Thursday, April 07, 2016

An amusingly projective attempt to psychologize climate skeptics

Salty Jim from UCLA thinks AGW could not possibly be wrong so there must be something wrong in the heads of those who disbelieve.  He is one of many preachers of that gospel but see what his particular explanation is.  He says that we skeptics would be social outcasts if we accepted AGW.  It has apparently not occurred to him that exactly that situation applies to himself.  How long would he last at UCLA if he became a skeptic?

Seeing your own faults and problems in others is as old as the hills.  Sigmund Freud called it "projection" and identified it as maladjusted.  Take a bow, Salty Jim.

James Salzman is the Donald Bren Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law with joint appointments at the UCLA School of Law and at the Bren School of the Environment.  "Salz" is Yiddish for salt

As Dan Kahan, a Yale professor who has long studied risk perception, puts it, people’s beliefs about climate change reflect not what they know but who they are. As he describes,

“Social-science research indicates that people with different cultural values — individualists compared with egalitarians, for example — disagree sharply about how serious a threat climate change is. People with different values draw different inferences from the same evidence. Present them with a PhD scientist who is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, for example, and they will disagree on whether he really is an ‘expert’, depending on whether his view matches the dominant view of their cultural group.”

So why does this happen? “What an ordinary individual believes about the ‘facts’ on climate change has no impact on the climate. What he or she does as a consumer, as a voter, or as a participant in public debate is just too inconsequential to have an impact… But if he or she takes the ‘wrong’ position in relation to his or her cultural group, the result could be devastating for her, given what climate change now signifies about one’s membership in and loyalty to opposing cultural groups. It could drive a wedge—material, emotional, and psychological—between the individual people whose support are indispensable to his or her well-being.

“In these circumstances, we should expect a rational person to engage information in a manner geared to forming and persisting in positions that are dominant within their cultural groups. And the better they are at making sense of complex information—the more science comprehending they are – the better they’ll do at that.”

Moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt has made a similar argument about how cultural priors shape our acceptance and interpretation of facts.

There may well be other explanations, and I’m eager to hear suggestions, but I think that Kahan and Haidt are both on to something that explains the views of many climate skeptics. It certainly seems that for part of the Republican party climate skepticism has become a proxy for membership. The challenge lies in how to disentangle one’s position on climate change from one’s cultural identity or sense of well-being.

In my view, this is the area with the greatest potential for engaging with skeptics and will require thoughtful re-framing of the climate debate. This is already happening to some extent, with the discussion shifting to energy security, green jobs, and strengthening community resilience. Things people from all ideological stripes can agree on.


WH Science Advisor: Farmers, Construction Workers Will Die From Climate Change

I grew up in the tropics, where daytime temperatures were in the '90s (F) for much of the year.  People just went to work in those temperatures as normal.  They even performed outdoor manual labor in those temperatures.  My father did for many years.  So I don't think America has much to fear from a rise of just a few degrees -- JR

White House Science Advisor John Holdren says because of the impacts of climate change, agricultural and construction workers “will basically be unable to control their body temperature and will die.”

“In some parts of the world, when you look more broadly at this question, you see the likelihood that in the hottest times of the year it will be simply physiologically impossible to work outdoors,” Holdren said at a White House event on climate change Monday.

“That means agriculture, that means construction, people who try to work outdoors will basically be unable to control their body temperature and will die. This is a really, really big deal. And it’s going to be a big deal in the hottest parts of the United States as well as the Middle East, in South Asia and other places.”

The White House live-streamed the announcement of the release of the Obama Administration’s “The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment.”

“The report projects that under middle-of-the-road emissions scenarios we could see from thousands to tens of thousands additional heat related deaths in the United States each summer,” Holdren said.

The White House says the report was developed “by approximately one hundred experts in climate-change science and public health – including representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA).”

The Obama Administration is announcing a series actions to be taken as a result of the report. These include developing K-12 educational materials on climate change, designating May 23-27, 2016 "Extreme Heat Week" and the creation of a "Climate-Ready Tribes and Territories" iniative.


WH Warns of Deaths from 'Extreme Heat' as Weather Service Issues April Snow Advisories

The White House published a report Monday warning that “extreme heat can be expected to cause an increase in the number of premature deaths”--the same day the National Weather Service issued winter weather advisories for April snowstorms.

“From children to the elderly, every American is vulnerable to the health impacts associated with climate change, now and in the future,” said administration's report.

It was released by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and John Holdren, head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the same day the National Weather Service predicted “another round of wintry precipitation” for the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes region that could dump up to 10 inches of snow on upstate New York.

Southern New England also remained under a Winter Weather Advisory until 8 pm on Monday with sub-freezing temperatures and up to six inches of snow predicted for some areas.

Another April snowstorm with 60 mph winds slammed into Massachusetts on Sunday, killing two people and downing power lines for tens of thousands of residents.


Dem Sen.: If Clean Power Plan Wins in DC Court, a 4-4 SCOTUS Will Uphold It

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) says that if the D.C. Circuit Court considering challenges to the Clean Power Plan makes a ruling in favor of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “a 4-4 (U.S. Supreme) court will clearly uphold the decision of the D.C. Circuit.”

Whitehouse joined other Democratic lawmakers in filing an amicus brief Friday in support of the Clean Power Plan. During a conference call Whitehouse said he’s hopeful the brief will have some impact.

“I hope that with this brief we can come out of the D.C. Circuit with a very strong opinion- and with that very strong opinion a 4-4 court will clearly uphold the decision of the D.C. Circuit and we can go forward and do the people’s business.

“We need to protect our planet and our economy from the ravages of an industry that is out of control,” Whitehouse said.

In February, the U.S. Supreme Court halted implementation of the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan, which limits carbon dioxide emissions from power sectors in each state, until the 27 states bringing a lawsuit against the EPA’s rules is heard.

The D.C. Circuit will begin hearing oral arguments on the case this June.

The U.S. Supreme Court is currently operating with only eight justices after the Feb. 13 death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

U.S. labor unions scored a major victory Tuesday with a tie vote in a high-profile Supreme Court case after the deadlocked 4-4 decision came in a case considering whether unions representing government employees can collect fees from workers who do not join.


Decline in Fracking Support Is Shortsighted

A new Gallup poll found that a majority of Americans are now opposed to hydraulic fracturing (more commonly referred to as “fracking”). According to the survey, when asked if they “favor or oppose … ‘fracking’ as a means of increasing the production of natural gas and oil in the U.S.,” most of the responds, 51%, said they opposed it, while just 36% were in favor. Thirteen percent had no opinion.

These results stand in relatively stark contrast to the same survey taken last year, when the results showed a 40-40 split, with 19% expressing no opinion. Gallup notes, “One major reason the price of [oil] has remained so low is fracking, which now accounts for half of the oil production in the U.S.” You would expect that to foster growing support for fracking, particularly among Republicans — many of whom subscribe to the “drill baby drill” philosophy. But the Gallup poll surprisingly found that it’s precisely this group that saw the biggest shift. In 2015, 66% of Republicans approved of fracking, but that dropped to 55% in the new poll. Meanwhile, support dropped by just 1% among both Independents and Democrats.

What to make of this? It’s unclear why Republican support is what’s dropping the fastest. But according to Gallup, there are two primary drivers likely at play. For starters, “Americans' turn against fracking comes as the percentage predicting there will be a critical energy shortage in the next five years has fallen to a new low, likely because of lower gas prices. With oil and gas relatively cheap, many Americans may not see the need to fracture the earth through fracking.” Secondly “Fracking is potentially a cause of earthquakes across sections of the U.S. that are not used to these types of natural disasters. The U.S. Geological Survey said this week that 7 million Americans are at risk of experiencing earthquakes caused by fracking in the states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Arkansas. With more than 1,000 earthquakes in the central U.S. alone last year, these events could be linked to the rising percentage of Americans who oppose fracking.”

However, researchers have discovered a major caveat on the issue of earthquakes that the media is largely ignoring. Last year a study by Stanford found that it’s not fracking, per se, that’s to blame, but rather the aftereffects of wastewater. As Stanford Professor Mark Zoback reported, “What we’ve learned in this study is that the fluid injection responsible for most of the recent quakes in Oklahoma is due to production and subsequent injection of massive amounts of wastewater, and is unrelated to hydraulic fracturing [emphasis added].” Even the the U.S. Geological Survey says, “Fracking causes extremely small earthquakes, but they are almost always too small to be a safety concern. In addition to natural gas, fracking fluids and salt water trapped in the same formation as the gas are returned to the surface. These wastewaters are frequently disposed of by injection into deep wells. The injection of wastewater and salt water into the subsurface can cause earthquakes that are large enough to be felt and may cause damage.”

That’s a problem innovation would suggest can eventually be solved. If Americans want to continue enjoying low gas prices — which, ironically, Gallup suggests may be why they feel we no longer need fracking — they will need to embrace the technique that’s saving them dollars at the pump.


Global Warming in the Hot Seat With CLIMATE HUSTLE, Coming to Theaters This May

Produced in the unique, entertaining and informative style that has made CFACT (Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow) and Marc Morano's one of the world's most-sought-after sources for facts about climate issues, "Climate Hustle" will tear the cover off the global warming debate to further investigate this multi-billion-dollar issue. Fathom Events and SpectiCast present this thought-provoking event on Monday, May 2, 2016, at 7:00 p.m. local time. In addition to the feature, audiences will also view an exclusive panel discussion and opening remarks by Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, headlined by special guest Governor Sarah Palin (2008 Republican Vice Presidential Candidate, 9th Governor of Alaska), and including notable climate experts and an appearance by Emmy Award-winning educator Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Tickets for "Climate Hustle" can be purchased online by visiting or at participating theater box offices. Fans throughout the U.S. will be able to enjoy the event in nearly 400 movie theaters through Fathom's Digital Broadcast Network. For a complete list of theater locations visit the Fathom Events website (theaters and participants are subject to change).

Award-winning investigative journalist Marc Morano, host of "Climate Hustle," said: "This film is truly unique among climate documentaries. 'Climate Hustle' presents viewers with facts and compelling video footage going back four decades and delivers a powerful presentation of dissenting science, best of all, in a humorous way. This film may change the way you think about 'global warming.'"

"Climate Hustle" takes a probing look at the many questions surrounding global warming issues today. Is there scientific consensus regarding emissions from our cars, factories, and farms or is man-made "global warming" an environmental con job being used to push for increased government regulations and a new "green" energy agenda? This event will examine the history of climate scares and debunk claims by activists calling us to "act immediately before it's too late." This event also profiles key scientists such as Georgia Tech Climatologist Dr. Judith Curry, former NASA atmospheric scientist Dr. John Theon, and French physicist and Socialist Party member Claude Allègre, who used to believe in climate alarm but have since converted to skepticism.

"Climate change is certainly one of the hot-button issues at the forefront of some of the fiercest political debates. This event aims to shed light on varied perspectives and initiate healthy and timely conversation around this important topic," said Fathom Events Vice President of Programming Kymberli Frueh.

"'Climate Hustle' is an extremely timely event, especially given the relevant political discussion surrounding global warming," said Mark Rupp, Co-founder and President of SpectiCast Entertainment. "We feel it is important to share all viewpoints on the climate change issue, and 'Climate Hustle' provides a perspective not generally shared with the public at large in an informative and engaging way."



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