Those excuses look awfully familiar »« [Lounge #451]

You can talk about the Nye/Blackburn debate here

I watched it, and I was unimpressed. Blackburn had a smirk on her face that was baked in rock solid; Nye couldn’t close the deal; the moderator was trying so hard to be “fair” to both sides when Blackburn was full of shit. I just about threw something through the TV screen when she made that absurd argument that CO2 has only gone from 320ppm to 400ppm. Lying with a smile; it’s what the right wing frauds are great at.

Let’s look at the positive benefits of carbon! Yeah, and let’s look at the benefits of ocean-front property in central Pennsylvania.


Here’s an antidote.

Hey, why couldn’t they get someone like Peter Sinclair to debate that congressfool?

Comments

  1. says

    “fair” to both sides

    This “fairness” stuff is maddening. When one side is awash in mendacity, ignorance, and deliberate misrepresentation, the only way to be fair is to call it out for its lies. The perversion of “fairness” is leading us toward a point where media outlets will think they have to “balance” everything: “And now, to present the case in favor of increased smoking, is a representative from the Tobacco Institute.” “And now, to present the case against vaccinating your children, is Jenny McCarthy.” “And now, to present the case against our meteorologist’s forecast of a dry spell, is a representative from a tribal rain-dancing group.” “And now, to present the case against the video from the International Space Station depicting the earth as a globe, is a representative from the Flat Earth Society.”

  2. says

    I just about threw something through the TV screen when she made that absurd argument that CO2 has only gone from 320ppm to 400ppm.

    So, a nearly 30% increase.

    If she wants to argue against all evidence that CO2 does nothing, then she should argue that. But saying that it’s “only” a 30% increase is definitely stupid.

  3. says

    Thanks for posting the “antidote,” that was good. The scenes recording a tidal surge during the recent storms in the U.K. were just terrifying. Impressive.

    The salinity of wetlands and the sea level rise affecting Florida, those were memorable bits as well.

  4. Doc Bill says

    Congress Critter Blackburn can say anything she likes, true or not, because she has neither responsibility nor accountability for her statements and actions. By the time the acid hits the clam, so to speak, Blackburn will be less than a footnote in history. So, like Palin, Bachmann, Braun, Gohmert and all of the other loony tunes, they can say any old thing they want because it doesn’t cause them any pain or cost them any money.

    We as a nation fail in two ways. First, by electing these nincompoops. And secondly by not collectively laughing them off the stage. Blackburn’s comments should have been Foley’d with a laugh track every time she opened her pie hole. That said, it could be that persistent mocking and ridicule would not be enough to get these idiots out of our hair.

  5. ludicrous says

    Really disappointed with Nye. You do not go on TV without a script, without knowing what points are important to make regardless of what the opponent has to say. I thought he did well with Ham but here he just looked blank. There may have been something wrong with his feed there was a delay you don’t often get any more. I suspect foul play…but then I suspect foul play at bingo in the church basement.

  6. destry says

    First, 10 minutes isn’t really long enough for this topic but long enough for Blackburn to throw out a load of crap. To paraphrase “but that number is so small, how could it matter?” really pissed me off too. Also, I think that David Gregory is typically a terrible journalist but he did know enough to call her out on her bullshit when she started naming the few scientists that think global warming isn’t real.

  7. Rich Woods says

    @Area Man #3:

    So, a nearly 30% increase.

    No: exactly a 25% increase. Sorry to nitpick, but the arithmetic is not difficult. Claiming ‘nearly 30%’ gives the deniers an excuse to claim ‘barely 20%’ instead. It’s not like they need much encouragement anyway, but this doesn’t help.

  8. ck says

    Not to worry, they’re busy gutting all the other environmental protection standards, so global warming will just be one small part of the disaster everyone will have to face.

  9. says

    No: exactly a 25% increase. Sorry to nitpick, but the arithmetic is not difficult.

    Good grief. The 320 ppm number is incorrect anyway, so no matter what it’s just an estimate.

  10. Rob Grigjanis says

    One second after the Big Bang, the temperature was 10^10 Kelvin, and there was no CO2! Chew on that one, warmist thugs.

  11. mikeyb says

    Unfortunately, nature doesn’t care about anti-intellectual republican ignoramuses, oil-suck-up pseudo-skeptics, dangerously ill informed journalists. We’ve ignored climate change for 30 years and counting, and we continue to substantially ignore it. Nature is going to settle the question, even more than science has. When it’s 150 in the summertime in Nashville, it’ll be natures answer to Blackburn’s ignorance. Of course like lemmings we’ll all collectively go off the cliff together, but nature will have the last word, whether we act or not.

  12. charismatron says

    I am not so familiar with Nye as to be able to comment of his position in the newsertainment infrastructure, but it seems he’s being bred to be the go-to science guy that’s “fit for T.V.”. It doesn’t take long to grow accustomed to the perks television offers its players no matter who you are or where you’re from. I’m getting concerned that he knows just how to make his case without, you know, making his case–as in, definitively–in order to keep the interview invites coming and to remain “relevant”.

    Again, I’m not in a position to criticize, but I’d be concerned that without the input of other scientists (there are others, aren’t there?), Nye will eventually be regarded as the bought and paid for softball mouthpiece of the science community if he isn’t careful.

  13. Ashley haworth-roberts says

    Conditions in the UK this winter have been truly exceptional – severe gales, fierce Atlantic depressions, persistent mildness, ‘biblical’ flooding in many inland areas, storm surges and tidal surges bring flooding and damage along many coasts, power cuts, trees down, sinkholes opening up… Climate change has shot up the political agenda again.

  14. MetzO'Magic says

    No: exactly a 25% increase. Sorry to nitpick, but the arithmetic is not difficult. Claiming ‘nearly 30%’ gives the deniers an excuse to claim ‘barely 20%’ instead. It’s not like they need much encouragement anyway, but this doesn’t help.

    Sorry to nitpick, but *if only* the CO2 concentration was 320ppm pre-industrial. Actually, it was 275-280ppm. Sot it’s really a fucking *43%* percent increase:

    400 – 280 / 280 = 42.85%

    And Nye should have known that. I can’t watch the video, BTW, because my sound card just crapped out this evening. So excuse me if I missed something, but to me this is just more Rethuglican lies, starting from an incorrect figure of 320ppm. Fuck Blackburn and the bus she rode in on.

    The best way to put it is this: about 100 years ago, the was 4kg of CO2 between the ground and space over every square metre of the Earth. Now, there is 6kg.

  15. marcus says

    Hey the whole argument is just stupid. A guy on the internet said his grandmother in Florida put a stick in the sand at the high tide mark 20 years ago and the tide has not changed! Checkmate climate change freaks!

  16. Reginald Selkirk says

    Elaine Ecklund is earning her Templeton money again:

    Science, religion go hand-in-hand in US
    “We found that nearly 50 percent of evangelical (Christians) believe that science and religion can work together and support one another,” sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund said.

    How many of those evangelicals think the science that mixes so easily with their religion supports a 6000 year old earth?

  17. neuralobserver says

    Anyone fire off an e-mail to NBC’s Meet the Press concerning the ‘debate’? I did.

  18. neuralobserver says

    Hey, why couldn’t they get someone like Peter Sinclair to debate that congressfool?

    –Prof. Myers

    C’mon professor,… we all know the multiple answers to that one: ratings, journalistic apathy, a certain inability to resist giving a voice to clear bullshit, the domineering corporate nature of present day media, the appearance of ‘fairness’, and I’m sure others.

  19. Terska says

    All the meteorologists in my local TV market seem to be climate deniers. I wonder what it takes to be a TV meteorologist.

  20. anteprepro says

    Wait…ten minutes? That’s not a debate, that’s a “news” segment. Debates are trivial, pathetic spectacles as it is. Just games that are only slightly informative, with a slight chance of being hugely misinformative. But trying to condense that shit even more, down to the point where they can barely make their case and barely respond to one another? Making a farce even more farcical.

  21. says

    I don’t know why you guys are freaking out. Alright, 320 to 400 ppm is a big increase in CO2. While it’s a smaller absorber of IR than water vapor, I understand that it does absorbe it at different wavelengths. But the relationship between CO2 and temp is also a flattening logarithmic curve and the vapor and cloud feedbacks are still not completely understood. You’ve certainly found a point of contention, but Marsha Blackburn makes a lot of valid points. What about cost benefit analysis? What about those thousands of new coal power plants in China and India. Instead of whining about Blackburn being allowed to air these concerns in public, you should be thinking them through and developing responses to them.

    PZ, it’s interesting that you bring up Peter Sinclair. I think he and Willis Eschenbach could probably have a good debate. They both have just recently put up a post on energy. Comparing the comments from the two posts is revealing. I think you guys could learn a lot from the other side.

  22. latsot says

    Nye could have done better in this debate, but I get the feeling people expect too much of him. I get that he’s a beloved figure for many Americans and – for them = seeing his weaknesses is kind of like watching Dawkins do Twitter, but what I saw in that news segment was someone talking mostly sense and someone else talking mostly nonsense. It’s what it is: a few minutes on a news show. It’s not damaging to science if Bill Nye fails to wipe the floor with his opponents, is it? Lots of people seem to react as if he’s a fallen hero because he’s made decisions that more experienced people disagree with. Better not to have heroes in the first place, probably.

    I agree that it’s ill-advised for smart people to debate idiots. I don’t see much to praise in the debate as a legitimate form of anything other than entertainment anyway. The clue that there might be a rabbit away should be that it’s almost always the idiots who request – or often demand – the debate. It’s (superficially) win-win for the idiots. Some expect that the rational people will back away with disgust as people like PZ do. They use this to infer that rational people have no argument or evidence, but this is such an obviously superficial stance that it’s bound to crumble quite quickly. People *notice* ad homs. Most people are uncomfortable with them, I think. It’s not a good tactic.

    Others expect that smarming and lying their way through debates will bolster the beliefs of the believers. This is demonstrably a *good* tactic: creationists are still talking in all seriousness about Piltdown Man as a debunkary of evolution, for fucks sake. So either way, the idiots win: sometimes superficially, sometimes longer-term. So debates aren’t the best way to convince people that rational views are better than irrational ones. We know that and that’s why we were skeptical about Nye’s decision to debate.

    But either way, while we might agree that such debates aren’t the right way to decide what’s right, let’s take the pressure off Bill Nye. Let’s recognise him as someone who wants to talk mostly sense on the news. He doesn’t have to get everything right. He doesn’t have to close the deal. He has to be there advocating a rational point of view. Perhaps that’s what he’s trying to do, I’ve no idea.

    You Americans seem to be holding him to a higher standard than any other random person, but his major qualification is celebrity, not science. We can legitimately complain about people like Dawkins if they get things wrong about their own field or misrepresent science, but Bill Nye is an actor, isn’t he? He obviously knows more than me about various things but can we complain very much when he gets something wrong? It’s like blaming the cookie monster for advocating inferior cookies.

    So in conclusion, debates are stupid but I’m not convinced that Nye doing debates with idiots is automatically stupid. Aren’t we back to the discussion about why people should do skepticism in their own ways? Nye has been on the news even in the UK, talking mostly sense. That’s better than we usually get over here.

  23. says

    Area man@2:30am.

    My point about chinese and indian coal plants is that US cuts in CO2 have a miniscule effect and must be sctrutinized.

  24. chrislawson says

    canman@29:

    Maybe I’m being unfair, but your argument sounds suspiciously like “Why am I not allowed to murder people in America while there’s a genocide in Sudan?”

  25. Nick Gotts says

    canman@29,

    While it’s a smaller absorber of IR than water vapor, I understand that it does absorbe it at different wavelengths. But the relationship between CO2 and temp is also a flattening logarithmic curve and the vapor and cloud feedbacks are still not completely understood.

    What is clearly understood is that atmospheric water vapour content increases with temperature, producing a positive feedback. This is quite clear from the historical climate record, quite apart from modelling. It is quite amazingly stupid to regard the fact that we don’t completely understand vapour and cloud feedbacks (and other gaps in our understadning of the climate system) as an argument against cutting emissions as fast as possible: the feedbacks could just as easily turn out to produce more warming than currently expected as less.

    While the relationship between CO2 and temperature increase is indeed logarithmic, CO2 emissions are continuing to increase. These emissions are also acidifying the ocean, which may turn out to be even more serious than climate change.

    What about those thousands of new coal power plants in China and India.

    In 2008, the USA produced around 19% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the EPA. China produced around 23%, India around 6%. These figures will have shifted somewhat due to faster Chinese and Indian growth, but the USA still produces far more per capita than either China or India, and in addition, a significant slice of Chinese GHG production (and that due to deforestation for large-scale agriculture in South America) goes to satisfy US consumer demand. Moreover, comparisons with other rich countries (such as the EU) indicate that there is huge potential for the USA to reduce its emissions, so there are absolutely no grounds to claim that US cuts would have a minuscule effect, even if we ignore the need for international agreements which will, justifiably when we consider past emissions and current emissions per capita, require larger cuts by richer countries. The stupid, selfish short-sightedness your point displays threatens all our futures.

  26. MetzO'Magic says

    Ah, canman makes an appearance. Last seen at the rabett’s place. Why don’t you go back to wattsupwiththat (i.e. LOL WHUT?!) and hang out with the rest of the anti-science dolts where you’re in good company? Anyone who imagines Andrew Montford to be a credible critique of Mann’s work doesn’t really belong at places where we discuss, you know, actual science. And you’re wrong as usual about the CO2 saturation effect. We’re still taking on heat at a rate of 4 Hiroshima bombs a second. And this is why:

    A Saturated Gassy Argument

    The takeaway bit from that article:

    What happens if we add more carbon dioxide? In the layers so high and thin that much of the heat radiation from lower down slips through, adding more greenhouse gas molecules means the layer will absorb more of the rays. So the place from which most of the heat energy finally leaves the Earth will shift to higher layers. Those are colder layers, so they do not radiate heat as well. The planet as a whole is now taking in more energy than it radiates (which is in fact our current situation). As the higher levels radiate some of the excess downwards, all the lower levels down to the surface warm up. The imbalance must continue until the high levels get hot enough to radiate as much energy back out as the planet is receiving.

    Any saturation at lower levels would not change this, since it is the layers from which radiation does escape that determine the planet’s heat balance.

    We’ve put more CO2 into the atmosphere since the start of the industrial revolution than it takes to pull the Earth out of a glaciation period. The oceans are now 30% more acidic than they should be as well, with all the extra CO2 they are having to absorb, and it won’t be long before that starts to have serious implications for coral and shellfish. We’ve also managed to lose 80% of the arctic ice volume since just 1979, when satellite records began. But none of that is a problem for the likes of you, eh?

  27. zenlike says

    Hey we have a real life AGW denialist showing up! (Canman, you do realise your name links to your amazon reviews, all of them raving reviews of anti-liberal and AGW denialist books, right?)

    I also find the ‘omg other countries are also polluting’ defense insulting. First of all, yes it is a problem and it should be adressed. Second of all, there is always the glossing over of relative polution. China has just recently surpassed the USA in carbon emmisions, but there live a lot more people there. But somehow, the USA has the ‘right’ to pollute more per citizen then other countries.

  28. rogerfirth says

    If she wants to argue against all evidence that CO2 does nothing, then she should argue that. But saying that it’s “only” a 30% increase is definitely stupid.

    Actually, when addressing the 320 to 400 ppm increase, she actually said that’s an increase from 0.032% to 0.040% — a 0.008% increase. “Eight one-thousandths of a percent. Absolutely miniscule.” As if the increase was so vanishingly small that there was no issue.

    The disingenuousness of that statement made my ears pop. I’m glad that Nye at least pointed out the more accurate measure of the percentage increase.

    BTW, didn’t some climate scientists indicate a while back that 350 ppm would be some sort of tipping point? The more extreme weather extremes of recent years sure do seem to indicate that there’s more energy in the atmosphere to do nasty things.

    But let’s not talk about that. Let’s talk about how elevated CO2 levels are good for crops…

  29. David Marjanović says

    But the relationship between CO2 and temp is also a flattening logarithmic curve and the vapor and cloud feedbacks are still not completely understood. You’ve certainly found a point of contention, but Marsha Blackburn makes a lot of valid points.

    Nope. Seriously, spend a few days in Google and read up on them. I’m too tired to spoonfeed you all this information right now.

    For example, do you know what the world was like last time we had 400 ppm of CO2 in the air? Do you?

    What about cost benefit analysis? What about those thousands of new coal power plants in China and India.

    Unrelated to the argument: I have long wondered if Americans are somehow taught not to end two consecutive sentences in question marks. So often I see two questions in a row on the Internet, and only the first is given a question mark… ~:-|

    My point about chinese and indian coal plants is that US cuts in CO2 have a miniscule effect and must be sctrutinized.

    Minuscule? The USA has 1/3 the population of India and 1/4 that of China. That’s a lot of people. Nothing the USA does has a minuscule impact.

    Moreover, comparisons with other rich countries (such as the EU) indicate that there is huge potential for the USA to reduce its emissions

    In particular, the average estadounidense produces twice as much CO2 per year as the average German. And no, I don’t count the air they exhale.

  30. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    A few points. First, do the math. A CO2 concentration of 400 ppmv translates to on the order of 10^15 CO2 molecules that a 15 micron IR photon must get past to escape the atmosphere. Second, while H2O is the biggest contributor to the greenhouse effect, there is a limit to how much H2O the atmosphere can hold at a given temperature–so as CO2 raises the temperature, H2O is a feedback. Moreover, the contribution of H2O above the cloudtops is effectively zero–and the effective radiating layer for Earth is above the cloudtops. That makes CO2 a much more important greenhouse gas for current conditions.

    Canman evidently has difficulty understanding logarithms–a logarithmic dependence doesn’t go to zero. I means you get the same # of degrees warming for each doubling of CO2.

    It never ceases to amaze me how denialists and do-nothingists automatically assume any unknowns will work out in their favor. It makes me want to invite them to a friendly poker game. The main uncertainties are clouds and aerosols. Best evidence is that clouds are slightly positive, aerosols slightly negative.

    As to a cost-benefit analysis, it has been done to death. See for example:
    http://www.image.ucar.edu/idag/Papers/PapersIDAGsubtask1.3/Knutti_nature08.pdf

    specifically, figure 5.

    As to the remarkably stupid argument: “Let China do it!” All I can say is that whoever comes up with the answer to this will be THE economic power of the coming century. I’d just as soon that be Europe or the US than have it be China. We are already behind the Chinese in this regard.

  31. ck says

    I’m really tired of the perpetual “We can’t solve the problem perfectly and completely, so let’s do nothing at all!” excuse. The perfect really is the enemy of the good, and is always used as a justification for doing nothing in the face of a serious problem.

    And since when has the U.S. not told other countries what to do? It annoys a great many Canadians that an alarming number of laws are made in Washington, then ratified in Canada under the pretense that it’s an international treaty that we are obligated to make law, so we have no choice in the matter.

  32. U Frood says

    Of course there’s ocean front property in Central Pennsylvania. There’s even a town there called Jersey Shore!