|Source: Continuous Improvement Associates|
This article describes The Physics of the System relative to Global Warming. Even though exact modeling of the climate for past and future average global temperature is enormously complicated, the physics, the facts, and what they mean are not. Gravity is only a theory -- a unified theory of forces isn't "settled science" -- but we know what happens when we jump off a cliff: we die. Global Warming is also only a theory, but it's settled enough to know, not exact temperature predictions, but what's happening because we're jumping off that cliff.
One does not have to be a rocket surgeon to understand this. The facts and their implications are not up for negotiation. "Physics does not negotiate! Physics just does."
Let me be clear, this is an existential threat to life on earth.
Please, pay attention and stop denying reality. Some against abortion of fetuses say that's "child murder", yet they are quite willing to vote for Trump/Republicans who deny this threat to all life on earth.
In 2001, Ron Suskind wrote in The One Percent Doctrine that Vice-President Dick Cheney announced that if there was "a one percent chance" that a threat was real "we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response." Cheney added, "It's not about our analysis, or finding a preponderance of evidence." If "conservatives" believe that about attacking other nations, why do they quibble over whether it's 97% certain that life on earth is threatened by global warming?
Trump/Republicans are a clear and present danger to all life on earth. This is the ultimate in evil.
As I write in Trump/Republicans: Worse Than 9/11: Were I a better person, I would say "forgive them, for they know not what they do". But they are so damned dedicated to not knowing that I cannot.
I will not be around for the most disastrous consequences, so this will not affect me personally. I do not have children, but those who do and don't take this seriously are condemning them to a dystopian future in which billions of humans will die and countless species will go extinct.
Also see: Why Climate Skeptics Are Wrong, Scientific American. But take note: they aren't "skeptics"; they're deniers!
The science of global warming is settled enough for us to know what's happening and why. John Sterman at MIT has been studying why so many humans don't understand the reality of what's happening. The diagram shows a simplified stock and flow model of the climate system. The paper contains a more detailed model as well.
John D. Sterman is the Standish Professor of Management and Director of the System Dynamics Group at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Cloudy Skies: Assessing Public Understanding of Global Warming by John D. Sterman and Linda Booth Sweeney, System Dynamics Review, 18(2) 2002
Surveys show most Americans believe global warming is real. But many advocate delaying action until there is more evidence that warming is harmful. The stock and flow structure of the climate, however, means "wait and see" policies guarantee further warming.
Atmospheric CO2 concentration is now higher than any time in the last 420,000 years, and growing faster than any time in the past 20,000 years. The high concentration of CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) generates significant radiative forcing that contributes to warming. To reduce radiative forcing and the human contribution to warming, GHG concentrations must fall.
To reduce GHG concentrations, emissions must fall below the rate at which GHGs are removed from the atmosphere. Anthropogenic CO2 emissions are now roughly double the removal rate, and the removal rate is projected to fall as natural carbon sinks saturate. Emissions must therefore fall by more than half even to stabilize CO2 at present record levels.
Such reductions greatly exceed the Kyoto targets, while the Bush administration's Clear Skies Initiative calls for continued emissions growth. Does the public understand these physical facts?
We report experiments assessing people's intuitive understanding of climate change. We presented highly educated graduate students with descriptions of greenhouse warming drawn from the IPCC's nontechnical reports. Subjects were then asked to identify the likely response to various scenarios for CO2 emissions or concentrations. The tasks require no mathematics, only an understanding of stocks and flows and basic facts about climate change.
Overall performance was poor. Subjects often select trajectories that violate conservation of matter. Many believe temperature responds immediately to changes in CO2 emissions or concentrations. Still more believe that stabilizing emissions near current rates would stabilize the climate, when in fact emissions would continue to exceed removal, increasing GHG concentrations and radiative forcing. Such beliefs support wait and see policies, but violate basic laws of physics. We discuss implications for education and public policy.
It's a major problem that humans are poor at thinking through problems that are dynamically complex. That is, problems with multiple feedbacks and long delays ... known as "Messes". When there is great inequality of wealth and power, these are called "Wicked Messes".
So it's a difficulty that could be related to one or more of seven thinking aberrations I've identified.
1. Human Cognitive Ability: Dynamic Complexity, an inability of humans to deal with dynamically complex systems: systems with multiple feedbacks and long delays. Common sense fails us in the face of dynamic complexity. "Common sense is a bundle of prejudices we develop before the age of 18." Albert Einstein
5. Fossil fuel corporate black propaganda. Climate Denialism’s Star Scientist Exposed, Paid $1.2M By Oil Companies To Deliver Friendly Results, 2/22/15. The New York Times summarizes the findings. Scientists, with extensive political connections, are paid to deny well-established scientific knowledge, mislead the public, and sow doubt.
6. Religious faith that "God's in charge" and humans aren't more powerful than God so we can't be responsible. The "biblically inspired" Sen James Inhofe (R-OK) believes global warming is a hoax. He said, "... God's still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous." What's arrogant is for Inhofe to reject the science.
7. Anti-intellectualism. An antipathy against expertise and education and a view promoting radical simplicity and what's known as "common sense". See Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstadter. One person's take on the issue: "People hate and fear "dummies" but their true venom is reserved for anyone smarter than themselves. So they actively work to bully, ridicule, and shame people who are smart and driven to get good grades, pursue extraordinary dreams."
8. More simply, unreason: "You're just lying. I know what I know and I don't give a damn what you say."
On anti-intellectualism: America hits peak anti-intellectualism: Majority of Republicans now think college is bad by SOPHIA TESFAYE, Salon, 7/11/17
... A new Pew Research Center poll released on Monday revealed that there is one U.S. institution perceived through a larger partisan divide than even the media: It's college.
For the first time, a majority of Republicans think that colleges and universities have a negative impact on the country. Fifty-eight percent say that colleges "are having a negative effect on the way things are going in the country," according to Pew. In other words, the Wall Street banks are more popular with Republican voters than Stanford, Harvard or the University of Akron.
Just two years ago, a majority of Republicans, 54 percent, rated universities' effect as positive. As Pew noted, "this shift in opinion has occurred across most demographic and ideological groups within the GOP," but in particular the poll found that positive views of colleges among Republicans under the age of 50 sunk by 21 percentage points from 2015 to 2017. ...
Republicans will wreck the U.S. economy with "austerity" even as they take enormous Tax Breaks, kill hundreds of thousands of Americans by way of a "tax cuts for the wealthy bill" disguised as a "health care bill", and destroy life on earth for campaign contributions.
No regrets for Trump voters: The media needs to stop looking for buyer's remorse by AMANDA MARCOTTE, Salon, 6/21/17
"We are really uncomfortable when a decision we've made or an action we've taken or a belief we've come to is contradicted by evidence that we're wrong," explained psychologist Carol Tavris ...
With her co-author Elliot Aronson, Tavris explored the issue of cognitive dissonance in the book "Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts." Cognitive dissonance is the theory that people cannot reconcile two conflicting beliefs - in this case "I am a smart person" and "voting for Trump was a stupid thing to do" - and so instead they make rationalizations for why their bad decision was not a bad one at all.
"People, when they're motivated to form a certain position, then they're just going to dismiss [the] facts," explained Dan Kahan, a professor of law and psychology, in a phone interview. "They're going to dismiss the evidence behind them. They're also going to tune into the kinds of communications that reinforce what they already believe." ... [interview on this]
1. Warming is "natural"; it's happened in the past many times. Deniers say it would be happening even if humans did not exist. This, too, is false; warming this time is much faster, 10X faster. see below.
So yes, it's a cognitive failure, but there's also a quality of religion-like zeal behind the denial. The difficulty is way beyond science, logic, and rational understanding ... it's a form of insanity.
... Dan Kahan, principal researcher into the phenomenon of Cultural Cognition, has found that our views are powerfully shaped so they agree with beliefs of the groups with which we most strongly identify. His research, along with the work of others, has also found that the more challenged our views are, the more we defend them...the more dogmatic and closed-minded we become...an intellectual form of ‘circle-the-wagons, we're under attack' tribal unity. Talk about tribalism overruling reason. ...
We may not be aware at the conscious level of the influence tribalism has on us, but then, most of human cognition happens below the radar of consciousness, and is driven not so much by the goal of getting good grades or winning Nobel Prizes as it is, first, to survive. Small wonder that this ultimate imperative dominates so much of how we behave, how we think and act, and how we treat each other. And it's hardly surprising that the more unsettled and uncertain we feel and the less we feel we have control over how things are going - feelings that make us feel threatened - the more we circle the wagons and fiercely fight for tribal success, looking to the tribe to keep us safe.
This is perhaps the untimate irony relative to the destruction of life on earth: a "drive to keep us safe" leading to making us and all life on earth much less safe. ...
Covering many of the same points that I do above, see:
John Holdren Commentary: Convincing the Climate-Change Skeptics by John Holdren, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Boston Globe, 8/4/08
An article byJohn Paul Holdren, Ph.D. physicist, was Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Obama's top science adviser's guide to navigating the Trump era by Brian Resnick, Vox, 2/18/17,
"I'm worried - based on early indications - that we can be in for a major shift in the culture around science and technology and its eminence in government. We appear to have a president now that resists facts that do not comport to his preferences. And that bodes ill on the Obama administration's emphases on scientific integrity, transparency, and public access." ...
But with the appointment of Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency, he's signaled that his administration will be making big changes to environmental regulation. One of the first bills he signed as president killed an Obama-era rule that made it harder for coal companies to dump waste in streams.
As you recall, Trump campaigned on making it easier for coal corporations to pollute dump coal waste into streams.
You don't recall that? That's because he did not.
In an interview, after he denies the reality of global warming, Trump said,
"I want to make sure we have clean air and we have clean water. I want to make sure ... We want to have clean air to breathe and beautiful clean water."
He said China isn't "behaving" on global warming. What people who say this ignore is that China's CO2 production is *our* CO2 production ... just *try* buying something in a big box store *not* produced in China. Just try.
Trump is a liar, a fool, and -- along with other Republicans and deniers -- a malevolent threat to Life on Earth.
Why we pretend to know things, explained by a cognitive scientist by Sean Illing, Vox, 3/2/17
Why do people pretend to know things? Why does confidence so often scale with ignorance? Steven Sloman, a professor of cognitive science at Brown University, has some compelling answers to these questions.
"We're biased to preserve our sense of rightness," he told me, "and we have to be."
The author of The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone, Sloman's research focuses on judgment, decision-making, and reasoning. He's especially interested in what's called "the illusion of explanatory depth." This is how cognitive scientists refer to our tendency to overestimate our understanding of how the world works.
We do this, Sloman says, because of our reliance on other minds.
"The decisions we make, the attitudes we form, the judgments we make, depend very much on what other people are thinking," he said.
If the people around us are wrong about something, there's a good chance we will be too. Proximity to truth compounds in the same way.
In this interview, Sloman and I talk about the problem of unjustified belief. I ask him about the political implications of his research, and if he thinks the rise of "fake news" and "alternative facts" has amplified our cognitive biases. ...
Physics of the System Facts and What they Mean:
Fact: At current levels of CO2 (and other greenhouse gasses) in the atmosphere, more heat is absorbed by the atmosphere than goes back into space.
Means: The planet is warming because more heat is coming in than is leaving.
Fact: Human activity continues to increase greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.
Means: The planet absorbs even more heat than goes back into space.
Fact: Humans emit twice as much CO2 into the atmosphere than is absorbed by plants and the oceans.
Means: We humans are accelerating warming.
Means: Stopping the increase in human emissions is not enough; we must cut emissions in half.
Fact: CO2 absorbed by the oceans is making them warmer and more acidic, which reduces both the oxygen in the ocean and the production of oxygen by phytoplankton
What this Means to Life on Earth: Because of warmer oceans and more water in the atmosphere, hurricanes and tornadoes will be stronger, flooding will be more severe, snow storms will drop more snow when the moisture hits a cold front, increasing drought from changing weather patterns, and more wildfires in drought-stricken areas.
Even worse, half the source of oxygen produced on planet earth is threatened by more CO2 dissolved in the oceans.
Source of Half Earth's Oxygen Gets Little Credit by John Roach, National Geographic News, 6/7/04
Fish, whales, dolphins, crabs, seabirds, and just about everything else that makes a living in or off of the oceans owe their existence to phytoplankton, one-celled plants that live at the ocean surface.
Phytoplankton are at the base of what scientists refer to as oceanic biological productivity, the ability of a water body to support life such as plants, fish, and wildlife. ...
WARMING OCEAN SLOWS PHYTOPLANKTON GROWTH, NASA, 12/06/06
In addition to playing a big role in removing greenhouses gases from the atmosphere, phytoplankton are the foundation of the ocean food chain.
For nearly a decade, the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-View Sensor (SeaWiFS) has been making global observations of phytoplankton productivity. On December 6, 2006, NASA-funded scientists announced that warming sea surface temperatures over the past decade have caused a global decline in phytoplankton productivity.
NASA Data Reveals Climate Warming Reduces Ocean Food Supply, NASA, 12/06/06
In a NASA study, scientists have concluded that when the Earth's climate warms, there is a reduction in the ocean's primary food supply, posing a potential threat to fisheries and ecosystems. By comparing nearly a decade of global ocean satellite data with several records of Earth's changing climate, scientists found that whenever climate warmed, marine plant life in the form of phytoplankton declined. Whenever climate cooled, marine plant life became more vigorous or productive.
Rising Acidity in the Ocean: The Other CO2 Problem By Peter G. Brewer, James Barry, Scientific American, 9/1/08
So please, never mind whether the models predicting global temperature are exactly correct ... they're exact enough to know the planet is warming, we humans are causing it, and it requires action now if billions of persons and countless species are not to die in this century.
Already, though the major disastrous effects have not set in, "global wildlife population declined by nearly 60 percent over the past four decades." Humans are causing the Sixth Mass Extinction of life on earth even without the major impacts of Global Warming.
Vanishing species. CNN: Now we're on the verge of the sixth extinction. Three quarters of all species could vanish. Over half of world's apes and monkeys in danger of extinction by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY,1/18/17.
Earth, we have a problem!
For example, one denier said: "Anybody that says the science settled is a farce. This guy doesn't have a PHD in anything except P-iled H-gher and D-eeper. lol... And to boot he's goofy as hell."
In a technical sense, no science is ever settled. In fact, the science around gravity is not settled ... there are relativistic, quantum, and other effects that have yet to be fully understood and integrated into a unified theory.
In that "fully settled" sense, neither are the big bang or evolution "settled", but they're "settled enough" for even Pope Francis to say they're true.
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand' by Adam Withnall, The Independent UK, 10/28/14
The theories of evolution and the Big Bang are real and God is not "a magician with a magic wand", Pope Francis has declared.
Speaking at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Pope made comments which experts said put an end to the "pseudo theories" of creationism and intelligent design that some argue were encouraged by his predecessor, Benedict XVI.
Francis explained that both scientific theories were not incompatible with the existence of a creator - arguing instead that they "require it".
"When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so," Francis said.
"The Big Bang, which today we hold to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the intervention of the divine creator but, rather, requires it.
"Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve." ...
But we know enough about gravity to know gravity's effects ... fall off a tall enough building and you die. And that's also the case for jumping off global warming cliff. We know that it's a killer of life on earth.
... FURTHER RESOLVED, That climate change is not a hoax, or a plot by the Chinese; in this city, surrounded by water on three sides, science matters; we will continue our work on ICleanPower, Zero Waste, and everything else we are doing to protect future generations;
As the Earth moved out of ice ages over the past million years, the global temperature rose a total of 4 to 7 degrees Celsius over about 5,000 years. In the past century alone, the temperature has climbed 0.7 degrees Celsius, roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming.
Scientists Agree Human-Caused Climate Change is Real: But Wait, We've Known That for Decades! by MELANIE FITZPATRICK, CLIMATE SCIENTIST, 5/16/13
An important peer-reviewed study was published today by John Cook et al. in the journal Environmental Research Letters. John Cook runs the well-known Skeptical Science website that rebuts global warming misinformation. His new research once again confirms there is overwhelming agreement amongst climate scientists - over 97 percent agree - and in the scientific literature - over 97 percent of papers confirm - that global warming is real and largely caused by humans. However, current surveys of the U.S. public, such as those done by the Pew Center and Yale, show that less than half the population believe scientists are in agreement on the issue of human-caused climate change.
Let's do a classic "thought experiment" (it's only classic because climate scientists have been telling this one for so many years now). Imagine you went to 100 medical experts and asked each of them to diagnose whether you had cancer or not. If 97 of those hundred confirmed your worst fears and verified that you did indeed have cancer, would you keep asking for more evidence before you did something about it? Most people would have a hard time ignoring that kind of agreement amongst experts! Except, it seems, when the experts we're talking about are climate scientists and the subject is the consequences of burning so much coal and oil and destroying so many tropical forests. ...
Scientific Organizations Agree
From this article: Politicians, economists, journalists, and others may have the impression of confusion, disagreement, or discord among climate scientists, but that impression is incorrect.
BEYOND THE IVORY TOWER: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change Science by Naomi Oreskes, Science 12/3/04 Vol. 306. no. 5702, p. 1686
The drafting of such reports and statements involves many opportunities for comment, criticism, and revision, and it is not likely that they would diverge greatly from the opinions of the societies' members. Nevertheless, they might downplay legitimate dissenting opinions. That hypothesis was tested by analyzing 928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and listed in the ISI database with the keywords "climate change" (9).
The 928 papers were divided into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position. Of all the papers, 75% fell into the first three categories, either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.
Admittedly, authors evaluating impacts, developing methods, or studying paleoclimatic change might believe that current climate change is natural. However, none of these papers argued that point.
This analysis shows that scientists publishing in the peer-reviewed literature agree with IPCC, the National Academy of Sciences, and the public statements of their professional societies. Politicians, economists, journalists, and others may have the impression of confusion, disagreement, or discord among climate scientists, but that impression is incorrect.
The scientific consensus might, of course, be wrong. If the history of science teaches anything, it is humility, and no one can be faulted for failing to act on what is not known. But our grandchildren will surely blame us if they find that we understood the reality of anthropogenic climate change and failed to do anything about it.
Many details about climate interactions are not well understood, and there are ample grounds for continued research to provide a better basis for understanding climate dynamics. The question of what to do about climate change is also still open. But there is a scientific consensus on the reality of anthropogenic climate change. Climate scientists have repeatedly tried to make this clear. It is time for the rest of us to listen.
So-called "conservatives" buy Cheney's "1% Doctrine" when it applies to attacking other nations:
THE ONE PERCENT DOCTRINE by Ron Suskind, The New Yorker, 7/3/06 ISSUE
In November, 2001, Suskind writes, Vice-President Dick Cheney announced that if there was "a one percent chance" that a threat was real "we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response." He added, "It's not about our analysis, or finding a preponderance of evidence."
Oh my, a 1% chance must be treated as a certainty! That is indeed radically "conservative."
But global warming deniers don't see it that way even though at least 45% of the public agrees it's a problem! That's despite the amazing fact that 196 nations agreed on a Paris Climate Agreement (Trump is lying when he says it's "one more bad trade deal.").
A real threat that's 100% certain: so-called "conservatives" and Trump/Republicans who want to step on the accelerator to drive us even more quickly over the cliff.
How certain am I? Certain enough to put more than $30,000 behind my words.
I've invested $27,000 (after rebates) to put solar panels on my roof because I know it's an existential threat. I produced 84% more electric power than I used in 2016. See the system on my roof and power production web-based tracking here. My usage also went down because I bought more efficient appliances.
In addition I supplement winter heating with a pellet stove to reduce my use of natural gas; cost $4,500.
None of this is to protect me personally or save me money -- I quite sure cost savings will never pay off the investment -- it's to help protect future generations ... and help protect your children, if you have them.
For me to have a PhD in physics and an MBA is a liability in the view of deniers. Yet, I've got deniers without that education lecturing me on science and physics. Those who take physics know it's tough. The sad thing is that, if one looks at the facts, one doesn't need that much education to understand the threat.
Even though I did get that education, like Rodney Dangerfield, "I don't get no respect." One "conservative" accused me of being an "intellectual" ... it was only several hours later that I considered the source and realized that was an insult. Even mentioning my credentials has been called "patting myself on the back."
Not even Stephen Hawking gets respect from some. One comment: "Yea, Hawking says a lot of stupid things."
Humankind is still greedy, stupid and greatest threat to earth, by Mary Bowerman, USA TODAY Network, 6/28/16
When asked what the biggest problem facing the world is, Hawking said climate change. Hawking told King he wonders if we are past the point of no return. "Will we be too late to avoid dangerous levels of global warming?" [bolding, italics added]
I'm not being paid, but deniers' views are bolstered by those who are paid by fossil fuel corporations. It's not that deniers are simply in denial; they are rabidly in denial.
Here are sample comments I've gotten. Their derision and hatred is visceral:
All righty, then.... actually, knowledge from long years of study isn't just "doubted" as the article below says; it's maligned. ...
Honesty, RIP: Facts take a beating across US By MATT SEDENSKY, AP, 11/5/16
"There's a profound doubt in this country about the importance of expertise, knowledge, things like that," said Ohio University professor Kevin Mattson. "Trump has just drawn that out to its logical extreme conclusion."
Mattson studies the history of ideas and wrote about the notion of a "post-fact" world. "It's people's belief that their willing and their subjective desire for something is more important than facts that stand outside of that," he said. ...
"The belief is that there is no objective truth - if we want something to be real, then it is real," he said.
Through that lens, it's easier to understand vehement insistence that climate change is not real (it is, according to scientific consensus) .... The disconnect from facts is exacerbated by a confusing web of information sources, both ideology-driven news outlets and lesser-known sites that peddle lies through incredible headlines, which spread on social media. ...
Sad, indeed ...
Global Warming Denial: A Case Study, 11/14/15. The facts about a global-warming-denier meme that lies about what Gore has said and about the reality of the loss of ice at the Arctic ice cap. Even when shown the lies, the denier remains in denial.
Global Warming: The Carbon Bathtub, 4/23/15. Presentation (3 minutes) on global warming to the Colorado Springs Utilities Board on 4/22/15 (Earth Day). It explains the physics of the system: why global warming is happening, why humans are causing it, and why stopping the increase in emissions is not enough ... we must cut them in half. And it addresses common false objections to addressing the problem.
Much of What's Called Socialism is Just Pragmatic, 3/19/15. Many freak out at even the mention of the word, socialism. It's "politically incorrect" to even mention the word thanks to more than six decades of propaganda against it. Bill Maher: "America's real religion is capitalism. And like any religion, it needs a devil. And that devil has always been socialism."
As the Earth moved out of ice ages over the past million years, the global temperature rose a total of 4 to 7 degrees Celsius over about 5,000 years. In the past century alone, the temperature has climbed 0.7 degrees Celsius, roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming.
Models predict that Earth will warm between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius in the next century. When global warming has happened at various times in the past two million years, it has taken the planet about 5,000 years to warm 5 degrees. The predicted rate of warming for the next century is at least 20 times faster. This rate of change is extremely unusual.
Climate Change Teach-In 7/22/17 at Penrose Library Powerpoint Presentation© 2003 Continuous Improvement Associates
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