Friday, October 23, 2009

News From the Cryosphere

You've probably heard the rather depressing poll numbers about US citizens and climate catastrophe awareness (NPR's AP website feed picked it up). Essentially folks in the US have grown even more ignorant about climate science over the past two years. Perhaps some of them have been listening a bit too much to NPR:
I was struck by the Democracy Now! report this morning on the world-wide protests - and by the non-coverage of the event on NPR. (Even US soldiers in Afghanistan got into the act!). Perhaps I'm jumping to judgment; maybe NPR is waiting until the actual day of the event (Saturday) to cover it - like they did for the Equality March - not! or like they did for the Tea-Party rally (where they only gave it a whole week of glowing lead-up coverage) before the big celebration.

[for information on the cryosphere - check out this resource]


geoff said...

I found an action within biking distance of my house on - no thanks to NPR.

Just to add to the NPR idiocy, that loony elite toady (and child actor with Ronald Reagan) Tony Blankley on LRC came out and said he thinks the scientific community's claims of an impending man made climate catastrophe is a hoax.

People advocating for a proper 911 investigation are banished from NPR, (and DN, for that matter) but climate deniers representing the Chamber of Commerce are paid to proclaim (with panache) loony anti-scientific notions on public radio.

I have friends I respect and admire who agree with "climate change is a hoax" attitude. But they're not trained in science, nor do they get paid to opine on public radio, so I forgive them.

Finally, one of the creepiest public radio sketches about climate change is the "News of the Warm" segment on Harry Shearer's "Le Show." Without being paid, he digs up more better 411 on climate change than just about anyone else. Go figure.

boog!poonk!feezy!beeny! said...

And Shearer's Spinal Tap/Mighty Wind bandmate Michael McKean cleaned that CNN bubblehead Sold-out O'Brien on Celeb Jeopardy the other week. Go figger indeed.

big!pink!fuzzy!meaculpa! said...

it was her clock that he cleaned.
Ugh, proofread before publishing.

Anonymous said...

I have friends I respect and admire who agree with "climate change is a hoax" attitude. But they're not trained in science," ...

There is a real irony here.

People who are not scientists (and in many cases have no background or knowledge of science) are often the quickest to jump to the conclusion that the scientists are wrong about climate change!

It's one thing (natural actually) to have doubts about something one has no knowledge about.

But to label climate change as a "hoax" perpetrated by literally thousands of climate scientists (and others: eg, economists) worldwide shows that one is completely out of touch with reality.

That would take a conspiracy of mammoth proportions and science simply does not work that way. In fact, the glory in science does not go to the guy or gal who toes the line. Quite the opposite: it goes to the person who overturns conventional thinking.

There have been hoaxes in science (Piltdown man may be the most famous), but they were perpetrated by individuals and affected relatively small numbers of scientists.

To think that thousands of scientists have simply accepted some hoax perpetrated by someone like Arrhenius (who did the seminal work on greenhouse gas theory) is absurd.

Forget scientists.

How ANY educated person could accept such a goofy idea is really hard for me to comprehend.

but then again, I WAS trained as a scientist (physicist).

Life As I Know It Now said...

This is why I wish I had never had children, or why I have grandchildren. The suffering my descendants will have to face because of these idiots is terrifying!

Anonymous said...


You are right on the money.

The vast majority of the people who call global warming a "hoax" (folks like James Inhofe) ARE idiots.

And the small minority who are not idiots are just dishonest in the extreme.

But one need not go so far as calling it a hoax to fall into one of the above categories.

Actually, anyone who would make a point of highlighting the website of a contrarian high school student on this issue (on a national radio show!) also falls into one of those two categories, IMHO.

And because David Kestenbaum has a PhD in physics (and from Harvard, no less), we can rule out stupid as a possibility.

geoff said...

liberality and anon -

Don't omit the parameters of fear and confusion. If you're not trained in science, you may well think many scientists are government stooges and, like Homeland Security, are just capriciously flashing color coded alert levels at you with nefarious intent.

On the other hand, NIST is just government dressed up in scientist's clothing. It's true that you can find a "real scientist" to argue any position you want argued. Just look at expert witness testimony in various courtrooms where you have scientists taking opposite points of view depending on who is paying them. The NIST report on WTC7, from what I've seen of it, seems a laughable farce, yet very few scientists are coming forward to say so in public.

In that context, the context of the fog of industry funded stooges arguing on the idiotic sides of various arguments, together with the stoking of fear in its many flavors, it's not surprising that people, with say, highly intelligent musical talents, might smell a rat in the climate arguments and choose not to choose or even to reject the preponderance scientific agreement about impending climate catastrophe.

Anonymous said...

gopolganger says "NIST is just government dressed up in scientist's clothing."

I guess that's why John Hall (an NIST scientist) was awarded the Nobel prize in physics, eh? (By the way, the physics Nobel actually does mean something)

I've personally worked with NIST scientists and will simply say that your blanket statement about NIST is completely "off base" (ignorant, really) as such gross generalizations often are.

you are entitled to your opinion on 911, but I can say with some confidence that there are many many REAL scientists working for NIST and our government in general (for NASA, USGS, NOAA, Department of Energy, Livermore labs, Los Alamos) -- some of the best in the world, in fact. Among other things, they put a man on the moon (severl times), produced the atom and hydrogen bombs and the internet.

Climate scientist James Hansen is one of these (top notch) government scientists, but my guess is that the list is too long to fit in this box.

Of COURSE corporations like ExxonMobil and their think tank wankers have produced "fear and confusion" as did members of the Bush administration.

But you really have to separate the politicians from the scientists.

And "fear and confusion" are no excuse for unquestioningly buying into the "global warming is a hoax" line.

As i said above, it's one thing to entertain doubts. After all, that's what even good scientists do.

But it is something entirely different to buy into the idea of a hoax perpetrated by thousands of scientists worldwide, many of whom do not even WORK for government or industry.

To do so REALLY IS absurd and I must say, idiotic.

larry, dfh said...

I am a scientist, as is my business partner. He is skeptical about global warming, and brought up some evidence of a mini-ice age in 1250, with the impliction that we are re-setting to the pre-1250 conditions. I simply asked him "So polar bears evolved since 1250?"
We have a common friend who is a scientist for NASA, and quite frankly I don't believe anything out of his mouth about climate change. As a NASA scientist, he works (literally) for Exxon-Mobil, Pratt and Whitney, and the fossil fuel industry in general. He spouts alot of pro-industry propaganda.
And regarding NIST, does anyone know if they had any ACTUAL steel from the WTC's, any steel that might show 'something'? My impression is that their 'investigation' was entirely modelling-based.

geoff said...


Wow, John Hall is amazing.

An optical frequency comb is generated by a laser specially designed to produce a series of very short (a few millionth billionths of a second), equally spaced pulses of light. The shorter a pulse of laser light is, the more individual colors—or frequencies—go into making it, and in the comb the individual frequencies are “locked” so that they stay in phase with each other. The name arises because a graph of the frequencies in the pulse looks like a very fine-toothed comb of equally spaced spikes. The spikes can be used as a sort of measuring stick to determine the frequency of another laser with extraordinarily high precision, currently a few parts in 1,000,000,000,000,000 or better.

Breathtaking. And so his work is essential to our ability to communicate in this forum!

Come to think of it, I also know a guy who works for NIST, though we don't communicate much these days, I talked to him about a year ago at the wake of a mutual friend. He said the political in-fighting at NIST (his area, anyway) is pretty severe. Hall is retired and his Nobel prize work was decades ago. I suspect that NIST faired no better than NPR during the Bush years. There's also been politicization at NOAA, FTC, FDA and FAA, to name a few. I suspect many scientists at NIST are keeping quiet about the ridiculous WTC7 report (the other report on WTC1 and 2 was no better) for fear of losing their jobs. Also, because if it (the report) is a cover-up, then there's some massive lying going on with truly mega-massive implications for our society, world peace, etc.

I appreciate being granted entitlement to my opinion re 911, but, honestly, I'd have my opinions and investigations regardless of such entitlement. I don't know the story of 911. It wasn't reported on NPR. The 911 commissioners have as much as admitted their report was based on bullshit. So what's your opinion? Has there been enough investigation to form the basis of an informed opinion?

Anonymous said...

edk: "I am a scientist, as is my business partner. He is skeptical about global warming,"

It is certainly possible to find legitimate scientists who are skeptical.

But as I indicated above, there is a pretty sharp dividing line between doubt (even of the educated kind, ie, skepticism) and calling something a "hoax". The latter does not simply indicate "doubt" about the scientific results but actual fraud perpetrated (witingly or otherwise) by thousands of scientists.


There is a critical difference between the political appointees who head up organizations and agencies like NASA and NOAA, interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, etc and the career scientists who work for them.

It is not only possible but probable that political appointees will issue and edit reports and statements that their own scientists do NOT support.

We saw that under the Bush administration on climate change in particular. James Hansen complained about how such political hacks were trying to censor him. But hansen was just the most visible case. There were many many scientists throughout the government (in the Fish and Wildlife Service, for example) who took the unprecedented step of actually going OUTSIDE the agency (eg, to Union of Concerned Scientists) to document their complaints about the polticization of science that was happening.

So, even with extreme politicization of scientific issues by an administration, we see just how hard it is to get ALL the scientists to go along with the official garbage (or even look the other way).

Perhaps it IS difficult for people who have never done science to understand the mentality of scientists.

Sure there are the exceptions who are willing to whore themselves to industry, but I would guess that for the vast majority of scientists, knowingly lying about the way nature works is antithetical to their very identity as scientists.

Anonymous said...

By the way, edk

If it is any consolation.

I myself have questions about the "official line" on 911.

As a physicist, there are many things about what was claimed to have happened that simply do not make sense (at least not to me).

but even in that case, I think one has to be careful to draw a distinction between the politically generated "official reports" and the scientists, not least of all because of what you alluded to above: people are afraid of losing their jobs (or perhaps even worse).

The latter problem is particularly acute when both Democratic and Republican leaders accept the official line.

Although, even then, some scientists would actually quit before they would lie about the scientific evidence.

Anonymous said...

Lat comment should have been addressed to gopolganger.

geoff said...

This is an NPR thread, so I don't want to get too bogged down in tertiaries, though 911 is one of the 411s NPR has thoroughly failed to deliver on - though they've got plenty of company there. As I see it, 911 411 is the biggest gorilla in the elephant.

The timeline of NPR's demise sort of starts with Gingrich in '94 hitting the soft underbelly of the veal pen NPR with the threat of evisceration, the Kroc transfusion, Bob Edwards sacrificial spectacle and further corporate body snatching, crowned with 911 when you were either with the great MSM transplantation or with the terrorists. It's a wonder that outfits like Pacifica and DN have survived this far. It obviously hasn't been easy.

It would be a good project for someone in the group to put together a timeline of the events: both the formative and expressive, which show the ruin of NPR as a legitimate news service. I have this idea that it was once legitimate, but I may just have become aware of their basic fraud over time.