In 2006, Jeffrey Gleason and Charles Monnett, two government scientists working out of Alaska, published a report that described dead polar bears floating in the Arctic Ocean. The apparently drowned animals raised concerns about the effect of melting ice in the Arctic. As with Mann's hockey-stick graph, the story of drowned polar bears made its way into An Inconvenient Truth and became a point of contention for climate skeptics. In 2010 both scientists came under investigation by the U.S. Office of the Inspector General for what it termed "integrity issues."
Jeff Ruch, the executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, is providing Gleason and Monnett with legal representation. "After more than two years of investigations, there have been no charges, no timelines, no requests for response," Ruch says. "It's Kafkaesque. We don't know what started this and what's keeping it going. But we do know that for both men, their lives have been hell." Monnett, Ruch says, has vowed not to publish another scientific paper, and Gleason has left his job in Alaska. Neither scientist responded to our requests for comment.
The story of Monnett and Gleason is exceptional. Few scientists have actually left their field as a result of harassment, says Gavin Schmidt, a climate modeler at NASA Goddard who is currently defending a case brought by the ATI. "But," he says, "it does dissuade people from speaking out about their work. They see the harassment and intimidation and say, 'It's more stress than I need.' "
"When I get an e-mail that mentions my child and a guillotine," Hayhoe says, "I sometimes want to pull a blanket over my head. The intent of all this is to discourage scientists. As a woman and a mother, I have to say that sometimes it does achieve its goal. There are many times when I wonder if it's worth it."
With scientists reluctant to speak out (and drowned out when they do), skeptics have had more room to attack climate-research programs. Last year, Republicans in the House of Representatives made a unanimous decision to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency's finding that greenhouse-gas pollution threatens public health. Texas representative Ralph Hall, the chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, along with 10 of his Republican colleagues, also called for budget cuts and program terminations that directly targeted climate-science research, efforts to curb emissions, and preparations for climate-change impact at the National Science Foundation, the EPA and the Department of Energy.
Although many of the cuts were undone in the Senate, funding for climate-related programs at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration did not fare as well. After launching an investigation into NOAA's attempts to reorganize its climate services into a single unit, Hall successfully pushed through legislation to cut the agency's climate-research funding by 20 percent, forcing it to cancel research grants.
"Now government agencies and researchers are doing anything to keep the word 'climate' out of their budgets and proposals," says Rick Piltz, a former senior associate in the U.S. Climate Change Science Program Office (in 2009, it was renamed the U.S. Global Change Research Program). "And this at a time when all agencies need to be thinking about how the nation will be affected by climate change and factor it into their planning."
Worldwide, proposals for carbon taxes, cap-and-trade programs and meaningful CO2 reductions have foundered on a lack of political consensus. In December, Canada became the first country to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol, citing the cost of compliance. The U.N.'s 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen yielded little actionable policy, and this June's Earth Summit +20 in Brazil has been newsworthy mostly for the low expectations surrounding it.
In the U.S., local climate skeptics have been advancing their agendas. In Virginia, Tea Party–inspired residents recently derailed municipal preparations for sea-level rise around Hampton Roads, the body of water that borders Norfolk-Virginia Beach. They disrupted planning meetings and disputed as a plot NOAA's findings that the area faces the second-highest risk from sea-level rise of any region of its size in the U.S. In April, Tennessee lawmakers passed a measure that allows teachers to question accepted theories on evolution and climate change in the classroom. Science advocates were also stunned by a recently disclosed initiative to design a school curriculum that questions climate science. Science educators say they're increasingly worried that climate could become the same kind of flash point as evolution. The question science advocates ask now is, how do they turn the conversation back to the science?
Upwind dumping? There is provable harm to others or there is not. How can my conception possibly be misconstrued to indicate I am indifferent to provable harm?
meerkat, please correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems we are disagreeing only on the evidentiary standards we would demand as justification for taking punitive measures. If so, we might consider dropping the 'accusations of indifference' nonsense.
Here's another point to consider: Not all government actions are punitive. For example, subsidies. We are not morally compelled to subsidize anyone. Removing the carrot is an entirely different proposition than applying the stick, subject to a much lower evidentiary standard. I'm not certain what subsidies exist for the benefit of the fossil fuel industry, but I'm betting there are some.
Resolution need not be punitive but the main objective is to serve justice to achieve the highest quality result. In the case of elimination of greenhouse gas, I suppose a combination of voluntary, punitive and subsidy should be applied to achieve a just, highest quality result.
Maybe the upwind pollution isn't the best example but it compares to the moral complexity of global warming harm and abstraction. Typically the polluter benefits by continuing the damaging action and externalizing cost and harm to others, and have no incentive to serve justice voluntarily, having a fiduciary duty to minimize their cost and maximize their profit. Just action insures that change actually happens in the real world though.
I don't know about you but I enjoy this back and forth-- it's much better than the phony scientific arguments cut and pasted into the discussion.
It might reasonably be argued that subsidies, given our massive federal deficit, rob future generations.
On focusing on the highest quality outcome, you seem to be saying the end justifies the means. It does not... or perhaps I misunderstand?
There is a certain moral clarity that comes from defining "wrong" (non-defensive force), allowing maximum diversity... as opposed to defining "right", which invariably leads to forced conformity and oppression.
I too am enjoying the back and forth.
Thought I'd pop in to inject a bit of science.
Got a pic of some results that folks can display on their smartphones/iwhatevers, and put "skeptics" on the spot.
Here's a link to the pic, along with all the necessary background information folks will need to explain it all: tinyurl.com/globaltemperatureresults
An excellent and courageous article. Courageous because you knew that this reporting would bring out the nay-sayers and those in the establishment that will continue to fight the progress of knowledge. You know, those folks who are following in the footsteps of those who would hold the established positions of the times (e.g those in power):
- The world is flat
- The earth is the center of the universe
- The sun revolves around the earth
- Evolution didn't/doesn't happen
- Cigarettes don't cause lung cancer
- Abortion causes breast cancer
- Thalidomide is a great drug for pregnant women
Does this mean our knowledge and current theories of climate change are completely right? No, that's why the science has to continue on this. (And yes, even established science gets stuck.. Thomas Kuhn pointed this out years ago.)
Many of the arguments I've been reading are analogous to people arguing if and why the plane may be crashing or the ship may be sinking. Wouldn't you rather err on the side of doing something about it, just in case? Who knows, maybe there's an economic opportunity just waiting for us. (Or maybe it's passing us by in the U.S. - www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/feb/03/india-green-energy-growth)
"You just pointed out something that contributes to global warming. You did not do anything to prove that humans have no impact."
Well said skycaptain.
I stopped by my local library this afternoon and read Clynees preposterous piece in the latest edition of "Popular Science". His nonsense is neither popular or science. Clynes article fails to provide his bona fides. It also utterly fails to explain why his biased opinion should be considered impartial in this debate.
Clynes' piece also fails to report the manifold dissenters to global warming alarmism. For example consider Gaia' scientist James Lovelock in a recent article: "I was 'alarmist' about climate change". Lovelock explains how he sheparded global climate alarmism until he recently recanted and announced "he now thinks he had been 'extrapolating too far.' "
Clynes also failed to include in his article the numerous public information requests that Michael Mann along with his buddy Sandowsky at Penn State AKA "Perv U" are disputing including requests for public information developed as a result of projects receiving federal grants and the pendant litigation concerning Mann's attempt to conceal this information.
If "Popular Science" plans to maintain any semblance of credibility or claims of scientific impartiality they would do well to do a better job of vetting their reporters and carefully explaining their mechanism for achieving unbiased scientific opinion.
I am taking action at the local level to cancel all subscriptions of "Popular Science" through associates and my local and regional libraries. The public does not deserve to read such tripe. I would encourage fellow readers encountering such fraudulent behavior encourage their local libraries to avoid the waste of public resources and cancel their subscription to "Popular Science".
Justice-bound quality would thwart oppression as that produces a low-quality state. Non-defensive force between people is clear and would be the same thing if quality is the property defended, but I don't think it is -- it's defense against direct, provable harm. But this is incomplete, can't arbiter or correct systemic wrongs and wrongs of relationship and dependency (in a mathematical sense) that produce misery and loss, such as a group action which undermines the foundation upon which an economy is possible or on which life depends. It isn't capable to advance good in law without first proving direct harm, which puts the cart before the horse. A moral system that advances good is more to the point and adaptive to dilemmas yet to arise in a world without precedent.
In the case of responding to climate change, I like a solution like this one - http://tinyurl.com/7p6jgba. I think it's fair and adaptable, not punitive but corrective, systemic and effective, stimulates the creativity and investment to move toward a higher quality state over time.
caerbannog, that's interesting work! One of my favorite ways to visualize the complexity of these things is with moving graphs showing relationships over time, like http://youtu.be/bbgUE04Y-Xg and http://youtu.be/gHZzACcYJRo (the latter produced by a skeptical physicist who adjusted for the heat island effect due to urbanization over time, which he suspected had distorted the calculation).
"The public does not deserve to read such tripe."
-Book burning censor
I would encourage fellow readers encountering such fraudulent behavior encourage their local libraries to avoid the waste of public resources and cancel their subscription to "Popular Science".
Here's hoping that local librarians simply smile and "circular file" any of those silly demands to cancel their Popular Science subscriptions...
"Wouldn't you rather err on the side of doing something about it, just in case?"
As your link proves, something is in fact being done about it... just in case.
Inventors all over the world are working feverishly on the problem. Alternative energy is becoming more competitive. Solar prices are dropping. Hybrid cars are becoming more common. Full electric cars are available and the prices are dropping. Self-driving cars are currently being road tested out in Nevada.
Or is that not what you had in mind? Would you simply shut down fossil fuels and witness the collapse of civilization?
Something IS being done about it... just in case.
"In the case of responding to climate change, I like a solution like this one - http://tinyurl.com/7p6jgba. I think it's fair and adaptable, not punitive but corrective, systemic and effective, stimulates the creativity and investment to move toward a higher quality state over time."
I would view carbon tax schemes as punitive, the control freak's dream, a bureaucratic nightmare. Oppressive government, here we come.
The non-punitive alternative would be a phase-out of fossil fuel subsides.
What I am seeing in the comments is the desire, not so much to find solutions as to lash out and smite the non-believers.
meerkat... how does it make sense to enact carbon taxes when subsidies exist, to take away money in the form of taxes and hand it back in the form of subsidies? This only makes sense to those who covet power, the power to take as well as the power to give, i.e. politicians.
Punitive is for punishment (as opposed an act that frees from harm). Don't forget that carbon is polluting the public atmosphere, damaging oceans that are the birthright of all, and taking from the future inheritance in all kinds of ways. There is no right to do this, so yes, I prefer that we take power from those who currently have it and exercise our will to to be just. Of course public subsidies for carbon energy should be eliminated, but a carbon tax or feebate will wind down the pollution, the only point of the exercise. Energy transitions take a long time so it would need to work over a decades-long timeframe, and I agree an abrupt, shut-down tax would not produce a quality state.
I also agree the inventiveness is already underway, and I've taken part in it some myself-- but yet carbon pollution continues to accelerate, adding new risk and making clear this alone is ineffective. At least a decade after really knowing the truth of the matter, we're nowhere responding to the root of the problem escaping into the atmosphere-- mainly due to the petroleum industry itself working to ensure its own existence through subterfuge and political force (not just lobbying those in power, but forcing politicians out who refuse to kneel and kiss their ring, using spending power).
Be that as it may, another approach could be to seek judgment against future damages in civil court-- say, forcing oil, coal and gas industries to set aside a fund to pay the cost of future damage. If the damage never were to play out, the oceans not rise and not destroy property, forests not burn and farms not to fail, storms not turn measurably more violent and destructive, then of course investors would keep their trillions and spend it how they prefer in a few hundred years. Does that form of justice seem more fitting to your moral frame?
Do you seriously believe excessive taxation is not punitive?
If we are to avoid economic meltdown, the rate at which fossil fuels are reduced must not exceed the rate at which alternatives become available.
Making alternative energy cost effective and readily available is the key to everything.
Technology is the solution, not punishment.
If all of the "believers" put solar panels on their roof, the demand would accelerate the transition. If enough people went to alternatives, you wouldn't need to shut down fossil fuels, they would shut themselves down... but that's not what the believers want. They want the government to fix things for them... using someone else's money. If they put it on the tab, they are robbing future generations... the very children and grandchildren we want to protect.
When you pass a law, you give up part of your freedom. Pass enough laws and you find yourself bowing down and kissing the government's ring. Is that what you want for your children and grandchildren? It is very definitely what politicians want. Politics is about money and power.
It's not punishment, and it's not excessive. It's an economic signal, an incentive focused specifically to solve a large-scale problem.
Punitive refers to a punishment, say a punitive fine in a lawsuit for 3x the actual loss, to punish blatant negligence or illegality. A carbon feebate is levied to eliminate an existing harm, not to punish-- for example, it doesn't ask petroleum producers to pony up 3x the damage due to global warming, it's much smaller than the losses incurred, solely to wind down the pollution.
Economic signal? You are playing semantic games now. It is clearly punishment in both intent and effect.
And it isn't the producers being punished, it's the consumers.
Taxing any product more than any other product is excessive/punitive taxation. Just ask the smokers. They are being robbed by their government... or is it an "economic signal"?
Bend over... here comes your economic signal.
I believe in the constant of climate change as it has since this planet formed. I am glad the planet has warmed up from one of the coldest periods of the last ten thousand years...The Little Ice Age. It has been warmer than today's climate 9,800+ years of the last 10,000 years of the Holocene.
My read of the science of solar cycles, our sun is driven by our four gas giant planets causing inertia changes in the sun which drives it into more or less excited states. There are short, medium, long and very long cycles that drive the planet into and out of ice ages...thankfully we are living during a brief interglacial era.
Alexander a hydrologist for South Africa had to plan four dams for 500 year flood events, his research is a classic paper called "Linkages between solar activity, climate
predictability and water resource development" he sourced the Nile Rivers floods directly to Sunspot cycles.
NASA is very worried about Sunspot cycles 24 & 25, our sun and source of warmth is going very quite and has been on decline for the past five years or so...so expect a colder trend and fear a return to the another little ice age over the next 30 to 60 years.
I can not express more disappointment in a one sided story by Popular Science. It is why, after 52 years of subscribing to Scientific American, I stopped subscribing due to the lack of debate in its pages.
Note to Popular Science: try to invite the Alarmist side to debate the skeptical side unedited in print. See how many takers on the Alarmist side you will get volunteering to do so. PopSci it is your turn to forward debate and not hate.
Sorry, but this comes across as poppycock to me: "Taxing any product more than any other product is excessive/punitive taxation." Tobacco gets taxed more because it causes cancer, kills people and the public will is to reduce its consumption by making it more expensive. Nobody has the right to entice citizens into addictions that kill them, and reducing the addiction improves quality of life. Taxing it more is just, helps protect the public from unnecessary misery and heartbreak, including my kids.
George Orwell wrote about the twisting of meaning in words to lie about the reality they refer to, and re-jiggering the word "punitive" to accrete justice served into punishment being meted is in line with what worried him. To me, you worry about things that don't matter and ignore what does, IMO. I don't suppose you're from the southland, Grey? I'm just curious from a culture & beliefs perspective.
I think a carbon tax is the least expensive, least disruptive approach possible, especially if the proceeds go back to the public and those who are harmed by the pollution. The important thing is that whatever we do, it needs to actually work... it's not a game.
A little stream of consciousness in that last post... I think the brain has gone all relational this evening, not in a very sequential or consequential mood.
The moral test is harm to others, not harm to oneself. We have a right to defend ourselves, but we have no right to dictate the behavior of others, even if that behavior is harmful to them... and punitive taxation for that behavior is theft.
It is you who is twisting the definitions to serve your purposes.
I would certainly agree that it is not a game. Exactly why we should demand proof beyond reasonable doubt before taking punitive actions. You seem willing to punish all of mankind based on your belief that AGW is probably true.
Climate 'Science' as practiced today is no more a science than is creationism. Its proponents have a luddite agenda that starts with a fallacious premise which they attempt to prove with manufactured evidence. Then, they attempt to quash debate by screaming persecution. There is evidence of global warming, no doubt. There is none, however, that proves - or even strongly suggests - that human activity is responsible.
It is interesting to note that the nation with biggest output of pollutants - China - is not mentioned in their diatribes. The South Americans, who annually destroy enough forest to offset any possible carbon emission curbs, are not vilified in their propaganda...their bile is reserved for the United States and her allies.
They are of the same gang that brought us Agenda 21 and ICLEI - both instruments designed to wreak havoc on the American social structure and economy, an attempt to destabilize and move our society toward socialism.
Make no mistake, we are locked in economic, social and political combat with the PRC and its co-conspirators, and these climate buffoons are their puppets; just another weapon in their arsenal.
The moral test is quality, not notion that tobacco cartels should be protected-- and we have the right to assert it. China went through something similar when it rid itself of opium: "... so long as you do not take it (opium) yourselves, but continue to make it and tempt the people of China to buy it, you will be showing yourselves careful of your own lives, but careless of the lives of other people, indifferent in your greed for gain to the harm you do to others: such conduct is repugnant to human feelings ..." http://www.sacu.org/opium.html
On why to act on climate change, the science is as certain as it can get -- we know CO2 concentration is increasing, we know the source is fossil fuels from isotope concentrations, we know global land temperature is increasing, we know more heat records are getting set than records for cold (they should be in balance if climate isn't changing), and we know CO2 traps infrared radiation and the sun is in an off cycle. We are experiencing weather extremes that are dangerous and costly, we are observing changes in ocean chemistry that kills ocean life, and we're observing an acceleration in sea level rise that will flood areas where many people live. We know that dangerous things have happened beyond the increased violence of the atmosphere:
<<What they discovered was that there was indeed major warming at the time of all the other extinctions — and that the warming had radically changed the oceans. The currents that carry oxygen-rich cold water down to the depths shifted so that they were bringing down oxygen-poor warm water instead, and gradually the depths of the oceans became anoxic: the deep waters no longer had any oxygen.
When that happens, the sulfur bacteria that normally live in the silt (because oxygen is poison to them) come out of hiding and begin to multiply. Eventually, they rise all the way to the surface over the whole ocean, killing all the oxygen-breathing life. The ocean also starts emitting enormous amounts of lethal hydrogen sulfide gas that destroy the ozone layer and directly poison land-dwelling species. This has happened many times in the Earth’s history.>>
The only conclusion to draw from these facts is that it's prudent to reduce the carbon pollution. There's no "luddite agenda" just common sense. For my part, I think the automobile is a marvelous thing, but that we need to rethink and rebuild the system we depend on, to move toward a state of higher quality and safety.
This was auto-deleted from the previous post, between the <> characters:
What they discovered was that there was indeed major warming at the time of all the other extinctions — and that the warming had radically changed the oceans. The currents that carry oxygen-rich cold water down to the depths shifted so that they were bringing down oxygen-poor warm water instead, and gradually the depths of the oceans became anoxic: the deep waters no longer had any oxygen.
When that happens, the sulfur bacteria that normally live in the silt (because oxygen is poison to them) come out of hiding and begin to multiply. Eventually, they rise all the way to the surface over the whole ocean, killing all the oxygen-breathing life. The ocean also starts emitting enormous amounts of lethal hydrogen sulfide gas that destroy the ozone layer and directly poison land-dwelling species. This has happened many times in the Earth’s history.
This video describes the relationship between climate and weather extremes in the continental US like what we're experiencing now -- http://youtu.be/HTAZue6ylZ8
There will no doubt be more of this in the future.
Interesting how the video uses a FOX News style of presentation but also relies on 3 expert sources to back up scientific assertions.