I am still not home -- still in Massachusetts after a great week at WHOI, now visiting some good, old friends from my years of living in New England, the best kind of friends. So I'm barely trying to keep up with email, let alone blogging.
But still arguments are going on in the comments. Some of it is very misguided, simply full of untruths. I think the most depressing part of the climate debate is the vast number of people who know no science at all -- who clearly, obviously know no science -- but who have no hesitation about speaking up and spreading their ignorance all across this blog and many others, just because they think they are entitled to have an opinion.
Frankly, they are not. There was once a time, even within my lifetime, when people who knew nothing knew that they knew nothing, and didn't pretend that they knew something. For some reason I really do not understand, that has changed, at least in the U.S.
I see a lot of comments here in that vein, and elsewhere, from a lot of commenters but especially from one who goes by "CharlesH" who, I believe, lives in Utah.
CharlesH has slick and easy answers to every climate question. I'm not going to link to them all here -- frankly, it's not worth my time to do the linking. His answers are invariably simplistic, which sometimes even he admits.
If you follow climate blogs -- if you still waste your time following climate blogs -- you probably see lots of such commenters. Places like WUWT or Steve Goddard are rife with them -- people who clearly know very little science, but who somehow believe they are saving the world from the despair of socialism, the rebirth of Naziism, the systematic murder of Leninism, the vast intellectually vapid sinkhole of two people somewhere, anywhere, talking together about trying to make the world a slightly better place.
Has cleaning up the world ever been a bad thing?
I really think some people think this, always, of course, from the front lines of their easy chair.
Perhaps we need a decade of true suffering -- I mean REAL hardship -- to break them of their idiocy. I'm just barely old enough to perhaps die in such a decade, but if that's what it really takes....
Anyway, I'm rambling.
CharlesH wrote, on 9/10:
>> Sea levels have risen at a ~3mm/yr rate during the last and previous centuries (about 1ft/century) <<
First of all, his comments come to me with the name field "I am Coyote." Strangely, that is also the name of a weird blogger in Oregon named Ted Piccolo, firstname.lastname@example.org, from what was (is?) called the NW Republican Blog. Weird.
In any case, this supposed fact is not true. Sea level has not been 3 mm/yr over the last several centuries. Read the papers (Ted/CharlesH provides no supporting evidence, because he's not the type to care about facts), or.... last week at WHOI, a graduate student talked to us about -- showed us -- some stumps from an ancient forest near Falmouth, MA, on the beach, that was uncovered two years ago in a Nor'easter [and, oh, how I miss those].
He drilled into the stumps and has been using the results to reconstruct massive hurricanes that come onshore in Cape Cod over the last millenium. And his answer -- and I asked him this, as did other people there -- was that sea level was rising about 0.5 mm/yr for most of the previous millenium.
So I'd like proof of "CharlesH's" claim that sea level rise was 3 mm/yr for several centuries. Even better, I'd like proof of essentially all his claims, because frankly I think he's full of shit.
He says a lot of stuff, but never proves any of it.
I'm getting tired of that. I mean, this is America -- he's free to be an idiot if he wants to. But I'm tired of trying to disprove nonsense. I'm tired of the idiots, the no-nothings, the stupid Americans (and they are always Americans, aren't they?) who know nothing but broadcast their know-nothingness all across the planet.
Never under their real name, of course. They're not THAT brave.
Idiots never are.
The "CharlesH problem" threatens the world. We now have 0.15-0.2 C/decade surface warming, and the people who really understand this are deeply, deeply concerned. Some of those who understand it the best are worried the most, and now -- behind the scenes that few see -- are contemplating serious geoengineering measures to solve the carbon problem.
They are meeting and experimenting and writing papers, some of which I'll be interviewing on as soon as I get back to Oregon. Stratospheric aerosols, ocean iron fertilization, marine cloud brightening -- they are getting their ducks in a row. And it's not a big secret -- read Eli Kintish's recent book Hack the Planet to learn more.
The scientists who know something -- the non-CharlesH's of the world, in other words -- are very worried. They know we can't keep adding greenhouses gases to the planet, at our current rate, without significant warming. Geologic warming. Warming unlike anything ever seen before.
We are at 395 ppm. Compare that to Ice Age charts.
But CharlesH, this idiot, this -- I'm sorry -- this fucking idiot who sits home and probably watches America's Idol in the evening, who has probably never read a science paper in his life, really, truly, somehow honestly thinks he knows better than all the professional, study-deep-into-the-night, sweat-the-data, devote-their-lives scientists about all this.
What can you possibly say about such a person? This person -- CharlesH -- now threatens civilization.
Think about that -- ignorance from Tea Party types in rural Utah threatens the well-being of the entire human race.
What can you say?
I don't know. I realize I'm just one tiny, barely read blog. I've though of blocking him -- but I can't block the other ten thousand idiots across the blogosphere, the Anthony Watts' and the Steve Goddards' and all their minions.
They are too many, and too stupid. So what to do about them?
I don't know. Donald Brown, the philosopher at Penn State who has been writing about the ethics of climate change for well over a decade -- I interviewed him in the early 2000s -- thinks they are perhaps guilty of crimes against humanity.
Are they? Are Anthony Watts and Marc Morano and Tom Nelson and Steve Goddard smart enough to be guilty of climate crimes?
I think so. You can't simply claim that CO2 isn't a greenhouse gas.
I think their crimes will be obvious in about a decade.
When I profiled Michael Mann for Scientific American, he said he thought it would eventually be illegal to deny climate change. I had doubts about that, but maybe.
It's obvious (barely) they're not smart enough to be so evil, even if clearly they are misguided. Morano gets a quarter-mil a year from his bought-and-sold employer, Watts getting who-knows-what from the Heartland types for presenting data, Goddard happy to just get some hits in his old age, Chris Horner a complete tool, James Inhofe a man who will go down in history as perhaps the biggest fool of all time -- the hoax is from *him*, not from those who he claims, but even he doesn't realize it, that's how big a tool he is.
Can we have an accounting, please?
None of them has much of a science background, if any. I mean, please.
And CharlesH, who clearly knows no science either.
But on the shoulders of these idiots, fools, and incoherent minds our future seems to turn, if only just a bit, if only in the blogosphere. And they are probably proud of this, somehow.
But the vast majority of people -- like 98 percent, you know -- have no idea any of this goes on at all.
They just know it's getting warming, slowly, continually. Drought is here. This year.
Surely, even the conservative, fundamentalist farmers in Kansas, who has lost much of their corn, have to wonder. If only late at night, even if they will never admit it. They, too, must wonder about greenhouse gases. (But don't worry, American taxpayers will be making them whole.)
Anyway, I should stop.
I've had a long week, and am a little out of the loop.
No oracle, for sure -- but them who is? No one.
I'm sure the Moranos and Watts and CharlesH's think they're just as sure as I think I'm sure.
In their minds, I'm the idiot, not them. Me.
But them, still, I think: CO2 is a greenhouse gas. 5 molecules per 10,000 trap more heat than 4 per 10,000, or even three.
On that small divide, our future lies. One molecule out of 10,000.
Who would have though it? Certainly not CharlesH.
I'll be flying home tomorrow, moving Wednesday, setting up for a couple of days. Making nice to my cats, who have been boarded for over a week. Sophie, especially, will take some effort -- she has deep feelings about my absences.
I just hope I can get my WiFi to work again. It always seems like a crapshoot, and frankly, I don't even know if I remember the password.