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Republicans to Repeal Laws of Physics

Posted on 13 March 2011 by dana1981

Republicans have decided that they can repeal the laws of physics with the laws of the USA.

First a bit of background.  In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the U.S. EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, if they meet the definition of "air pollutants".  In order to qualify as "air pollutants", the emissions must "reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare".  In 2009, the EPA issued an endangerment finding which referenced numerous scientific assessments including the IPCC report, and concluded that "greenhouse gases in the atmosphere may reasonably be anticipated both to endanger public health and to endanger public welfare".  This conclusion is strongly supported by the body of scientific evidence.

As a consequence of this endangerment finding, the EPA established a timeline to begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions, starting with the largest sources such as power plants and oil refineries in 2011.  There are now two ways to prevent the EPA's greenhouse gas regulations:

  1. Congress can pass legislation which establishes a different system to control greenhouse gas emissions, thus superceeding the EPA.
  2. The EPA endangerment finding can be overturned if it's determined that greenhouse gas emissions no longer endanger public health or welfare.

From an economic standpoint, it would be preferable if Congress implemented this first option, because systems which allow the free market to control greenhouse gas emissions, such as a carbon tax or cap and trade system, have less economic impact than government regulations.  In fact, studies have shown that carbon pricing mechanisms have little economic impact, and their benefits outweigh their costs several times over.  For this reason, cap and trade was originally a Republican proposal as an alternative to EPA regulation of sulfur dioxide in response to acid rain (also under the Clean Air Act).  That's right, as hard as it is to believe now, cap and trade was first proposed by Republicans.

U.S. Congress has attempted to pass climate legislation which includes a carbon pricing mechanism (cap and trade system) several times thus far, but such proposals have rarely gotten more than a couple of Republican votes, and have always failed.  Most recently in 2009, the House of Representatives managed to pass a climate bill.  Unfortunately we were reminded that the USA is a republic, not a democracy, as Republicans exploited archaic Senate rules and their 41% minority to filibuster (obstruct) similar legislation which was supported by the majority, and it never even made it to a vote in the Senate.

In short, Republicans aren't willing to implement a carbon pricing mechanism, but they also don't want the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.  So they're now pursuing the second option discussed above.  To accomplish this, Republicans in the House of Representatives have introduced H.R. 910, inaccurately named the "Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011".   H.R. 910 has two main components:

  1. It overturns the EPA's greenhouse gas endangerment finding.
  2. It prohibits the EPA from regulating or otherwise taking action regarding greenhouse gas emissions to address climate change.

In other words, we have politicians attempting to overturn a scientific finding whose purpose is to protect public health and welfare, for purely political reasons.  This is a rather disturbing turn of events from a scientific standpoint.  We cannot disregard a scientific finding, particularly one which has major consequences for public health and welfare, just because we don't want to believe it, or because doing so would be politically advantageous.

The House Republicans (and to be fair, there are a few Democrats from fossil fuel dependent regions which also support this bill) put very little effort into justifying this legislation.  They called two climate scientist "skeptics" to testify before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, and in a sign of the meaninglessness of the hearing, they also called on Donald Roberts to rant about DDT regulations.  The "skeptics'" testimony was little more than a litany of long-debunked climate myths, but the Congressmen in the hearing didn't seem very interested in hearing what the scientists had to say anyway.  At the end of the hearing, Democrat Congressman Markey wittily summed up the proceedings:

"Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to a bill that overturns the scientific finding that pollution is harming our people and our planet.

However, I won’t physically rise, because I’m worried that Republicans will overturn the law of gravity, sending us floating about the room..."

Markey's full comments are well worth reading.  Soon thereafter, the subcommittee passed the bill by voice vote, and the measure will next be sent to the full House Energy and Commerce Committee.  Fortunately, as Congressman Markey noted, even if the bill is passed by the House of Representatives, it has little chance of passing in the Democrat-controlled Senate, and if it were to pass there, President Obama would almost certainly veto this legislation.

Nevertheless, the mere existence of the bill is an ominous sign of the Republican war on climate science, in which they believe they can overturn scientific evidence based on nothing more than the ignorant opinions of a few politicians.  Similarly, Republicans in the Montana state legislature recently introduced a bill which stated, among other scientific falsehoods,

"global warming is a natural occurrence and human activity has not accelerated it."

It seems as though Republicans think that politics can dictate science.  Unfortunately, passing legislation saying that humans are not causing global warming, or that greenhouse gas emissions do not pose a threat to public health and welfare, does not change the physical reality that these statements are simply wrong.

The climate operates based on the laws of physics, not the laws of Montana or the United States of America.  Republicans may have declared war on science, but it's a war they cannot win.  By pretending that we can dictate how the climate will behave with a few simple words on a piece of paper, all we can accomplish is to bury our heads in the sand and doom ourselves to the catastrophic fate that awaits us in a business-as-usual scenario.  These politicians need to be reminded that they are supposed to be looking out for the American public's welfare and best interests, not prohibiting the EPA from doing just that.

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Comments 1 to 50 out of 182:

  1. Of course politics can dictate scientists, f.e. in Nazi Germany all remaining scientists were recruited to assist in war efforts and phrenology (fringe science even back then) was used to separate aryan races from other races. There's even the traditional joke, that the phrenological constraints of being an aryan had to be changed to include Hitler which in turn saved 10000s of polish people...
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  2. "These politicians need to be reminded that they are supposed to be looking out for the American public's welfare and best interests, not prohibiting the EPA from doing just that."

    Actually, the politicians are supposed to look out for the interests of the people who voted them in office. And many of those voters don't subscribe to the EPA regulations that are being defined and enforced by unelected bureaucrats. This may be hard to swallow for the AGW crowd but this is how Democracy works and that is how the Republic of the USA was set up. Most Americans do want cleaner energy and will pursue that in a common sense manner. The following link outlines this thinking. I think the following quote from that article sums up the feeling of most Americans:

    "People with common sense know you can both exploit our natural resources and pursue renewables at the same time. In fact doing the former will help generate the wealth to permit engaging in the latter. And wealth is what it is going to take to move from fossil fuels over time."

    The proposals from the EPA and others suggest a cut and burn apporoach which is painful and without a reason for this pain, the American people will not embrace this. If we don't have time to slowly transition to cleaner, renewable energy sources then we need data to support this. I think this is the crux of the argument and the point of frustration from the AGW point of view. If the science and data really supports this premise then the scientists have the duty to tailor their message accordingly. Americans have had a long history of confronting the brutal facts and changing accordingly when the evidence and the message are clear (slavery, segregation, women's rights, tobacco, gay rights, isolationism, etc.). In the examples I listed here, the change took longer than it should have taken but Democracy is not easy and it isn't for everyone but we are in the middle of a serious debate with regard to climate change.

    It is my feeling, that the likes of Gore, Hansen and Schmidt (realclimate.org) have hurt the AGW position and caused a majority of Americans to have preconceived notions with any AGW message that is delivered. You can claim that the other side is ignorant but that doesn't progress your cause. With a subject as complicated and important as Climate Change, it is the duty of the Scientists to do something they are not comfortable with. They must think about how their message is communicated and do this in a political manner. This has nothing to do with data or science but it is required and they must own up to this.

    The state of Missouri is called the 'show me state'. The people of that state typify the feeling of most Americans - show me the data, make predictions that are verifiable and then I'll believe you. If AGW is true, then list predictions for the next 1 to 5 years that people can monitor and verify - then your case will be iron clad and we'll line up and do what ever is necessary to solve the problem.
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  3. It seems that whatever the issue there will always be politicians who believe that the economy should be placed first in all debates about human welfare.

    In response to the evident economic motivation behind the claim that "global warming is a natural occurrence and human activity has not accelerated it", I would like to cite the reply given on another issue regarding government interference in the economic affairs of gentlemen:

    Rebuttal to the claim that government interference in the trade in question would cause great economic harm:

    "This is a proposition not only false and unfounded, but which has been repeatedly confuted by those who are better qualified than myself to discuss it. I believe the contrary to be case ..."

    Viscount Mahon.

    Hansard, Feb 23 1805

    Hansard database Is a mine of information about historical events and can be a useful adjunct to scientific studies.
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  4. "You can claim that the other side is ignorant but that doesn't progress your cause."

    Again someone who believes there are sides in this matter. n/t.
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  5. Gary - if we lived in a democracy, we would already have a cap and trade system in place, as it's supported by the majority of Americans.

    As for showing you the data, that's what we'vebeen trying to do. Your eyes have to be open first.
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  6. garythompson at 16:17 PM on 13 March, 2011

    "Actually, the politicians are supposed to look out for the interests of the people who voted them in office. And many of those voters don't subscribe to the EPA regulations that are being defined and enforced by unelected bureaucrats. This may be hard to swallow for the AGW crowd but this is how Democracy works and that is how the Republic of the USA was set up."

    Actually Science isn't a democratic venture. IF the majority in the Senate put in place a law that said Gravity wasn't real because their constituents supported it, it doesn't make it any more true. Politicians have a duty first and foremost to look out for the well-being of the country even ahead of the will of the people. We would still have racial segregation in the South if your opinion of democracy were followed through on.
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  7. "Americans have had a long history of confronting the brutal facts and changing accordingly when the evidence and the message are clear (slavery, segregation, women's rights, tobacco, gay rights, isolationism, etc.). "

    No no sir, certain americans have a history of confronting these brutal issues. Certain americans learned long before the rest of americans that slavery was wrong and that women and gays deserved equal rights. Are you implying that we should be satisfied with slow progress because "that's how it works in america"? I'm sorry but there are far too many african american people who got beat up while waiting for their rights to kick in for me to take your argument seriously. It is wrong to drag your feet on these issues, I dont care about how it has happened before, those who slow progress will not be looked upon kindly by history.
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  8. >>>Actually, the politicians are supposed to look out for the interests of the people who voted them in office.

    According to the ideal, hypothetical processes of governance within a democratic republic. This is real life though, where there are several philosophies of voting and where the issues often dictate the type of response needed. An issue as potentially dangerous to our well being and future stability, for which scientific evidence and verified projections have already beed provided time and time again (e.g. the Fingerprints articles on here, and the "Models are unreliable" rebuttal), would be best approached from a mindset that holds the interests, not the whims, of the constituents in mind.

    Such a political mindset is what, after all, led to the end of slavery and segregation for example: policy being implemented over whims and toward interests.
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  9. To clarify, since we're both using "interests" but with different meaning, I think "wants v. needs" could apply better to what I'm trying to say.
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  10. Robert and Alex, well said!
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  11. "And many of those voters don't subscribe to the EPA regulations that are being defined and enforced by unelected bureaucrats."

    Not sure where you got that distraction from, but the EPA was forced to take action by the Supreme Court. The EPA dragged its feet waiting for Congress to act, and Congress flunked out.

    Don't blame the process - it worked right up to the point where a Republican piece of anti-science syndrome went to Disneyland for a pollution solution.
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  12. From "Plutocracy Now" by Kevin Drum in the April 2011 Mother Jones:

    Princeton poltical scientist Larry Bartels studied the voting behaviour of US Senators in the early '90s and discovered that they respond far more to the desires of high-income groups than to anyone else. By itself, that's not a surprise. He also found that Republicans don't respond at all to the desires of voters with modest incomes. Maybe that's not a surprise, either. But this should be: Bartels found that Democratic senators don't respond to the desires of these voters, either. At all.

    It doesn't take a multivariate correlation to conclude that these two things are tightly related: If politicians care almost exclusively about the concerns of the rich, it makes sense that over the past decades they've enacted policies that have ended up benefitting the rich.


    Living here in Alaska where climate change is profoundly affecting the state and yet all politicians clamor for more oil drilling (89% of the State budget is funded by royalties from oil & gas), it is clear that there is one rule in politics: money talks. And no one has more money than the fossil fuel industry.

    The only surprise for me anymore is that anyone still looks to our politicians for a response to climate change.
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  13. I have an entire list of things that Republicans are against, and "ideas" is at the top. Republicans are conservatives and they don't like "ideas." Anything that shakes their system of Judeo-Christian beliefs and values is anathema to them.

    Climate science is something they choose not to understand. Unfortunately, we have to wait two years to get them out of office, hopefully before sea level rises and stronger storms kill all the Democrats and free thinkers among us.
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    Moderator Response: [Daniel Bailey] Let us not paint all conservative Republican Judeo-Christians with your anti-science brush (at least this one objects to your broad labeling). If you mean the majority of those in elected office in the Republican Party (quite frankly, many on the Democratic side of the aisle have unclean hands in this matter as well), then your point may be valid.
  14. As the article says, "Nevertheless, the mere existence of the bill is an ominous sign of the Republican war on climate science, in which they believe they can overturn scientific evidence based on nothing more than the ignorant opinions of a few politicians."

    Unfortunately, this blatantly anti-science attitude has long lurked in the Republican Party, and has now become fossilized in it thanks to the Bush Administration. This was, after all, the administration that made political interference in government and government sponsored science the norm.
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  15. @garythomson-

    Your idealized picture of the American personality is quite false. Why, now I have to play the part of the man from Missouri and ask YOu for the evidence for your stance: don't tell me, show me that such is the attitude of the majority of Americans.

    I have to believe it is not, since in both recent elections, they showed a lamentable tendency to do the very opposite, believe what is groundless and false instead. And they routinely do this in many other ways in their lives, too. Advertising relies on it!

    For that matter, and even more pertinent to this forum, you are the one making false and groundless claims concerning AGW, not Hansen et al.

    In fact, as has been pointed out very often now in this forum, it -was- Hansen who made the predictable and verifiable claim that global average surface temperature would continue to rise if we continued to pump CO2 into the atmosphere. And his scenario B -has- been verified. The case is -already- ironclad, yet here you are pretending it is not, and demanding more evidence!

    The time for debate is long over. Billions of dollars will be lost and millions of lives lost, with billions ruined because of the tragic delay people like you are so stubbornly insisting on. We have already delayed so long that large parts of the world will be afflicted by such severe drought, wars and famines will follow and decimate the population. But by the time we convince you and your ilk, it will be too late to prevent yet more deaths.
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  16. MattJ : "We have already delayed so long that large parts of the world will be afflicted by such severe drought, wars and famines will follow and decimate the population. "

    you forgot the earthquakes...

    I just remind you that the consequences of droughts, the number of wars, and the famines are STRONGLY INVERSELY CORRELATED with the use of fossil fuels, as any scientific data would show you.
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  17. Seems to me that if this post was a comment it would violate the comments policy. I refer people to Skeptical Science and I read it myself for coherent, sensible, and accurate information about the science of climate as it's currently understood. US politics is a quagmire, but surely that doesn't mean it can suck down every decent climate site on the Web.

    Please no more political posts. Save them for sites where the argument is about the politics of climate; there's no shortage of those.
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  18. It would be a smart move to the US to shift off fossil fuels for three reasons:

    - geopolitical, to limit its dependance from imported fuel, from pollitically unstable countries (financing undemocratic regimes on its way)

    - economic, as the clean technologies will be commercially important on the next decades.

    - environmental, for obvious reasons.

    Unfortunately, the US policy is being held hostage of lobbyists (voters are secondary here). Maybe that's an important vulnerability that democracy should work to overcome.
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  19. "I just remind you that the consequences of droughts, the number of wars, and the famines are STRONGLY INVERSELY CORRELATED with the use of fossil fuels, as any scientific data would show you."

    So you keep claiming Gilles, yet you've actually failed to provide a single shred of scientific data to back your claim. In fact, its been my experience that the things which alleviate famine & poverty the best are-improved education, more even distribution of wealth, access to contraception & improved health care (which doesn't need to be heavily energy dependent). Energy plays a role, of course, but doesn't actually have to be in fossil fuel form-as Iceland proves quite nicely.
    Also, a graph by the International Energy Agency (which I currently can't find the link for) shows very little correlation between energy use per capita & per capita GDP.
    Last of all, Gilles, the EU-27 countries achieved around a 15% reduction in total energy consumption-across all sectors of the economy (industrial, commercial, domestic & transport)-without any detriment to GDP growth. Of course, these same EU-27 countries have also significantly reduced their consumption of electricity from fossil fuels. So, come on Gilles, where is this "mountain of evidence" proving that fossil fuel consumption automatically translates into freedom from poverty.
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  20. 1 Quick problem. it is an ex ENRON and Goldman Sachs profit scheme that doesn't even change the outcome other then spreading poverty more. Personally, I thought "Cool It" was realistic vision of how to best tackle Global Warming while allowing the #1 killer called poverty to not get worse.
    The only advantage of cap and trade I see from a devious perspective, not my perspective, is spreading the #1 killer to reduce population and people contributing to carbon emissions.
    Alternative energy is great, but all we are getting out of Washington is lip service and politicians throwing money at their pet projects that also fund their campaigns (GE), while ignoring what other competitors are out their.
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  21. garythompson

    if your 'theory' on the American 'psyche' is correct- or that of Missouri, and we wait for the 'show me' for climate change to become a problem 'seen' it will be long out of control, too late for us to do anything.

    We will reach that point as C02 crosses 400ppm in a few years, where avoiding serious climate change will not be possible.
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  22. This post was full of quotes by Senator Markey. Funny you should mention him, because here i am still seething from watching him on MSNBC Friday evening. This Senator is on the Committee on Natural Resources and also Energy & Commerce. He emphatically states we need to use wind/solar to get off foreign oil, yet oil is only used to produce 1% of US electricity, much of it for peaking units to respond to summertime heat waves.
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epa/epa_sum.html

    This is the state we find ourselves in. He was the cosponsor of the Waxman Markey Cap n Trade bill, yet he doesn't even understand the very very basic facts or electricity production. Or, more likely, he knows the facts. This man has absolutely no credibility to make any statements regarding energy or climate policy.

    Waiting for Global Warming, of course Climate Change is already here.
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1998/plot/uah/from:1998
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  23. Democracy should work by reflecting the informed opinion of the public. This opinion can be quite different from the uninformed opinion of public.

    A forceful example of this was presented to me on UK TV many years ago when there was a considerable difference between public and political opinion on the death penalty (public were more pro than politicians) The TV show took a representative sample of the population and subjected them to expert testimony and lobby groups from both sides of the argument. The result - the sample opinion shifted and agreed closely with the political opinion.

    This rather uplifting story illustrates some key points;
    1. In many ways politicians are there to do our thinking for the people they represent. We cannot hope to be experts in all areas of public policy.
    2. Political representatives should be willing to be influenced by expert testimony and to even change their opinion based on new knowledge
    3. The fact that political and public opinion differs does not necassarily represent a failure of democracy. It could reflect a badly informed public
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  24. Its you who needs to check your facts nofreewind. Petroleum might be used for only 1% of electricity production-but it makes up around 39% of *total* energy demand-across the transportation (28% of total energy demand-of which 95% is supplied by petroleum), industrial (21%, of which 42% is supplied by petroleum), residential & commercial (11%, of which 16% is supplied by petroleum) & electric power (40%, of which 1% is supplied by petroleum productions) sectors. Given that 15 *million* barrels per day of the oil needed to supply those energy demands come from *outside* the United States, I'd say the good Senator knows far more about what he is talking about than you do. Still, nofreewind, I've come to expect nothing but unfounded propaganda from you-& I see you've not changed. Nor has your penchant for cherry-picking of climate data to suit your own propaganda. For the record, in spite of your cherry picking efforts, both the HadCru & UAH data actually show a modest *warming* trend (+0.0013 degrees per year for HadCru & +0.0072 degrees per year for UAH). Seriously, mate, you really ought to double check the data before you post-or you just end up with some serious egg on your face!
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  25. Also, nofreewind, to put the previous post into perspective-coal makes up only 23% of total energy demand across all sectors, natural gas makes up 24% of total energy demand-across all sectors, nuclear power makes up around 8% (electricity sector only-obviously), with the remainder being supplied by renewable energy (around 7%). So, in fact, oil makes up the single *biggest* source of energy demand in the United States, by a significant margin, when you consider the entire economy-not just the electricity generation sector-which accounts for less than half of all demand for energy in the US. So it seems yours was yet another improperly researched rant.
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  26. What a can of worms this post has opened. I disagree with too many peoples responces to select and resond to particular posts. So, instead I will lay out what I believe briefly, and very briefly why.

    First, democracy is not "the worst form of government except for all the others". It is not because it is inefficient, or that it places a barrier against the untramelled action of the exucutive that it is desirable. These virtues (the first dubious, the second very desirable) can be achieved by other forms of government; and espousing these virtues as the reason for democracy inevitably leads to the corruption of democracy. Rather, democracy is desirable as government because it alone of all governments reflects the equal moral worth of all people by giving all people an equal say in the governance of their nation.

    Because that is the reason for democracy, the duty of a representative in parliament is not to "reflect the informed opinion of the public", or "to listen to the experts", or to "vote in the interests of their electorate". It is to reflect the actual opinions of the electorate. They can do this by always keeping their promises to the electorate, and by making their views on all matters clear to the electorate so that when they are stepping outside the realm of promises, they can have reasonable confidence that their informed opinions reflect those of the electorate.

    So, sad as it is, and as much as I dislike these alternatives, Republicans who campaigned on a platform of opposition to effective measures against AGW should vote against such measures until they are next up for election. And Julia Guilard in Australia should not vote for a carbon tax until after the next election. And yes, this will result in Republicans indulging in the absurdity of voting against the laws of physics.

    Of course, leaving it there would be a very shallow analysis. If a representative hides behind the will of the people for their voting record, then they are under an obligation to ensure the will of the people is reflected in parliaments. That means that first, and above all, nobody but citizens should be given the constitutional means to influence government, either by donations, or by access in meetings (except as necessary to carry on the foreign affairs of the nation). And no individual citizen should be given privileged access. So if a Republican votes against measures to counter AGW because it is the will of the people, but accepts anything but small donations from citizens in their electorate, then their reliance on a principle of democracy to justify their actions is a sham. Likewise, if they do not take every effort to accurately educate their electorate, and rigourously prosecute deliberate attempts at misinformation, their commitment to democracy is a sham. A person who want the uninformed consent of another is treating that other as less than a rational agent. They desire not the consent, but merely the appearance of consent.

    So, what realists about AGW shoud be doing is demanding that their political allies be real friends of democracy, by supporting campaign funding reform, including restricting the right to political advertisement to named citizens only. They should be legislating a strong expectation of truthfulness by media, and by witnesses to Congress (or Parliament). They should be abiding by those standards themselve, and fiercely exposing the frauds of those opposed to action on AGW, both in the science and in their political posturing.

    But they should never commend to anyone that they break a promise to the electorate. And nor should they try to set up governance by experts in which the primary duty of representatives is to by guided by a select group of experts. After all, the history of George W Bush's administration shows that you will not get to choose who the experts are. And seeking to establish governance by experts will just alienate the citizens of the nation.
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  27. Gary Thompson:
    "Actually, the politicians are supposed to look out for the interests of the people who voted them in office."

    I don't think you have thought that through.
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  28. Gary Thompson:
    "Actually, the politicians are supposed to look out for the interests of the people who voted them in office. And many of those voters don't subscribe to the EPA regulations that are being defined and enforced by unelected bureaucrats. This may be hard to swallow for the AGW crowd but this is how Democracy works and that is how the Republic of the USA was set up."

    Democracy actually requires a politician to think beyond the self serving, or it is a requirement outside the US. If you are saying that winner takes all, then clearly you have a serious problem in the US and democracy has failed.
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  29. nofreewind:
    "He emphatically states we need to use wind/solar to get off foreign oil, yet oil is only used to produce 1% of US electricity, much of it for peaking units to respond to summertime heat waves."

    That is a pretty silly statement.
    The US mainly depends on coal/gas/nuclear for electricity, with coal at the top and producing most emissions. In order to de-carbonise the US road fleet, you need to reduce dependency on cars and those that are used need to be electric. Hence to reduce dependency on foreign oil, you need to decarbonise electricity and move the US road fleet over to cleaner tech.

    It is quite basic, I suggest you get used to the idea.
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  30. When I was a boy we were taught about King Canute (Cnut) and how, sitting on the beach, he commanded the tide to stop coming in so it wouldn't wet his royal personage. This was presented as an act of arrogance by the mighty. The more nuanced story is subtler and paints Cnut as being a bit more rational than the majority of Republicans...

    Henry of Huntingdon, the 12th-century chronicler, tells how Cnut set his throne by the sea shore and commanded the tide to halt and not wet his feet and robes. Yet "continuing to rise as usual [the tide] dashed over his feet and legs without respect to his royal person. Then the king leapt backwards, saying: "Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws". He then hung his gold crown on a crucifix, and never wore it again "to the honour of God the almighty King". (from Wikipedia).

    If only the Republicans and fellow travellers would realise that just wishful thinking and indulging in rhetoric won't repeal physics.
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  31. Gilles: the argument was not that fossil fuel use by any one country is correlated with an inability to respond to these disasters. Your attribution is also a false one, as fossil fuel use is not what causes a country to become better adapted, but the ensuing technological advancements and investing from other, larger countries. Since widespread fossil fuel use is the main driver of the global warming we have seen in the past ~40-50 years and on toward the future, it does not make sense that we start to dig ourselves further into this hole. Advances are needed in other energy fields, and a phasing out of outdated tech is what will help us become more sustainable in the future.
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  32. #26: "... it alone of all governments reflects the equal moral worth of all people by giving all people an equal say in the governance of their nation."

    Tom,
    Perhaps you haven't been around US politics. The last guy who truly believed that statement worked in practice also said it would require that 'kings were philosophers and philosophers kings.'

    Anyone who believes this is something new really must read Oreskes' Merchant of Doubt. She very clearly traces modern-era political attacks on the rules, if not the laws of science, back to their Cold War origins. The difference now is that political willpower (Karl Rove) is matched by greed (Koch bros et al) and that combination has learned to play on popular fear (Beck, Limbaugh, Palin). Without an educated electorate, what chance does science, especially something complicated like climate science, have against that?
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  33. Marcus. I haven't seen an electric car for well over six months, do they even exist??? I heard rumors that a couple hundred of them were sold? There is absolutely no foundation to believe at this time that electric cars will displace any appreciable amount of oil. Is that what you use? The fact is that wind and solar only contribute a negligible amount of energy to our world, they replace even a more negligible amount of oil.

    Yes, I cherry-picked the temperature data starting after 1998. But those are the facts as we stand. Obviously you "believe" that a small percentage of a degree increase in temperature is a sign of man-made global warming, when oceanic currents, Nino/Nina, create monthly global temperature changes many magnitudes higher?

    Until the current La Nina is finished, when it wants to be finished, we are going even lower.
    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/lanina/enso_evolution-status-fcsts-web.pdf

    12 years(cherry-picked) of Hadley data, no global warming, just random noise undoubtedly created by ocean currents.
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1999
    0 0
    Moderator Response: [DB] "no global warming, just random noise"

    Incorrect. Tamino shows here, using Hadley data, the the warming signal in the data (after compensation for cyclical exogenous factors - such as ocean currents), is statistically significant since 2000:

  34. >In order to de-carbonise the US road fleet, you need to reduce dependency on cars and those that are used need to be electric. Hence to reduce dependency on foreign oil, you need to decarbonise electricity and move the US road fleet over to cleaner tech.

    I agree! But could you please explain how you propose to do that? Only a negligible amount of people could even afford to buy an electric car. Do you expect our Governments to go into even more debt and place the burden of paying for these electric cars on our descendants, is that the meaning of sustainable, buy now pay later? Even if we did that, would most people use the electric car as a second car for limited use, thereby even placing more stress on the resources used to manufactured these theoretical cars? Or do you propose a mandatory complete restructuring of our modern civilization? For instance, you can see the difference between Japan and Haiti with earthquake damage. A poor country with a much smaller earthquake suffers extensive damage, for rich Japan the damage was comparatively negligible. (most damage was caused by unstoppable tsunami). Do you propose that our world uses all of its' resources to prepare for this AGW "theory"(IPCC says only 90% certain) thereby crushing our overall prosperity. 40K cars using very expensive alternative energy is what i term as crushing to an economy.
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  35. nofreewind:
    "I agree! But could you please explain how you propose to do that?"

    I haven't owned a car for over 10 years.
    As far as I know, I don't live in a cave and my computer has a silicon chip in it. Amazingly, I have food every day and I could if I wanted, travel to the other end of the country without stepping a foot into a car!

    Instead of whining about your perceptions of what modern is, I suggest you just get on with the job and change.

    'Modern' doesn't actually equate to wealth or material ownership. That is a distortion of the word.
    The only thing modern refers to is 'the present' or 'now' and that can be anything.
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  36. nofreewind @ 33.... You actually need to add a trend line to that data series you just posted.
    0 0
  37. Gary @2,

    "Actually, the politicians are supposed to look out for the interests of the people who voted them in office."

    Most of the GOP politicians are not looking out for the interests of their present constituents, and especially future generations. Really telling and sad that you fail to see that.

    Also sad that you are also seemingly OK with the Republican's anti-science agenda and their repeated attacks on the science and scientists. That some of their own (like Markey) are even ridiculing them speaks to the travesty here.
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  38. Susanne #17 - Skeptical Science is also about climate solutions. If politicians are going to ignore, or worse, attack climate science, we can talk about it until we're blue in the face and it won't do much good.

    nofreewind - we're at the cusp of a transition to electric cars. It's going to take some time, but there are already plenty of options. Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, Coda, etc. I own an electric moped that I bought for $3k, about the same as a cheap used car. A perfect second vehicle.

    Tom Curtis - once again, we don't live in a democracy. If we did, we would already have a carbon cap and trade system in place. Further, a decent percentage of Republicans support cap and trade, yet virtually no Republican politicians do. They're not representing their constituents on this matter.
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  39. Gary @2,

    "Actually, the politicians are supposed to look out for the interests of the people who voted them in office."

    What is also extremely disturbing is that these ideologues were elected to office. That does not reflect well on the scientific understanding and social conscience of the people who voted them into office.

    To be perfectly candid, that people here are defending the anti-science agenda of the Republicans sickens me.
    0 0
  40. One must ask why do conservative think tanks like the Heartland Institute sponsor climate change conferences with a GW denial agenda, not to mention all the disinformation posted on their website..
    0 0
  41. garythompson:

    a majority of Americans to have preconceived notions with any AGW message that is delivered.

    Can you point to any source for this claim? In every study I've ever seen, it's the "skeptics" who are decidedly in the minority, despite the constant stream of slander and disinformation from well-funded denialist groups.

    Unless I'm mistaken, surveys consistently show that most Americans support the Clean Air Act, the EPA and other environmental regulations.
    0 0
  42. While rational thought is essential to good science, I think those who advocate addressing climate change need to recognize that most voters and politicians act according to their emotions and values. As the National Academy of Sciences has said, the science behind anthropogenic climate change is settled fact. People who oppose action in response to climate change are not doing so because they do not get the science. They are doing so because they oppose environmentalism, they dislike leftist politicians, they fear big government, they perceive intellectual elitism in the scientific world or they just like being contrarian.

    These are not positions that have been arrived at via rational analysis and peer review. It is futile to expect that demonstrating the science further will sway these people.

    If we truly want voters to consider climate change, we must appeal to their emotions and values. Scientists tend not to operate in this manner which is partly why there has been little traction on advancing this issue. Compounding the situation is that economic fear is much more immediate for voters and the short-term health of our economy is heavily dependent on fossil fuels.

    Where the scientific process can make a difference is with youth. Youth are not calcified in their values and not locked into ruts of confirmation bias (seeking only those news articles and opinions that reaffirm entrenched positions). Youth have natural intellectual curiosity that can be nurtured to wonderful heights in our educational institutions. Youth love challenges and love forging new ways than those of their elders.

    And of course, they have the most at stake. Granted, this is a longer term solution and time is of the essence. But at least scientists won't be wasting time at climate change hearings or arguing with adults.
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  43. There is little need to convince politicians (on the left or right) that climate change is real and dangerous. Nor is it necessary to convince them that civilization as we know it might come to an end. The most effective strategy is to convince politicians that their careers are coming to an end if they don’t take effective action.
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  44. Alex C : you seem also to persistently ignore that the POSITIVE effects of fossil fuel consumption are much more obvious and measurable than the NEGATIVE ones, for a very simple reason : for 200 years , the world economic growth has been correlated positively with FF consumption and negatively with temperatures. Shouldn't it have been the opposite, if you were right ?
    0 0
  45. Gille - wealth correlates with energy consumption, period. There's nothing special about fossil fuels except that they're an artificially cheap energy source, which we've used for centuries. We can replace fossil fuels with other energy sources, and the economy will continue to grow.
    0 0
  46. Marcus : "Last of all, Gilles, the EU-27 countries achieved around a 15% reduction in total energy consumption-across all sectors of the economy (industrial, commercial, domestic & transport)-without any detriment to GDP growth."

    This statement is plainly wrong . CO2 emissions have improved thanks to the use of more efficient power plants (especially in the former Eastern bloc), but generally the energy consumption has increased.
    0 0
  47. dana1981 : you're issuing unjustified statements. If you were right, please explain me why countries like Iceland still use fossil fuels, although they must entirely import them and that they have plenty of renewable electricity - much more than what they need for their personal use. Are they so stupid ?
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  48. Everett Rowdy:
    "They are doing so because they oppose environmentalism"

    Then you/they don't have a clue what they are talking about.




    Everett Rowdy:
    "they dislike leftist politicians"

    Explain what relevance that has to cutting emissions or 'green' policies??
    I live in the UK and most conservatives I know are pretty green and the local council which has been Tory for decades signed up for the 10:10 campaign last year.
    Your problem is that American politics have gone off the rails and has become ignorant of the reality of what needs to be done. You can plant trees commercially or by the state. It doesn't matter what the politics are as long as you plant trees. Same goes for emissions.



    Everett Rowdy:
    "they fear big government"

    Again this is completely irrelevant. If you don't like big government then find other ways of making the same cuts in emissions. That is your job, no one cares how it is done or is achieved. Be creative and do it your way.
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  49. and if you want me to be more specific, dana, fossils fuels are NOT easily and cheaply replaceable for such uses : transportation, metallurgy (steel, copper, zinc, and all kinds of material), fabrication of cheap cement, glass, paper, plastics, glues, paints, synthetic fibers, fertilizers, synthetic rubbers, detergents, and to insure stable electric power production (where hydroelectricity is not available).

    I may have forgotten some. Note that ALL so-called "alternative" energies require cheap and abundant materials above, all made with ... cheap fossil fuels.
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  50. Everett Rowdy:
    "Scientists tend not to operate in this manner which is partly why there has been little traction on advancing this issue."

    Which is why both the left and right need to be behind the scientists and be supportive.

    Remember that left/right politics were born in the industrial revolution, so the idea that one is green and one is not is complete rubbish, both have a long history of burning fossil fuels and ripping up the environment.
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