you are asking the government to put you in chains. You are begging them to make you slaves to their systems.

If you want to ensure your cause is hated…force it on people you are guaranteed a back lash.

You win this by changing the hearts and minds of the people, not by forcing your views on others through government mandates. That is true for any issue.

April 4, 2013 at 3:16 pm

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