Understanding Folks’ Views on a Changing Climate and Designing a Framework for More Productive Discussions

Various folks on TSW have been having a discussion on their climate views, including what constitutes “denial.”  I’m not sure that the folks who write about climate (or AGW anthropogenic global warming or whatever) have parsed out all the complexities of different views that human beings have, and try to understand why we disagree.  Instead, some of our academics are more inclined to study how to convince us to think differently, as if it were simple to figure out what is the correct way to think on such an incredibly complex matter.

There is an extremely diverse range of views about different aspects of climate change and, for some reason, it seems like the Powers That Be that shape our discourse haven’t given us the words to discuss it.  Rather, it seems they prefer to lump us into large groups “warmists” “deniers” and so on.  So let’s work the other way, and assume we’re doing a survey of different knowledge claims around climate change.  We can jointly develop a landscape of views, and after we have done that, we can discuss our own experiences with the climate and climate science literature and use those stories to help understand each other.  Because it could be argued that raising the level of hype and calling each other names has not been effective in moving climate policy forward.

I’ve been following climate science and politics for around thirty years in various venues, so I think I can safely say that if we want to talk to each other across our disagreements, we need to do something differently.  To my mind that starts with developing our own terminology.. designed to clarify, not to disrespect, nor even dissuade.  Personally, I’m not trying to convert anyone to my point of view but I’d like to understand others’.  And we don’t have to argue evidence right now either (or ever, it seems like that ends up being a rabbit hole), we can just see where everyone is.

I’d like to start with our own abbreviation for this topic. How about CC for talking about “the issue around different concepts about the sources, intensity and impacts of human-caused changes to the climate and what are the best strategies, time-frames, adaptation and energy technologies to deal with those changes.”

So I’ll start with two approaches and then move on to some others.

The Five Claims: Where Do You Stand?

1. The climate is changing. (1)Strongly Agree, (2)Agree, (3)Neutral, (4)Disagree, (5)Strongly Disagree

2. Humans have never influenced the climate and aren’t influencing it now.  Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree

3. Humans have influenced the climate in the past and are doing it today in many ways including greenhouse gases, land use, irrigation, wildfire suppression or not, smoke of various kinds. Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree

4. Humans are influencing the climate and we need to focus on reducing greenhouse gases, notably carbon and methane. Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree

5. Humans  are influencing the climate and if we don’t stop fossil fuels apocalyptic things will happen. This view is held by Antonia Guterres, the current Secretary-General of the United Nations and was stated in July of this year.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Thursday that it is not too late to “stop the worst” of the climate crisis, but only with “dramatic, immediate” action. “The era of global warming has ended; the era of global boiling has arrived,

On the five claims, I’m a 1(1),2(5),3(1),4 (1.5),5 (5).  What are you?

To my mind, a climate change denier is a 1 4 or 5- that would be the plain English read.  But I (and others)  have been called deniers because we agree all the way up to 5.  In fact, some people have been called climate deniers for being anything other than a 5(1).  So the term “climate denier” has basically lost all meaning in my opinion.

The CC Ship Analogy

I haven’t decided yet whether this analogy works, so let me know what you think, or if you can think of another.

It seems like people on the CC Ship spend a fair amount of time determining who belongs on it.  If you spend time on Climate Twit-X, as I do, you’ll notice there are many discussions around Groups That Don’t Belong There.  One week everyone’s ganging up on nuclear, the next week carbon capture.  I imagine them trying to throw them overboard.  Ironically, the Ship itself is powered by diesel (because there are no alternatives), but the oil and gas people were thrown off a long time ago. Since funding, honors, professional standing, and an unruffleable sense of rectitude are the joys of being on the ship, most people who work for a living don’t want to be tossed off.

This leaves a bunch of us watching the Ship cruise along, watching people, ideas and groups that seem reasonable get thrown overboard.  In patterns that can be baffling. I have two problems with the Ship. The solutions to CC don’t seem rational and coherent or based on any kind of physical or engineering reality.

Some areas of science have more representation on the Ship than others, which don’t have to be tossed off the Ship because they are mostly ignored  as long as they give lip service to the dominance of the prevailing sciences. That’s where our traditional forest sciences are.

Is anyone steering this thing?  We don’t know.  And if there is, and one watches carefully the dynamics of who is on and who is off, many get the feeling that the Ship is not really about decarbonization at all.  As soon as the Ship gets closer to what we thought was the target (decarbonization) it seems to change direction. Or perhaps it originally was about decarbonization, but is now about prolonging the time the Ship continues to sail, rewarding the same folks and with the same folks in charge.

So I am both agnostic (I don’t know) and skeptical (dubious) about the nature of the Ship, its passengers, and the less-than-transparent decisions being made on the bridge. My skepticism is based on their behavior over the last 30 years that I’ve been watching.  Does that make me a “climate” skeptic, or a “Ship” skeptic?  But I’m generally skeptical, as a scientist was trained to be back in the day.  I’m pretty much skeptical of any claims that seem based on authority, be it religion or science, if those claims don’t agree with other information I have, including personal experience.

Doomberg on Substack had an interesting observation on language last week..maybe Doomie is oversensitive, but at least they are observing the ship.  Many of us are only aware of its vague outlines.

For decades, we were told that carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels were dooming the planet and that we needed to slow and then eventually eliminate the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere. Now, with industry on the cusp of validating carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies at commercial scale—an advance that would theoretically allow humanity to benefit from the life-nourishing energy fossil fuels provide while minimizing global emissions of CO2—environmentalists are throwing everything they have at stopping such developments in their tracks. As part of this coordinated effort, the word “emissions” is being purposely de-emphasized in Newspeak, replaced instead with “burning.” Read how YouTube currently contextualizes all videos on its platform that mention climate:

Funny, we thought emissions were the problem | YouTube

To discover that emissions emanating from the burning of fossil fuels is the real issue to be dealt with, one has to click through to “learn more,” something we presume precious few people do.


Here’s an illustration of the “we know best so we can change the language”. The problem with this is that many of are sensitive to changes in language and manipulation thereby.  Not a way to build trust.

From  this piece on  Ideastream Public Media:

Changing climate language

The words we use to talk about climate change and its effects are essential to make sure we’re communicating the right message, Hassol said. But this also means we should choose our words carefully.

When discussing climate change, Hassol recommends referring to it as human-caused climate change to specify that the effects we’re seeing today are not natural, and instead brought on by human action.

“Some people hear climate change and they think, ‘oh, well then, the change we’re seeing now could be natural,’” she said. “But the science is very clear that this current warming is not natural.”

There are also a few phrases she’d recommend over global warming, which can be confusing and inaccurate when used in conversation.

“[The] problem with global warming is that it sounds nice to some people, right? Warmth is generally a positive thing.,” Hassol said. “Another problem is that it speaks mainly to rising temperatures, and it doesn’t invoke all the other things that come along with the rising temperatures: heavy rainfall that causes flooding, stronger, more destructive hurricanes [and] larger, more intense wildfires.”

Instead, Hassol recommends phrases like climate disruption, global heating and global weirding to cover all the bases of climate change and its effects.


So what do you think? Where do you stand on the Five Claims? Do you think the claims should be expanded to different views on what to do about climate change? Does the Ship of Climate make sense to you?  I’m going to moderate this a little more intensively than usual as I think I know the common discussion rabbit holes after much time on Climate Twit-X.

37 thoughts on “Understanding Folks’ Views on a Changing Climate and Designing a Framework for More Productive Discussions”

  1. Sharon,

    It will be interesting to see where this topic goes…

    A few comments:

    1. From the title: “Understanding Folks’ Views on a Changing Climate and Designing a Framework for More Productive Discussions.” In my mind “Views” is just another word for belief and what would be a “more productive discussion”? Is the purpose to be more understanding of all the beliefs out there and if so then there is a ton of frameworks to have compassionate and civil discussions of other peoples beliefs and feels. If the purpose is to come to a understand of what and how to solve the issue of a changing climate we need to step away from “views” and beliefs and work on a framework based on factual evidence and a common end-goal acceptable to…. now that’s the hard part, a simple majority, complete consensus….?????

    2. I’m a little baffled by:

    “But I’m generally skeptical, as a scientist was trained to be back in the day. I’m pretty much skeptical of any claims that seem based on authority, be it religion or science, if those claims don’t agree with other information I have, including personal experience.”

    As a trained scientist, I too am skeptical on a claim based on authority, but science is not a claim/argument based on authority. It is a process to evaluate our physical world based on evidence not beliefs. Religion and Science both fall under the realm of philosophy, but science is not a religion, it is not based on personal beliefs or experiences. In the framework of science our person experiences can fail miserably with respect actual factual events (am a weightless due to freefall or no gravitational force?). Your personal current/past experience is not a perfect indicator of the future or facts for that matter.

    3. “Ship of Climate” to me mean complete control of direction, etc, I would think we are more of a “Raft”, we have some control but not total at this time and may completely lose control and wipe out???

    Good luck on this adventure

    • Thank for the response, Carl!
      1. My point is to maybe understand where people are coming from and understand why based on their explanations of why they got there. I was thinking of first understanding, and then maybe seeing where that leads. Then maybe working backward from proposed solutions. Since the world is not really doing their homework on this, maybe we could jointly add some ideas of value, even if we disagree. Many people like to argue various kinds of science, as we have seen here at TSW, and in the big picture I don’t think that is particularly productive, so I’m going to try starting somewhere else.

      2. As to what “Science” is, I don’t really believe in the reification of science as one thing. Each discipline has its own way of doing things, it’s own culture and so on and the idea of finding out more is influenced by social, psychological, and financial factors. I used to work running competitive grant panels, so I saw this first hand. Also there are the fields of philosophy of science, history of science, and sociology of science which all have things to say about how scientific ideas and communities work in practice. If I were in charge, I would make require everyone who aspires to a career in science to take classes in all three.

      To my mind, like religious institutions, scientific institutions err when they believe that it’s about the destination, not the journey. The journey for religious institutions is the care of souls and helping people along the way of this life. The journey for scientific institutions is learning more, all scientific information is conditional. Let’s face it (as I was discussing with others yesterday) how much genetic resistance to white pine blister rust is conferred by a single gene, and more importantly, how this resistance will hold up in the field, is mostly unknown and we in the field of science shine our penlights of our current research tools into dark rooms. Most of the things that are studied are not as simple as gravity, and what is the scientific consensus at one point changes through time, and of course is influenced by , and influences, to some extent, politics.

      3. I think that’s true in a sense that there is not a real ship, perhaps just a flotilla of boats one for each country, and I am thinking of ours.

      And even in our country, despite the lack of favor of some technologies to the Ship, those technologies did end up in the IRA. Here’s a good story about the different views about nuclear in Europe.https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/apr/21/europe-nuclear-divide-grows-one-plant-opens-three-close-finland-germany

          • If carbon in the atmosphere is the big problem then reducing or controlling it is the big solution. In my view arguing about how is secondary since all viable efforts will probably be needed.

            • Well, people spend a lot of time arguing about which carbon management techniques are on the Ship or off the ship. “All of the above” is definitely a strategy..at least until we figure out which ones are economically, technically and socially feasible.

      • Sharon,

        Interesting on your what science is to you… Science to me is both a process (the scientific method) and a body of knowledge based on that process. The goal (destination) is to have a body of knowledge that factually explains our physical world. The process is repetitive so as more knowledge is gained, different questions can be asked, tested and our understand can/will change. The different disciplines of science do not have different scientific methods, the base process is followed by all. Granted there are some challenges in designing experiments (how much can you “experiment” on a living person) or reconstructing past events (the big bang, looking backwards), etc. But the goal is the same, a body of knowledge that explains our physical world. Yes scientific information (knowledge) is conditional – it is what we know today, but if you continue the process it can/will be different as that body of knowledge grows.

        I understand the applied side of science brings in a whole set of issue with politics, funding, human nature, ethics/morals/religious abjections, why, etc. – genetic engineering, weapons of war, doing harm, should we, and on and on…. Gaining the Knowledge is the issue, how we use it is.

        Not sure exactly what the journey vs destination comment and how religion caring and helping humans/souls fits into to your view of science. I think that would be for another day and another topic. I can see if you ask how scientific knowledge will/can be used for for humanity then wow that’s a whole big subject but not necessarily part of the philosophy of science (the process and knowledge.)

        So, It is interesting the 5 questions you asked. The first 3 questions are factual questions that can be answered using science. If you disagree then it should be easy to demonstrate what is incorrect. But just not believing the data or just using logical fallacies does not promote any real discussion. Understanding why someone would not accept the current data does interest me, but going down a rabbit hole based on fallacies I am not interested in.

        Now questions 4 and 5 go to the heart of what you do with knowledge. If you don’t agree with the first 3 then 4 and 5 are mute points. If you agree with 1-3, human activity is effecting climate, what now? We can see that greenhouse gases have increased due to our activity and are seeing the affects of it today. What about tomorrow?

        Sharon, you agree the climate is changing due to humans but strongly disagree with 5. I don’t know if you are saying that we can continue burning fossil fuels at our current rate and we will come up with some mitigating processes soon, or that we will just adapt to a warmer world no harm done, or that the projections of what the climate will be are way off, everything will be OK. OR? Based on other post on this site I image you are not a fan of future modeling – your experience is that as things change we adapt our behavior to minimize any real change – long term models are useless. I’m very interested in understanding how you view the future in light of increasing greenhouse gases.

        Oh and if you haven’t guessed – my answers are 1,5,1,1,1

        • Thanks, Carl! I will write more on the religion thing.

          I believe the apocalyptic thing is a distraction and not helpful to discourse.

          1. aThe world is decarbonizing so not continuing at the current rate. We don’t exactly know what will happen in the future.
          1b. CO2 emissions from land use change have been going down.

          So that’s piece one.. we are doing things and getting better at the things we do.
          2. Most projections of the future don’t involve scientific disciplines who understand adaptation. Like plant breeders or dam engineers or .. so many of the projections are therefore unrealistic.
          3. I guess my thinking about climate models has been influenced by watching them develop over time, and in terms of impacts on say, forest vegetation, regional downscaling of models does not take into account physiographic and other factors. So there is a great deal of uncertainty that hasn’t been adequately captured within the atmospheric models themselves, but also the inputs (how much carbon and various land use assumptions) and various machinations with the outputs. Also there is a massive investment in these things around the world and how helpful is that ultimately? Time will tell. Remember it was not that long ago that Jack Ward Thomas said “ecosystems are more complex than we think, they are more complex than we can think” a restatement of JBS Haldane’s statement about the universe “queerer than we think.” But now we can predict what species will be in a certain valley in 2100. Hmm.

          So here’s my view. We don’t know what the future will be in terms of impacts, and we don’t understand complex nonlinear systems and ultimately probably cannot although we will spend lots of money on it.

          We know enough to decarbonize through time and have some inklings of the relevant technologies. Now everyone wants to get on the decarbonization gravy train (e.g. forest carbon offsets) but we have to discern what is marketing and what is reality (trees die).
          So I guess I see us all coming together and working on it in various ways. How to help make that happen is the question.

          • Sharon, thanks for sharing.

            Some thoughts:

            1. How about the thought that all models are wrong but some are useful?
            Take physics, the Newtonian Model of physics is wrong, we know why and we have a better model, the Quantum Model. But we can apply the Newtonian model to a vast quantity of everyday problems and still get the right answer. Only when we look at the extremes (very small, very large) do we need to use the quantum model. And we know the quantum model has issues also – we don’t have a good quantum model of gravity (the weakest natural force.) But we sure can accurately solve many problems with both of them and can do a good job at predicting the future for many problems.

            2. The natural world is very biased to nonlinear functions. But, in my opinion, humans are better adapted for linear thinking and our thought processes fail us when presented with nonlinear problems. So it is hard to come up with reliable model with some many nonlinear variables and uncertainties. But I’m not ready to throw up my hands either. As far as spending money…. umm, what is “good” vs “bad” in spending??? Another topic another day…

            3. Ok, we are decarbonizing. But that is not the same as reducing the extra carbon we have pumped out due burning fossil fuels. The process that created those fossil fuels no longer exist (no organisms to break down dead plants.) Other processes such as carbon absorption in the ocean is taking place, but that is not without consequences, also as the ocean temperatures rise so does the issue of releasing methane hydrate in ocean sea beds, not a good thing. The base carbon cycle has not kept up with the increase in carbon so far. So, yes the question become how high will greenhouse gas rise, are there natural processes that will decrease the levels as the climate changes, or can we do something re-sequester the extra carbon and/or can we survive in a changed climate?

            4. Apocalyptic things do happen. To dismiss the possibility as only a distraction is a disservice also. It is only a distraction if it is not, or at least a very small possibility? Understanding the consequences are important I think.

  2. Recently I read transoceanic ships were a top three emitter of air “pollution”and have made Great Strides in emissions elimination. So much so the missing particulate matter from burning Bunker fuels in Diesel engines of 3 thousand and more brake horse power, particles that once reflected solar energy back into space is the cause for the “sudden” climb in recorded temperatures. Wiley Coyote NGOs again is stuck with Acme (Ajax?) lighted dynamite instead of purée of roadrunner.

    I heard a retired police leader say the first three reports of an ongoing crime are always wrong. Maybe that also applies to grasping for climate answers in the fog of endless federal money thrown at into a fan to see what sticks.

    It dawned on me that after 20 generations of adapting to rivers with low head hydro and navigations dams with fish passage for juveniles downstream and adults upstream, primarily to hatcheries, the vast numbers of alevin survival from egg to fingerling also increases beyond “natural” survival and better odds millions of years of genetic diversity that enables survival on a fresh water habitat battered by geologic events of magnitude, it takes time for diversity to provide a fish that can live and reproduce in concert with the volcanos, cataclysmic earth movement that blocks rivers. Volcanism and lava. Climate changes as land merges with land blocking sea water movement or land pulling apart or away allowing waters to mix and sea life to migrate to foreign waters. Ice Age sea level change the creates stream barriers like falls or sea level raises that eliminate barriers. Salmon adjusted. Over centuries. Millennia. And will in the future. I won’t be here. Likely nor will humans. Our fate is to bring our own extinction. Turnabout as FairPlay. “Do unto others….”

    A million acres of spawning and rearing habitat condensed to a hatchery on a handful of acres.

    Microprocessor miniaturization biology. Our new world. The dams make energy for AI. Hatcheries do the same for fish. The evolution of vacuum tubes to transistors to microprocessors. And preserving salmon. Why is climate going to be addressed in not the same way. It is who we are.

  3. The Five Claims: Where Do You Stand?

    1. The climate is changing. Strongly Agree.

    2. Humans have never influenced the climate and aren’t influencing it now. Strongly Disagree.

    3. Humans have influenced the climate in the past and are doing it today in many ways, including greenhouse gases, land use, irrigation, wildfire suppression or not, smoke of various kinds. Strongly Agree.

    4. Humans are influencing the climate and we need to focus on reducing greenhouse gases, notably carbon and methane. Agree, but it can’t be done at the pace that some want. See Vaclav Smil’s book How the World Really Works: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56587388-how-the-world-really-works

    5. Humans are influencing the climate and if we don’t stop fossil fuels apocalyptic things will happen. This view is held by António Guterres, the current Secretary-General of the United Nations and was stated in July of this year. Uncertain. I took the liberty of correcting the spelling of António Guterres.

    • I think you added an important wrinkle to #4 – the pace. Maybe we could just put all this on a continuum of how fast we should decarbonize (from zero to ASAP). We could talk about what is necessary (based on the best available science about climate changing, and our willingness to accept those changes) and what is possible (based on the best available science about technology). The skeptics of both can have their say, but this is political decision (which doesn’t even require consensus to make it).

      (Of course, there is no one “ship” or captain to make this decision, and the flotilla gets in each others’ way, and that reality is going to affect the pace, too.)

    • LM.

      Sorry about the accent, that was lazy WordPress special character finding on my part. To make sure

      So you agree that action needs to be taken, but think the pace that some suggest is realistically (physically and politically) not going to happen.
      And you are uncertain as to whether or not things will be apocalyptic.

      Just checking back to make sure that I understood.

      • I in turn apologize for all of those italics, which were unintended. I put a slash (/) in the wrong place in the html coding.

        Yes, that is what I meant to say. Again, the Vaclav Smil book lays out the problems with rapid conversion from hydrocarbons to other power sources. He asserts that it isn’t possible for ammonia, cement, steel, and plastics with current technology. And without those four items, civilization comes to an abrupt end. Highly recommended, although he gets a bit cantankerous in a few places.

  4. #6: Climate change is real but the Democrat’s tax-n-swindle carbon emissions policies are little more than a massive social redesign program composed of a thinly veiled wealth and power consolidation to government and select NGO corporate members of the environmental industrial complex, allowing large polluters to continue polluting (but enriching others in the process) while targeting the middle class (like always).

    Look no further than the left coast for substantial evidence where centralized, totalitarian public officials conflate cherry picked pieces of science with generalized health and environmental benefits to effect their ideological agenda with little to no regard whether the implementation measures actually are: 1) necessary; or 2) effective (again, because those aren’t actually the goals).

    Their climate change scheme is reminiscent of their asbestos hysteria, where they took a real issue (industrial workers applying asbestos in poorly ventilated factories at maximum exposure times) and manufacture an artificial crisis and massive regulatory and remediation industry (for their enrichment) that’s based on floor and ceiling tiles in classrooms with less than 1% asbestos content and statistically insignificant risk from scraping chairs and janitor drills.

    • Sharon: “Personally, I’m not trying to convert anyone to my point of view but I’d like to understand others’.” Well, Sharon, if you understand this one, could you explain it to me? (I would flag imputing motives to others as a barrier to understanding.) And what role should facts play in this discussion?

      • Here’s my interpretation of what Shaun is saying- Shaun, please help me to clarify.
        He agrees that climate change is real.
        He does not trust the people who appear to be currently in charge of the CC Ship (which he assumes are Democrats) because he’s concerned about some of their proposed solutions such as going to all renewables, favoring electric vehicles, getting rid of domestic oil and gas production, because all likely to have impacts on energy prices which will have impacts on the middle class.

        His statement about allowing polluters to continue polluting may be a reference to cap’n’trade and offsets.

        Based on where the Ship seems to be headed, he questions whether the Ship’s desired changes are necessary and effective.

        I think generally we shouldn’t impugn motives. So my way of expressing what Shaun would be “since the purported goals and approaches are not realistic and we don’t have a clear plan laid out and vetted publicly, there is an opportunity for mistrust to grow as to what the real goals are.”


        • If you want to dismiss my 40 years of public policy experience working (on just about every side of the table) with all sorts of bureaucrats as a viable, rational perspective with which to judge motives, fair enough. But what conclusion should I reach then when objective assessments confirm my experience (i.e. when programs are actively promoted that have been demonstrated to be ineffective to their stated purpose while effectively facilitating other outcomes)? In my world, that’s when reasonable people begin questioning motives or at least competency.


          How many different studies do we need to confirm that government bureaucrats largely are democrat (particularly in those states actively promoting carbon based climate “solutions”), identify more strongly with liberal ideology, donate more to democrat political candidates, or even favor regulatory-rather than free-market solutions (unless they retain the ability to manipulate the market)? Is anyone willing to suggest seriously that personal ideology isn’t predominating program management or that it’s really legislators and judges, rather than bureaucrats, that are actually determining outcomes?

          How many different studies and peer assessments do we need before we admit that Cap’n Trade (I prefer the reference to the breakfast cereal) doesn’t work as propagandized and, whether an intended outcome or not, works primarily to enrich and empower government and their selected winners rather than reduce emissions? My state must not have learned anything from Oregon’s $300-600 million in disappearing public financing from their Obama-era Green Energy tax crediting scam because we are now launching essentially the same model designed by the same bureaucrats for their new carbon emissions scheme. Or we must believe in failed outcomes because we just adopted California’s carbon crediting program and their fuel standards (in that case by simply passing a rule that said “Oregon adopts California’s fuel standards”).

          Is it really so difficult to admit to the disingeniousness of these programs when Oregon does things like apply Clean Truck Rules statewide under the guise of addressing disproportionate effects to disadvantaged communities when the entire rule was based on a single study in Portland that expressly stated that it should never be applied outside of Portland without additional study? At this point, with all the evidence, is it really that inconceivable that the true goal of the programs advertised to reduce all those nasty carbons produced in rural Oregon from cattle, diesel motors and chain saws is really not carbon reduction but actually is the wielding of totalitarian power over people whose lives they mostly find detestable for the ultimate purpose of social redesign? And I’m more than happy to cite specific examples of rural v urban net carbon balances and law/policy that had no real effect other than to change the way rural people live their lives.

          What should us toothless hillbillies believe when the Governor (Brown) features direct carbon sequestration payments to farmers and ranchers in her carbon program, which are subsequently struck out of every climate/carbon piece of legislation and implementation programs (in favor of regulation). Should we pretend that it wasn’t the eco-corporations who reminded lawmakers that enriching agriculture would only restore some of their former power and, after all, regulation is really the desirable outcome, at least for people who still work in so-called extractive industries?

          Should we ignore the backgrounds (policies and behaviors) of all the NGO employees that become state staffers, particularly agency heads? You’re certainly not going to convince me that the motivations of the bureaucrats are pure when they select a NGO like Seeding Justice to handle $150 million dollars a year in climate change funding given that group’s demonstrated program history.

          Don’t trust the people in charge? Absolutely not and for good reason; far more than I’ve described above. How about name me the last, truly effective government program that was operated successfully at the level that the democrats intend to operate their carbon swindle? I don’t think one’s existed since soon after WWII.

          • I find it much easier to believe in bureaucratic incompetency (having been a bureaucrat) than the paranoid delusion of “the wielding of totalitarian power over people whose lives they mostly find detestable for the ultimate purpose of social redesign.”

  5. Oh my, very interesting reading and gauging the subjective journey of peeling the emotional layers of climate change. Well, you asked:

    The climate is changing – strongly agree!

    Humans have never influenced the climate and aren’t influencing it now – uncertain! How do we differentiate climate from dumping sewage into the oceans, filling wetlands, paving/concreting lands, etc? That I attribute to affecting the earth. However, we don’t do it anymore, but the proliferation of atmospheric nuclear tests most likely had more to do than other manmade actions, but no one even talks about that.

    Humans have influenced the climate in the past and are doing it today in many ways, including greenhouse gases, land use, irrigation, wildfire suppression or not, smoke of various kinds – Uncertain; too many variables that I see as both positive and negative effects. Also, we are doing things today (or trying to) that negate harmful effects!

    Humans are influencing the climate and we need to focus on reducing greenhouse gases, notably carbon and methane – Agree, but we are doing “stuff” that helps too ( see answer above).

    Humans are influencing the climate and if we don’t stop fossil fuels apocalyptic things will happen. This view is held by António Guterres, the current Secretary-General of the United Nations and was stated in July of this year – strongly disagree! We have no replacement for fossil fuels; we have some success with solar and wind, but nothing yet that will do the work to power the worlds shipping, nor everyday farming, transporting goods, etc.

    Hard to keep content and formatting in line with a danged iPhone, so excuse me for those indiscretions….

    I tend to follow my own way on this; me and my family sequester somewhere around a thousand tons of carbon annually, so my “meter” still has lots of time remaining. Selfish? Yeah, probably. 🤠

    • Jim, thanks! You did better formatting than I did with the accent mark on António. I do think you could believe that the outcomes will be apocalyptic, and at the same time think that we need to continue to use fossil fuels. If you believed both things at the same time, you could either despair of the future, or be a big fan of carbon capture and storage. https://www.nationalgrid.com/stories/energy-explained/what-is-ccs-how-does-it-work or something in-between, maybe?

      • Yes, exactly, but I didn’t see that as a listed option….🤣. I am an optimist; I believe we can keep from killing ourselves in spite of our actions. I think Hydrogen will power the shipping and transportation, farming, and all thugs “workhorse” related – pretty soon. I believe it might even power aviation! Massive carbon collectors, reforestation, forest resilience, EV’s where they make sense, nuclear, etc…..

        Bring it on!

  6. I will plant my flag on the leftmost (politically, not numerically) responses to each of the five claims. However, as alluded to in a couple of earlier comments, I think it’s important to keep questions involving climate science separate from questions involving decarbonization. The first set are (obviously) scientific questions while the second set are more in the realm of politics –that is, the allocation of costs and benefits across society.

    The political problem with decarbonization is one that most environmental laws present, but perhaps several orders of magnitude worse: the costs of decarbonization fall very heavily on a relatively narrow segment of the population, while the benefits are very wide (indeed, literally planetary) but diffuse. There is no reason that the people and businesses who most directly benefit from fossil fuel extraction should be expected to absorb the overwhelming proportion of the pain of decarbonization without a big fight, and I have seen no evidence that simply brushing aside their concerns is feasible even for those who might desire such an approach.

    Decarbonization is a real and challenging problem, but it is not, in my view, an atmospheric science problem.

    • I think the costs of decarbonization falling heavily on a “relatively narrow segment” depends on how exactly it’s done. Higher prices influence all of us. I think all of us benefit from “fossil fuel extraction” at this point in time, because most of us have food and supplies delivered via gasoline powered vehicles.

  7. If carbon in the atmosphere is the big problem then reducing or controlling it is the big solution. In my view arguing about how is secondary since all viable efforts will probably be needed.

    • Hi John: That’s assuming that carbon is “the” big problem and is somehow causing computer modelers to predict a global climate catastrophe. The only evidence I have seen that supports this prediction is coming from computers that can’t reasonably model the effects of water vapor on an ever-changing climate.

      We are an adaptable species, along with many others, and both carbon and water are critical to our survival. As an ecologist that relies on historical documentation in order to make predictions, I haven’t seen any substantive evidence that we are on the verge of — much less actually experiencing — a “climate crisis.”

      We survived the Nuclear Winter a few decades ago, didn’t die of skin cancer caused by holes in the ozone, and I doubt very much we will see boiling seas or Florida go underwater. Because of carbon. This story has been particularly difficult for the poor and middle-class that can’t afford EVs or skyrocketing food, gasoline, and used car prices. Their innocent and frightened children aren’t helping matters, either.

      Greta Thunberg isn’t a prophet, and neither are government modelers. Time will tell, but in the interim it seems as if we are acting very foolishly for the benefit of a very few. In my opinion.

      • I think you have made a good contribution to the discussion and I agree with the thrust of your post. Note that my first sentence is an “if/then” statement. Also I think indiscriminately demonizing C may be unwise (see my next post).

  8. PS We are mostly carbon compounds, along with at least most other life. A truly C Free economy would require some large changes it seems to me. Demonizing carbon to attack “fossil fuels” might therefore not be the best strategy.

  9. If we want to have meaningful discussion then at some point we have to do away with all the logical fallacies that prevent detailed investigation of the problem and how to resolve it.

    It is immaterial that we are made mostly of carbon and water, or that life needs carbon to live, that we survived the “nuclear winter” (not sure what that was), survived the ozone hole, etc. The fact that I survived a bad event in the past does not mean I will survive all future bad events.

    Yes we need carbon and water, but only within certain ranges and forms. Too little water or too much water and we die (whether it be from ingestion, or trying to grow crops, humidity, etc.) Yes there is a basic need for carbon for life to survive. The issue is the level of carbon, in the form of greenhouse gases, in the atmosphere that that must be addressed. In less then 200 years we have taken carbon in the the form of hydrocarbons, sequestered in the ground (that took, I want to say, about 380 million years to form) and dumped it into the atmosphere in the form of CO2 and methane. We see the increase of CO2/methane, we see the increase in the average earth temperature, and we are seeing climate change from this shock to our earth system. Yes the earth has seen levels of greenhouse gases this high and higher, and temperatures that are higher (and lower.) But we need only to look at the time humans have been on earth (sets the baseline for the environmental range we can survive as a species) and more importantly 2000-5000 years since the agricultural transformation (sets bounds for modern food production/civilization.)

    The earth was a snowball, the level of O2 before the great oxidation event would have killed us (we need O2 but only within a range), has been hotter, it’s been a lot of thing but what count is environmental range we as a species can survive and what our modern civilization can sustain.

    So our modern civilization is based on a hydrocarbon economy. It is a cop out to say it has to be that way because there is nothing to replace it, or large portions of our populations can’t afford to make the leap to something else, or that we will away survive because we are special as a species (we can think and manipulate our world!) Remember that even if you stopped using hydrocarbon today the CO2 level will not go down – what is the mechanism for that to happen? So, if we continue our current rate (and I assume at an increased rate just due to increases in populations and current energy hunger living) of releasing sequestered hydrocarbons into the atmosphere what is going to mitigate major climate change and/or potential consequences on us? I think there is a lot of potential replacement technology but can we make the change in time. I want to hear real answers not wishful thinking.

    Dismissing the issue by saying we can’t properly model, understand or predict the future does not bring anything to the table. If you see an issue with the modelling or what the data predicts then illuminate it. But just saying “I don’t believe” ends all meaningful discussions. It is the modelling and future projections that we do need to understand and guide us. What happens if permanent ice melts, how much CO2/temperature can the ocean absorb before the current systems crash, as land temperatures increase when do they become uninhabitable/unsustainable to modern living (wet bulb temperatures start to become an issue, can’t sweat can’t live) and so on. These are the real consequences of temperature increases not just boogey men in the closet.

    So if the modelling is incorrect let’s fix it. We have nothing to talk about if you say “don’t believe the models” or “we can’t model” – it becomes “let’s just see what happens”….

  10. Before weighing in, I want to say good job Carl. I’ve thought about saying very similar things as you just did, but thought why spend the time, I’m not going to change anyone’s mind. Thanks for spending the time.

    I’m a yes for anthropogenic climate change (ACC). I’ve read several papers that point to the science that if not for human-caused forcings, the earth would currently be slowly cooling.

    On the possibility of climate change being apocalyptic… it depends on what is meant by that. At what point is the loss of species and human lives considered apocalyptic? In general, humans struggle with self-regulation. Some people are good at it, most aren’t, thus the need for government. And, thus, the reason capitalism doesn’t work without government oversight. As already mentioned, humans are an adaptable species. Another way to put it is humans are generalists and intelligent, so have a much greater ability to survive our rapidly changing climate than many other species.

    We already have the technology to greatly reduce our human climate footprint, but do we have the will to use it at the level and ways needed. We also have the technology to mitigate the impacts of climate change on humans, but once again, scaling up is a challenge. And we aren’t done innovating. And, and, I’m going to say it… AI has the potential to greatly speed up our innovation. And, and, and… all of this will greatly stimulate the economy.

    BUT, where are we going in this country and globally with our governments? Fascism is rising in the US and Europe due to the perceived stresses of immigration. This does not bode well for climate refugees. There is great pressure to hunker down; to close the borders. Obviously, the topics of governments and migration could go on and on, but I’ll stop there. So on the apocalyptic question, I’m hopeful, but not confident humans can avoid suffering at a very large scale. We have the tools, but do we have the emotional intelligence and compassion to take care of all humans? A bunch of others species are screwed, no matter what.

    Lastly, to state the obvious: there will be a lot of surprises as there is much we can’t or aren’t foreseeing. And the law of unintended consequences will rear its head over and over again with our efforts to minimize and mitigate the effects of climate change.

    • Mike, I actually don’t see fascism rising, I am more concerned about authoritarianism and the use of AI by some to foster existing power structures at the expense of diverse voices.

      I agree on the surprises. So what we need to depend on is our ability to help each other and work through the problems together, both mitigation and adaptation, in a spirit of cooperation and collaboration, not hate and fear.

      • Sharon, I’m sure we can debate back and forth for quite some time whether there is a rise in fascism or is it some other type of authoritarianism (a fascist government is arguable a type of authoritarianism). Madeleine Albright’s 2019 VOX interview includes some insights. When updated to what we have witnessed since 2019, one could certainly argue that the far-right is pushing a type of fascism.

        But, let’s just forget those terms and describe what is happening and how it relates to the ACC topic. There are an increasing number of people in wealthy countries organizing to resist immigration. The use of social media and other media (including AI as a tool for all types of media) to stir up hate towards immigrants is highly effective. I believe parts of the world will become uninhabitable due to rising temperatures and sea levels. Additionally, some governments will become more volatile as some environments become more stressed leading people to flee their countries of origin. Where do the people in these areas go? I think this will be problem that is difficult to solve and will lead to violence.

        Another stressor to human population may be an increase in disease. I don’t think I need to elaborate on this as it has been widely discussed in popular media. Plus, there will be increased mortality from heat and natural disasters. Would this be considered apocalyptic when it is all added together? I guess that is up to each individual’s interpretation.

        I consider all of this natural, by the way. When there is no effective restraint on a species’ population, it will eventually spoil its nest and its population will crash. Many people think we can self-regulate and have a “soft landing.” I would like to believe that, but I’m not sure it will happen.

  11. I was the student representative to the American Fisheries Society as an undergraduate at Oregon State. At our 1989? annual meeting, I listened to a presentation by a graduate student who began his presentation with a large potted plant–that he’d obviously stole from the hotel lobby–at the back of the meeting hall. Every few minutes, his watch alarm would go off and he would leave the podium and move the plant so many feet towards the front of the room. Again and again. At the end of his speech, he asked if anyone was wondering about the plant…most hands in the air.

    He said that was how fast and far and plant would have to move in order to adapt to the changing climate in North America. Boom. To say it had a huge effect on me would be an understatement.

    The belief in climate change and the equal belief that the democrat’s carbon emissions, carbon crediting and exchange programs are little more than a scam are not mutually exclusive.

    • I agree that there is a legitimate climate concern, but others jump on the bandwagon for a variety of purposes, not always clear. To switch metaphors, I think we need to carefully examine each bulb on the Climate Christmas tree with an open mind as to whether they are the most decorative (helpful to work on decarbonization?). We’ll talk about this more as the discussion continues.

      I had a similar experience with my master’s thesis advisor at a Forest Biology Workshop in 1987 ish.. trees couldn’t move north at the rate they would need to. He couldn’t possibly have known that and as a geneticist, he should have known he didn’t know that. Somehow I knew then that our usual scientific skepticism had been turned off for this particular issue.

  12. I’m a strongly agree on all except #5, because that one is hard to predict.

    I do remember reading various possible outcomes by scientists early on, and they gave wide parameters as to possible outcomes and possible timelines. When scientists tell me something is highly likely I understand that they don’t mean 100% sure to happen, and “might possibly” means unlikely but still possible. I’ve seen little that hasn’t fit within those early predictions.

    I don’t read the apocalypse tomorrow ones much, or articles that quote from advocates.


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