Morning Read: Climate back on the agenda?

This morning the Kingston Ontario Whig-Standard is reporting that Ontario’s environment minister thinks climate change needs to be back at the center of the agenda.

“The climate is changing, it’s measurable right now and it will accelerate and change from the emissions we’ve already put out and will continue to put out,” [Gord Miller, the province’s environmental commissioner] said.

“We’re going to have more severe weather and we’re going to have more severe problems and we have to plan for that and look at our infrastructure.”

This includes implementing changes to roads by adding culverts to accommodate more water from intense storms, he said.

In an interview this morning with NCPR, activist and author Bill McKibben argues that groups like his 350.0rg are once again gaining some traction on climate issues, including President Barack Obama’s recent decision to cancel a controversial Canadian oil pipeline project.

Also, this week, state officials in New York state are hosting a national conference on the impacts of climate change on plant and animal species.

The National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy is geared toward providing a unified approach—reflecting shared principles and science-based practices—to reduce negative impacts of climate change on fish, wildlife, plants and the natural systems they depend.

Federal, state and tribal partners, with input from many diverse groups across the nation, are collaborating to develop a common strategy to respond to the challenges a changing climate poses for our nation’s species, ecosystems and natural resources.

So what do you think?  Climate has been on the back burner as the US and other countries grappled with the recession.

In the midst of this warm winter and in the wake of epic floods, is it time to revisit the global warming debate?

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109 Comments on “Morning Read: Climate back on the agenda?”

  1. tootightmike says:

    Without massive subsidies, the mountain-top removal coal, shale oil, and shale gas industries would disappear. Heck without government subsidized wars even middle east oil would disappear. Then we would be left with only our natural world and our natural wit to work out a replacement source of energy. I have read that the sun will be available for 3 billion more years…

  2. Paul says:

    A “rare earth element” mine for getting the materials needed for solar panels and wind turbines looks a lot like a mountain top coal mine. Like I said this is a complicated issue. Take a look at this nasty one in China.

    http://www.raremetalblog.com/2010/08/blog-charn-comments-on-analysis-rare-earth-monopoly-a-boon-to-chinese-clean-tech-firms.html

    This is a good one in California:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/04/business/molycorp-to-announce-rare-earth-deposit-at-california-site.html

    Currently we would be almost entirely dependent on China if we replace fossil fuels with solar.

    They could be our new middle east.

  3. Paul says:

    This mine looks like it has a pretty good carbon footprint? We better get a handle on those “costs” for this alternative as well:

    http://treo.typepad.com/.a/6a0120a6002285970c0133f328e501970b-pi

  4. myown says:

    Paul, What exactly in that quote is not based on facts? You seem ready to dismiss a whole article and its sources just because you are uncomfortable with a little hyperbole intended to get a point across. While they are reliable publications not all knowledge is found exclusively in Scientific American or Science.

    I agree that energy policy is not a simple subject. But the economic status quo, public inertia and mega lobbying dollars are all on the side of the existing fossil fuel industry. Look how quick you are to question bio-fuels while dismissing an article that points out all the public costs (with dollars and health) associated with fossil fuels.

    BTW, the NYS Home Energy Assistance Program you mention above, while it obviously helps needy folks, is another form of redistribution of income from taxpayers to the energy industry. We would be much better off in the long run if we invested our tax dollars in energy conservation to insulate, weatherize and repair our houses than to continue subsiding the exploration, production and consumption of fossil fuels.

  5. Paul says:

    “Look how quick you are to question bio-fuels while dismissing an article that points out all the public costs (with dollars and health) associated with fossil fuels.”

    I wasn’t questioning bio-fuels? You think that if someone looks at an article talking about bio-fuels that they “question” them? I don’t even know what you are talking about. I think they are a very plausible alternative if produced in a way that makes sense. We are way far away from that right now.

    These articles basically support the point that there are other costs associated with one type of fuel (in this case one that maybe you support, I have no idea, Iike I said I do). They just leave out all the stuff that makes these debates get all out of control.

    “We would be much better off in the long run if we invested our tax dollars in energy conservation to insulate, weatherize and repair our houses than to continue subsiding the exploration, production and consumption of fossil fuels.”

    This is true but we can’t let people freeze to death in the short run.

  6. Paul says:

    “Paul, What exactly in that quote is not based on facts?”

    How do you have any idea that anything in that article is based on facts? It has no references and and even uses some of this “experts say” stuff. It quotes a few people but has no substance. I think it is ridiculous. A piece like that could have everything in it that I agree with and I would still take it with a grain of salt. I actually do agree with some of it (maybe a lot of it) but that doesn’t make it worth much. I hope you didn’t write it.

  7. Peter Hahn says:

    We do need to understand the “true costs” of energy, but the problem is that some of the costs can be put off into the future (or sent to somewhere else) so somebody else has to pay. So then the question is not only how to pay for it, but who has to pay.

  8. JDM says:

    Paul:

    “Creation is also a fact. It can be observed, measured, categorized, etc.”

    Personally, I think creation is “more” factual than evolution. Here’s why:

    A cell phone exists. Why? It was created. Did it evolve? No, of course not. It’s very existence points to its creator.

    Man exists. His very existence points to a master creator.

    The moon exists. It’s existence points to a master creator.

    Put a bunch of dust in a washing machine and let it run for 2 billion years. What do you get?

    Evolutionists: man
    Creationists: less than mud

  9. Paul says:

    myown, I should say that I totally agree with one point. Subsidies create unnecessary “barriers to entry” for new technologies. We see it not only with subsides to existing industries but with subsidies to particular new technologies that politicians take on as their pet projects. This is the government messing with the free market, unfortunately they are very good at it.

  10. JDM says:

    Put a bunch of dust in a washing machine and let it run for 2 billion years. What do you get?

    I forgot.

    There was no one to create the washing machine. (or the dust, for that matter)

  11. Paul says:

    JDM, thanks for the reply I think I get it now. In order for you to believe that you have to ignore everything that we know and everything that we see going on around us. I can’t do that. Some entity may have “created” the process of evolution, and some entity may have “created” the process that has produced the earth and the moon (and everything else) but that doesn’t mean that we can ignore the fossil record of where we came from or the fact that we see stars and moons and planets”created” and “destroyed” everyday right before our telescopes.

  12. Paul says:

    “Put a bunch of dust in a washing machine and let it run for 2 billion years. What do you get?

    Evolutionists: man
    Creationists: less than mud”

    But JDM doesn’t that mean the “evolutionists” as you call them were right?

    I am sure I could not type this if I was “less than mud”???

  13. Paul says:

    I think that Pope Benedict XVI said it well when he said:

    “”They are presented as alternatives that exclude each other,” the pope said. “This clash is an absurdity because on one hand there is much scientific proof in favor of evolution, which appears as a reality that we must see and which enriches our understanding of life and being as such.””

  14. JDM says:

    PNElba: “In order for you to believe that you have to ignore everything that we know and everything that we see going on around us.”

    My conclusion is that you are not as aware of things as you think. There is evidence (fossil, writings, etc.) that supports my claim, and that disproves evolution. You may not be aware of it.

  15. Walker says:

    I think that Dave’s 11:17am post is the one that nails it. As long as the only way we know how to have a “healthy economy” is through growth, we don’t have a chance, long term. And the likelihood that we could change the basis upon which we measure “progress” from growth to something else before the earth reaches the tipping point is so close to zero as not to matter.

    And Paul, you don’t really have to spend a lot to be doing your part– take my solution: no kids. Plus, I don’t have to worry about how my descendants will manage with the coming catastrophes.

  16. Walker says:

    Incidentally, back to the original post, is it just me or is the Canadian Environmental Minister’s suggestion that we need to do things like “implementing changes to roads by adding culverts to accommodate more water from intense storms” just a step above rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic– say, like making sure all the lifeboats are in good shape? I mean, yes, it’s useful, but is it really the kind of leadership you’re looking for from your Environmental Minister in the face of global climate change?

  17. JDM says:

    To tie back to the original post. There is a plethora of information written by Ph.D.s about climate change being caused by man.

    There is another plethora of information written by Ph.D.s that says it is not caused by man.

    To not be aware of the other position, or to pooh pooh it, doesn’t justify your argument.

    I am aware of the man-made cause information. I am aware of the non-man-made cause side, and I have come down on the one that makes more sense to me.

  18. Walker says:

    Ah, the wisdom of the Conservative gut!

    Have you tried comparing the number of actual climate scientists on one side, and their credentials, to the number of actual climate scientists on the other? If you did, and did the evaluation with an open mind, I doubt that you would still choose to follow your gut.

  19. kramskoor says:

    My father used to say, “My mind is made up; don’t confuse me with the facts.”

  20. JDM says:

    Yeah. I can see that your mind is made up.

    I won’t confuse you with the facts.

  21. Mervel says:

    It is not good to dump as much as we do into the air and water. A simple tax on Carbon or simply a gas tax increase would be of great benefit to show what the costs of free disposal really are. We all own the air and the water, yet companies and individuals right now are given the freedom to use our resources for free; for waste disposal.

    As far as climate change goes it seems we do play a part and it seems that it might also be cyclical. I would have say however that climate change treaties are a fools game as Kyoto showed, Bush was stupid in not signing the fake treaty though as it was a fraud that no one followed it they did what they always do talk talk and talk and do something else. He should have done what all of the other countries did, instead of being honest and saying we can’t do it, they all said the PC thing; yes we must do this; then they all emitted as much as they ever did or more.

    We cannot follow the fools from Europe and Asia into these cynical and false treaties; we have to do this on our own and hope they follow.

  22. PNElba says:

    PNElba: “In order for you to believe that you have to ignore everything that we know and everything that we see going on around us.”

    JDM please show me exactly where I said that……try to keep up with whom you are responding.

    JDM, I’ve attempted to explain this to you before but EVOLUTION HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HOW LIFE BEGAIN!!!!

    Did you hear it this time? Please write it down. The strawman, unsupported arguments you put up concerning evolution and conflating it with creationism are really tiresome and frankly, dishonest.

    There is no evidence that disproves evolution that I’m aware of. If there is, please provide us with a link to the scientific evidence.

  23. Walker says:

    “Religion is not based on fact it is based on faith. That is why science and religion are entirely compatible. No reason for the argument”

    When religion makes statements about observable phenomena, it makes for incompatibility. If a religion claims that the earth is flat, observation directly contradicts that claim.

    The problem comes when the truths of science are based on a long chain of more or less complicated inferences. Although the reasoning may be perfectly sound, if one is unwilling or unable to follow it, it is easy for those who don’t like its conclusion to dismiss out of hand.

    And, truth be told, science _is_ based on faith– faith in the soundness of observation and logic. Descartes’ evil genius hypothesis is essentially unanswerable, except by faith in one’s senses and a reliance upon Occam’s razor.

  24. PNElba says:

    Yes, back to the original discussion…..

    JDM claims “I am aware of the man-made cause information. I am aware of the non-man-made cause side, and I have come down on the one that makes more sense to me.”

    No you aren’t. You continue to tell us all about facts that support your views but you have yet to show any scientific evidence to support your “facts”. What you seem to have are unsupported opinions based on faith and ideology and not on scientific evidence.

    I challenge you to support your opinions with scientific evidence. And, if I were Mitt Romney, I’d bet 10,000 dollars that your first attempt to do so will actually not be scientific evidence because I’m pretty sure you do not understand what scientific evidence is. And as a scientist, I take some responsibility for that.

  25. JDM says:

    PNElba: “No you aren’t. You continue to tell us all about facts that support your views but you have yet to show any scientific evidence to support your “facts”.”

    I’m sorry, but I totally disagree. There are about as many Ph.D. scientists that dispute man-made global warming as promote it.

    You are taking the position that you have 99% of science on your side, when it’s more like 49%.

    There is plenty of scientific information available if you care to look into it.

  26. Two Cents says:

    Yes it’s about growth, and though it is a necessary fact, i question the rate of growth.
    If continual growth is an absolute necessity to survive, i suggest that we need to grow on the Earth’s terms, SLOWER.
    Nature’s the big stick here, not people, or Government, or Industry.
    Rapid change, man made or not is catastrophic. The Earth will absorb and react/correct to all change imposed on it, given the chance.
    where are we going in such a hurry anyway?
    Live slow.

  27. Paul says:

    “JDM, I’ve attempted to explain this to you before but EVOLUTION HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HOW LIFE BEGAIN!!!!”

    Forget it.

  28. PNElba says:

    There are about as many Ph.D. scientists that dispute man-made global warming as promote it.

    Once again an opinion based on no facts and no evidence. Show me the evidence that as many Ph.D trained climatologists and geophysicists dispute climate change as support it. You can’t because it just isn’t true. Show me the evidence that a majority of national and international scientific societies do not support climate change theory. You can’t because it just isn’t true.

  29. PNElba says:

    You are taking the position that you have 99% of science on your side, when it’s more like 49%.

    First of all, I don’t even know what that statement means and I don’t recall placing any kind of percentage of “science on my side”. Scientific evidence is based largely on measuring…..using numbers. I for one accept that 2 + 2 = 4 until someone shows me convincing evidence that 2 + 2 doesn’t equal 4. That is where science differs from religion. I am willing to change my “beliefs” about a theory when convincing new scientific evidence is presented. Religious beliefs are completely unchangable because they are based on faith and stories in old books.

    I look at the scientific evidence that both supports the climate change theory and that which doesn’t support the theory. Do you do that? If so, once again I ask you to present the scientific evidence that convinces you that climate change is not happening.

  30. hermit thrush says:

    everyone knows not to believe anything jdm says, right? to wit (my emphasis):

    A broad analysis of the climate scientist community itself, the distribution of credibility of dissenting researchers relative to agreeing researchers, and the level of agreement among top climate experts has not been conducted and would inform future ACC [anthropogenic climate change] discussions. Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field surveyed here support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.

    so this “You are taking the position that you have 99% of science on your side, when it’s more like 49%” business is total, total bs.

  31. JDM says:

    PNElba: “If so, once again I ask you to present the scientific evidence that convinces you that climate change is not happening.”

    First, climate change is happening. Happens all the time. It goes up. It goes down.

    The issue at hand is whether or not there are man-made causes, and if there can be any man-made solutions.

    So far, regardless of the argument about whether or not man can cause climate change, it’s very obvious man can do diddly-squat to stop it.

    Chevy volt – sold 35 this year. Whoa!

    Solyndra – $500million down the toilet.

    I certainly hope Bangladesh’s fate isn’t waiting on Obama to come to the rescue.

  32. JDM says:

    (and if we can’t stop it – it logically follows that we can’t cause it, either)

  33. Paul says:

    “(and if we can’t stop it – it logically follows that we can’t cause it, either)”

    You gotta be kidding me?

  34. JDM says:

    Paul “You gotta be kidding me?”

    Ok, enlighten us with an example.

  35. Paul says:

    I see, so you can never stop something that you did not start? Is that how it works? I think I see the “logic” now. My apologies.

    If I start a big bolder rolling down a mountain, I can’t stop it but I did cause it to roll.

    How can that be?

  36. JDM says:

    There’s this item going around on the Internet where they drop 8 zeroes off of the national debt discussion, and it comes out like a person making $21,000 a year promises to cut $348 a year as an equivalent to what Congress is proposing.

    In the same way, the climate is soooo big, we can’t grasp it. But, take one active volcano. How much does that affect the climate in one century?

    Well, we can’t cap a single stinkin’ volcano, can we?

    How much less can we change the whole climate?

    It’s hard to believe how small we are. Part of the issue is man trying to elevate himself in his own eyes.

  37. Walker says:

    Well, JDM, with thinking like yours we certainly can’t stop global climate change, and unfortunately, there is a lot of thinking like yours floating around.

  38. PNelba says:

    everyone knows not to believe anything jdm says, right? to wit (my emphasis):

    Of course we do, but it’s sorta fun to watch his antics.

    “(and if we can’t stop it – it logically follows that we can’t cause it, either)”
    You gotta be kidding me?

    Nope, not kidding bit. JDM actually thinks that statement is a logical statement.

    And, still only ill-informed opinion, illogical reasoning, and no scientific evidence from JDM.

  39. PNelba says:

    I apologize to JDM. I asked for scientific evidence that climate change is not occuring.

    His response above: First, climate change is happening. Happens all the time. It goes up. It goes down.

    Sorta reminds me of the O’Reilly “tide comes in, tide goes out” statement as the evidence for the existence of god.

    These people honestly have no idea what constitutes scientific evidence.

  40. mervel says:

    Well what exactly DOES it take to stop it?

    I guess we could go sign some treaties with China and France and everything will be okay then.

  41. Paul says:

    This has been a very entertaining thread!

  42. PNelba says:

    Well what exactly DOES it take to stop it?

    First, slowing the emission of fossil-based CO2. Second, some method of recapturing excess CO2 from the atmosphere.

  43. Walker says:

    Exactly! Difficult, yes. Impossible (except perhaps politically), no.

  44. mervel says:

    But that is not an answer. How much would it take to stop global climate change? Most people basically understand that we need to reduce emissions, the point is who will pay the price to reduce those emissions and do we know enough to make major major changes in all of our lives?

    I have heard many scientists say that we can’t reverse this, its too late. In that case why hurt our economy for something that is going to happen anyway? Lets face it we all know who would pay the price, and it won’t be wall street or washington, it will be once again middle class wage earners driving cars or working in the energy business.

  45. PNelba says:

    Whether we can reverse it or not isn’t clear. We still need to get consensus just to slow it down. One way to remove CO2 is to grow plants that utilize extraordinary amounts of CO2. CO2 is actually a valuable resource. As many have pointed out plants use CO2 to make stuff like cellulose. You can genetically engineer photosynthetic organisms to use CO2 to make oil and other starting materials to make plastic etc.

  46. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    First the abortion blog and now this– how am I supposed to find time to read all this?!!!?

  47. Paul says:

    PNElba, am with you on what we need to try. Take into account the amount of time it takes to get the USDA to license a genetically engineered plant for this type of use (or anything) and we may be doomed! Too many people (many of them liberals) hate genetic engineering.

  48. JDM says:

    PNElba: I’m not too worried about you’re heckling. You’re “science” is going to prove itself false in the years to come, but you’ll come up with a scientific reason why the data was “misleading”.

    As far as this statement, “I apologize to JDM. I asked for scientific evidence that climate change is not occuring.” How can I prove that. It is occurring.

    What gets fuzzy is the “scientific” evidence that the causes are man-made.

  49. Walker says:

    “Too many people … hate genetic engineering.”

    If you know anything about the history of attempts at environmental control in Australia, it might give you pause about setting any untried solutions loose on the kind of massive scale that would be required. Not saying we shouldn’t try, but with a good bit of caution.

  50. Paul says:

    One more comment and we are at 100. Who is it going to be. I guess me:)

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