Scientists Respond to Culture Kitchen on Global Warming
Every now and then DG's sister site, Culture Kitchen, gets targeted by global warming deniers. Honestly, we are way past the time for denial on this issue, but deniers are still out there and CK is one of the sites they target. And having to counter the same denial yammering over and over again gets a bit frustrating for me.
But sometimes we also get responses from another corner: actual scientists. And I find those reponses far more gratifying. In a diary I wrote addressing the latest denial drivel is an excellent response from the American Physical Society (APS) that is worth highlighting in a diary (thanks to Tawanda Johnson for posting the APS statement in my diary on CK):
APS Reaffirms Position on Climate Change
July 22, 2008
American Physical Society Reaffirms Its Position that Human-Caused Greenhouse Gas Emissions Contribute to Climate Change
WASHINGTON, DC — American Physical Society (APS) today reaffirmed its position on climate change issued last November, releasing the following statement:
"Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate. The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring.
“Global warming and energy use have been on the minds of many Americans for quite some time. Recognizing the importance of these issues, the governing body of the American Physical Society announced its position on Climate Change on November 18, 2007. The Society’s position has not changed, and APS remains engaged in this issue that has considerable international consequences.
“APS is reaffirming its policy on global warming because an article at odds with the official APS position recently appeared in an online newsletter of the APS Forum on Physics and Society, one of 39 units of APS. This newsletter is not a scientific journal of the APS, and it is not peer reviewed.
“Online reports erroneously implied an APS policy change. These reports did not include the disclaimer, ‘Opinions expressed are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the APS or of the Forum,’ which was attached to the newsletter article.”
This really highlights that people need to be careful of what the denial lobby says. They took the comments of one particular section of the APS and attributed them to the society as a whole, ignoring even the statement by the APS itself refuting the denial lobby claims. I am happy to help set the record straight that the American Physical Society officially recognizes Anthropogenic Global Warming as valid. In fact, they call the evidence supporting global warming as "incontrovertible."
But the denial lobby is always willing to misuse the statements of scientists. In the Denial Lobby pseudodocumentary "The Global Warming Swindle," they misused the words of Carl Wunsch, a global warming skeptic, to make him seem to refute the theory of anthropogenic global warming, leading him to anrgily contradict how the Denial Lobby used his words. Carl Wunsch wrote to Real Climate to give his side of the controversy:
I believe that climate change is real, a major threat, and almost surely has a major human-induced component...
The science of climate change remains incomplete. Some elements are so firmly based on well-understood principles, or for which the observational record is so clear, that most scientists would agree that they are almost surely true (adding CO2 to the atmosphere is dangerous; sea level will continue to rise,...). Other elements remain more uncertain, but we as scientists in our roles as informed citizens believe society should be deeply concerned about their possibility: failure of US midwestern precipitation in 100 years in a mega-drought; melting of a large part of the Greenland ice sheet, among many other examples.
I am on record in a number of places complaining about the over-dramatization and unwarranted extrapolation of scientific facts. Thus the notion that the Gulf Stream would or could "shut off" or that with global warming Britain would go into a "new ice age" are either scientifically impossible or so unlikely as to threaten our credibility...They also are huge distractions from more immediate and realistic threats...
In the part of the "Swindle" film where I am describing the fact that the ocean tends to expel carbon dioxide where it is warm, and to absorb it where it is cold, my intent was to explain that warming the ocean could be dangerous---because it is such a gigantic reservoir of carbon. By its placement in the film, it appears that I am saying that since carbon dioxide exists in the ocean in such large quantities, human influence must not be very important --- diametrically opposite to the point I was making --- which is that global warming is both real and threatening in many different ways, some unexpected.
So here are two examples of global warming deniers misrepresenting scientists. Again, I am happy to help set the record straight for the American Physical Society and for Carl Wunsch, using their own words.
I also want to note that John Mashey, something of a celebrity in the UNIX field, also stopped by the same diary on CK in which the APS posted their statement, and offered some links for those who want to learn more about why the global warming denial lobby is wrong about the science. I would like to highlight his links here: (compiled from two of his comments)
I repeat my comments from:
This is a compendium of favorite, long-debunked arguments that get used over and over. For each argument there is a page that:
- explains the argument
- explains why it's wrong
- gives references to peer-reviewed articles in credible journals
- gives examples of people using the argument
Hence, it is a nice reference, as opposed to an immediate specific response, but it doesn't get updated quite so often, and it doesn't every *every* new argument ... although most dumb arguments get repeated endlessly, even if the science was known 20 years ago.
New Scientist had an accurate story:
...And finally, for more, learn about Gerald Marsh at:
Thanks to John Mashey for the excellent links, none of which I had come across on my own but which I have now bookmarked.
Finally, I want to note that awhile back (in 2006, I believe) I wrote about energy policy at some length, including about how Democrats are the Party with ideas on energy policy, and how clean alternative energy has many benefits for America: reducing pollution and carbon dioxide, creation of local, American jobs, and energy independence. One of my articles was seen by people at the Union of Concerned Scientists and they wrote me to agree with my analysis and send me their statement on the issue. Here is their statement with some links to useful resources:
More States Tackle Global Warming with New and Improved Renewable Standards; Odds of Federal Action Increase
Overshadowed in last week's election was news that the state of Washington became the 21st state plus the District of Columbia to adopt a renewable electricity standard, and the second state to do so via a ballot initiative. Under the provisions of I-937 (known as the "Clean Energy Initiative"), the state's largest utilities will be required to furnish 15 percent of their electricity generation from renewable sources by 2015. In addition, the initiative requires Washington utilities to pursue low-cost energy conservation opportunities with their customers.
Washington voters have created a long-term market for clean energy technologies in their state, a significant step forward in reducing power plant production of heat-trapping gases responsible for global warming. According to a study of the initiative by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), I-937 would result in cutting 4.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually by 2025 - equivalent to taking 750,000 cars off the road.
One week earlier in Arizona, the Arizona Corporate Commission (ACC) voted 4-1 to boost the state's previous modest renewable standard from 1.1 percent by 2007 to a more robust standard of 15 percent by 2025. Arizona joins nine other states that have increased or strengthened their renewable electricity standard, demonstrating the continued popularity of this effective policy.
As in Washington, Arizona's increased standard creates new renewable energy opportunities and advances the fight against global warming. UCS projects that the new rule will result in an increase of more than 3,000 megawatts of new renewable energy capacity compared with the old rule, and will reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by about 7.6 million metric tons by 2025 - roughly equivalent to taking 1.1 million cars off the road.
Action on renewable energy in Washington and Arizona echoes a new sense of support for a federal renewable electricity standard. At least four new Democratic Senate members and over 15 of the new members in the US of Representatives have indicated their support for measures that would encourage the use of more renewable energy. The new chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), has championed a federal renewable electricity standard that has passed the Senate three times. He has vowed to bring the measure before that body early in the new legislative session.
If the federal government adopted a 10 percent by 2020 national standard-just two-thirds of the level required by Arizona and Washington-America would increase its total homegrown renewable power capacity fivefold over present levels. This level of development would reduce annual power plant carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 215 million metric tons nationally by 2020 - the equivalent of taking 24 millions cars, or nearly one tenth of the total U.S. auto fleet, off the road.
The Union of Concerned Scientists played an integral role in both the Washington and Arizona victories. Moving forward, UCS can assist your reporting by putting renewable energy issues in both a local and national context, while shedding light on how the growth of renewables will affect consumers, businesses and the environment. To speak to any of our energy analysts, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-331-5458.
Additional UCS resources available online:
Keep fighting for clean energy and American jobs. Help the Union of Concerned Scientists lobby for energy independence.
And thanks to the scientists who have taken the opportunity to participate in my efforts to counter the drivel of the denial lobby.