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Stephen Hawking & Carl Sagan on Global Warming: The “Hell” of Venus A Valuable Reminder To Take the Increasing Greenhouse Effect on Earth Seriously


Why is there any doubt about climate change any more? The depth and width of the scientific consensus is not in doubt, Christopher Monckton et al notwithstanding. The video below is from Climate Crock of the Week and features renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and the late Carl Sagan, astrophysicist who was David Duncan Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University. In a posthumous award, Dr. Sagan was awarded the National Science Foundation’s highest award, in recognition that his “research transformed planetary science… his gifts to mankind were infinite.”

Some of what Dr. Hawking says is:

…One of the most serious consequences of our actions is global warming brought about by rising levels of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels. The danger is that the temperature increase may become self-sustaining, if it hasn’t done so already. Drought and deforestation are reducing the amount of carbon dioxide recycled into the atmosphere and the warming of the seas may trigger the release of large quantities of carbon dioxide trapped on the ocean floor. In addition the melting of the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets will reduce the amount of solar energy reflected back into space and so increase the temperature further. We don’t know where global warming will stop but the worst case scenario is that the earth will become like its sister planet Venus, with  a temperature of 250 degrees C and rain sulphuric acid. The human race could not survive in those conditions.”

Dr. Sagan’s clips also compare the earth and her sister planet, Venus:

“The reason Venus is like a hell seems to be what is called the greenhouse effect…The greenhouse effect can make an earth-like world into a planetary inferno…the hell of Venus is in stark contrast to the comparative heaven of its neighbouring world, our little planetary home, the earth….Carbon dioxide and water vapour make a modest greenhouse effect without which, our oceans would be frozen solid. A little greenhouse effect is a good thing. But Venus is an ominous reminder that in a world rather like the earth, things can go wrong. There is no guarantee that our planet will always be so hospitable.  To maintain this clement world we must understand it and appreciate it. The runaway greenhouse effect on Venus is a valuable reminder that we should take the increasing greenhouse effect on earth seriously.”


And here’s another YouTube video featuring Dr. Sagan in his TV series Cosmos (Episode 4 – “Heaven and Hell”), from 199o – we’ve had twenty years more to burn fossil fuels and produce other greenhouse gases with our unsustainable way of life:

More links:

Stephen Hawking Warns About Warming

The Global Warming Christmas Special (on SNL) – features Dr. Sagan, Mike Meyers, Tom Hanks, and Ralph Nader

The Carl Sagan Portal

38 Comments leave one →
  1. 2010/07/23 6:24 pm

    I’m also surprised that there is still any question of climate change.
    Yet, I find myself getting drawn into the same kinds of conversations everyday and here in Aust, our PM is putting together a random group people who will have a year to work out the population consensus of climate change! It’s getting beyond the joke.

    • Christine permalink*
      2010/07/23 8:51 pm

      How disappointing! I thought I had heard rumours that Ms. Gillard actually might implement some progressive policies, unlike her predecessor. “Population consensus” – you’ve got to be kidding!!

  2. 2010/07/23 9:02 pm

    Tell me about it.
    I’m currently working on a post that I hope to make live in a few hours, that looks at our upcoming election in which I’m having a go at this consensus.
    It’s not only as bad as Donna Laframboise’s citizen audit, it’s worse simply because it is a guise for inaction and poor governance in the face of serious need of change.

  3. Serge permalink
    2010/07/25 2:12 pm

    Interesting, how people like Hawkins, who makes quite good money from tax payers and gets his zero gravity fun flights sponsored, talk about dangers of CO2. Or people like Arnie, who drives a Hummer. People like Al Gore, the 700 million $ prince, who lets his driver run the motor of his SUV for 20 min, while waiting for him, so that the air con could work, so that he must not sweat a minute. For all these and maybe for 100.000 or even a million more good-situated people it is ofcourse no problem, if gas prices triple. They don´t have to take care of anything and circle the earth in their private jets, whenever they want. A normal earning family can´t fly into vacation once a year, if prices triple. And millions in third world countries will die of starvation.
    If sun energy is such a great thing, why don´t you open a company, which puts solar panels on people´s houses for free and their savings will then make your company profit? Because it doesn´t work. At the time solar energy is only efficient, if subsidies flow. Lord Monckton sure makes enough money, so he would not have a problem, if gas prices tripled. But he doesn´t promote the idea, that poor people can die for some weird computer model predictions of tax funded green multi millionaires and climate gaters. That´s what I call character. To bring up real environmentalism, reforestation, new tecniques a.s.o. is a good idea but the fake environmentalism, a fascistic one, crap & trade for example, is the very last, what we need.

    • Christine permalink*
      2010/07/25 10:32 pm

      Serge –
      If you believe that 90 – 97 % of climate scientists are talking about the dangers of climate change because they are getting rich off it, you are kidding yourself. Stephen Hawking and the late Carl Sagan, are two examples that indicate how ridiculous this notion is.
      On the other hand, the link between Big Oil and the deniers is well established (check out or desmogblog.come for more).

      Now, I’ll refer you to my comment policy – Let me quote a bit of it:

      It’s a place to discuss solutions to this urgent global crisis we have put ourselves in through our overconsumption of fossil fuel and environmental degradation of the planet. This is not a time for politics as usual, nor is it time to quibble about the reality of climate change. Climate change is real, it’s happening now, and the only question we should be discussing is what are we going to do about it?
      If you are interested in discussing the specifics of climate change, rather than casting aspersions on people, please email me at Further comments such as the above won’t be posted.

    • 2013/04/12 6:23 am

      As one economist said “Doing science would not even get into the Top 1000 ways to get rich”. Anyone who opines otherwise is kidding themselves.

      • 2013/04/12 8:31 am

        Nicely put. That climate scientists are in it to get rich just another red herring from the anti-science climate denial crowd (and particularly ironic considering the net worth of Exxon Mobil, the richest company on the planet).

  4. 2010/11/25 8:26 pm

    The truth is, there is no “greenhouse effect” at all:

    The climate consensus, built over the last 20 years and put forward by the UN IPCC, that says otherwise, is scientifically incompetent. That is the hard reality, that the real “deniers” — those who think consensus means truth — can’t believe, and refuse to investigate. It is not the climate system that is broken, it is the politicized, incompetent science. It is entirely beyond anyone’s power to address it at the root by political argument. The entire science needs to be corrected (as is true of so many powerful institutions today). People can’t believe that so many scientists, even of Stephen Hawking’s stature, can be so careless of the facts, but that is the real story. Climate science is just the tip of the iceberg.

    • 2010/11/25 9:38 pm

      Man, you’ve got numbers on yourself! Geez… it was enjoyable flipping through your work – you clearly have a grudge against modern science and scientist. I suppose this is because they don’t take your design hypothesis too seriously?

      Well, I’m going to continue to back the vast majority of the scientific community who continually challenge one another’s interpretation of the data so as we’re able to hold a great deal of confidence in the multiple sources of independent evidence and mounting consensus on various questions about the natural universe over one self-published, self-titled physicist who includes ancient testimony as valid evidence of creation.

      Needless to say, the vast majority of observed biological and physical processes:

      Rosenzweig et al, 2008. Attributing physical and biological impacts to anthropogenic climate change. Nature. 453(15):353-357. doi:10.1038/nature06937

      Amano et al, 2010. A 250-year index of first flowering dates and its response to temperature change. Proc. R. Soc. B. doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.0291

      Thackeray et al, 2010. Trophic level asynchrony in rate of phonological change for marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments. Global Change Biology. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2010.02165.x

      And then if you look at the data available from NOAA and NASA, you find clear indications of glacial retreat. People might be able to lie but other species and physical processes are incapable of it. If people had lied about these physical processes, I’m fairly sure they’d have been caught out by now – especially when boats were able to exploit new passage ways around the Arctic late last year.

      If you look at Solanki and PMOD total Solar Irradiance data, you can see that solar activity hasn’t been following the global temperature anomaly changes for the past half a century – so it’s not the sun either.

      If you look at:

      Alexander et al, 2006. Global observed changes in daily climate extremes of temperature and precipitation. Journal of Geophysical Research. 111. D05109. doi: 10.1029/2005JD006290.

      Klein Tank et al, 2006. Changes in daily temperature and precipitation extremes in central and south Asia. Journal of Geophysical Research. 111. D16105. doi: 10.1029/2005JD006316

      Or online data provided under the climate section of The Australian Bureau of Meteorology, you’ll see that the warming trend has been greater at night than at day, which also shows that it’s not the sun and also demonstrates that more heat is being trapped… I’m pretty sure that’s the basis to the greenhouse effect.

      If you read:

      Harries et al, 2001. Increases in greenhouse forcing inferred from the outgoing longwave radiation spectra of the Earth in 1970 and 1997. Nature. 410: 355-357
      Griggs and Harries, 2007. Comparison of Spectrally Resolved Outgoing Longwave Radiation over the Tropical Pacific between 1970 and 2003 Using IRIS, IMG, and AIRS. Journal of Climate. 20: 3982-4001 doi: 10.1175/JCLI4204.1

      You’ll find evidence of changing amounts of energy in frequencies for wavelength that match the known absorption associated to CO2 and CH4, which furthers the greenhouse gas argument.

      Clearly tree and animals, ice and precipitation cannot lie: they are the earth’s thermometers and they are telling us of climate change. All the monitoring we’ve done fully supports what the natural world is telling us. We know, from measuring down here on earth, that the greenhouse effect is real and is playing a major role in this observed climate change.

      To quote Dessler: “…there’s a lot of uncertainty in the cloud feedback that I derived and if you put that uncertainty in you pretty much get the conomical IPCC range of if you double CO2, you get [2.0C-4.5C (he says 4.5 degrees, but does not state if it’s the metric system, the slide behind him has that range in C)] of warming. Now, one point I want to make; this was not derived from a model, this was derived by data.”

      You might be prepared to ignore the natural world, however I’m not. You might be willing doubt the observed data, based on relatively weak data collected on another planet (and quite frankly, taking a weird analysis path – hint for you: why is Venus so bright?), however I’m not. You might be willing to take “ancient wisdom” over enlightened investigation, however, I’m not. If your hypothesis is correct, that’s one sick designer allowing one species to degrade the masterpiece. It simply doesn’t even merit analysis.

      Anthropogenic climate change is just as real as peaking oil, accelerating species loss, increasing desertification and top soil loss and depleting and increasing polluted/acidified oceans.

      Science is warning us of these environmental disasters and will be the only methodology available to tackle these issues for I do not see your hypothesis coming in to save the day – it’s already too late for so many species and environments.

      • Christine permalink*
        2010/11/26 1:02 am

        Hey, Tim, nice to hear from you, it’s been a while…

      • Christine permalink*
        2010/11/26 1:09 am

        As for you, Mr. Huffman, you will notice that there is a comment policy posted on both the page entitled “comment policy” and in the comment posted just above your’s. If you are a high on the credibility scale – ie. you are a climate scientist – your comments about the accuracy of the science of climate change are welcomed here. If you are just an armchair speculator, with no scientific credentials, any further comments from you on the topic of climate science will be deleted. We’re too perilously near the edge of the global climate instability cliff to be distracted by triflers throwing sand in our eyes. It’s time for all hands on deck to work towards solving this crisis. Sure hope you join those of us working towards a better, safer planet for everybody’s children, including yours.

      • 2010/11/26 3:09 am

        Hi Christine, I’ve been around – I’ve got your blog on my reader. I’ve just been a bit lazy with the comments. I’m still subscribed to this post and so couldn’t help but reply when I read Harry’s post.
        I don’t know if he actually has any actually qualifications (I doubt it from looking through his work), but he does refer to himself as an “Independent research physical scientist”.
        From what’s free for reading of his self-published book on amazon, I get the impression that he’s closer to an astrologist (asserting some ancient wisdom) and makes many many erroneous assumptions – starting from the conclusions and then finding what fits.
        The post he links to is a classic example of this. All the scientific evidence on earth leads to a strong case for anthropogenic climate change, but of course, scientists are arrogant and ignorant. Therefore, the science is flawed – oh, but climate change is just the tip of the iceberg. What does he was use to prove this? Other scientific evidence… a simple logical fallacy. In truth, all the science is good; he’s simply presented an illogical argument on a small dataset – looking at only 2 parts of a complicated system (who on earth would mean climate and the greenhouse effect on simply temperature and pressure?).
        Anyway, my original reply to him is enough. But I really should try to comment more – I really like the work you do here! 🙂

    • 2011/01/03 9:50 pm

      Hi Christine,
      I looked into it and it seems Harry has published work around 16yrs ago… Relevant, but not together all too interesting.
      How he’s done a complete back-flip on his training, I’ll never understand. That he didn’t follow up on further comments says to me that he was imply trying to push his new age nonsense book and nothing more.
      Interestingly, for anyone who may stumble upon Harry’s comment, who has any doubt about CO2 acting as a greenhouse gas (which Harry takes bizarre methods to try and create doubt) Peter Sinclair has this nice new video which demonstrates it quite clearly;

      The greenhouse effect is simply not in question, nor is the fact that increasing CO2 will increase average global temperatures.

      • Christine permalink*
        2011/01/04 9:53 am

        Again, thanks for your in-depth research and reply, it’s helpful for those readers who might be tempted to take Harry at face value.

  5. Christine permalink*
    2010/11/26 9:03 am

    Wow – you do your homework! You checked out Harry’s credentials in much greater detail than I bothered to do – it was clear from his comments that he’s not got a clear grasp of the situation we’re in, so that’s where it stopped for me.
    His comment reminds me of a book we picked up during our last (and only 🙂 trip to your continent) – How To Lie With Statistics. Seems there’s a lot of copies of that floating around the deniasphere these days.

    • 2010/11/26 5:20 pm

      I never used to bother, but instead took comments at face value. However, I’ve found that providing the scientific evidence does nothing when others feel that they have the “real truth” – like Harry. I only went further when I saw that he referred to himself as a “Independent research physical scientist”, because the link he provided here lead to an utterly flawed argument.
      That he posted what seems to be little more than a teaser and has not returned, tells me that he was hoping to lead an curious reader down his rabbit hole, eventually to his book – obviously he’s getting tired of the religious and scientific establishments not listening to his “research”.
      I’m going to have to look that book up. One thing we were always warned as students is to be careful with stats. I was lucky, being in ecology, much and the analysis is fairly straight-forward and transparent. But I see a lot of weird science going on in certain circles and quite strange interpretations of the available literature (it’s always good to go back to the actual paper). It would be good to have a concise rebuttal to hack-science rather than my long-winded evaluation! 🙂

  6. MarAm permalink
    2011/01/15 3:29 am

    Despite the fact that I myself do believe that global warming/climate change is happening, there’s something that really bothers me when I see that you’ve threatened to delete someone else’s comments for expressing their point of view. It’s very “unless your comments agree with my opinion, I’m going to delete it”.. even if that threat was conditional (unless he is a ‘scientist’)… scientist or not, he’s got a right to his opinion (even though I agree that he is incorrect); if someone does not like it or disagrees with it, why not counter it with what one believes ARE the true facts, instead of taking away that person’s ability to freely express himself on the topic.
    “We’re too perilously near the edge of the global climate instability cliff to be distracted by triflers throwing sand in our eyes”… that is an underestimation of people’s intelligence ..why not give people more credit by not insulting their intelligence by implying that we are so unable to rationally reason and think for ourselves and to use our brains to come to the correct conclusions that we need someone to TELL us what/how to think, rather than someone to present us with what they believe are the true facts, and if those facts are indeed true and make sense then, based on that, we will come to the correct/right conclusions . Only good can come out of letting everyone speak their mind, regardless of how far from the truth we might believe they are. However you try to justify it, it is (needless) censorship (not that censorship is ever NOT ‘needless’).
    I personally believe (as I have a feeling most climatologists do) that the responsibility of doing the right thing regarding climate change falls on the shoulders of ALL human beings, not just scientists; therefore anyone should be allowed to challenge that science should they believe it flawed (and since, in my opinion, science supporting the claims of climate change IS correct, then it can stand up to those challengors and end up prevailing).
    I could very well see how, as a result, a misinformed individual might conclude that “they are not confident enough in the validity of their facts or claims to truthfulness to let those facts speak for them and represent their side…”
    Just my opinion…

    • Christine permalink*
      2011/01/15 9:35 am

      You are entitled to your opinion, MarAm.
      However, this blog is for discussing solutions to the crisis we find ourselves in, not having “scientific” debates with people with little or no science background. This blog accepts what 97% of climate scientists say. Now, let’s talk about how we’re going to address it, and leave our children and grandchildren a planet that, while unalterably changed, is still liveable.

    • 2011/01/15 7:02 pm

      MarAm continues to make a few mistakes.

      Firstly, opinion and belief;
      For any single human currently alive, there are fields science that we are fairly naive about. Even scientists. In these areas, we tend to leave it up to the experts and if at all interested, we might look into popular science journals, such as New Scientist, to get the basic idea. Here, as we clearly can’t know everything, we believe that the up-to-date science currently available is as correct as we know it at the time.

      Secondly, free speak of sceptism towards a given scientific theory;
      There is no doubt that we are free to personally accept what we choose to believe as scientifically certain and what we don’t. No-one can take that away from you.
      However to be sceptical of a scientific theory is different to belief and it is not up to people who choose to accept the theory provided by up-to-date science to convince such “sceptical” individuals.
      To be sceptical is to thoroughly understand the science and observations involved and find them suspect. These concerns should then be presented for peer-review by the relevant field of scientists to re-assess (if needs be) the methodology and/or interpretation of the data.

      What we find on blogs is not climate change “scepticism” but a personal belief that the wealth of climate science available must be wrong. As previously stated, anyone is entitled to have such beliefs, however, Christine or indeed anyone of us whom write on the subject, really have as much obligation to keep personal climate related beliefs on their site as they do someone whom swears that they once had a close encounter with aliens or were granted a wish by a leprechaun.

      Christine, not being a climate scientist, has no obligations to education those whom state that they expect her to convince them of the science or entertain needless debate with those whom willing reject the available science under the guise of “scepticism”.

      This is actually quite different to censorship; where you have an opinion which you openly state (say it regarding a political party, a sports team, a dislike for aged cheese) and will not let others express their counter opinions. Science has no regard for opinion or personal belief, only the data available, the tools employed to capture and interpret that data and the expert conclusions drawn from scientific analysis.

      That climate change opinion is taken seriously – especially in pop media – actually undermines free speech because it begs us to ask whether such free speech is sensible when it’s proven to be an effective tool for misinformation and unreasonable doubt – as demonstrated with tobacco related illness, ozone depletion, evolution, climate change among others.

      To often I come across people that demand climate change opinion (because neither scepticism nor denial seem truly appropriate any longer) is free speech (Donna Lafraboise being the loudest blogger I’ve come across on this note) without realising that by supporting the assertion of opinion in pop media and science communication they do a huge injustice to both free speech and scientific awareness.

  7. MarAm permalink
    2011/01/15 7:55 pm

    I appreciate your respecting my right to my opinion, Christine, thank you.
    To the other user:
    “Christine, not being a climate scientist, has no obligations to education those whom state that they expect her to convince them of the science or entertain needless debate with those whom willing reject the available science under the guise of “scepticism”.” ….
    Well, in that case, demanding that others be scientists in order to comment on a topic wouldn’t be fair if you don’t hold yourself to that standard. I never stated that she had an ‘obligation’ to educate anyone on anything. My point was simply that it would make more sense to provide supporting facts (which are abundant) and evidence of the occurance of climate change to someone who is a skeptic. It is part of the solution. Regardless of that person’s beliefs (or in this case, non-belief) regarding climate change, that person is still a person, and we need the cooperation of EVERYONE if we are to collectively engage in solutions to this issue. Dismissing this person accomplishes nothing. Attempting to reason with that person using good science might very well help that person understand the truth (or it might not, but isn’t the effort worth the risk if there is even a slight chance we could bring this person over to the right side? Especially since we really do need ALL humans to cooperate). Providing this person with the facts as we know them to be correct is PART of the solution, as one of the biggest problems with climate change is ignorance of the correct facts. It’s wonderful that this blog is in place to find and discuss solutions, and putting in the effort to try to gain the cooperation of as many humans as possible is a significant part of the solution.

    • Christine permalink*
      2011/01/15 10:30 pm

      While I believe a respectful tone is important in any discussion of climate change, the fact is that the vast majority of people who spend time surfing climate change blogs and denigrating both the science and the scientists behind it aren’t at all interested in learning the facts. I encourage you to engage any and all people you encounter, if this is important to you. For me, my energy is better spent focusing on the solutions to this crisis – which are many – and letting people who may be feeling overwhelmed and/or hopeless about the sorry state of the planet know that there is light at the end of the climate change tunnel if we, as you say, work together. The good news is, we don’t have to get EVERYBODY “on board” – that isn’t realistic or feasible. What needs to happen is that enough of a “people powered movement” rises up and demands leadership on this issue from our elected representatives, that we can’t be ignored. That is what has happened in every movement for social change that has ever happened – from the Vietnam War protest movement to the anti-slavery movement.
      Good luck in any discussions you may have – but don’t ever doubt that there is a very concerted, well-funded effort on the part of dirty industries to confuse people about the facts of climate change. I/we just don’t have a lot of time to waste convincing everybody – we need to be working on solutions already.

    • 2011/01/16 1:14 am

      Co-operation is certainly to ideal, but as one who has spent quite a bit of time trying to constructively engage those call themselves, “climate change sceptics” I’ve come to understand that many of them have no intention of understanding the science better – rather, to push their own world view.

      They’re not sceptical in reality. What I stated is correct and Christine certainly isn’t censoring genuine criticism, but rather opinion and personal belief that simply cannot be altered.

  8. 2011/02/14 9:27 pm

    Hi Christine, I see you’ve got rid of Harry’s new posts (and I’d just finished my reply, lol, – I’ll post it, but feel free to delete it if you feel it detracts – I understand all too well that such polluting misinformation is terribly distracting on otherwise well informed and positive sites).

    I must say that I find is somewhat disturbing that someone I suspect has achieved scientific qualifications and has been published within peer-reviewed literature should take such a bizarre turn and rely on a small, fragmented data set from another world to come to a contrary conclusion to that drawn from the plethora of data available from our own planet. Not only that; what happens to infra-red radiation when it passes through CO2 gas is easily demonstrated by near a high school level experiment (see 40sec into this presentation).
    One can only conclude that you make such provocative claims to try to entice readers to eventually source out your book, claiming to have unlocked “ancient wisdom”. No working scientist with relevant credentials actually questions CO2’s interaction with IR – that much has been settled after more than a century of investigation and I find it even stranger that you bring NIPCC forth as support!
    Let’s have a look at some of the Authors and contributors;
    Craig Idso, S. Fred Singer, J. Scott Armstrong, Dennis Avery, Robert Carter, Piers Corbyn, Richard Courtney, Fred Goldberg, William Gray, Kesten Green, Zbigniew Jaworowski, William Kininmonth (Director of his non-existent “Australasian Climate Research Institute”), Lubos Motl (not only is he a climate sceptic, but a mysogonist and racist. He supported Dr Lawrence Summers remarks at Harvard that women were under represented due to a “different availability of aptitude at the high end,” and attacked Dr. Sabine Hossenfelder as ‘stupid’ ‘silly’, ‘a crackpot’ should not have a Ph.D., that her ‘female brain’ only ‘parrots nonsense’), Harrison Schmitt, George Taylor, and Christopher Monckton (need I say anything about this puzzle game and miracle cure creator?).
    It hardly seems like a professional bunch of relevant scientists, but more a motley crew of scientists and non-scientists willing to make a buck off of fossil fuel and enjoy the accolades provided by such groups as the Heartland Institute (which also put the NIPCC report out and have a wonderful track record for accurate information on cigarette related illness, don’t they?).
    You might be willing to trust such sources, but I’m not – my son’s future is too important to me.

  9. sean permalink
    2011/10/16 3:12 pm

    350 is totally, 100% arbitrary.. as in yanked out of thin air. Co2 at such trivial quantities (that’s part per million dear), it utterly irrelevant to global temperature. Man made Co2 is less than 1/200th water vapor (and water vapor is a stronger greenhouse gas). Compared to orbital cycles, solar cycles, etc.. this CO2 is not just a laugh, but a cruel criminal joke.

    Unless you are in the business of running a solar panel company, want research grants, attention seeking “scientist” or are just another megalomaniacal politician grasping for an issue to scare people… don’t parrot these hopeless lies.

    • Christine permalink*
      2011/10/16 7:03 pm

      Thanks, Sean, I will take the word of NASA, NOAA, Environment Canada, and every single Academy of Science on the globe, over that of an anonymous poster on my blog. Feel free to take your petroleum propaganda elsewhere, here we are focused on solutions to the peak oil/climate change crisis, for the sake of our children and their children.

  10. Reed permalink
    2012/04/29 2:57 am

    Your use of Sagan and Hawking to create the impression of a universal scientific consensus about this issue is not only misleading; it is anathema to science itself. Science isn’t advanced through consensus and popular votes. Observation and testing for repeatable results are at the core of scientific advancement. If consensus is so important to your beliefs, then you should be aware that a majority of climate and planetary scientists around the world do not support the theory. And recent studies have found that more than 2/3 of the world population also does not accept this theory. So if a consensus is the final arbiter of every scientific theory as you believe, then as Al Gore so brazenly announced, “the time for debate is over”.

    Reed: one cannot make unsubstantiated claims like you do and expect to get away with it in respectable circles. As anyone familiar with science would know, every major Academy of Science of every major country on the globe confirms anthropogenic global warming.

    How does your experience as a mother, educator, and former nurse even remotely qualify you to dismiss the “credentials” and opinions of others with a different view on this subject?
    Reed: LOL – I don’t dismiss the credentials of scientists, in fact I recognize that scientists are the experts on this. So I follow
    their consensus. What about you??

    And more to the point, lacking any scientific credentials in climate or planetary science, what qualifies you to moderate a discussion about solutions to such a complex scientific problem when you haven’t even the expertise to describe it, prove it, or quantify it in technical terms? I can only surmise that your answer is that you will leave the technical diagnosis of the problem to the climate scientists while you organize support for a grass-roots political solution. If so, how do you create a “political solution” (intrinsically a compromise between two or more opposing views) while excluding the other side from the discussion?

    Reed: “the other side” is the side with the $$ and the influence and control of our media, and in fact it’s their side that we hear all the time. It’s time for other voices to be heard, those who are more interested in our children’s future than lining their bank accounts.

    You can’t deny that your quest for a solution would involve politics since, in a recent post, you said–“What needs to happen is that enough of a “people powered movement” rises up and demands leadership on this issue from our elected representatives, that we can’t be ignored. That is what has happened in every movement for social change that has ever happened – from the Vietnam War protest movement to the anti-slavery movement”. Christine, ask yourself this; have any of those other social movements EVER progressed in the absence of debate, discussion, and persuasion between both sides?
    All meaningful social and political progress depends upon discussion and persuasion
    and you have a lot of persuading left to do before you unite the masses behind your belief in man-made global warming.

    Reed – LOL – it ain’t “my belief”

    And your claim that you can’t or won’t debate the merits of your theory because danger is so imminent and there isn’t time for debate…that is a cop out and a transparent admission that you are unable to defend the theory. Therefore, I suggest that you quit childishly deleting and disparaging the comments of those who respectfully disagree with you and I suggest that you learn how to defend your positions–i.e.–offer some scientific data and testing which supports your theory.

    Reed – I suggest you look to the science – or does your paycheque depend on you not doing that? There are several suggested links in my blogroll, or go to NASA (those nasty lefty pinkos who also believe in “my” belief in global warming) or NOAA, or any National Academy of Science. Or how about looking about your window? The 1980s was the warmest decade on record, which was then broken when the 1990s became the warmest decade on record, followed by the first decade of the 21st Century, which broke the record books again.
    Then come back and tell me what science supports or doesn’t
    (she leaves, muttering about right wing wingnuts enslaved to the fossil fuel industry).

    • 2012/04/29 9:36 pm

      There’s no end to the people who don’t understand scientific consensus. Science doesn’t care what you, I or anyone else thinks. People like yourself reject consensus in very much the same way you critise it.

      Scientific consesnsus was best explained by Dr. Paul Nurse;

      “Consensus can be used like a dirty word. Consensus is actually the position of the experts at the time and if it’s working well – it doesn’t always work well – but if it’s working well, they evaluate the evidence. You make your reputation in science by actually overturning that, so there’s a lot of pressure to do it. But if over the years the consensus doesn’t move you have to wonder is the argument, is the evidence against the consensus good enough.”

      To date (*take note here, because this is how real science is done – not by a vote*) no compelling evidence seriously contradicts the wealth of evidence in support of anthropogenic climate change. Science methodology demands we not focus on supporting evidence but test the quality of our claims (typically called hypotheses / models). Consesnsus thus is not a buddy system of people mutually supporting each other, but highly trained experts instead stating, “to the best of our understanding, nothing else makes sense and the window for possible alternatives are becoming less and less likely with all we learn.”

      The science itself isn’t difficult. For instance, a big part of the work I do relies on measurements made by an infrared gas analyser (IRGA). This uses certain wavelengths in the infrared spectrum to analyse the amount of aborption and thus measure the amount of CO2 and H2O that had to have travelled through the beam. Both rely on different frequencies within the infrared spectrum. This is well understood or else none of this research could be done at all!

      As Nicholas Stern puts it;

      “The basic scientific conclusions on climate change are very robust and for very good reason. The greenhouse effect is simple and sound science: greenhouse gases trap heat, and humans are emitting ever more greenhouse gases. There will be oscillations, there will be uncertainties. But the logic of the greenhouse effect is rock solid and the long-term trends associated with the effects of human emissions are clear in the data. The arguments from those who would deny the science look more and more like those who denied the association between HIV and Aids or smoking and cancer. Science and policymaking thrive on challenge and questioning; they are vital to the health of enquiry and democracy. But at some point it makes sense to move on to the challenges of policymaking and accept that the evidence is overwhelming. We are way past that point.”

      Obsessing over consensus is a mug’s game. It ignores the wealth of information at our finger-tips and seems really silly when you know just a little of the background (the fact that IRGA’s work at all should be testiment enough that the fundamentals are well understood). It’s a smoke screen, a strawman. If you cannot attack the scientific evidence, instead attack people asserting the science is very likely to be right because, as we all know, people have their limitations. The basic science is simple. Good science is done by researchers trying to make a name for themselves through breaking down stiffly held assumptions.

      There remains to date, no serious doubt in the basic process and that’s why there is a consesnsus. It’s not that people have stopped testing our models of climate science, it’s just that the fundamentals are so well understood, there isn’t compelling reason to seriously object. If you believe otherwise, I’d strongly suggest getting into the field of climatology yourself and find what has been overlooked in more than a century and a half of investigation. Please find out why even earlier models dating back to the 70’s and 80’s haven’t done a bad job when compared to the reality since then when they (assuming you’re right) were clearly based on poor assumptions.

      You are invited to put in the hard yards to be a relevant expert and do what so many budding scientists try to do; to question our view of the universe and further our understanding. Otherwise, complaining about consensus within a field of science you don’t understand just looks silly.

      • 2012/04/29 9:49 pm

        Wow. Thank you for the scientist’s perspective.

      • 2012/04/29 10:05 pm

        All good Christine… I just get fed up with people attacking scientific consensus without actually understanding what it is. It’s a loop-hole for people unable to argue directly about the findings (in reality, if they understood anything on the science, something like the IRGA provides an excellent example as to why the fundamental aspects to the science of anthropogenic climate change are so robust – so much technology wouldn’t work it it wasn’t the case.

        I especially get annoyed with people who criticise Sagan and Hawking. Not only have they provided a wealth to scientific understanding, but also science communication. There are many people out there uncomfortable with all they have to say, but that alone is not enough to reject what they say.

  11. 2012/04/29 10:20 pm

    You are much more reasonable in your response to this kind of scientific ignorance (deliberate, I believe) than I am, Moth, and for that I thank you. You may be annoyed, but your response is still considered and thoughtful.

    • 2012/04/29 10:28 pm

      🙂 Cheers. We do what we can to stand for the devices that have not only prolonged our lives but has also improved the quality of it. With a lot of hard work, I hope we can extend the same goals globally, while reducing the per capita footprint included. Of course, such goals are made more difficult by the various wars on reason currently being waged.

      My wife and children are too valuable to me to waste encouraging trolls like this character, so I’m glad, at least on this occasion, I wasn’t bombastic in my reply. It is a fine line!

  12. Don Ochoa permalink
    2012/05/20 3:07 am

    If the Mayans are correct, none of this will matter. We’ll all be dead on December 21.

    • 2012/05/20 9:44 am

      There is much misinformation/nonsense being circulated about the Mayan calendar, specifically re: it ending on Dec 21, 2012. Just like the Bible’s Book of Revelation, which is also taken out of context, misread, and misquoted, there is wisdom to be found but not within shallow readings/interpretations.
      What we know for sure is that we are here, now, on planet Earth, and there are, and always have been, consequences to human actions. Climate change, ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, etc are the consequences that we (along with our relations in the natural world, who have done nothing to deserve it) have brought on ourselves. It’s time for humanity to grow up, face our destructive and childish behavior, and choose to do better. Or face the consequences of continuing our childish ways, and cause our children and grandchildren and future generations untold suffering.

  13. Matt permalink
    2013/06/01 7:31 am

    I believe in Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. I am interested in a frank scientific discussion about man’s impact and possible permanent damage to the environment. BUT. . . it is hard to find research that doesn’t make assumptions. Is population increase a much greater threat than fossil fuels? Should the West keep hamstringing itself in manufacturing vs. “Developing Nations” like China when in the long run their companies increase and pollute more while European and US companies go bankrupt or export Manufacturing.? Why is there so much money being given to solar companies with inefficient panels and no viable business model? Why did the University of East Anglia withhold information and fudge data? I know man is affecting global temperatures and polluting our planet and like so many other issues there are soooo many ways all interests can start to work together. I find that strong advocates of a doomsday threat from global warning let emotions and a predetermined opinion taint their rhetoric much the same way skeptics do, although by a lesser degree. The result is fodder for both sides to hurl at each other and ignore the credible arguments and discussion about the best ways to sustain our planet. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

    Matt- A truly compassionate Conservative

    • 2013/06/01 10:29 am

      Clearly you haven’t looked at the science, and while your initial words seem to indicate you are interested in the science, the rest of your paragraph belies that. The antiscience climate denial “emperor” has no clothes -
      And in case that isn’t enough for you, here’s more data:
      Among self-rated papers expressing a position on AGW, 97.2% endorsed the consensus. For both abstract ratings and authors’ self-ratings, the percentage of endorsements among papers expressing a position on AGW marginally increased over time. Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting the consensus on AGW is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research.

      You’re not a compassionate anything if you would consign future generations to a world of biodiversity loss and a destabilized climate, all done in the name of short term profit. What we in North America need to do, for a start, is put a steadily increasing price on carbon. China has announced it will do just that, as has Korea. Australia already has put a price on carbon. And how about we take away the billions of dollars the fossil fuel industry gets annually from taxpayer subsidies? If you are a true conservative, you should support the idea of the market deciding the winners and losers.


  2. Stephen Hawking & Carl Sagan on Global Warming: 400 PPM and Counting
  3. Commas and stuff are over rated…………. | Unique particulars

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