The authority of the IPCC First Assessment Report and the manufacture of consensus
It is widely perceived that "manufactured controversy" has become a serious problem for contemporary civic deliberations. Advocates for special interests have been able to delay, or even derail, much-needed policies by creating an appearance of scientific doubts where there are in fact none. "Denialists" in controversies over policies towards AIDS or towards teaching biology tread a path first laid down by advocates for Big Tobacco, who famously proclaimed "doubt is our product" (Ceccarelli; Michaels; Weinel; Paroske).
In this environment, the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) seems a remarkable achievement. Through a series of (up to now) four reports starting in 1990, the IPCC has managed to establish as a political "given" that the earth is warming, and that human activity is a significant cause. The fourth report was the occasion for the Bush II administration's shift from statements like this: We do not know how much effect natural fluctuations in climate may have had on warming.
We do not know how much our climate could, or will change in the future. We do not know how fast change will occur, or even how some of our actions could impact it.
in 2001, with it's typical assertions of "uncertainty" as a reason for inaction, to statements like this:
[The IPCC report] reflects the sizeable and robust body of knowledge regarding the physical science of climate change, including the finding that the Earth is warming and that human activities have very likely caused most of the warming of the last 50 years.in 2007. How did the IPCC manage this feat? In opposition to those who would create an appearance of doubt, the IPCC has made evident a broad and deep agreement among scientists— they have "manufactured consensus."
My first goal for this paper is to give an account of the long-term work of rhetorical strategy or design which resulted in the "manufacture of consensus."
My second goal is to critique it. Now, it may seem unwise to cast doubt on a strategy that managed against all odds to achieve a result that many of us agree with. Further, it has been proposed that it is just such a scientific consensus—and not unobtainable "proof"—that can provide the basis for sound public policy (Oreskes "Science and Public Policy: What's Proof Got to Do with It?").
Nevertheless, I hope to sketch an account of the IPCC's rhetorical design which suggests that its success came at a price—a price which included contributing to the decades of political controversy over anthropogenic warming which it finally (at least for now) put to rest.
Much more HERE
John Cook : “observed sea level rise is already above IPCC projections and strongly hints at acceleration”
Actually, recent sea level rise is below IPCC projections and is clearly decelerating. Why does someone who calls himself an “evangelical Christian” intentionally mislead his readers? How much does Cook get paid to promote this BS?
Deadly New York heat wave kills 50 people a day
July 15th, '11: The New World has been hit by a modern counterpart of the plague of Egypt in the form of a deadly heat wave. This phenomenon ultimately poured over to Europe as well and it began to plunder the Czech lands, too.
In the wake of the tropical weather, the New York City has been completely crippled.
The New World was struck by a new-age plague of Egypt. "The commercial activities have largely come to a halt. The thermometer is climbing to breathtaking heights. Some people are grovelling on the shadowy side of the sidewalks and one can't find any humans on the squares. Who doesn't have to, doesn't leave his house and is looking for the coldest places of the buildings and their basements"
Just to be sure, it was 1911.
The fight for ice:
It was a literally murderous heat wave. "As a consequence of the huge heat wave, additional 50 people died on the day before yesterday,"
New Yorkers were therefore trying to escape from the overheated city en masse. "Next to New York, two refugee camps have been built out of tents which attracted tens of thousands of people. One of them is near Pelham Bay, in the proximity of the sea, and another is on the Hudson River. It's relatively better in those areas."
New York has also felt a shortage of ice and near one of the ice houses, a heartbreaking fight has erupted. According to "National Politics", one could also hear the people whining in this way:
"My husband is lying on his bed and he will die unless I will bring him a piece of ice."
"My child is sick because it couldn't have been given a piece of ice by me."
Arctic Species Prefer Warmer Climate?
Let us imagine someone who suddenly gets interested in climate change and the Arctic. They conduct an internet search on “Climate Change and Arctic” and over 11,000,000 sites are identified. If a person spent one minute looking at each site, it would take them 20 years to visit every site. Of course, over the next 20 years, millions of sites will undoubtedly be added – no person could ever get to the end of these sites proclaiming that the Arctic is ground zero for climate change, the ice is melting, permafrost is being destroyed, habitats of everything and anything living there are highly sensitive to even the smallest change in climate, the whole place is fragile beyond belief, and on and on.
Several articles have appeared recently in leading journals with news that fails to get coverage in the millions of sites assuring us that our actions are destroying pristine Arctic regions.
The first article was generated by six scientists from leading institutions in the United Kingdom, Australia, Denmark, France, and South Africa; the White et al. team received funding from agencies in these various countries to conduct the research.
The team turned their attention to the Great Cormorants of Greenland; these are large black birds found throughout the Arctic. The birds live mainly on coasts nesting on cliffs or in trees, and they can dive to considerable depths to catch fish and eels Because of their amazing fishing skills, many were hunted to near extinction by fisherman, but thanks to conservation efforts, their numbers have increased in recent decades. In northern Norway, Great Cormorants are traditionally seen as semi-sacred with locals who believe it is good luck to have Great Cormorants gather near their village or settlement.
White et al. begin their article noting that “During recent decades, the Arctic has warmed and sea ice has retreated. While this has resulted in range contraction and negative population trends in some Arctic species, climate change is a potential boon for others.”
Given this suggestion that climate change could be beneficial to some species in the Arctic, we knew this could get good.
White et al. continue stating “For example, the recent warming of the Arctic may be associated with increasing populations and a northerly expansion of Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo, which are now breeding north of the Arctic Circle in Greenland. While a reduction of hunting pressure is likely to have contributed to this population trend, it is possible that the trend is enhanced as a direct effect of increasing temperatures or an indirect effect of temperature on the distribution of prey.”
The authors note that data for the number of breeding pairs present in 67 Cormorant colonies in the Disko Bay, Greenland and adjacent areas are available from surveys taken intermittently between 1946 and 2005. They also gathered sea surface temperatures (SSTs) over the same time period. You guessed it as they report “Rates of population change of Great Cormorant colonies near Disko Bay, West Greenland, were positively correlated with winter SST. On average, populations increased during relatively warm years and decreased during relatively cold years and the highest rates of population change correspond with periods of relatively high SST in recent years and during the 1960s. This suggests that the abundance of Cormorants in this region is likely to increase as the climate warms.” They conclude “Taken together, the positive relationship between rates of population change in Cormorants and SST, the likely positive impact of Arctic warming on the preferred prey species of Cormorants, and the flexible food preferences and foraging strategies of Cormorants suggest that Cormorants are likely to benefit from a warming Arctic.” Enough said.
Our next article appeared recently in the Canadian Journal of Zoology dealing with higher air temperatures and responses of moose. The three authors are all from agencies in Canada; Lowe et al. reveal that “Funding for this project was provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Trent University, and Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters.”
The story with moose is similar to the story we hear for so many other species. Lowe et al. review the extensive literature on climate change and the response of moose, and generally others have found that moose may experience stress with higher temperatures. Others have found “moose heat stress thresholds of 14ºC in summer and -5 ºC in winter with increased respiration rates, and open mouth panting at 20ºC in summer and 0 ºC in winter.” Based on findings of others, Lowe et al. expected to observe any number of responses of the moose to higher winter and summer temperatures.
Well, it didn’t happen! Lowe et al. conclude “Our results did not fully concur with these findings, as we failed to detect a clear relationship between habitat use and high temperatures in our study area in summer or winter at the thresholds that we tested.”
Deeply Concerned Chris Matthews Fears Climate Change Will 'Create Trade Routes Across the Arctic Circle!'
Appearing on fellow MSNBCer Ed Schultz's radio show yesterday, Chris Matthews waxed apocalyptic about what he believes will be a dire consequence of climate change.
Matthews told Schultz of an unidentified friend in Alaska, presumably not Sarah Palin, who warned him of what's to come from warming temperatures --
And to say there's no issue with climate? You know, a friend of mine is talking about, she lives up in Alaska, she says we're going to be able to, maybe this is good for shipping, we're going to start having trade routes across the Arctic Circle! We're going to start having, you know what I mean?, people are going to be going to Norway in boats and we're going to have shipping lanes doing it. Don't tell me we don't have a climate thing going on. There's something strange going on.
Yikes, trade routes through the Arctic! Next thing you know there'll be commerce, profits! Worse still ... boats going to Norway. Oh the humanity ...
Just what would an allegedly unfortunate outbreak of capitalism in the Far North resemble? A May 2009 National Geographic article titled "Arctic Landgrab" described the "former fishing town" in Hammerfest, Norway, home to the world's northernmost liquefied natural gas facility, Snohvit --
... I expect to see the start of production -- but it is a false start, one of many. The gas field is in the Barents Sea, 800 feet underwater, connected by 90 miles of pipes to an ultramodern plant. The plant, on a grassy island abutting the beautiful 9,400-person town, is northern Norway's largest ever industrial project. Viewed from the Hammerfest shopping mall, it is a tangle of smokestacks, lights, and tubes, backed by a fjord and a row of snowy peaks.
For now, StatoilHydro, the operator, will move gas up the pipes, process it, and export it by tanker -- half of it to Cove Point, Maryland, half to Bilbao, Spain. But soon carbon dioxide, separated from the natural gas, will travel the other direction down the pipes: StatoilHydro will inject it into the seabed to combat global warming. Snohvit promises to be one of the world's cleanest petroleum projects. During one test run, however, the winds blew ash from Snohvit's flares -- chimneys burning off excess gas -- that turned cars and homes black. StatoilHydro brought in doctors to test for carcinogens and handed out reparations checks to angry residents.
It is a measure of petroleum wealth's appeal that I find only one local politician opposed to the plant: a 19-year-old from the revolutionary-socialist Red party. Snohvit pays Hammerfest $22 million a year in property taxes. The town is awash in new projects: renovated schools, a bigger airport, a sports arena, a "full-digital," glass-walled cultural center. Strollers are everywhere in the snow-covered streets. It is easy to forget that Hammerfest was recently a dying town, shrinking in population, the most violent place in Norway. In his bay-front office, a local official named Snorre Sundquist is circumspect about Snohvit. "People didn't like the soot," he says, "but they accepted it.
That sole Hammerfest politician opposed to Snohvit -- also a prime candidate for future MSNBC contributor.
67% Oppose Upcoming ‘Ban’ on Traditional Light Bulbs
One-in-five Americans (20%) say they or someone they know has bought large quantities of traditional light bulbs to use when those bulbs disappear off store shelves next year under new federal light bulb regulations.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 70% of Adults aren’t doing that themselves or don’t know anyone who is, but another 10% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
The new government regulations provide for the manufacture of similar-looking bulbs that will last longer and be more energy-efficient – but also more expensive. Critics view the regulations as unnecessary government intrusion in the free market and see them as effectively banning the kind of light bulb Americans have used for decades.
Just 20% of adults think the sale of traditional light bulbs should be banned. Sixty-seven percent (67%) oppose such a ban. Thirteen percent (13%) are undecided.
However, 57% think it is at least somewhat likely that the new light bulbs, while they will cost more up front, will save money in the long run, as the federal Energy Department claims. Thirty-six percent (36%) think long-term savings are unlikely. These findings include 29% who think the savings are Very Likely and just nine percent (9%) who say they are Not At All Likely.
Two years ago, only 18% of adults thought it was the government’s job to tell Americans what kind of light bulb they should use. Seventy-two percent (72%) say it’s none of the government’s business.
The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on July 13-14 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.
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