"Newsweek" cover story exposes well-funded global-warming denial machine

From here:

Now, this is stuff most Dopers know already, but will front-page coverage in a major mainstream newsweekly have any effect, change the terms of the public debate any, etc.? What will be the effect on public opinion?

Probably nothing, unless names are named. If you say ‘Theres a bunch of people paying to confuse the global warming issue’ most people will just shrug and go on with life, because it’s just too big to think about. If you say ‘CEO Bob Megabucks at AirPollution Ltd is paying $$$ to Fred Cashwhore to write not so scientific reports saying that global warming is good’ then people have an actual target, and can take action.

I still don’t believe we have the impact the Green lobby thinks we do. However, in keeping with the OP, I don’t think it will have any impact as I personally believe the Global Warming worries are starting to die down…

I don’t think there’s any reasonable dispute over the fact that the Earth is warming.

But I’ve said this before: because the Earth has previously gone through cycles of warming and cooling that were most certainly not caused by human activity, it’s not clear to me why we’re utterly certain that human activity is the cause of this current cycle. At one time we had woolly mammoths and saber-tooth tigers roaming about and bumping into glaciers. Then things got warmer, with no human intervention. Why, now, is this instance of warming so obviously the result of human activity when the earlier ones weren’t?

Now, if someone wants to send me a check for $10,000 for expressing that opinion, my e-mail is in my profile and we can make arrangements. But I assure you that I had this thought even before I knew it might be a financial bonanza for the Bricker family.

Start here.

Then go here.

Then go here.

The linked article names a lot of names.

I lack sufficient training to independently evaluate the claims made, but at the risk of oversimplification, the links above make the following claims:

  1. Warming of the climate system is unequivocal
  2. Human activity contributes in some degree to this warming; in fact
  3. Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to human activity.

As noted, I agree with #1. #2 is obviously beyond cavil.

#3 is a bit different than what I understand the typical claims to be, although the fault may be mine for not parsing global warming claims more carefully.

The report makes clear that “very likely” means “90% or above chance.” This is a bit different from the language quoted in the OP.

The impression left by the choice of language there is, in my view, dishonest. It blends “unequivocal” into the idea of human-caused climate change. It uses the 90% figure in such a way as to suggest it’s discussing some subset of the problem. “Worse yet…” it says, as though this was some added problem.

I certainly accept that human activity has some effect on climate warming. And I have no reason to doubt the 90% likelihood mentioned in the report. But 90% does not equal 100%, and it seems to me that anyone making the claim that anthropogenic causes are absolutely and unequivocally responsible for all climate change is exaggerating the actual claim of the report.

I also note that in the 1980s, I heard various gloom and doom reports about the effect of aerosol particles in the atmosphere caused by human action. The proliferation of these particles was supposedly going to reduce the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth and result in climate cooling. There too, I was insufficiently trained to refute the science, but I was assured that the science was valid, since it came from scientists. I’m not quite sure whatever happened to this phenomenon.

Also here.

And here.

And here.

I think there are political action groups from both sides of the argument greasing our politicians in an attempt to influence policy.

The writer of the quoted Newsweek article definately seems to have reached a conclusion on the global warming debate. Fair enough. But consider:

Well, this seems like an Op-ed peice, is intended to influence my opinion, not through facts, but from an emotional appeal. (Classism. Outrage that “Big Money” is buying politicians and ad space, screwing the rest of us for a few more bucks.)

This Op-ed piece seems more of the same style of “influencing”, but from the opposite side of the argument.

Ads. Op-eds (like this one). Lobbying, media attention. Possible scewed scientific reports. The Sierra Club is as active (if not as deep pocketed) as Exxon is in this debate.

How is a regular schmoe like me supposed to know for sure what is unbiased, or at least, what is correct, and what is not?

That is why I don’t think that this article, all on it’s own, going to change minds. I think regular folks are not surprised that Exxon (or Greenpeace) are paying or arranging things to have their message out there.

This debate on Global warming won’t have a decisive “Miracle at Midway” moment. The fight will continue to be long and hard.

True, but the science favors one side and not the other.

One of the favorite tactics of industry hacks is to create a false impression of equivalency.

I wasn’t supporting any of the particular statements in the OP, so I have no comment about the difference. Still, the problem exists. 90% confidence is quite good for this type of science, though, and if you want to wait until we’re 100% certain (and I’m not saying you are), then you’ll have to wait until it’s too late-- the only way to get to 100% is for it to have already happened.

The real issue is what we need to do. On that, there is great disagreement.

Start here. :slight_smile:

Are you talking about the hole in the ozone layer from aerosols? In that case, we didn’t wait until were 100% certain, and banned CFCs.

From here.

In science nothing is 100%. Strong statistical validation for a hypothesis consists of the probability the result being due to chance is < 5%. For something as complex as this, 90% certainty is as close as unequivocal as you’re going to get.

Yes, climate change has happened before. Let’s not even consider if the current change is more extreme and rapid than in the past. Climate change is sometimes linked to extinction events. Animals may not care if their old homelands are flooded, but the residents of New York and Bangladesh certainly do. No matter how much of the change can be attributable to humans, doesn’t it make sense to mitigate what we can?

At least I provided a different link. I do need to learn to type faster. :slight_smile:

“Trust us, we outnumber the other guys in Scientists.”

While that is sufficient to take the claims seriously, it alone is not sufficient.

After all, the majority of folks are religious/spiritual, but the atheists don’t take that as proof of a God(s). Nor does it disprove it either.

See what I’m saying? (Dont get sidetracked here.)

The extreme enviornmentalists have cried wolf so many times, in my view, that it is difficult to get passionate yet again. (The coming Ice Age. Global cooling do to air contaminents, as Bricker said. The hole in the ozone. The Population Bomb/Overcrowding problem. The collapse of fisheries and world food chains.) A lot of the concerns they brought up are valid, but nowhere did they turn out as bad as predicted.

At this point, I suspect GW will turn out to be the same. Some changes may/will be needed, but life goes on.

I believe pollution is bad, and I support a greener tech base. I also want intelligent, easy to verify arguments, with practicle solutions, and not “pie in the sky” fantasies, finger pointing and guilt trips, with politicians, special interest groups, and new fad industries fleecing the public.

Uh oh. do lawnchairs cause global warming?

When the “other guy’s” few scientists are almost all benefitting financially in some manner, then it’s pretty close to sufficient in my eyes to lend much more credence to the one group over the other.

If the religious majority actually had volumes of evidence that would prove the existence of a god, then I’d hazard to guess that most atheists would happily consider that.

No, as they are apples and oranges. You’re comparing a majority in one field who has insane amounts of data with the majority in another area that has zero data to back up their suppositions. It’s not only the numbers that count, it’s what those numbers bring to the table.

Extreme environmentalists? I think you might want to look into the list of those who agree that AGW is a problem (it’s pretty damned close to universal, with the only real disagreements now being how bad it’s going to be, and what to do about it).

That “life goes on” is the hope of many, but to do so requires action sooner rather than later. Early action is why “life goes on” despite the “air contaminents” problem you alluded to.

Ah, there’s your problem – stop listening to environmental extremists. They have some goofy ideas. I’d subscribe to Science or Nature, or even just Scientific American.

Why is this always brought up? How many times must this zombie be put down? It was a media scaremongering, not a serious scientific consensus. We must fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.

Already addressed above. And it wasn’t in the 80s, that was the ozone. And air contaminants do play a very important role in climatology.

Already addressed in the thread, but this is a great example of preventive medicine.

The Population Bomb was a single book attempting to predict human behavior. How does this compare? The Green Revolution and modernization took care of the several billion people who were born in the 20th century. If nothing was done, it would have been a complete disaster. Even as it is, hundreds of millions of people have died from starvation and hunger related diseases.

I don’t know much about this subject, but I’m pretty sure there’s no consensus. In fact, I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of different factions squabbling over this one. There’s certainly enough information out there to be worried though, like the fact that worldwide fish biomass peaked in the late 1980s and has been on a downward slope ever since, with the areas where industrialized mass fishing started dying out before others.

Hopefully. I still wouldn’t want to live in Africa or south east Asia.

I just recently vacationed in Ambergris Caye, Belize. Beautiful spot- had lots of fun, did lots of diving, ate some great seafood. One thing marred the week for me, though- it seemed everyone and his dog was trying to get me to go to Captain Morgan’s Resort to listen to a sales spiel to try to convince me to buy a timeshare.

I seriously thought about going to it (and getting all the freebies they were using to entice me into going), and then when they got down to the hard sell, saying, “Why would I want to buy anything on this island? In ten years, most of it’ll probably be underwater.”

It gave me a bit of an inward chuckle, but it’s a sobering thought- everything I experienced in Belize is most likely going to be gone in ten years or so. The reefs I dove will be too deep to get enough light to survive. All that great seafood I ate will be gone, as they all depend on the reefs. Even the island itself will be mostly underwater (if not completely underwater- it’s a fairly flat island).

Now, imagine you LIVE on that island. Or imagine you live in, say, the coastal regions of India. What changes will you and the billions of people who live that close to the coast, or rely on the ocean for a living, need to do to survive?

Edited to add- yeah, I know. It might not be ten years. It might be longer… but it’s coming, and how much time do we need to prepare for it?

Cite? (With comparison of total funding levels on each side?)

This is not how it went and questions the credibility of the artical and speaks to a underlying bias IMHO. It has always been humans are too insignificant to change the global temperature, if there is global warming or cooling it is natural.