Posted by: Barry Bickmore | June 4, 2011

Romney not a Climate Contrarian

Proving once again that being politically conservative doesn’t have to mean denying that problems exist, Mitt Romney has reaffirmed his stance that humans are causing significant climate change.  Read all about it in The Boston Globe.

It looks like Romney and Huntsman are the only Republican presidential hopefuls who haven’t jumped with both feet into the contrarian camp.  I expect waffling from politicians, and both Romney (especially Romney) and Huntsman have done their share.  But moving into anti-science-anti-reality just to mollify the slack-jawed-loud-mouthed wing of the party is going beyond the pale, for me.  I’m glad the two Mormons in the race have the integrity not to go there, at least.  Hopefully they can help move the debate over to what should be done, rather than whether there is really a problem.


Responses

  1. I had a look at the comments over there and the climate denialists are there airing their zombie myths and getting liked.

    It really beggars belief.

  2. Dr. Bickmore,

    Correct me if I’m wrong. If you believe that catastrophic repercussions are on the horizon if we continue our use of fossil fuels, it must be the number one political issue of every believing scientist. Because this issue will decide the future health or death of the ecosystem, as we know it, you would necessarily have to vote for Obama in 2012 over say… Tim Pawlenty who has recently flipped on CAGW.

    Thanks in advance for your answer,

    Dan

    • Hi Dan,

      As I understand it, the most probable outcomes are “really bad” if we keep using fossil fuels like we have been, but there is a non-neglible chance of a “catastrophic” outcome. The probability is skewed toward the high side, so there isn’t much chance of a “no big deal” outcome. In your comments, you seem to always be trying to force others into this false dichotomy of a “catastrophic” outcome vs. a “no big deal” outcome.

      Anyway, I’m not a one issue kind of guy, so I definitely have struggled with how to vote in a situation like you describe. If the choice were, say, Obama vs. Michelle Bachmann, I would definitely vote for Obama, but not because of climate change, necessarily. I just can’t fathom how anyone could put Bachmann in charge of anything, and refuse to vote for anyone who is that stupid. Period. I don’t know enough about Pawlenty to decide, yet, whether I coulld stomach voting for him.

      • Care for some syrup with that waffle? I’m simply trying to say that if I felt strongly that one candidate’s climate policy could stop a certain catastrophic (or even “really bad”) environmental outcome if he/she was elected over another, the vote would a no-brainer.

      • Hi Dan,

        One man’s “waffle” is another man’s “trying not to be an unthinking zealot.” 😉

    • Dan,

      The problem is that we are conducting a huge experiment, but in this experiment, we are inside the test-tube, there is no ‘plan b’ if it goes wrong. The science is really clear, at some stage things will get bad, but precisely when and just how bad no-one really knows. Why? Because apart from the uncertainties in the science, these uncertainties are compounded by the unknowables in what humans will do. For example: logic would suggest that we decarbonise the World economy as fast as possible, instead emissions have risen.
      Therefore, no-one knows how much CO2 we’re going to put into the atmosphere, for how long and whether we’re going to try and get some of it back out.
      Uncertainty must be an indication that caution is required and not continue with business as usual. Especially since abrupt climate change is a distinct possibility, it’s happened before. Once the signs are that rapid change is under-way, there will be absolutely no possibility of going back or stopping it. We will be committed.

      The signs have been bad for some time, the time for action was some time ago, but action today remains much better than action tomorrow.

      • “The science is really clear, at some stage things will get bad, but precisely when and just how bad no-one really knows.”

        Sorry, that kind of ‘clarity’ doesn’t cut it. Do we really want to base energy policy on that sort of wobbly rhetoric?

      • Daniel,
        My answer was quite clear.
        Try reading my reply again. Then try understanding it.

        Remember that uncertainty is no reason for complacency. Uncertainty is good reason for increased caution.
        Imagine walking across a big field. Half-way across the field, you notice a sign lying in the mud, you bend down, turn it over and it says ‘Danger Keep-out! Land mines!’
        What do you do? You have no mobile phone and there’s no-one around and no chance of rescue. Do you carry-on walking and hope for the best? Or do you very carefully decide to retrace your steps?

        Remember, at present, we have no possibility of retracing our steps ad warming will continue, even if we could stop pumping CO2 into the atmosphere today. diate effect.today..

  3. re: “Sorry, that kind of ‘clarity’ doesn’t cut it. Do we really want to base energy policy on that sort of wobbly rhetoric?”

    I see variants on this one a lot. The person taking this position is usually trying to appear to be “the reasonable one,” while seeming to miss entirely the obvious fact that policy has to be based on *something.*

    Dan, if you want to argue that state-of-the-art science isn’t an adequate basis for energy policy decisions…how do you propose energy policy decisions be made?

    • [QUOTE]I see variants on this one a lot. The person taking this position is usually trying to appear to be “the reasonable one,” while seeming to miss entirely the obvious fact that policy has to be based on *something.*

      Dan, if you want to argue that state-of-the-art science isn’t an adequate basis for energy policy decisions…how do you propose energy policy decisions be made?[/QUOTE]

      I always thought free market principles were best. IE, no “energy policy”.

      Especially during a period of time where we have a government initiated credit collapse in the monetary system pending.

      The government is very good and making screw-ups very very big.

      Even if you subscribe to the notion that government should have an energy policy, sceince as it is presently practiced is a poor discovery model to found such a policy.

      [QUOTE]With the cookout, the stakes are low. At the level of US energy policy as it impacts on/interacts with global climate…to disregard the models of 97% of active climate scientists in favor of an inferior model is catastrophically stupid. [/QUOTE]

      Here is where you are wrong. Science does not allow one to audit their papers, this is “standard practice” per all the investigations on Climate Gate and >90% of every admitted scientist I’ve heard expound on the matter. Getting *all* original data along with every process and procedure or code that has altered that data along the process of achieving the result is essentially impossible for >90% of papers. Thus, no auditability. The error rate of results in published “peer reviewed” papers is astounding. Nobody would ever build and fly a plane, build a bridge or a dam or a nuclear power plant with that kind of QA in place. I would consider fundamental eocnomic systems and, effectively, economic output (which depends on energy) even more important than those kinds of engineering endeavors.

      And no, shear numbers of lead bars doesn’t turn them into gold somehow along the way. You cannot solve a process problem by increasing the number of times you execute same process.

      I am NOT going to blindly trust anything you say when you effectively call for a >80% reduction in economic output. Ha! Call me a “denier” or any new names your ilk have invented all you like, but it is you who cannot see the reality. That 80 by 2050 and such garbage is in no way, shape, or form, a wise choice.

      It may well be an “inferior model” (assuming the weather/climate/etc will be the same tomorrow as it is today as opposed to the astrological projections of unaditable computer models), but you’re asking for the moon and then some. The only thing worth that cost that I can fathom is the clear choice of that or a full out nuclear war. And even then, provided a year to prepare, the nuclear war would probably be preferable.

  4. In an attempt to clarify the point of my preceding comment:

    Any act involving planning, whether it is a driving route on the way to work, a weekend cookout, or creating federal legislation–or choosing not to create legislation, after consideration of the matter at hand–ANY such act involves an attempt to anticipate possible futures based on various contingencies. For convenience, I’ll call the method of anticipation a “model.”

    So imagine that my model for the cookout is “cookouts are fun, so I’ll do it.” And further imagine that you offer a critique: “But there’s rain in the forecast for this weekend.” Now if I say “well, weather forecasting isn’t perfect, I’m going to do it anyway,” I haven’t just rejected an imperfect model; I’ve rejected an imperfect model *in favor of an inferior one.*

    With the cookout, the stakes are low. At the level of US energy policy as it impacts on/interacts with global climate…to disregard the models of 97% of active climate scientists in favor of an inferior model is catastrophically stupid.

    So if “that kind of clarity doesn’t cut it” for you, let’s hear about the model YOU are using. If it has any less predictive power than the best models being used in current research, you’re making a grave mistake in your thinking.


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