During my all too brief residence in London as a fishmonger in Selfridges, I recall the strange wonder I experienced at several of my coworkers who had never left the city. I chalked it up to perhaps the incurious nature, or financial circumstances, of my colleagues. How could one city be enough? I thought. 20 years later, finishing Peter Ackroyd's London: A Biography, I am reminded of this. Recognizing that this immense city defies traditional, chronological treatment, Ackroyd's biography (rather than a history) approaches London as an ancient living thing, growing, developing, with a multitude of tissues and characters. Roman tombs under medieval chapels under Victorian tenements. The Saxon roots of cockney dialect. The Theatre of public executions. The Theatre. Food and markets through the centuries. The Thames and the blitz. London and child sacrifice in nursery rhymes. During my brief time there I scarcely saw the surface, let alone scratched it. Through the lens of a biographer of Dickens and Blake, this is a great read.
In April, 1994 -- long after scientists had clearly demonstrated the
addictive quality and devastating health impacts of cigarette smoking
-- seven chief executives of major tobacco companies denied the
evidence, swearing under oath that nicotine was not addictive.
reminded me of growing up in the 70's, while the long battle over the health effects of smoking was still under way, with the cigarette companies denying links between smoking and cancer, or the addictive effects of cigs on young people, and the earlier ad campaigns to combat the mounting evidence turned science against itself.
In a Washington Post Op-Ed, Alan Leshner hammers the nonsense from Sarah Palin:
Don't be fooled about climate science. In April, 1994 -- long after scientists had clearly demonstrated the addictive quality and devastating health impacts of cigarette smoking -- seven chief executives of major tobacco companies denied the evidence, swearing under oath that nicotine was not addictive.
Now, the American public is again being subjected to those kinds of
denials, this time about global climate change. While former Alaska
governor Sarah Palin wrote in her Dec. 9 op-ed
that she did not deny the "reality of some changes in climate," she
distorted the clear scientific evidence that Earth's climate is
changing, largely as a result of human behaviors. She also badly
confused the concepts of daily weather changes and long-term climate
trends when she wrote that "while we recognize the occurrence of these
natural, cyclical environmental trends, we can't say with assurance
that man's activities cause weather changes." Her statement
inaccurately suggests that short-term weather fluctuations must be
consistent with long-term climate patterns. And it is the long-term
patterns that are a cause for concern.
Climate-change science is clear: The concentration of atmospheric
carbon dioxide -- derived mostly from the human activities of
fossil-fuel burning and deforestation -- stands at 389 parts per
million (ppm). We know from studying ancient Antarctic ice cores that
this concentration is higher than it has been for at least the past
650,000 years. Exhaustive measurements tell us that atmospheric carbon
dioxide is rising by 2 ppm every year and that the global temperature
has increased by about 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century.
Multiple lines of other evidence, including reliable thermometer
readings since the 1880s, reveal a clear warming trend. The broader
impacts of climate change range from rapidly melting glaciers and
rising sea levels to shifts in species ranges.
Going after The Onion's niche, the Washington Post seeks Sarah Palin's "thoughts" on climate change. Marc Ambinder takes her apart:
The revelation of appalling actions by so-called climate
change experts allows the American public to finally understand the
concerns so many of us have articulated on this issue.
Remember, the "revelation" was born from an potentially illegal e-mail
hack. "So-called" -- untrue. These are experts. Their science has been
validated, independently. Their "actions" here consist of insulting
climate change skeptics, immature name-calling, and, at worst, devising
a strategy to keep the climate change deniers out of debates and
peer-reviewed journals. The "concerns" that Palin speaks of are the
result of years of accumulated science denialism that now,
conveniently, has been seemingly "validated" by the fog of a grand
conspiracy, suddenly revealed.
"Climate-gate," as the e-mails and other documents from the Climate
Research Unit at the University of East Anglia have become known,
exposes a highly politicized scientific circle -- the same circle whose
work underlies efforts at the Copenhagen climate change conference.
-- although the politicization came about as a response to an extremely
well-funded political campaign by those whose bottom lines would be
most harmed by carbon taxes, cap and trade schemes and the like
agenda-driven policies being pushed in Copenhagen won't change the
weather, but they would change our economy for the worse.
If you can't discern climate from weather, you have no business yakking about climate change in a major publication.
I like the point Ambinder makes about politicization. Scientists are not by nature spin doctors or politicians. That's why can you never get them to "guarantee" or offer "100%" certainty about anything. Steeped in the peer review process, the research community is typically unprepared (and inadquately funded) to offer an effective defence against well organized lay attacks on their credibility. When they do engage, they are often clumsy or perceived as 'arrogant' by a public with a poor understanding of how science works. Having the facts on your side is not always enough.
from the folks who, among other things, hunt for oil.
The Geological Society of America (GSA) supports the scientific conclusions that Earth’s climate is changing; the climate changes are due in part to human activities; and the probable consequences of the climate changes will be significant and blind to geopolitical boundaries. Furthermore, the potential implications of global climate change and the time scale over which such changes will likely occur require active, effective, long-term planning. GSA also supports statements on the global climate change issue made by the joint national academies of science (June 2005), American Geophysical Union (December, 2003), and American Chemical Society (2004). GSA strongly encourages that the following efforts be undertaken internationally: (1) adequately research climate change at all time scales, (2) develop thoughtful, science-based policy appropriate for the multifaceted issues of global climate change, (3) organize global planning to recognize, prepare for, and adapt to the causes and consequences of global climate change, and (4) organize and develop comprehensive, long-term strategies for sustainable energy, particularly focused on minimizing impacts on global climate.
watching "climategate" swirl around I keep asking myself what these people are thinking. here is a typical denialist screed:
The project is all about wealth transfer and pan-global re-alignment of spheres of influence, not climate. These ingrates managed to dumb down the population enough to pull the wool over their collective eyes and now they drag this complacent and debt laden society to the very brink of coolapse.
Let me try to connect the dots. Thousands of over-educated underpaid climate scientists are part of a massive global conspiracy!! to take over the world through faked data, academic infighting, and powerpoint presentations. Honestly, what would be the motivation for all of these scientists to abandon their professional integrity to take on super-rich business interests and the religious right? What's the payoff? Free doughnuts in the lunchroom?
Similar to the evolution / holocaust / vaccine denial mobs (with a fair degree of overlap) the climate change deniers, by virtue of financial interest or religious zeal (or both), fly in the face of overwhelming evidence with an arsenal of fake experts, out-of-context quote mining, bad faith arguments, and outright lies. You really must have a head full of nonsense to buy this stuff.
I am not sure what is supposed to be so shocking about the so-called "climategate" scandal. Someone hacked into servers at the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University. Cue the flyingmonkeys of climate change denial who, after picking through the 10 years' worth of faculty emails, have declared climate change science invalidated. Climate scientists can hang up their models and go home. It's all a big hoax!
I challenge any organization, or individual for that matter, to surrender all of their email to their worst enemies. Let's see what might turn up. We might find that "gasp" some emails are nasty, inconsistent, dishonest, or just plain wrong. Shock. horror. yawn.
This is typical behaviour of the denialist community (climate change, evolution, holocaust, birthers, etc.). Launch fact-free attacks on the science and scientists, howl over reasonable scientific disputes, misrepresent uncertainty, argue in bad faith, quote mine and clip out of context, and generally behave like 4th graders.
For some other views, let's check in with the lefty hippie treehuggers at Shell Oil (commenting at LGF):
I think that the science now tells us more than enough to warrant
action. Certainly there remain uncertainties, but not on the issue as a
With regards the private e-mails posted on the internet, I think the
story is a simple one and it could apply to any one of us. Think of all
the e-mails you have written over the past 10 years. Now imagine that
someone ciminally breaks into your e-mail account and downloads all of
them, handpicks a few and posts them on the internet to cast you in a
particular light. We could all be shown to be saints or sinners or
anything in between.
Now look at what has happened with these scientists going about their
work in much the same way anyone of us might attend to our job. Enough
Enough indeed. Unfortunately some don't concur, and we'll be hearing more from the denialists & their monkeys. Some further excellent roundup of the "controversy" at Nature, Popular Mechanics, and of course RealClimate.