Tuesday, June 24, 2008

James Hansen: Fascist

Ed Pilkington in New York The Guardian, Monday June 23, 2008

James Hansen, one of the world's leading climate scientists, will today call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming...

Dr. Hansen must be thinking: It is too difficult to argue with doubters, even though our side has irrefutable evidence. Much easier to just have pesky dissenters thrown into prison, than to bother with logic and reason--though it would be a trivial effort to demolish their clumsy and irrational "theories".

He will tell the House select committee on energy independence and global warming this afternoon that he is now 99% certain that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has already risen beyond the safe level.

Some statements are so foolish that they sort of self-refute, but let's poke a few holes in this, shall we? How exactly has he defined this "safe level"? One more percentage point and the planet will explode? Or is it one more percentage point and bed wetters like Hansen will get extra nervous? Given the vagueness of the prediction, the precision of the the certainty level provokes more of a giggle or guffaw than any other emotion.

It is fairly certain that elevated CO2 will result in a couple of degrees' warmer average temperatures in the next 100 years or so--maybe even 99% certainty, given the vagueness of my description. But it isn't known and probably cannot be known whether added warmth will provide a net benefit or loss to humanity.


datadawak said...


I know what you mean about many people's statements don't make sense (not scientific). "It is good (or bad) for the environment" , etc., etc.

For instance, in Japan, blueberry is a fairly new health food. Advertisers did a very good job and it is now a "common sense" that "blue berries are good for your eye" - I've hear it so many times at completely different conversations. I eat them because I like the taste, but when I tell someone that I do, they all say "I know that it is good for your eyes." That's great, but "how is it good for my eyes," I don't know. I should Google it to find out, but nobody has ever told me "how it is good for my eyes" and I think it is annoying. "Good" is so vague - I've written in my blog about a baseball team called "Rakuten Eagles". It is a new team and they are doing OK this year with 1 more wins than lost games. It is a great thing that since everyone expects them to lose, when they win, the fans are so happy. When they lose, many people say "they did well." But for Tokyo Giants who was over 10 times Japanese champion, winning is "of course" and when they lose a game, it is a complete sin and comments by sports writers are fierce. "Good or bad" is relative and if someone is making a political statement or something very important, they should show us "how so" by comparing with respectable data.

dbp said...

Thanks for the comment!

It is endlessly interesting (at least to me) what the latest buzz is in other parts of the world.

I too love blueberries and they are finally becoming inexpensive: At this time of year we can get them fresh from New Jersey rather than Chile or South Africa.

I think the claimed health benefit (claimed around here at least) were their anti-oxidant properties. This always makes me laugh. When I was at the University of Vermont one of the research labs in our dept. worked on DNA repair mechanisms and one of the things they would always point-out is that each cell in your body has around 50,000 oxidative damages in its DNA per day!

Anti-oxidant or not, without your native repair mechanisms (the enzymes recognize damage and then fix it)you would pretty much die right away.

I know what you mean about the baseball: A new team has a lot of disadvantages and so a .500 season is actually very good. To our way of thinking, if a team can beat the Yankees (boo, hiss) or the Boston Red Sox (yeah! Go Sox!) then they are pretty good.

datadawak said...

The Redsox took our best pitcher!

dbp said...

Oh yes, I forgot about that...Well, you are invited to come to Boston anytime if you would like to see Daisuke Matsuzaka play:)